Keeping the Balance

Cycling at 17 miles per hour during the Tri-Sprint last week, I saw there’d been an accident up ahead. I had to carefully find my way through a very narrowed lane in order to avoid an ambulance, two EMS persons and the injured party. She was lying on a wooden board with her head immobilized. Her bike was still on the ground somewhere between her and me. I got through there pretty easily. I realize that 17 miles an hour on a bike isn’t fast for some people but it is for me. I’d only dusted my bike out a couple of months ago after not really feeling great about cycling. I’d never really learned as a kid because I was terrible at letting myself go and still maintaining my balance.

I found out the woman who’d fallen off her bike had somehow lost all control of her handle bars. Not having the ability to know what she was feeling, I’m sure of some things I am feeling. My whole life is a balancing act. I’m afraid that I will lose all sense of control and end up immobilized. Watching her I saw the strength in her face, the adept way that the other cyclists skillfully avoided her and the quickness in the actions of the emergency workers. In my estimation, from my bicycle saddle, she was being taken care of. Sometimes when we let go, we will lose our balance. We are not in control of all things. It could be a bumpy road, a letter that arrives in the mail, a phone call at 2am, or a pink slip at work. Even as I write this, I feel a slight intake of my breath and a heightened sense of anxiety. What will come next? The point is that we don’t know what’s next.

Peering down at the injured woman I knew that she could be me. I fell a couple of months ago and skinned my knee when my friends and I had just mounted our bikes. I cried and sat down on a big old rock. My friends scurried for water to clean my wound, they found a bandage and they all gave me hugs. They made sure I was composed and ready to roll when we climbed back on our bikes. Yes, I did fall but I was taken care of. It somehow made up for some past falls I’d made as a kid. I was famous for falling and creating gaping holes in new leotards. I remember once tumbling and gasping, “oh, my knee” and the grating laughter of an older kid who mimicked my reactions. I was ashamed to have fallen and having the nerve to be in pain about it. I was four. It would have been okay to cry and have my booboo kissed and I probably would have gone about my business. Instead, I stayed with shame for a really long time. Shame has kept me away from a lot of good things.

In the bigger picture of my life, I fall, get up again and keep at things that I have determined are important for my growth, my life and service to others. When I started writing I was ashamed to “show my paper” to anyone. At first I didn’t want anyone to read what I wrote, criticize my words and, especially, tell me I’d made a mistake. Fortunately with enough spills and rejections I am aware that I feel vulnerable but truly, no one really wants to hurt me. In fact, many want to help me. My writing and my bike riding have improved. How do I know that? Well, if I depended on my feelings I may not know it. The facts tell a different story. When I ride with 400 other people in a race, it tells me I’m different. When I share my words in a blog or in a story that strangers read and I ask for feedback, that shows me I’m changing too.

Keeping balanced in all the spheres of my life takes work. I once had a martial arts teacher who reminded me often enough, “you are who you practice to be.” So I practice this art of life. Sometimes I am shaky and other times, I’m a ballerina in toe shoes dancing across a stage while others applaud. Most times I’m in the middle, practicing, breathing and mindful that it is not all in my control but I can give it the best that I can.

 I hope that the woman who toppled over her handle bars is on the mend and maybe even rode again this morning. Regaining one’s balance is often not easy. To get up again and carry on doing the things we love without shame may take a certain grace but that’s one thing I know that there’s plenty of to go around.

Miracles Happen

I’ve seen miracles happen. I’ve heard of people talk about them, some with a reverent bow of their heads and others in entire disbelief.  Synchronicity happens. Sometimes the elements seem to conspire so that a certain thing comes to pass.  We witness a miracle when a rainbow crosses the sky. We experience another when someone says, excuse me, but I’m going to get some of that gold that comes at the end of it. I realize that “miracles happen” because of a mix of things. Some of those things are extraordinary and others are mundane- and that best describes the kind of world I live in.

In my experience, someone says yes. Another person creates a placard with a big loud message written on it in bold letters with glitter and exclamation points. Yet another fights his or her way on to the front of the bus and says my feet hurt and I’m going to sit. People speak and others listen. Many knowingly give their lives. There are warriors who are fierce and charge with their weapons of arrows, lances, and knives. And there are those who simply write a paragraph and share what goes on in their hearts and minds in order to stand up for what they believe in.

