Infinite. Unrelenting.

“Well, you look good!”

           …is my neighbor’s response after seeing me emerge from my self-imposed isolation.  Like many others suffering from depression, I isolate myself in my house, my bedroom.   Isolation is one of my  coping mechanisms during extended depressive episodes.  But, let’s face it, aren’t all depressive episodes extended?  Every second, minute, hour feels infinite.   At least with a physical injury, we usually see an end in sight after the initial trauma. The impact jars us, takes our breath away, but is followed by ever-diminishing pain. Throbbing pulses recede over time and there is an end “in sight.”   “This is never going away,”  “I’ve been like this [for the] majority of my life.”   These very same thoughts were my constant companions only last week.

           So, when someone tells me “Well, you look good!”, I know that they mean well and often have no idea how to respond if I actually tell them about my depression diagnosis.  We know the usual responses to this admission, “What do you have to be depressed about?”, “what’s wrong??” or they comment on how good I look. (I’ve no explanation for that one!)

          This comment prompted a mental exploration of what the reponse might be if friends, family,  and society could “see” the depression, underneath my mask?  With a visible injury or physical illness,  when confronted with a graphic image (of the victim),  we would likely draw a sharp breath, avert our faces, and even close our eyes.  The pain of the victim is evident in the tortured facial expression, damaged skin, and twisted, crushed limbs.  What if depression, an “invisible” illness, became visible? for all the world to see?

          Initially, I felt drawn to images of burn victims as rough “correlates”, visual representations of clinical depression. Why? Perhaps because of the intense suffering accompanying burn injuries, or so I have always heard or read.   Their suffering is so extreme that many must remain under sedation while being given significant amounts of pain medication as well as massive antibiotics as their skin (hopefully) heals. As I found such images, of which there is too plentiful of stock, my first thought after the knee-jerk impulse to look away, was that these images were far too graphic and disturbing in nature to include in a depression blog. *Note how I almost automatically downplay my own suffering, the suffering of my fellowman.

          My reader, seeking information/support on depression, would recoil so strongly that I feared being accused of unnecessary sensationalism, exaggeration out of proportion to the point I was trying to make:  Depression, an “invisible” illness creates an infinite amount of suffering which is unrelenting in nature.  Despair, hopelessness, anguish in infinite amounts relentlessly tortures our minds, our bodies.  And, it lies just beneath my mask.

Still here and thank you

This will be brief. I’m writing to say thank you to those of you who responded to my post Anyone here?

Your support kept me going. I’m hanging on by a thread because I’m back in bottomless well of depression. (Still waiting to hear from those in my personal circle.)

Part 2

Update: So, I sent friend requests to all the “friends” from Athens, Georgia who insulted and berated me on Facebook after I posted my political views. Guess what? You probably already guessed it. None of them were mature or nice enough to even reply. I’m not going to reveal my political views again, online or in real life. You can’t pigeonhole me into a neat category, although I’m sure it’s easier for those who like to point fingers, make judgement calls. My values and morals determine who I support… on the political stage and in real life.

Comments/criticisms on my art (above) are welcome. All art on this blog is mine with the exception of doorway photo (credited: filip-kominik.)

Athens trip to South GA

The Truth (Pt. 1)

Up until now, I have kept my thoghts to myself and not mentioned the reason for deleting my previous facebook page. I am fully aware that noone I know (now) really cares about this and people that I knew before moving to Porterdale from Athens probably do not care either. But, to get rid of some bad karma mildewing in my soul, it’s time to purge and clean it out. Clorox it out, if necessary.

About 3 years ago, we had a presidential election and I made the unforgivable error of posting on fb my political views. Within a few days, people who I had called friends for several years felt it their right, their duty to make their feelings known about my views. Friends from Athens, those who I had laughed with, danced with, drove to New Orleans Jazz Fest (twice), shared some of the best times of my life with or so I thought . We’d seen each other at our best moments, at Jack’s wedding, and our worst moments, Grannie’s grandmother dying. I thought of them as real friends, though my move away from Athen’s distanced me from the crowd. Perhaps my memories are distorted and I was not much more than a person with a car who could drive our crowd around or buy that round of drinks at the bar?

