Anxiety and Depression – Mental Illness v Stigma

I haven’t really written a lot lately about mental illness/my depression and I don’t think I have ever written anything about stigma as a subject, but a couple of things have happened recently that has made me think that perhaps I should write a few words. I don’t intend to get bogged down discussing pros and cons in detail, or point the finger at anyone as an example of the ‘bad guy’. These are just the thoughts of someone who has a mental illness, who has had it since childhood, who has held down managerial positions in a large government department for over twenty years, who had his first business while in his teens and continued in business for twenty years, who has seen stigma ‘at work’ in varying circumstances over the years and yet, I struggle sometimes to grasp the views of some of the ‘anti-stigma’ campaigners.

Now don’t get me wrong and don’t misquote me, I also believe that stigma is wrong, that people who hold responsible positions and are in a position to cause grief by their actions, should be targeted and educated, if they don’t want this then replace them. As for educating the average ‘Joe on the street’…well good luck with that one, time and example are the best you can hope for there. In our society people have become so good at presenting themselves in a way that disguises what and who they really are in order to promote themselves, that all the education in the world is no guarantee of success. How many times have you had boss that in no way demonstrates the qualities insisted on by the company/organization that you work for, and yet you know that they would have had to sit in front of a panel of interviewers and “demonstrate” that this is part of their work ethic? Take it or leave it, that’s the reality!

Another angle on this relates to how we ourselves behave…are we free of misbehaving in this area? Can we honestly say that we have never seen a news report where some act of…(something not good) has happened, there is some connection to…(a particular race, religion, group, etc), and we have not had a thought run through our head that goes something like this, “what do you expect!”, “no surprise there!”, or even worse “should have expected that!”. Hmmm, sounds like some kind of stigma to me! Yes I know there are other factors involved here, but underlying it is a similar problem. It’s easy to pull on an ‘anti stigma’ tee shirt’ but the real problem is oh so much deeper.

So where does this leave us? Honestly, I’m not sure, but what I do know is that stigma sucks, but if we think that just pulling on a tee shirt or running some campaign is going to fix the problem, then we have an even bigger problem. It is true that in the face of such odds, even the little things (like putting on a tee shirt) are worth it, I do believe that, but we shouldn’t get too hopeful which can eventually lead to more grief. At the end of the day it is us that lives with the depression, anxiety, BPD, or whatever condition it is and it is us that needs to be able to cope with it, looking to those who we know are there for us. Don’t turn our backs on those who do care and are always there for us. All the best….

 

Rain, Rain and More Rain – Depression?

Rain, don’t you just love it? Depression or not, I do. But, this week in Sydney we got just a little bit more than is comfortable! How much is that? LOTS and LOTS! This is what our back yard normally looks like…

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This week though….

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I know it doesn’t look too different but if you notice the brick paving you will see it under water. If you look through the back fence, you will see the river….you shouldn’t be able to see the river! We are normally about 4-5 meters above the river, but this time it came to within 1 meter of entering our environment.

Normal…(although not usually that brown)

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Rising….

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Not looking good…

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The following picture shows the bridge I normally walk on to go for my walks.

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This is only about 300 meters from our house and normally at least 4 meters above the water. Still all is back to ‘normal’ now!

Yesterday when I started writing this post I got to thinking about my response to the situation. I had been quite low for a few days, but my depression hasn’t been as intense lately so I was still functioning ok. It did surprise me though that I remained calm, I didn’t have any anxiety and just dealt with the situation. I would have to say that I think it is the medication as in times past I would imagine I would have either been very anxious about it, or I would have been on a kind of ‘high’, getting a real buzz out of the situation. So there it is, hopefully the only bit of this kind of excitement for this winter.

 

Three minute depression post!

What the! Well today has been a big day, what with shopping and eating,…oh and finishing off another piece of furniture for our new house, I thought I would just do a very brief post.

Although much was accomplished today including the above and my usual 7km walk and finding another great fruit and vegetable shop, plus some moments of almost uncontrolled hilarity with my wife….I am feeling quite melancholy and sad. That sinking feeling in the chest that just won’t let you get the full affect of everything you do. My wife sensed it today and has been very comforting, good news because it helps me to get back up and carry on.

Well tomorrow is another day and hopefully the depression will cut me some slack, if so I really need to catch up on some reading and writing…..

Depression and Anxiety – The ups and downs (2)

It occurred to me the other day that I really haven’t given an update on how I have been travelling with my depression recently, well this is it…

I have still been swinging between good and bad but for probably the last month or two my medication has really stabilised. When my doctor, and some of the other health professionals I have dealt with in respect to my depression, told me that it could take up to nine months for the meds to stabilise, I thought they were kidding, but really and truly it has taken that long for it to be a part of my life without me feeling like it is struggling with me to control my life. My wife and I were only discussing this last night, I said to her that in the time between starting medication and now, my life has been continually changing and I find myself having to relearn how to live with myself, and relearn how to manage and controll myself. Sounds a bit whacky doesn’t it? Reality is though, it’s true, and when I look back some of those people I have been, I really don’t like them, and that has particularly been the case in respect to some of the things I have written. Still, here I am, in a place that I hope will become my norm! Better would be better but if this is normal then I don’t mind too much. Just so long as when the dog turns up,  I return to here…that will be acceptable.

