A Re-blog: The Depression Diaries — Beth McIntyre

Today I took some time to catch up on some tags that I follow. Below is one that caught my heart. Beth has a story to tell one that may help others. I have a feeling she is new to the WordPress community. After reading this post drop her a line in the comment section.


Entry 1. 15 September 2020. Bucharest, Romania. Hi. I’m Beth. I’ve struggled with my mental health for as long as I can remember. Well okay, not as long as I can remember, but for a long time. I was first diagnosed with depression at 13 (maybe 14?) years old. I turn 30 next month. I […]

The Depression Diaries — Beth McIntyre

Men And Depression

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I am using information from National Institute Of Mental Health

There will be several posts that I will post with the source mentioned above.


Introduction

Men and women both experience depression but their symptoms can be very different. Because men who are depressed may appear to be angry or aggressive instead of sad, their families, friends, and even their doctors may not always recognize the anger or aggression as depression symptoms. In addition, men are less likely than women to recognize, talk about, and seek treatment for depression. Yet depression affects a large number of men.

What is depression?

Everyone feels sad or irritable and has trouble sleeping once in a while. But these feelings and troubles usually pass after a couple of days. Depression is a common but serious mood disorder that may cause severe symptoms. Depression affects the ability to feel, think, and handle daily activities. Also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, a man must have symptoms for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with depression.

Both men and women get depression but their willingness to talk about their feelings may be very different. This is one of the reasons that depression symptoms for men and women may be very different as well.

For example, some men with depression hide their emotions and may seem to be angry, irritable, or aggressive while many women seem sad or express sadness. Men with depression may feel very tired and lose interest in work, family, or hobbies. They may be more likely to have difficulty sleeping than women who have depression. Sometimes mental health symptoms appear to be physical issues. For example, a racing heart, tightening chest, ongoing headaches, or digestive issues can be signs of a mental health problem. Many men are more likely to see their doctor about physical symptoms than emotional symptoms.

Some men may turn to drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their emotional symptoms. Also, while women with depression are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to die by suicide because they tend to use more lethal methods.

Depression can affect any man at any age. With the right treatment, most men with depression can get better and gain back their interest in work, family, and hobbies.

“My daily routine was shot. I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I got up because the dog had to be walked and my wife needed to go to work. The day would go by and I didn’t know where it went. I wanted to get back to normal. I just wanted to be myself again.”
—Jimmy, Firefighter

Oh I Wonder, Wonder, Wonder…

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Do not brood over your past mistakes and failures as this will only fill your mind with grief, regret and depression. Do not repeat them in the future. Swami Sivananda
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/past-mistakes-quotes

Every once in awhile I find myself wondering how different my life would been like if I hadn’t made some of the mistakes throughout life.  Some mistakes I guess is just part of growing up, curiosity, exploration, yet why did I not ask for advice from my parents, teachers, or a friend.

I doubt very much that not many people find their grade eight teacher knocking at their door. Well for me this was true.  We were just starting to supper when the knock came.  He wanted to talk with my mother, meanwhile I am trying to think if I did something stupid that day in school.  He gave some suggestions for my mother to help me after graduating high school.  He wanted my mother to encourage me to pursue becoming a lawyer because he believed I was intelligent enough.  Well, I never followed that path!

Then there is the day I made the decision to hop on the back of a motorcycle.  We both worked at the same factory, both had doctors appointments the same day, both lived in the same small town.  Well, it was a beautiful summer day, no clouds, just a nice breeze.  We were travelling on Highway 401 in Ontario just outside the city of London.  I do not know where the driver’s thought were, but obliviously it wasn’t on the road ahead of him. He ran into the back of a car, the jolt sent me flying landing on my buttocks.  The results were, after x-rays in the emergency department , I had ripped everything away from my spine.  I have not ridden on a motorbike since then.  So, every time my back is feeling unbearable pain, I kick myself for riding on that bike.

