Depression in PD: Doing Anything

Depression is a prison where you are both the suffering prisoner and the cruel jailer. - Dorothy Rowe
Depression is a prison where you are both the suffering prisoner and the cruel jailer.
– Dorothy Rowe

Yesterday was the most beautiful day in southern Oregon since the winter weather set in nearly four months ago. It was one of those magical days of crystal clear skies and unusually warm weather. However, no matter how many crystal clear, blue sky days God sends our way, no matter if it’s summer or winter, no matter if we’ve not a care in the world – life can seem like a dark hole we’ll never find a way out of. And if you have Parkinson’s, this can be especially true, given depression is a very real symptom of this disease.

I’ve written on this subject before, but when I walked out to the big windows in my living room and smiled as the sun’s rays filtered through the glass, I thought about my comrades in arms who battle this disease alongside me and those who don’t but who battle depression regularly and often find themselves frequenting (if not living in) that dark hole. They live in a place where they fear there is no escape and feel trapped in a life doomed to darkness. And it’s a very real place, whether brought on by disease, grief, stress, seasonal change, or the like.

Before diagnosing yourself and thinking you’ve got this depression thing whipped and soon you’ll be experiencing spring, remember that whether you’ve got PD or not, depression is a disease. If it’s due to more than a change in seasons or grief over the loss of a loved one, you may very well need some help to do more than just cope with life and actually begin to live again.

Susan Polis Shultz said, “Getting better from depression demands a lifelong commitment. I’ve made that commitment for my life’s sake and for the sake of those who love me.” Depression usually isn’t a once in a lifetime occurrence nor is it like a 24 hour flu bug, where it’s here today and gone tomorrow. It is usually a lifelong battle that will require a lifelong commitment, as Shultz said, to get better.

There are, however, several things we have in our armory of weapons to fight against this monster.

* Keep moving. When we sit around and do literally close to nothing all day long because of our depression, not only is our dopamine production off balance but our outlook becomes skewed by sitting and focusing on how awful things are. We need to (sometimes literally) force ourselves up out of that permanently molded spot on the couch, turn off the TV and quit listening to the news for a week and go for a walk each day. At a park. At the mall. Around the block. Get out and do something. Anything. Clean out your shed. Shovel snow. Plant some flowers for the spring. Wash your car. Get out and do something. Anything.
* Eat healthy. When I was pregnant with my second child, I determined to be as healthy as I could physically in order to prepare for her birth. Having my first child entailed a very difficult birth – an experience I hoped to avoid the second go around. I asked the doctor what was the best thing I could do to (hopefully) keep that from happening again. He said to walk every day. So I did. There were days I had to FORCE myself to do it. But I did. Then something began to happen. I began to WANT to eat better. I began to think that if I’m doing all this ‘work’ to get in ‘shape’ for the birth of my baby, why would I want to counteract that work with filling my body with junk? I began replacing Milky Ways with oranges and nectarines and the like. Eating healthy doesn’t just mean nixing the junk food for healthy alternatives but cutting back on portions and also finding out what foods help in fighting depression (fresh berries, sweet potatoes, etc). Eating healthy is a battle for me but I know when I do, I notice a big difference.

* Do something. And I would add – for someone else. Part of our struggle in depression – whether diseased induced or otherwise – is we tend to focus on ourselves. How bad we feel. How bad life is for us. If we are actively, physically involved doing something – anything – we will find ourselves in a much better place emotionally and mentally and doing something – anything – for someone else will only add to the improvements in our mood. Pick some of those flowers you planted and take them to a neighbor. That snow you shoveled? How about the neighbors sidewalk/driveway? Fix an extra dinner or dessert plate and take it to a lonely neighbor or ask them in to eat with you (even better). Volunteer at a local charity/food bank center. Do something you keep putting off like that woodworking project you keep promising to do with your son.
* Get your Vitamin D levels checked. Most of us with PD are extremely low with Vitamin D. This plays a big role in energy and mood. Make sure to be tested to see if you (and most likely you will) need a supplement. You will notice a huge difference, if so.
* Talk to your doctor. Talk to somebody. Many times when you’re down or depressed, just talking to someone makes all the difference in the world. I once attended a conference where the woman speaking said if everyone who needed a listening ear had one good friend they trusted and could talk to over a cup of coffee, 95% of psychiatrists and counsellors would be out of business. Sometimes, though, it takes more than a friend. And sometimes when you’re depressed you don’t feel like you have a friend. Talk to your doctor. That’s what they’re there for.

Muhammad Ali said: ‘When a man says “I cannot”, he has made a suggestion to himself. He has weakened his power of accomplishing that which otherwise could have been accomplished.’

You can.

You can beat this monster. But you have to get up and not give up. Get moving, even if it’s a trip to the doctor to ask for help. Do something. Do anything.

Like A Little Child

imageIt seems that one of the new fads this past year has been coloring books for adults. I say this because they are abundant, most everywhere you go. At first, I thought they were detailed coloring books for older kids but upon close examination, I realized these are for much older children, that being – adults.

One brand of books sporting pages full of waiting-to-be-colored fairies, flowers, mandalas, wild animals and more, claimed their books to be therapeutic in terms of reducing stress, bringing peace, and more when color crayon or markers are applied to the designs. If you think about it and have spent any time at all coloring in or out of the lines, you most likely know that the activity does tend to bring a sense of peace, less stress, and calm.

In Matthew18:3, Jesus tells us that “…unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”*** This wasn’t a command. It was a statement spoken in love. Unless we – trusting without reservation, trusting without fear of asking for our every need and desire, trusting with a carefree attitude that all things are under and within His control – we will not enter God’s kingdom.

A child doesn’t necessarily stop and consider whether what he is petitioning a parent for is a want or a need. He just simply asks. This is how we should be with our heavenly Father. If our heart is aligned with His, we will trust Him because we know that he is the giver of good gifts. Gifts that are given in love. Gifts that are given for good purposes. Because of that, we should not hold back or be afraid or ashamed of what we need and that brings a peace from God that is incomprehensible. We should not fret or worry over what we will eat today – we will simply trust God will provide. We shold not fret or worry if we can make the next month’s rent or mortgage – we simply trust God to provide. We shold not fret or worry whether we will be given more time for a productive life or whether it will disappear sooner than later – we will simply trust God to be there should we be labeled ‘terminal’, ‘broke’, or ‘diseased’.

I think sometimes the hardest thing for me to grasp is that my idea of provision may look a whole lot different than God’s picture of what I may need. For example, I may think I need a better paying job and God may be saying the job I now have is where he wants me, even if it means not being able to get that new yacht or summer home or…

We may think Gof has gone missing when it comes to illnesses. He’s given us this ‘thorn in our flesh’ and feel as though he has left us to deal with it alone. We cry out in the darkest of nights and weep during the darkest of days because we feel we have been forgotten while fighting a disease we never opted for and don’t know how to deal with.

How can there peace in feeling like that?

Peace comes when we put aside our feelings about this life we’ve been given and choose to believe that God is still in control and He’s at the controls with the hands of mercy and grace. It comes when we choose to let go of our demands, our desires, our destiny –  and let God take control of everything. Peace comes when we quit thinking that life is not fair and start living abundantly. With joy. WIth thanksgiving. And, with intention.

We don’t know how long we truly have or how well we will be able to live this life, but we have this moment. Now. And if things really get hectic, we can always drag out the crayons. Like a little child.

***Biblegateway.com

 

 

Without reserve