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Depression And Anxiety Insights: Changing Lives

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posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 07:12 AM
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Hello ATS!

With the coming of autumn I have found myself, of late, in a rather melancholy and introspective state of mind. Part of the reason for my current mood is the season - as the days grow shorter and warmth begins to give way to a chill - and some of it is simply the normal pressures and travails of everyday life. You know, the endless series of little ( sometimes not so little ) things that, over time, prove to be the real weight that this world forces us to endure. Nothing catastrophic or earth rattling, simply the slow and meandering death of the soul by millions of tiny needles and stings. The grind. That aspect of life that we all silently pray our children will somehow avoid experiencing - even as we know, in our heart of hearts, that they are destined to know the fight and that, ultimately, it will likely make them better people for having fought the battle.

From this introspective vantage point I have come across some thoughts I feel compelled to share in the hope that it might help others understand, a bit more comprehensively, what it is like to see this world through the veil of a slightly different mind. A description of things through the eyes of a person with mental health issues. Words released into the world with the sincere hope that maybe one person out there might gain a bit of insight that will enable them to help another.

I do realize that this approach can seem a bit preachy and for that I apologize. It is an unavoidable evil I think. I will simply state that if I am, in fact, standing on a soap box as I write this, I am truly doing so with an absence of ego and the best of intentions. I am not doing this for any personal catharsis. Thus I hope any perceived trespass might be overlooked so that the message is not spoiled. I ask for both patience and indulgence in that regard.

An aspect of my own real world that I have not mentioned lately is the fact that I seem to do all of my best thinking in two distinct and different places. Either in the shower or as I lay in bed, drifting off to sleep. The second of those, the bed, does not get mentioned nor discussed too often - and for good reason. Usually the only thing I retain from those half-asleep brainstorming sessions is a memory that I had some really good thoughts! I can never quite remember what they were. But I can always remember that I felt pretty stoked about having whatever the lost thoughts happened to have been.

But the shower? Those thoughts I retain! The following is what filled my mind a couple of hours ago as hot water ran over the back of my neck and I was busily and actively avoiding making eye contact with the shampoo bottle for fear that it would draw me in ( again ) and lead me into reading the obscurely named ingredients as I tried to apply my half-remembered high school chemistry classes toward deciphering what those chemicals might actually be. This is something I heartily advise not doing because, honestly, they put some messed up stuff in shampoo sometimes.

But I digress. So back on track...

What is it like to have depression/anxiety issues?

A metaphor to work with. Let us equate the idea of life, and all of it's aspects, as undertaking a sea voyage. We are the Captain. Our environment, experiences and state of mind are the building blocks of the ship we sail upon.

The sea is the world around us.

Others ships are other people.

Ports are the places and experiences that define us.

If we view things this way then we have an analog that can allow us all to have a non-subjective and shared vocabulary to draw upon as a means of explaining subjective ideas in an objective manner. Plus this metaphor allows those of us who are so inclined to be pirates... and who in their right mind wouldn't jump at the chance to be a pirate?

Yup. Digressing again...

Within this metaphor we can imagine some of the more mundane things that living a life might entail. Sails have to be tended to, raised and lowered as conditions demand. Sometimes we will even have to bring them down to patch them as they tear and show their wear.

Of course navigation is a key factor, so we have to learn that ( the hard way ) as well. We have to become familiar with the stars... With the path of the sun... with the portents hidden within the changing sky and clouds. We have to learn to read out environment both to make it work in our favor as well as knowing when it is time for us to batten down the hatches, secure the riggings and ride out the storms.

Oh... And we have to keep an eye on our bilge. We have to pay attention to how much water we are taking on and if our vessel is leaking or not - and, if so, how much. This is of absolute importance because ships tend to be much more useful for us when they are not pretending to be submarines. Making sure that our ship stays afloat is an absolute precondition of all else. It is essentially job one.

Now imagine that your ship has an inherent defect in it. One that cannot easily be patched. One that causes your ship to leak. Maybe the defect is due to a design or production flaw and has always been there. Maybe the defect is simply from the effects of time and use. Either way, your ship has a predisposition toward leaking and there is nothing to you can do to change that fact. Sure, you can ( and surely will ) put work into patching the hull... But the painful truth is that this is always going to be a structural weak spot and no matter what you do this spot is always going to be predisposed toward leaking.

