Coffee Quandaries

I like these “If we were having coffee…” and “Friday Fragments” features that a lot of people in my reader are doing these days. They are both kind of the same idea. You talk about the things that have been going on in life and in your head, but have been too short to write a whole blog post about. I’m going to go with the coffee idea since I’m basically a java junkie. So….

If we were having coffee….you’d see that I’m in long pants, socks and a sweaters….yes, I meant for that to be a plural. It hasn’t felt much like summer this week.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you that I feel like I’ve been hit by a brick wall. This fatigued feeling came over me last night and I haven’t been able to shake it. Hubby had the flu earlier this week, so it could be that, but I’m not stuffed up like he was, so I think it’s depression-related.

If we were having coffee I’d be complaining about my burnt mouth. I ate something that was too hot when I was out with my friend for lunch and burned the roof of my mouth really badly. It blistered and it’s all sore and raw-feeling now. The coffee isn’t exactly helping, but coffee is just so comforting and I need that right now.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask how you are and about your week before turning the conversation to something else. You see, I have a quandry I’d really like an opinion on…..How do you know when you should keep pushing yourself versus when it’s time to take a step back? How do you know if you are pushing yourself hard enough? I don’t know the answers to these questions but, I don’t want to be accused of being weak or not trying hard enough, so I just keep on pushing. Work through the pain. There are limits though, the problem is they are invisible to me and I don’t know I’ve reached them until I’ve crossed them.

Like my cross-country running days for instance. Sometimes when you run you get that awful pain in your side, I call it a stitch. It hurts a lot, but that is something you run and breathe though. While I was training, I started to get a pain in my heel. I thought I was being a wimp, like with the stitch, so I ran despite the pain. Eventually, it hurt so much I couldn’t put any weight on it without wanting to scream. I had to stop training cross-country. I had plantar’s fasciitis. Today, it still flares up if I do a lot of running. I keep wondering if I had stopped sooner would I have prevented this? Would I have avoided the pain? Would I still be running now?

The same sort of thing applies to life. Do I push until I have a complete break down? That’s the only instance I can think of where I would know that I have pushed hard enough and it’s time to step back.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you to tell me what you think because I’m hurting and I’m feeling kind of lost right now.

 

must stay positive

I Don’t Want to Hear it

don't want to hear it

When it comes to mental health, everybody has an opinion, mental health sufferers included. I’m tired of the opinions, especially from fellow depressives. Some people have a reason for depression, a situation, a past experience, an attitude, etc. I don’t mean to belittle any of these things. As I have never experienced them, I can’t even begin to understand the pain that can accompany such things. But, I do envy having a reason, a source, somewhere to start with therapy and something to explain why you are the way you are. It seems to be more acceptable if there is some sort of trauma attached to your mental health issues. Depression is different for everyone. Even if you think you know the facts and no matter how empathetic you think you are, you can never truly know what someone else experiences.

I don’t know why I am depressed. From the outside, it looks like I’ve got it easy and life is going swimmingly. In comparison to most of the world, I haven’t got it bad. Does that make my depression less real? Does that mean I’m faking it? I don’t think so, yet this is how I’m made to feel and not always by the general public, but by the mental health community too. How can we expect the rest of the world to stop stigmatizing mental health issues if we do it to each other. Sometimes, people mean well, but say stupid things like “Think about all the people that love you.”, “You can’t really be depressed, you still laugh.” or “You have everything going for you, think about how lucky you are.” I can forgive them, we all have our moments. Then, there are those that don’t believe in mental illness. Those people are always fun to be around. You know, the ones that say “There is no such thing. People in developing countries don’t have these problems.” I can forgive their ignorance too. What upsets me is the way people with mental illness or those educated about mental illness treat each other. That mine is worse that yours attitude really bothers me.

Here are some of the things I’ve been told by people in the mental health community that have really irked me.

