These last 18+ months have taken a mental toll on many of us. Far too often we are unable to take much needed rest because of life’s obligations. Jobs, children, aging parents, even pets have all still needed us performing at an optimal rate. But what is an optimal rate when burnout is looming around the bend? How do you protect your peace of mind and recharge yourself before spazzing out on an unsuspecting person? What can you do?
I don’t know about you but I have tried returning to my poetic place of solitude… nope. My inspiration tank was as dry as my mother’s first Thanksgiving turkey 🦃 🤣. Love you, ma. That in itself was concerning to me because poetry was always my go to place of relief and release mentally. Next I tried baking. Cookies, cakes, bread and pies. Delicious 😋 things smelling up my kitchen and swelling up my waistline 😭. No good. I tried forcing myself to interact with others outside. I attended some vending events, showed support for some of my IG friends in real time but it just didn’t do it. I still felt blah.
Ok, I thought to myself. Music is always a sure fire mood lifter. I scrolled through Pandora. Nope. YouTube Music. Nope. I even dug out my box of old cds from the late 90s-early 2000s. Not a happy toe tap to be found.
I couldn’t kick the funk I was in and it was seriously affecting my interactions with everyone around me. I was always irritable and cranky (and no, it was not that time of the month) and was ready to snap on anyone at a moments notice. Work pressures didn’t help. At that point I did 2 things. I called a friend for a referral to a therapist and I picked up my knitting needles.
I am so glad I did. My therapist is down to earth and real. She listens. We meet weekly through video chat on Duo and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. And since I’ve picked my needles back up I have been knitting consistently for the last 2 months. Today I decided to bring my current wip (work in progress) to work with me, to work on during down time. My commute was crazier than normal this morning (3 road construction slow downs and 2 road closures with a clogged detour) so instead of sitting in traffic frustrated as normal, I picked up my project and started knitting at every stop light and slow down. 🤗 I wish I had thought about doing this sooner. Now I look for the red lights so I can knit more stitches and my irritability is fading one stitch at a time.
Knitting may not be for you, but then again it might. You won’t know until you try. My sure fire recommendation is to try something new to you. If you like it, go for it. If all else fails reach out to a professional for help. It’s confidential and that may be just what you need to release what’s on your mind. At the end of the day be good to you because today is yesterday’s tomorrow…
I revisited my original blog I started 13 years ago and feeling nostalgic, started posting again. Well, tonight I was inspired by another poet and wrote, Thank You on my other blog. Check it out and leave a comment below.
I just found out the singer, Chester Bennington, from the group Linkin Park committed suicide. If you are not familiar with the group this may not bother you, but for me this hurts. I discovered Linkin Park in 2000 through my then-boyfriend. He didn’t know it at the time but when he popped Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory CD on, the tracks spoke to me. I was depressed. I was also in denial. I knew something didn’t feel right with me but I kept it to myself because I didn’t want to appear weak or whiny. I pushed on and pushed through and through the music I was able to hide my feelings with a smile.
Earlier this year a good friend of mine, Chris Collins, committed suicide. Right after the New Year started. He spent the last twenty years of his life fighting for equality in the LGTBQ community here in Philadelphia. Fighting for those who felt they had no voice to be heard and yet he felt no one heard his voice. Losing him hurt, especially like that. He was one of the first friends I made in high school as an awkward teenager and his friendship helped me through a lot of dark days over that initial four years. He didn’t realize how much he meant to those around him that he had touched over the years.
See, depression does that. It creeps into your mind and takes root into all of your memories, old and new, and tries to twist them this way and that. Depression loves to feast on the negative memories. Those memories are like protein shakes, making the depression stronger and harder to shake. Constantly whispering how bad you suck at life and reasons why bad things happen in your life. Depression is the voice of evil whether you want to believe in it or not.
But even with all of the infomercials and poster boards describing the symptoms of depression, many people ignore the obvious because once you acknowledge something you become responsible for how you react to it. Imagine if everyone actually paid attention to how their loved ones were feeling. The slightest deviation from their normal behavior would be an initial clue that something isn’t right. As a friend or loved one it only makes sense to inquire if everything is okay. Because I know what depression feels like and I had to wrestle with that beast head on to reclaim myself, I can spot subtle changes in those around me (even my co-workers). So naturally, I’ll ask if everything is alright. I let the individual know that if they need anything to let me know and then I quietly observe them without being obvious.
Why do I do this? Because I do for others what I wish had been done for me. I have survived the darkest part of my depression, I haven’t completely conquered it but I have learned how to manage it so I understand wholly what it feels like. Some people will twist their faces and proclaim that you’ll be institutionalized if depression or the hint of it is mentioned, but that is due to misinformation and fear. Once we stop reacting on the basis of fear and find out the facts, then we as a collective can help prevent someone we know from succumbing to their depression.
Lisa Sparrow is an inspirational woman. She sat with me for an hour on my blogtalk radio show, On Why Yet’s Watch, and was completely open about her daily battle with mental illness. That in itself is bravery in my book. Mental illness is such a touchy topic to speak on because growing up we (as a society) were taught to only speak of such things in the house – especially when it pertained to a relative or close loved one. Lisa shared her story with our listeners and I am truly grateful.
Depression is the most common form of mental illness that people are familiar with. There is NO one single cause of depression. There can be a combination of causes that can trigger depression:
Trauma – a serious trauma that occurs early in life can change our brain’s response mechanism.
Genetics – mood disorders and risk of suicide tend to run in families but anyone with a genetic tendency would be more likely to show signs of depression at an early age
Life Circumstances – marital status, financial standing, where you live could all influence or trigger depression
Brain Structure – depression is associated with changing how your brain responds to hormone stimulation
Drug and Alcohol Abuse – 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have depression
16 million Americans had a least one major depressive episode last year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression. Young adults aged 18-25 are 60% more likely to experience depression than people aged 50 and over. Unfortunately, Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be misdiagnosed.
There are many forms of treatment:
Brain Stimulation Therapies
Self Management Strategies and Education
Should you or someone you know suffer from depression or believe you do, seek help. There is strength in asking for help because we all need help at one time or another. For more information about depression and some of the causes of depression check out the following websites:
Mental health is a serious issue in our communities but is rarely addressed directly or openly. Especially in black communities.
With week after week passing and the media constantly showing police murdering innocent black people across the nation, the psyche of the next generation is being molded.
Police terrorism is a major contributing factor in black people developing mental health problems.
When the court system repeatedly fails to prosecute the abuse of power and tampering of evidence that sends a loud message that justice does not exist for everyone.
We have also seen it is far from equal. Black women are less likely to seek out professional help because of the negative stigma attached as well as the ratio of black psychologist to white psychologist.