Category Archives: depression

Cabin Fever, or just plain SAD?

Do I LOOK like a Husky???

I don’t know about you, and of course this will differ depending on what part of the planet you call home, but for me February is about the point in the year when the novelty of winter begins to wear off. We are all familiar with terms like Seasonal Depression and Cabin Fever, the latter which originated in the days when people lived much more in direct contact with the land and the seasons and were clearly at the mercy of mother natures “moods” and changes. As an avid fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the “Little House on the Prairie” series (the books!) I realized at a young age how fortunate we are in modern times to have certain luxuries that help us cope with freezing temperatures, snow and potential isolation. The fact that we have cars, or public transportation, indoor heat and plumbing and grocery stores where we can buy food from just about anywhere in the world without it having to be “in season” sometimes makes me wonder why we even have an actual diagnostic term for seasonal depression; SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
According to the Mayo Clinic:
*Symptoms of winter-onset seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping (feeling like you want to hibernate)
  • Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates such as pastas, rice, bread and cereal
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating and processing information
  • Hmmm, well that all sounds familiar.
  • The article also cites that a lack of exposure to sunlight may increase Melatonin, a hormone that is normally produced during sleep (nighttime hours) which may disrupt our mood and our sleep patterns.
  • I’m thinking, based on intuitive deduction, not scientific evidence, that Human beings have done a pretty good job of adapting to our environments for hundreds of thousands of years, so why would we failed to adapt to lack of sunlight? In other words, I’m not completely buying this theory. Then again as someone who has experienced cyclical depression for most of my life, I may not be the most unbiased or accurate judge.
  • I think part of our problem is we don’t get out enough. We rush to our cars and once we  have reached our destination, we rush to get indoors. We act as if cold air is somehow terribly offensive and something to be avoided at all costs. Our traditional ‘modern’ lifestyles reinforce this behavior by having us work usually indoors during the few hours of actual daylight that we are able (in the northern parts) to experience. The typical 9 to 5 bankers hours pretty much covers that window of opportunity for exposure to sunlight.
  • One of the perks to being unemployed is that I can get out and about during those precious hours of sunlight. Being “low income”, unable to afford a car and sometimes even not having bus fare means that my primary mode of transportation is my own two feet. Additionally I do believe that people need a bit more sleep in the winter. maybe like many mammals we are meant to function in a semi-hibernation mode. Having a free schedule allows for naps, sleeping late and adjustments to normal sleep patterns.
  • So what about the rest of the world, the ones who are lucky enough to have jobs, cars and a consistent schedule?
  • As someone who has lived in both worlds I can offer some suggestions, which of course you can take or leave. Depending on your current level of S.A.D. you may want to suggest that I stick my suggestions in the one place where the sun will not shine, and that’s okay too, I get it, I really do.
  • So here goes, 
  • 1. Planes, trains and automobiles
  • We love them, then get us where we need to go and they do it with heat in the winter and cool air in the summer (assuming things are functioning properly) they play music along the way and depending on type and ‘extras’ they might offer even more tailored comforts than our own homes. We get very accustomed to our cars, maybe too much so. How about next time there’s a nice reasonably not-too-cold day you walk to do some errands instead of habitually heading for the driver’s seat? You might be surprised at how good you feel after a brisk walk. And you’ll save yourself some fuel.
  • 2. Work
  • If you work in doors, where do you go for lunch or breaks? Do you head for the employee break room (often known as the bleak room). If so, is it a tiny space lined with vending machines that dispense plastic wrapped mystery foods? Are the lights glaring fluorescent? Is there another option? How about taking a stroll outside, breathing in some fresh air and basking in real light. How about those vacation days? Are you saving them all for summer when you can really enjoy the time off? Could you spare one or two for your mental health, just to get some rest? Which leads into…
  • 3. Sleep
  • The majority of people I know, regardless of age, socioeconomic status or any other identifying factors seem to agree they just feel like they need more sleep in the winter. Depending on life circumstances this can be more of a challenge to some than others, I know. But look at your daily schedule. Are there times you might set aside to watch a tv show or do something else that may be entertaining, but non-essential?  Do you feel guilty or “unproductive” if you allow yourself to nap? Guess what, your body heals itself while it sleeps, its too busy doing other stuff while its awake, so it needs this time to repair and rebuild tissues. Napping, then, is not unproductive at all, in fact it’s giving your body the time to do the work it needs to do to keep yourself healthy! How about them apples? And speaking of apples…
  • 4. Food
  • Your body needs food, in the winter it might need a little more to maintain warmth and to fend off all those nasty viruses that tend to accumulate in spots like workplaces and shared vehicles. Go ahead and eat! And try to eat healthy. Most people put on a few pounds in winter, there’s nothing wrong with that. And if you start walking more you’re going to burn lots of those calories anyway.
  • Finally, all the Motherly advice in the world is no substitute for seeking help if the problem becomes truly serious. Friends, support groups, and if necessary, professional intervention might be called for if you’re blues start taking on a darker shade. You’re not alone if the long tail end of winter gets you down and there is help available, so reach out and grab it and remember, spring is on it’s way.

*Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sad/MY00371
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

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Ziggy Part II

Life went on as it does, with Ziggy as my constant companion. several years ago I moved into a large lower flat and acquired a few more animal roommates. Ziggy who had always been strictly an indoor cat, became introduced the the Great Outdoors. As is often the case once someone gets a taste of the wild, they develop a craving for more adventure and freedom (I have several prior relationships to testify to this fact). After nearly five years in that apartment changes in circumstance made it necessary to move to a smaller, less expensive apartment. I was neck deep in the misery of Interferon/Ribavirin treatment and the entire moving process was extremely unpleasant, to put it nicely.
On the day of the move Ziggy was nowhere to be found. We weren’t too worried, we figured we’d go back and look for him which we did, for a while. I became extremely ill and depressed after moving and much of that first month is lost to me. My kids made regular sojourns in search of Ziggy but with no luck. In my depressed and apathetic state, I finally resigned myself to the idea that this was just one more opportunity life was taking to kick me in the teeth and gave up all hope. Interferon does terrible things to one’s mind, body and soul.
Then suddenly on Mother’s Day, 6 months after moving and 3 months post treatment, I received a call from my former landlord saying he had seen “that big white cat sunning himself in the yard”. The kids and I hopped into my daughters old grey Buick and started patrolling the alleys, creeping along looking like someone who was up to no good. Fortunately we were spared suspicion by the fact that the car is covered with stickers of hearts, flowers and Hello Kitty. Every blob of white caught my eye and while my daughter was chastising me for not wearing my glasses to go look for something, my son caught sight of Ziggy. He was, as we had often speculated, staked out at the “Cat Lady’s” house at the end of the block. The Cat Lady herself, verified in her broken English that he had been living under her back porch all winter. I looked around the space and I could see she had provided him (and who knows how many other wandering cats) with food, blankets, toys and even a small water fountain. I thanked her profusely and she thanked me for coming back to find him. Total strangers until this moment we hugged each other and wished each other well. I promised to leave a large bag of cat food on her porch for getting Ziggy through the winter, which she politely declined and which I will provide anyway.
So here he is back home, fur matted and dirty, and in need of a good ear cleaning, but also fat and well fed..
I had pretty much resigned myself to the rational acceptance that he had passed on to the Happy Hunting Grounds, but here he is as I write, dozing atop of my crafts chest looking wise, somewhat crabby and full of secrets. My kind of guy.

