Choosing Depression Over Antidepressant Side Effects

ErinChronic Pain23 Comments

For once I'm choosing to be very depressed over the side effects I have from my one antidepressant.I feel lost in a foreign place. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am choosing depression over something else.

Why would I do such a thing?

The answer, in a word, is MIGRAINE. I’ve had a migraine every single day for a year. With the dawning of 2016 I’ve felt myself surrender. I cannot take any more physical pain. I can’t.

The person I am today feels so different from who I was a year ago. . I used to go out, see friends, read, write, sit in coffee shops and daydream. I used to run (okay, a little) with my dog. I used to do art for fun.

I’ve lost my routine, my independence, my accountability. I only leave my apartment to go to doctor’s appointments or to buy food. I’m lucky if I see a friend once a week, and if so, it’s a short outing. Going on my laptop hurts my eyes so much that I’ve stopped almost all online activity. As a result, my ties to the world are unraveling.

The world is going on without me. I can’t afford to lose any more.

After trying a zillion different migraine treatments (seriously) I’m decreasing the antidepressant that helps me the most with my mood and energy. My migraine pain is lessened on a lower dosage. I don’t know if my migraines are a side effect of this medication, but I know the medication makes my pain worse when I take it.

I’ve tried to do this many times before and every time I decided it wasn’t worth it. But now, I’m trying even harder. I don’t have a choice.

With lessened migraines I might be able to “function” better. As in, stand up and turn on my lights and listen to music. Call a friend. Walk my dog. Do something without an ice pack on my head. .

On this lower dosage, the world is literally darker to me. I definitely feel my mood going downward. Yesterday I started crying on the bus but I didn’t care. I walked home just letting the tears flow out of me as if I were alone. That doesn’t feel like the real me. It feels like the super depressed me.

I feel sad but it’s also this numbness of emotion. This numbness feels better than being in physical agony, counting down to the moment my skull explodes.

Ugh, I know all of this sounds really bleak. And here’s the kicker: it’s my birthday tomorrow and I totally don’t care at all. I have zero excitement whatsoever.

This numbness sucks but I feel like I have to deal with it. This way, I can see my family on my birthday. I can go out. I can eat. I can make the best of what I have.

I am only in the early days of lowering my one antidepressant. If and when suicidal thoughts come back, the tides will turn and I’ll probably go back to choosing physical pain. I won’t let myself die over this, but I have to fight harder to LIVE.

I’m being supervised by three doctors so I am in good hands. I don’t want you to worry but I don’t want to sugarcoat things either. This is what my life looks like right now. It’s dark.

Maybe my eyes can adjust to the dark. Maybe I can learn to walk in the night. No, I wouldn’t want this for anyone, but sometimes we don’t get what we want. Sometimes we have to take what we’re given and make the best of it.

I sure as hell have to try.

ErinChoosing Depression Over Antidepressant Side Effects

Celebrating 2015 & Having Hope for the Future

ErinThe Big Picture13 Comments

Me With My Writer Pals

Me With My Writer Pals

Raise your hand if 2015 went exactly as planned.

Yeah, me neither! I was sure this was going to be MY year where I accomplished or at least set off on my biggest life dreams. Instead I spent 90% of the year on the couch with an ice pack on my head trying to balance my migraines alongside my mental health.

That’s the way it goes, sometimes, or a lot of the time. But that’s okay because we get second chances, and third chances, and fourth. Pretty much the only thing we have to do at any given time is survive, and if we can do that then there’s hope for tomorrow.

I reread a favourite book recently, The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews (read it – it is pure magic!). At one point in the book one of the characters says (I’m paraphrasing here) that no matter what happens, it’s comforting to know that everything coming in our future will land on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

I find that comforting. We can count on things like calendar days, the sun rising and setting, and life always being a giant mess of good things and bad things and okay things and awesome things.

There’s hope for 2016 and it most likely won’t go according to plan. You never know, it might be the best year we’ve ever had. It’s possible! We have no freaking idea and that’s okay. That’s what makes life fun.

I’ll be here in 2016 and I hope you will be too. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, whatever you do or don’t celebrate, I’m so glad you’re here with me. That’s all that matters. We’re here, we’re surviving, and tomorrow is on the horizon.

