Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It Ain't All Sunshine and Cenotes

I know that usually I put on a happy face for the blog and other internet outlets, but I have to be honest, life isn't always easy. That's true for everyone I am sure, unless you're a pampered lap dog living in luxury, eating doggie cookies out of carefully manicured fingers. My doggie cookies are hard-earned and come from fingers worn down to nubs from the overuse of a keyboard.

I don't talk about it often, but I have a long history with clinical depression. Clinical depression that led to years of high doses of anti-depressants and hundreds of hours on the psychiatrist's couch. Since living in Mexico, I have overcome much of the disease and am med-free, but that doesn't mean that the depression doesn't raise its ugly head now and again. The sunshine helps, a LOT, if you've never experienced a dark and dreary winter you may mock the idea of SAD (seasonal affective disorder), but it's a proven fact that a lack of sun can lead to serious depression. I also think having a child has helped, perhaps a change in hormones combined with the pride in being a mommy to a pretty special kid. Since moving to Mexico (and becoming mommy), I eat better, I drink FAR less alcohol and am living a healthier life.
Whatever the reason for the change, I am grateful, I no longer feel empty and hopeless, at least not on a daily basis.

And then the dark days come. I don't mean the weather (though now that I think about it it HAS been raining a lot). I feel down. Listless. Zero energy. My get up and go has got up and went. Feeling this way leads to guilt, guilt that I am not being the best mommy I can be or the best employee or the best housewife (or the best blogger). I'd rather sit on the couch with the laptop playing Mafia Wars than venture outside to kick a ball around. Or write a blog post. Ahem. The guilt leads to further depression and blah blah blah, the circle goes round. Issues with my relationship with Hubby certainly play a role, I'm not going to get into that here but suffice it to say that "it ain't easy".

So here I am. Feeling depressed and feeling guilty about feeling depressed. I don't expect sympathy, seriously, I live in paradise and am able to see and do things that others only dream about. I have a great job and an amazing kid and the best parents and brother in the world. But that is not enough to overcome the "dark days". Talking about depression is tough, particularly to folks who don't understand the disease. If I hear "Chin up little buckaroo", I will scream. "Cheer up, it will all be ok" is another phrase that can make someone who suffers from depression want to bang their head against the wall. On behalf of depressed folks everywhere, I beg of you not to give advice, not to offer platitudes, just simply listen and be there for your friends. Visit them, even if they say they don't want visitors. Drag them out of the house to do something, even to just go for a walk in the sun for ten minutes. Offer to take their kids for an hour or two to lighten their load. If you have a friend who is truly in the pits of hell, take them to get professional help, they might resent you at first but will thank you later (depends on how close you are I suppose). Reach out, don't let them push you away, it's not easy being friends with a "depresso", I know that, but friends are often exactly what they (we) need.

I apologize for the downer of a post, no cenotes, no great adventures, just an honest statement of my current life. It doesn't suck, but it's no box of bon bons right now either. Back to our regularly scheduled "Sunshine and Light" posts soon....


norm said...

My advice for when the black dog visits is a long walk and if its uphill even better. When I was young, I did push-up till my arms quivered, much too old for that kind of therapy now but it used to work on my black moods

Amanda said...

Depression sucks. So does SAD. We're all here to listen and help in any way we can. :)

Kelly said...

I couldn't have said it better myself. The worst part about clinical depression (I was diagnosed with a "chemical imbalance") is that it isn't necessairly brought on by trauma or bad things happening. That can intensify it, but when my depression was at its worst was at a time when the rest of my life was going exactly as I'd wanted it to. I felt so incredibly guilty for being depressed when I had such a fantastic life. It is impossible to explain to people who haven't been there. I have "balanced out" as it were and no longer take meds, and the only advice I give to those who live with it is "Please see a professional." I know that there are people who resist taking medications (and not without reason), but there are other treatment options. Sometimes medication IS what's necessary - in my case, no amount of counseling would balance out the chemicals in my brain.

Hope you pull out of it soon! I believe that you will : )

Jonna said...

"Chin up little buckaroo"

OK, I couldn't resist! Plus, screaming is probably a good release.

I don't have clinical depression but I have suffered from SAD, it's real in my book.

