Posted in addictions, Depression, Drugs, Health, women

Sweetie, Ple-e-ease Don’t Do Drugs

woman-looking-at-sea-while-sitting-on-beach-247314
courtesy of pexels.com

 

I watched her walk across the street and felt a knife slice through me. This could be me…or my sister…or my friend…or my niece.

The drugs had killed her. I saw the lifeless eyes. The ravaged body. The unfocused mind. The shaking nerves.

I want to find the biggest billboards and post them with graphic images of her.

DON’T do DRUGS!

I want to post them everywhere. All over the city. All over the countryside.

No matter how bad it gets, sweetie, ple-e-ease DON’T do DRUGS!

Yes, that could have been me. “Try it…try it,” they urged me. As though they were my friends.

They were not my friends. Anyone who offers you drugs is your enemy number one. That is the first sure sign that they don’t give a sh*t about you.

Drugs won’t fix anything. But there are a few things drugs will do, and you can count on that. Think about it. Take a look down drug alley.

Life is tough. Life is really hard. It’s what it is.

The trick is to learn to push through. Everybody has to do it.

Get up. Get up again. Life will knock you down. Do not to resort to the type of “help” that cripples you in the long term. Because you could still be here for a long time and suffering much more than you can imagine if you start on that path.

Once you start on drugs, you shut the door to help. Because drugs are a dead end. Even your own mother can’t help you.

No reason whatsoever is good enough to do drugs.

Doing drugs is saying yes to a ball and chain. Drugs create a prison of perpetual torment that you can’t get out of. It may be ecstasy for a moment, but there will be hell to pay.

You are smarter than that, girl.

Don’t let drugs to ruin your beauty, your brain, your talent, your smile, your laugher, your love, your gift to the world.

Sweetie,

Ple-e-ease,

I beg you,

DON’T do DRUGS.

 

 

 

Posted in feminism, Home, Marriage & Family, mental health, women

What I like and dislike about feminism

I, like most women, have not studied the basic tenets of feminism. Instead, we have drawn our conclusions about feminism from what we have seen, and read, and sometimes altered our perceptions as we learned more about the movement.

There was a time when I thought, perhaps a little naively, that feminism was primarily about women gaining the right to vote and getting equal pay for equal work. But feminism has evolved into something much more complex and some days, I admit, I struggle to understand what feminists are trying to accomplish.

Most women are not active feminists, including myself, but we have always appreciated the work of those who have advocated on our behalf for things like equal pay and benefits. Lately, however, I’ve begun to wonder if feminism has been derailed from its original purpose. Or did I misunderstand the intent from the beginning?

Originally I was of the opinion that feminism was about advocating for what was good for women–all women–but recently I have begun to think it is more about power and the need to assert ourselves and activate for certain “rights” with the outcome being that we dominate.

In my attempt to comprehend what feminists are up to I have realized that feminists are social justice warriors advocating for numerous human rights. This can be a good thing, however, I wonder if the movement is over-reaching. From my perspective it has morphed into an almost unrecognizable entity, compared with what it once was. Planned Parenthood, for example, the most prominent feminist organization, is heavily involved in influencing the United Nations in setting international standards for education and healthcare, in the name of empowering women.

I’ve learned that feminists claim to empower women primarily by providing easy access to contraceptives, offering comprehensive sex education, and working at decreasing poverty among women. Since child bearing is viewed as a contributing factor to poverty, the proposed solution is to educate, provide contraceptives and offer abortion as means to reduce family size.

It is no secret that Planned Parenthood has worked internationally, very successfully in countries like China and India, to control population growth. Often this is achieved through selective abortion of female fetuses. Somehow this does not sit well with my understanding of an organization that exists for the purpose of empowering women.

Admittedly, women with children cannot devote the same amount of time and energy to advancing their careers as men, or as women who do not have children. So, either we choose not to have children, or we take on a heavier load, and somehow manage the extra toll it takes on us physically and mentally. Even if we take advantage of daycare and share parenting responsibilities with our partners, mothers will still carry the greater share of the burden. Because of this some women will often opt for lower paying and part time jobs in order to stay healthy and balanced. I know of numerous women for whom this has been the case.

I have some difficulty with feminists who seem to insist that we can have it all. Supposedly we can compete equally with men in every field and for every position and ought to have equal representation in every department, while raising a family as well. This is, of course, is completely unrealistic. To hold to this narrative would require that women abandon parenting.

What I probably find most disconcerting about feminism is its lack of support for the role of mothering. A woman’s role as the care-giver for her children is considered so insignificant as to be easily delegated to strangers. There is a complete denial of any long term impact of these arrangements on children. Evidence, to the contrary, shows that nothing is as critical to the development of a child as the consistent and ongoing attention and nurture of a mother and father.

I understand the aspirations of the full-time career woman. I understand the drive to contribute and the rewards of success. The women whom I know want to work. But they also want options around how much time they work in order to be available for their families. By elevating the importance of a career we tend to put undue pressure on women, some of whom want nothing more than to be at home caring for their families.