 I once stood in a crowd and surged forward to protect the dignity of a young man who was brutally murdered because he was gay. I remember the fear I felt when an officer came toward my partner warning her to get rid of her camera but we kept walking to preserve our dignity too. Matthew Shepard and countless others have been killed because of who they were and what they believed in. As a child I had no idea what the participants in the Stonewall Riots would affect in my life. Homosexuality was only declassified as a mental illness in 1973 when I was a young kid who couldn’t even begin to identify the trueness of myself. Today, the rainbow of sexuality- in all of its splendor- can be explored by adolescents and adults who might not have this opportunity if it were not for the courageous ones who first came forward.

At some point in my life when I was coming out and forward I heard that its best not to leave before the miracle happens. The promise that a miracle might happen for me came from a wonderful group of people I cherish. I loved the thought that if I stuck to something I believed in, without a heart full of resentment, that miracles would happen for me. Goddess willing, on Sunday, my partner and I will be legally married in NYC with some of our very closest loved ones present. It may be a miracle, but I think this has happened because some regular folks got together and conspired to allow love to happen. I am blessed this day. In my heart I thank all of those who came before me and pray for those who are coming up behind me.

Tell me about your miracle today!

Swimming with the Fishes

After insisting to anyone within earshot that “I wouldn’t ever in this lifetime,” I signed up for a triathlon sprint. While standing on the sidelines for a few of them, I realized that I didn’t have to be buff or a goddess. My running is at a good place. All I had to do was practice my almost non-existent biking skills and jump back into the pool after a very long dry hiatus.

Returning to the swimming pool at the Y, I engaged in the appearance of lap swimming. Practicing my breast stroke I found myself in the slow lane next to, how can I put this nicely? Slow people.  I fancy myself going into the medium lane where I’m sure not to gain on the person in front of me in two strokes. I knew that if I had the nerve to move lanes I probably wouldn’t see dangling legs going at a snail’s pace smack right in front of my goggles. But I don’t have the daring. Instead, sad to say, I sulked a bit, was impatient and more annoying to myself than the person in front of me. Glub, glub!

Keeping at my plan I’ve returned to the pool a few times a week. I know that occasionally some capped stranger will jump into the slow lane and suddenly it turns into a medium lane. Everyone is quite nice and we let each other go ahead if they’re a tad(pole) faster. The only person that didn’t smile at me was the lady who walks her dog each morning when I do. My yorkie-poo barks whenever her larger dog comes near. The lady crosses over a block in advance when she sees us coming. I’m still not sure how we recognized each other in the pool with our goggles and caps on but we still keep coming back.

Then my partner suggested we go to the free evening lap swim at the neighborhood city pool. The first night was wonderful. We met a friend there just by chance. The sunset was in full swing and it was magical. But last night was a struggle. Because it was a sweltering evening  everyone came out to swim. About five percent of the people in the slow lane were lap swimmers. The rest, well, again, what can I say? One guy swam almost underneath me. This evoked memories of being twelve years old but luckily he was a gentleman and kept his hands to himself. A very pregnant woman swam in the middle of the pool with her Styrofoam thingy keeping her afloat. The lane is divided in two, comers and goers. But what can you say when the Madonna goes for a swim? Then there was the leaping lady who insisted on going ahead of me. Every time I got near she leapt ahead. I kind of respected her frog-like action. The last I’ll mention was the woman who decided to jog in the water and pinned me between the mama-to-be and herself. Glub. Glub.

I stood at the end of the pool between two men who were also patiently awaiting their turns. I contemplated going to the medium lane but saw the people there were actually walking at that moment. There were so many of them that it looked as though they were standing in line at the bank. Taking a deep breath, I began speaking to the guy next to me. He told me that he’s actually a fencer healing up from a stress fracture of his thigh bone. Such an interesting guy! I loved that he noticed I was breathing on alternate sides during each of my timed third strokes- Great guy that he is! When I explained I’m training for the tri, another well-defined muscular gent on my right told me he, too, is training for the one I’ll be doing. He suggested I become a member of the Brooklyn Tri-Club. We shared thoughts and tips and I got happy! I’d become just one of many in this crazy school of fish!

