Can Optimism Live Inside Depression?

I try to be optimistic. What many of you may not know is optimism doesn’t come easily to me. It used to be easy to be optimistic when I was younger but life has a way of beating you down,and chemical changes in your body, and pessimistic environments can add to the problem because misery loves company. I sank into the mire of the muck of life.

I think I have battled depression since the birth of my third child. That seemed to trigger something inside of me. Not only was I prone to crying and doom and gloom, I was prone to anxiety. Professionals told me it was depression brought on by chemical changes  along with some things in my personal life that might be a trigger, but I didn’t listen. After all what did professionals know? And I didn’t like the way the pills they gave me made me feel. Looking back I believe if I would have believed the professionals, I would have had to look at some things in my personal life that were not working and I wasn’t ready to do that.

But I functioned, smiled on the outside, laughed, and kept on going. I can’t say I was debilitated by depression but I always felt a sadness on the inside, a numbed joy. I didn’t alway experience joy the way I felt other people did but I kept smiling on the outside. I kept telling people I loved what I was doing and I kept busy so I didn’t have to examine what I was feeling on the inside.

I raised my family with my husband. I was the ultimate volunteer. I was a good employee at jobs I claimed I loved, and life kept hopping along.

A few years ago after a couple of breaks of bones, deaths in the family and a change in our life financial circumstances I became ill. It was an actual physical illness that I could not seem to recover from–pneumonia, drugs causing a serious case of acid reflux disease and severe depression and anxiety. I could not leave my house–I did not want visitors–even my children and grandchildren and they didn’t want to be around this basket case of a person anyway.

I had a few friends that stood by me through thick and thin. They did not abandon me in my depression and anxiety and neither did my family. My daughter, who is a Pastor, was especially helpful and told me I needed time to grieve all that had happened in the ten years before. I had kept on going like an energizer bunny through everything and I hadn’t taken the time to grieve the loss of my mother, our secure financial position, a divorce in the family, a change of jobs and starting a new business I really didn’t want to start, although I didn’t admit that to anyone. I had to let my dog go who I loved deeply because it was thought he was part of the problem. My best friends had also moved. All of these life changes took me down and I didn’t want to get back up. I might also add that during the past year I had went off a low dose of medication I had started after a severely broken leg and surgery. I had been taking  it to to help with the anxiety triggered by that break and months holed up in my house. I felt it was a weakness and so I tapered off and quit the medicine.

I had cried and smiled during the last ten years and I could smile no more. I had days when I felt I couldn’t go on and I know God is good because at the exact moment I was crying for help I would get a phone call from an unexpected source saying, “God just put on my heart that I needed to call you right now.” Those phone calls got me through another day and another night. I might add, although I never considered suicide, I can understand because when you are drowning in anxiety and depression you just want the pain to stop.

Little by little I found my way back, through prayer and small steps. I began to write on this blog a silly story. Each day I woke up with the next chapter in my mind. I distanced myself from things that were causing toxic feelings in my life, that made me feel less then. I found positive people to be with, meaning they had a positive outlook on life. Their glass was half full instead of half empty. I read positive stories, began a gratitude journal and a prayer journal. I read encouraging blogs and happy upbeat stories. Every day I felt a little better.

The best thing I did was reach out to the readers of my column and explain the problems I was having. One of the most difficult things during this time was trying to write an upbeat column week after week. There was no creativity inside of me and I fear it showed in the columns I wrote. Once I shared with others what I was going through the the real healing began.

I am sharing this because I know there are others out there like me. I feel my life has become about my books and silly writing and my goal is to make people people smile and laugh. I think I am doing that.

I feel by not sharing the other part of the process I am being deceitful. Sharing optimism helps me stay optimistic, but for me it is not always easy. Every day I wake up and that chemical or gloom and doom person rises to the head of my morning and I have to make a decision to find something postitive to start my day. I need something to feed me and if I don’t do that, my day is up and down or down. For me, and I imagine for many other people it is work maintaining a positive attitude.

There are some days I just can’t do it. I wallow in self-pity, gloom and doom and tears. There are some days I just have to do that. I can’t pretend it isn’t there anymore and I let myself have that time to mourn, grieve and cry. Of course this affects my health and then I usually spend another day visiting my beautiful bathroom. Sometimes those days come when I spend the week or days letting cutting words, others opinions and worry reign in my heart without acknowledging these things are bothering me. Again, I am toughing through it and smiling on the outside. But I now know when this is happening I know I need to find something positive to feed myself.

