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Upfront I’m going to say I am not a medical professional, doctor, counselor, etc. so any advice I give pertaining to depression is only from personal experience.  I am 54 and have been fighting depression for at least 35 years.  I also have loved ones, friends, etc. who deal with different types of depression, and I know what works for me and them, but if you know someone, or even yourself, that is talking about wanting to die, dig a hole and lie in it, find a bridge and jump, or other things that make you wonder, you need to get them/you help.  It isn’t like the old days when everyone knew Aunt Sally had mental issues, but no one talked about it, while she fell deeper and deeper into her depression.  There is still a lot of misinformation about depression, and someone who has never experienced it really has no idea of what you are going through.  They can be empathetic, but until someone goes through the debilitating condition of depression, no one can truly understand.  With that said, it is that time of the year when depression really seems to hit people.  I have gotten emails from people trying to figure out if a loved one is really depressed or how can they tell.  I have friends and acquaintances who are feeling down and are on the edge of just being blue and having depression.  I do believe it is something about this time of year.  Not only is it the holidays, but it is also a new year.

Part of the problem is everything you see or hear seems to talk about how the holidays are not complete unless you are with family and having the perfect holiday get together.  The kids come in from college and aunts and uncles come in and everyone meets at grandmother’s house and it is a big happy event.  Well, very few families can live up to that picture.  Some people have lost all their loved ones, either to death, distance, or being estranged either due to the other person or themselves, so when you see those commercials or hear your coworker talk about their big family events, it really could get a person down.  Even when you have all your family able to come together that doesn’t mean everything is going to be good.  For years we were happy when we were able to get through a family event with no fights, screaming, or other assorted issues.  Someone asked me how my Christmas was and I told them everyone got along, the food was good, and I got to see the grandkids, so it was a great day.  Sometimes that is all you can ask for.

The next problem is we are entering a new year.  This makes a lot of us think about all we didn’t accomplish in 2015.  How we are getting older and time is passing faster and faster, so if we don’t get our crap together we are going to find ourselves 10 years from now in the same situation, just 10 years older with less options.  That can really get a person to fall into a funk.  Then people do that whole stupid resolution thing.  You are just setting yourself up to fail on that one.  So, you are going to get in better shape, how are you going to do it?  Writing a vague list of things you want to change or do different in the next year is basically just writing a shopping list and then not going shopping.  Until you break those resolutions down into workable goals with time deadlines and a plan to make it happen, you are just asking for failure.  You have to be careful though when you set goals, as you don’t want to set goals so easy you can get them done 15 minutes from now, but then you sure don’t want a goal so difficult you couldn’t accomplish it in a year, let alone in a month or week.  One of my goals is to lose 50 pounds before the end of the year.  Good idea, but how am I going to accomplish that?  Am I going to keep doing the same thing I’m doing now up until December 20 and think I can starve for the next couple of weeks and make my goal?  Of course not.  I need to make a lifestyle change.  Do things differently daily, weekly, and monthly.  Have a plan written down of how much I’m going to work out each week, what will I eat daily, keep a food diary, etc., so I have the ability to fulfill my goal instead of at the end of 2016 wondering where the year went and still needing to lose at least 50 pounds.

But, I will get back on track here, when it comes to depression there are so many types that it really is hard to tell if your friend or loved one is depressed, unless they are so far in that they are not even functioning anymore. One of the emails I got this past week asked about hermit mode.  The person goes into hermit mode with some people but not others.  I gave them this quick overview on depression and thought it would be good information for others.  Just about everyone at some time in their life gets the “blues.”  That is when you just don’t feel like yourself.  Some people say they are in a funk.  They just aren’t happy.  They are focused on the negative and feel bad.  This can be brought on by anything from hormonal changes, the weather, etc.  There are some parts of the country where they have such long winters, short days, and gloomy days that people go into depression.  For this type of situation, they get special lights that mimic the sunlight.  They sit under it for so long per day and they get to feeling better.  Most people who are just blue don’t need medication.  They can still function, but are just not themselves.  They probably need to talk to their doctor, but most people should not be given drugs for the blues.