*PUGS AND KISSES!*

LoveErin

 

ErinCelebrating 2015 & Having Hope for the Future

Why I Hand Out Daisies and Bruises Buttons to Strangers

ErinDay-to-Day Life, My Art, The Big Picture8 Comments

Why I Hand Out Daisies and Bruises Buttons to Strangers

If you got one of these from me, it’s a good thing!

I feel alone and invisible a lot. It’s part of having depression and I think it’s also part of just who I am.

I spend so much time in my head that I forget to interact with the outside world, and then when I don’t have any interaction for a while, I feel like no one notices me. When really, people are probably noticing me and I’m just unaware.

Only a few things will break me out of my “alone and invisible” spell. One of those things is when another person who appears to be having a rough day. It’s usually a stranger I see on the bus or sitting alone at a coffee shop.

Yet I want to respect the other person and their silence.  I know that when I’m feeling awful, I don’t usually want to talk to people I don’t know. Sometimes I actually want to be invisible. If a stranger were to talk to me at that moment I’d probably be very startled. So when I see another person who appears to be having a hard time I want to give them their space.

Here’s where it gets difficult because that’s the only time where I want to talk to people! I mean, I have to, I have to say SOMETHING because I feel like we’re related. Like we’re both from another planet that most people don’t know or talk about. Planet Depression. Planet Pain.

That’s when I hand out a Daisies and Bruises button. It’s me wanting to respect the person’s space and privacy while still giving them the message that they aren’t invisible to me.

I never stick around long enough to find out what the other person thinks. I shove the button into someone’s hands before making my exit.

Is that the right thing? I probably shouldn’t run from situations where I want to connect with someone. I’m too scared though. 

Does it help when I give out buttons? I have no idea.

Do people notice the a website on the button and think I’m some do-gooder who is promoting a service? Maybe. But here’s the TRUTH:

I make my buttons by hand. I make the design, use a circle press to punch it out, and then I put it through my small button maker, which both laminates the paper with mylar and presses it over a metal shell. I pop it out of the button maker and I stick the copper pin in the back of the shell. Finished!

I could send my design to a factory that could do all that repetitive work for me, but I like making my buttons one at a time. My hands touching my work so I can then hand it to you.

It’s personal. Daisies and Bruises is just a blog by a girl who has depression. I don’t run ads here because I’m doing this to help people, not market to them. I’m a writer, an artist, a fellow invisible-feeling sad person. Buttons make me happy. I hope my button makes you happy.

If you’re one of those people who found my blog through me giving you a button, and you’re so inclined, please do comment and let me know what you think.

LoveErin

 

 

 

P.S. Yes, the buttons are available here if you really want one. If you order a Daisies and Bruises button, you get an additional one in the envelope for free so you can share one with a friend, too.

ErinWhy I Hand Out Daisies and Bruises Buttons to Strangers

How to Be Strong

ErinNews Stories10 Comments

We can take care of ourselves and feel strong in this dangerous world. We’re all feeling scared as hell. (Ignore my shitty formatting here and read the good stuff)

One of my good friends and I have been talking about how childhood trauma prepares us for oncoming trauma, which we’re never ready for. Part of growing up in an earthquake is learning how to stay steady on your own.

Here’s what I know:

How to Be Strong

  • Recognize your strength. You can’t feel strong without accepting that you have strength. It takes strength to exist. If you’re existing, you are strong. Even if your depression coping skills could use some work, you’re still coping the best you can. Literally, I never started feeling strong until I accepted the fact that I could be much stronger than I feel. Ask someone who supports you how they think you are strong. They’ll give you a bunch of reasons if you can’t find them yourself!
  • Let Yourself Feel. I thought I was coping okay with all of the bad news in the world but today I surprised myself by breaking down crying. Crying never feels practical. It’s like this giant human inconvenience that saves us. I felt SO MUCH BETTER after crying. If you feel like being strong is hiding your emotions, think about this: what would happen to the violence in the world if everyone could sit down and cry? Literally all the violence would stop.
  • Don’t Hurt Yourself or Anyone Else. Even if you can’t see your strength or safely let yourself feel, hurting yourself only makes you weaker. You can’t be strong if you’re attacking yourself. The world hurts us badly enough without us resorting to hurting ourselves or hurting other people.
  • Do Your Thing And Trust It. Recognize that you can’t be perfect. I’m honestly feeling like a jerk right now because I literally know over 150 people in France and I haven’t talked with them in a long time. I am worried sick. Realistically today, though, what can I do? I can write. I can let them know I’m thinking of them. I can keep myself safe to promote a safe world. I can stop beating myself up for the things I can’t do and start doing things that I can do.

