The Other Side Of Depression

In my last post, I talked a bit about my parents and their recent struggle with one another. That post made me think about a topic that I haven’t covered but semi-relates to the previous post; depression.

However, I’m not going to write an article that articulates the warning signs of depression, or what it’s like being depressed. Many of you have probably read those articles, or, if you have a family member or friend that’s experienced depression, you’ve witnessed everything first hand. What I am going to write about is what it’s like for those on the other side of depression; the family members and friends (such as some of you reading this) who sit in the emotional sidecar and get pulled every which way. I’ve been there, and I’m hoping that if there is anyone out there with depression that this piece can help demonstrate what it’s like for those that love them.

1. My Mother: I never knew that my mother was prescribed anti-depressants until about a year ago. If you’ve ever met my mother, you’d think she was one of the sweetest, nicest people in the world. When I found out about the anti-depressants, my heart sank. Thoughts of, “am I a good enough daughter?” ran through my mind constantly. I worried that if I caused her trouble or made a rude comment that she would have an awful day and rely on her medication even more.

I felt so lost and I didn’t know what to do to make it better. Should I be spending more time with her during the week and on weekends? What if I volunteered to cook a few family meals? Do the laundry? Wash the dishes a few times a week? Would any of these make her feel less burdened, happier, healthier?

When she retired to care for my brother and the house full-time, I knew she was happy at first, but her joy quickly faded. As if she didn’t think her life was exciting or meaningful before she quit, now, her daily routine consists of household chores and running errands. She was and is lost. She wants to go back to work, but she doesn’t think she has any skills. I constantly worry that one day she will just up and leave because she’s sick of doing the same thing day-in and day-out.

I try to get her out of the house and go on adventures as much as possible, but nothing changes. She’s still lost; I’m lost. I don’t know what to do to make it better. I don’t know how to help her, and every time I ask, I get the same response, “nothing.” But, she’s living in a state of ‘nothing,’ and ‘nothing’ can be a dangerous thing.

2. My Boyfriend: Meeting Matt, you would have no idea that he used to severely suffer from depression. He was a freshman in college and I was a senior in high school. We were living in different zip codes (something we’ve gotten used to) for the first time, and he wasn’t making as many friends at school as he would’ve liked. He had also lost contact with a lot of individuals from our high school, and he felt more alone than ever before.

Almost every night of my senior year was spent sitting by my computer with a TV tray off to the side. While I did my homework on the TV tray, I would be talking to Matt via MSN messenger. The conversations went back and forth for hours. But, the conversations were the same every day. Every day he told me that he had an ‘ok’ day and was feeling worthless. He felt that he didn’t have any friends and wasn’t good at what he was doing. He would then advise a plan to get more friends, or to reconnect with the old ones, and it would fail…miserably…for no good reason!

It was hard watching him struggle. I told him over and over again how much I loved him and gave him advice on what to do about his extreme sadness, or reassured him about his plans for the future. We saw each other almost every weekend, and I even tried bringing a few of my friends to visit him..but nothing worked. On multiple occasions, he brought up suicide. Even though he said he wouldn’t do it because he loved me, I stated that I was the only thing keeping him on Earth. How could I give up on him? What could I do? I thought I’d tried everything.

This pattern continued on into my first year of college, but it got better. I was still on messenger with him every night, but it was hard to see each other every weekend. Eventually, we broke up. But, when we did break up, he was at least on his feet. Of course, we’re back together now, and he’s doing much better.

For both of these beautiful people in my life, I had no idea what I could do to make it go away. I tested multiple ideas, did what I thought was right…what THEY wanted me to do…and no matter what, meds or not, I couldn’t get through to them. It’s something that they need to overcome on their own, but they need help just as much as the rest of us do with our daily lives. Talking to specialists or reading articles can work, but only so much. To those that are depressed, we love you, and we’re hurting because we see you hurting. Communicate with us, help us help you.

Granny Smith – over and out

Missed Connections

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You’re probably thinking this post is going to be about a funny ad on Craigslist or a lovely dovey shoulda coulda woulda story, right? Wrong! Gotcha! This post is actually about losing the Internet connection in your house.

Long story short, last week there was a crazy storm in our neighborhood and my parent’s lost the Internet connection in their house. And, since my parents don’t believe in cable or smart phones, and don’t have AT&T or Charter, they’re left to rely on a dinky ma and pa computer place to supply their Internet. So, the next morning when we called the company to ask them what was wrong, we found out that lightening had apparently struck a service tower, and it was too windy outside for someone to safely climb up the tower to fix the problem….grrrreat.

Now, me being me, I’d like to think that the Internet doesn’t rule my life…at least not to the extent that it does some of my other friends. In fact, I’m really not a big technology person in general. Sure, I use the computer to surf the Internet and I work a bit with Word and Excel, but as a millennial, most people my age think there’s something seriously wrong with me because I don’t have a smart phone and I’ve never touched an Ipod. Do I resent technology? Not really, but I’ve seen what it can do to a person!

But, the Internet at my parent’s house was out for 3 WHOLE DAYS!! I had to resort to taking my laptop to the library to get work done, and when I came home, I tried to leave and find other activities to fill my time as soon as possible. But, even when I wasn’t in the house, I found myself thinking about how many new emails I had, or who had new updates for me on Facebook. I think that because I’m a job seeker, I’ve become more attached to my email and personal websites. I don’t want to miss a posting, and I certainly want to respond to a potential employer sooner rather than later!

