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Tag: Depression

Bell Let’s Talk Day, Feb. 12

I don’t talk much about my own mental health issues, or at least I haven’t gone into much detail here. But, on the occasion of the 2013 Bell Let’s Talk Day, I thought it would be a good idea to come clean, so to speak.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 1996. I’d probably been dealing with depression for a lot of years before that, but it came to a head that year, and I got help. Therapy, medications, new medications (felt like I tried them all before I got the right one), and we got me back on track. And I was in a great place for a long time. But 2012 really threw me for a loop, and neither my coping mechanisms nor my medications could keep me going. I had what I lovingly refer to as “my latest nervous breakdown.”

Bell Let's Talk Day: Mental health takes centre stage today ...

In 1996 I had to take a leave from grad school. In 2012 I had to take a leave from work. I am not suicidal. Don’t worry. Not even close. And I am a lot better now than I was in the fall. But anxiety has come to join my depression, and combined they make even everyday tasks sometimes completely overwhelming.

My concentration is shot. Simple tasks take me way too long to complete. My attention to detail also suffers, which is a big deal in my work life. My short term memory is severely affected. Every thing I do feels like a struggle. But then when I accomplish it, I feel like I’ve moved a mountain. My life is run by lists. When I can remember to make them. Mostly I have a list in my head, and everything has to be written on it – brush teeth, feed cat, turn on alarm when you leave. I need to work through my metal checklist constantly throughout the day to make sure nothing critical falls through the cracks. Things that used to be second nature have become stressful burdens. I often feel like I’m moving through jello trying to accomplish anything.

And distractedness? I think my son has ADHD?? I can’t stay on any task for longer than a few minutes before jumping to something else, then another. It takes a while to get back and finish anything.

Deadlines render me motionless. I shut down in face of the pressure.

And some days it’s just hard to get out of bed and face any of it.

My lovely, intelligent brain isn’t well. And I’m fighting to fix that. I am an accomplished, well-educated, productive member of society, with amazing family and friends. I am also one of the many faces of mental illness. You mostly wouldn’t know anything was wrong, though you might very well notice that my response time to your request these days, is slower than normal. I am getting things done, but you are probably used to much more efficiency from me. I apologise for that.

Everything now just takes that much more effort.

But, I have tools in my aresenal. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are my friends. I have friends and family to whom I can reach out for help when needed. And things are getting better. I’ll probably never be completely free of the specter of depression and anxiety, but I’ll soon be back on track. I just have to be aware, and I have to accept that this is something I must deal with.

This is my little contribution to today. By talking about mental illness and mental health, we can help to remove the stigma and fear, and this can only lead to better outcomes for those suffering from mental illness, and for their families.

Parenting Through Depression #BellLetsTalk

I wrote this quite a while back, but never posted. I thought it would be appropriate to share it today, on Bell Let’s Talk Day. It’s important for us all to talk about our experiences with mental health and illness. It’s important that we open discussion and alleviate stigma.

10 Good Parenting Tips - Parenting For Brain

Why? Well, because according to the Canadian Institute of Health Research, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their lives. The Canadian Medical Association tells us that 2 out of 3 will suffer in silence, out of fear of the reactions of others. We can do better.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 1995. I’ve had ups and downs, but am happy to say that today I am in a good place. I still have depression, but it is well-managed with medications, coping skills, and an awesome support network. I am lucky for all that. But there are still some bad days.

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Monday was a beautiful day. Blue sky and sunshine, a lovely fall breeze. The leaves are turning radiant shades of red and orange and yellow. This was a day of hope and optimism. I felt great. I walked the dog. I voted. I made dinner. I got work done.

Sunday was a grey day. Damp chilly. Dark. I spent the day on the couch. I let my child skip his karate lesson. He wanted to watch YouTube and play on his DS. I let him. He stayed in his pajamas all day. So did I. I made him a PB&J sandwich for dinner. I didn’t eat.