Tomorrow is never promised, but the best way to predict our tomorrow is to take care of ourselves and each other for today.

LoveErin

ErinHow to Be Strong

Please Wait for Me

ErinBlog Maintenance12 Comments

From a great day just over a week ago. Good days still exist! I hope to have more soon.

I had a great day just over a week ago. They still exist! They’re coming back.

Waiting is not something the Internet does very well, but I am asking you to wait for me because I am coming back. I am coming back in huge ways and I promise not to leave you behind.

What we’ve had here on Daisies and Bruises is magical. You’ve helped me, I’ve helped you, we’ve talked about depression together, breaking stigma and sharing in the delights left in our darkened lives.

My migraine treatment is colliding with my mental health treatment and vice versa. I have no idea what the hell is going on except that I’m in A LOT OF PAIN.

It’s making me question my entire life. I don’t like it but I’m trying to trust that this is part of my overall healing process.

As soon as I’m able I will be back here to pick up this magical thing we have created together. Please remember me and wait for me if you can. Things will get better. I know they will. I just have to hang on until they do.

Thank you for hanging on with me.

LoveErin

ErinPlease Wait for Me

Judging the Mental Health of People You Don’t Know

ErinThe Mental Health System15 Comments

phrenologyI’m really surprised at how much people compare their struggles to someone else’s without knowing the full story.

The other day I was sitting in a waiting room, ten minutes before seeing my psychiatrist. There were three other people in the waiting room and soon a name was called and two people stood up and left. It appeared as though one of them was the “patient” and the other person with them was there for moral support.

As soon as they’d left the waiting room, the remaining woman leaned over and said, “You know, I really feel sorry for people like that.”

She looked at me, clearly expecting a response. I just smiled a little and kept reading. I couldn’t focus though, thinking about what that woman had just said to me.

I remembered that I’d had the exact same experience the last time I’d been in that waiting room! It was a different person who had leaned over and said the same words to me, that they felt sorry for another patient.

This rarely ever happens to me outside of a doctor’s office setting. It really makes me angry.

I don’t feel “sorry” for anyone I don’t know. I feel compassion and respect for other people and leave it at that because I don’t know their story. Their story is their business, not mine.

Only my mental health is my business to comment on or judge, and even then, I’m biased.

I feel like people say things like, “I feel sorry for people like that” to somehow convince themselves that they “aren’t that sick, thank goodness.”

The woman might as well have said, “I’m glad I’m not that crazy.” And she assumed that maybe I wasn’t “that crazy” either and by making that comment we could somehow be on the same level of sanity. What the hell?!

No one knows what someone else is going through unless they ask them and know them. And even then, we shouldn’t judge. We all have biases that can offend others.

For example, I’m writing this blog post with as much description as I can so that you can imagine the situation, but I’m making judgements too. Like, I assumed it was a woman talking to me in the waiting room, but perhaps that person doesn’t identify as female. I don’t know their gender or what pronoun they prefer.

That’s why I don’t talk in waiting rooms. I am there for my health and no one else’s. Deal with your own life, your own problems, and don’t make assumptions about other people. Although it may be human nature for us to judge one another, most of us have a conscience to keep us from saying whatever pops into our brain.

My dad has this sign in his workshop that says, “Make sure brain is engaged before putting mouth into gear.”

My brain is engaged and I do my best not to comment on things I have no authority on.

If someone makes a similar comment to me in the future, maybe I will say, “I don’t know that person so I’m not judging them one way or another.”

Sometimes, though, it just is easier to smile and then bury my face in my book. Maybe that alone conveyed the message that I wasn’t into judging other people.

Can you relate to this story? What do you do in these situations?

(If you enjoy this blog, please consider leaving a donation! It really helps me afford necessities like food and wifi to keep me writing!)

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THANK YOU! *HUGS*

LoveErin

ErinJudging the Mental Health of People You Don’t Know

The Art of Living With a Depression Blog

ErinBlog Maintenance16 Comments

00migrainegirl1I need to update with what’s going on in my head even though I have no idea what to do with it all.