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


Ziggy Part II

Life went on as it does, with Ziggy as my constant companion. several years ago I moved into a large lower flat and acquired a few more animal roommates. Ziggy who had always been strictly an indoor cat, became introduced the the Great Outdoors. As is often the case once someone gets a taste of the wild, they develop a craving for more adventure and freedom (I have several prior relationships to testify to this fact). After nearly five years in that apartment changes in circumstance made it necessary to move to a smaller, less expensive apartment. I was neck deep in the misery of Interferon/Ribavirin treatment and the entire moving process was extremely unpleasant, to put it nicely.
On the day of the move Ziggy was nowhere to be found. We weren’t too worried, we figured we’d go back and look for him which we did, for a while. I became extremely ill and depressed after moving and much of that first month is lost to me. My kids made regular sojourns in search of Ziggy but with no luck. In my depressed and apathetic state, I finally resigned myself to the idea that this was just one more opportunity life was taking to kick me in the teeth and gave up all hope. Interferon does terrible things to one’s mind, body and soul.
Then suddenly on Mother’s Day, 6 months after moving and 3 months post treatment, I received a call from my former landlord saying he had seen “that big white cat sunning himself in the yard”. The kids and I hopped into my daughters old grey Buick and started patrolling the alleys, creeping along looking like someone who was up to no good. Fortunately we were spared suspicion by the fact that the car is covered with stickers of hearts, flowers and Hello Kitty. Every blob of white caught my eye and while my daughter was chastising me for not wearing my glasses to go look for something, my son caught sight of Ziggy. He was, as we had often speculated, staked out at the “Cat Lady’s” house at the end of the block. The Cat Lady herself, verified in her broken English that he had been living under her back porch all winter. I looked around the space and I could see she had provided him (and who knows how many other wandering cats) with food, blankets, toys and even a small water fountain. I thanked her profusely and she thanked me for coming back to find him. Total strangers until this moment we hugged each other and wished each other well. I promised to leave a large bag of cat food on her porch for getting Ziggy through the winter, which she politely declined and which I will provide anyway.
So here he is back home, fur matted and dirty, and in need of a good ear cleaning, but also fat and well fed..
I had pretty much resigned myself to the rational acceptance that he had passed on to the Happy Hunting Grounds, but here he is as I write, dozing atop of my crafts chest looking wise, somewhat crabby and full of secrets. My kind of guy.

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


Ramblers, Rebels and Rogues

I have spent many years of my life in opposition and I rather like the role.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Hello My Rebellious Queens,
I have had the opportunity to chuckle at myself a bit since yesterday. forgetting a blog post, horrors! Yet on the other hand when I decided to make this a daily commitment, a routine with an actual schedule; I did it knowing i was challenging myself stretching my limbs a little farther.
I’m not always, um, shall we say, focused? or organized? or consistent? at least I haven’t been in the past. But in the now, i really do want to commit myself to a consistent effort, a solid path stone by stone set before me as I travel. Don’t ask me where I travel, one commitment at a time, please. I see it like this, some of us tender the hearth, build the home, and nurture the garden. these are the people who go to the office, get to work promptly on time day by day. They have savings accounts and good credit and lead fairly predictable lives. They keep the wheels of enterprise going and they are ok with that. And so am I; I’m happy to know that my garbage will be picked up on Tuesday and that my utilities will work when I turn on a switch and such comforts as we are accustomed. Our society relies on the consistency and reliability of the hearth keepers to function.
our culture uses them as a Blueprint for “normalcy”. They exemplify the way we “should be”. we are promised rewards like all inclusive vacations and funparks and new cars for low, low financing, as long as we tend the hearth. Then there are the rest of us, the Ramblers, Rebels and, rogues. we are the dreamers, the ones who can’t seem to pay attention to the power point presentation and who don’t wear the latest designer clothing.. What we do is create, innovate and motivate. We are the Women with the Past, because no true rambler doesn’t run into some trouble on her journey. We are the rebels because we listen to our heart, not just our head and we aren’t afraid to speak up when something doesn’t feel right. We know we have to take action because, most likely, we learned the hard way that if we don’t speak up, if we try to fit in a place that does not align with our nature, we will suffer. our spirit will shrinks and wither, leaving us vulnerable to the desire for escape in the form of drugs or alcohol or to illusion of acceptance in a relationship that may not be healthy or of becoming shrouded in the depths of our own depression and isolation..
Some of us have had more encouragement and freedom to live by the call of our inner voice than others.. Some of us have had to discover it later in life, and some of us are just awakening to the knowledge.
Where ever we are in our travels, we must remember that we do have our place in society. If it weren’t for those of us who question authority, who go against the grain, there would never be progress, change or, I believe, true freedom..
What “rules” have you challenged? How did it change you or your perception of you?

© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


Feeling Funky, Feeling Fine

,

Hello
everyone!

Friday is supposed to be the fun free for all day, and yet today I’m finding it challenging to maintain that state of mind. The good news is, I just realized that if I am to walk my own talk, I have to accept that fact. More than just accept it; but honor, it respect it and stop trying to fight it.
The harder I push back against feelings, the harder they resist. For many years after I got sober I was “The Eternal Optimist”, always looking on the bright side. The recovery community is big on Gratitude, and for good reason. What some people tend to overlook, or forget, or fail to recognize at all is that one can angsty, fed up, tired, disenchanted, crabby and all sort of other “bad moody things’ and still be Grateful.
I know I’ve written on this topic in other posts, but is an issue that continues to cause problems for individuals, families, and entire cultures. The myopic and undiscerning frame of reference that fails to take into account the wonderful capacity we humans have for complex thought and emotion. When you think about it, it’s pretty cool really, to take a moment and explore all the thoughts, feelings and moods we experience throughout one day. We are constantly evolving, even day by day, hour by hour. This is one reason I like to keep a journal, to observe the cycles of mood and process of thought that weave a pattern in and out through my day, my week, my years…
But as much as I find it fascinating, puzzling, frustrating and beautiful many people are not so comfortable with complexity. Our culture tells us to be even keel, reliable and cooperative. Those of us who dare to express our swings of mood, our frustrations our extreme joy are often labeled as eccentric at best, bi-polar at worst. I’m not denying or discounting that for some people there are symptoms and thought processes that can be disturbing, disabling and even life threatening; but let’s look at how many people (especially women) are on some sort of anti-depressant or mood-stabilizer. The very phrase “mood stabilizer” makes me chuckle if only a bit ironically. Are we only supposed to have one or two moods at best? Why is it not ok to feel sad, angry or depressed? Face it there are plenty of reasons to feel that way, just as there are reasons to feel grateful, content or joyous. How can we truly experience one emotion without having experienced a full range of emotions?
I encourage anyone reading this to take some time at the end of the day to reflect on the thoughts,feelings,moods and physical energy levels you have experienced in just one day. Are there any that are uncomfortable for you? Are there any that you may have struggled to repress? I’d love to hear your feedback about this and I think it’s a topic that can generate endless discussion.
Have a fabulous weekend and enjoy the wonder and beauty of the medley of moods you are capable of experiencing!
Peace,
Jenny
© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


Getting to know you…(Me)

