Posts tagged how
12 Things People With Depression Want You To Know
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This is the most honest post I have written thus far, but something is telling me that while I now have the energy to write this I should because if the people around me who are depressed, and myself, are feeling this way, many more people probably are too. Depression is something I've been struggling with my whole life and I am just now starting to tell people about it. It runs in my family on both sides. I'm not trying to speak for everyone with this post, but if you know someone with depression keep these things in mind. 

1. We are not asking you to be our life coach

This is the most important and why I'm putting it as number one. We do not need to hear that we need to exercise, eat better, think positively, break up with our partner, use more self-care, or literally any piece of advice you found in a self-help book. Those are all wonderful suggestions for people who are sad and they can help snap you out of a sad mindset. Depression is not an emotion - it is an illness. You would not tell someone with a broken leg to walk it off or positively think about having a healed leg and it'll happen. All you're going to do by suggesting these things is cause us to shame ourselves when we're not exercising or eating well and that is the last emotion we need. This brings me to my next point. 

2. Give compliments instead of advice

We need to hear what a great job we're doing even if all we did was get out of bed. Believe me, we are shaming ourselves way more than you ever could so instead of suggesting what we should do to fix this illness as if you're a doctor, give compliments on the victories, both small and large. We need support. A LOT of support. 

3. We don't want to talk about it, but we need to

And we need you to help us talk about it. While there are many times when we just simply do not have the energy to talk about how we're feeling (and that needs to be respected as well) if you're a person who is a close friend or family member keep asking them to talk about it. Ask them to find a way of communication that's easier than talking if necessary like writing it, texting it, painting it, whatever. And no matter what do not dismiss or invalidate our feelings or that is the last time we'll open up to you. 

4. It is very hard to make decisions

While we very much have good days where it will seem like nothing is wrong and we can function completely "normally" (whatever that means), on our not-so-good-days deciding where to eat or what movie to see can be so stressful. At least for me, on these days I just want to follow and feel the happy energy of those with me who are eating what they want and watching what they want and if I had an honest choice in mind I would say so. Don't get frustrated if we seem indecisive we're struggling to just be social. 

5. We need your patience

If you've prayed for patience recently, God probably blessed you with a depressed loved one. Our mood swings are frequent, especially if we're not on medication, and we have ZERO control over them. The thing about depression is that we don't get to choose our emotions if we feel any at all. Even if I know I have nothing to be anxious about, it doesn't make the feeling go away and knowing that I shouldn't feel what I'm feeling brings the shame, which triggers the depression. We need you to be patient and kind and to reassure us that you do not see us any differently for feeling what we do. 

6. We don't want to be treated differently

Besides some extra kindness and patience, we don't want to be treated any differently than anyone else, just like a person who broke their leg would not either. We don't need you to treat us like children or walk on eggshells around us afraid of triggering or worsening our condition. Treating us differently is a trigger in itself because it reinforces that we aren't "normal" and we internalize it and convince ourselves that we're antisocial. Just relax and be yourself and we'll be ourselves. 

7. Never, ever judge

Never, ever, ever, ever. People with depression are still creating miracles everyday by pushing through and being extremely productive, and caring, and living their life to the point where most people probably did not even know we had depression. People are usually shocked when I tell them I do because there's this stigma that if you're depressed you can't do great things and boy is that stigma wrong. It just takes more energy for me to do it than someone who is not. People with depression are strong and capable and if we forget, remind us. 

8. Finding the right medication can take years

And some of us cannot or do not want to take medication. We want you to know this because there's this idea that depression works like pharmaceutical commercials where one day we're sadly looking out the window at our kids playing in the yard from our beds we can't get out of and then we take a pill and the next day we're laughing and pushing them on a swing. That's not real life. Depression is an illness that we have to live with every single day and even with medication, all of the symptoms may not disappear and medication can bring on other side effects as well. If your loved one is going through this process, again, be patient and don't hope that one day it'll all go away because they might be living with good and bad days their whole life. And you know what? THAT'S OKAY. 

9. If we cancel plans last minute it's not personal

Especially if those plans are made in advance. The work day might have taken more energy than we anticipated when we made the plans in the first place and we may not have any left to offer you. Cancelling plans and staying home is often a method of self-care. Isolation is also a symptom of depression so if you feel like your loved one is cancelling ALL plans all the time, they may need help. But don't get angry when it happens, we're just trying to keep our life force energy battery from dying. 

10. Pay attention

If you know someone who is depressed you need to pay attention to signs of suicide. I wrote a post "8 Urban Myths of Depression and How to Really Help" that goes over little things you can do to help, and it also outlines the signs of suicide. I won't be redundant and repeat it here, but they are there for you to read. 

11. Never call us...

Paranoid, crazy, insane, insecure, ridiculous, stupid, or any of the synonyms. We internalize it. Besides, in order for something to be crazy, there must be a normal, and normal doesn't exist so lose the expectations. Also never ask "why are you depressed?". It can't be answered. 

