Tag Archives: about me

On Being Friends With You: Understanding Depression & Self Acceptance

You ever spend so much time with someone that you feel like you want and need some space to yourself? I feel like this is, generally, a concept understood and accepted by most people. Now, I’d like to invite you to also consider that the person that you spend the most time with is yourself. But, for the ~300 million people worldwide (World Health Organization, 2017, and that’s just what was reported) that live with depression, this may not be such a great relationship. For those people, living with depression is like living with someone that you’ve spent too much time with and can’t get away from.

Sometimes I like to think of my depression like a mini version of myself that I can control. I watch a lot of Black Mirror on Netflix (think ‘White Christmas’ if you’re a fan; if not it’s a 10/10 so, put the blog down…back away slowly and pull up a tab and get to watching, this is not a drill). Thinking of it this way helps me externalize things and gives me a sense of control. This is what works for me. I once read an amazing Reader article on Buzzfeed by someone that likened their depression to a “bad dog”. That one can be found here and is a personal favorite.

Now, to put it this way is really watering things down. Often times depression shows herself with other, different faces, like anxiety or anger. These are the faces that are less commonly recognized as depression but are still her, through and through. Depression is cancelled plans. She is sleepless nights. She is sleeping all day. She is eating everything and eating nothing. She is screaming at your loved ones, your mail man, and your pizza delivery guy. She is not showering for days. She is hyper vigilance. She is isolating into the depths of your apartment to watch reruns of a show that has been off the air for years. Depression knows no age, she doesn’t care about the color of your skin or what vibrations your throat makes when you speak your native tongue. She doesn’t care who you pray to, what you stand for, or what you believe in.

I know what you’re thinking. How can all those things be depression? Some of those things seem to compete with one another. You may have heard that depression is an inability to sleep and eat, listlessness, fatigue, etc. and you’re right. These are many of the symptoms of clinical depression. The other symptoms however, are common of atypical depression, which is characterized by oversleeping, overeating, mood disturbances, etc.

Let’s talk stigma.

Because depression can happen to anyone, understand that not everyone seeks treatment because not everyone believes in treatment. Remember when I referenced the 300 million people worldwide that have depression and said that this was just what was reported? This is because many cultures do not recognize depression as even existing, much less being a legitimate thing that they should be seeking treatment for. My purpose for writing this is obviously because I’m sharing my own experience, but I’m also providing some education here on how to understand this from all sides.

I feel like this post would be lacking if I didn’t mention the misgivings I feel people have about those that suffer, and I mean truly suffer with their illness. People with depression often get labeled as ‘lazy’. We’re not lazy- we’re SAD. We’re SAD and we need a sense of empowerment and control. I’ve seen some of my friends get disappointed or angry if I’ve cancelled plans, but if I need to put my mental health first I need to put my mental health first. I’m not flaky- I’m depressed. I’m not ditching you – I’m anxious and can’t be around other people sometimes. Sometimes I need to partake in some #boringselfcare (this is a THING- check it out on Instagram!) and wash my face and deep condition my hair. Seriously– sometimes my depression doesn’t let me do those things. Again: Not lazy, SAD.

To anyone out there that loves someone with depression: Please try to understand this. Your friend and loved one is going to have their bad days. Even if they’re in therapy, intensive outpatient program, or on medication, this doesn’t mean they’re “cured”. You can be in recovery, on medication, and still struggle. They’re going to have days where they don’t even want to be around themselves. Normalize and accept this and LOVE. THEM. ANYWAY. If you can’t do this, my suggestion is that you excuse yourself.

To anyone out there that has depression: Be friends with yourself. You spend a lot of time together. Something I’ve been trying to do lately is add one piece of self care to my ‘To Do’ list. I took a training last month that urged us to consider ourselves and do daily check ins and ask ourselves how we’re doing in each of the areas of wellness (Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, Social). Essentially, these areas create a “Wellness Wheel”. The idea behind this is to check in with your wheel when you’re feeling “off” to help you identify and address why because when one section of the wheel is “deflated” the whole wheel can’t help run the car (you). Long story short– I went home and cried. Let’s just say my “Wellness Wheel” was more of a “Wellness Deflated F*cked Up Line”. Casual. But you know what, I KNOW I’m not the only one out there with a messed up Wellness Wheel (case in point my JOB for Pete’s sake). I’m fixing it one day at a time, the best I know how, and that’s okay.

So if you’re out there and you’re a little sad, or a lot sad, you’re struggling, you’re depressed, you need a shoulder, or you’ve got an ‘effed up Wellness Wheel, I’m with you and this one’s for you. We’re okay.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

About That Time I Got Us a Floof

Well, friends, I’m now sharing my boyfriend with another woman.  She’s got gorgeous brown eyes, she’s with him all the time, he spoils the crap out of her, and she has a lot of love to give in return. Before you get too confused — she also has four paws, fur, and squats to use the bathroom. That’s right, we adopted our first doggo!

