Mental health 101: Depression

I want to do more to help, so I’m doing one thing I know how to do, which is write what I know. The next few posts Im going to try to write about different mental health problems in hopes to educate the little that I do know, and hopefully will lead to other people learning more about the topics too.

Depression
For the purpose of being concise, and really honing in on the worst of depression, Im going to talk about what typically might occur when someone has major depressive disorder.

General facts
Major depressive disorder is a mood disorder that affects about 6.8 percent of adults in any given year. Episodes can last for a few weeks to much longer. It can affect a person’s ability to work, perform typical daily activities, and disrupt their social relationships.
Major depressive disorder’s median age on onset is 32 years old.
Once a person has an onset of depression, it can likely reoccur.

Clinical Symptoms
Clinically, 1 of the 2 symptoms below will occur, lasting for at least two weeks:
Unusually sad mood
Loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that one would usually find enjoyable
Other symptoms
Lack of energy
Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
Suicidal ideation
Difficulty concentrating
Difficulty making decisions
Agitation or difficulty feeling settled
Sleeping too much or not enough
Changes in eating habits, weight loss or weight gain

Not all of these will take place with everyone in the same way.

Symptoms can affect cognition, emotional regulation, social systems, and physical well being.

Some people who are depressed can hide it well.
Some people cannot hide it at all.
Depression doesn’t care how much money you make. It doesn’t care if you are famous, if you have a family, how many things you own, what kind of car you drive, and I don’t even think it gives a shit what race you are. Depression is a human disorder. And without treatment, some people will choose suicide to end the illness.

Don’t tell someone who is depressed to get over it. Don’t tell them to stop being lazy. Please stop commenting on someone’s weight loss unless you know for sure they were working at that. These are not helpful. They do not provide support that can help someone recovery from this disorder.

Get to know people and make them feel heard and seen so they know that they matter. Be a light. Tell them you love them, hold them if they need to cry, dont judge them if they’re vulnerable, love each other, really listen to what someone is saying and don’t just wait for your turn to talk. Help your friend get professional help. Practice thoughtful compassion in your words and actions.

When my onset happened, no one saved me. I had to do so much of the work myself. I was the problem and the answer to what I was going through. But the real people who stayed, listened, helped, tried to understand, made me feel loved unconditionally, laughed with me, healed alongside of me… those people made a difference that I could not have done myself. Support from other humans is key in every day life, but also crucial in recovering from depression.

If you are reading this, and know those symptoms all too well, my soul is with you. There’s something you and I both understand even if we didn’t invite that lesson into our lives. “Your wound is probably not your fault but healing is your responsibility”. Depression is a beast. No one asks for it and yet, many of us face it as a barrier to a life worth living. Fight that beast with therapy, of any kind, that allows you to process, learn, and heal. Find courage to talk about it. If the stigma ends, I think it has to start with those of us who hold this illness in our minds with a confidence of knowing we have the weapons to fight it.

I recognize that all of this is much easier said than done. In depression, breathing feels like too much sometimes. But I know that humans are strong, capable, resilient beings and I am hopeful.

Thanks for reading! Love and light xxx

og.

References:
All of this information (minus my own personal thought I’ve added) can be found here: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/
Mental Health First Aid is a course that you can take publicly (or organize for a group you belong to), that educations the public on mental health issues. My only affiliation with them is that I’ve taken their course (a few years ago), learned a lot, and want to continue to inform others about mental health.

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the lessons i’ve learned

I spent years doing the things I thought I had to do
Checked all the boxes
Got the degrees
Found someone that loved me
And yet there I was, utterly unhappy.
If you’ve ever woken up to realize that your unhappiness
was your own damn fault
That you could have saved yourself years before
by just saying fuck those boxes.
Check “other” and fill it in with
find your passion
get to know yourself
learn how to communicate
seek joy.
Then maybe you would have saved yourself from
heartache.
But mistakes happen
and hindsight is 20/20
and I refuse to look forward with anything but
clarity
about who I am
what I want
and the lessons I’ve learned.

-O.G.

Self-care sucks.