This is what it is like to have depression and/or anxiety issues. No matter what you do, your ship is always going to have that spot that wants to leak... that does leak every chance it gets. And no matter what you do. No matter how mindful and attentive you are... That damn leak is always going to trickle and it's always going to bust a seam when you least expect or need it to. This defect is always going to make it more difficult for you to weather rough seas and storms. Where others might make it through relatively unscathed... Your ship is always in danger of a catastrophic hull breech. Even in calm seas, where other Captains are enjoying the sun without having to be concerned about the amount of water in their bilge... The Captain with the defective ship can not enjoy such respites. Even in the calmest, sheen blue mirror like seas... That persons ship may be hemorrhaging water.

That difference and disconnect is where the problems begin to really hit home for a person suffering from these issues. It is human nature for us to analyze things subjectively. If another person complains that their ship is leaking and sinking, we tend to look at the seas and skies and reply with "I don't get it. Everything is fine. My ship would not be leaking in such circumstances... Therefore ( insert any number of stereotypical reactions here ). Sorry, but I don't see any reason why you should be furiously bailing right now and there is no way that I'm about to help!"

And that is how well intentioned and truly caring people end up watching others drown into the murky depths of illness. It is not because they are cruel or selfish. It is simply because their subjective experiences have left them with the strong feeling that there shouldn't be a problem, therefore there must not be one.



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posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 07:12 AM
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This is how people with issues sometimes sink on glassy seas and crystal clear days, leaving those around them filled with pain and guilt. Leaving others to say "If I'd only known... If they'd only said something..."

The painful truth is that they probably did say something. They probably said a lot of somethings. It's just that what they said was not recognized as a cry for help because others could not empathize or understand on the level the cry for help was made from.

The point I am trying to get to is that we all can make a world of difference is we simply get into the habit of helping others bail out some of their bilge just because. We should not really wait until they are screaming in the open water, flailing in a fight not to drown. By the time that happens they are at severe risk and their ship is sunk. A LOT of effort will be required to raise and salvage that ship. A ship that will still have the inherent defect it has always had. Defects that are, now, almost surely more profound from having hit bottom. It is so much more economical and safe to keep the ships from sinking in the first place.

Now to put the metaphor aside...

Standing in the shower earlier my specific thoughts were about social anxiety - something I personally wage a war against every single day. It is an insidious illness. Where I, once, was a habitually and addictively social person - a very popular person... Now there are days when I cannot bring myself to even reply to Facebook posts. Thankfully days to that extreme are uncommon, but they do happen. Some days are better than others, some are worse. There is no rhyme or reason to it. There is no predictable pattern. While there are known triggers, those triggers are by no means definitive. That which can cause anxiety does not always do so. And that which does not cause it sometimes can. Anything can set it off. Sometimes nothing at all is required.

On the other side of the coin, however, there are things that always seem to help. No matter how big the leak in my ship, there are things that can almost instantly plug the flow and stop the incoming water.

One of those things is simply attention. Just somebody else making the slight effort to ignore my anxiety for a few minutes can work wonders. If another person can get past the first few awkward minutes? The awkwardness quickly begins to pass and the anxiety disappears.

How simple is that?

What's more - if that person makes a point of doing the same thing on a regular basis... the patchwork on the leak just gets stronger and stronger over time. Given enough attention the leak can and sometimes does totally stop.

Depression works the same way. Yes, it sucks to have to be around a mopey person and it's a total drag at first. Depressed people tend to be standoffish, unreceptive, nihilistic, negative and just a huge drain on the psyche and mood. But if you can find a single kink in the walls of their depression, just get them to grin? It is truly magical and you can literally watch their depression lift. It might take some effort... But not too much.

Just reaching out and helping to bail some of the bilge can work miracles. Coming back regularly to help that person keep the bilge bailed? Can change lives! It's so much more effective to do this than to try and fix things once that person has fallen into crisis... than waiting for their ship to start sinking before acting. An ounce of prevention and all.

It occurs to me that this post could read as a thinly veiled cry for help on my part. It's not. Yes, my ship is leaky and defective. It always has been. It always will be. But, for now, my leaks are not bad enough for me to need help. And thank you to anyone who felt a twinge of compassion along those lines! Maybe you could offer than compassion to somebody in your real life who could benefit from a bit of moral support? I promise you, the slightest and most minimal effort could well make a world of difference to that person. An unexpected kindness, no matter how small, can be the sort of thing that a person in crisis will remember and value for the rest of their lives. It can have that level of impact.

If you are reading this and you happen to have a relative, friend, co-worker, in-law, neighbor... whatever... who struggles, please let me offer you some food for thought.