We live in a real world that is not always positive. It can take us down if we let it. I have to fight everyday to not let myself be taken down again. I have admitted and take a very small dose of an anti-anxiety drug again, I have meditations that I use and positive reinforcements on hand all the time. I love the smell of lavender as it calms me down. Each person has to find their own way through the maze of sadness that might take them down.

This morning,after one tough day this weekend, I felt I needed to share because I want others to know there is hope, but it might be work to find it, but it is worth it because living with optimism, gratitude and joy will change your life. You need to know it is fine if you can’t feel that everyday. That is my opinion only. Every person needs to find what gives them joy and go with it.

This blog is usually about my books but I think I am going to change it out a little and make the blog on my website about my books and my writing. My goal has always been to make someone’s day a little brighter and a little better but I don’t think I can do that if I am not real and own my feelings. So that’s it. I don’t know where this is going to lead but I will share my days, my ups and downs. I hope you will do the same and if this post wasn’t what you expected I apologize, but I felt it needed to be shared so if there is one person that has felt the same way I have, it will help them to know there is light waiting for them in the world.

I have this painted on my bathroom wall. It reminds me everyday to look for the crystal rain.image

Does Your Community Have A Gratitude Attitude?

My column from the week of February 22 in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel.

Boris the shysterCan a negative attitude make or break a community? It is always interesting talking to people when they move to a new community. Does negativity itch, get scratched, become infected, and break open and spread to an entire community?

I was feeling the negativity recently in conversations with different groups of people. Some outsiders, you know, those who move into a small community but never fit in because — gasp — they aren’t from here, remarked that it was hard living in a community always being reminded they couldn’t do something a new way because it has always been done a certain way and they wouldn’t understand because they aren’t from here.

Another group was complaining about businesses and business owners and things not being the way they thought they should be, so they would never support the business again and they would tell everyone about it.

Another conversation was with business owners. They told the opposite tale of nothing ever being right no matter how hard they tried. And admitting they weren’t always cordial to their customers because it was hard keeping the smile on their face day in and day out in the face of such negativity.

As a former business owner, as a customer and as a person who moved to a smaller and new community for a short time, I could identify with the feelings of all of these groups. I have been the crabby customer, I have been the crabby business owner and I have felt like the outsider. I must say all of these situations fed the negativity in me, the negativity that resides in all of us, and festers if it is fed by our contact with each other.

Here’s a little tip, not everything that is said is entirely accurate all the time so as Mr. Negativity is fed, it grows sometimes with untruths and explodes. Pretty soon we all jump on the bandwagon and join in because we want to fit in to the conversation.

There is a saying in business that the customer is always right, but I don’t know if I agree with that premise in the world we live in today. My reasoning comes from a phone call I received when I was in business. The phone call actually wasn’t for my business, it was a wrong number but when I picked up the phone the language and screaming coming out of the other end was not for the faint of heart. I asked who they were calling and they named the business. I told them who they had reached, and they profusely apologized and hung up. The phone rang again, it was the same caller, and they apologized again for their language and their rudeness as it was to be directed at another business. My thoughts were why apologize if they were going to call the other business and repeat the mistake message I had heard. No business owner deserves to be treated to verbal abuse.

They say it takes 10 compliments to cancel out an insult. As an author, I get reviews on my books and most of my reviews are positive but it is the one negative that I always remember and the same can be said for things said in our communities.

Bullying wasn’t a big factor for me when I was growing up. I can only remember two instances in my middle school and teen years when it happened to me. The key is I remember those instances, the negativity directed towards me, more than I remember some of the positive complements or experiences during those years. And I remember who directed those attacks. The memories of those people’s actions have lived on for more than 45 years.

The best way to keep our communities from growing — the best way to close our businesses — is to not support them by our words, what we say and by how we treat those who are new, those who choose to run their businesses and those who chose to shop and visit our businesses in our communities.

Choose to help our communities and our businesses grow by planting seeds of encouragement and positivity instead of feeding the weeds of negativity shutting down anything positive that is trying to peek up between those weeds. The choice is ours. Our communities health may depend on it

 

 

How Did The World Get So Topsy-Turvy?