We need to have this conversation about choices and about how our families are impacted by our choices. But the moment someone broaches these subjects, feminists immediately cry foul and proceed to dismantle the credibility of the speaker. To see women silenced in this way is distressing. Every woman’s voice is valid and deserves to be heard. This unwillingness to dialogue makes it appear that feminists would rather protect their ideals than listen to the women they claim to represent.

If I could put a new face on feminism, I would begin by having feminists embrace the wider role of a woman as a wife and mother. I would encourage working at building healthy families in which divorce is less common and addictions occur with less frequency. I would build support for two-parent homes as a means to reducing poverty. I would also seek to reduce the need for social services and foster care by teaching parenting skills and communication skills so that children can remain in their home of origin. Rather than seeing sex education as the responsibility of public education, I would offer training sessions to parents on how to inform their children and guide them toward healthy choices. And, significantly, I would measure success more by harmonious homes, than by a well-paying career. Feminists may consider this form of thinking as regressive, but in reality it is thinking long term about the future well-being of our society. One of the main plagues of our society today is addictions. Supportive families are significant in preventing addictions and helping the next generation to succeed.

Increasingly women are losing their choice of being home with their children. Feminism tends to ignore the benefit of a two parent home. We cannot remove fathers from the equation. If we set up society so that we divorce women from their responsibility as wives and mothers, then we may in time end up in a place where all but the very wealthy will no longer have any choice but to work and abandon child rearing.

I wonder if I am missing a big part of the picture of what is happening with the feminist movement. Maybe the bottom line is the money that is pouring into the coffers in the name of healthcare and education and human rights and the eradication of poverty. Or maybe there is a worldview that feminists feel they need to advance. Perhaps the focus, contrary to what I hoped to believe, is not really on what is best for women and their families. I have to ask whether feminism was possibly inexorably flawed from the start by excluding men from the needs of women?

I can only align myself with feminists in as far as I understand and support their views. I am currently looking for more evidence that feminists embrace the significance of the primary roles of a woman as a wife and mother. I see this as the basis of feminism, if feminism is indeed advocating for the welfare of the whole woman, as I have believed

Posted in Depression, Health, mental health

Don’t Let the Depression Monster Get You

drivingIt feels like I have battled depression all my life. I am familiar with a great many strains of depression. Depression is like a bacterial infection. It might go away on its own if left alone, or it might turn into a life-threatening disease. So the key is to get it under control early.

At its worst, the depression monster clouds you with a paralyzing feeling of doom and despair. I have only had this a few times and it made me very sympathetic to those who opt for a way out of this life.

In most cases you have the inner resources to defeat the depression monster. Myriads of people have resorted to meds and they can take the edge off. The trouble is there are side effects. I was prescribed meds by my doctor and I bought them. But I was so low that, knowing how depression medication can also make you suicidal during the first couple of months, I decided not to take the risk. I chose rather to live with what I knew and understood than introduce an element that could feed the monster.

Having spoken with people on medication I have learned that the lows are not as low, and the highs are not as high when they are on meds. It sort of puts you in a middle zone, numbing your senses. People who read this and have experience with medications will be able to tell you much more about how it works. I am not an authority. But I have also seen how medication can cause someone to spiral out of control, emotionally.

You may need to get medical help for depression. If you do, be sure you work closely with your doctor.

But, if like me, you decide to control this monster on your own, there are some things that have worked for me which I will share with you.

I was “down” a lot as a kid and a teenager. Some of it had to do with my home life. Some of it had to do with my temperament. I have the melancholy temperament common with artists and musicians.

We moved away from my friends and it took me years to find friends again, so I was alone a lot.  I was bullied a lot and had constant anxiety as a kid about getting on the bus in the morning or walking down the hallway at school because that is when my bully and his buds targeted me.

I had several things going for me as a kid. One was regular meals and good nutrition. If I were a doctor, this would be the first thing I would check if someone presented with depression. The second would be social support in terms of friends and family or at least associates. The third would be stressors.

Each of us has our own story of how the depression monster was fed and grew in our lives until one day he was out of control. My monster was out of control after I had my second child. Somehow I managed to clamber out of the deep dark dungeon I found myself in. I don’t remember much about that time, but what I do remember is that I told myself I would never let myself get so low again because it was too hard to get out.

As I write about this I have a great sense of inadequacy because of how I have failed to consistently tame the monster. However I am continuing, knowing there are things I have done that have definitely reduced the size of this monster and kept him at a respectable distance.

The first thing you have to realize about this monster is that you will have to fight him on your own. Nobody can do it for you. So you have to get some weapons. You have to understand your enemy. You have to track him, watch what he does, what makes him diminish, watch what empowers him.

What works for someone else may not work for you. You might find some of the things I share helpful while others will not work for you at all. You may have already discovered some things that help you. The only thing I say is don’t rely on unhealthy habits and supports because, even though they might appear to work, they will bite in the end. I’m talking about addictions. Unhealthy substance use and addictive activities. Remember, you want to be in control of your mind and your body. This feeling of control is the most powerful way to stave off the depression monster.

