ON DEPRESSION, THERAPY AND MEDICATION

It’s no secret that I have trouble with being cheery sometimes. It feels like that most days but I know that is not true. There are people who think I AM a happy and cheerful person. Who am I to argue the point? The times that I have sought counselling, there’s always forms to fill asking about your feelings.  After I have completed such forms, I’ve always wondered, What am I doing here? Because at the end, I come to the conclusion that I’m always hopeful. When I mentioned it to the counsellor of the moment, he/she said: Well, that’s good!

The last time I sought professional help, the psychologist was impressed with me. He found me quite ‘fascinating’. It was more like myself counselling myself and he was the audience. In the end, he was not very helpful except as someone to listen to my venting. I clearly understood my problems. Solutions are hard to come by. How could I expect a stranger to solve them for me? He was no Peter Pan nor Tinker Bell. He had no magic wand or fairy dust.

Still when difficult time arise, I  want someone to give me an easy out. Checking through a list of professionals, I fired off an inquiry of cost. I was not surprised to get an answer of $120 per session. Since I am no longer working, I have no insurance. I would have to shoulder the cost myself. From past experience I decided that it would not be beneficial. It would not be a one session deal. It would be an expensive glorified “I feel sorry for myself crying my blues” party. I could talk to my family physician but he is always encouraging me to go on antidepressants. I am not a fan of them since they stirred up my lichen planus.

I’ve discovered this space is calming. It gives me breathing room. After I’ve tapped out my angst, I feel better. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I do tap out joy now and again. I find hope and inspiration and sometimes even solutions. Doing anything that interrupts my thoughts, that can give me a different slant on things can make me feel better. Even going down the stairs to the basement makes a difference – a different space, a different outlook. Everything I can do builds me up.

 

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SUMMER TIME BLUES

I’m just passed my least favourite part of the day – lunch and its aftermath. I don’t know why that is. Today is the worst. I haven’t fully recovered from my cold. I still have that occasional hard to shake cough, echoing head and the weak in the legs fatigue. I’ve been to the doctor 4 times this month though not all were related to my cold. The garden is begging some TLC. I’ve been poking at it, not even managing to weed my 2 rows of peas along the fence. They’re getting choked out by self-seeded cilantro and weeds. They’re also crying for water though it had rained the other day.

It’s been this kind of a summer. I’m feeling its blues. How could I not? I could be the poster woman for the all year round depressive. No, I’m not ashamed or afraid to talk about it. Maybe I should be  but what’s there to be afraid or ashamed of? I’m acknowledging my feelings and seeking solutions. I’m trying to engage my left brain and right brain in a dialogue with each other. Two halves can make a whole. Two heads are better than one. More is better. I’m trying to console myself. Self love. Talk about euphemism! I’m on a roll.

I think the after lunch dirty dishes, pots and pans are symbols of the mess of life to me. When I look at the whole enchilada scattered on the counters, I just want to close my eyes. My God, how in the hell can I put everything right again? I feel whipped with fatigue and helplessness. There’s nothing to do except sigh and move however I can and at whatever speed I can.

I am always delight in fooling my feelings. I take pleasure in showing them up. I can do more even though they sit on me and try to pull me down in the deep dark hole. Sometimes it seem like I’m moving like a robot. Mechanical is ok. I keep moving until things are done. The dishes, pots and pans are washed. The mess in the fridge calls out to me. I can hear it even with the door closed. That’s the thing. I know it’s there even when I can’t see it. I’ve learned I can rest better when I answer its call. It’s not difficult after all.

I know it’s summer and it’s holiday time. I think I’m suppose to be happy, carefree and having a whole lot of fun. But I was never that kind of a girl. I’m not that kind of a woman. Growing up as a child of immigrant parents in a small town, summer was never what I called ‘fun’. It was lonely. School was over and it seems the whole town was away on holidays except for us. That was my perception at the time.

That is my perception today, too. Everybody is on holidays and having fun, except me. The difference now is I know IT IS NOT TRUE. It’s just my blues vocal of the moment. Tomorrow I could be singing a different tune.

 

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THE GIRL I WANT TO BE

This morning I sat with Melli O’Brien and Jack Kornfield for the Mindfulness Summit’s session on how to integrate spiritual life with everyday life. It’s good to review and revisit the sessions from October 2015. When things are going well, I tend to forget and drop my practice of being in the moment along with my qigong routine. It’s when I’m in distress, I grope my way back. I have done this time and time again. I am sure I am not alone.

It took some effort to quiet my mind to sit, watch and listen. Like Anne Lamott says: My mind is like a bad neighbourhood. I try not to go there alone. Oh, I wish I had written that! She talks like I feel. It’s great that someone else has the same feelings. I don’t feel so alone in my ‘badness’. It’s a conundrum why I feel this way. The only explanation is I am vocal about my feelings and opinions. It’s what is advocated – be open, be honest. Yet when you are I am, I get feelings of disapproval. Maybe I’m just thin skinned. I cannot help being who I am – open and honest. I do know the word tact. I was well brought up.

It is ridiculous that I feel this insecurity in this stage of my life. Why am I still seeking approval from anyone? Am I not grown? Am I not responsible? Am I not independent? Of course, I am to all of the above. What I am seeking now is freedom from this feeling of ‘badness’, of not being enough of this and that, of being at fault for everything. I am seeking peace of mind and NOT  approval.

I am sitting in mindfulness. I close my eyes and try to picture the girl I want to be. Peace and contentment came over me. I do not really see a girl. I felt her. I felt her goodness, kindness and generosity. I am not a bad girl at all. Please do not transfer your feelings onto me. Give me a break.