Ever since my videos with HealthiNation won an Emmy, the traffic to my blog has skyrocketed. It’s wonderful but man, I never intended for things to get this big! When this was just one blog out of kajillions, I felt more freedom and anonymity. And now everyone knows me as “that girl with depression.”

When I started writing here, I chose to blog about two things: Art and Depression. I felt like art had saved me from depression. I wanted to write about the balance between the two.

When HealthiNation did my videos, they touched on my art a little but they actually cut 90% of my art out of the end product because they wanted just to talk about depression.

Although my migraines are very complicated, they’ve only been this bad (as in several ER visits a month) since the HealthiNation videos came out. I am so stressed.

This blog is mine, I own it, so I can turn things around.

I’ve toyed with the idea of making this blog “The Art of Living” instead of “The Art of Living With Depression.” It’s always been about more than depression. It’s been about living life with its ups and downs. It’s about survival and hope and endurance and even fun, sometimes.

My dedicated readers know the real story of this blog. Not all of the new readers understand. I don’t know what to do.

My biggest problem at the moment is that it really hurts my head to be on the computer. I could totally handle changing this blog, editing what information about me is on here, adding a merchandise shop so that people could support me beyond paypal donations or having to leave to visit my Etsy shop. Even introducing a few appropriate advertising spots would give me a bit of an income which would totally help my stress levels and perhaps my migraines. Yet I can’t look at this screen for more than ten minutes at a time. My head hurts too much.

This is why I’ve been so quiet. I miss you so much. I miss what this blog used to be. I want to save it. I want to change it. I want to grow with it and keep connected.

I am just so overwhelmed. So this is why I’ve been quiet.

I’m trying some new migraine treatments which are supposed to help me a lot soon. Maybe that will help me enough so that I can be on the computer longer and figure this mess out.

I miss you. I miss Daisies and Bruises.

I’m staying in touch the best I can. If I can’t continue to write as often as I would like to via computer, I’m going to try to pick up my zinester role a bit more so that we can continue this healing journey through writing that doesn’t make my head explode. Plain paper is much easier on my eyes.

Life is so unpredictable. Wouldn’t you agree?

Thank you for sticking with me. Here’s to hoping for improvement for all of us. Give yourself a hug for me.  I’ll keep you updated.

(If you enjoy this blog, please consider leaving a donation! It really helps me afford necessities like food and wifi to keep me writing!)

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THANK YOU! *HUGS*

LoveErin

ErinThe Art of Living With a Depression Blog

A SWAT Team of Butterflies to Take Your Storm Clouds Away

ErinSurvival13 Comments

Swat Team ButterfliesI have so much to tell you! I feel stifled and so alone. I can’t focus and all I can write about is how much pain I’m in physically and emotionally, how tired I am, and how lost I feel. And just thinking about those things makes them worse. I am really really struggling.

It’s time to get creative. Get REALLY creative.

I’ve just decided to give myself permission to have imperfect blog posts for the rest of the month with a FREE PASS against self-judgement, worry, and negative self-talk. Any time I catch myself beating myself up with mean thoughts, I’m going to imagine a giant stop sign. Maybe it will flash bright red. Alarms will go off!  A SWAT team of tiny butterflies will come in and take my storm clouds away.

Maybe you’re having a shitty summer too. Okay, so let’s make the rest of the August less shitty together. Here’s your assignment: imagine an alarm system that will go off if you beat yourself up with mean thoughts about yourself. Borrow my butterfly SWAT team idea if you want.

Now, every time your SWAT team comes in, head on over to YouTube and search “the best of _____,” filling the blank in with your favourite movie or tv character of all time. Watch at least one video of clips extending past five minutes. I’m going to watch Adventure Time: Best of Jake the Dog. Then I’m going to watch The Best of Doug the Pug.

If you don’t have a favourite movie or tv character you can think of, search for a video of your favourite animal. Don’t stop watching videos of that animal until you feel better.

Thank you for sticking with me as I struggle and get quiet sometimes. There are some really big and exciting changes coming up for Daisies and Bruises! I just need to start feeling a little better, a little bit more like myself, and then we’re going to create some serious positive changes for ourselves.

In the meantime, small blog posts like this with creative instructions will continue! Now go watch your favourite characters and animals on YouTube! If you get in trouble at work, blame it on me! :D

I love you and never stop thinking about you and this blog, even when I’m at rock rock bottom. The good thing about rock bottom is that it leaves you nowhere to go but up!