I’m sure that in the ocean fish bump into each other, they stare at one another without blinking, and share anecdotes about what to do when the current goes the wrong way! I’m just a regular fish going about swimmingly with the other little fishes. I don’t have to be a shark ready to strike but I can be a dolphin, friendly, and living in a community. I hear dolphin skins are delicate. My skin is also thin and easily bruised, I must admit, too much of the time. Taking a lesson from them, I’ll learn how to live and thrive in a community. Jumping and diving, I’ll make happy sounds and make people smile. I’ll swim with all the others as we try to survive the challenging stuff. We can all live blissfully in the sea!

Palabras- La Gitana

 Burning sage cleansed the room. A fan of feathers swirled away energy no longer needed. I sat, centered and grounded myself to pull today’s card with Graciella, la Gitana. In shuffling the cards I saw the many different faces and anticipated which card would come forward with its message today. We pulled the card, as I felt Graciella’s energy infuse me. I was ready. La Gitana! Again. This was the same card I pulled the last Sunday evening I sat ready for the read. While this isn’t the celebrate card, this is the message I received. Celebrate yourselves and your lives! 

Image: Graciella la Gitana dances barefoot. She is wearing her swishy skirt, her hair is swinging loose and she holds the tambourine high with ribbons twirling. Next to her sits a male who is smiling as he plays a guitar. On her other side is a parrot who sits on his stand, watching over all. Behind her is a curtain that hides another room. Next to that room is a door that has a ring hanging on it. On closer inspection the ring is shaped like an animal bone-a bull’s horn or the crescent moon.

Words: Tambourine jingling, guitar strumming. Others have told you about your identity. Stories have been told about you. Movies and songs have been written about you. It is important for others to think what they need. You know who you are. You know what your identity is. Keep the mystery.

Read: Apparently Graciella wants us to receive her message again. Celebrate! Dance. Let the vibration of sound course through you. Allow yourself to be the instrument of happiness, your truth, your destiny! It’s none of your business what others think of you. Did you do the right thing? Did you buy the right outfit? Did you serve the right dessert? These things are superfluous to who we are meant to be on the planet. Being who we are, without the need to defend ourselves, decreases our tendencies to limit ourselves. We don’t have to offend in order to get our point or ourselves across. Doing this with love is gift giving to ourselves and to those around us. To freely be ourselves is something many of us have walked centuries across to accomplish. Start today, in one action, in one moment.  The gentleness or ferocity of this feat depends on you.

Depression Doesn’t Rock- Part three of three

If you go to a barbershop long enough you will probably get a haircut. So, if your mental health practitioner suggests medication after the assessment, don’t be surprised. “I don’t want medication,” is something I hear all the time. Sometimes I shudder and sometimes I breathe a sigh of relief. There are different ways to combat depression; there is no one right way. It’s up to you and your practitioner to figure what the best course of action is for you.

Medication- There are many medications out on the market that could help your mood. This is a definite area for you and your prescriber to talk about. Please don’t take the pills that the doctor prescribed for your cousin Ruth. Medications are metabolized in different organs, have different side effects and shouldn’t be used in various health conditions. You will probably need blood lab work done before and during your time on an antidepressant. Ruth means well but, really, she doesn’t have a medical degree. Same goes for when you decide you want to stop taking them. This is just as important as when you start. Don’t catapult your body into a crisis, it just got out of one, don’t go into another if you can help it. And you can.

 Exercise- After a physical check up and receiving the “ok” on starting an exercise routine you can actually begin one. Maybe you were running daily, had an injury and had to stop temporarily, but never quite laced up your running shoes again. Your body is probably screaming at you. “Hey where are those endorphins? I love them. I need them!” If for some reason you can’t go back to a previous sport think about alternative routines. Swimming, biking, weight training, speed walking, the list goes on… Walking around the corner to stop at the bank, then the grocery store, with a stop at the pharmacy, is not exercise. It adds to your overall conditioning but there’s nothing like giving yourself your “special time for me.”

Good nutrition- Seriously, that cheeseburger may taste delightful but your body probably needs something different. Fruits, veggies, whole grain foods, yogurts, lots of water…yummy! The last time you made a fruit smoothie, didn’t you feel great? I also think there’s something to preparing fresh food for yourself. It’s a gift. Taking care of yourself I mean.

Alcohol and marijuana- I know, everyone who has a beer or another substance “to relax” will argue the point. That’s okay. Just know that alcohol and marijuana are depressants, voila, “relaxation.” Each time you put some into your body you are laying on the depression. Depending on how many times a day you find you’re “opening up a cool one,” you’ll probably feel cranky and irritable when you stop this form of relaxation, but eventually you will be less depressed. If you’re using these a lot consider asking your doc the best way for you to taper off, you might need professional help.