Also, stop using mental disorders as adjectives. Words matter and if a teacher says "that's insane" to something negative, a person with mental illness can internalize that and see mental illness as a negative instead of an illness. It's the same as calling negative things "gay". 

12. Depression isn't sadness

So I know I've touched on this the whole entire post, but this is what the public doesn't understand. This is why you don't ask "why are you depressed". You can answer why you're sad because there's a reason. Sadness is an emotion that is caused by an event of some sort. Depression is an illness caused by genetics, blocks to chakras, upbringing, and a million other possibilities that are unknown because scientists don't actually know why. I'm not depressed because I failed an exam or because it's been cloudy for too long. If I knew why, I could fix it easily and if I could fix it I would. Again, IF WE COULD FIX IT WE WOULD. 

Question for those of you with depression: would you add anything to this list?

 

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8 Urban Myths of Depression and How To REALLY Help
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The Myths

  1. With enough willpower, anyone can overcome depression
  2. It's all in their head
  3. Depression is something to be ashamed of
  4. You can't be productive if you're depressed
  5. Therapy doesn't work
  6. Medications are addictive or at least create a dependency
  7. Depression is the same for everyone
  8. Substance abuse and depression are unrelated

Now I can sigh with relief that at least you know those because our society is seriously lacking when it comes to mental illness education.

I would like to provide an analogy to you to use in the future. From now on I would like you to act like everyone with depression has had their arm chopped off because mental illness should not be treated as less important than physical illness. So... you would not tell a person who has just had their arm chopped off that they just need to exercise or not take it so seriously or that they need to suck it up and move on with their daily lives because people depend on them. The same goes for those with depression... it is a REAL illness that needs REAL medical attention and I am sick to death of hearing that "eating clean" will fix their depression. Sadness and depression are NOT the same thing. 

How to REALLY Help

With that out of the way, as someone who has had multiple people in my life suffer from depression I can reassure you that I have done almost everything wrong and I learned a lot of this the hard way. I'm taking this information straight from a depression recovery manual for how to help ourselves and those we love suffering (yes... SUFFERING) from depression. 

1. Make sure YOU'RE in therapy

This is so important! Even if you're not the one who is depressed you can't pour from an empty cup and having someone in your life with depression is very, very traumatic for you as well. Even just having an independent party tell you it's not your fault is going to help immensely. 

2. Educate yourself

If you're depressed this might be very difficult for you, but learning about your illness and getting justification for your actions will really help you articulate to others what is really going on. 

You also cannot be an ally if you are not educated in HOW to be an ally. This post is a great start, but I would strongly suggest taking an online workshop at least because this is such a delicate situation. You could easily be an enabler or sabotager without proper training. 

3. Keep a journal

If you're depressed keep a journal and try to identify triggers and stressors in your life. This will be a great tool to bring to therapy or to review in order to find solutions as to how to avoid the triggers, etc. 

If you're an ally keep a journal for the same reasons... bringing it to therapy will help you articulate your thoughts about your journey through this.

4. Maintain your friendships

The worst thing you could do is isolate yourself, whether your depressed or an ally this is critically important. Humans are social creatures for a reason. 

5. Keep routines

Dinner time, watching Game of Thrones every Sunday, going to Church... all good things. 

6. Continue with your hobbies

If you LOVE gardening, again whether depressed or an ally, you should be gardening MORE while you're going through this process (and "this process" could be for the rest of your life). Make sure you're making time for things you love. 

7. Remember to let go and that life goes on

Try to notice things and appreciate them. Feel the sunlight (lol see what I did there?) and appreciate it. Send a thank you note for something. Listen to birds sing. Focus on small pleasures. 

8. Stay mindful of your physical health

Especially if you're an ally. Taking care of a loved one with depression is rough mentally AND physically. Make sure you're taking the time to keep your body healthy. If you're depressed try to be mindful of your physical health and ask for help if you need it. 

9. Support group it up

Again, whether you're an ally or depressed support groups will help you gain perspective and give you additional tools to help you. You do not have to do this alone, there are plenty of others in your neighborhood who are willing to help and they all meet at the same time and place every week so you have no excuse to not go.

10. Make self-care your priority

SET BOUNDARIES, make sure you aren't being codependent, make sure you're doing things that make YOU feel good. 

11. Develop the "observers mind"

Respond to the feelings behind the statements like fears of abandonment, trauma, losing functioning and mental capacity. Pay attention to body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, etc. Try to see these without judgement and avoid personalizing the statement so you're not drawn to an argument. The goal is to recognize what their feelings are without responding personally. And don't immediately respond. Appreciate the wisdom and pain of empathic silence. 

