Waiting for today...: September 2014

Monday, September 29

Website: Depressiontoolkit.org

Depressiontoolkit.org is an excellent resource from the University of Michigan Depression Center.  It aims to help visitors understand their diagnosis and encourage them to be active in managing their condition.  There is a wealth of resources on this site for both sufferers (eg. “Take Care of Yourself” link in the left sidebar) and for their loved ones (eg. “For Family and Friends” link in the header).  The site is very easy to navigate.  And for additional information regarding research, education materials, news and events, Depressioncenter.org is easily accessible by clicking the icon in the top left corner of any page on the site.  The professionals at The University of Michigan Depression Center take a multidisciplinary approach to the early detection, effective treatment and prevention of recurrence and progression of depression and bipolar illnesses.  Their mission includes counteracting stigma and improving public policy.

Previously added:
Psychology Today: magazine launched in ‘67, the online version offers a collection of mental health resources from over 750 contributors  in the field.

PsychCentral: an online mental health social network, launched in ‘95 it offering mental health support groups and other resources

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness a grassroots mental health advocacy organization, dedicated to support, education, awareness, advocacy and research

Saturday, September 20

Waiting: Where I Am

As of August 13th, I have been depressed.  A month prior I struggled to gain balance and keep the stress of prioritizing to a minimum.  I went from taking it one day at a time, doing what I could and praising every effort to worrying about what wasn’t being done, allowing it to overwhelm and paralyze me.   In early August, I was a social busybody:  two ceremonies in which I was active in helping either to set up or clean up, lunch dates and going here to there for friendly home visits.  My body soon began to ache, my mind fatigue.  Even after a few quiet days to myself I never quite recovered.
Wednesday…  I was off and all I wanted to do was lounge.  With two appointments in the afternoon and bible study in the evening, I shouldn’t have.  That made me sour. After my back-to-back early afternoon appointments, I couldn’t bring myself to venture out that evening for bible study.  I tried not to panic.  After all, there were a few blue days in May and I recovered after some downtime.  I decided I would give it a week before moving up my therapy appointment.
The following Monday… irritability found me.  The fatigue and exhaustion worsened.  My mind raced with negative thoughts, unable to concentrate on even menial tasks.   Work became the bane of my existence once again and I tried to avoid people as often as possible.
By early Tuesday… I was on the phone trying to secure an appointment with my therapist.  Thankfully there was an opening later that day.  Up until then, I had only been seeing her once per month.  There was no need to see her more often since my depression lifted.  My mood had been stable for five months and I was consistently working through my issues.  Foolishly, I wasn’t prepared for another mood swing.
Finally succombing to the reality of an impending medication adjustment, I had to wait an entire two weeks before I could see my psychiatrist.  In the interim, I decided to increase the Celexa myself from 20 mg to 30 mg.  It was the better and least impulsive decision I could’ve made at that time.  My psychiatrist was going to increase it to 40mg anyway.  Which she did.
So now… I’m waiting, waiting for the apathy, irritability and feelings of worthlessness to escape me.   I’m having to put all the energy that I can muster into putting on “the face” as to not alert my colleagues to my inner turmoil.  I can’t lose my job, or my hours.  But, dreading those twelve hour days, I long to just return home… to my bed, or shall I say sofa.  

The features of this episode are mostly typical of any other episode:
  • indifference to my income, my expenses and my diet
  • the sofa is my bed, because that’s where my TV is
  • the TV is my closest companion… it helps take my mind off my mood
  • people, not so much… people annoy and irritate me so, I isolate
  • my treks away from home are on a “need-to-basis”
  • piles of dirty dishes, dirty laundry, mail and trash bags make up the d├ęcor of my living space
On the other hand, although I went about a month without washing my hair, I have not gone more than three days without taking a shower.  Usually a hypersomniac, there was a week or two in which I had a bit of insomnia.  I’m also less angry.  And finally, I don’t feel out of control.  I guess I am more accepting that this is what has to be right now.  Maybe even hopeful that relief will soon come.

Until this depression lifts, everything else is a moot point…

Saturday, September 6

Article: Bullies Beat Down Self-Esteem

Exploring the possible causes of my low self-esteem got me to thinking about bullies and frenemies…

frenemy [fren-uh-mee]

1. Informal. a person or group that is friendly toward another because the relationship brings benefits, but harbors feelings of resentment or rivalry:  Clearly, turning the competition into frenemies is good for your business.
I don’t remember ever feeling bad about myself until I entered the U.S. school system. For a time I could not distinguish my friends from my foes.  It would make sense that my “friends” would have been those that wanted to hang out with me.   But I also imagined my friends would be nice and accepting, not hostile and exclusive.  Yet, I remember many of my “friends” being frenemies. They would often show bully-like behaviors while in the same instance convince me that it was all in good fun.   It was a needless initiation, a norm of American culture that I could not grasp.  Too many times I’ve I heard both the youth and adults say, “we tease you because we love you”. What a strange love.   Shouldn’t line between love and hate be distinct?  But I have digressed because the following article discusses the physical and the often overlooked emotional scars of bullying.  It also educates parents of those tell-tale signs of bullying, how to intervene and how to help rebuild their child’s self-esteem in the aftermath.

