Are You Feeding Depression?

***Originally posted in https://lifeinthespectrum.com/.

heaven1 - IG

When you are in that place, that dark inescapable place where depression traps your thoughts and emotions, you feel like you are surrounded in blackness. There are no doors to open. No exits to be found. You’re trapped there until the lies of your mind go quiet and the treacherous confusion clears.

There’s no ON/OFF switch for depression nor is there a quick fix formula to keep it away forever. Is there anything that you can realistically do to make it stop?

Without question you have to speak up and ask for professional help. Beyond that, I believe that one of the most important steps you can take when you are struggling with depression is to ask yourself if you are feeding the monster. Are you helping the downward spiral spin even more furiously?

Those of us who have struggled with depression often do so in the shadows, but we may reveal our hurts in less visible ways. Some people write anonymous blogs that focus on their heaviest of thoughts and emotions. I have read extensive poetry written by people who either love Edgar Allan Poe’s dark style or (more likely) are struggling with their own mental health challenges. There are countless art pieces celebrating the dark night of the soul, and you could pack any home to the ceilings with books about the hopeless feelings of those suffering with depression, OCD, severe anxiety, thoughts of suicide and attempts to take one’s life.

We commend the bravery of those willing to speak their blackest truths as so many continue to stay silent about their mental health struggles in the public eye. We celebrate those who are able to create tangible evidence of those intangible mental shackles.

But it is really healthy to create or celebrate that? From my non-professional off-kilter and utterly imperfect viewpoint, I would say yes and no.

We can’t bottle up the immeasurable pain, slap a smile on our faces, and “fake it till you make it” all away. We need to be able to be honest about what we are going through if we are going to find a way to healing. We benefit from finding a community of people who may be facing different challenges but who can relate to the pain of feeling broken, unworthy, or unwell. Giving voice or visual to our struggles reminds others that they aren’t alone in those times, and we receive the same benefit when we see it from another.

However it takes a very sinister turn once that becomes the predominant or, much much worse, the only voice we have. When we start to focus entirely on hopelessness, giving up, perpetual loneliness, being shattered, feeling worthless, or wanting to die, we poison our thoughts. We energize the darkness and validate the confusion and pain. Those thoughts that dig at the mind become more and more real, and our ability to push them away from center stage decreases.

Attention is attention, and negative attention still fills that desire. Are you being supportive of someone who is struggling or are you feeding the monster? Are you giving voice to your pain or are you inviting it closer?

One of my children is an excellent writer who sometimes drifts into Emo Land. I think it’s good for him to work through the pain sometimes with the writing, but it concerns me when his teachers tell me how much they love or admire his willingness to share those feelings so extensively. I know my child, and this kid lives for teacher praise (nerd!) (but at least he comes by that honestly). If his instructor goes gaga over dark twisty, that theme and tone will pervade his writing. As I’ve seen him run with the “yay for your sad compositions” bait in the past, I now make a point to talk to his writing teachers to ask them to focus their high praise on alternate styles of compositions. I also try to give my child some glimpse into the importance of looking for the light rather than taking a dive into the darkness. It’s too easy to get stuck on that path of despair. I know this first-hand because I was there for many years, too.

words1

Admittedly this is serious weak sauce for dark poetry, but it’s not my thing anymore nor do I feel like taking much time to hunt through our fridge magnets at midnight.

I struggled with suicide and depression since I was very young. My negative thoughts and feelings became a natural part of everything that I composed including silly stuff like poems I compiled from refrigerator word magnets.

My husband (who was my then newish boyfriend at that time) landed in the relationship emotional intelligence hall of fame when he read some of my dark twisty fridge masterpieces and responded with his unfiltered and resounding review of, “You need to cut that sh*t out now.”

His response was utterly jarring to me. I said nothing aloud in return, but my mind screamed. Didn’t he see how deeply troubled I was? How could he be so cold about my pain? Why would he be so callous about my inner battle that he could never comprehend? What a massive jerk / soon to be ex-boyfriend!

But then I thought about his words. And then I thought about my own. What I was saying on my poor unsuspecting fridge? Why was I writing that stuff? What benefit was I getting from inviting the darkness in and why was I coating my major appliances with feelings that I was trying to escape? In that moment, I realized exactly what I was doing.

I was feeding the monster.