You probably have a hobby. Right? At least one. And that hobby / those hobbies probably take up a pretty good chunk of your spare time. Again, right? If we look at gaming as an example, how rare is it for a gamer to invest 60 hours or more into completing a single game? Anyone who has ever gotten into games like Fallout or The Elder Scrolls will likely quickly qualify that with something like "Only 60 hours? Must not know about mods...." But even if you don't game. Think about how much time you spend reading, watching TV, gardening, working on your car, sewing... whatever it is that rocks your world and makes you happy.

Now imagine what kind of difference you could make to that relative/friend/co-worker/in-law/neighbor if you changed up your behavior patterns and just devoted 10% of your hobby time to doing nothing more than showing them a bit of positive attention? Just offered to do something simple for them. A simple call. Saying "Hey, I'm going to the store. Do you need anything? I'd be happy to let you tag along or pick something up for you if you need it. You can pay me when I get back." Even just "Hey, just wanted to touch base with you and see how your world is doing."

It can mean so much.

I began this post by mentioning that it's fall and I feel melancholy. I am not the only one. We are entering the time of year when people who do suffer from mental illness tend to fight their most difficult battles... the stormy season when their ships leak the most. This is the time when the slightest of efforts and most simple of gestures can make a profound difference. I would ask that you please keep that thought in the back of your mind going forward. A momentary and simple acknowledgement or gesture could truly keep another human being from sinking... and that is, in my humble opinion, a call to action that everyone should be happy to accept.

Thank you for reading.



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 07:20 AM
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a reply to: Hefficide

heff you are a very kind and thoughtful person, i am pretty severely depressed though i may not always show it sometimes i do, but i appreciate your sentiment. anyway have a great day.

sometimes it helps me to listen to this, or play it on the piano though melancholy its also peaceful.

edit on 18-10-2015 by TechniXcality because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 07:33 AM
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Your writing gave me a calm and peaceful feeling. Much better than any pill, as I have had anxiety and depression for a long while now. Thank you. I also feel inspired to reach out more.



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 07:41 AM
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Wonderful analogy...very understandable.

Fall is a beautiful time of year for me!
Fall is a very sad time of year for me!

Ahhh, the pitfalls of bi-polar I'm afraid...

You write very eloquently and seem very sincere and kind.
I connect with your writings on many levels and thank you for that!

As we patch the ship, there seems to always be a torpedo heading straight for us, and if we make it over the proverbial hump, unfortunately we all too often are rolling down the hill on the other side!

Good luck to you!
Oh, and just a little advice...duct tape the ingredients on the bottle of shampoo!




posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 08:02 AM
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Well, there're requirements to be happy.

The body especially needs to be cared for: our ancestors used to run for 20+ miles a day!

Think about the word 'depression.' Not being pressed to do anything!

When we're kids, we're pressed to follow our parents' instructions (when we do so, we get rewarded (score!)). We're pressed to go outside. We're pressed to play with our friends, we're pressed to play tag and play by the rules. We're pressed to go to bed on time!

At least we're pressed to do something.

Now, of course, numerous studies've shown that nature cures depression. Medicus curat, natura sanat. Doctor cares, nature heals.

www.everydayhealth.com...
www.futurity.org...

Sunlight regulates melatonin secretion, which, as I read somewhere, allows us to feel mood. There're many other effects also!
articles.mercola.com...

Sunlight roolz

Anyways, heavy EXERTION helps to regulate hormones and release endorphins (feel good chemicals) too.

That means running! The more time outside, the better. Go running, explore, find your dope nature sweet spot!

Hit up the gym. Supplements have an incredibly salubrious effect on the mind as well. Good dieting also! Eat more fruits and vegetables and see how much your life IMPROVES.

Foods to note especially:
Bananas reduce stress and anxiety.
Oatmeal, low G.I. food, great for breakfast and long lasting energy, also FIGHTS STRESS.
Leafy greens and berries. Berries especially for their reducing properties. Leafy greens cause they're really good for you.

Anyway guys, hope you all follow the information!



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 08:09 AM
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a reply to: Hefficide

Very well said, excellent metaphor... and for some, while we are tending the leaking bilge, the whole ship can explode with no apparent warning. It is, as you say, a daily challenge and never goes away.

Check out JR Liggett shampoo... it comes in a bar and doesn't have any of that scary petro-chemical crap in it. I've been using it for years.



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 08:12 AM
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I woke up in the middle of the night with gloomy thoughts again - the vision of my life as having come to a point of emptiness....no more career, no more family, no more physical strength for the sports I have been passionate about until now. No more libido, no more passion, no more possibilities for future. Now I am trying to waste time before checkout. (and wasting the time of others close to me until then too).