Getting back to my point, after expressing myself on fb, these friends felt it imperitive to make their opinions of me public via posts. The comments were basically caustic, derogitory and filled with quite impolite language. I had not written anything about them in my posts when expressing my political views, but these people I had called friends, felt their need to insult me personally. Insulting my intelligence, my beliefs (they thought), and my character. So, I decided to delete my fb page if this was the kind of atmosphere waiting for me. We only post the good, shiny things in our life on fb, the trophies our children win, the new luxury cars we purchased, our beautfiufl vacation in the Caribbean. The painful, ugly, real parts of our lives are compartmentalized, sealed, and resting in a box never to see the light of day on social media. Everythig is beautiful, everything is fine.

I’ve finally grown weary of the bad feelings harbored toward these folks and, in the spirit of wanting peace, love, and all the positive feelings we button up behind polite coversaiton, have forgiven the insults. The nonstop vitriol in the news, on social media, on the radio is unhealthy for me and, to be frank, the rest of the damn world.

I watched a documentary on Netflix today about Woodstock. The event wherein about half a million people came together and enjoyed, reveled in three days of peace and music. Now, maybe it was the hormones, but I teared up at the very real PROOF that we can put aside our differences and focus on that which we have in common with each other as human beings. Not as Democrats, conservatives, liberals, politicians, gays, lesbians, women and on and on. How about we get back to focusing on how similar we are to each other? Most people want peace, friends, community, don’t they?!?

It is sad to me that my daughters are growing up in what I see as a society filled with hate, mistrust, and a dystopian view of the future. I’m going out on a limb and praying we can get back to caring about our fellow man, regardless of their inner thoughts, their beliefs. Most of us desire life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I might be getting older (Yep!), but the truth of this statement, written 230 years ago still makes sense to the majority of us. Doesn’t it?

I pray for a better tommorow.
*Now, check out the pics of me on the flight to Aruba.

Anyone here? (One, so far.)

It doesn’t seem that anyone I know is even reading this, despite my asking over and over. So, I m done. Another dead end to add to my list.

Ok, well I was done. Until one person, someone I don’t know personally, like in Horton Hears a Who said, “I’m here.” Thanks to Michael Kuch for speaking up from his dust speck which is his Kuched (blog) and one I admire quite a lot. (Blog not speck) If you too are fed up with our society full of political correctness, hypocrisy, b.s., and outright lies and can take being Kuched, check it out. Millennials, “victims”, and those with thin skin… you’ve been warned. I am strongly considering offering my opinion on more than one subject: depression and what is still right within our American society. There. If the use of American “triggered” you, then you probably won’t appreciate my opinion either. If that’s you, please peddle off in your horse-drawn, non-combustible vehicle and continue to foment hate, distrust, and division. I’m going in search of the positive. Wish me luck.

Prescription drugs are not the problem. Fentanyl and heroin are.

Fentanyl and Heroin, Prescriptions not main problem
*Before I’m accused of not being effected, I lost a cousin to heroin overdose. His body was found in a field.

*First and foremost, I am not saying that abuse and consumption of prescription opioids are not a problem. Opioids are not the main problem..

Doctors “overprescribing” opioids did not cause our “drug crisis.” Nearly half of all overdoses don’t involve opioids at all. Among remaining drug-related deaths in 2017, half involved illicit drugs–imported fentanyl and heroin. Only about 18,000 deaths involved a “prescription opioid” — and most of those involved multiple illegal drugs and alcohol. Medical exposure is not the problem.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says most addicts begin to abuse alcohol and drugs in their teens or early 20’s–before they encounter opioids. Contrast that with folks over age 55. Seniors are prescribed opioids for pain three times more often than youth under age 18. But seniors have the lowest overdose rates of any age group. Kids now overdose six times more often.
We DO have an addiction crisis in America. But it’s related to lack of care, not prescribing. Prescriptions for people in pain are rarely involved in this tragedy. Restricting drug supply and counting pills won’t help. Forcing pain patients off the only medications that work (for them) won’t help.

Restrictive policies are now driving pain management doctors out of practice across America and driving patients into agony, disability, and sometimes suicide when they are deserted. Most of what we hear in media about opioids and addiction is wrong. (Why has the CDC made two corrections to it’s estimate of overdose deaths? Prescription overdoses and deaths were added in to deaths and overdoses where fentanly and heroin were iinvolved.)

We know what’s really needed,Politicians just don’t want to pay for it.

