The insidious nature of depression

I am in a good place right now, but a few friends are struggling. Depression is an insidious mental illness.

Mental health continuum-mobile

I say, “Insidious,” because, for those of us who don’t have chronic depression due to a chemical imbalance, it creeps up on you, or you go to bed and wake up depressed. For me this is not always apparent at first that I am depressed, it can take me up to a week sometimes before I realize that I am depressed. I isolate myself, I drink and eat more, I stop doing activities that I usually enjoy like reading or writing, I am tired all the time and just want to sleep.

We all get sad sometimes, so that is why I say, “It can take a while before I realize that I am depressed.” Depression is more that feeling sad; although, most people don’t know this. They tell you, “Get over it,” or “Snap out of it,” or the condescending, “Just think of being ‘happy’,” as if positive thinking alone is the magical cure. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not judging these people; they mean well. They just don’t fully understand what depression is.

My depressed states are rare and no longer intense as they once were. Before, my depression stemmed from a lack of self-confidence and a strong sense of hopelessness. I no longer feel this way.

My bouts of depression are a result of Seasonal Affect Disorder. I bought a lamp for this, which helps, but not completely. Fortunately, I have coping mechanisms that work to help me out of depression. I talk with someone (and not necessarily a professional), I go out and socialize (just small outings, nothing big), I control my drinking (alcohol is a depressant), and I try to keep positive (I usually do, but I try not to dwell on the fact that I am depressed).

I am not too sure why I chose this topic to write about. I think it was because I know is people who are currently struggling. I just wanted to share my experiences to help those who have never experienced depression to understand.

To those suffering right now know that you are loved. Please seek help if you require it. Virtual hugs.
—Robert Confiant 20 September 2018

A day in the life of

I am not quite awake yet. I think it’s “another coffee,” kind of day. I am commuting to work on public transit.

It’s coming on to the fall season. It is getting dark in the evenings and pitch black when the alarm goes off in the morning. It’s also cooler now. I took down the screen I taped up in the living-room to keep the cat from falling out while the window was open (the window opens outward with a gap of four inches) with nothing below it. I also placed candles and other knickknacks in front of the window to keep her away (It worked).

Fall, the season is different here in the Vancouver area. While some trees change colour and drop their leaves, many other trees remain green. It also rains in late Fall and Winter months, but the Farmer’s Almanac is calling for a colder winter across the continent, so it’s going to be a “wait and see,” kind of year. I don’t do well with snow. I cannot walk in the snow anymore, so I am hoping not.

I do walk better than I ever had thanks to my Dantrolene prescription. I tried exercising again, but then my hips, knees and back hurt. Even with just the cooler weather, I feel aches in my knees and hips. It’s a no win all around. Sometimes, I hate getting older. I wish they had known about the drug a lot sooner, then a least there might have been less impact damage to my hips and knees. Oh well, bothering to be done about it…

So, it’s just a bus ride into work. It’s the same old routine of going to work. This is what comes to mind. This is what I write. A bit boring I know. It’s just another ordinary day in the life of “me”.
—Robert Confiant 19 September 2018

My complete coming out story

I’ve written about parts of this in other posting here on this blog, but I haven’t put the whole story together.

gay & disabled

I first came out to myself where I really admitted to myself that I preferred guys over girls. I hated myself. I tried to pray it away – God, how I tried. I cried and prayed. I did everything I could think of hoping I would change. I did not want to be any more different than I already was. I think this was one of the reasons why my downward spiral began.

High school was okay, I wasn’t teased or anything like that it was fine. I had a handful of friends, but I still felt like I was always on the outside. I grew up in the projects and I know that if it came out that I was gay; it wouldn’t have been good for me. It was different times. It was the mid-1970s. It was never mentioned, but it was known to be frowned upon. I grew up Catholic, so you can imagine what that was like. So, I kept quiet with things being what they were. Still, I had good friends; not a lot of friends, but I kept the key aspect of my life private. I didn’t tell anyone. Not even my closest friends. My disability avoided a lot of unanswered questions.

For a lot of my life, I remained celibate. I never dated; although, I did start to fall for one or two guys over the years, with one who “scared me straight” for quite a while. He was older. We never told each other outright, but the feelings and the flirting were there. He invited me over one night and I am sure that the only reason nothing happened was because he was waiting for me to make the first move something I wasn’t ready to do at that time.

