It’s Mental Health Week (and how hard it is to explain how you feel when you are depressed…)


DSC_0005So, it’s Mental Health Week in Canada… May 6 – 12, 2013. And I feel a lot better about celebrating mental health than I do admitting or even accepting that my annual seasonal disorder (SADD) and hormonal fluctuations post partum and menopausal might be a form of ‘mental illness’. Very hard to come out and say that.

Why is that? Is it because there is still so much bias, misunderstanding and confusion around the phrase? Is it because it’s just really embarrassing to say “I’m mentally ill”? (Why is it easier to say (and only to some safe people) “I’m feeling a little depressed”?) Must we identify it in order to deal with it properly? And with medication? And with counseling? And with lifestyle changes that include health of body and spirit and mind? And with the support of those who love us? Yes, to all of the above.

Other than that I don’t have a lot of answers, but I’m willing to admit I struggle.  I’m willing to cast my lot in with all those who share the burden of psychological angst, times of overwhelming despair, and one who has considered not being as being better than prolonged being in this emotional state.

It’s far too complicated for me to explain my whole story, but know that I live with depression, struggle with coping, and I’ve come to recognize it as part of who I am. I am a person of faith who has doubts and darkness. I have the hope of Jesus and yet live in periods of hopelessness. There are others like me in my family. We talk about it amongst ourselves.

This attempt at bringing a little light into a dark place was written in April 2009.

The glimmer of hope is at the very end. It’s usually like that…

So yesterday about this time, I was feeling like my world was caving in along with my chest. Perhaps a little over-stressed, I had a feeling of unexplainable impending doom that was physical, and it was beginning to take over my mind as well as my body.

I stood by the sink after a morning of trying to get some of my menial household chores done, and heard a voice in my head say, “maybe you should just go and check yourself into the hospital”, as clear as day. So, I thought about that for a little while, wondering how that experience might pan out for me?

Hi, I’m here to check myself in.

What for?

Well, it’s that I just can’t seem to pull myself up by the bootstraps, you know. I can’t seem to find my stiff upper lip and suck it up princess, if you know what I mean.

I’m sorry Ma’am, I don’t know what you mean. What precisely are your symptoms?

I guess you could say that I feel like there’s nobody I can talk to about how I feel, and that I feel like I’m too much for everyone that I might have talked to if I could have found someone.

Are you in any pain?

Well, if this pressure on my chest, and the heavy thing that’s sitting on my head counts, then yes, I guess I’m in pain. But not a sharp stabbing pain, more like a dull repetitive one.

Are you on any medications?

No, and I don’t really want to be, and that’s why I’m even afraid to tell anyone how I really feel in case they suggest drugs might be the answer. I guess there’s the ‘Maccaroot’ supplements I’m taking… to balance and energize me… but I don’t think that’s working.

So, what precisely can we do for you ma’am?

Well, I thought maybe I could just sign in and curl up in an empty bed somewhere until I feel better able to cope, find some energy again, and maybe find a friend that I could talk to. Would that be OK……?

At this point I realize that my idea is lame, and I haven’t got a chance of convincing medical staff, nurses or doctors that there’s something wrong with me any more than I did two days ago when I tried to explain myself to my husband.

So, I continue to stand by the kitchen sink until the phone rings, goes to the answering machine, and I recognize the voice as someone who might just be able to relate to part of how I’m feeling and I dry my hands on the towel and pick up the phone.

Hi……

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What’s eating me?


Farmers Market

Farmers Market (Photo credit: tamaradulva)

I’ve hesitated writing this for a while, because you know I try to be positive, try to bring something of value here to Buddy Breathing, yet at the same time, anyone who has read BB for a while knows I also am equally committed to being authentic. So, to write a rant (even though Rick Mercer, the rant master, says that ranting is very Canadian and good for you!!) might be considered to be negative, or whiny, or complaining, or blogging with the purposes of dumping on poor folk who didn’t even have a chance to prepare for the mess… uhu. I’ve considered the Biblical truth around Peter’s vision;

Acts 10: 9-16 Peter’s Vision

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

14 “Surely not, Lord!”Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Now I recognize the need to look at the whole context of these verses, and I readily admit I need to do more in-depth study, but I just wonder, how do these verses relate to my concerns about food? And, I have to admit after considering all of the above, I am proceeding with my premeditated rant and I’m not sorry about it (yet).