We then get into clinical depression, bipolar, etc., the conditions where the person is so deep into their depression they have lost all joy in their life.  They can’t get out of bed.  They quit taking care of themselves and normally when they get to this point they need medication.  With a bipolar they are either very high or very low and not much in between.  With your clinically depressed they will go into hermit mode not wanting to talk to anyone.  If they are not deep into their depression they may be able to function enough to go to work or do activities of daily living, talking only with those they have to, trying to make people think they are okay, but once they get home they shut the door and try to hide from the world.  But, this is just a short overview of different types of depression, as there are so many types of mental illness that if you or a loved one are acting different, withdrawn, strange, etc., then it may be time to find professional help.  Don’t forget there are a lot of online sites that have questionnaires that can help you figure out if you or a loved one do have a problem.  There are also hotlines to call if you feel like you can’t take it anymore, as nothing is so bad that it warrants taking your own life.  With that said, I promise my next blog post will be more uplifting and fun…  I may even talk about “the girls.”  Until next time….

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It is now time to say goodbye to 2015 and welcome in 2016.  This past year I have done a great job of ignoring this blog.  I didn’t mean to, but when it came time to sit down and write I just couldn’t figure out what to say.  I know there were plenty of things this past year that were worth talking about.  There were several times I just wanted to rant about situations, but the words just didn’t come out.  I mean you have the whole Black Lives Matter movement.  I’m sorry, but doesn’t every life matter whether you are white, black, yellow, brown, whatever?  Yes, I’m a white woman who doesn’t have any idea what it is like growing up a young black man, but I am tired of all white people being blamed for slavery, segregation, etc., when most of us were not even alive during those times.  With that said, I am really tired of people saying that those of use who do not want the refugees coming to America are cold hearted, racist, or whatever.  I have no problem with immigrants.  My great, great grandparents were immigrants.  They went through Ellis Island.  If they didn’t immigrate I would not be here, but the big difference is they had to go through Ellis Island.  They had to go through vetting, health checks, and then assimilate into the community.  The problem with a lot of the refugees is they are strong young men with no family with them.  Doesn’t that seem a bit strange?  In a time where terrorists are trying to reek havoc in America, the last thing we need to do is just open the borders and let anyone come in.  If that makes me cold hearted then fine, I think we we need to be more careful than any other time in history, as I don’t want my children and grandchildren to be affected by terrorists we freely let into our own country.

Well, I could go on, but that isn’t the reason for this post.  This blog is going to take a change of direction in 2016.  I have decided to focus on an exit plan out of my career that makes me unhappy.  I was telling a friend a couple of days ago that life is too short to be miserable.  If it is time to make a change then do it.  Figure out what you want to do and figure out how you can make it happen.  For me, I am going to start focusing on my writing.  Fiction writing as a matter a fact.  I have been stalling, not sure why, but have been saying I was going to do this for the past 2 years, but I’m not getting any younger, and my job isn’t any more enjoyable, so what am I waiting for?  What are you waiting for?  What in your life have you always wanted to do but have let life get in the way?  I think for me it was more depression standing in my way, but that is for another post.

I have decided to document my journey onto a new path.  This year I have the goals of losing 50 pounds before the end of the year, draw/paint at least an hour a day, and then focus the rest of my energy on writing fiction. I’m sure I will throw a few posts here and there about “the girls,” as that is always a popular subject, and my journey through life daily fighting depression and knowing others who are struggling also, but the main focus is to help myself and others to make 2016 the year that is the year of true change in our lives.  The year that I/we finally make the changes needed to make a difference in our lives.  I encourage you to go on this journey with me.  Make a list of things you have always wanted to do, places you would love to see, basically a re-connection with the dreams of your past… As it is finally time to make them happen.

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