Therapy- Talk isn’t cheap. Psychotherapy costs but it’s well worth it. I always say there’s nothing better than talking about yourself for forty five minutes at a clip. There are therapists who will offer a sliding scale fee if you think you can’t afford it. There are different types of therapy, cognitive behavioral, psychoanalytic, psychodynamic, different strokes for different folks. Try it. I feel better just thinking about my days on the couch.

Complementary Healing Techniques- Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, herbs, the use of crystals, Tibetan Bowls. These are just some of the forms of healing that can be used with and without medication and therapy. There are complementary healing practitioners that are available to discuss what forms might work best for you. They work even if you might be skeptical to begin with. We don’t stop at our skins. These measures have been used for centuries because they are effective. If you aren’t well versed in these techniques speak to someone who is, I don’t suggest trying them if you have no idea what you are doing.

Meditation- Go inside, people. We learn a lot about ourselves. What we need. Who we are. What makes us feel the fullness and joy of life. By going within we allow ourselves to listen to the inner voices that nudge us into being who we are meant to be and depressed isn’t it.  

Figure out the cause- not by yourself though. As I wrote in an earlier segment, depression has different causes. Yours might be long term, chronic, low level or profound. Read up on depression and go to a health professional. Get yourself acquainted with the various ways to feel better. Often times when we’re depressed we isolate and feel alone. That is a symptom of depression. Reach out for help and you’ll be whistling ‘Happy Days are here again!”

Any thoughts? Leave a comment! Would love to hear from you.

Palabras- La Gitana

This has been a weekend of great personal reward. There were dreams that I’d forgotten I had that actually came true.  It seems to be a theme with me that only when I surrender my hopes and desires that suddenly they manifest before me. It never fails. The days that I say “Today, I will turn it over,” nothing much happens. The times I really let go and allow Spirit to be in charge is when I receive the thing I’ve so been wanting. It may not be in the form I thought I wanted it to be but, nevertheless, whatever it is appears in the form it should be. So, it was important for me to settle in, center, ground myself and then pull the card with Graciella, who it seems, has been celebrating a bit on her own.

Image: Graciella la Gitana dances barefoot. She is wearing her swishy skirt, her hair is swinging loose and she holds the tambourine high with ribbons twirling. Next to her sits a male who is smiling as he plays a guitar. On her other side is a parrot who sits on his stand, watching over all. Behind her is a curtain that hides another room. Next to that room is a door that has a ring hanging on it. On closer inspection the ring is shaped like an animal bone-a bull’s horn or the crescent moon.

Words: Tambourine jingling, guitar strumming. Others have told you about your identity. Stories have been told about you. Movies and songs have been written about you. It is important for others to think what they need. You know who you are. You know what your identity is. Keep the mystery.

Read: The resounding message I heard as I pulled this card is to be yourself, fully and as much as you can. There are always parts of ourselves that we don’t know yet. The old adage “More will be revealed” may be true but there is something to be said for honoring yourself fully today. Obviously, Graciella is depicted in these cards today as dancing in celebration, but of what? She has taken off her shoes and dances barefoot allowing the vibration of what is below to come through her but still being connected to that which is above. Being in touch with something higher is symbolized in the crescent moon-her femininity and faith in something greater than herself that illuminates her. We can say that the male sings and she dances. This is truly symbolic of her two natures- the masculine and the feminine together- complementing each other. She is not afraid to be herself, in full regalia, of a woman who loves life. The parrot is also colorful, exotic and will repeat everything that it hears. She is not afraid to be herself. While others think they know her they can never know her as much as she does herself. To thine own self be true.

Depression Doesn’t Rock- Part Two of Three

A change of scenery or a nice hot bubble bath has done nothing to pull you out of your blue mood. While listening to your favorite love songs you actually felt worse, not better. I hope that by now you’ve gone to see your primary doc and are set to see a mental health practitioner. What should you expect? First off, someone who gives you eye contact, so you should do the same. Meet them at eye level, it works. You two should be partners in getting you better and back to being yourself!