This rant started with a facebook posting last week, “What’s eating me?” and progressed through a day of considerations around food, local food, available food, what’s good food, what’s not good food, what should we really be eating, who says, who is telling the truth, why, why, why, why not, and arrived full circle back here to the “What’s eating me?” because at the end of the day I’m really just pissed off at a situation that I’m not entirely certain I can do anything about. Food. What we are eating that eats me up at the same time.

39/365: Giant Can of Nutritional Yeast 2/8/2010

39/365: Giant Can of Nutritional Yeast 2/8/2010 (Photo credit: @heylovedc)

So, to the grocery store I go, armed with idealism and simplistic goals of buying some food that I can prepare for my family that will be good for us. Sounds like a great place to start, doesn’t it? I mean who doesn’t want to eat healthfully, other than the times we give in to the cravings for salt or sugar or both, most of us want to put things into our bodies that will not only fuel the machine, but will taste good and not poison us in the process.

I’m not highly read up on all the facts around food… I readily admit this. I do need to investigate more, but part of me is wary of academic studies that glorify a food one year and vilify it the next. I’ve watched Food Inc, cheered for Jamie Oliver as he takes healthy eating to America, read the occasional article on the superfoods . My roots are rural, so maybe that’s why I’ve passionately believed in the benefits of whole foods over processed foods for many years. I’ve long stopped haunting the drive thru windows of fast food establishments, unless you include a Starbucks drip coffee from time to time.

I stay home, buy food, cook it, try new recipies, pay attention to what I buy, read the labels. Our family values include the benefit of eating family dinners at the same table for as many days a week as our schedules allow. That’s pretty often. I’ve let go of white bread, cut down on carb intake, increased my intake of water over drinking empty calories, gone from 2% to 1% milk after a rigorous taste testing exercise. I am a well intentioned “locavore”… meaning I believe in the benefits of eating fresh, locally grown produce in season. But as you know, I’m Canadian, half of our food needs fall in times when growing doesn’t happen locally

THE RANT PART…

I headed to the local Superstore grocery store with my ideals and biases, and came away crushed like a can of imported roma tomatoes. The new electronic shelf labels set me off… I don’t like them, they are small, they are confusing, they flash, they remind me I need to wear reading glasses. The fish… even those caught here in North American waters, were all farmed. Any frozen fish… was imported from waters I know even from my most basic understanding of geography to be sketchy and not to be trusted. Veggies and fruits, well, it appears the local packing house and the local S(t)uporstore are un-aquainted. Apples, pears, berries… from south of the border. Tomatoes… gassed and from further afield. So I headed to the rice section, looking for healthy non-white rice options… and then I remembered a news headline on one of the days when I was listening to the news, that announced a broad concern around tainted rice from Asia… hmmm… does that include India, I wondered? Definitely includes China and so after much searching I located a bag of rice, a brown paper bag that looked somewhat more grass roots to me, and it was from California. I’m happy to announce that California Brown Rice is quite nutty in flavour and I will buy it again. Meat… well, I’m still not over the E-Coli scare and a recent study suggesting red meat is guilty of producing all sorts of dietary ills. Dairy… butter, never margarine… don’t ask me why… it’s just a gut sense I have that naturally occurring rather than chemically produced oils are better for me. Eggs… consider cholesterol… milk… consider lactose intolerance of 2/3 of our family members and the cost of lactose free milk vs. regular milk… And on and on it went, from one food group to another to another, reading labels, considering issues, considering rumours of issues, and then on to the dietary restrictions around issues, and finally to the ORGANIC SECTION, in search of anything that might look better, feel safer, add some interest to a narrow selection of food that might or might not feed the family. In that section is where I really lost my mind I guess… in the NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT SECTION to be more precise. Because, in that section, on a bottle of Omega 3 vitamins, was where I read this in teeny tiny print… I don’t know… maybe 3 point text…

Contains acceptable levels of arsenic!!!!!!!

So, is that related to mercury in fish… I mean Omega 3 is fish oil, right? Oh my goodness!!!

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I didn’t know whether to stay or run or say something to someone, anyone who might care to know that our vitamins contain arsenic and that’s completely acceptable to whomever decides the acceptability of these things. And I guess I’m still in shock that my grocery trip clearly was such a personal indicator that our food industry is in a bad state. I really truly think it is. What do you think?

