Jonna Jinton is an artist and content creator from northern Sweden. I first discovered her when searching for videos about my “home country” – Denmark. The beauty in her videos is what turned me into a fan. She’s also a musician and a bit of a humanitarian and has won awards.
I did NOT expect to cry over this video message. If you have an hour and need some uplifting messages today…. watch this please. She collected videos from people around the globe and just wow. She received thousands of videos from her fans which now reach over 4 million.
“You have a reason to be here”
“The true religion is kindness. Let’s just be kind to each other.”
Trust me. It’s worth a watch.
And trust me – you will need tissues. I am bawling over this.
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The worst part of depression episodes and what I’ve learned from living with depression — it’s usually worse in winter months.
It isn’t that you want to sleep all the time which you do. Sometimes from 8 hours, to 12 hours, to 36 hours and you’re still tired.
It isn’t that you isolate yourself and sabotage relationships, though that can happen. The thought of talking to another human being takes a lot of effort some days.
It isn’t like there’s a button you can turn it on and off at will. Depression comes and goes when it wants to. Some have it easier than others. For others, there’s no turning it off. Ever.
It isn’t the fact that even though you know you need a shower, just mustering up the energy to have one can take up ALL the energy you have for that day.
It isn’t the fact that even eating or sitting outside can make you feel better, but it feels like a chore. Eventually you lose your appetite too.
It isn’t the fact that you do lose friends over it – and it happens again and again. But new ones will come along. They always do.
It’s the fact that you can’t clean and let basic day to day tasks slide. My place has been such a disaster. Having regular company kept me motivated to clean. Now…I’m finally doing a massive clean up for the first time since before Christmas. Because I finally have the energy to do so.
It’s all energy. Either you have it. Or you don’t. And when you don’t have it, the simplest of tasks can’t be done.
I call it post-depressive episode cleaning. And today, it feels good.
Decluttering the home. And the mind too.
There is a light at the end of what seemed like a long and dark tunnel. Today was a good day. I hope this energy lasts. The longer days are helping and they’ll get longer and longer too.
Make the most of those good days. You just gotta take it day by day.
Mindfulness is described as being the state of being aware or a state that keeps you in the present moment – instead of dwelling on the past, or worrying about future events that you have no control over.
As someone who struggles with anxiety, this is difficult for me but also a necessary part of healing and moving forward in life. In addition to incorporating daily spiritual practices, I thought I would share some ideas and tips on how you can practice mindfulness in your daily life.
These are things you can do from anywhere – even if you’re on the road or traveling. It won’t cost you anything and you only need minimal supplies.
My spiritual workings involve a lot of meditation, journaling and doing a lot of these things already – so, don’t be surprised if some of my advice is overlapping in some areas.
Start your day with intent
Something I’ve always done as an anxious person, is wake up in the morning and run through a list of things that I need to get done for the day. I keep calendars and sticky notes with reminders of important tasks or appointments that I can’t miss. I run through plans multiple times in my head to make sure that I won’t be late or miss anything I need to do.
Now that I’m not working, my to do list is a lot shorter. So, it’s important for me to find things to do during the day that fill up the time and give me a sense of purpose (as health and symptoms allow for). Some days, all I can do is sleep if I have a migraine or in a lot of pain. On those good days, like today – I feel motivated and try to be productive where I can.
Take some time after you wake up, or during your morning routine to think about what you want to accomplish that day. Whether it’s finding time for yourself to meditate. Or get that workout in. Or go for a walk. Visit with a friend. Whatever it may be – set an intention for you that brings you joy. Even if it’s something like buying a coffee and drinking it while listening to music.
Check in with yourself during the day. Make adjustments if necessary to fit it in with your schedule. Remind yourself why this is important to you and why it is needed. The more you do this, the easier it will become a habit for you.
Rinse and repeat – every day, until this becomes second nature to you. Soon, you won’t even need a journal or to write things down. You’ll train yourself to be able to just follow through. The important thing is not to give up on those down days when you’re feeling low. Don’t be too hard on yourself. And don’t set unrealistic intentions. Start small and work your way up.
Mindful Eating and Exercise
Too often, I find myself eating meals at my computer while watching my favorite YouTube channels or binge watching shows in the evening. Sometimes, I eat so fast, that I feel hungry within an hour or two, and then crave junk food which always makes me feel worse.
One thing that can help with weight loss and improving eating habits in general, is to be more mindful of how you eat – now just what you eat.
Take a few deep breaths before eating. Calm your mind. This works better if you eat meals alone or on your breaks. Eat slower, chew slowly. Enjoy every bite you take.
Eat the foods you love – don’t force yourself to eat foods you’re not a fan of. Eating should be pleasurable. If weight loss is your goal. do research into healthy meals – there are lots of foods out there that can help you meet your goals, you just have to put a little time and effort into them.