Every few months I cycle through a depression episode. This one is a bit harder than usual, trying to adjust to the changes of him not being here and trying to stay productive to do all of the things I need to do. But the depression makes doing anything such a task but I know doing things for myself is going to help treat the depression.
They say “self-care is key” but right now self-care is a fucking struggle and looks like the bare minimum. Today my attempt at self-care was finally doing my dishes, washing my hair, and I put egg whites on my face to try to treat this horrible breakout I’ve been having. Took some xanax to hopefully help me fall asleep early.
None of those things really made me feel better in the moment. I am still sitting here, half crying, still a bit anxious, and haven’t eaten dinner. But I know in my mind that it’s the ongoing attempt that will help over time. I am trying.
The struggle to fight the lethargy that depression lives on is exhausting.
Shoutout to anyone who struggles in this way. I know its this invisible illness to others but it’s something that I can very much see and feel.
Some goals for tomorrow:
1. take a mental health day.
2. clean one part of my house
3. play with Abbi (cat)
4. sleep when I need to
5. eat non-inflammatory food
6. drink lots of water
self-care– you are my best friend and worst enemy but I have faith that I can do a little each day to make this episode a bit more manageable.
Every time I go through this I think how the people I interact with have no idea. They don’t know that I struggle to shower when Im going through it or that my thoughts are so painful sometimes that it sucks me into a very dark hole. I guess its a humbling illness for me. Teaches me to believe that we’re all doing our best despite the things that go on for all of us that no one really knows about.
It will all be okay. I learned to affirm this for myself instead of needing someone else to remind me. It will all be okay.
Taking care of my mental health one tiny little step at a time.

-O.G.

Transcontinental Love.

Relationships take work but being in one on two different continents is a different ball game. The relationship has to be tended to when time zones allow for it and your heart misses someone 24/7. It is not something I recommend unless like me and my partner, you happen to be head over heels in love with each other. In December, our lives (and mutual friends) brought us both to Thailand, where we met and our love story started. From there we traveled for a month to the Philippines where the backdrop to falling in love was endless islands, boating adventures, and sunrise dates. It wasn’t all paradise though, there was a good dose of drama, terrifying waters, and me getting incredibly ill. But at the end of that month of travels, he was the easiest decision I ever made. Apparently, he felt the same way and three weeks later he flew to be with me in San Diego.

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We spent February, March, and April dating, but also living together. Its unconventional and we knew that, but we also just couldn’t do a week here and there. We wanted to see if this was real, outside of a holiday. It wasn’t always easy, we found ourselves in a real relationship that took communication and compromise. We moved fast in our relationship but somehow those moments that tested our ability to talk about the hard stuff, we went slow. By that I mean that we didn’t ever argue or fight, we just talked our way through it. I was scared in the beginning that the presence of these issues and conversations meant we weren’t going to make it, but now I see them as setting a foundation for our relationship that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Our foundation was being built on these beautiful things like trust and communcation and vulnerability, not to mention endless dates around the city, laughing, taking silly photos, and just enjoying each other’s company to no end.

Well, to some end. He left on May 2 to go back to the Netherlands. Visa was up.

And so we found ourselves at the crossroads that any transcontinental love encounters: when is the next time we can be together?

And if you are one of the 3 people following my blog you already know this answer! In 53 days I am moving myself to the Netherlands for (hopefully) 6 months. I don’t know what to expect other than getting to love this man to his face, every day. Very much looking forward to that. I plan to continue to blog all through my adventures, so follow me if you want to see how this turns out!

Oh! And I started writing this with the intention of sharing how he and I have stayed feeling so closely connected despite the distance.
1. We communicate through different mediums– sometimes it’s a sweet text, other times a funny meme or spicy Snapchat. Keeps things interesting!
2. There is 100% trust. No doubts, no accusatory questioning. Just complete and total trust. Its a breath of fresh air to have this.
3. Reassurance. I have no shame in saying that I love when he reminds me he’s thinking of me, that he is in this 100%, and that he’s excited about me coming. This is definitely an individual need and he fulfills it without even knowing I need it.
4. We make time for each other. It’s easy to put the phone call on the back burner when life gets busy, but prioritizing our relationship just as we would in the same space makes me feel connected and valued.
5. We still communicate about the hard stuff. We talk about what we’re feeling, good and bad. The communication is all we have right now and its somehow even brought us closer and more in love, continents apart and everything.

Okay, well until my next cheesy little love rant…

#loveisbeautiful

-O.G.

Change is uncomfortable.

Today’s been a weird one. Constant thoughts of everything I need to take care of and all of the unknowns that I can only think through but have no answers to yet. If change is one of life’s constants, why haven’t we evolved to better deal with the discomfort of it yet? Maybe its not just that the world around me is change, but I’m changing. I used to think I grew up when I moved out of my parent’s house, and of course I did in some ways. But really these past couple of years is when I really grew into myself. I am still changing but sometimes I can feel the force of this growth being extra strong. Like something inside of me is shifting and going from one stage to another; yet another part of the metaphorphosis of this life.