I never told him that he was right (a tradition that I continue to uphold whenever possible in our marriage to this day), but I did take down the festival of sadness as soon as he was out of view. He wasn’t asking me to pretend that I was happy when I wasn’t, but he didn’t have any interest in my parading around that level of negativity like it was fine art either. Until he pointed it out, I did not recognize how that I was validating and emphasizing the very feelings that I was trying to shake. I had been viciously chumming the water while simultaneously praying for the sharks to leave.

This is a tremendous problem on social media. If you have ever searched for #depression, #mentalhealth, or #suicide, you can find horribly dark and sad posts and photos with thousands and thousands of likes. They aren’t focused on healing. They are focused on pain. And to be clear once more, I’m not saying that it’s wrong to feel that way or even that it’s wrong to talk, write, or create art about mental health struggles and crises. But don’t go out of your way to embrace and celebrate them. Don’t cover your fridge in sadness and don’t spend your hours devouring and liking the pain of others.

If you want to heal, look for those who talk focus on getting better. If you want to step out of the darkness, look for the light instead. If the negativity of the news is making you feel hurt or angry, change the frickin’ channel or better yet turn it off altogether and go for a walk. And perhaps most importantly of all, if your fridge is turning all dark and twisty, invest in five dollars worth of sasquatch-themed word magnets. They are worth every penny, and that is one monster that you are welcome to feed (no offense intended to Bigfoot or lovers of said scientifically unsubstantiated ginormous critter).

words2

Again not my best, but it’s 1 am so you get what you get.

Always remember that whatever you take in feeds some part of you. If you want to feel better, nourish the good and offer that to your heart, mind, and soul. Your worse case scenario is five dollars down with a kick ass set of fridge magnets waiting in the wings.

Don’t get in your own way. You are healthier, stronger, and more incredible than you possibly know. Look for that and celebrate it. You got this honey. It’s time to let the real you shine.

Big hugs to all.

Jo Price  🙂

The images below will take you straight to Amazon if you feel like jazzing up your fridge. The sasquatch pack is hilarious, but they are even more fun if you add the Lumberjack addition to the mix. If you do buy these, please take pics of your art. We fall out laughing everytime we see these. 😉

***Originally posted in https://lifeinthespectrum.com/.

Keto Catastrophe and Total Low Carb Loss

seal in la jolla - IG

This is an actual photo of me taken on the last day of my work trip to California.

Fail fail fail. <— And that pretty much sums up my travel eating choices over the past week. Sigh.

I don’t know what it is about the food selections that I make whenever I travel. If I had to give it a scientific designation, I believe that it would find a solid home in the “crapus maximus carbus” category.

So. Sad.

Maybe it’s a travel anxiety thing. Or maybe I just turn into teen wolf when I’m away from home and family. My bed remains unmade. I toss my clothes around the hotel room. I eat ice cream for breakfast. And I buy food shiznet like churros. Chur-frickin-ros. What. The. Eff.

churros

Damn you available churros…

But now I’m back in Texas. Back and away from sad food choice travel time. There are no available churros here. Well…they can be found here in the state but not here here. My local food supply (a.k.a. items found in my fridge and pantry) is free of basically every unacceptable sugary carby item that was consumed throughout my California quest to morph into a human seal.

I’m carb detoxing once more. Breaking the sugar cravings. Trying to get my energy levels back up once more. De-crapping the bod.

That’s it for me for today. No further sad consumption confessions du jour. In a moment I will post a low carb sweet recipe as a follow-up tribute to anyone else treading the food walk of shame. I am there with you, but, as always, today is a new day.  🙂

Big hugs to all. Jo

Low Carb While on Vacation? Beach Please.

Few things inspire me to take a nosedive into poor eating habits faster than going on vacation. Eating has always been an extremely social event in our home, and I adore going to familiar favorite restaurants at the places we enjoy visiting. The good news / bad news is that this was more of a mini-holiday, and I only spent three of the five days living up my carb-packed feeding frenzy.

In the past, my departure from the ketogenic menu has been swift and unforgiving. I would misstep once and would instantly find myself back at square one. My old eating patterns would resume, and I would be disappointed once more but unsurprised.

The interesting part about this keto hiatus was that it was more eye-opening than derailing. Within a few hours of my chowing on chips and some fried naughtiness, my digestive system decided to prove how unhappy it felt about that action. I won’t be elaborating any further on that. My head started to hurt, my muscles and joints ached, I felt exhausted, and I had nightmares when I slept.

Maybe my symptoms were due to the heat or perhaps they were a direct response to the way that family holidays have a tendency to be significantly NOT relaxing. But I honestly don’t believe that. I just didn’t feel good eating the old foods. The flavors tasted good to me but not so good that I was willing to keep feeling sluggish and achy.

