How do you cope with depression while self isolating?

 

In all of the chaos and fear surrounding COVID19 we’re all considering our physical health and safety. Taking action as needed. Now what about your mental health?

Have you sat down and thought about how you and those close to you are coping?

Anxiety (and especially health anxiety) is a topic that has been discussed lately which is great to see. But I haven’t seen much yet about managing depression and isolation. If you want to share a link in the comments on this topic I’d love to read it.

Part of managing the health risks of COVID19 is self isolating if needed. As someone who has lived with  major depression long term I’ve learnt to recognise warning signs that I’m not ok. Isolating myself is one of the signs I look for.

My kids and I have been home for over a week (my son has a cold).  His school said to keep away. I’m grateful for their clear stance and being home has reduced my anxiety for my family. But being isolated has me worried about myself.

Usually when I start to self isolate it means my depression isn’t managed well. I feel comfortable and safe being at home and retreat further and further.

So.. I was curious to ask what do other people do in this situation?

Does anyone have realistic ideas that might help?

I’m waiting for my psychiatrist appointment and no doubt he’ll review my medicines. I’ll update at the end of the month and share what advice he has.

Above all I wanted to ask how do you distinguish between isolating as a symptom of Depression and isolating because of the virus?

If you know (or are) someone who manages mental health issues there are questions important to be asking right now…

What symptoms do you experience if your mental health is declining? How do you know when you are at risk and need to take action? What might it look like to me as an outsider when you’re struggling?

I’ll share my own warning signs (I manage recurring major depression and ADHD and have a history of suicidal ideation).

Perhaps it might make you think about how you or a loved one is coping right now and more importantly decide what steps to take to keep safe.

Withdrawing further and further from everyone and need more time alone to cope. 

What this can look like to others:

I might sleep to avoid having to talk. Seem lost in thought. Be unable to follow conversation or focus. Snap at you or become teary for what seems like no reason.

The worse my depression becomes the harder it is to talk or write. 

What can this look like?

I never answer the phone if you call. If I have to I’m blunt and cold. I’ll make any excuse not to make a phonecall. If you ask me to make an appointment I’ll do it online or not at all.

It can take days or weeks to get a reply to a text/email (if you get a reply at all). When I do reply it can be unpredictable. Maybe you’ll get prompt replies for a few days and then nothing again.

I’ve deleted nearly every post, blog, email or text I try to write. I’ve volunteered for BeyondBlue for years writing to others. I love it and it’s important to me and yet I’ve barely posted.

Others might notice…

I’m inconsistent. Might write to you and then disappear. When I’m present I care and might seem upbeat and even fine. Then I disappear yet again.

Other times you might see incomplete sentences or the writing is all confusing. That’s me trying to keep writing no matter what.

Alternating between needing to sleep all the time and insomnia. 

This sounds obvious but it is important to consider that sleep can be used as an escape. So if I’m over sleeping or excuse myself to sleep it can be a way of coping because I’m overwhelmed and need space. Other times I might pace the house at night. Ot not come to bed so I don’t keep you awake.

Do anything to avoid leaving the house.

What does this look like?

Constant excuses and apologies. I’ll even bargain (if you’ll do the shopping I’ll clean the house). I do get snappy if you pressure or push too hard.

It can also mean refusing to go outside. Again the excuses can sound reasonable.

I know this post is confusing and I’m nit sure there is a point within the waffle. Just food for thought perhaps. If you find yourself going downhill in isolation it helps if people around you know what to look for so you can get the support you need.

I’ll hit post before I delete it like every other post I’ve tried to write. Thank you to anyone who takes the time to try read this ❤.

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Searching for peace? Then now is the time to stop and hunt for wildflowers.

Tiny white fairy orchid, small but so beautiful.

It is almost spring here in Western Australia and that means wildflower season has begun.

Once the weather warms up a little more that means the fields of everlasting daisies and showy wildflowers inevitably bring tourists.

But for now it is quiet in the bush, the way I love best.

Pure bliss! Especially for an overwhelmed mind. There is something healing about treading carefully. Watching where you step. Small steps. Scanning the ground for spots of colour. Slowly, gently.

Enough from me… just wanted to share the treasures I found nearby.

If anyone wants to show their local flowers feel free to add your link in the comments. I’d love to see more wildflowers from around the world.

The blue leschenaultia is just starting to flower on our block

I’m not ashamed to speak up about my mental illness… Are you?

Every so often I will see something that reminds me I am alive and worth keeping that way.

Recently it is this…

I pass this tree every week when I drive into the city. My kids ask me about it. What it means. Why did someone paint it?

Although they are 4 and 5 years old I explain…

You know how I get really sad or angry or tired sometimes and can’t explain why I feel yuck?

