Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Decisions, Decisions

How the depressed mind thinks when simple decision-making is impaired:

In the grocery store: Cereal - what kind? low sugar? high fiber? Ok, one of each that are on sale. What's cheaper - small box? big box? Maybe we don't need cereal this week. Do we have any oatmeal? (forgetting to look at list)
Bread - wheat? white? the whole wheat that looks like white to fool the ones that don't like wheat? How about getting some English muffins or bagels? which one? can't decide - never mind. (wonder if the list would help)

At home: Laundry - whites first? towels? clorine bleach? hot? cold to save energy? more than one load - no, because when I run out of steam they'll sit in the washer until they sour.
Do you want to go to a movie? which one? don't even ask - it hurts my brain to even think of it; just please choose the one you want - I will enjoy it.
Getting dressed - 5-10 minutes staring at the underwear drawer deciding which bra, panties and pair of socks to wear; then another 5-10 sitting on the bed in front of the closet picking out a shirt and pants. Keeping in mind the socks should match.

This explains why when I do wear jewelry, it's one or two simple pieces once in a while. Talking to the hairdresser - just do what you think will look good. It's frustrating. My mind, faced with a choice when I'm depressed, cannot think, choose, concentrate. It's very hard for people to understand. They think I don't care, but that's not it - my brain just won't go there right now.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Friday, January 20, 2006

It's getting better all the time

Compared to this time last week, I'm feeling better. There are still moments of downtime, but they are fewer and farther between. There was some humming among us the last couple days - both me and my son. That's always a good sign.

We had a bit of a scare with my mother-in-law (heretofore referred to as MIL) this week. She was at her volunteer job at the hospital and had an irregular heartbeat. They kept her for the night; my husband drove up; by the morning she was ok. We're just at that age where you know that your parents are not going to be here forever. My dad is having a spot on his lung watched. I worry and worry about him. It feels the same way as when the kids are not feeling well - you just don't want them to have to be in any pain.

We are trying to get in shape - be a bit healthier. I've quit smoking (with a relapse or two) and we're trying to exercise more. When the kids were small and I was single, I knew I needed to be healthy so that I could take care of them. Now I need to be healthy to feel better - slow the aches and pains that creep up during middle age. When I'm elderly, I suppose I'll be trying to be healthy for the kids again so they won't have to take care of me.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Abundant FreeTime

I hate the smell of hypocrisy in the morning
1) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, liposuction and air conditioning.
2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
3) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
4) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
5) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britney Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.
7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.
9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans...

--Re-post this if you believe in legalizing gay marriage

How to Move a Rhino

Wow. To give some black rhinos more room, conservationists are tranquilizing them and moving them. There are only four rhino species left - all are endangered. Did you know that rhinos are related to horses? That supports my unicorn theory - think about it.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

My daughter and I went shopping for a few hours last night. We had a really nice time. The conversation kept turning towards 'remember when we did this or that?' Like when we stayed at the hotel by the mall for a night when they were kids. The hotel offers a package - a room, pizza from the food court and a movie in the movie theater (where my daughter now works), plus the hotel has an indoor pool. Or when the kids were in sports. My daughter has an older brother who has two boys and her dad also has a younger kid, so she's gone to games and practices for them. It's nice when your kids start to get a taste of what kinds of things you did for them. I asked her if she had all her supplies in the trunk: large golf umbrella, chair, extra sweaters and jackets, blanket...she laughed. We did a lot of stuff when they were kids. My friends would comment on how much I did with my kids - I feel like I was a pretty good mom even though we struggled with money, exhaustion, and emotions.

My kids were in scouts, basketball, daughter in cheerleading, gymnastics, softball, son in baseball and football. She played violin in the orchestra and clarinet in the band. He played trombone in the band and plays electric and bass guitar for fun. When we could afford to, we went to movies, water parks and even saved to go to Disney. When we were broke, we went to the library, museum and roller skating. We were involved in church. I finished my bacherlor's degree and started a master's at night while working full time. All of the above while I was single and suffering from major depression. I feel like super-mom!

Now that they are teenagers, there's no extra-curricular activities. My son is failing some classes in high school. My daughter's health isn't too good and she has no insurance. It's time for their own struggles. Hopefully, they'll be able to look back and give themselves credit.

