Guest Post: On The Bright Side … of Depression?

by Spencer Bruford

I’m @AdadcalledSpen. Not a journalist or a writer, just a dad to 2 amazing children. I was a SAHD for 3 years and now I’m not. I’m divorced, love cheese and got the moves like Jagger. I blog at http://adadcalledspen.wordpress.com/, have had written stuff published in books, and recently won an award for blogging.

I’m honoured to be asked to write a guest post for Samantha’s blog.

Well, I kinda volunteered myself but let’s gloss over that. The point is I’m writing for this blog, and I’ve been asked to write something about the brighter side of Life.

And so I’m going to write about depression.

No. Don’t run away. I’m going to attempt to write a positive and uplifting post about depression. About this thing that can cripple and debilitate people, and bring them to their lowest points. I’m no expert on the subject. I’m no guru or plastic philosopher, sending out inspirational tweets or posting inspirational quotes on my FB feed, I can only speak from my experience, and so it is from this standpoint that I’m writing this post.

First positive thing.

You see, I’m writing this post.

Me.

I’m writing it.

This means something.

It means I’ve suffered from depression, and may well have a moment or two in the future where something knocks me for six, but the thing is I am writing it.

I’m not dead. I’m here.

Hello. *Waves*

My gran always said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. She also said never eat anything bigger than your own head, so she wasn’t always Yoda. But she was right. Man alive I’ve felt ABJECT in the past. Low, suicidal, and I’ve attempted that twice, but I AM here. I’m alive.

Guess what? It didn’t kill me. I sought the help I needed, got the counselling I had to have, took the meds for a bit, changed my way of thinking and, while that Black Dog does lurk round the corner sometimes I now feel able to look it straight in the eyes and tell it, BAD DOG. Go away.

Some recent counselling has taken me out of a funk I was in due to circumstances beyond my control. Did I do my best? Yes. Was I honest? Yes. Did it work out how I wanted it to?

Sometimes things DON’T work out but I did my damned best and really, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s something to be proud of so, why feel down?

Good point. But by feeling down I got the help I needed. The weapons in my armoury to be able to deal with this and any future disappointments in a positive way. This is good. This is positive.

Positive thing number two.

I’ve written a lot about my depression, and I know others have too. Encouraging people to talk about this subject is a good thing. Many feel ashamed to do so or maybe feel that, if they do, others will see them as wallowing. Ach, we all have a wallow from time to time but we’re allowed to.

For me, writing is a release. I was recently talking to someone who went through an episode of self-harming, wishing to cut out and let out the physical PAIN the depression was causing them. Very brave of them to tell me that and, while some may frown upon this, the fact that they were talking about it, and we were conversing in this way, and the fact that they said they got help and won’t feel like that ever again is a GOOD and positive thing. I have so much respect for this person it’s untrue, for their bravery, honesty and strength.

So, by talking about it, communicating about depression we can see a side to people we never saw before, and people can get to understand us, and perhaps take the stigma away from this bastard of a disease so perhaps WE win the battle. We know more, and we can be there for them in the future when times get rough.

This is good, right? This is positive thing number three?

And back to me writing about it. Guess what? Depression makes me very creative. I blog sometimes to get it out of me. Put the feelings into words and then… wow. People respond. And always in a supportive and caring way. This I never expected. This I never thought would happen but it does because SO many people know what you’re talking about, have been through similar, know people who’ve been through similar and are willing to hold out a hand of friendship and say ‘It’ll be okay. We’re here for you.’

So this is good too. This is positive thing number four. These are the bright sides of depression.

I can never, and would never say that depression is a good thing. Whatever causes it, be it bad times or something more physical and long lasting, it ain’t good. It kills people and can affect people around you. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. On them I’d wish trenchfoot, Tropical Monkey Ooga Booga virus and a plague of inspirational tweets and pictures on the Twitter and FB timelines.

But being depressed can make you makes those changes in your life, reach out for friends, allow you to see it in others and be there for THEM,

And so, really, through the dark clouds, and although it may not feel like it at the time, there can be a glimpse of the brighter side.

