Sunday 3 February 2013

"Yellow Post It"

"I like smiling. Smiling's my favourite." ~ Buddy the Elf 
This morning the nicest thing happened. I was on my way to work and I stopped at a corner to wait for the walk signal. As I did, I looked to my left. There, on the pole, all alone, was a single yellow post it note. There were no other posters proclaiming the newest cool club or upcoming concerts or ESL lessons. Nothing. The pole was empty except for this lone message, "You can do it. I believe in you." I instantly smiled. I wonder how many others did, too.

I have often said that inspiration is all around you. Sometimes it is staring you in the face, like my sunny friend, the yellow post it note. Sometimes you have to look a little deeper. I think it's a skill worth cultivating, searching out the good and inspiring in life and recognizing it when you find it. It's particularly important if you fight depression. It's another tool in your mental health tool kit.

Last week was rough for me. On Monday and Tuesday I felt what can only be described as depressed. There were tears. I had no energy and just wanted to stay in bed and pull the covers up over my head. I didn't, but I sure wanted to. When I walked home from work I felt like every step was through a sea of molasses. My breathing was shallow. I felt, quite simply, depressed. Was I actually depressed? Yes and no.

I have a long relationship with the illness. It is never really that far away even when I am healthy and happy. And when it has me in its grip, it is oppressive. Because I have suffered two major depressive episodes, it is quite possible that I will suffer in this manner again.

So, quite simply, I have to be vigilant. Just as a diabetic who has his blood sugar levels under control through healthy habits, so must I focus on maintaining my mental health. For me that means a few things.

In the case of last week, probably the most important thing that I did for myself was to keep things in perspective. As the old Alcoholics Anonymous adage goes, one day at a time. One day or two days experiencing symptoms of depression does not mean that I am clinically depressed. I know that so I keep an eye on my mood. Had my symptoms lasted into this week, I would be hightailing it to my doctor. Thankfully, they didn't. By Wednesday I was feeling better and my mood was slowly lifting.

Another thing that I did was ask for help, kind of. A simple facebook post indicating that I was feeling rough was enough to garner incredible support and words of encouragement. My colleagues were pretty awesome, too. Normally I am outgoing and "up". When I needed some quiet time on Monday & Tuesday of last week, they gave it to me. We didn't need to talk about - they just gave me what I needed. There was no, "Oh come on - cheer up!" Instead, there was a lot of understanding. Yes, I am a lucky girl, I know!

So back to the question was I depressed. Here's the reason why it was a yes and no answer. Yes, I was experiencing symptoms of depression and yes I was feeling depressed. Was it a major cause for concern? No. One of the things that a person needs to consider is for how long the symptoms last. If you are experiencing your symptoms for more than two weeks then you should seek help.

But here's what I wonder. Do people really understand the value of a kind word or encouraging email message? Do they really get that "act of kindness" = "inspiration"? The icing on the cupcake for me last week was the kindness shown to me, both from my friends and family as well as that silly yellow post it. That kindness inspired me and brought with it my smile. And in the words of Buddy the Elf, "I like Smiling. Smiling's my favourite."

KB xo

Courtesy of the Canadian Mental Health Association, here is a list of symptoms of depression:
  • I feel worthless, helpless or hopeless
  • I sleep more or less than usual
  • I’m eating more or less than usual
  • I’m having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • I’ve lost interest in activities I used to enjoy
  • I have less desire for sex
  • I avoid other people
  • I have overwhelming feelings of sadness or grief
  • I’m feeling unreasonably guilty
  • I have a lot of unexplained stomachaches and headaches
  • I feel very tired and/or restless
  • I have thoughts of death or suicide
  • I’m feeling more tearful or irritable than usual


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  2. Thank you very much Kristen. This is amazing. It really describes how I was this week. (Maybe it's the time of year). It was only yesterday that I really started to feel better and along came your blog. Everyone needs that smile or a compliment. For me when that does not come, reading some of you blogs really does help. You are a wonderful person to do this for others.

  3. A good reminder that bad days are normal. Depression is not. Amazing though how a small bit of encouragement goes a long way. I too write a blog and I find on bad days, asking for help is usually all it takes.

  4. Hi Danielle! Thank you, as always, for your comments. I would love to read your blog - any chance you would like to share it?


  5. I just stumbled onto your blog, and was totally encouraged. Here is a perfect example of leaving yourself open to positive opportunities. I am so pleased to read about depression through the eyes of a real person, and not from a DSM1V description.

    Thank you for being here just when I needed it most.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment - I truly appreciate it!


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