I probably could go on and on thinking about my life step by step.  The only thing that would come of it is a major pity trip.  A pity party on the way to depression valley.

So dear reader, make yourself a note, when you are in your senior years take some advice from this soon-to- be senior.  Do not allow yourself to wonder, wonder, wonder!

 

Aching Memories

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“Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don’t believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it’s good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason.”
― Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

Memories, good, the bad, and the ugly.  Some you want to keep forever for they remind of a time gone past that was warm, comforting, and full of love.

Then there are those memories you wish there was a way to erase, no totally delete them from the cobwebs in your mind.  These are times that I would never want to experience again, or anyone for that matter to experience.  I will call them my aching memories.

It is when I am depressed that these memories seem to float to the top of my thoughts.  I try as I might, but, just cannot stop them from haunting me.  I wake up with them, they are there when I have too much free time, and are there when I close my eyes at night.

Oh, there is medications that can suppress them for a period of time, but are there when the medication wanes.

So, all I have left is too try to raise those good memories and hope they give relief to my “aching memories”.

 

The Silent Scream

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Screaming is bad for the voice, but it’s good for the heart. Conor Oberst
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/screaming-quotes

Lately there are times I just want to scream, not in anger, but shear frustration.  Frustration that I am going through another period of depression.

If I lived somewhere out on an acreage I probably would let out a scream.  Since I do not live somewhere like that, I cannot let out a scream for the neighbors are too close.  More than likely the police would be paying me a visit.  Screaming would be so out of character for me.

So, instead of letting it all out I just do my silent scream!

O.K. I Admit…

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It is very hard to explain to people who have never known serious depression or anxiety the sheer continuous intensity of it. There is no off switch. Matt Haig
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/depression-quotes

I have been pushing back on something I just don’t want to admit, for if I admit it then I own it.  I have been doing mental gymnastics around it.  The more I try to avoid it, the stronger it seems to loom over me.

I have been putting on a mask of “everything is fine” when with others, but deep down inside me it simmers just below the surface.  I do not know anyone in my sphere of people who would understand these feelings that I am experiencing.  So, here I am suffering in silence, my only outlet being is this blog.

So, okay I admit it, I am depressed!

Ill Effects Of Depression

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If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days. Kris Carr
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/depression-quotes

I already knew that depression causes effects within our body things that sometimes we pass off the effect/s as something else.

There are a couple of things that I am trying to wrap my head around:

Lack Of Energy

I saw my GP this morning and mentioned to him about this lack of energy.  I had been searching for some natural remedies that might help.  I asked him about something I had found called “Free Testerones”.  He advised me not to take them for they may have some serious side-effects also.  One that he mentioned caught my attention, that was it could cause harm to the prostate.  So, no free testerones for this guy.  I would offer a word of advice, that before you try anything speak to your doctor first.

Weight Gain

When I entered into high school I weighed ninety-nine pounds and stood around six foot one.

I now stand around five foot ten due to compression in my back.

I eventually gained some weight over the years but always remained slim. Two years ago I weighed about one hundred forty-five pounds.  Being inactive because of several bone fractures started a weight gain.  I now weigh around one hundred ninety pounds.

I now have a better understanding about how our body image affects our disposition. I look in the mirror and see nothing but a blob of fat.  Triggering a wave of despair within me.  

Going to the gym is out, and finding a diet I can work with seems impossible.

So, I have learned two more side-effects of depression!  YUCK!

I Get Depressed When…

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*** When I tell people that I am bi-polar their reply is, “You don’t look sick”!

***  That’s not a real illness

***  They have no tests for it like an x-ray or something

***  Just get happy

Those are just a few things that make me want to pull my hair out, they just make me depressed!

Using the comment section let me hear some of the things that make you depressed!

Too Much Quiet Is Maddening!