This is the vision that arises in me in my worst moments. It comes back every few years or so.

It sounds very bleak indeed, to people who have never been there. They get scared if I tell them. So I don't.
Seems I am used to these stormy seas. I know there's a chance I'll live to see morning, and the sun will reveal a new port I couldn't see before.

Funny, my response to my thoughts was a similar metaphor - there is still that captain watching, not drowned yet. It's okay. I am still able to observe these feelings with some measure of detachment, like a reporter. Perhaps with hair being blown to hell, her mascara running, and fighting to hold onto the microphone... but the moment that head goes under, thats when it is really trouble. That's when you need someone close who will recognize your going to drown and call for help. I've got one of those, luckily.

While that observer is still present, I am able to take action and deal with the storm. I'm doing certain things - taking herbs and vitamins, being extra careful on diet, listening to the body, exercise daily, and forcing myself to reach out to someone each day.

Others won't - not because they don't care, but because they don't know I need it. Plus, how long can a person be the one always making the effort, before it just becomes too onesided to sustain??

In this state, I am too inclined to lower my head and pretend I didn't see the aquaintance I walk by on the street. I'm afraid they'll see I am not so good.

So I force myself to raise my head and say hello, and ask them how they are doing. It is really hard to do! But a while ago it hit me that in such times, it is helpful to pay attention to others. Like stepping on their ship for a moment to visit, a break from my own storm.

I'll get through this, it is a passage which shall lead to something else, it always is. For the time being, I'm something of a pirate laughing like a maniac as the waves crash on my head and the lightening cracks. I can't expect others to visit my ship at moments like this. Not many are used to this kinda storm.



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 08:16 AM
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Nice post and insightful analogy. But I'm probably coming from a completely different angle right now.

I spent the last 6 months in front of the heater with no job, trying to escape the brutal cold weather, living in a central Victorian town with one of the highest unemployment rates in the whole of Australia.

But this weekend I just moved in with my brother, down in the inner upper class suburbs of Melbourne, which has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the whole of Australia. So for the first time in so long it actually feels like I have some kind of chance.

To top it off, down here in the southern hemisphere, the days a currently getting longer and warmer everyday. Tomorrows going to be 32 degrees (90 degrees Fahrenheit) and blue skies all around, yet its still 2 months away from summer.

I'm declaring it the summer of Subaeruginosa, Seinfeld style, lol.

I guess what I'm trying to say is no matter how bad it gets, its worth just sticking it out, because it just may get better, no matter how gloom it presently seems.

It can get better, no matter how hopeless it all seems right now.




posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 08:18 AM
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a reply to: Hefficide

Hi Heff~

Excellent analogy, and a call to action impossible to ignore. I'm in!

Blessings to you... fair winds, a following sea, and friends aplenty to help you bail and patch whenever.
edit on 18-10-2015 by CantStandIt because: typo



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 08:21 AM
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Great post OP.



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 08:24 AM
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a reply to: Hefficide

Green tea, has magic, doesnt leave a impact



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 08:32 AM
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On second thought - I am not giving credit to the few who dare to get on my ship in such moments.
There are couragious souls out there. That is worth remembering.

This week I had an old friend call me up and invite me over for coffee, and she gave me comfort in front of her crackling fireplace.
I had someone call me up, under the excuse of a message for my husband, but who, it turns out, knows of all my current struggles (everyone knows everyone around here) and noticed I haven't been seen around town, and wanted to know if I was okay. We ended up talking for an hour and it probably got me through the rest of the week.

Focus on the people who have smiled at you, or held out their hand. It's too easy to forget their gesture in all that struggle to keep hold of the wheel.

-oh and stay away from sugar and alcohol. That is one of my rules. If I'm feeling the blues, I know those are the sirens who are always there promising a comforting peace, but are traitors. I've seen it happen to others and don't take the risk!



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 08:36 AM
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originally posted by: Bluesma
I woke up in the middle of the night with gloomy thoughts again - the vision of my life as having come to a point of emptiness....no more career, no more family, no more physical strength for the sports I have been passionate about until now. No more libido, no more passion, no more possibilities for future. Now I am trying to waste time before checkout. (and wasting the time of others close to me until then too).

This is the vision that arises in me in my worst moments. It comes back every few years or so.

It sounds very bleak indeed, to people who have never been there. They get scared if I tell them. So I don't.
Seems I am used to these stormy seas. I know there's a chance I'll live to see morning, and the sun will reveal a new port I couldn't see before.