When I was in my late twenties, I was ready to come out. My brother beat me to it. My parents soon asked me if I was gay, but he came out because he was sick and I didn’t want to cause any further worry, so I said, “No.” I should have said, “Yes,” and gotten it over with. I am a hundred percent sure that my parents would have been cool with it (the way they dealt with my brother leads me to believe my parents would have been okay with it).

When I moved away and eventually came out. It was freeing. Imagine the one thing you don’t want others to know about you and then imagine it getting out to everyone. At first, you think, “That’s it, no one will like me now,” but it is also freeing. Everyone knows. You’ve reached the point where either they do accept or they do not. Those who don’t; well, one has to wonder… Doesn’t one?

Anyway, that’s it in a nutshell is my full coming out story.
—Robert Confiant 18 September 2018

Depression and life

I just listened to a TEDx talk on suicide and life. Once upon a time, I could not do this.
I am told quite often that I am a strong person. They say this because I have dealt with having a disability, so well. And if I am honest, in some ways they are correct. I am a person who happens to have Cerebral Palsy. Back when I was younger, I didn’t let my dis-ablity stop me from doing what I wanted to do. My dis-ability (sic) is not who I am. I am not defined by my dis-ability. I live with it. To me, it is not brave, nor heroic, nor anything special. I have always had a bum leg. I don’t know any different, so this is my “normal.”

Somewhere on this path of life, I lost my confidence. I stopped believing in myself. I developed a low self-esteem about myself. My depression resulted because I believed that I couldn’t do anything. I was told, by kindly meaning professionals, that I couldn’t do this, or I couldn’t do that. I don’t blame them for what resulted. It just I took their statements to be realistic about my career choices to heart. I felt that I couldn’t do anything. It’s strange, how my all or nothing attitude played a factor even back then. I am an “All or nothing” kind of guy. I don’t like to admit it, but I still am. The result is that I suffered from depression in my late teens and early twenties. The fact that I was gay didn’t help. I was closeted, gay young man who grew up in the projects. I was supposed to be tough. I was also a strict Catholic and these two aspects were “polar opposites” in their views. I still joke about going to hell (I don’t believe it, but I still joke about it). So really, my depression stemmed from my lack of confidence in myself and the loathing I felt about being different. I gave up. I stopped living and I couldn’t see a good future for myself. I was depressed.

After I hit rock bottom, I went to counselling and I sought out help. I wasn’t working because of the recession at the time and because I felt I couldn’t do anything with me having a dis-ability. I got work eventually after I went on some job training course. It helped boost my confidence again. I later returned to school to upgrade my skills. The success I found there also contributed to my confidence boost. Step-by-step, I began to snap out of my depression and my confidence returned. It was a slow process, but one that built a strong foundation on which I could stand upon.

Today, this is all history. I have had my bouts of depression, but I have figured out tricks to help me snap out of it. My depression now stems from Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). With this realization, I find that my depression is manageable, if I caught it. Sometimes it can be a week before I realize I am in a state of depression. When I finally do come to realize this, I do the opposite of what I feel I want to do. Namely, I go out, instead of staying in; I socialize, instead of shutting myself out. For me, this doing opposite works. I also purchased a light for the winter months. It helps.

I am at a good place. I can’t say I never get depressed, but when I do, I can deal with it. For the most part, I am happy with my life. I no longer worry about the past, and I don’t fret about the future. I stay in the now. This was another issue back then, I couldn’t stay in the now.

Most of the time, I am that strong person I appear to be, but sometimes I am not. For those times I am not, I work on it. Over all though, life is good.

For those of you who are struggling. I am reposting this image:

Mental health continuum-mobile

Get to know the signs and if you are in any phase other than healthy, seek help. There is no shame in asking for help. We all need a hand up occasionally.

My life may not always be exactly what I want, or I wish for, but it is a good life. I have my health. I have a good family, partner and friends who are always there for me, and a decent job. A hobby that I love – writing, contrary to what our income obsessive materialistic society wishes to sell us, these are what truly matter.

Peace and love.
—Robert Confiant 15 September 2018

The “should have, would have, and could have” moments in our lives.

Another morning with the same routine of going into work, the drive in seems to be going well this morning.

It’s strange some days. I like my job. The people are good, most days the customers are great, and the workload… Well, that varies from day to day. Still, I cannot stop wishing to win the lotto. It would be nice to retire (not that I have a lot of time until I retire, but still…).