Some days, 24 hours is too much to stay put in, so I take the day hour by hour, moment by moment. I break the task, the challenge, the fear into small, bite-size pieces. I can handle a piece of fear, depression, anger, pain, sadness, loneliness, illness. I actually put my hands up to my face, one next to each eye, like blinders on a horse. Regina Brett
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/loneliness-quotes

Loneliness is, like, when you wish someone else was there, and solitude is when you enjoy being alone. I don’t always wanna be alone, but I definitely like pockets of solitude to recharge and come back to myself. I think that’s so important for everyone. Jonathan Van Ness
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/loneliness-quotes

I grew up as the oldest of five.  I always had to share the bedroom with my younger brother.  The three girls the same.  That meant there wasn’t much time or space just to be alone.  

Oh, how I wished for a space that was all my own, a place where I could retreat to, to read a book, take a nap, or just lay on the bed and think.

Now I own my own place, live alone, and at times I wouldn’t mind all that chatter and activity.  It would drive back the almost smothering still silence around me.  At times I would almost wager to say that I can hear the very blood coursing through my veins.

Too much quiet is quite maddening!

You Write This Headline

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“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
― Buddha

I grew up around an angry man.  You never knew when he would blow his top, so, everyone walked like on egg shells around him.  Blowing his top may have been wrong, but when he was angry he would throw things, break things, God forbid if he was driving when he lost it.  

As I grew older his favorite punching became me, so to avoid confrontations, when I entered high school I went to school in the dark and arrive at home after he was in bed.  It was a matter of survival.  After one severe incident I left home at the age of sixteen, quit school and started hitch hiking to destination not determined.

To this very day when someone around me shows his anger I run for the hills. My home life automatically flashes before me.  If I am out walking and see someone coming towards me that I know wants to be confrontational I will cross the street to avoid that person.

I know that when someone has anger issues, that anger is corrosive.

*** Allow me some creative licence on broadcaster Paul Harvey’s closing line***

And now you know another part of the story!

 

Routine Blahs

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When you have a system, you kind of get in a routine of what’s important. And then you spend a lot more time on thinking of things that would make it better.

Nick Saban
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/routine-quotes

When in treatment they stressed that you followed a daily regiment.  Breakfast, meditation, shower, get dressed, and many other things for the day.

I would cope quite well while there, and would do well for a lengthy period of time when back at home.  Eventually I would fall back into old habits.  Since I live alone I do not have someone to do for.  I basically follow my feelings from day to day with the exception of taking all of my medications for each day.

As of this writing I am having routine blahs, nothing seems to motivate me, nothing except lethargy which is terrible as a person that leans towards depression.  Going for walks with my dog is fine but I just cannot spark any real enthusiasm.

So here I am sitting in front of my laptop suffering with a bad case of routine blahs!

Advocate, The Best Person For The Job

Webster’s defines an advocate as a person who pleads another’s cause, or who speaks or writes in support of something. A lawyer is an advocate when he represents his client in a courtroom. … A good advocate does his or her homework, and follows through on what they say they’re going to do.Jul 31, 2010

Have you ever listened to a child who is going through cancer treatment?  I have and it breaks my heart.  That child when he/she talks speaks as what an adult would say.  Their knowledge about the cancer and treatment is deep.  The disease demands for a child to grow up too fast.

When I attemted suicide with a bottle of sleeping pills caused me to have to learn about depression, being bipolar and a myriad of other things.  I still am learning about the issue of being bi-polar, the medications that my psychiatrist prescribes.  I quickly learned that I could not be passive about the issue I was dealing with.

I learned that I am my own best advocate!

Flashback!

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Life’s is funny, just when you think you have the rules down pat life decides to change them leaving you in a tailspin.

In the past two weeks I have been reliving things from my childhood, things I thought I had dealt with and moved on from.  One incident that happened to my relative seemed to have caused a crack in the dam bursting it and my mind was flooded with flashbacks.

I am one who doesn’t hold grudges for they serve no purpose and tend to make a person miserable, full of hate, and revenge.  Now do not get me wrong I am not one that believes I should be a doormat for someone to walk all over me.