So now I’m back to low carb. I’m not gonna lie. I wish that I could have all that other stuff and still feel good. But ultimately, I can’t because I don’t. It just isn’t worth the body drama and trauma anymore. At least I’m back on track again.

Female Body Changes and the Mystery of Metabolism that Appears to be Asleep at the Wheel

Ok so maybe all of this facial hair isn’t entirely mine (but maybe some is). Also it’s possible that today is Halloween.

While I have zero issue with plastic surgery for other people, I find that it doesn’t really appeal to me on a personal level (today). With that said, there are elements of aging that are seriously less than fabulous. I don’t mind getting older from a number stand point. I just never realized that cosmic humor would require all of the numbers that pertain to my body to join in on the joke.

I went to see the doctor for a routine check-up. While I was there, I thought that perhaps the scale was pulling an excessively early April Fool’s Day joke on me. It wasn’t. The weight in question was shocking to me and is not a number that bears repeating. Ironically it is a number that a bear might weigh if she did happen to get on that same scale, too.

As a bonus I was in the perfect sunlight at another point and noticed something gleaming in my view. It took me a moment to realize that a long thin fuzzy hair had landed on my face. Another unhappy moment later led me to discover that I was a bit off the mark on my original assessment. The fuzzy didn’t land there. It was trying to escape my face. What the eff?  When did I turn into a she-wolf?

It’s tough to feel pretty when your youthful bod has gone on vacay and left you and your bat wing arms dangling behind. It frustrates me immensely and leaves me scratching my beard. Although I love naughty food, it doesn’t seem to matter what I eat. I’ve tried changing the menu significantly, yet I still remain un-thin but with a serious hangryover. If I exercise, I get even hungrier, so I eat more and end up bumping up my calorie count to offset the activity increase.

Please don’t even mention salads. I like real people food. The only salads I enjoy are less like salads and more like bread-free sandwiches. The others with all veggies plus a side of more veggies never leave me satiated. Man cannot live on kale alone, and even if he (she) could, why would one ever want to try???

I will keep attending to my increasing presence of sasquatch chic body flair as I continue to strive for a way to solve my “how to achieve a healthier lifestyle by eating cheesecake” mystery. I know that I could maintain that approach if it was an option. Maybe I will give kale another try. Ha! Not! But I suppose that there are other veggies that I could purchase (yet again) and actually eat this time (ideally before they sprout mini-gardens of their own).

Thankfully I don’t have any major negative temptations in the house at the moment because it’s Halloween and every person in America gives out celery and protein powder. Also the holidays are quickly approaching, and that’s always a great time to shed the excess fluff.

Despite my snark, I do need to figure out a way to get motivated. I may be able to pick up Thor’s hammer, but I think the real challenge is going to be putting down Jo’s fork. Sigh.

Lentils and lettuce always – Joanna

Mystery

I Told You

Ahhhh soooo much bettah now.  No more itch and no more funky!

So I can tell you that I did have the full bandage wrap on for the entire day yesterday.  This surpassed my own expectations, but I recognize that the rest of the mature adult world may be less in awe of my limited (nonexistent) restraint.  This is especially true given that at two minutes past midnight, I simply couldn’t take it anymore.  Poof be gone gnarly germ harbor pretending to protect me!

Incredibly my husband is still speaking to me, but he did go out of his way this afternoon to tell several of our new neighbors that it was a giant nicotine patch for my raging habit.  (It’s a big band-aid, but it does appear patchy-esque.)  That didn’t really explain the other even sketchier hand, so no telling what they think of me now.  In all fairness, it’s just a matter of time before they know what a mega mess I am in general anyway.

My unsexy hand with the blown vein after the IV.

Ironically the IV hand hurts more than the one that had the actual surgery.  Is there anything to do after a rough IV job?  At this point, I’m planning on telling people that I’m one of the few barehanded female boxers in the state but that I did not fare well at my latest event.

***Ahem – slight revision to hand explanation per https://mainepaperpusher.wordpress.com – I’m one of the few barehanded female boxers in the state.  You should see how the other girl fared in our latest match. Ding ding baby!  😈

It’s Just a Matter of Time

hand grrr

Ten points redeemable at absolutely nowhere to whomever names the owner of that mouth!