Nobody knows how to “cure” addiction. We may never know. The best we can do is early prevention and later harm reduction. Some educational programs starting in Middle School didn’t work (“Just Say No” was a total failure.) But others have shown results. For the people already addicted, the most effective harm reduction is Medication Assisted Treatment (Methadone or Buprenorphine), combined with long term community reintegration. Reintegration means job training, safe housing, mental health and recovery counseling–and support for people who relapse. 28 day detox clinics and Narcotics Anonymous don’t work alone. Such programs have high relapse rates when recovering addicts are discharged without support into the same circumstances that made them vulverable in the first place.

Addiction recovery is neither cheap nor easy. (But very lucrative for the owners of the addiction centers.) We must invest billions every year in our labor force, housing and communities. We must also divert non-violent drug offenders out of the justice system. Even the Christie Commission got that one right. But more restrictions on doctors and theire patients aren’t the answer. And neither is the proliferation of lawsuits, I’m afraid.

Molly Canfield

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caregiver depression

Moving on Up – Our “silver wave”

A 2018 report by the US Census Bureau indicates that ” By 2035,  {there is estimated to be} 78.0 million people 65 years or older compared to 76.4 million people under the age of 18″.  In other words, for the first time in our country’s history, the elderly population will outnumber children.” Dementia, substance abuse and mental illness continue to rise at a rapid rate, while mental illnesses continue to be stigmatized.  As our population ages, communities, families and friends will be tasked with meeting the physical and mental needs of older people.   It is vital that we care for our caregivers.   Caregiving doesn’t cause depression. Not everyone who caregives will  develop the negative symptoms assoicated with depression.

A Labor of Love Can Still Be Labor

The innate qualities of compassion, caring and thoughtfulness found in many people make them dedicated, attentive caregivers.  However, these very qualities may mean that, as caregivers, they sacrifice their own personal and emotional needs in order to provide the best possible care for their loved ones or friends. However, the stress of taking care of others comes with the risk of develping depressive symptoms. (For a reference link  to depression symptoms, click Also important to remember is that caregiver depression is still depression.  Caregivers effected by depression may still experience just as many day to day struggles as those of us experiencing out own depression, but with the additional responsibility/choice of caregiving.

Recomendations for Caregivers

Please note that these are recommendations and that your particular circumstances, diagnosis, severity of symptoms often dictate those most applicable to you/your loved ones/friends.

  • Set realistic goals. Trying to get every single task done in too small a period of time, puts unnecessary stress on a caregiver as well as the DP. (For efficiency, DP will be shorthand for “depressed person.”)
  • Do what you can when you can. In addition to setting realistic goals, break down large tasks into smaller pieces.
  • Maintain soical interactions with trusted others. Confiding in others may lessen some of the strain. Here is a link to interactive caregiver support groups and forums. Being with actual people is not always practical, but online support may be an option to consider. Especially with skype or duo, both feature video conferencing.
  • Engage in activities you enjoy (hobbies, exercise, religious services, community events). Feeling better takes time, especially if you have been experiencing chronic depression.  (One of my psychiatrists explained it to me like this, “It took you many years to arrive at your current state – severely depressed. It wil also take a long time to feel better.” This helped me. I cut down on the anxious thoughts about not feeling better, sooner. More patience with myself was key. Eventually I did get better. )
  • Postpone important decisions not related to the depression. It seems obvious to say this, but to clarify, the “mental fog” often experienced during depressive episodes may make for slower response times (physicallly and mentally)  Getting objective insight from trusted others is a possible solution.
  • “Snap out of it” or “Man up!” are inappropirae, dismissive comments which should never be used when iinteracting with a depressed person. No matter how frustrated or desperate one may feel.  *I am aware that the majority of my readers know this, but include it here for those “new” to caring for a depressed friend or loved one.
  • As your depressive symptoms improve, positive thoughts will replace negative thoughts. Look for smaller improvements day by day (gradually, not necessarily every single day).
  • Let your family and friends help you. Don’t feel any other way except fortunate and grateful. Banish guilt and worry over “imposing” on them. (I know this is very, very difficult from personal and, unfortunately, lengthy experience.  The following are links utilized in this post and are listed here for refrences of support/knowledge:  (Eldercare locator, resource to links for long-term care                                                         options. (guides to Power of Att’y., Trustees, Court appointed           guardians, government fiduciaries, all financial matters related to finances of           caregiving)   (this is just too promising not to include. It is a site for creating a “community” for your loved one, a post of the needs of the individual. Then their support group members can check it to see if they can help with needs of the person, ie. a ride to a doctor appt., accmpany to church, a hot meal, etc. It is for anyone in need of a helping hand…elderly, handicapped, recovering, family in need, those in cancer treatment, veterans/veterans family)

**It is ironic that, as I get ready to post this, a loved one has gone to the hosptital. We will seee how well I can follow my own advice.