12. Learn to validate feelings

"I know it's scary to be in so much pain. Feelings come and go. We'll get through this together." Never say "you'll be fine" or "it's not that bad". What they're feeling feels real to them, it IS their reality. There is justification for it. You are not their therapist and it is not your job to provide them a new reality. Your job is to support them and that means validating their feelings. 

13. Set reasonable limits

Limits will help you create a feeling of safety. This can include setting limits about telephone, talking time, unacceptable behavior, and what you're going to do about it. Make sure you confront with love. I suggest having a family meeting to discuss important things and make sure you separate your loved one's worth as a person from their behavior. Also, add consistency by letting them know you will not abandon them. 

Signs of Suicide

Step in and call your local suicide prevention hotline if you see any of the following:

  1. loss of interest in activities and hobbies that were a source of interest
  2. loss of interest in work or career
  3. giving away possessions, writing a will
  4. having unusually dark conversations in which death is ennobled
  5. writing poetry or prose that are very dark and about death and loneliness
  6. increase in alcohol or drug intake
  7. making preparations for or talks about a suicide plan that is specific, concrete, within the person's means and lethal
  8. becoming detached from emotions, and family and friends
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Water: Why You Should Worry About It & How You Can Help!

I get that right now there is a lot of fear circulating about the Presidential Election, Terrorism, and Gun Violence. While those are all valid concerns... water is the issue that keeps me up at night. The purpose of this blog was for me to be able to write about these issues without scaring the crap out of everyone, so I am going to try to keep a positive light, just bare with me until the end!

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How much water does Earth even have?

I'm going to break it down for you in a way that hopefully will make sense and not make me sound like a know-it-all. Here we go...

 

This photo represents Earth's water to scale.

The black arrow is pointing to all of the water on and above Earth including the oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds, clouds, etc. As a drop it would be about 332,500,000 cubic miles and be about 860 miles in diameter.

The dark blue arrow is pointing to the drop that represents Earth's fresh water. This is all of the fresh water in streams, groundwater, etc. The volume of this sphere would be about 2,551,000 mi3 and form a sphere about 169.5 miles in diameter. Yes, all of this water is fresh water, which we all need every day, but much of it is deep in the ground, unavailable to humans.

The light blue arrow is pointing to the drop that represents the fresh water in lakes and rivers that people can actually drink. A drop that most of you will need reading glasses to see is how much water, something vital for our survival, humans actually have to use.

Less than 0.5% of the water on Earth is drinkable!

How much water do humans use?

This is a LOADED question. Obviously Ethiopians use far less water than Americans in the United States. Again, I'll break it down for you.

  • The average American uses 350 gallons of water per day (An average African uses 5 gallons per day)

  • 3.9 trillion gallons of water are consumed EVERY MONTH in the U.S.

  • 2.5 billion gallons are used per day on golf courses

  • We (Americans) use about 40 gallons of water per shower, 20 gallons of water per load of laundry, and 15 gallons per day brushing our teeth and washing our hands

  • 70% of usable drinking water is used in homes

  • It takes 2,000-2,5000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef

  • It takes 12,000 gallons of water to produce one bushel of wheat

  • The final prep of a meal at a fast food restaurant uses 1,400 gallons of water

  • Watering your lawn uses about 2 gallons per minute per square foot!

  • It takes 3 gallons of water to make a single piece of paper

  • Here's the kicker, it takes 2 liters of water to make a 1 liter water bottle!

That's not all... not even close... but you get the idea. #WastefulAF

At current consumption levels there is only enough water for 9 billion people. I would like you to keep in mind that this does not mean 9 billion total... there could be much more if we all used the same amount of water as the average African so do NOT blame this issue on population. It is a consumption issue first and foremost. "Many sub-Saharan Africans get less than 20 litres of water a day and two-thirds have no proper toilets. By contrast, the average Briton uses 150 litres a day while Americans are the world's most profligate, using 600 litres a day. Phoenix, Arizona, uses 1,000 litres per person on average - 100 times as much as Mozambique." (Source)

 

We're using it up... and polluting it at the same time

You may need to get a Disney movie ready because it's about to get super depressing.

  • 70% of industrial waste is dumped into fresh water

  • 15 million children under the age of 5 die every year because of diseases caused by drinking water

  • 85% of the groundwater in Bangladesh is contaminated with arsenic

  • ALL of China's groundwater is contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals, and 20% is still used for drinking water

  • 14 billion pounds of garbage, mostly plastic, is dumped into the ocean every year.

  • The nuclear crisis that occurred in Japan after the 2011 Tsunami dumped 11 million liters (2 million gallons) of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.

  • In America, 40% of the rivers and 46% of the lakes are polluted and are considered unhealthy for swimming, fishing or aquatic life.

  • On an average 250 million people worldwide succumb to diseases related to water pollution.

  • 80% of the water pollution is caused due to domestic sewage like throwing garbage on open ground and water bodies.