Since that incident two weeks ago my lone time has been a time of feeling overwhelmed.  The evenings seemed so much longer, morning arriving too soon.

One incident, two weeks of childhood events playing like a continous re-run, a flood of flashbacks!

My Pendulum

I have sat down at my laptop many times since my last post.  Each time I start one I find myself hitting the delete button.   When I write I want it to mean something, something worth saying!

It started last Monday when I received a phone call bright and early with a family member in distress.  What I found out later disturbed me greatly.  It brought back scenes of my own days of an abusive father.

So, I have been on the downward swing ever since.  I jump every time the phone rings, my heart begins to race.  Just like the adage declares, ‘sitting on pins and needles’.

Oh, I know deep down this is a setback, though minor.  I will find my way back to the other side of this.

All I can do is work to have my pendulum swing back to the happy side!

Old Habits

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Have you ever had a pair of jeans that you just hate to put in the trash bin.  I mean you have them broke in, comfortable, soft, and yes, almost down to nothing but white thread.  Holes in the knees and other places that your mom says is disgraceful.  Habits are like those pair of jeans.

I remember hearing someone talk about you can tell how an adult was raised by watching what they do after a meal.  If they are full of energy, it probably means after a meal their mother more than likely sent them outside to play.  The other scenario is after a meal the adult wants to lay down and take a nap.  It goes without saying that their mother probably had them take a nap after their meal.

With my dealing of being bi-polar I have had to deal with some of my old habits.  Negative thinking, procrastination, thinking about what it is like to be dead, all those and a multitude of more.  I am the first to admit I am a fifty-seven year old man who is set in his ways and I do not like change.

To deal with those old nasty, musty smelling habits you must commit yourself to change.  Change should mean progression, new attitude and outlook on life around you.  Not holding onto the pass, but trying to look ahead with the effort of moving forward.

The best place to start with old habits is taking those old pair of jeans and placing them in the trash can!

Building A Village

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A saying from Africa: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Before it was easy to migrate to areas from your home town most would marry someone from close by.  I did not.  My first wife was from Saskatchewan and I was raised around the city of Windsor, Ontario. I moved to the province of Saskatchewan to stay on as the organist with the evangelist now pastor moved there.

Small towns and villages have their own unique sense of belonging.  More than likely the children in the village had more than just their parents looking out for their welfare.  Everyone knew everyone else.

It is the same when a person faces illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and yes, mental health challenges.  We have The Cancer Society, Diabetes Association, and many more who are advocates, specialists of that certain illness that a person can turn to for information, and wholelistic support.

Before I became aware of the vast sea of people on WordPress all I had was the professional information and support.  Outside of that I did not know anyone else facing the challenges like myself to talk to, to support each other.

Instead I found myself in the role and advocate of what a bi-polar person faces.  

  • I became my own best advocate
  • I dispelled misinformation with facts
  • I was my own research department
  • Plus many other roles

Those were the foundation of which I now draw upon each and every day.

Upon that foundation I am now part of a multitude of the village called WordPress. 

Building a village!

Too Critical!

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**Please do not be angry with the following statement”

If I was a believer in the Zodiac signs I would fall into line about the first trait listed. That is Virgos are ‘critical thinkers’.  That is my one big hurdle, I tend to be very critical of myself.

When my grandfather passed away I took up being the pianist for my home church.  It was on the job training.  My mother told me years later that I have tell sign when I am frustrated, I would scratch the top of my head in an odd way.

As a teenager I would attend tent meetings of an evangelist that would come to our city every year.  He had a team of singers and great musicians.  I would often go home and laying on my bed would pray that God would allow me to travel like that with an evangelist.

Well one thing led to the other.  I would practice for hour upon hour at my piano that was given to me.  If I had any hope of my prayer coming true I would have to be perfect.  In 1980 my prayer was answered when an evangelist asked me to join his team to be an organist for his crusades.  I travelled with him across the length and breadth of North America.  During that time I would ask the other members how I did.