  • Meditation is all you need – get outside of yourself. (friend with anxiety)
    Meditation works for some people and if it works for you, I’m glad. I don’t doubt that getting outside of yourself can do wonders, but I just can’t figure it out. I’ve tried guided and unguided. Moving meditation seems to work a little. It’s not that I am closed minded and not trying hard enough, it’s just not the solution for everyone.
  • Just think- there are others that are worse than you. (friend with addiction)
    This is not helpful. I’m sure there are worse out there. There are probably some that are not as bad as me either, but how do you judge something like that? It’s like saying you can’t be happy because there are people out there who are happier.
  • That’s nothing, listen to what happened to me. (someone from a group therapy session)
    I do find hearing about others’ experiences enlightening. It gives me another perspective and sometimes some insight into my own issues, but don’t belittle someone else’s experience when you share yours. It’s not a contest.
  • I don’t get along with people who have mental health problems. (my mother-in-law, a nurse)
    You could say here that it was my fault for not reminding her that I have depression, but she is a medical professional, she should know better than to say things like that. Just like people without mental illness, we all have different personalities. You can’t judge us as a group.
  • It’s all in your head – you need to think positive. (counselor)
    Believe me, I try, and it does help sometimes. Other times, it just feels fake.
  • It’s probably just your period. (psychology intern)
    Since it’s a cycle, I think I would have picked up on the pattern already!
  • Why don’t you try to exercise more. (Twitter mental health friend)
    Yes I know exercise helps. EVERYBODY knows. I do exercise, if I’m not, it’s because I’m ill or I’m having anxiety attacks over it.
  • It’s your relationship/Ph.D. (my social worker)
    I was depressed before my current relationship and I started my Ph.D. in hopes that it would relieve my depression. Some people just want to pin it on a reason. There isn’t always a reason.
  • Do you even want to feel better? (my psychologist)
    No, I like being depressed. Seriously?! This was because I didn’t take her advice on ending my relationship.
  • This service is for serious mental illness. (crisis line operator)
    I called because I was alone and felt like I was going to do something I couldn’t take back. Apparently I was too calm on the phone. People in crisis scream and sob and talk really fast. That’s just not me.

 

Positive Protest

positiveprotest

If you read my last post, Lessons Learned, or if you’re part of the Mental Health Community on Twitter, you know there has been a debate going on about positive thinking. I think (I hope!!) it’s over now, but it has resulted in a member of our community abandoning his blog to take care of his mental health. As a member of the community, I am ashamed. The community is meant to be an outlet, a place where we are safe to be ourselves and discuss our mental health experiences. It’s place where we can ask for advice, support each other, swap stories and make friends. It’s not supposed to be a place of stress and anxiety, a place where we are afraid to express our opinions and make people feel unwelcome.

Like I said in my last post, I am not taking sides as I adore members of both parties and I am sticking to the views I expressed in Lessons Learned. I am taking part in the #positiveprotest because no member of our community should feel like they have to leave. We are all entitled to our own opinions, although I know some are more enthusiastic than others, we should respect each other and agree to disagree when it comes down to it.

So what is the #positiveprotest?

Well, it’s not really a protest, more of a project, but that hashtag was taken. It’s carrying on the work that was abruptly abandoned, but, we’re getting back to the basics of positive thinking. It is not a solution, it is not an obligation and sometimes, it’s too hard to do, but it is there. Positivity is a tool that is available for you to use to help improve your outlook. It is meant to make you stop and smell the roses, to make you and those around you smile.

How does #positiveprotest work?

  • it’s about sharing one positive a day on Twitter, using the #positiveprotest hashtag.
  • It’s about getting back to the basics of positive thinking.
  • Use the hashtag to compare positives with others, RT and share if you want to.
  • There is no obligation to post a positive everyday. Drop in and out as often as you like, its supposed to be fun!
  • Hayley from Calm Kitchen has made a blog badge/twitter cover that you can use if you want to. You can contact her here or on twitter @CalmKitchen

So that’s all folks. I hope you’ll join in, but there is no obligation. Let’s get our community back to the safe haven it used to be!

 

Lessons Learned

broken heart 2 colour

I know, I should let sleeping dogs lie, but I’ve been heart broken by all that’s been going on in our little community on Twitter. I miss the encouragement and support and I’ve become a bit nervous about expressing any kind of opinion on anything. It’s been upsetting to see people taking sides, unfollowing each other, and using ugly adjectives.

I am writing this because I’d like to apologize for my involvement in the matter. I was part of the original discussion that started this whole thing. Maybe if I hadn’t butted it, it would have remained a simple debate between two people and nothing more. I am sorry for that.

I’m not taking sides as I have gotten to know most of the people involved and find them all to be kind, generous people for the most part. I highly respect both sides for allowing me to maintain friendship with the other. It’s an unfortunate situation, but I must say, it has reinforced some beliefs I’ve had and helped me to learn more.

There are different forms of expression. Everyone handles their negative feelings differently. I mostly keep mine to myself, but many don’t, as you’ve seen on twitter. Some people rant, post quotes or pictures or debate or argue. Some of it I can relate to, some of it I find quite upsetting. If this is the way you need to deal with things, then by all means do it. I’d rather know that you are on twitter ranting up a storm than off somewhere alone and hurting yourself. The rest of us are free to listen or not.