They nod and listen as I explain that sometimes people feel embarrassed to talk to other people about feeling sick inside.

Instead of going to the “talking doctor” (what the kids call my psychiatrist) they bottle it up and get sicker.

The trees are a reminder to everyone that it is important to ask for help. And to ask people you know if they need help if they don’t seem alright to you.

When they are older I’ll share the full story of why the Blue Tree Project began in Australia…

https://www.farmweekly.com.au/story/5882660/blue-trees-symbolise-serious-message/

https://www.bluetreeproject.com.au/

But for now I’ll drive past the blue tree and let it remind me…

That I matter to people who love me no matter what my depression tells me.

That as insignificant as I feel my support, encouragement, words or shared experiences are important. If me being open about my mental illness encourages anyone (perhaps even my children) to speak up and ask for help then that means a successful life to me.

Has anyone else seen a Blue Tree in their area? Feel free to add a link to your blog and photo in the comments, I’d love to see the photos.

❤ Nat

Sharing pictures that have managed to bring joy (regardless of depression)

Woohoo! It is Blood Lilly time again here in Western Australia.

The bright red is a bit of light in my day. Even the black dog can’t ignore how happy and beautiful they are.

It isn’t just the pretty things that help remind us to keep trying either. How about a challenge? Something to keep you distracted and busy and break into those unhelpful thoughts… Plant identification.

Can anyone help? This one isn’t something I’m familiar with. Perhaps a Barleria?

Then there are the things that make you laugh. A friend once told me that in deepest despair and the depths of depression something made him laugh. It was a massive discovery. To be capable of laughter is a sign hope exists.

This discovery cracked me up…

Nothing says Australian like an old Ute carrying steel kangaroos complete with cutout weapons and topped off with our beloved flag. Perfect!

And finally a little closer to my heart were these

Drawings for Mother’s Day which remind me I am needed and cared for. Don’t you just love the gigantic lips 😂!?

Joy and love and laughter and beauty. Things that make life well worth wading through the dark times for.

Planting a garden of happy memories. For Szarik with my love and gratitude.

Ten years ago, with a little bundle of black and tan fluff at my feet, I read a poem called ‘Lend me a Pup’. It spoke of God gifting us with a journey with a dog and letting them go when it is time.

I cried reading it, not truly understanding.

Until today.

Today it was Szarik’s time. We have been blessed with ten years of joy and love and chaos and loyalty.

As a self confessed cat person I never wanted a dog. Until the moment I saw a little German Shepherd pup playing hide and seek under a shrub. That was the day Szarik joined our family.

When grief and sadness feels overwhelming I go to a safe place. For me this is the garden. It is a space where I can sow specific happy memories. Not just for those who are gone now but for the living too.

For my Grandma I plant all things red which is a colour that reminds me of her.

Red curtains. Red Robin on her tea cup. Whenever a Red Robin appears in my garden it feels like a reminder of her love.

Nan is perennial Stattice. It has always grown around the farmhouse and she loves it. Tough as nails just like the woman I admire, it thrives in the heat here and gives us masses of purple flowers.

Today I stood beside the garden arch in what will be Szarik’s garden.

Passionfruit and Jasmine are planted ready to share the arch. Elderflower is starting to flower nearby too.

But that isn’t him.

Eventually I chose a memory that lets me remember him without feeling sad. We had a peach tree once under planted with blue Muscari bulbs.

It was a mystery why it kept shrinking. Until one day we saw a certain puppy break off a piece and drag it away to chew up. He loved the taste of fruit tree wood. Especially peaches. At times he would eat grapes off the vines too and tomatoes if the gate to the veggie patch was left open. That is how I want to remember him most of all. Cheeky and adventurous and always happy to share whatever food was on offer (even cucumber).

The gentle guardian who was endlessly patient for our kids because they would sneak him snacks and who always sat with me in low times even when the bickies and tea were finished.

One day this will be an orchard. With a blue Muscari carpet.

One day. ❤

A rare visit from the good kind of Devil reminds me there is always a reason to live.

Even when you are in the grip of depression, there can be moments of light.

These are the moments I cling to, cherish and want to share with the world.

To remind myself and perhaps even one person reading that living is worth the effort.

Recently driving home from work I stopped to investigate a curious object on the road…

A Thorny Devil!

Thankful for the gloves in my work bag, I scooped him (or her) up from the road where sunbaking was going to mean being squished for sure and moved to a safer spot.

Although native to Australia and apparently plentiful, I have only seen a Thorny Devil once before in my life… Behind glass in captivity. This meeting was a pleasure and blessing.

I took photos and videos to share with my children. Miss 4 decided this gentle lizard would be christened “Super Hero Lizard” because in her mind the vibrant camouflage colouring was a costume. In this moment her enthusiasm and joy was infectious and I basked in it.