Being critical is a trait of mine even at fifty-seven years old.  I want things done just a certain way.  When they seem to go off the rails I start being critical that I can’t do it right.

I not sure if that is one of my triggers, but, I have to think it probably is.

There are other examples that I could write about where I am just too critical of myself!

 

Prison, Welcome To My Life

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No, I am not in a prison with bars or stripes on my clothes.  Somehow though I truly feel it wouldn’t be any worse.

Every day is scheduled around my medications.  They dictate my life from morning to sunset.

I have a feeling I am not the only one who feels this way.  So, it is a safe guess that I am not alone in this.

  • Morning – put the coffee maker on.  Start my meds, Warfarin is first, then onto the rest of them.  I do not know anymore all the names of them for there are many.
  • Visit for some time with my best friend.
  • Pour a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  Take Naproxen.
  • Watch t.v. – more than likely fall asleep while watching.
  • Depending on whether or not if I have a doctor’s appointment.  Maybe, I may have to go for blood work, comes with the fact I take Warfarin to prevent blod clots.
  • Now time for supper, eat, and again take Naproxen.
  • Visit again with best friend.
  • Watch more t.v. – spend time with my dog, Natalie
  • Start taking my night meds.
  • Go to bed.

Next morning repeat the same as the day before.

Oh, by the way, I do find time to read all of the blog posts I follow.  Even send some emails.

There you have it, welcome to my life, prison!

Listen, Just Listen

Please do not judge what this post is about.  Continue reading it may be just what someone close to you needs.

When I am going through a difficult time, I may not want you to give me answers when all I want is a sympathetic ear.

When I am crying just wrap an arm around me and pass me a tissue to wipe my eyes.

When I am venting don’t tell me to calm down.  Just let me get everything that has pent up in me, out.

When I am silent do not keep asking me ‘what’s wrong’.  Leave me be quiet and I will be alright.  Just be there!

So, please all I ask of you is, listen, just listen!

Conflicted Still

I started this blog to approach many, so it seems, contradictions.  Things I believed but yet did not manifest in my life.

I was raised and believed that God heals, though most of my life suffered, in one way or the other, with pain.  I stood beside the bed of a Godly woman full of cancer.  Gave the eulogy at my own mother’s homecoming, died from complications of what started out to be the flu.

I always heard that a person who commits suicide cannot go to heaven.  My issue with that is many are suffering with mental health issues.  I can remember a great uncle was found under the exhaust of his’ car, committed suicide. Yet, I know that God is merciful.

This broken person admits freely that there are many questions that still go unanswered.  If you hear a preacher claim he has all the answers, I would suggest he is lying.

So I go from day to day conflicted still!

The Other Side Of Healthy

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It was early part of  the nineties where I found myself out of work living in a bachelor apartment where I just was totally burned out.

I was trying my level best to put on a brave face, inwardly though I was in total turmoil. Conflicted about the very things I had been taught within a Christian family, at least on my mother’s side.  My paternal grandmother was a died in the cloth Roman Catholic.

A friend I had allowed to get close to me was smothering me day and night.  I do not know what is to experience drowning, yet that is how I would describe my mental health.

It is funny, no one wakes up in the morning and places on their to-do list that they will allow depression to enter their life.  It sneaks up on you, probably for years.  Mornings when you just wake up in a bad mood, the sudden outbursts of anger without any just cause, causing hurt to family and friends.

Then one afternoon everything just boiled over.  In a moment of total anger at this friend I grabbed my prescription bottle of sleeping pills, went to the bathroom and downed the entire bottle which had basically been filled.

I woke up in the mental health ward the next morning.  My memories of it all were spotty at best.  Most of the details filled in from hospital staff and my friend.  I was told while in emergency they gave me a charcoal drink and was not combative like most are in the same situation.  So began over twenty-five years of battling depression, being dianosed as bi-polar.