Lotto

“What would I do,” you might ask? I would write. I was just telling my partner that I should have continued writing when I was younger. We got to talking about whether one would go back in time and do things differently. I said, “I wouldn’t – not unless I knew exactly what I know now. I wouldn’t want to go through the same life lessons again.” I would do things more smartly. Since this could not be because of the paradox where going back would change everything I currently know. I wouldn’t do it as tempting as the idea is.

I love to write. I think it was something I was meant to do. I am glad I rediscovered it. Although I have made great strides, I am not so delusional to know that I have a long way to go before I hone this craft, which is why I wished I never gave it up in the first place. I never received any encouragement from my English teachers. My grades were okay, but none saw my potential. I had a teacher did, but I discovered too late that I still needed a better foundation because there were fundamental gaps in my knowledge (I should have taken geometry; the gaps would have presented themselves to me).

The “should have, would have, and could have” moments in our lives.
—Robert Confiant 13 September 2018

I don’t give up

I don’t give up, or I don’t give up too easily. I was always this way growing up.

I never personally knew anyone else who had a physical dis-ability (sic) growing up until much later. I had four brothers and a lot of friends in the project where I grew up, and I wanted to participate in the same activities that they participated in. I had to work twice as hard to meet, or just function enough that I could join in.

It was the same when I got employed. My mother helped me get my first job. We didn’t have a lot of extras when we were young, so when I hit sixteen I wanted to get a job, but I told my mom that I didn’t think anyone would hire me with my bum leg (I still call it that sometimes – my right leg is worse than my left leg). Anyway, she spoke with her boss at the time, and her boss gave me a try. It was a janitor position, which required that I be on my feet all shift (weekends and the odd evening). I proved that I could achieve this by working extra hard (well, harder than those I saw around me).

It was the same many years later when I got hired over the phone for a clerk position at a bookstore. I was hired as magazine stocker. It was gruelling and heavy work: Storing overstock in the back (climbing up and down), stocking the racks out front and shipping and receiving bundles of magazines. As I was hired over the phone, when I walked into work the first day my manager thought he had made a mistake. He told me this a few years later, but he figured I couldn’t be any worse than anyone else he had hired, so he gave me a shot (he never regretted it), but I worked really hard to keep this job. I loved working there. It was a good group of people and I loved to read. When I decided to go to university, he called me back each summer.

I never gave up to easily on anything I tried. It was many years of attempting to ice skate before I threw them in and gave up. I felt like I wasn’t getting any better, so I gave it up. If I saw some improvement, I am sure I would have stayed with it. Alas, I sucked at ice skating, and I felt, “Why beat a dead horse, when I saw no improvement?”

So, now I am realistic about what I can, or cannot do. I try something for a while, and if I don’t see improvement, then I give it up. Why waste my time and energy?

Some people think I am stubborn, and they are not wrong; I definitely am. But, my stubbornness has given me the “Stay with it” attitude. It has gotten me far in life (It can also tee off some people at times, I am sure 😁). Stubbornness has its benefits.
—Robert Confiant 12 September 2018

My older cat doesn’t jump so well

Terra blockTerra, my cat, is getting a bit skittish about jumping up on the counter height chair (about 28″ in height). She is 13 years old. Her fear of jumping up began over a year. At first, she only missed seat of the chair once in a while. Then it began to increase in frequency yesterday with three failed attempts one after the other.

We own counter height island which we use at mealtime and which I use when I am on the laptop which is most of my home time. Terra likes to bop up on the chair beside me to come and visit. When we first bought them a little over a year ago, she had no trouble hopping onto the chair. Over the year, every so often, she would bump into the side of the seat. This bumping began to gradually increase to once a month. With each failed attempt, she grew more and more hesitant to jump often circling around before jumping up. I encouraged her to try again after such a failed attempt, but she usually fret about it before she gave it a go. It’s this hesitation which is preventing her from succeeding and land on top of the seat. I am trying to teach her to just jump and to not think about it first by encouraging her to jump on command. I am not too sure how else to go about teaching her not to hesitate. (She is only a cat after all).

If I cannot get her over her anxiety, then I will have to get my three-step stool, so she won’t hurt herself too seriously. Perhaps she is just getting a little too old.

When I got home last night, Terra hopped up onto the chair without any issue. Go figure.
—Robert Confiant 5 September 2018

PS: I gave her a bit of help…

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