  • As per U.S. EPA estimates, every year in the U.S, 1.2 trillion gallons of sewage from household, industry and restaurants is dumped in to U.S. water annually.

  • Over 30 billion tons of urban sewage is discharged into lakes, rivers and oceans each year. Two million tons of human waste is disposed in water everyday

  • And don't even get me started on pesticides... everything you spray onto a plant seeps into the soil and pollutes the groundwater. Not only are we using the groundwater faster that it can be replenished, but we are polluting it to grow our food as well.

According to the survey done by Food & Water Watch approximately 3.5 billion people in 2025 will face water shortage issues. This will be mainly due to water pollution. This is likely to happen because the world pollution is increasing tremendously with more water sources getting contaminated as a result of water pollution.

Makes you feel like an idiot for screaming at your coworker about the election, right?

Here's a graphic to explain ground water for those of you who need a visual

Here's a graphic to explain ground water for those of you who need a visual

How critical is the water crisis?

On a scale from slight gasp to full blown panic attack I would say have the Valium ready. There are already conflicts over water breaking out all around the world.

If you're like me and you find this absolutely fascinating and depressing at the same time then read Water Wars by Vendana Shiva. A used copy is like a dollar on Amazon right now.

And folks... the Southwest has lost 75% of it's drinking water! 70% of the water in the Colorado River is shipped off to supply water to 30 million people in the Southwest. Because of this overuse the Colorado River has started to run dry and not reach Mexico as it once did. 7 other rivers that have run dry because of over use are the Indus River, the Amu Darya River, the Syr Darya River, the Rio Grande River, the Yellow River, the Teesta River, and the Murray River. Keep in mind that these are some of the biggest, mightiest rivers on the planet!

5,000 children are dying every day from a lack of access to clean drinking water. 1.1 billion people to not have access to clean water.

 

How to help!

Glad that's over because as important as it is to understand the gravity of the situation, it is just as important that I explain to you what you can do! This problem is gigantic and we cannot solve it individually, but that doesn't mean you can just go back to your daily life knowing what you know now right? Right.

Let's conserve!

  • Embrace dry shampoo! Seriously. You only need to wash your hair maybeeeee once per week and use dry shampoo because your showers should be less than 5 minutes. And 5 minutes is like your luxury time!

  • Let your lawn die! If you have an irrigated lawn YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. Irrigated lawns are obnoxious, pretentious, and using way too much water for their value. Invest in fake grass or better yet, have your landscape fit your environment and plant foliage that is native to your area.

  • Turn off the water while you brush your teeth, lather the soap onto your hands while washing them, are lathering your hair in the shower, and any other areas that you notice the water running for literally no reason.

  • Stop eating meat! I know that's a stretch, but there's a no-meat-Mondays movement you can join because Agriculture uses 69% of the fresh water that could be drank! If you say no to 1 hamburger you saved 625 gallons of water!

  • Be a minimalist! It's a great lifestyle for many reasons, but one of the important reasons is because you'll be buying less stuff! That means less water was used in making it, transporting it, and the waste pollution from it won't end up in our drinking water!

  • For Pete's sake STOP DRINKING BOTTLED WATER! In 200 years humans are going to look back at us and just think about how stupid we were for this one cultural habit. As you already have read... it takes 2 liters of water to make a 1 liter bottle of water. COME ON.

  • Cancel all of your junk mail! You're saving 3 gallons of water per piece of paper. Try to send emails instead of letters, read ebooks or used books instead of new, and never ever throw away perfectly good paper you can use to write on.

  • Save every drop! This is particularly important because whether you live in the desert like me, or in the rainforest, water conservation needs to be a habit for everyone! Just because it rains where you live does not mean this is not a worry for you. You can invest in water catchment containers (including your average bucket), fix leaks, turn off irrigation, and use drip irrigation instead of sprinklers. Plant your gardens on a slope so rain water runs off onto the plants.

  • Request less pavement and concrete and more landscape! We need to replenish our groundwater. Replace your concrete driveway with rocks if you can, ask your local governments to try to implement as much natural landscape as possible into your community as well! Rain water shouldn't be directed somewhere else when we need to replenish the groundwater.

  • Invest in water-saving fixtures such as for your shower head, toilet, faucets, etc.

  • TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW! Talk to people about how this is a REAL issue they need to be worried about and that they need to conserve water more than they need to do almost anything else in their daily life!

These are just a few things! There are so many more things you can do if you feel like doing more research. I'm trying to keep this as short as possible because you have a life to live and need to go start implementing some of these methods.

 I also do not expect you to fix the politics surrounding third world countries and lack of access to water, but it is good information to know so you can discuss it with people and open the dialogue because that's how change happens!

If you're interested in this issue and want to learn more, here is a great article about the Water Crisis in India that is very well written.