And, if things are as bad as they appear to be, why aren’t we jumping up and down and screaming loudly enough to change something about it?

My husband, whom I dearly love, says it’s a matter of cost.  It’s a matter of cost that it’s cheaper for someone to buy a Big Mac than it is to buy a healthy lunch of fruit and veggies. It’s a matter of cost that we have a 2 tier system of food in this country, that it costs more to buy righteous, healthy, Organic foodthan less healthy alternates. It’s a matter of cost… yes. Costing us our quality of life when we consider the root cause of disease and the impact on us and on our health care system. Yes, in the end, it is costing us our very lives. Well, isn’t it?

organic produce section at Berkeley Bowl

organic produce section at Berkeley Bowl (Photo credit: Librarian In Black)

I have no answers… so I guess that doesn’t make me part of the solution… yes, I know, I know. I DON’T WANT TO BE PART OF THE PROBLEM. Still I’m just little old me… one voice in a million crying out in the wilderness, “What are we eating?” What can we eat that is good for us? Can I afford to not eat good food? Am I slowly poisoning my family? Am I becoming obsessed over what the good Lord has deemed “clean” and taking my focus from things that are of much bigger consequence than what I put into my mouth?

So many questions… so much to learn… what to do, what to do???

Lesley-Anne

Naming one thousands gifts… days 9 and 10


Albert Namatjira refuelling for a trip to Alic...

Albert Namatjira refuelling for a trip to Alice Springs. Ampol branding is visible on the car itself as well as the bowser. Dodge B Series pickup truck, made 1948-53. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

138. driving, eyes never tired of new things, fresh tasting the feast

139. Fishtrap Creek and other word combinations

140. ethnic diversity

141. navigation systems

142. crab traps stacked on back a pickup truck

143. ocean inlets

144. wild blackberry bloom in ditch

145. 4 exciting games, no injuries, best scores ever

146. border crossings

147. patriotism, large flags

148. all five of us in the car

149. narrow roads

150. indian paintbrush, daisies, side of interstate 5

151. good radio

152. low cloud

153. husband driving, keeping us safe, getting us there and back

154. weathered barns, clusters of buildings, outbuildings

155. sons that said yes to the journey

156. a daughter who still wants my opinion on clothes

156. American Hershey chocolate tongue melt

And the following guest gifts offered up by my observant husband who wanted to know what I was so busy writing down in my notebook as we drove through the landscape on our way…

157. architecture

158. storage sheds in yard

159. car washes

160. hot days and cold pools

161. railway dome cars

162. flat water for skiing

and back to my personal notes…

163. song lyrics

164. traffic circles organizing flow

165. ‘adopted’ highways kept clean

166. lush grass

167. strawberry fields being harvested by workers

168. ripe raspberries on the bush

More from my observant husband who appears to like this looking…

169. trim cedar hedges

170. white fences and wildflowers

and me…

171. roads without curbs

172. level railway crossings

173. old highways

174. country churches

175. picnics

176. tandem tanker truck carrying milk

177. barns full of Holsteins

178. vernacular language

179. high mountain road, rainbows, double rainbows, sunset like the sky on fire, carrying it all in our minds

Footnote to self:  And in all of these, am I truly grateful, truly receiving all as gift from an abundant, lavishly loving God? Or, am I merely taking notice and making lists? Even then, is the enjoying each for what it is and being on the lookout for more, expectant of beauty and joy and grace, proof enough of a thankful heart? And why must I complicate things with thoughts such as these?

Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him?” saith the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:24 21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

Journeying…

Lesley-Anne

Poetry Friday032


I’m reading my Bible this month,  following along in Luke chapters 1 and 2, enjoying the wonderful details of the Christmas Story… that ageless story of the prophecy areound, conception of and humble yet miraculous birth of my Lord Jesus Christ. I came across this poem in the sidebar of my Bible (Women’s Devotional Bible – NIV), and want to share it with you today. It is lovely.

Virgin

by Luci Shaw

As if until that moment

nothing real

had happened since creation

As if outside the world were empty

so that she and he were all

there was – he mover, she moved upon

As if her submission were the most

dynamic of all works; as if

no one had ever said Yes like that

As if one day the sun had no place

in all the universe to pour it’s gold

but her small room.