Love is in the air!

Winter is a time of blustery winds, warm blankets, and book friends to fill your heart.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Personal Truth

For weeks on end I stayed on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, watching IDTV.

In case you have never heard of IDTV it has shows such as "Wives With Knives", "Unusual Suspects", and my personal favorite "Homicide Hunter". (I love Lt. Joe Kendra!)

Why would I, a romance writer, spend so much time watching the antithesis of what I write?


That's right, I spelled it in all caps. We're not talking about a boo hoo, my boyfriend didn't call me all day, or I broke a nail, or I just watched "Old Yeller" type of drama depression. No adolescent doldrums for me.

I get full blown depression. Sometimes it might be triggered by something, but most of the time it is something that just jumps out of the mists of my mind and knocks me for a loop.

Despite all the lovely drug commercials on television, antidepressants have the opposite reaction on me, so I don't use medication. Fortunately, I am not suicidal, so that is not an issue, I'm just not someone you want to spend a lot of time around.

The last time I was in a depression I was beginning month three when I realized I had missed a deadline for an article three days earlier. I had mentioned it to my daughter the day it was due that I had to write it and send it out. However, once I returned home, I never thought of it again, until that night three days later. I then tossed around in bed mentally composing a letter to the editor to explain what had happened. 

But nothing had happened other than I had forgotten. For three days!

As the sun peeked over the horizon it dawned on me . . . I was in a depression.

Yes, it is that insidious. I had thought I was just tired. Maybe lazy. It was a great revelation to me to realize my old friend had decided to visit. But not to my children. When I told daughter #3 later that day that I had realized I was in a depression, she laughed at me!

Yes, she heartlessly laughed at me as she told me she had known that for months.

But the realization of that fact got me into a cold shower, I started watching "Bewitched" at noontime instead of "See No Evil", I picked up my knitting, turned on my computer, and got back to work.

I have lived with depression my entire life. I have learned coping skills, but I am not "over" it.

The worse thing you can say to someone in a depression is "get over it" or "snap out of it".

Many people who suffer from depression are suicidal. If you know someone you think is depressed get them to a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Medication works for many, but not all. A GP (general practitioner) can prescribe antidepressants, but they shouldn't. The side effects, many of which are not even listed, can be devastating. A person on antidepressants should be monitored by someone who knows and understands this and know what to watch for.

I am not going to drop any famous names, their personal truths belong to them and I'm sure you can think of a few on your own. This is about me, an average woman, and my own personal dilemma.

I have never publicly spoken about this before. In fact, I haven't even told my friends. It's a matter or pride, I didn't want anyone to view me as weak. No matter how bad I feel, I greet everyone with a smile. But a chemical imbalance doesn't make you weak or vulnerable, it just makes you human.

Signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
  • Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
  • Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
  • Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
  • Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
  • Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
  • Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
  • Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
  • Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
  • Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain. 
  • Warning signs of suicide include:

    • Talking about killing or harming one’s self
    • Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
    • An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
    • Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
    • Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
    • Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
    • Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
    • A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy
I did not come out of my latest depression just with the realization that I was depressed, but being aware helped me to mentally gear myself up to work against it.

It didn't disappear overnight, it is still hanging on at the edge and "Evil Lives Here" is coming on IDTV in ten minutes. So I am going to say toddles for now.

If you want to talk about this more, I am only a keystroke away. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Snow Days

As a child I loved snow days, especially if I had a test or I hadn't completed my homework. I would go to bed and pray intensely for half the night hoping for a major blizzard. I was overjoyed on the few times my prayers were answered, and devastated the multitude of times they were not.

When I was a working, single mother with three young children and a grandmother to support, I worked nights, which didn't leave me as much time with the children as I would have liked. I loved snow days. I could let the children sleep late, we would go out and build snowmen and have snowball fights, go back in and have hot chocolate with marshmallow thick and goopy melting over the edge of the mug.

There was also the time when we lived on a mountain and the school bus had to travel on a ledge along the deep side of the lake and up a mountain road that had cliffs. The road was not a priority road with the Road Department, the Superintendent of Schools hadn't canceled school in spite of the three inches of snow that had already fallen. I made the decision to keep the children home that day. Even though I kept them home for weather reasons and it wasn't supposed to count as an absence, it kept daughter #3 from getting an award for perfect attendance. 

Why am I bringing up past history?

In the past two years the schools in Massachusetts have canceled schools before a single flake of snow has fallen. They have based the closures on weather reports, most of which have been accurate. However, this has not gone over well with some parents and their employers.

We have to find a way to help working parents when schools are closed. The schools have been right to close, because they are looking out for the safety of the students, teachers, bus drivers, etc.

Parents should be able to enjoy snow days too, but for the ones who have to work anyway, we need to find a way to keep their children safe.

Everyone should be able to enjoy snow days.