Sweet Seasons 11-24-18

When I was a young girl one of my favorite albums was by Carole King. I loved all of her music. In 1971, Carole released “Sweet Seasons”. I was six years old however, even though I was so young I loved this song. At the time I had no idea how much the lyrics of the song would resonate with my own life 46 years later.

The season has changed in Washington state. Winter is right around the corner. In fact, we saw early snow on Thanksgiving Day. The temperature has already dropped to 33 degrees. I’m not a fan of cold weather and I’m certainly not a fan of winter. Let’s just say, my favorite season is summer.

I woke up this morning and despite the cold, the sun was shining beautifully. I put my warm clothes on and went on my walk. I wanted to breathe in that rare winter sunshine while breathing in that cool, fresh winter air. I found myself reflecting on yet another season and the many that have gone by. I was reminded of this song I loved so many years ago and listened as I walked while allowing my mind to reflect on the many memories that have past with each and every season.

I’ve shared on many occasions that I have battled depression, anxiety and PTSD for a very long time. This past July, things took a turn in my life and I found myself no longer able to keep my head above water. My depression, anxiety as well as PTSD suddenly began to rule every part of my life. For those of you that are wondering, PTSD and anxiety are real. Depression is real. For me even a ring tone, a scent or a song can bring back the horrible memories I’ve tried so hard to hide. The racing heart beat, the overwhelming thoughts, the insomnia, fear, worry and feeling of hopelessness have been more than I could bare. Somewhere along the line, I snapped. Through it all, I somehow recognized I needed help.

Last month I finally accepted I needed the help of a therapist. My first visit, I ranted and raved. I had so much I wanted to say. The words were spewing out of me like a crazy woman. I couldn’t stop myself. I was amazed at the feelings I have kept stuffed away for a very long time. Still, after releasing all that stuff I was depressed, overwhelmed and I couldn’t breathe. The counselor explained that I had experienced so much trauma these past several years, I could no longer cope. She recommended an anti-depressant to help get some relief from the depression and anxiety and begin working on my healing in therapy. I have to admit, this wasn’t the first time an anti-depressant was recommended. Looking back, I was encouraged to take one eight years ago. I refused and have refused many times since then. My only excuse is I’ve always seen myself as a strong woman who could overcome anything. I was wrong. The result has been catastrophic. As it turns out, I’m not superwoman. I’m merely human. Like any human, I can only take so much.

Two weeks ago, I started a drug called Celexa. In truth, I was apprehensive but deep down I knew it was time. I knew I needed some help. Every day since then I have felt like a turtle poking its head out of his shell. Slowly but surely and very timidly allowing myself to come out of a fog I’ve been in for a very long time. I have begun to feel some clarity. Unfortunately, the clarity has also come with the realization of how many seasons have gone by since my depression first began. I am struggling with time. I realize it’s 2018 but for me I find myself waking up where I left off. This may sound crazy but for me it’s hard to grasp how I got here.

As I walked today, listening to Carole belt out this tune while reflecting on the many seasons that have gone by, I suddenly remembered. I knew when my depression first began. The memory was so vivid. It was Christmas night 2010. I was sitting on our recliner. The Christmas lights on our tree were the only lights in the living room. It was snowing outside. I was watching tv. I was so depressed that night, I remember wishing I could run away. I can still feel the way I felt that night. It’s hard for me to believe eight years have gone by. It’s hard to believe everything that has happened. It’s hard to believe 32 seasons have gone by and I’ve just been a character in this really bad nightmare.

I realized today, I have a lot of “stuff” I need to work through. I have so much wreckage to clean up. After all, it’s been eight years. I’m grateful for my therapist and I’m grateful for my meds but more importantly I’m grateful I’m coming out of this fog and entering reality. I found myself crying today. I was on my knees asking god for my life back. This life I find myself waking up to certainly isn’t the life I was living when my depression first started. So much has happened. So much trauma. So many losses. I know it’s going to take a lot of work but I have to do it. A friend once told me “when you’re rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go from here than up”. Eight years and 32 seasons later, I’m rock bottom however, as I enter my newfound reality, there’s nowhere to go from here than up.

In the words of Carole King “Sometimes you win sometimes you lose
And sometimes the blues just get a hold of you
Just when you thought you had made it“. But like the song there’s ” A sweet season on my mind” and this new season certainly appeals to me.

https://youtu.be/sbrO4rmbSPM

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How To Avoid the Holiday Blues 11-21-18

How to Avoid the Holiday Blues 
As we approach the holiday season and the onset of winter, some of us will succumb to seasonal depression. Shorter daylight hours, colder temperatures, and the beginning of winter can trigger feelings of moodiness, lack of motivation, and fatigue. Coupled with the stresses of the holidays, some of us can feel even more anxious and overworked. Social gatherings, the financial burdens of buying gifts, and the pressure to feel festive can trigger holiday anxiety. Family visits can prove taxing and painful feelings can surface with the memory of lost ones and the simple realization of the passage of time. If you’re going through a difficult time, it can be tough to see others with extra joy in their lives. You should know that you are not alone. There are ways to manage your symptoms and get the help you need. Here are some ideas about how to take a proactive approach to staying positive:
  •  Keep active-A lack of energy can be a drain on your mood. It is important to engage in exercise or other physical activities that release endorphins and boost your energy levels and frame of mind.
  • Stay on your side-Critical thoughts of oneself often arise during the holiday season. It is important to recognize when the inner critic starts to get louder in our minds. We need to take a kind attitude towards ourselves.
  • Don’t abandon healthy habits-Try to limit alcohol intake, avoid overeating, and get plenty of sleep. Try not to let the holidays become a free for all as over indulgence can sometimes add to your stress and guilt.
  • Chose family time-Don’t feel guilty about choosing the time you spend with your family. This holiday season seek out places and people that make you feel good. Design a holiday of choice in which you decide who to spend time with and where to go. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind and be true to yourself.
Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, try and take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can transpire during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday blues triggers and try to combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace during the holidays.