I have no good advice but keep talking and keep reaching out. We are out here and we care.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

Depression is a black hole,it sucks the energy out of you and tells you lies. The thing is that depression is clever, it puts a drop of truth in, or spins the truth just big enough to let it seep in.
I am a big fan of natural remedies,though I also believe in better living through chemistry. Anyway, look into omega 3s, most modern people aren't getting enough. If someone knows a good accupunturist, they can help you too.
The most important thing to remember is that it's okay to ask for help. Many people care about you! hang in there, get some sunshine, eat some fish with spinach....or chia seeds or flax seeds.

KfromMichigan said...

I totally understand .. depression can take over our lives. My life has been up and down for the last year. As a caregiver to my 88 year old Mother, I often just sit and cry. I love my Mother, but it can take its toll sometime. Most of my friends have forgotten about me since I'm not able to go out much. Hubby has been a lifesaver! So I know what depression can do to us! WE are here for you Amiga!

Life's a Beach! said...

I also wrestle with clinical depression. I'm just cycling off the meds now after a two year bout. I've had it my entire life, but never obtained any help until my son was in college. What I feel most guilty about is not recognizing his depression when he was growing up. It runs through both sides of our family, so he inherited a double dose. I'm glad you posted this because a lot of people suffer in silence and never get the treatment they need. The drugs have been a lifesaver for me. The hardest step for me is always dragging myself to the doctor again and admitting I need help. Hope your black clouds lift soon.

La Cubanófila said...

Downer? Heck, no. Your post made my day! Even discussed it in therapy. I knew I liked you--you're brave, talented, and a great storyteller.

Ellen Atkin said...

i have often checked in to your blog and see how you are doing. you never cease to be honest and effective in your writing. that is why you are so well loved.. the first time I checked you out in 2008, there was some big drama going on you never expanded upon. like a life or death thing. you kinda got me hooked then. you are brave to be out on a limb down there in that country. nice weather doesn't mean you overlook everything else. why do you think all the mexicans want to leave?

CancunCanuck said...

norm- Good advice, exercise gets endorphins going which can help. Just getting motivated to get up and at'em is the hard part. That's another nasty part of the beast, you know what's good for you but you just can't bring yourself to do it. :)

Amanda- Thanks amiga, I appreciate it.

Kelly- You get it, exactly. The meds are extremely helpful (though going off the meds was one of the lowest points of my life, I do NOT recommend Paxil, it's like coming off heroin!) Hugs to you. :)

Jonna- Ok, you made me laugh instead of scream, thanks. It's so hard to reach out sometimes, it took me a few "Ok, 1, 2, 3, publish" moments before I could share this. I feel better now that I have. Thanks so much.

Theresa- The biggest thing that has helped me is improving my diet, goes right along with natural remedies. I eat a LOT of spinach (turning into Popeye!) and vitamin B. Will check out Omega 3's, thanks. A warm embrace for you.

K- Oh honey, I'm so sorry you're having troubles too. Reach out to me if you need to, you know where to find me and sometimes an ear that's far away from the situation can help more than someone who knows every detail, you know? Thank you and a big hug for you.

Life's a Beach- I am concerned about my son too, heck, he's already in therapy and he's five. At least I know that I can recognize issues when they arise and now I have no problem seeking pro help, for me or for Max. I agree, when you are in the black pit, it's hard to drag yourself anywhere, let alone to the doc for help. Hope you are well today!

La Corista- Your comment made me smile and cry (yeah, it's possible, haha). Thanks so much for the kind words. :)

ellen- Thank you for the nice words, I can't believe anyone remembers my blog from two years ago! Yes, that was a tough time. I haven't been brave enough to share the details, but getting it out there that something was wrong certainly helped. Same with this post, it was like breaking a dam that had been building and building, the release is a relief.

WOW, thanks to ALL of you for your comments, you don't know how much they made my day. Lots of love to anyone suffering from depression, but especially to all of you.

Rosas Clan in Tulum said...

Life is good in Mexico- just not everyday. That is true everywhere. When this happens to me- I first let myself wollow in it a little- it is good to feel your feelings fully- and then say- okay- done with that and fake it till you make it.

Feel good baby- you deserve it

Cameo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BlueSky said...