Times like this make me think back to the 90s, before the Internet, instant messaging, and so on was really a big deal. It’s hard to imagine what I did during the day to fill my free time, but I think I need to start writing some ideas down in case a situation like this happens again!… Ok, even reading that last sentence made me cringe. Really? The Internet has become so important to me that I need to make a list of things to resort to in case I lose my connection? Ugh!

So, I guess one of my resolutions this year is to make certain that I pull myself away from the Internet more often every day, and not become so flustered if someone tries to get a hold of me and they can’t because I’ve lost my connection. I think that at this day and age, it’s important for all of us to leave the Internet alone when we have some free time and try to resort back to what we did pre-Internet days in order to help us all stay active. I mean, you can be connected without an Internet connection, right? It’s called talking to people!! Most of the best days that I’ve ever had in my life happened in the 90s and when I’ve been out and about doing things with people. Sure, Internet time can be a great way to wind down, but do we really need to be buried in it during our free time?

What’s your stance? How has the Internet changed your life? Am I crazy for wanting to disconnect more often?

Granny Smith – over and out

Mom..Dad..I’m Home!

After college, I did what 45% of college graduates do and moved back home with my parents.  Now, did I really NEED to move back home? No. But I did because they were more than willing to take me in, and, like millions of other college graduates, I have to pay back my student loans.

Moving back home has been an easier transition than I expected. When I was in college and would come home for a weekend or the holidays, my parents always wanted to know where I was, they bombarded me with questions, and felt the need to cling on to me every moment. I felt like I couldn’t get away from them…and of course, when I would leave to go back to school, my dad would shed a few tears.

But, now that I have a full-time job, I only see them for about four hours a day..and I guess that’s enough for the both of us. Moving back, I thought that my parents would purpose chores, curfews, etc., but they’ve actually backed away from those items. I certainly don’t feel like a guest in my own home, but I do feel like they’ve realized that I’m an adult with a grown up job who’s just trying to make it week-by-week.

However, I realize that my situation isn’t exactly the norm, and that many new college graduates, and even grown adults, struggle when they choose move back in with their parents. So, below, I’ve compiled a list that I’ve received from the lovely internet, with a few tips that should help you survive when you move back in with your parents.

1. Set reasonable expectations. True, you may have been able to come and go as you please, leave your room a disaster, and have a new guest over every night before, but this arrangement may not work for your folks. Set some reasonable expectations — for everyone involved — before you even step through the door.

2. Set some ground rules. Alright, you may have to have a curfew so your poor mother doesn’t think something terrible has happened to you if you’re not home by 4:00 in the morning — but your mom also needs to understand that she can’t just barge in to your room without any notice. Set some ground rules as soon as possible to make sure everyone is clear on how things will work.

3. Expect a combination of a roommate relationship and a parent/kid relationship. Yes, you’ve had roommates for the past several years, and you may view your parents similar to them. Your parents, however, will always view you as their child. Do your best to keep this in mind as you figure out how things will work once you move back in. Sure, it seems ridiculous for a roommate to want to know where you’re going every night. But your parents probably have a legitimate right to ask.

4. Set a time frame for how long you’re planning on living there. Do you just need someplace to crash between when you graduate from college and when you start graduate school in the fall? Or do you need somewhere to live until you can save enough money on your own to get your own place? Talk about how long you plan on staying — 3 months, 6 months, 1 year — and then check back in with your parents once that time frame is up.

5. Discuss money, no matter how awkward. No one really likes to talk about money. But addressing the topic with your parents — how much you’ll pay in rent, for food, to get back on their health insurance plan, or if the car you’ve been borrowing needs more gas — will help prevent a ton of problems later.

6. Have your own support networks ready to go. After living on your own, living with your parents can become very isolating. Do your best to have systems in place that provide you with an outlet and support network that is separate from your parents’.

7. Thing creatively about how the relationship is give and take — both ways. Yes, your parents are letting you stay at their place, and yes, you may pay rent to do so. But are there other ways you can help, especially if money is tight for everyone? Can you help around the house — with yard work, fix-it projects, or technical support for the computers they can never get to work right — in ways that will make your living relationship much more symbiotic?

8. Remember that the person who moves back in with your parents is not the same person who left. Your parents may have a very specific — and outdated — idea of “who” is moving back in with them. Take a deep breath and do your best to remind them that, while you left the house as an 18-year-old college freshman, you are now returning as a 22-year-old, college-educated adult.

9. Remember that time at your folks’ is still an opportunity to build your own life — not put it on pause. Just because you are at your parents’, waiting until you can move out on your own, doesn’t mean your life is on pause. Volunteer, date, explore new things, and do your best to continue learning and growing instead of just waiting for your first opportunity to move on to somewhere else.

10. Enjoy yourself! This may seem completely unthinkable if moving back in with your folks was the last thing you wanted to do. However, living at home can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to finally learn your mom’s secret fried chicken recipe and your dad’s amazing way with woodworking tools. Live it up and take in as much as you can.

Granny Smith – over and out