"The physical effects of bullying are well known: black eyes, bruises, headaches, sleep problems, and stomachaches are among those we all associate with the abuses of bullies. But others are often overlooked. “What’s coming out in the literature now is teens subjected to bullying as a victim become subject to a host of long-term effects as they reach adulthood, ...The most concerning of those have to do with the contribution to overt mental health problems like depression and suicidal ideation...”"
con't reading: Bullies Beat Down Self Esteem by Tamekia Reece in Healthy Children Magazine  Retrieved August 6th, 2014 from

Wednesday, September 3

Much of the Same

con’t from: Welcome Back

When I was a small child living with my "caretaker", I would remove a trinket or two from her daughter's dresser each day and hide it.  I thought myself to be inconspicuous.  Little did I know all one had to do was sit on the bed and they would find my treasure trove of lipstick, perfumes and jewelry piled behind the chair.  I don't remember ever getting in trouble for that.  I would up the ante a couple of years later, however, by stuffing a bag of Skittles in my underwear as my “grandma” and I checked out in the grocery line.  No one ever knew.
I cannot recall any reasons in my young mind why I began to steal or why it escalated once I relocated.  I guess as with many children, I too wanted to push the boundaries my mother set for me; it was a game of wits.  I believe that over time, it was a misguided attempt to relieve the anxieties of peer pressure and rejection.  Whatever the reasoning, it became a habit just like pretending.  First, it was a quarter here from the change purse on my mother's mantle to a dollar there from the leftover change after purchasing the bread and the milk.  Later, my theft ranged from snacks at convenience stores to clothes at department stores.
While the transition from elementary school to middle school was socially challenging, school became more fun than stressful as time went on.  The friends I made from 7th to 8th grade made up for the loss of neighborhood friends or the gain of neighborhood bullies as my mother and I constantly moved about the city.  I never experienced serious bullying where I lived until we moved to a southwest neighborhood in Philadelphia.  To add insult to an esteem already severely injured, I still got bullied in school.  The bullying from this point on was strictly emotional.  Whether it was my "flat chest" or my "big gums", the stream of insults were steady and often had me to the point of tears.
Self-esteem is your overall opinion of yourself — how you feel about your abilities and limitations. When you have healthy self-esteem, you feel good about yourself and see yourself as deserving the respect of others. When you have low self-esteem, you put little value on your opinions and ideas.

Despite the embarrassment that comes with bullying, having a loyal group of friends helped to buffer the pain.  Of course, when the bullying became too much to bare I skipped school. Cutting was much more fun in middle school than in elementary school.  In middle school, I had a cut buddy, my adventures were more interesting and I also found more ways to finance my days off.  By this point I didn’t care who I stole from.  My mother, her friends, their children even my friends and their parents, no one was off limits.  As should be expected, this caused major conflict between myself and would-be-victims, especially my mother.  It was at this time, that our relationship began showing signs of strain.
Within that group of loyal friends was my now best friend of many years.  I call her my “bestest”.  From the eighth grade on we were thick as thieves.  No pun intended.  We were so close that many said we were joined at the hip.  Although high school would separate us, we did not allow the distance to affect our friendship. There were many sleepovers since meeting in middle school.  I met and found myself with a special attachment to her family and their church.  With my mothers and I’s relationship beginning to crumble under the strain, our relationship came right on time.
I kept all the pain bottled up inside me.  Not knowing how to express myself, I kept it hidden away from everyone.  I chose instead to act out in ways that would garner disappointment and frustration from others as opposed to compassion and support.  That disappointment and frustration intensified my insecurity and feelings of rejection.  As I approached high school, I began to lash out under the pressure I put myself under.  I would continue to steal. Continue to skip school.  The wedge between my mother and I would continue to grow causing me I draw closer and closer to my “bestest” and her family.  Not long after, however, I found myself caught in another vicious cycle.

next: Trying Times

Monday, September 1

It Takes a Village...

“You can't get to no better days, unless you make it through the night baby.  Oh, you will see those better days.  But you gotta be patient…”

Better Days by Dianne Reeves

As I’m pouring over the memories of my childhood, I’m having regretful thoughts of the absence of my father and grandparents.  Specifically, those missed opportunities to talk about the difficulties I was having fitting into city life.  Children often share with their grandparents things they wouldn’t with their parents.  With their father what they wouldn’t with their mother, and vice versa.  I wonder, having an opportunity, if I would’ve done the same; being as timid as I was and all.  But like all my regrets, I cannot predict the outcome.   At the time, all I could do was embrace the good and hope that the bad would get better…