So to anyone reading I would like to offer you a thought.

When depression has you gripped tight and you can’t seem to think of a reason to want to live perhaps you can borrow my reason…

Because there will always be moments that you will not want to have missed.

It doesn’t matter if the moment is huge and momentous or something smaller like simply rescuing a lizard and feeling happy.

What is important is the knowledge that even if the black dog is telling you it is hopeless and pointless to live that is a lie.

Tomorrow you could feel joy for a moment. That is worth living for.

A red house and blood on a child’s ear… What do you do when depression takes over?

Yesterday brought with it two surprises and my black dog (depression).

Returning from work hubby led me blindfolded down the driveway to our new home.

My heart raced. I froze and just stared. He had taken the dream in my head and made a start on bringing it to life.

I was blissfully happy.

Then our five year old son got home and told us about his bus ride.

A crescent shaped cut in his ear. A fingernail. He reluctantly told us about being slapped, bitten and scratched by older kids.

He is five years old! Our kids are the only littlies on this private bus to a school which prides itself on virtues. And not one of the young adults said a word or stepped in or even alerted the driver.

My heart broke the moment he defended the teens. “It’s ok Mum maybe tomorrow they will be my friends again”.

How do you feel hope for the future when you have to destroy a child’s naievity to keep him safe?

The black dog has set up it’s kennel in my mind and in my head it is red.

Add a splash of colour!

Hello fellow WordPressians. Any chance you like a challenge?

Even though it’s a scorcher of a Summer here my mind is gloomy and grey. Finding happy memories is proving a little difficult.

Colours can trigger positive feelings and memories. Anyone who has had even a passing interaction here knows my go to colour is red.

We get the keys to our new home tomorrow and soon we paint. No surprises with the paint I have chosen…

Taubman’s Poinciana Red ❤❤❤❤

Garish perhaps. But I love it! My happy little red house on the hill. Safe haven. Bright enough to keep the gloominess of my depression at bay at times.

Enough about me. I am curious to hear about you. Up for a challenge?

I would love to learn about your go to colour when you need a lift and how you encorporate the colour into your day.

The more colourful pictures the better of course! If you could add a link to your blog in the comments below so I can read your post, I would appreciate it.

❤ Nat

PS…

Ok I have to admit part of the appeal for me is to see the reader page full of colour like a rainbow. How awesome would that look!

Need a happy memory? Check your garden.

Hello to anyone reading…

Are you a gardener? A plant obsessive?

If not perhaps you will read on anyway and let me know if this method works for you too.

One of the many benefits of learning to identify plants is how they seem to be able to trigger memories once you can identify them elsewhere.

As a child my Grandma would teach me the names of the plants in her garden. It wasn’t formal… Just simply sharing a joy and passion with a loved one.

Being able to identify a tree or shrub or flower has had an interesting effect…

Nearly all of the powerful memories I recall involve plants or gardens. It is as if my mind seeks out plant life as a marker to remember by.

Lately as I drive to work this gorgeous Cassia Fistula is in bloom. What a stunner!

I stopped to take a photo (not just because this is a favourite tree) because each time I pass a new memory surfaces!

How curious!

Two little girls having a teddy bear picnic under a yellow waterfall of flowers. Jam and cream sandwiches Bare feet. A beloved best friend.

A white and brown Jack Russell who used to trot along with me as a teen. Scorching heat. Red dirt. Bright blue sky. Yellow spinifex.

As my sister’s dog she didn’t like me much either. But she would follow me and guard anyway. My little protector. As if she sensed the chaos within. I felt safe with her.

We planted a Cassia to honour her when she passed away.

Standing in an orchard next to a man who I have always been told I mirror (“Put a beard on her and she’d be her father”).

I see the leaves of a small tree that doesn’t fit with the fruit trees. He frowns. Ah bloody hell I poison and poison that thing and it keeps coming back!

I start to laugh and cannot stop. He looks horrified to hear he has been poisoning a Cassia fistula that Mum keeps giving TLC to try keep alive.

Does this happen to you too?

I wonder if you can store a happy memory to keep by focusing on a plant?

When the Cassia at our block flowers I think I will bring my husband out to kiss me under the tree.

Worth a try surely 😊. Cmon Cassia grow please.

Going Home

Do you remember somewhere as a child you felt truly safe?

My childhood sanctuary isn’t made of bricks and mortar but of bark and leaf and earth and fruit.

The old mulberry tree has always been the perfect cubbyhouse

The house itself is insignificant compared to the gardens…

As children we spent most of our time outdoors, so it probably shouldn’t have surprised me as an adult returning home to find in being in this garden helps my stresses melt away.

This has become my goal… To establish a garden which evokes within the same calm.

What is a farm without the “aggies”?