 Be on the same page-

First off, the practitioner will ask you why you’re there. Different people go for different reasons. The evaluating person needs to know what’s bothering you. We all have different priorities and limits. I’ve sometimes thought a person should be on medication and they’ve been appalled by the idea. The symptoms of depression may be quite intense but you would have to agree. Don’t you think? Sometimes people are radically against medication but don’t tell me that until way late during the session. You may choose to bring it up early. I’m conservative. So while medication most frequently helps a person to climb out of depression it’s not the only strategy. Sometimes, I’ve been the one who’s appalled. There is help on the horizon and if somehow you’ve managed to make it to a prescribing clinician, there’s something important about that. Get the information you need. You can always rethink your decision after you’ve sifted through it. Or not.

Answer what’s asked-

Sounds simple but sometimes it’s not. A person can feel vulnerable answering personal questions about themselves. Sometimes it’s not in one’s culture or tradition to tell what’s really going on. You won’t get a bad grade, if you’re honest, honest. No one is going to contact your job or husband if you spill the beans on what’s really going on in your head. Sometimes people are afraid that it’s going to be on “a record.” Practitioners do keep documents but these are private. There has to be one-otherwise how can they possibly remember all the details that make you who you are? You want them to remember that you began sleepwalking with a particular pill you took that was supposed to help you get a good night. You wouldn’t want them to prescribe it again if they could help it.

Expect confidentiality-

Your mental health practitioner is not going to tell anyone anything. Unless, of course, you’re hell bent on hurting yourself or someone else. Your practitioner wants you safe and protected. You may not be able to do that if you are very depressed. That’s what we’re here for, remember? That’s why you came for help. If your mental health doctor thinks someone else should know, they will talk that out with you. Yes, it may lead to the hospital but that’s only if you really need it. Really.

Try not to laugh-

Some people think it’s funny when the practitioner asks whether a person hears voices or sees things they don’t believe others are sharing. It’s what we ask. Guess what? A percentage of people who are depressed actually do experience auditory and visual hallucinations. This type of depression is called Major Depression with Psychotic Features. Yes, you can get better-even if you are a little paranoid. There is medication that will help you and you can get back to enjoying the good things in life. Yippee!

Don’t be shocked-

You will probably be asked how much wine you drink or marijuana you smoke to help you sleep or relax. These are known to be depressants. The practitioner might ask you if you are sexually active or having trouble with intimacy. Sometimes a person’s libido goes south of the border when they’re depressed.

Expect questions about your medical health-

The practitioner will ask about your physical condition, may send you for blood work and may ask for permission to chat with your primary care physician. Sometimes our physical and medical selves get cross-fused. We might think it’s one thing but it’s another. A test or a conversation can help clarify for a safer treatment plan for you.

Bring a list of questions-

I’m not talking about testing your clinician on his or her knowledge of the brain and nervous system, unless for some reason you really need to know. They have licenses and board certification attesting to that knowledge and time is short. Ask about your diagnosis, possible treatments, medications if needed and potential side effects. Ask about how long you may need to be on medication before it’s discontinued. Question whether the medication that’s prescribed can be taken if you are planning on attending an extravagant wine testing from Thursday to Sunday. You get my drift. Ask what pertains to you.

Next week I plan to talk about different strategies available for mood disorders.

Are there any other questions you’ve asked or would like addressed? Let me know. Just hit the comment section.

Remember you are never alone!

Palabras: The Spiral

 The last time I pulled the Spiral card I’d also just came in from a walk with my partner and dogs. Today there was a street fair with children playing, teenagers playing carnival-type games and stalls with many different types of food to choose from. Because it was very warm, we cut our walk short and returned home. After finishing up a few odds and ends, I sat, centered and evoked the energy of Graciella, la Gitana, who reminded me that we did not pull a card last week. But being in today, we were ready to pull today’s. Graciella was wearing her red skirt with white blouse. She was also wearing her reading glasses. As I write this she admonishes me and tells me that I don’t have to write that she uses reading glasses-it brings forth a certain connotation of her age. Old enough for lots of wisdom is what I think, but the energy is, oh so, playful and of the feminine. We pulled the Spiral Card together. The card was pulled in a reverse. I don’t usually read reverse in this oracle but today I felt it necessary to do so.

Image: The image is that of a tambourine. It has colorful ribbon hanging from its perimeter. They are blowing in the breeze. Two of the ribbons are intertwined- the shape is reminiscent of a strand of DNA.