Go forth, be strong my friends. Much love.

And thanks for reading.

adadcalledspen

For the Love of …. Doing Nothing

I love doing nothing. It’s right up there with eating. And watching TV. And sleeping (which, I guess, is just doing nothing with your eyes closed.) I long to do nothing.

Back in my single, pre-kid days, I excelled at doing nothing. I practiced long and hard. Put in a lot of time and effort, mastering the art and skill of doing nothing. It was lovely, indulgent, righteous. I also did a lot of stuff: partying, studying, working hard, traveling, moving to new countries, making new friends. But there was always the option of doing nothing.

These days, there is not a lot of time available for doing nothing. Kids school, kids activities, kids play dates, school vacation, domesticity, family and a career all have this horrible way of getting in between me and my favo(u)rite pass-time. Society imposes this crazy requirement for being busy, as if a full schedule is the key to fulfillment. I beg to differ. The schedule is what causes the most heartburn in my life, especially as working parent. The schedule is one of the few things my husband and I argue over. Who is picking up which kid? Who gets to stay home to cover the kids’ early release days/snow days/sick days/school vacation day? Whose meeting is more important? Whose schedule/employer is more flexible?

Because the weeks are so crazy, we try as a family to do nothing at the weekends. We try not to pack these precious two days with outings, activities, errands, parties, play dates and socializing. However it doesn’t work. There are always errands, parties, play dates and socializing. But that’s cool. As long as there are a few hours tucked away, reserved for vegging out on the couch watching a movie, hanging in the backyard, lazing in bed, taking a long bath.

There is however a really, really fine balancing act, I’ve found, between organizing stuff for the kids to do and letting them play freely. Here’s what can happen when you let them do nothing:

a. They play quietly
b. They get creative
c. They break stuff
d. They break each other
e. All or some of the above

It is currently day three of school vacation week. I’m trying to perfect a formula that mixes a variety of planned and spontaneous activities with free time for doing nothing.

So far, the kids have only broken one piece of furniture. The house looks like a tornado blew through it. Laundry is piling up.

It’s not exactly the kind of doing nothing I’d like to be doing on vacation. But it’s fun.

p.s. I’m not including a picture because I can’t be bothered to search for one.

Insomnia Sucks

I love sleep. Almost as much as I love eating. I’ve never had much stamina or stay-up-late superpowers. When my brain says it’s time, I don’t simply drift off slowly to sleep, I crash into it. I plunge off the cliff of consciousness deep into the land of nod and usually stay there for at least seven hours of zzzzz. And now that my kids are older, their night time interruptions are few and far between, fortunately.

But the irony is now I am my own night time disruption and it is so, so annoying.

It started a few months back and happens roughly every five nights. I crash into sleep as per normal but awake about two hours later – and cannot fall back asleep. I usually lie there staring at the ceiling for about three hours until, somehow, sleep welcomes me back for what little remains of the night. It sucks big time.

Often what prompts my waking is my active digestive system or a cramp in my foot or calf (or the twitchy threat of it.) My heart starts to race as I stress about whether I’m getting sick. My mind plays cat and mouse with the cramp that’s threatening. It says “Don’t move a muscle.” But muscles ignore it and twitch.

Then my brain kicks in. And the opportunity to roll over back into slumber evaporates. Sometimes even there’s a tune running on repeat in my head and I can’t find the off button. Of course, like an idiot, I then turn to my iPhone, to Facebook and Twitter for distraction.

I’ve read many advice columns about insomnia and how to deal with it. I only drink one cup of caffeine a day, first thing. I try to eat dinner before 8pm. I know more exercise would probably help but I’m a yo-yo exerciser. I should probably snack on a banana and milk before bed time to boost potassium and calcium intake and ward off the cramps.

I don’t want to take any medications. On the rare occasion I’ve tried a Tylenol PM or similar, it has the opposite effect on me and makes my heart race. I’ll probably find a herbal remedy of sorts.

But seriously, this sucks. All I want to do is sleep and sleep well. I welcome any advice.

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