LoveErin

ErinA SWAT Team of Butterflies to Take Your Storm Clouds Away

When Someone You Love Decides to Die from Suicide

ErinSurvival18 Comments

When someone you love decides to die by suicide, you are left feeling shaken to the core. Someone in my extended family died by suicide ten days ago. I’m really really upset.

I loved this family member very very much, but I couldn’t afford the $1000 plane ticket to go to his funeral. I feel so guilty for not being physically there to pay my respects. To grieve.

And I feel so guilty because I thought I was this mental health expert. And I am…I just didn’t see this coming. I hadn’t talked to this family member in years. Not beyond Facebook message.

We’d lost touch after his wife had died. And his kids grew up, I grew up, our lives changed. Yet I thought we were part of this unspoken agreement to stay there for one another. To stay ALIVE for one another.

I realize that no matter how much I educate myself on mental health, I can’t protect anyone from their pain. And I want to. I want to save everyone.

This hurts so much. This inability to do anything to help hurts so much. This family member he took action that ended his chances for ever getting help.

I feel angry and I feel guilty. I feel nauseous. I feel love. I feel regret.

I feel this like a punch in the stomach that never stops landing. I feel shaken, like a ghost is screaming at me to DO SOMETHING and I can’t move a muscle. It’s too late. I’m too late.

I know from experience that when I’ve felt suicidal, I was not rational. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I couldn’t think straight. There was no room in my head to contemplate how my death would devastate everyone I knew. All I could think was, “I HAVE TO MAKE THIS FEELING STOP RIGHT NOW.”

Having written that last paragraph, I feel a little less guilty about not somehow being able to save this person I care so much about. As far as I know, he was trying to make his feelings stop in the only way he felt he could.

That does not mean his decision to end his life was acceptable or right. But…it happened. He died. It’s too late for any of us to help him. He made it too late.

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

I hate my life a lot of the time, but I love it enough to keep going. I feel so thankful for that.

All I can do is keep my life jacket on and remain floating. I can’t look down into the depths of the ocean. I have to look at the sky. The giant sky that is there for me to take in. It’s there for you, too.

When you can’t keep swimming, just stay afloat.

ErinWhen Someone You Love Decides to Die from Suicide

Beating Depression Through Art

ErinCraft Projects10 Comments

How doing what I love, even when I'm too depressed, makes me feel 100 times better

It’s colouring time!

I always talk about starting small when you’re overwhelmed, doing something you love even if your depression has taken the fun out of it. I’ve been feeling so awful lately that I figured it was time to put some of my own advice into practice.

I decided to do the simplest art project I could think of: colouring. I found a simple design online, printed it out, and coloured it in with magic markers. I enjoyed it so much I did a second one, too!

It was really hard to make myself do this, mainly because I could think of 500 other more important things I “should” be doing with my time. I’ve been too sick to stay on top of dishes or laundry or any of those things that we actually need to do to keep our life in functioning order.

But I just can’t do those things right now. I can’t. I haven’t the mental energy or the physical energy.

Art is one thing that used to make me feel like me. So I put “feeling like me again” ahead of the dishes and laundry.

Beating Depression Through Art

 

I really pushed myself to do something I would find fun, even though it didn’t feel like fun at first. It took a week for me to find a design, print it out, find space to colour, sit down, choose markers, etc, but I still did it. AND I ENJOYED IT! So much that I did a second colouring page:

Beating Depression Through Art

 

Colouring is a really soothing activity, whether you enjoy art or not. Don’t overthink it, just pick some colours. If even that is overwhelming, use a cool colour scheme (blue, purple, green) or a warm colour scheme (red, yellow, orange), like I did.

Visit my Pinterest board called “Colour Me” to see lots of colouring pages! If you want to colour some snazzy motivational words like the ones I did, you can find the “Dream” and “Confidence” pages here.

Colouring didn’t solve any of my adult life problems like doing chores, but it made life feel like less of a chore. Totally worth it.

LoveErin

 

 

 

P.S. If you have any spare change, I could really use some laundry money. Or, feel free to leave a note with any donation with suggestions toward self-care and personal growth:

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THANK YOU! *HUGS*

ErinBeating Depression Through Art