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I AM THE REASON

It’s my therapy hour. I’ve come to tap myself well. I’m pleased to say that my cough has eased alot. I had a decent night of sleep, though I did have to get up and sleep on the couch for a spell. I made myself relax and stay in bed till almost 7 am. I had lost the art of sleep and rest for awhile. There was too much energy bouncing off walls. I had great difficulty harnessing it and bringing myself back to centre.

I’ve returned to my mindfulness practice. It’s not easy. First I had to gain a level of calmness to be receptive. I had spent the month of October, 2015 with the Mindfulness Summit. I bought the whole program and still has access to it. It was the best thing I had done for myself. So this morningI found myself sitting again with Melli Obrien and her guest, Paul Gilbert.

Professor Paul Gilbert’s presentation on the Importance of Self Compassion alone is worth the cost. His explanation on our brain gave me the insight on how we are all wired. It helped to stop my blaming and trashing myself. It is not my fault. I didn’t choose the brain I was given. Having an understanding of my brain wiring helps me to make wiser choices and how to work with the brain I was given. Every insight makes life a little easier. He has written a book on The Compassionate Mind. It has some good and bad reviews. I have ordered it from the library and will judge for myself.

This road is rocky and tricky, especially when I have a tricky brain. But aren’t all roads full of potholes? What I know for sure is I shouldn’t keep falling into the same damn hole. The least I can do is go down a different street with different holes. I could learn something new and develop new pathways in my brain. Life is hard. It is hard to get up, dress up and show up every morning. But I am  enough reason to do so – every single morning.

 

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LIZARD BRAIN CHATTER

Summer time and the living hasn’t been easy. I’m doing my best not to fret about my disappointments, disillusionments and all the other dis—s. The mind is not so easy to control, especially mine. It’s skipping and hopping all over. Even the practice of mindfulness cannot calm it down. So I brought it here – to the page. It has to pay attention, watch the letters march across the page, trying to make words, sentences and thoughts. The rhythm of my tapping fingers soothes its dendrites. Now they’re opened to the business of receiving and sending.

So what am I going to do with my summer? It yawns before me like Stephen Hawking’s  black hole. I hope there is escape out of mine. Now that my cold is finally leaving my body, I do see a tiny glimmer of light. Is it bright enough to sustain me for the summer? Perhaps it is just my lizard brain talking. I don’t have to listen to it. It’s just talk as they say.

Talk is not always good for the soul. It can eat a hole in you like the Big Bang. It can start as a tiny point, expanding rapidly through a hot explosion. I rather NOT do this. It’s time to let go of things that do not work. Let me try harder in other more constructive ways. I close my eyes. I see a lush green summer stretch before me. I hear laughter. I see order rise out of chaos. I’ve put a STOP to the chatter in my head, a HALT to negativity. There’s PEACE in my thoughts, LOVING KINDNESS  in my heart.

 

 

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MANY A TEAR HAS TO FALL

So I slept on the couch again last night. Easier to prop my head up on the arm rest and a pillow. I did get enough sleep though interrupted by a few coughing episodes. I have stopped using the Zenhale puffer. My cough is less severe, manageable. I did expect that the Zenhale would stop it altogether. Silly me! Nothing is simple and easy.  There are no instant cures.

Meanwhile, my blood pressure is up. It was 190/90 at the doctor’s office the other day. I blamed it to the stress of finding a parking spot and the anticipation of the examine. But it could very well be the inhaler, too. I will try to be patient, lessen my stressors and let time and nature take its course. It is the best healer.

The weather is rocky and stormy. It woke me last night. I heard the wind and saw the filtered street light through the venetians. Then I heard the raindrops on the deck roof. The song started in my head.

Many a tear has to fall
But it’s all, in the game
All in the wonderful game
That we know as love

You have words with him
And your future’s looking dim
But these things
Your heart can rise above
Once in a while he won’t call
But it’s all, in the game
Soon he’ll be there at your side
With a sweet bouquet
And he’ll kiss your lips
And caress your waiting finger tips
And your heart will fly away

Life feels like a game sometimes. I am an unwilling player at the table. I don’t know the rules. I don’t know the dialogue but I can read body language. So like all unwilling players, I am sitting it out, watching. Why won’t THEY  explain how the game is played? Why won’t they speak in a language I can understand? It would give everyone an even playing field.
Ah, but life is never fair. No one wants to reveal their upper hand. It makes me sad but I have no tears to shed. I am happy not to be in the game.

 

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I, ME, MYSELF – BEING BEST FRIENDS

My cold and cough are still with me. They do not make for good company in summer – or any other time of year. Like all bad company, they’re hanging on. My coughing fits woke me a few times in the night. In the end I had to get up and sleep on the couch as before. But at least I did sleep.

Life is very difficult with a nasty summer cold and no sleep. But it still has to go on somehow. I still have to get up, dress up and show up. It’s not an easy task even on an ‘ordinary’ day. Being susceptible to the ‘blues’, I’m being watchful, taking care not to let this take me down the path of depression. I’m alerted to the dangers of the brain not working properly. Anybody can be victims as we’ve seen in recent days with the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. Being a celebrity chef and a fashion designer are not free tickets to life happily ever after.

There’s no shame in depression. There’s no shame in failing to thrive at all times. I just feel bad and annoyed at myself sometimes for the depression. Because really, it is very inconvenient. There’s things I have/want to do. It gets in the way. I’m learning to accept my ‘down’ times. I think my body and brain are telling me they need a rest. I think I better listen. They know me best. If I, me and myself don’t take care of each other, no one will. We are our best friends.

 

 

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