That is the short version of the other side of healthy!

Procrastination My Constant Companion

You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.

— Benjamin Franklin

There is one thing I do best when I am depressed, procratinate.  It’s not that I am lazy, it’s just that I have no energy.  My energy is devoted to my depression.  It seems I just cannot help myself. Now do not mistake this for being a messy person, I try to keep up with the basic household chores, beyond them it is a big zero.

I am not sure if this is a common trait with people fighting a mental illness, but for this person it is.

During a depressed episode it even hurts to think about doing something.  So, projects that I may have started when in a high are left exactly where I left them.  They  stay like that the entire time of my depression.

Somehow I manage to find just enough energy to go to doctor’s appointments, and shopping for groceries.  Then I return home and find myself back in bed for I am totally exhausted.

My depressed state of mind feels like a loop. Procratination is my constant companion!

Adrenaline!

It’s been about a month since I have discovered a whole new world, the world of WordPress.  I cannot believe how vast and deep it goes.  A world that is able to share back and forth on personal trials, personal victories.  So much rich knowledge to drill down on from a wide varying writers.

I am not sure when I started my blog, which for the most part was my voice on all things spiritual.  I was hit and miss with my writings maybe I would write on average about twice a month.  

I do not have anyone to teach me the in’s and out’s of blogging, so the learning curve has been almost extreme.  Learning how to use categories and tags, finding a writing style that was unique to me.  I have never tried to write fiction, could be I was not very capable of writing such pieces during my high school year.  I write on things that I know, lately it has been about my personal struggle as bi-polar.

Things feel different when it comes to blogging, it is the one thing I think of when I wake up in the morning.  I cannot wait to read the new blog pieces that I have followed.  There is a new sense of excitement within the depths of my being.

Maybe, it is a rush of adrenaline!

Big Boys Don’t Cry?

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I am part of the baby boomers.  Growing up was a different age when it came to men dealing with their emotions.  Men did not show any tenderness, anger was the only emotion that was displayed.  It was the age of westerns, cops and robbers, if you fell and hurt yourself you often would hear “suck it up and take it like a man”.  God forbid if you cried, if you did you were more than likely called a sissy. Among many you would also hear the phrase “keep a stiff upper lip”.

I am not sure that we have moved passed that era, I sometimes see signs that gives me hope that men are more comfortable showing their tender moments openly.  So, could it be that maybe men are not reporting when they are having a breakdown in their mental health.  It just might be that they are suffering in silence, they do not want to be thought of as weak.

For me it was my first time in treatment that I reconciled within myself to be comfortable with my emotions other than just when I was angry.

I cannot recall ever hearing my dad say to myself or my siblings that he loved us.  However, I do recall many times when he would erupt in anger.  

If you are a man reading this let me say one thing, “Big boys can cry!”

Broken, But Usable

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Today we live in a disposable world.  If something breaks we throw it in the trash, do not repair because buying new is cheaper

With most illnesses we respond with some type of therapy, operation, but, never do we throw them away.  It is my opinion that is not so with those suffering some form of mental illness.  One such mental illness that comes to mind is PTSD.  Many coming back from a tour of duty start to show signs of this within weeks, months.  Getting help seems to come slowly for those needing it.

For me when I first started showing symptons I had to leave the ministry.  At that time I was burned out and also to get away from some who tried to pin me down.  I started to feel useless, functioning in routine but felt like I was unattached in my mind.

Beginning around 2005 after several times in treatment I started my to-do list. Here is some of the things included.

  • Prioritize my goals, those that were basically pipe dreams to ones that were attainable.
  • Weed out relationships that were broken. Those were the ones that I always felt worse after being around them or talking with them on the phone.
  • Decided that I could not afford the luxury of worrying what people thought of me.

It took awhile before I started to notice a change within myself.  Eventually I found a new stride leaving me with a sense of usefullness. 

I was broken but still useable!