It is comforting to know that other people experience depression too. I don't think this blog was a downer either, in fact, it made me feel alot better. It's just nice to know you aren't alone. Simply being able to admit you are depressed I think is the first step towards getting out of it. I think everyone on this planet experiences depression but they don't want to admit it. I went through a couple of years of being depressed and down and am just now coming out of it. My problem was that I would go and hide and that didn't help at all. Just take small steps and know this won't last forever. Know that you are loved and appreciated by more people than you even know! I have been following your blog since 2008 and have appreciated everything. Hang in there!! :)

Dr George Leddick said...

I have some terrific advice for you, and hope you take it. A very wise woman once told me:

Visit people, even if you say you don't want visitors. Drag yourself out of the house to do something, even to just go for a walk in the sun for ten minutes. Schedule play dates for the kid for an hour or two to lighten your load. If you have a friend who is truly in the pits of hell, take them to get professional help, they might resent you at first but will thank you later (depends on how close you are I suppose). Reach out, don't let them push you away.

Mic said...

Hi Hon,
Hugs to you for your depression. It is good to talk about it and amazing how many people you think would never have that problem - in fact do. Living in Alaska, every winter is SADS time for me (starting early this year) and started me reading blogs from sunnier climes - yours included :-) Am sure you can't imagine the help your blog posts have been.

Another thing that helps me is to sign up for a class that forces me to get out of the house as I tend to want to hibernate when I'm down. Over the years, from doing that I've acquired an Alaska Real Estate License, Alaska Certificated Nursing Assist license' - Passed the Written Exam for Private Pilot's License and Soloed among other fun classes for Arts & Crafts. Wish I could help more since you've brought me so many smiles; but know I'm sending cyber hugs

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for opening up and educating those of us who don't understand. Now I know how to help my friends/family when they're in need :)

Sunshine combined with getting out of the house do wonders for the mind and heart!! I'm glad to hear that Cancun is good for you.

Anonymous said...

I have been diagnosed with depression and I do think that the long winters in Minnesota make it worse. The generally nicer weather year round in Santiago make it better, but it doesn't cure it. Sometimes, for no reason, I can feel down about something. Sometimes it lasts for a day. Sometimes a week or more. Recently, I was feeling down about some things. Some er MAJOR changes in my life and I just had to try to look at it from a different perspective because (to make a long story short) if I was still living down in Chile with no health insurance I probably would have ended up with a very serious medical problem before long, so it's good that I can come back to the US, get the care I need, and now I'm feeling healthy enough to go visit my fiancé in Chile. So, right now I'm feeling much better.

Kimbabe in B.C. said...

Your unguarded honesty will help more people than you realize.
Bless you,
Kim in B.C.

Refried Dreamer said...

Hey Momma, sorry to hear that things aren't looking so good right now. What makes the situation a little harder, is that you're not home... in your comfort zone with people like you to communicate with and release some of that tension. Remember, you're not alone. To our benefit, there's lots of sunshine and plenty of good beer. Hope you feel better soon!

CancunCanuck said...

Rosas Clan- Fake it til you make it is usually my mantra, sometimes the energy to keep that mask on just doesn't appear. With the kid, it's a must, I really don't want to bring him down. Hugs girl!

Blue Sky- Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree, a lot of folks won't admit it as they see it as a sign of weakness rather than a disease that can be treated with help. I appreciate your kind words, thank you very much. :)

Dr. George- Thanks for the wise words, they sound somewhat familiar. :)

Mic- I can imagine how Alaska brings on the SAD, good for you for doing so much to counteract the darkness! Thanks for the cyber hugs, I appreciate them and send them back to you in return.

Gringation- Getting out is vital, finding the motivation to do so is the hard part sometimes. I truly believe that Max is my saviour in that regard, can't keep a five year old inside for long without something going horribly wrong. :)

Sara- I hope you are doing ok, I've been really out of the blogging loop! Take care of your health, physical and mental, big hugs to you!!

Kim- Thank you, I hope that others can find the strength to come forward and ask for help and that loved ones might be able to recognize the signs in the depressed people around them. :)

Refried Dreamer- Sometimes it's easy to forget that there are people on my side and folks going through exactly the same thing, thanks for the reminder. It's healthy to speak out and speak up! Thank amiga. :)

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