Funny, my response to my thoughts was a similar metaphor - there is still that captain watching, not drowned yet. It's okay. I am still able to observe these feelings with some measure of detachment, like a reporter. Perhaps with hair being blown to hell, her mascara running, and fighting to hold onto the microphone... but the moment that head goes under, thats when it is really trouble. That's when you need someone close who will recognize your going to drown and call for help. I've got one of those, luckily.

While that observer is still present, I am able to take action and deal with the storm. I'm doing certain things - taking herbs and vitamins, being extra careful on diet, listening to the body, exercise daily, and forcing myself to reach out to someone each day.

Others won't - not because they don't care, but because they don't know I need it. Plus, how long can a person be the one always making the effort, before it just becomes too onesided to sustain??

In this state, I am too inclined to lower my head and pretend I didn't see the aquaintance I walk by on the street. I'm afraid they'll see I am not so good.

So I force myself to raise my head and say hello, and ask them how they are doing. It is really hard to do! But a while ago it hit me that in such times, it is helpful to pay attention to others. Like stepping on their ship for a moment to visit, a break from my own storm.

I'll get through this, it is a passage which shall lead to something else, it always is. For the time being, I'm something of a pirate laughing like a maniac as the waves crash on my head and the lightening cracks. I can't expect others to visit my ship at moments like this. Not many are used to this kinda storm.
Well sir, perhaps a creative passion is what you're most needing. It'll help with the melancholy! A man of great experience needs to recollect those moments through art.



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 08:50 AM
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Hi Heff....I do love when you write, and admire your open honesty when sharing with us your struggles. Today's writings really touched me, maybe because I have my own inner struggles and as November looms and we lose daylight and sunshine, I know the battle will intensify. I am keenly aware of others moods and really try to reach out when I can....and often it is exactly what the person needed, and such a small gesture on my part. I sure know how ones perspective can change when even a single person shows compassion toward you.

Hang in there.

Scully20

a reply to: Hefficide



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 08:58 AM
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a reply to: TechniXcality

Hey Tech, great choice! There is something so calming about having the hands play the notes while the soul kinda soaks it all in.

Blessings to you, friend.



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 09:00 AM
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I like the metaphor Heff. An excellent way to visualize it. It's still early in the year for me, as my depression typically kicks in after the new year in the dead of winter. Last winter was very hard for me,as I also suffer PTSD, and life really knocked me a curve ball. This winter, I have no idea how things will play out. Living situation is different, yet the anxiety persists and has actually gained momentum. I find I'm basically trying to ignore anything negative, and frantically seeking out the positive in all situations just to have a light to cling to. Not much healthier than the alternative but it's my coping method of choice. I'm not beaten down yet, and I still have a lot of hope...Can't say I would repeat the same thing mid-February, but somehow each year I make it through. Hard to explain to people who see my summer personality compared to my winter one, and it's like having two distinct personalities. I'm antisocial by nature, have been all of my adult life. Got tired of trying to be the square peg in a world of round holes. I accept my differences, but most people do not. That makes it impossible to socialize on what many would call a "normal" basis. Most times it doesn't bother me. But when the judgments of others reaches my ears because they don't understand me, it can be hurtful, damaging even. It gets old real fast trying to explain things to others, and you reach a point where avoidance is less stressful. If it's causing me MORE ANXIETY to explain my anxiety, I won't do it.



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 11:19 AM
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I always enjoy your posts Heff. You have a wonderful way of putting your insights into words.
Have you ever thought of compiling you writings into a book? Or public speaking (such as medical conferences etc., which I know would be difficult do to social anxiety).

As someone who has struggled with depression, I can totally relate to your words.



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 01:13 PM
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a reply to: Hefficide

i have battled with anxiety and depression all my life. people that dont suffer from it will never understand.
it is more than being a 'little sad' or a 'little nervous'

my anxiety is far worse than my depression. winter is the worst for me. seasonal affective big time.
my battle is with anxiety and really agitation. i get super agitated at the smallest thing and i feel like i am going to snap.

anyway, i like this quote from elizabeth wurtzel

"gradually, then suddenly. thats how depression hits"

simple, true, and to the point



posted on Oct, 18 2015 @ 01:23 PM
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I haven't been on this site long, but I have to stay this post is absolutely awesome and full of compassion! I even teared up a little
no joke.
I too suffer from social anxiety and completely understand what your going through, it is true there is nothing currently that can permanently fix the breach in our psyches.

I wish the best of luck in your future altruistic endeavors, friend.





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