Stress can dramatically affect our responses to our children’s daily needs.
Parents Anonymous Group members can sometimes recognize depression in each other before we admit it to ourselves. When something is “not quite right,” others offer support and ideas to feel better. A temporary funk will usually pass in a short time, but seeing a professional could be what is needed. This third and final installment on depression and feeling better offers a few quick ideas to try to feel better short-term.
Bury the Hatchet
Bummed over a friendship gone sour or feel slighted by family member during the last holiday? Write a letter to the wrong-doer and pour your heart out; cry if you think it will help. Explain what happened from your point of view and why you feel you were wronged and deserve an apology. When you have emptied your heartaches onto paper and purged the hurt— tear it up piece by piece and rip it to shreds— gone!
Stress, anxiety and conflict is as close as your nearest cell phone, iPad, iPhone, laptop, smart phone, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and the list goes on! We bought these little gadgets to work more efficiently and enhance our daily lives but unfortunately, the servant has often become the master. Phones, e-mail, Facebook and social media are terribly convenient and fun; it increases our ability to keep in touch, share information or pictures and it also makes it very hard to log off and shut down our electronics. The single best way to handle the chaos is to set a daily schedule or a timer to deal with e-mail, phone calls or scan social media. Instead of checking in every hour, log in every four to six hours. You can also change the settings so that you only get important posts. Friends will understand and agree to your limits or maybe they are not a real friend. Facebook family, friends and people you don’t even know may follow your example to reclaim precious minutes or hours wasted online. There is always ‘unfriend’ or ‘block’ to solve impossible, relentless annoyances.
Create a Blog
Famous writers, novelists, poets, playwrights, cartoonists and journalists, throughout history have often been plagued with depression: Hans Christian Andersen, Art Buchwald, Agatha Christie, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Patricia Cornwell, Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Henry James, John Keats, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, Eugene O’Neill, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Schulz, Leo Tolstoy, Kurt Vonnegut, Tennessee Williams. Many were thought to have drawn on their situation to create great works. Whether depression was the creative spark for these writers or not, you can begin your own free blog to write poetry, journal, stories, about crafts or any number of topics. You are the boss and the moment you click ‘publish,’ you become an author!
Do Unto Others
Spend a few seconds shelling out kindness with no formal commitment: Let another car go in front of you, hold a door for someone, give the customer before you the needed pennies, pick up your dog’s litter, put your old gum in its wrapper and in your pocket, put the toilet seat down, carry extra ink pens to share, pick up dropped items, say ‘hello,’ load groceries into a car for an older person, delete mean or offensive e-mails, let the pregnant lady take the parking space, put a dollar bill between jars of baby food in a store or stop the elevator door from closing. Being nice to people unknown to you can help you feel better and them too! How much is your smile worth?
Designated Support System
Pick a handful of trusted friends (2 to 4) or family and tell them of your struggle with depression. Tell them you may reach out to them occasionally when you are feeling low. Tell them what you would expect of them if they agree to become one of your support system: Ten minutes of empathetic listening, a cup of herbal tea, complete honesty, confidentiality, etc. This is not for everyone; you would need to think it through before making the request: does this person have time available, is this someone I am comfortable with, do I trust this person, etc. For example: you would not want to ask someone with five children under the age of ten, they will already be too busy. Arrange a one-to-ten scale with ‘one’ being ‘not very depressed’ and ‘ten’ being ‘intensely depressed.’ A ‘five’ means ‘it was an okay day’ and that is a very good sign.
Lend a Hand
Volunteering is a wonderful round-about way to feel better. Depression sometimes stems from low self-esteem and what kinder way is there to feel better than by helping others. No matter how small, anything you do for others has a huge feel-good impact on our mood and overall wellness. The opportunities are endless: Volunteer with your local animal shelter or soup kitchens and you will never regret it. You could read (and record) for the blind and double your benefit. There are local food banks, homeless shelters, mentors, tutors, helplines, staff fundraisers, knitting baby blankets and hats. You could deliver meals to the elderly, visit the homebound or go shopping for them. Libraries are great places to volunteer and libraries can help you find other volunteer opportunities. Check with the IRS about deducting gas, oil and other expenses on your taxes or take a flat per-mile deduction.
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, make the call for help immediately. Don’t stop until help is found.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE
Text to: 838255
*Support for Deaf & Hard of Hearing
Anything that interferes with your normal daily schedule could be depression and should be examined further. Just remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a very temporary problem.
Jackie Saulmon Ramirez has served as a volunteer with Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc. for more than twenty years, giving and getting support. Find her blog here on her contact page.