I hope anyone has had time to look over and consider the practices for familiarizing ourselves with our emotions. It’s not something that can be done in a finite amount of time, and I don’t know if we ever reach the “finish line’. Rather it’s an ongoing process, just like developing any other relationship. I believe it is well worth the effort, essential really, if we are to truly become the best and brightest we can be. In this process, we become an inspiration, source of support and a good friend to others. It’s amazing how once we stop trying to live up to the standards of others and refuse to allow them to dictate how we should feel, think and act, we begin to attract people into our lives who respect and love us for who we are. After all if we don’t know ourselves, if we become social chameleons, how can we expect anyone to get close? It’s ironic that we wear these masks; we take on these roles that don’t fit all because we want other people to like us. Somehow we got the idea, the fear, that if people knew who we really are, they would run screaming in the other direction. And why do we have this idea? Because we are not so sure WE like ourselves, therefore why would anyone else?
After becoming more familiar and hopefully comfortable with our feelings, we can start to take stock of what things elicit certain feelings. Part of that is looking at what makes us happy. It may be the simplest thing, like seeing a snowflake up close, tending to a garden. It may be that we have favorite books, movies or music that speaks to something deep inside in a way no one else can. Sometimes it helps to remember your childhood dreams, fantasies and favorite activities. By rediscovering the things that capture our interest and that bring us joy, we begin to remember who we are.
Anyone who has been through a controlling relationship, drug/alcohol abuse or has endured deep depression knows the loneliness and grief at losing one’s self. It’s like having had a friend once and now she’s gone. 
The good news is, a true friendship always holds a spark that with proper tending can be rekindled to a flame that will guide us out of the darkness.
Rekindle that flame. Indulge yourself in something that brings you joy. You may be surprised at what a good friend you make.
Peace,
Nana

© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


>the fog just got a little thicker

>In my last post I talked about the difficulty in seeing the light at he end of the tunnel, the longed for EOT (end of treatment) date. I thought that date, for me, was in early February. Throughout my treatment I have avoided keeping close track of the timing. I know myself well enough to know that would lead me into familiar old patterns of obsession, frustration and the lovely bind of self indulgence;  picking at the wounds and wallowing in self pity for the scar that was created. So knowing this about myself, my penchant for teenage like angst, I decided to take the high road and simply get through this without minding the calendar.
Until recently that is… I’m really ready to be done with this. The physical and emotional toll is like being under a pile of rocks which each day has one more rock added to the pile. So at my last visit for my procrit shot I asked the my nurse for the actual EOT date. We had both thought it was sometime in February, but the news that it’s actually one full month later was, well like having a couple of wheelbarrows of rocks heaped on the pile all at once.
To get through this, I bargain with myself, and I’ve been telling myself, Self, it’s only a little over a month, we can do this. That day in the nurses office that part of myself I coddle and and bribe and cajole along pretty much collapsed into a pile of tears like a little kid. You know how they do it, as if their bones suddenly dissolved and their tear ducts have an automatic “drama alarm” which sets off an instant prolific flow. Meanwhile, Grown Up me ignores the kid having a fit in the corner, puts on her Mommy “everything is going to be ok face” and drags the snot faced boneless Little Jenny home.
Fast forward a couple of days and as is the course of nature the inevitable push and pull between Little Jenny and Mom Jenny gives rise to Angsty Adolescent Jenny! Ta Da!
My Therapist once described me as The Eternal Teenager. I was not offended at all, and not because of our youth oriented, plastic surgery obsessed culture. I admire teenagers, I’ve spent most of my life working with them. I love them for their defiance, their mistakes, their question authority attitude and their fierce quest to find themselves. Individuation, they call it, and it drives parents crazy.
One of the things that gets teenagers into trouble is they have a limited capacity to see the future, they live in the  moment, be it good or crappy. Sound familiar? Remember that fog that has been obscuring the “after treatment” possibilities? Well on that day in the nurses office the fog just rolled in a little thicker as Angsty Teenage Jenny took  over.
That’s where I’ve been the past couple of days. Pissed off at the world. I watch the news and not only am I pissed at what I see, but I’m pissed at the way it’s reported. I try to watch some videos of some of my favorite music and I realize two thirds of the musicians are dead…overdoses, car accidents you know the life.
I think I need to let go of the angst and just let that little kid cry and cry, but I’m afraid it won’t stop.
I know this will pass, it always does, but for today I’m going to indulge my misery for a bit…I haven’t decided how, but I don’t have it in me to watch pretty little Marc Bolan and remember how his life was cut short by a car smashing into a tree. He didn’t even drive.
xo
Jenny
© 2010 Jennifer Hazard