Friday, January 13, 2006

No motivation

It's my day off (1 of 4 actually) and things are backed up here - laundry, dusting, etc. Any motivation would help. I did take out the trash, make my husband breakfast and lunch and....oh yeah - let the dog out and brought the paper in. Ok, those last two don't really count, but I'm claiming them anyway. If I can just get some dirty dishes in the dishwasher and a load of clothes started, that would be a beginning.

I'm what you'd call a Type B personality. Things that make it to my priority list absolutely, positively have to get done. Lately, the list has been pretty damn short. The dog and cat get fed because they can't make a sandwich. Ok, we had one slow cooker meal this week. Maybe we'll have another one today.

Back in the fall, I was feeling great and talked the psychiatrist into reducing one of my anti-depressants. That was the mistake: now I'm somewhat down even after increasing the dose back to what it was. Just waiting to feel better and realizing that I should just stay with what is working. In the meantime, I'm in slow motion, sluggish, got that sad in the chest and behind the eyes feeling and have been taking extra naps. I haven't exercised, but I did make an appointment with the psychologist. My daughter is coming over today - that will cheer me up. Maybe we'll go shopping - we've got gift cards from Christmas burning holes in our wallets!

So that's how it goes with me - for every negative thought, I've learned to counter with a positive. When I'm critical of myself, I make a point of noticing any little thing that I accomplish. And my greatest skill is patience - the ability to wait however long it takes to feel better. I've felt so much worse for so much longer, so I'm confident I will be fine soon. I just hope I don't worry my husband too much.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Eat Me - then and now

Scientists have announced that the famed Donner party did not resort to cannibalism as has been believed for more than a century.

Then there's a freak in Germany, Armin Meiwes, who cannibilized a volunteer. Apparently there are hundreds, perhaps more than a thousand cannibals in Germany.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Happiness 'Set Point'

According to Jonathan Haidt, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and author of the new book The Happiness Hypothesis:

"Happiness has a very weak relation to the events in our lives," Haidt says. "Your happiness level is determined mostly by the structure in your brain not by whether good or bad things happen to you. Negative events hurt or feel bad, but they are not usually as bad as we think and don't last as long as we think."

Happiness is an individual thing, he says, like a thermostat in our brains with a baseline that's predetermined by genetics. "We all move around, up or down, around our set point" depending on life events, he says. "The key to the psychology of happiness is to move to the upper range of your potential." He advises a three-point check-up on the state of personal relationships, the work environment and control over daily life, because improving those areas will boost happiness.

I could've told you THAT

AOL News - Cough Syrup Practically Worthless, Doctors Say

After raising kids with asthma and chronic bronchitis, the trick is to tell the doctor they're up all night coughing. Then they'll get some cough medicine that works. Poor kids - having to take that nasty tasting whatever-tussin for nothing!

Monday, January 09, 2006

High School Opens Vegetarian Lunch Line

There's a step in the right direction. Eliminating Coke and Pepsi machines would help also. This 'childhood obesity' problem could use a shot in the arm from year round physical education.

Video Game Violence

In the drop down Latest Headlines on the Mozilla Firefox toolbar, there is a news item Violent games 'affect behavior.'

Out of the 29 news items listed, 12 include violence. Perhaps violent news 'affects behavior' when it comes to adults. Maybe violence is part of our genetic makeup. It seems to have been with mankind since the beginning. My 14 year old son plays some violent video games and is peaceful and kind. People's behavior is based more on their personality. I don't think restricting or eliminating violent games or violence on television will change society.

Sharon Case May Raise Theological Issues

According to this article in Yahoo News, decapitation is an irrefutable sign of death. Can't argue with that one. The other types of 'brain death' aren't so clear.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Would you? Or wouldn't you?

My son goes back to school after the holidays and learns that a classmate has committed suicide. The first day was unclear - heard there was an accident or he had hung himself. The second day confirmed the hanging. The obituary said he 'died suddenly.'

Before the holidays a girl stepped out in front of a train. Two trains were passing in opposite directions. She crossed after the first went by right as the second started to pass. There were counseling sessions at the school and memorials left at the railroad crossing.

