Bipolar, Depression, encouragement, Human Behaviour, Human Nature

Spreads like Octopus Ink

The blackness under water, the struggling, the suffocating feeling, the panic attacks, head stuffed with racing thoughts, the literal slow down of movements, fighting to not cry in public or at work—or even at home— because the tissue around the eyes is chaffed, and absents of self-esteem. This despair spreads like octopus ink over loved ones, too.

The negativity associated with depression is not wiped away with positive affirmations alone. If it were so easy, medications would be set aside.

It’s November, and here in Canada, daylight is sparse. The claustrophobic days of grey, damp oppression have begun, needing lights on for supper time, skipping the evening walks. And heading out in flip-flops is on hold for months.

Winter for most is enough of a bummer; however, depression is far more than a bummer. It’s deep and unrelenting. A good joke isn’t funny. Food is flavourless. Everything is exhausting. I mean everything. Even taking a shower is too hard.

Misery overflows. The loved ones who try to cheer one with depression to no avail become stymied. Tense. The blackness spreads like octopus ink. The light is somewhere, but obscured by a brain chemical imbalance. Think of it as lopsided. No one walks well when not balanced. Loved ones have an enormous job. I need not explain that.

Depression seems to get attention once it has taken hold. People notice, friends and family wonder what’s wrong with Johnny or Sue who stop posting on social media, they don’t show up for regular activities. If Johnny and Sue tell someone when they feel the pull, doctors, friends, family, early help and support is more efficient than trying to climb out of the pit from the bottom. It is slimy, slippery.

Talk, talk, talk before falling into the pit all the way. Ask friends for an invite tag along for errands. Courage mustered to it in a coffee shop and have a beverage, alone is need be, it actually helps stimulate the mind. The tinkling of cutlery, dishes, cups, voices, and sitting in a different environment than home where you have the corner of the couch staked out, or worse, bed. It helps to get out. Feel the cold penetrate the cheeks. I’m not saying freeze, just feel the sting so the mind has something to process. The most dangerous thing about depression? In my humble opinion of experience: numbness.

It’s November. We sit on the line between holding it together and losing it altogether. Talk about symptoms of depression. Get a thread going. Those are the kinds of online things with potential to help. Memes are too impersonal. Someone wrote it… who are they? Anyone care? Honestly? Seen it a hundred times. Scroll, right, because it doesn’t apply at the moment. Social media is truly moment by moment, but a real conversation sticks longer than a meme.

Those of us who know we’re prone to winter depression, talk about it enough to bring awareness without letting it take over every conversation. There is a balance to bringing awareness.

“I’m not feeling well. Depression is clutching me, I need to be with friends to help get my mind off negative thoughts.” There is not one aspect of shame in this. This doesn’t cause octopus ink, it brings awareness in a real way.

Here’s hoping for a decent winter; empathy for the depressed, recognition for the condition, truthful talks, and recovery.

Thanks for reading.

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Bipolar, Human Behaviour, information

Bipolar Season

The disability of the bipolar mind aches for sunshine.

Unaffected people don’t understand how the dim days have such an impact, and even our doctors cannot be empathetic, only sympathetic. But we can understand each other.

We know the reason for trying to stay in bed as long as possible is counterproductive to our condition. But it’s the season. Winter sucks in more ways than one. Everything takes longer in the winter. Clearing snow off cars, driving in slush and snow shaves time off the precious few hours of daylight we have. More layers of clothes take longer to put on. Walking takes longer. Coffee shop lineups take longer, because more people need that hot caffeine—and we with bipolar need more than that.

The problem is, treatment for depression in persons who have bipolar is dicey. Antidepressants can push the brain into mania, and no treatment with medication keeps us in the pit. So we must be carefully monitored by our doctor either way.

It’s bipolar season. We must be prepared each year if we live in areas where winter manifests with gobs of snow and breathtaking frigid temps. It’s cold, the sun makes a rather brief appearance, and the whole world looks grey in our view and in our heads. We need to work on our mood skills. And we can. It’s the middle of January, we have enough winter left for us to work on feeling less like we’ve died and are waiting to be put to rest. We’re alive, our brain needs our efforts. C’mon, let’s get up.

There are things we are able do to help ourselves. Sometimes it dreadfully difficult, but it is not insurmountable. What’s the alternative anyway?

Get up and go to bed around the same time, even on weekends. Our brain needs consistency.

Take medications as near to the same time as possible. Meds work best if the distribution to our bloodstream is regular.

Avoid alcohol. It’s a depressant. A sociable drink or two when you’re well isn’t terrible, but alcohol is easy to become addicted to because of its legal availability and the illusion of remedy.

No one who is depressed wants to go out unless a job pulls us out. If you don’t work outside your home, make yourself go into a mall. The stimulation is more than you’d think. Any reasonable stimulation for our brain is good even though we may not feel it. Go have a coffee or tea somewhere, preferably with a friend. If a friend isn’t available, go anyway. Sit in, finish your coffee or tea while listening to alive sounds of conversation murmurs and dishes clinking in the kitchen. It’s a small step, but it makes a big difference in our human brain, our weary mind.

Play some favourite music. I know it won’t feel like it’s your favourite, nothing really does during depression. So just do it. While it’s playing, go make your bed so you’re less inclined to get back in it. Watch a movie or surf Netflix. It’s helps with mind racing if there’s something to focus on.

Remember to eat properly. It helps to combat fatigue.

Text a friend or two and tell them you feel empty. Ask for a voice conversation. Don’t hide the fact you’re depressed. It shows in your eyes, voice, and body language anyway, so tell a friend you need support.

Accept company even when you’d rather hide in your jammies and mindlessly scroll past Facebook ads. It need not be a long visit, but it’s reassuring to not feel like the last human on earth.

Write yourself a note about how you’re feeling before and after doing something to stimulate your mind. Eventually you’ll see what makes the biggest difference.

Do some housecleaning, especially in the room you spend most of your time. Clear surroundings declutter the mind, too. And colour! Adult colouring books are the best invention ever.

If you’re having racing thoughts, remember it’s just the depression speaking. If you have thoughts about taking your life, call for help. Don’t second guess yourself, call immediately. There are different numbers for various areas, so jump on Google and type in suicide hotline and your city, province or state. Your life is worth way more than you think. No one is going to be better off without you, including you.

If you live with someone, tell them you are depressed. If you live alone, make sure a friend or two knows. It’s a pretty hard secret to keep. It makes us feel very alone.

One of the most important things to do is remember this is temporary. Even a long temporary is still not forever. And you have bipolar, you are not bipolar. Keep your identity with your given name. Remember this always.

We have bipolar. We are creative. We are survivors. We are strong, and we all love it when spring comes—winter is also temporary. We have so much to offer. We have talents and maybe they’re still hidden, but we do have talent; it is a magnificent gift to share. Check out “famous bipolar people” on Google. I could hardly get my fattened head through the door when I saw who I share this big ole bipolar with. We can do this bipolar season. We’re nearing the end of it. Keep your chin up. Give yourself a smile in the mirror. That tricks the brain, believe or not, into thinking we are happier than we feel.

We matter. Bipolar, bipolar, let wellness come over.

Thanks for reading.

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