Positive thinking is healthy. I believe trying to be positive on a regular basis is healthy and I’m all for it. Seeing the bright side of a situation can change your mood or outlook and prevent you from dwelling on the negatives. It’s also uplifting for the people around you. It is natural for me to see negatives first though, so I actively try to look for the positives, no matter how small. It does make me feel better. Now, some wont agree with me, that’s ok, we all have our own methods, but read the next point before you bite my head off.

Suppression is not healthy. Part of depression is the inability to feel or process feelings. Not feeling is part of what makes us unhappy. So feel it. It is impossible to be perfect all the time, sometimes you feel anger, grief, guilt, hatred etc. You need to feel them, accept the feeling and let it go. It’s not that simple, but you know what I mean. Positives are good, but you can’t use them to suppress the negative feelings.

We need comfort. Being positive is hard work and sometimes I just don’t have the energy. Other times I feel like I’m forcing it or kidding myself or something. In these moments I want those I confide in to agree with me that it sucks, I’m hurting and give me hugs. It’s not that I am not trying, I’ve been thinking about it all day, trying to turn myself around and I’ve run out of steam.

Honesty is the best policy. Tell people what you need. If you want advice, ask for it. If you don’t want it, say thanks but what I really need right now is compassion or whatever it is that you need. No one is a mind reader. The more honest you are about how you are feeling (even if you don’t know how you are feeling) and what you need, the more information people have and the less people assume. Generally people have good intentions and are just wanting to help.

Don’t make assumptions. Nothing annoys me more than people who constantly complain about a situation and then go on to make it worse and complain more. I just want to tell them that if they don’t want to do anything about it, then they aren’t allowed to complain so much. I have a friend who complains constantly about not being able to pay rent and buy dog food, but he continues to work the same job and spend a fortune on drinking and smoking. He makes me crazy sometimes, but who am I to judge whether he is not trying or not? Maybe he really loves his job and doesn’t want to leave it. Maybe he has tried budgeting, but can’t figure it out. Maybe he has an addiction and can’t just stop spending money or drinking. All I can do is offer what help I can give and hope for the best. I can’t expect that he has told me everything. Some things are just too hard to explain.

If you have gotten this far, thank you for reading and hearing me out. I’ve been over-thinking this all week. I hope I haven’t offended anyone. I just wanted to apologize to those involved and the bystanders for the part I played. I also wanted to share what has been reinforced and what I’ve learned from this. They are important lessons.

 

Milestone Birthday Checklist, Part II

Too many people undervalue what they are and over value what they are not.

Too many people undervalue what they are and over value what they are not.

I love that quote!! It’s so true for a lot of people, myself included! That’s why I am not sure about bucket lists. They are fun and setting goals is a good thing, but in doing so, it’s important not to forget what we have already achieved. That’s why I started with a before 30 bucket list of the things I’ve already accomplished. Today’s list is of the items I haven’t completed yet. Even though it’s not my list, (it’s the most common list items from friends, magazines and other blogs to do before 30) I don’t feel as bad not having done all these things because I already made a nice long list of the things I have accomplished. This is part II of the most common items people what to achieve before 30.