Some days depression wins, and parenting follows the path of least resistance. Some days there’s simply no energy to enforce the rules or create activities and fun.

I have a history of depression, and I’ve had two particularly difficult periods in my illness. The first led to my diagnosis, and the second was 2 years ago. So, 15 years or so apart. Not bad really. I am lucky that my depression is kept mostly under control with medication and my ongoing practice of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). But when I have a low day, my low is way lower than the average person’s low. Thankfully I’ve learned ways to bounce back pretty quickly.

Depression affects so many aspects of your life. There’s exhaustion and physical pain. Difficulty making decisions. Irritability. Anger. Confusion. And of course the sadness you immediately think of. And depression affects your family too. They watch you suffer, and they can suffer from lack of attention and care.

As a parent, it can be difficult to maintain consistency with the rules and consequences. Some days depression has used up all your energy, and it can feel impossible to find the stamina to deal with a toddler tantrum or to enforce the no devices at the dinner table rule. Wouldn’t it just be easier to let it slide? And if the kids are playing with their phones, I won’t have to make conversation. That’s a help. But boy is that ever confusing for the kids.

When I’m having a low day, mealtimes seem to come around every five minutes. Someone always needs something. The phone won’t stop ringing. Everything is overwhelming. And I just want to hide.

But I’m a parent, and I have to reach to find the reserves somewhere in there. And mostly I do. Boo has never gone hungry or missed bath time. I’ve never sent him to school in his pajamas (other than on pajama day) or without a lunch. But I’m not always a lot of fun.

Thankfully my low days are few and far between. The issue on Sunday? I forgot to take my pill. It was after noon before I figured it out. My morning routine had gotten interrupted and the medicine just didn’t happen. Couple that with the dreary weather and a lack of sleep, and the whole day suddenly makes sense. That in itself helps me to bounce back, knowing there was a concrete cause for my low mood, one that I can manage and avoid in future.

Let the sunshine in

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Parenting is a tough gig. Couple that with a mental health concern and some days can seem truly insurmountable. Do I have a message for you here? I guess so. I want to open up about my depression, to contribute to the conversation. And I also want us all to watch out for each other, and to try to keep the judgement at bay. Some days we’re just doing our best to keep the boat afloat.

Post-Blissdom Highs and Lows

I am on my post-Bliss high, which is always mixed with a bit of post-Bliss low. You see, after 3 days filled with friendships old and new, amazing speakers, awesome brands, great food, late night wine and giggles, it can be a little rough to come back home to the everyday grind. Plus, as a introvert living with depression and anxiety, these kind of events really take a massive effort from me. My mind is racing with ideas and plans, but my body and emotions are drained and begging for time alone in a quiet room where I can shut down for a while and re-charge.

 

Sunday I came home and slept. Monday I did some more of that. It’s Tuesday now, and I feel like my batteries are back up close to 100%. So now I’m going to try to unpack. Unpack my bags and unpack my ideas. It’s time to take notes, to write down all the things spinning around my head, and to try to interpret the notes I jotted during the sessions on Friday and Saturday. Time to pull out the business cards collected and send quick notes to new people I met, so I can cement that connection. These things have to happen quickly or they won’t happen at all.

 

It’s time to look through the pictures taken, to remember good times and begin to miss people. Also to realise how many people I missed at the conference! Oh my gosh so many people I wanted to speak with and didn’t. No matter what some folks may think, I am painfully shy. And I am terrible at small talk. So I don’t tend to strike up conversations. And I’m terrible with names, so I fear introducing myself to people I’ve already met and insulting them. I spend a lot of time trying to stare at nametags that have flipped backwards.

 

Blissdom Canada is, for me, a brief retreat from the everyday. It’s a place I can forget my daily stresses and the difficulties of the last couple of years and just be me. It’s a place where I can learn about new techniques and tools, be inspired by amazing individuals, and build up a store of excitement for new projects to come. And it’s about friendships and love and support and a kick in the butt when I need it.