Training New Brain Cells

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Was I disabled? No, not really. It was just harder to do everyday, usual things.

Lifting and carrying took more thought. I had to consider how to balance things, etc. I couldn’t use my casted fingers for Anything. Nothing could be two-handed.

Getting dressed was a challenge, ex., judging sleeve size to fit my cast. Thank God for short sleeve/T-shirt weather. Sandals were fine if they were velcro’ed. Slip-on shoes! Elastic waistbands were how I rolled.

Taking showers was an adventure. I employed a newspaper bag and a rubber band to shield my cast from the wetness. Washing and drying my hair was difficult. Hotel-sized shampoo containers were best. I almost mastered the one-handed towel turban. Brushing my hair left-handed was new. Training new brain cells I guess.

Makeup, well I was perfecting the art of applying mascara in a new way. As long as I didn’t poke my eyes out…

Eating involved remedial use of a fork (or spoon). Cutting anything was out of the question, temporarily. Pouring things took practice and patience. Cooking was not  attempted. Making coffee was a success! Opening and closing containers was difficult. I was confounded by potato chip bags and cracker packets and anything sealed tightly.

Sleeping with my arm elevated, or at least vertical, was something I got used to, mostly. Weird, but necessary. Propped pillows was an art form.

This was my new life, and though temporary, I gained insight into a small piece of how it is to live this way. It was a very small but useful sliver of experience.

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The Mental Health Journey, Pt. 1

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Is it crazy if you see a therapist or counselor? Why that word, why “crazy”? Sometimes I think all those who do not think they need counseling in this life are the “crazy” ones. If you think you can make it through this life alone, without some sort of help, YOU are crazy.

Life is not easy, for anyone, and there are those who need a little extra outside help to get through it. And one should not be looked down upon or think less of oneself if one chooses to get such help. Those who think they do not need even a little help are not always helpful or understanding to those of us who do.

We’re often told, “It’s all in your head.”, or “You’re just lazy.”, “I have felt sad too.” or “Snap out of it!” As you may have guessed, none of these phrases are supportive or helpful. Think of some of the other words that are used to describe someone who is a little “off” and imagine what it would be like to be labelled as such.

For the millions among us who are living with a mental illness, we are thought to be crazy. I choose not to say, “suffering from” mental illness because I do not want to put more of a negative spin on it than already exists. This is due to the already unfortunate prevalent stigma, the stigma that says we’re crazy, among other things.

The rest of the world thinks we’re crazy, or dangerous, or lazy, or insert (mostly negative) adjective of your choice. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are often among the most thought-ful ones. There is a lot going on between our ears. Our thoughts are just not always the most positive or uplifting or constructive, for us personally.

Our attitudes are usually reserved for ourselves alone. Our judgments are most often inwardly focused. And we are our own harshest critics. We share this with others around us, also harsh self-critics. Unlike those around us, we often can’t easily escape the possible downward spiral such negative self-criticism causes. Therefore, we need to “get out of our own heads” which doesn’t always seem easy or even possible.

You’re Not Crazy, You’re Just Depressed, Pt. 2

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I’m sure there are people who think if someone is depressed, or claims to have a mental illness, they can just snap out of it or it will pass or they’re faking it. While sometimes this might be the case, most of the time nothing could be farther from the truth. Those who are dealing with any type of mental illness desperately wish they could just snap out of it.

Sometimes mental illness is situational. Sometimes it seems temporary but all too often it’s a lifelong condition. Sometimes there’s a biological or genetic component. However it arises, it can take a lot of effort & support to survive.

I’m not a psychiatrist nor am I a trained psychologist. I am simply someone who is in the trenches of depression. I’ve heard, “Snap out of it!”, “It’s not that bad.”, & many other responses when people find out I have depression. Like I said, you can’t judge a book by its cover. You can’t tell by looking who is or who isn’t depressed or otherwise mentally ill. I look “normal”, whatever that means.

Most of the time w/ medication & talk therapy, I & others like me do pretty well. Some days are better than others, just like they are for anyone. Like other humans, appreciate & enjoy understanding & support. We find it in groups, w/ friends, & through help from those in the medical profession.

You can’t tell by looking if someone is depressed or experiencing a mental illness. You don’t know their journey just as they don’t know yours. As I said before, not everyone who living w/ mental illness is psychotic or dangerous to others. For the most part, they’re just trying to get through, & get along, in their lives w/ some enjoyment & hard-won positivity. And w/ mutual acceptance, support & understanding from those around them, this is & will be possible.