I’m going to do it.  It’s best if I lead with this so we can avoid any assumptions to the contrary.  Based on past history, it is a statistical inevitability.  I can recite all of the reasons why I shouldn’t, and I recognize that this standoff with my husband is not going to end well this weekend.  Please note that I’m not aiming to make him mad.  Rather I’m trying to figure out how to win him over to my point of view on the proper course of action in this scenario.  (Reality check – There is zero chance of my convincing him.)

parentsdontunderstand

 

Okay.  Here’s the situation.  My parents went away for a week’s vacation.  No no no.  Not that.

 

So I had hand surgery two days ago, yes?  Yes.  And the bandage / wrap should stay on my hand for one full week before the doc checks it, and then he will wrap it again for one more additional week until the stitches come out, yes?  Yes.

I prefer to see these as wise suggestions from a well-paid guy in a white coat with a knife.  My husband sees this as professional advice that must be followed to avoid problems after surgery.  Silly man!  And this is where the divergence in our approaches comes into the picture.  The impending blowup draws closer…

Me:  “Argh!  This wrap is driving me crazy.  I’m going to take it off and put a large waterproof band-aid over it instead.”

Him (comforting and calm):  “Don’t mess with it.  The doctor said to leave it alone for two weeks.”

Me (ever so casual):  Yes, I heard that as well…  But you see…it’s been two days and that’s practically same thing as two weeks.

Him (quickly moving from calm and supportive to irritated):  I’m not going to debate this with you.

Me (even more chill and smooth like buttah):  Oh me neither.  I’m just going to remove it a little bit.

Him (advancing past irritated and heading toward mad):  Noooo.  Don’t touch it.

Me:  It’s no biggie.  I can do this.  It’s easy.

Him (steely):  No.  You’re not.

Me (less casual):  Hmmmm.

Him (staring at me and waiting yet saying nothing): …

Me (looking back and responding but only in my mind):  (oh yes I am)

Him (in his mind):  (NO YOU’RE NOT)

Me (in my double secret probation mind):  (OH YES I AM!!!)

knife

This knife has cut more than a tin can and a tomato.

I’m not saying that he is wrong.  (He’s wrong!)  And I’m not saying that I’m right.  (I’m right!)  I’m just saying that I have had a dozen surgeries since I was a teenager (mainly operations on my joints), and I have played this unwaiting game every time.  See the knife in the picture?  It has been used for slicing bread and removing casts (plural) from my ankles.  My tweezers have plucked eyebrows as well as stitches.  I never make it to the follow-up appointments because I have yet to become a big enough grown up to just leave whatever it is alone.  You’re welcome orthopedic surgeons for all that messy post op time I saved you.

Noooo I don’t really think he is wrong, and yeeees I know that the doctor gave specific instructions for my benefit.

But it’s iiiiitchy!  And funky.  And then back to itchy.  And then back to funky.  It bothers me immensely.  It pesters me, and I fidget with it constantly.  I have shoved cotton gauze under the edges.  I’m about to harvest a truckload of aloe off my patio to get it to calm down.  But then the increasing invisible germ element comes back into my mind and bleh it grosses me out even more!

I doubt that I will make it through the day with this thing.  If that is the case, he will be furious (out of genuine concern for my welfare), and I will act like I don’t notice the steam coming out of his ears for the two-ish days that follow (because I’m a stubborn bonehead and I warned him that I would do this).

That’s all I have to say on this for now.  I must run to take care of other things.  For starters, I need to see what kinds of large bandages we have in the medicine cabinet.  Totally unrelated of course.  I just need to check…

mick

Help me Mick!

hand3

I can’t get no satisfaction either!

Satisfaction

Pest

Day 12 – Keep Going and Never Give Up

prayer

This is a little snippet of a text conversation I had with my mom a few weeks ago.  Clearly I was ribbing her, but sometimes it feels true.  We pray and beg and cry, but we stay trapped in an emotional whirlpool where we can barely keep our heads above water.  I fully believe that our cries are heard, but we may still have to ride out the waves a little longer.  The key is to keep going and to just hold on a bit more.  Never stop hoping and never give up.

Thankfully I was able to spend yesterday out of the whirlpool.  I didn’t have to ride any major emotional roller coasters.  I wasn’t subjected to any blindsiding life events.  And I continued to take initiative to keep the good momentum going.

My three goals from yesterday were:

  • Assess and go into more detail on the division of labor on the home management scene (a.k.a. sharing the chores).
  • Take a little walk beyond the boundaries of my home and yard.
  • Write something honest that makes me uncomfortable to share but likely needs to be read by someone who could be helped by it.