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf
Published in the Albert Lea Tribune on October 12, 2015

bad dayWe don’t live in an optimistic world; at least we don’t if we listen to ever-present media. There are days I want to say “Stop the world, I want to get off.” I do want to go on living in this world, but I can’t believe some of the things I hear or see. It makes me sad, and I want to stop and isolate myself from everything. The news drags me down, and it sucks the breath out of the optimism of life. When I let those feelings influence me, I quit seeing the beautiful world God created for all of us.

As humans, we spend our time arguing about happenings that make people so desperate they have to pull out their guns and massacre innocent people. We ask ourselves why our kids are so stressed and anxious, many having to be put on medication. We ask ourselves how sick we have to be before we can go to the doctor because we can’t afford it. We are scared to speak because it might offend someone or we might say something that is not politically correct, and we will be bombarded in the media for innocently not knowing what we said was not acceptable. Homeowners have to be careful what they build or put in their yards so as to not get citations or get ticketed.

We lock our doors and put in alarm systems to be safe. We lock down our schools. We subject ourselves to searches at airports because of terrorism. Movie theaters are now putting in safety precautions and we are talking about building walls to keep people out to keep us safe. We believe we need to own guns that are semi-automatic weapons; the simple shotgun or rifle or pistol are not enough because they don’t shoot out rounds of ammunition at one time, because it is our right to bear arms and we need to protect ourselves.

We accept all of this — in the name of safety. I think we accept all of this in the name of fear. Fear in our nation is spiraling out of control and putting restrictions on our way of life as we once knew it.

Yet, foul language on television and on the Internet and in the news is rampant. The violence on the shows on television glorifies automatic weapons and murder and violence. Reality shows where everything goes are popular viewing along with disrespect for every avenue of society. The more violence the better the show, or the more we peer into the personal lives of people, the more popular the show. We hang on all the celebrity news waiting to see who trashes who.  And now a new online site is opening up so viewers can critique people. You can give them one to five stars as you do books and give them a review.  We as a general public have filters, and the media does not.

We have turned things around from the ’50s and ’60s. In those days, television and news were censored. Today television and news and the Internet are not censored, but we, the common American person, are. Everything seems acceptable in the news, television and Internet media, but in real life people are censored as to how we can live, what we can say and can be tracked wherever we go.

A news article, yes I did read the news that day, noted a Twin Cities suburb where people were fined and hauled off to jail because they left a ladder by their house or their garbage container was sitting in front of their garage. I shudder to think what would have happened if they had painted their house an unacceptable color. In another city, a father had to take down a treehouse they had built for their son because it wasn’t accepted by the city’s building code. It was a common tree house, the kind we built all the time when we were growing up.

An apple farm didn’t think when they put up a sign that somewhat mimicked the Black Lives matter movement. I must admit I didn’t think anything of it when I saw the sign. I didn’t connect the two, but they were raked over the coals on the media.

In the workplace we have to be careful so we don’t call women girls. I am old and happen to like being called a girl once in a while. I thought nothing of it when someone would joke with me and call me a girl or blondie when they walked into the office where I worked.

I wonder if today we don’t take ourselves too seriously. There is a common sense line with all of these subjects but I wonder if we haven’t crossed the line in the other direction so much so that it impedes upon our freedom.

An article in my local newspaper, the Wells Mirror, highlighted a family of three generations of law enforcement, the Linde family. The first generation of this family was police chief when I was a teenager. I cannot tell you how much respect I had for this man and now have for the rest of his family. They work to keep us safe.

I also have a friend from a four-generation law enforcement family. Three years ago the fourth member, a Montana state trooper, was gunned down on a Montana highway while stopping to help what he thought was a stranded motorist. The man was lying in wait for a law enforcement official to kill. These are only two families of many that work hard to protect our freedoms. I was raised to respect that uniform and to thank them for their service, especially with the ever increasing danger they face today.

We again have turned things around in this day and age and many are trying to make our law enforcement agencies the enemy.

This old brain doesn’t understand. This old brain mourns for what our children do not know they have lost because they have never known the freedoms we knew. How did the world get so topsy-turvy?

The world I grew up in wasn’t perfect. Maybe it only seemed as if we had more freedom. Maybe the adults of the ’50s and ’60s felt the same way then when they were at the age I am now. I don’t have answers.  I only have questions.

 

“Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear and superstition.” —Bernard Beckett