Some of us have already succumbed to addictions. And there are many different kinds. Be gentle with yourself. But make it your responsibility to choose the most healthy and wholesome course.

Cognitive behavioral counseling is the most effective form of counseling for depression and it is sometimes coupled with medication. In fact, medication is most effective when it is used in conjunction with counseling. Cognitive behavior counseling helps us change our thinking and behavior. Unfortunately, counseling costs a lot of money. And people who need counseling often don’t have insurance to cover the cost. So, you have to seek your own counsel.

I looked across at my doctor’s report in his office when he left the room for a minute and he had written down, chronic depression?? He was suggesting that I find a friend and go for regular walks. He said his wife did this. A good friend can be more helpful than a counselor.

There are so many little things I have done to keep my personal monster at bay. A lot of things I do without thinking. Some are pretty random. I’ll share a list I’ve managed to come up with. Honestly, this subject requires a book but I have tried to condense it.

  1. Light therapy. Don’t stay in a dark room during the day. Open the blinds and let light in. Turn on lights if you have to. Yellow or warm light is better than blue light. There are also special lamps you can get to stave off depression. Do some research. I have a friend who tans in the winter to get light. But heed the warnings about tanning.
  2. Keep relationships healthy. This takes a lot of work and will be a lifetime job. There may be friends you need to drop. There may be relatives with whom you need to spend less time. Conversations to avoid. Take time to study conflict resolution skills and how to share your needs and desires effectively. Express appreciation to others too, so that they will like to be with you. Limit negative influences, and this includes news articles, talk shows, videos, social media, etc. Guard your heart. Stay upbeat.
  3. Don’t watch movies in the morning or afternoon. This is when you want to be using your creative energy on important things. Movies are for the time of day when you wind down. They are a passive activity.
  4. Find a no-brainer game to play for half an hour to an hour a day. Generally a maximum of two hours because you don’t want it to turn into a mindless addiction. If done the right way it can put your brain in neutral and give it time to reset. People who are depressed are often over-thinkers so they need to put their thoughts on hold for awhile. Other activities can do this too.
  5. I’ve already mentioned nutrition. We used to own a restaurant and we frequently saw that vegetarians were the most unbalanced emotionally. They came in stressed and couldn’t make their minds up. You may vehemently disagree with me, but I am only speaking from my own experience. I can sink into a depression very quickly if I don’t have protein consistently on a daily basis. But people with other body types might be different. A small piece of meat or cheese twice a day is very helpful for me. And another reminder, eat vegetables every day for mental health. As far as supplements go, I suggest you consult your doctor or naturopath in addition to doing your own personal research.
  6. Don’t beat yourself up. Be gentle. And be firm. Learn your rhythms and work with them. What I have found very helpful, for instance with household chores, is to tell myself to do a small thing to clean up a room every time I walk into it. Disorder contributes to depression, so you want to focus on bringing order into your life. But don’t beat yourself up. Instead, learn to be consistent. Don’t allow yourself to become slack, but give yourself slack, if you know what I mean.
  7. Find the wholesome thing that brings you joy. It might be window shopping, going to a park, listening to music, painting, playing guitar, volunteering, making creative desserts, poking around at thrift stores, fixing things, hiking, taking photographs. Incorporate these things into each day.
  8. Realize that you can either have the body you want or eat the foods you want. You choose. I learned long ago that I will never be able to eat as many potato chips or donuts as I want. I struggle with getting to my ideal body weight, so I have told myself this will be a process that will take time. In the meantime, I watch that I don’t gain. It is the least I can do because gaining weight is depressing for me.
  9. Root out thoughts of hopelessness and despair. Thoughts like, “I can never do this. I am a failure. I am worthless.” The list is long. Begin by identifying your habitual negative thoughts and then work at reframing them. For instance, “I may have failed at a few things, but I can try again. I have also succeeded a few times and there is a good chance I will succeed again, soon, if I don’t stop trying.” “I am a very worthwhile human being by virtue of the fact that I am on this earth. I have a purpose and I am going to find out the unique ways in which I can make a difference.”
  10. Avoid the downward spiral. This requires recognizing it. Recognize what triggers it. It may be negative thought patterns. It may be wrong foods. It may be the time of month–Midol has helped me. Or it may be nothing you recognize. Sometimes you may just have to get up and show up and tell yourself that tomorrow will be a better day. And if you can’t do that, then you ought to seriously consider seeing your doctor because you could be suffering from an underlying medical condition.

If you try even a few of these suggestions you will find it makes a difference. Come to think of it, I haven’t even mentioned sleep and exercise, which are huge.

I fight this battle consistently. I think it helps to realize that it may be a bit futile to think I will actually slay the monster.

I try not to become too fixated on the monster. Instead I divert my attention elsewhere. I distract myself and work on developing healthy patterns. The monster seems to have less power when it is not the centre of attention.

When I focus on keeping my hope and joy alive, the depression monster kind of shrivels and sometimes even vanishes, for awhile.