These were the results:

  • Chore chat – On a scale of “Bleh!” to “Fabulous!” I would give this one a high “Meh.”  We talked about it.  We split up chores.  No big epiphanies, but no big meltdowns either.  Chores were knocked out with minimal drama by anyone.  That’s actually probably closer to a “Yay!” than a high “Meh.”
  • Take a walk – I circled the block to check the mail.  That was probably somewhere between 1/3 to 1/2 of a mile.  Task complete.
    • This seems like really small potatoes, right?  But allow me to add these deets for the numbers nerds out there.  If you walk 1/3 of a mile every day for one year, that comes to 122 miles.  In ten years, you are at 1,217 miles.  If if really committed and did this for fifty years, that would mean an extra 6,100 miles.  Bumping it to 1/2 a mile a day would mean an extra 183 miles in a year, 1,825 miles in a decade, and 9,125 miles over fifty years.  Dat’s a lotta meat-a-balls!
    • If I went totally bananas and walked 1 & 1/3 miles daily for fifty years (51.17 years for you fact checkers), I would walk the same distance as the circumference of the Earth (again allow me to save you the lookup time – 24,901 miles).  Amazing!
  • Write something raw – I wrote about problems, labels, and disorders I have wrestled with my entire life.  I wrote about what I am doing to work toward booting any remaining freeloaders off my train for good.  I don’t like putting this stuff on paper (electronic or otherwise), but I believe that it’s important that we recognize any negativity we have been empowering, and at times, embracing.  We wear our labels like they are fresh off the rack.  Even if I can’t fully extricate them from my emotions and my behaviors, I can stop allowing them to define me.  I have to be willing to see them for what they are, and hopefully in doing that, I can recognize that they are not who I am but rather attributes and experiences I have meandered and learned from.  Taking that a step further, my prayer is that my revealing my own struggles and successes may help someone else keep swimming through their emotional whirlpool until their waters subside.  They always do.  Just keep swimming.  (Now imagine Dory singing those words in “Finding Nemo” – it’s catchy!  A bit annoying but catchy nonetheless.)

We are not designed to be “perfect” people (“perfect” per our subjective human standards, definitions and expectations).  We are going to be sorely disappointed if we require that of ourselves.  I believe that the real game at hand is figuring out that we are the way we are for a reason.  We always discover our greatest strengths whenever we overcome our greatest weaknesses.  And sometimes it isn’t even about overcoming those weaknesses or shortcomings.  Sometimes the actual truth (Truth) is that we have to recognize that they aren’t shortcomings at all.  These so called disorders and perceived personality aberrations are an intentional part of who we are.  They have a purpose in our lives.  We are not broken.

You are not broken.

With that said, I would like to highlight a few of the people who have deeply inspired me to keep going at various times this week.  There are so many amazing writers out there, but these individuals have a special kind of style when it comes to sharing their own experiences with adversity and how they tell their struggles to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.  The word du jour per the Daily Post is savage, and that is the perfect adjective for these writers.  They are honest and real and raw.  They speak from their hearts and are perfect just as they are.  I don’t share these with you for my benefit.  I share them for yours.

https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.wordpress.com/ – Where to begin when describing this jewel?  She is absolutely wonderful on so many more levels than I could ever articulate.  Truly.  Amusing, heart warming, eclectic, and inspiring.  (Hello future me!  I utterly adore you!)

https://knockedoverbyafeather.wordpress.com/ – Bad assness at this level needs no introduction, but I will say that my world is infinitely better because she is part of it.  (Also I’m dying to see that giant feather!)

https://insidetherainbow.blog/ – She makes me laugh and cry and laugh again every single time, and she speaks to my heart whenever she writes. (I would gladly stand in a line for 4 hours to see “Grease” with this rockstar!)

https://carolrolke.com/blog/ – Introspective, clever, witty, and fierce – I appreciate her words on so many levels.  (I’m pickin’ up what you are puttin’ down.  Keep sharing all that awesomeness!)

https://authentically50.wordpress.com/ – We face different issues at this point in our lives, but her words transcend the individual scenarios.  (I’m truly thankful that I stumbled across your blog.  Such divine providence!  You are a blessing.)

never give up

My father gave me this little sign for my desk years ago.  Such powerful words.  Thanks for the reminder Pop.

Be fierce.  Be yourself.  Never give up.  Never give in.

***Joanna***

Savage

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