About three-ish-or-so months ago Matthew started playing around with the idea of getting a dog. Living upstate (STILL temporarily for work reasons, civil service is just the BEST #sarcasm), a dog would be a great companion for walks/runs and to make the days less lonely. Naturally, I thought it was a great idea. I’m a total dog person– Dog backwards is God and that isn’t a coincidence 😉 just sayin’.

So here was the catch. Matt’s always wanted a Husky. If you know me, however, you know that I have an affinity for a smaller breed. Matt and I won’t be apart forever. The plan is to spend our lives together– this was going to be OUR doggo, we agreed. But — real talk– the piercing blue “Husky eyes” freak me out and make me feel like my soul is being stolen from me. Judge me. Whatever. I’ll keep my soul, I need that. ANYWAY, I tried to get Matthew to agree on a Pitbull- NOPE. Shepherd? NOPE. Any smaller breed? FUHGEDABOUDIT. In fact, as he was getting his gallbladder removed, Matt’s mom and I were on Petfinder for the entire 3+ hours just looking at little floofers looking for The One.

One day it happened. As I was laying in bed scrolling through Petfinder pages I found our dog. Her name was Ashika and she was being fostered in a kennel 15 minutes away from my job. She was the perfect compromise: not a Husky, not a Shepherd, but both. A SHEPSKY- with beautiful, BROWN eyes, and good with dogs and cats (very important, since Matthew’s parents have a pit-lab mix)! I immediately did the application before I even sent her picture to Matthew; I knew he would love her. He did. (I believe his exact response was something along the lines of “Alex!!!!! What if I want to eat her up!!!!!?”) I received an email back within an hour from Cindy from the ATeam Elite Pet Rescue, approving our application and asking if we could come in that weekend. As fate would have it, Matthew was scheduled to be home that weekend. We made the appointment and Matt met me there after work that Saturday.

FUN FACT: The ATeam Elite Pet Rescue group is EXCELLENT. I highly recommend them. It is a husband and wife team that pulls Shepherds/Huskys from kill shelters and pays for their medical treatments and finds them a home. They work through Petfinder and call themselves the ‘ATeam’ because they give all of their dogs ‘A’ Names on the site! ADORABLE.

Back to the story. We weren’t too keen on her given name, Ashika. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t what we would have picked. When we got there we noticed she wasn’t responding to it. When we asked about it, were told that we could name her anything we wanted and that Ashika was just a “paperwork name”; the little baby didn’t have a name!! Almost 3 years old and she didn’t have a name! She was essentially being used to breed. She was from Texas and they pulled her from a kill shelter in an area where people were breeding dogs like her and were always looking for younger puppies. She was malnourished, but despite all this she was friendly and you could see that she had a great temperament. We were in love.

We were given all the documentation on her shots and her microchip, as well as her spay, which was all included in her adoption fee. Since this was, hands down, the most difficult year of Matthew’s life, I made the very easy decision to take care of all the fees as an early Valentines/Birthday/I love the crap out of you present. I do love the crap out of that guy. And I love the crap out of our little floof, Dakota, or as we are calling her, Kodi. (Heart eyes emoji)

Maybe I’m not a small breed person after all. She’s so cuddly and so smart. I feel like a proud mom. She LOVES the car, which is good because she goes wherever Matthew goes. She’s so good on her leash and in Petco, and she loves all people and dogs! She crate trained pretty well, too. My little family is pretty tubular and I feel like we did a pretty adult thing. YEAH ADULTING! NOW ON TO THE NEXT THING: TAXES!

At the end of the day, it’s all about who you want to own a dog with.

 

I totally copied this from the ‘About’ page

Hello, friends!

My name is Alex and my life is incredibly average. I’m a 20-something Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) working in residential mental health. I live on Long Island, NY with my mother, Liz, my college-aged sister, Jordan, and my two Yorkies– Sadie & Olivia. I’m also in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend of 5+ years, Matthew.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably never made good on any of your New Year’s resolutions. Well, this is me trying to change that. One of my resolutions for 2017 was to start writing again. I spend my days counseling people ad nauseam about the benefits of ‘coping skills’ i.e. “Journal!” “Get it all out!” “Sometimes you can’t sort through things unless they’re right in front of you!” “Are you even still listening to me?” You get the idea.

Anyway, things have been pretty rough around the edges for the past two years and I think this “blog” (Am I qualified to call it that? Do they have requirements for this sort of thing?) could be really helpful for me to process some things, get them out into the universe, and finally take my own damn advice.

If you’re reading this, thank you. I hope that you find some comfort in my stories, struggles, and musings on whatever this wild journey takes me on.