Part of this change for me is realizing that I am in love. For a while I just didn’t believe I deserved it. Yet here it is and something in me has changed because there is not a single cell in me that believes that this love isn’t meant to be in my life.

I have dealt with today’s discomfort today though two meditation sessions, a semi-shameful amount of reece’s peanut butter cups, a little alcohol, quality time with a friend, some fresh air on a rooftop, and finally, this post.

Sweet dreams.

-O.G.

Love jumps hurdles.

I spent a few hours tonight researching ways for us to be together. Immigration is complicated and stressful; I worry too much and it makes me sad to think that we have to jump through so many hoops to be together. But, by the same token, I know these obstacles will make it that much sweeter when we can be together finally.

I’ve thought so much lately about the things we do for love; the weight love carries is arguably more powerful than many other forces in the world. On paper, falling in love with someone who lives halfway around the world doesn’t seem ideal and never something I would have thought I’d even want, yet here I am determined to find a way to be together. The barriers on paper are nothing more than problems to be solved and I am nothing if not resourceful.

Maya Angelou once said, “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

I have so much hope for us. I have been through so much shit in my life that I count every blessing that has taught me to recognize a good thing when it is saying “I love you too” to my face.

I spend hours a day thinking about your face. Just your face. The way it looks when you wake up and it’s crinkly. The way it looks when you’re thinking about how to answer something thoughtfully. The stupid face you make to be funny. Your face is what keeps me up researching immigration policy, budgeting my every expense, hopeful that this all leads me back to that beautiful, stupid face of yours.

One day I’ll finally give you the name of this blog and you’ll read this and you’ll be smiling and probably come over to me after to tell me that you love me and hopefully that means I’ll be close enough to you to do that.

Love you babycakes.

C

-O.G.

Throwing caution to the wind.

I started making some goals today and this is one of them. I want to try writing every day and seeing what happens, so here is my attempt at Day 1.

Today is my four month anniversary with my love (yes, I know, so cheesy but I love da cheese) Four months and we have done so much; from dozens of dates around San Diego, to living together for basically that whole time, to traveling the Phillippines for a month. It is a bit wild when I think about it, but honestly it has been the most beautiful four months of my life. I felt more alive in these four months than I have in a long time.

I decided to quit my job and move to the Netherlands for 3 months to be with him and it feels like the easiest decision I’ve ever made. I’ve been faced with so many hard decisions in my life, this one feels simple. We’re in love and I can go, so why not do it? I know, the job thing doesn’t feel ideal, but fuck it, throw caution to the wind and jump. Life feels too damn short for anything else. (also side note: I am not terribly irresponsible, I have my masters and determination to find a new job when I get back… if I come back…)

I guess that’s sort of the driving force behind all of this. Life is so short. People die every day far younger than any of think is a reasonable age for someone to die. What if that’s me? What if my life is as precious and fragile as all us other humans and I leave it before I’m ready? I want to know I felt as many good things as I could (and some of the bad too). I want to have seen many places, not just confined to my one corner of the world. I want to be content in my heart knowing I followed it and that it led me to the beautiful unknown. So far, living this way has done something for me that for a long time I felt hopeless about. It brought me happiness.

I don’t know what will come of this writing every day but I know even those few short paragraphs make me feel something good and that is enough to keep going.

Til tomorrow.

-O.G.

Let me introduce myself…

I had this idea for starting a blog for a few years now. And yes, that is a long time for creating a pretty easy website and posting some stuff. I have an Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter… so what’s one more?

In a nutshell, its the vulnerability aspect of it all. What I’ve learned about myself these past couple of years is that it is incredibly hard for me to keep my feelings and thoughts on the surface, and when I get writing, the words quickly become a reflection of my truest self, something that’s been hard for me to show. Somewhere along the way I learned that its the same vulnerability that scares me that also brings me closer to myself and the things I love. Life is weird like that.

So yes, it took me years to get here, but life is a process and self-growth is hard. I’m happy to be in this place to be okay with being vulnerable. Even if not a single person reads this, I’ll share the ideas, thoughts, and emotions that run through my head and heart on a daily basis, for no other reason than the catharsis that comes with expressing myself.

This blog will be a story of me, of heartache I’ve experienced, of the journey of resiliency, of stories that inspire me, of the art I am creating, of the way I see the world and all the beauty and strangeness that it houses. There is so much I love in the world, so much that fascinates me, so much that frustrates me and keeps me up at night, all of which I continually feel grateful to experience. I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time and I will never claim to know it all. I am one girl; these are my two cents.