The onset of winter is also good for me, the heat and humidity of summer I find quite oppressive. This summer wasn’t as bad as some but that was partly due to our move into our new accommodation, it’s been a good distraction getting it set up to our liking. My wife totally broke with what I would have expected and decided she wanted some ‘industrial’ look, hence we have used G-clamps attached to steel beams to hold up our pots and pan rail, we were also going to build a mobile island for the kitchen but one day while walking through our local hardware store we saw this:

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It’s a tool box, a giant tool box! My wife immediately saw the potential since there were lots of draws, some big draws and a lot of slim draws that are ideal for our millions of spices. We have one draw for utensils, one draw for our sharp knives, two long draws just for spices and the rest for the multitude of large pots, pans and storage containers. And, it’s industrial quality so…unbreakable!!!

There’s another little thing she came up with…we needed a pantry but couldn’t get anything we liked that would hold the volume of things we have, then…(sorry, on the full site this photo is correct, on the mobile site it is on it’s side. Not smart enough to fix it!!!)

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(Terrible photo…it’s much taller in reality) so who recognises it? IKEA come to mind? When one younger son move out he left his wardrobe behind. We were wondering what we were going to do with the monstrosity, up steps my wife’s creative side and she decides it should be our pantry and this is the result! The way my wife has packaged everything in the pantry has meant that we can have everything on display but with it becoming a feature rather than a disaster. Cool eh! She has also come up with another design feature that I will share when it is finished but suffice to say that it is a combination of old, new  and pure genius of design!

So as I was saying…all of this going on has kept me busy and focused, on the days I am not bouncing off the walls, I just potter on bits and pieces that are in progress and that gets me by. On the days when I’m at the other end of the pendulum swing, I have plenty to keep me busy. Long may this last….long may the depression stay away…

 

Anxiety and Depression – Time doesn’t stop for grandparents

Well this is another instalment on the grandson. It is only just over two months since the first post but the difference in the little person in question is enormous and with all the changes it is just a wonderful journey to witness and be a part of. Certainly next to the love and support of my wife, this little guy has been a big part of the improvement in my depression. His language skills are amazing and he is continually experimenting with new words/expressions. The pronunciation can sometimes be a bit rough but he is really stringing together the sentences and coming out with some real gems that you just have to say “where did that come from?” Just a little while ago he was down visiting, and doing his usual trick of trying to get away with touching as many things as possible that he knows he’s not allowed to, but since he was being watched he points at one of our Chokin vase and says very clearly “is that a vase?”, nothing special? Well he said the word ‘vase’ like an Amercan, not an Australian, none of us say it that way. Also earlier today, I made some apple turnovers and gave two to my son for his family. When the grandson came down as mentioned before, he’s munching on a piece and saying “it’s yummy”, he goes over to my wife (nana), holds it up to her face and says it again, she says “are you sharing it?”, to which he pulls it away and says “NO, it’s yummy”…point taken!

I was hoping to avoid mentioning Thomas the tank engine this time, however since Thomas occupies at least 90% of his time that’s not an option. Today is rainy and the family (that’s how I will refer to my son and his wife and son) decided they would go for a train ride to one of the local centres for lunch and to look for clothes for the boy. When they arrive home several hours later we are confronted with what you see in the photo below… (Sorry for the poor quality pic)

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No clothes but a nice new Thomas umbrella with a whistle attach (ain’t Pa impressed), he calls the umbrella ‘ellabella’. Anyhow he heads off for his afternoon sleep and then as soon as he wakes up his dad brings him down all dressed up in wet weather gear as pictured…”so where are you going?”, “outside to play with my ellabella”. He has also taken a liking for our fly swat, he calls it his “chugga chug”, which basically amounts to the coupling rods on the old steam engines, so when ever he is coming down to play he grabs our fly swat and either runs around our flat or the back yard calling out “chugga chugga toot toot”….he can do this for what seems like hours, all the while there are ‘derailments’ and ‘coupling ups’ happening.

Well today is a ‘sunny day’ the young fellow is out with his parents but should be home soon. I have baked some cookies so he will be thrilled, his parents slightly less so since he will be pestering them for one of Pa’s biscuits (hehe), nana is sick so a quiet day of resting….it’s all good for the depression, a good spirit lifter. Now I say nana is sick but that doesn’t mean she has lost her sense of humour. At the breakfast table this morning we were discussing recipes and realized that we were missing something for today’s baking, so a trip to Aldi required, I say “I’m on my way to Aldi”, she immediately continues, “we shall not be moved” (I hope someone is old enough to remember that song!). As I said before, it’s all good for lifting the mood and giving the old depression a good slapping!

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