Words: Climb up the double helix of the spiral. Know you have been in similar situations before. The current one is merely reminiscent of the ones experienced in the past. This is not a repeat performance. What you have learned previously, whether in the current life, or past, should hold you in good stead.

 Read: The tambourine was depicted today as an open circle of light surrounded by ribbons. The ribbons seemed almost octopus- like. They had become tentacles reaching out for many things at once. While this is okay, all you multi-taskers, take care to gather yourself to yourself, as you assume new roles. What has been done with those that are still streaming in the wind? There is a gaiety to taking on new projects; new jobs and expanding our creative selves but take caution that the ends of the ribbon already in motion do not become frayed or forgotten.

I also see two of ribbon engaged in their double helix dance. We often have the tendency to believe that things aren’t different when we see them “in the same old way” context. But at this point in our lives we should take comfort in the fact the nothing is ever the same. It may feel that way but in actuality it isn’t.

The way that two of the ribbons intertwine reminded me of the caduceus symbol. The caduceus is an ancient Greek symbol of a staff that was carried by Hermes, messenger of the gods to humans. As a Roman god, Hermes is known as Mercury. Because the caduceus is known to represent the alchemical process, I offer the message today as the expectation of swift change to come. The areas most likely affected will be writing and the negotiation associated with business.

See how this fits for you this week and let me know. As I continue to develop this oracle, I welcome your experiences on how these readings have fit for you!

May you walk in the Beauty of Light!

 

Depression Doesn’t Rock- Part one of three

Many of us get depressed at some point in our lives. Just like people come in all types of shapes, sizes and colors, depression can be viewed in the same way. What I may describe as feeling depressed may be a bit different from your own brand, but there are similarities across the board.

Four people come to mind when I think of the faces of depression. Their descriptions don’t encompass all types, so if you have something to add, please do, there’s a comment section at the end of this blog entry.

First off, there’s Sleepy Stan. His kids have been trying to get him to test out their scooters at the park on Saturday afternoon. He waves them away because he’s tired. He would prefer to hang out on the sofa with a pillow over his head. Stan promised to get up. Later. His wife hopes when he does that he’ll take a shower this time. Up to now, he’s still managing to get to work but his family misses Saturdays at the park. They haven’t taken an evening walk for ice cream cones all season. The reality is that Stan misses his family too. He can’t seem to get a move on as much as he’d like to and it makes him feel even worse.

Then there’s Famished Frances. She’s been eating a lot more than usual. Her appetite has taken off and she gazes in dismay at the scale she’s finally had the nerve to stand on. Franny’s also a worrier. She’s up at night thinking about her problems, large and small. At first she feels better making those Dagwood sandwiches. They kind of fill that empty space in the middle of her belly and she stops worrying. But then, a few minutes later, she’s worrying again. This time her concerns include how much weight she’s gained and her fear that she’ll never be able to stop eating. Franny seems to remember her mom and her aunt doing the same thing when she was little and wonders if it runs in the family.

How many of you know Irritable Ivan? He’s pissed and he’s just not the same guy you used to know. Everything you say to Ivan seems to rub him the wrong way. He’s annoyed at his brother-in-law who got him tickets for the game, but didn’t tell him he had to pay for his hot dogs. He’s starting to get agitated a lot and has begun to pace. Ivan thinks he’s mad at his wife but then again, it might be all those people on the train who’ve annoyed him today. He really doesn’t like feeling this way. In fact, his boss told him he should consider taking a few days off so he could cool down.

 Melancholy Mona sits in her dark living room. Her partner, Lisa, told her that the least she could do was put the lights on. When she said that, Mona started crying again. Everything seems to push her into a puddle of tears. She wasn’t always like that. It seems like such a long time since she felt good about herself. So long, that she’s been thinking scary thoughts. Mona is almost certain that no one cares about how sad she feels. She’s started to think that maybe it would be better if she weren’t even around. Lisa made an appointment for Mona to talk to their family doctor. She said that she needs help- professional help.

Do you relate? Sometimes we find ourselves experiencing life the way Stan, Ivan, Franny and Mona have been. It could be just a matter of needing a break from the world; it could be a lot of things. It might actually be a thyroid problem or some other medical illness. Depression can be serious and you might want to take a look at it. The following are bonafide signs and symptoms of depression that are found in the DSM-IV TR, the bible of psychiatry.