Being familiar with suicide attempts via my mom, depression via me and my kids, I would choose to open up. But I understand and respect those families who can't face that. People say that there is nothing worse than losing a kid. Losing a kid to suicide is worse - lots worse.

I wish I were professionally qualified to speak at schools about depression and suicide. Depression can be fatal, but it is treatable. If your kid needed medication to treat an illness that could kill, you would make sure those meds got taken. But stigma - the idea that mental illness is 'all in your head' - prevents people from getting treatment or helping the mentally ill. Your brain is a part of your body. If your body gets sick, you go to the doctor and get treatment. Mental illness is the brain getting sick.

It is also a mistake to always dismiss kids' moods as normal adolescence. The best thing to happen to my kid was a unit on depression in health class in 7th grade. He was able to come home and say 'I feel like that.' The biggest challenge was finding a child psychiatrist. So I would like to think that I would open up to help other families.

I'm not criticizing anyone. I can't presume to know the dynamics of other families. We all do the best we can. My thoughts and prayers are with those who are affected by mental illness.

Too old to rock n roll?

Being 45 myself and having attended a Stones concert, I was happy to hear the age limit was lifted. What I can't believe is that it existed in the first place! Unbelievable!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hi ho hi ho; to Akron U we go!

The entire day was spent at the University of Akron for orientation with my stepson. We had a great day. It's been 12 years since I graduated and they've done hundreds of millions of dollars worth of improvements to the campus. We spent about half the day in a new hall. The student center was completely redone - hardly recognizable to me. And no more standing in long lines - once you know what you're doing, everything is online! You can even order your textbooks online and have them delivered. We got a lot done - picked up a $110 parking pass; checked out the bookstore; signed up for classes and all the other orientation stuff. Makes me want to go back to school. Or at least work at a university so the kids could go to school for free. AND I could go back to school!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Joined the Natatorium

So I’ve excercised 3 times in the last 5 days! Our community fitness center is new and has all kinds of equipment, weights, gyms, pools, classes, a indoor track, saunas & spa (my favorite feature) I’m up to 20 minutes of aerobic work on the elliptical trainer or bike, then a couple laps walking around the track before I hit the sauna and/or spa. I hope to check out a yoga class this week. My husband is making me dinner right now from a world cookbook he bought. Hopefully, we’ll get a little healthier every day!

Antidepressants do decrease suicide risk

After many reports of how anti-depressants could increase the risk of suicide, this study finds the opposite:

The study also found that newer antidepressants were associated with a faster decline in rates of suicidal behaviour than older drugs. Among the 65,103 patients taking antidepressants, there were 31 completed suicides in the six months following the antidepressant prescription.That rate was not higher in the one month after the prescription than in subsequent months. In the case of adolescents, the researchers found that teenagers had tried to commit suicide more often than adults. They found that the rate for the first six months of antidepressant treatment was 314 attempts per 100,000 in teens while in adults it was 78 attempts per 100,000.As with adults, the rate was highest in the month before treatment and declined by about 60 percent after treatment began.

Hopefully, this information will spread to those people who stopped or avoided treatment because of the reports that suicide attempts increased instead of decreased. This study was longer with a much much larger group than those that showed the opposite. More details are explained in this Rueters article.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year - Now Wait Just a Second!

This St. Paul Pioneer Press article dated 01/01/2006 says the 'Leap second' is the subject of a long debate. It seems that there are TWO kinds of seconds - an atomic second and an astronomical second:

Leap seconds are an outgrowth of the post-World War II development of increasingly accurate clocks based on the regular vibration, or "resonance," of atoms as they pass through a magnetic field. In 1958 an atomic second was defined as the time it takes for an atom of cesium 133 to tick through 9,192,631,770 cycles.
At that point atomic time and astronomical time are approximately the same, with the traditional astronomical second defined as 1/86,400th of a "mean solar day," the average time between two consecutive noons.
The trouble is that the heavens behave more capriciously than cesium. Also, the length of Earth's day is increasing by about two milliseconds per century because of the tides, whereas today's atomic clocks, unaffected by cosmic events, tick away with an accuracy within one second for every 20 million years.

Now who knew? And who cares? Apparently, there are those who say this difference affects things like computers and satellites. I'll bet not as much as the Y2K crisis.