  1. Get a Tattoo. I haven’t done this one yet and I think I’ve decided not to. I’ve always thought tattoos were kinda cool, but when it comes down to deciding what I’d want and where I’d want it, I change my mind too much. I don’t think I could commit and stay happy with it.
  2. Pay tribute to the Gods of Rock and Roll. I found this suggestion on TLC. They recommend taking a pilgrimage to places where a rock and roller’s presence can be felt, like Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle, Washington. I don’t think that is necessary, seeing my favourites in concert will sufice.
  3. Try the Finer Things in Life. This one is from TLC too. They say to try the world’s most expensive cocktail, the Magie Noir, it’s about $620.00! I have no desire to drink or eat anything this expensive. Once it’s gone, it’s gone! I wouldn’t mind wearing something this expensive though 🙂
  4. Take a Road Trip. I should do this. The longest one I have done was from Toronto to Quebec City. Does that count? Maybe, maybe not. We didn’t stay over night anywhere or check out any tourists stops. I want to do a road trip like that.
  5. Decide if You Want to Have Children. I am currently still undecided and I doubt the answer will magically come to me in the next year.
  6. Have Dinner Alone. I’ve eaten fast food by myself, but I think this means to go to a sit-down restaurant and have a meal on your own. I have yet to do that.
  7. Travel Alone. I have traveled to a destination alone and I have wondered around a city by myself, but I haven’t gone on a whole vacation just me myself and I.
  8. Say No without Giving a Reason. I haven’t done this, I have a hard time saying no. I think it is important to learn how to not feel the need to justify it all the time.
  9. Make a Dramatic Change to your Appearance. Costumes don’t count! I’ve changed my hair cut, got fringe, but even that wasn’t dramatic.
  10. Have a Resume that’s not Padded. I still have local talks and posters in my academic CV. As a student I can get away with that sort of thing 🙂
  11. Master the Wedding Toast. This will come eventually. Not a whole lot of my good friends have gotten married yet.
  12. Backpack. This is probably an important experience I am missing out on, but I lack the desire. If I go on vacation, I want it to be nice and relaxing. Call me a snob but, I don’t want to share my room with strangers or have to do laundry.
  13. Destroy Something without Hurting Anyone. I would love to do a “The Office” where they take the printer out to a field and just smash the living daylights out of it.
  14. Go to Paris. This is on my lifetime bucket list.
  15. Work at Your Dream Job. I’m not sure I even know what my definition of a dream job is yet.
  16. Make Friends with an Enemy. This is nice in theory, but if someone is an enemy to me, they have proven themselves to be toxic to my well-being and shouldn’t be part of my life. I guess I try to look at people as potential friends until they prove otherwise.
  17. Make Something and Try Selling It. I’m actually not sure if I’ve done this or not. I made a sculpture that went to a charity art show. I asked for the sculpture back at the end, but they didn’t have it and couldn’t tell me if it had been sold or not…..
  18. Buy Yourself Something Expensive. Most people suggested designer purses and shoes here. I have yet to buy myself something extravagant.
  19. Visit Relative You’ve Never Met. I could actually do this since my aunt has dine the genealogy, but I think I’d need to develop some sort of a pen pal type relationship with them first.
  20. Buy Your First Home. This was the plan for this spring, but then we heard hubby wasn’t going to have a teaching position and it all kind of unraveled from there. I don’t think this one is going to happen before 30.
  21. Make a Family Tradition. I’ve got one year to start something, suggestions?
  22. Visit the Grand Canyon. I guess a lot of the lists I looked up were from Americans. I would like to see the Grand Canyon at some point. I’d also like the see the Great Barrier Reef, Mt. Kilimanjaro and a live volcano.
  23. Pay off Debt. I’m happy to say I don’t have any…..although I guess now hubby’s school loan is partly mine now too. That wont get paid off in a year.
  24. Build Something from Scratch. Does making jewelry count? I didn’t think so. I was hopeless at Design and Technology or Shop Class or whatever you call it.
  25. Earn a Black Belt. I am a brown belt in karate. If I started back right now, I could maybe try for my black belt next spring. I think that’s too big a commitment for me at the moment. Karate isn’t just an activity, it’s a lifestyle.
  26. Learn Another Language. I should learn French, I need to learn French. I got top marks in French class in school (in Toronto), then I moved to Montreal where you actually need to speak French and found out I wasn’t very good at all!
  27. See a Broadway Show. I think this was meant literally. I’ve seen plenty of shows that have been on Broadway, but not while they were actually there.
  28. Drive you Dream Car. Mine would be a Ferrari. I think I’d be too worried about scratching it to actually enjoy it.
  29. Celebrity watch. I just don’t care enough, sorry.
  30. Buy your Favourite Arcade Game. Who has the time and/or money for this? Oh wait…my brother in-law! He built his own favourite arcade game, the stand, with the buttons, coin slot and all!
  31. Become a Wine Buff. I can see how this could make you feel sophisticated, but I don’t drink. So cross that off the list.
  32. Get Certified to Teach Something. This one sounds like fun. What would I teach? Zentangles maybe?
  33. Got to NYC for NYE. Nah. I prefer NYE to be low key and cozy. My best NYE was having my best friends over and playing games all night.
  34. Take a “How To” Class. This I would like to do…
  35. Write a Book. It was suggested that you write a book, send it in for publication and frame the rejection letter, lol. I could totally do this!
  36. Learn to Fish/Hunt. No thank you. Hunting requires hurting cute furry animals, not for me. Fishing involves worms. Enough said.
  37. Read the Bible. That’s a lot of very tiny print!
  38. Learn to Back Flip. I think my prime back flipping days are already over!
  39. Ride a motorcycle. Yes they are cool and I’d love to give it a try, but I’ve known too many people who died in motorcycle accidents. It’s just not for me.

So that’s the list! I think a lot of them aren’t really that important to me. I’m still unsure about making my own list. I feel like I’d be setting myself up for failure. I don’t know. What do you think?

Just Be

Just Be

 

 

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