See if some of what you’re feeling fits in the following list.

–          Feeling depressed most of the day, everyday.

–          Less interested in activities, a loss of feeling of pleasure

–          Significant weight loss or weight gain- maybe 5% in a month

–          Difficulty sleeping at night or sleeping just too doggone much

–          Feeling agitated or slowed down

–          Fatigue or loss of energy

–          Feeling worthless, excessive or inappropriately guilty

–          Have problems concentrating, thinking and indecisiveness

–          Thinking about death, not just dying but suicidal thoughts- with or without plans to do yourself in and having intention to take action.

Sometimes, the depressed person is the last to see their symptoms. They might be blaming themselves for whatever it is they’re feeling and not realize that it’s symptoms of depression. It is probably not something they can just shake off.

If you believe that you may be experiencing some of the items on the list you should consider talking to a professional. It wouldn’t hurt. Your doc can evaluate you or send you to a mental health professional. Don’t depend on your best friend or great aunt Maggie who suffered from depression a decade ago. You deserve talking to a professional.

Next week, I plan to blog about what to expect when you do see a mental health professional. The following week, I’ll blog about different treatments for depression. Stay tuned. In the meantime, lift up those roman shades and let the sun pour into your living room, maybe take a nice walk…

Tell me what you would like to know about depression. I’d also love to hear helpful strategies that you might be aware of!

Here are some other sites that will give you information on depression:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/complete-index.shtml

http://www.webmd.com/depression/default.htm

Resilience- my friend

A few years ago there was a popular tee shirt. I groaned whenever I saw somebody wearing it. The lettering proclaimed that the person who donned it was a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks. Lately, there’s been a word that keeps popping into my head- it’s resilience. At about the same time the tee shirt was a fad, I was in a doctoral program. While I was busy researching spirituality and health, I had a chum who was studying the concept of resilience. I didn’t connect the dots then, how could I think? I was too busy thinking. It never occurred to me that the two things were the same.

I was too busy scrambling up after being knocked down repeatedly, at least that’s the feeling I struggled with then. What I learned was that a person keeps at something if they want it hard enough. Sometimes the process can be pretty hard. It’s a bit different than ‘pulling your boot straps up.’  Unless of course, you are wading through something pretty unpleasant- if you know what I mean. Today, somehow this all began to make some sense. Okay, so, I’m a turtle.

A spiritual dictum seems to be that whenever we survive something unpleasant, uncomfortable or even downright torturous, it allows for us to grow. We develop. We create. We shed old skins and take on the new. Sometimes, if we are lucky enough we hold onto the hand of Something Higher than ourselves that tells us we can do it. Sort of like hearing “You can do it, Charlie Brown!

Lately, I’ve been witnessing a lot of folks show their resilient sides. I see friends walk through grief. I watch others take on physical challenges that they never in their wildest imaginings thought they could. I get to silently observe others set limits on another’s touch or unacceptable hurtful ways. The common theme I realize is that they’ve all said ¡YES! to themselves. They’ve decided to get out of the muck and to choose living life in a way that is more healthy, safe and, mostly, sacred. I’m a fan of that.

I’ve heard that one is known by the company they keep and I like to believe that I am resilient too. When I look up at the glorious sun in the mornings at this time of the year, I remember when I wasn’t so happy to greet its brilliant shine. I could only mourn the happiness I’d lost when I was pretty young and suffered a terrible loss. I spent days in a dark apartment during the summer of my eleventh year walking from the living room to the kitchen, allowing only the light of the refrigerator to shine in my face. Somehow over the years I managed, in my darkness, to reach out to the hands of and for the love of Something Greater than me.

I managed to earn a diploma, wearing a cap and gown, as I walked across the auditorium filled with the many of us who took courses in the School of Hard Knocks. I used my knuckleheaded ways to persevere, somehow, in what seemed to be an unmanageable situation. I eventually learned to surrender and, with that, survive. 

I applaud the resilience that surrounds me. I know my PhD friend would have lots to say in the theoretical sense after years of studying the concept. I bet that she, as most of us, would also have lots to share from the heart. So, if I come across someone wearing that tee shirt, as I sometimes do, I will smile at that alum. We may have had different paths. Some of us crossed rocky paths and some navigated roaring waters but we’ve ended up on shore. When I look back, I see the obstacles that almost kept me from living a full life. When I look within, I find resilience-my friend.