Athens trip to South GA

Anger, depression and forgiveness

” I should’ve gotten that job!” “When will he/she treat me right?!” “Why didn’t I save more money??”

I’m an expert at beating up on myself. How many of us regularly berate, chastise and downright hate ourselves? My guess is that many depressed people also wrestle with self-anger at one or more times during a depressive episode and even during times of remission.

Just as mood swings weren’t always a part of my typical emotional profile, neither was anger. Although never forgotten and tucked away in a dark corner of my mind, I never have really admitted that anger is as just a part of my depression as despair and hopelessness. It was there, no doubt, but was it a cause? When most people, even us patients, think of depression what’s often the image (auditory or visual) that comes to mind? Crying, tucked into a ball, under the covers, staring out the bedroom window. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, anger and depression are quite often closely linked to one another. Althought Sigmund Freud’s theories are probably not the focus of today’s counseling, psychology and psychiatry programs, there is at least one aspect of depression that holds up to (my) scrutiny. “Depression is anger turned inward.” Yes, the causes of our depression and anxiety are often tangled, mishappen knots which can take eons to unravel, but anger at something or someone may be near its core.

Adaptive vs Maladaptive Anger

I will admit that I am my own worst critic. “Would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself?” is a phrase many in therapy have heard. (Or, outside of therapy!) Just like a finger on a hot stove, anger is a warning that something is not right with us. The failing grade on an exam, the sarcastic remark from a co-worker may trigger anger . Anger is a feeling and what we choose to do with that anger can be viewed as adaptive or maladaptive in nature. If someone cuts in front of me in line at the grocery store, I may feel a flare of anger. What action do I choose to peform in response? Adaptive coping might include: ignoring it (What’s the big deal anyway?), letting him know that the line ends by the cat food display, asking him/her if things are alright? is there an emergency? The last one and maybe even the second could be seen as questionable, depending on context, person, time of day, etc. Malaptive coping responses might include: yelling, pushing back to my place in line, demanding to see the manager, hitting.

By now, research generally supports the physical and emotional toll that anger, especially maladaptive anger, can take on our bodies. High blood pressure, ulcers, headaches, increased anxiety and depression are just a few examples.These are not new concepts and it’s not just me supporting these ideas. Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins University, Emory University… all medical authtorities weigh in on the damaging effects of not forgiving ourselves/others in relation to our anger.

Forgiveness, but how?

The question I have for the therapist is “How do I do it? Really, like what are the steps? ” I am not lazy, but over the years I have less and less energy to figure things out when experts can be relied upon for assistance. Unhealthy anger, when reduced, can lead to lower levels of depression. No, I am not saying that this is THE answer. But, maybe, for many of us it’s worth trying. Here are the components of forgiveness. **I do not take credit for them, only for making folks aware of a coping strategy.

!) Acknowledge and process anger. A friend, therapist, religious leader, or support groups are options.

2) Acknowledge revenge fantasies in yourself with trusted others. (Personally, I spent many years indulging in fantasies the ways in which my abusers could be punished. Of course, this eventually became not only exhausting but useless and detrimental to my health.)

3) Common ground – This is often a very difficult part of the forgiveness process. Finding common ground with the causes of your trauma/people you blame. “We are both human beings. Human being are flawed. We both have families.” Not easy by a long shot, I know.

4) Acknowledge the differences between yourself and your aggressor. How you wouldn’t have acted in the same way is key to your own mental health.

5) Forgive yourself. Our anger at ourselves finds at least some origin in blaming ourselves for our traumas, abuse, neglect and more, even though we know rationally that this is not the case.

Accept our vulnerability. Acknowledge that we are imperfect humans. But, we try. Oh Lord, do we try! I am hoping that this post strikes a cord with many. The subject matter certainly forced me to be more honest and open with myself.