Listen to your body. Pay attention to how hungry you are. If your stomach is getting full, don’t force yourself to eat all the food in front of you. Package some of it up for later. Or eat smaller meals throughout the day. This will depend greatly on any medical conditions you have or special diet requirements. Eat to sustain your energy, not because you are bored or feeling sad.
Look at your relationship with food – do you have healthy eating habits? Do you often forget to eat or skip meals? Do you eat out of boredom or to help with grief or strong feelings? Once you recognize your eating patterns, you can work on your relationship with food. You may need to recruit a professional therapist or counsellor if you really struggle with it.
Move a little every day – You don’t have to get an expensive gym membership or build a full gym at home to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Start small. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Go for a walk on your break. Go to the mall and walk the halls in winter months. You can do things like yoga or pilates at home. As long as you move at least 15-20 minutes daily, you’ll notice a shift in how you feel overall.
Meditation to strengthen your focus
As someone with undiagnosed ADD, I struggle a lot with focusing on specific intentions or tasks. I easily get distracted or become disinterested in things the moment I get started on. Even with this article, I started on it five hours ago – and have worked out, cooked dinner and completed other tasks that I could have waited on.
Meditation can really help strengthen your focus. This can be done by focusing on your breathing, listening to music, or doing something physical like yoga. For me, music is my meditation. Or I have to force myself to lie down and try and clear out thoughts that are running a mile a minute in my busy and anxious brain.
Here are some types of meditations you can do, to help “slow your roll” and that may help to strengthen your focus.
Deep breathing exercises
Body scan meditation (lay down, relax, focus on breathing)
Sitting meditation (with intent)
Walking meditation (connect with nature)
Music meditations – binaural beats, alpha, or theta (I’ll write another article on this)
Bullet journaling or practicing or writing
This is something that is new to me and I have a private journal I write in often, especially on those low days where I want to keep thoughts to myself. On good days, I’ll write a post here or share with my friends.
Using a daily bullet style journal is a very useful tool for practicing the art of mindfulness. It’s about self-exploration, writing down thoughts that come to you or questions that might come up. You can jot down your feelings about certain events or situations. Or you can create lists of intentions and things you want to accomplish.
You can do this the old fashioned way, on pen and paper. Or you can download journals from sites like Etsy and use on your tablets. Journaling has come a long way and you can tailor something to help meet your bulleting needs.
I try and write a little every day. Whether in this blog, my private journals, or working on my short stories and books. This is a hobby for me, and helps me relax.
Why is mindfulness is important?
If you’re a person like me that struggles with anxiety, adding these practices to my daily life can not only give me something positive to focus on, but also can greatly reduce the number of panic attacks or anxiety attacks I might have in a given day.
Living with chronic pain and a disability can be difficult to manage – especially on those days where it seems like just getting out of a bed can be a chore. I felt a lot of guilt for not being able to work, and now, I’m accepting this is life now. And I’m making the most of the time I have here. This blog is a hobby for me and I’m writing about issues that bring me joy.
Mindfulness can help manage illnesses like generalized anxiety, depression and other mental health issues that you might struggle with. If you live with daily pain like I do, it might even help boost your serotonin (the happy hormone) or dopamine, and give you energy needed to get your daily tasks done.
You may even find over time, that your relationships become easier to manage as you learn new coping techniques for stressful events. You learn what’s worth fighting for, and what’s worth letting go of – even if it hurts.
Learning to work with things you can control, and letting go of what you cannot control, is honestly a game changer when it comes to mindfulness. Knowing that you’re doing the best you can, in extraordinary circumstances, focusing on what you can do, while letting the universe take the wheel for the rest.
What are some ways that you incorporate mindfulness into your busy routine?
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This is going to be a bit of a rant, but I’m tired of getting shit upon for going through a depression.
Depression isn’t something you can just shut off. Like anxiety, it’s part of your genetic makeup. It’s a chemical process in the brain that happens when life gets to be too much. Sometimes it happens for no reason at all.
It comes and goes as if it were a living and breathing organism and you have zero control over it. Yes, you can take medications, go to therapy, do all the healthy things to “snap out of it” – but you cannot just will it to go away.
Positive thinking and attitudes are great. But with depression – you see the worst of everything until it finally passes. You might cry daily. Or sleep. Or isolate and want to hide and be alone in your feelings. Which sometimes makes it worse.
But what I cannot stand.
Is those “I need positive friends” all the time people.
People aren’t positive ALL the time. If they are, trust me, when I say they are masking their pain.
Sure, having a positive outlook on life can help. But people aren’t meant to be happy and positive all the time. Life is all about karmic lessons and challenges that throw you off your game.
I’ll say it again.
People who are showing positivity ALL the time are masking it. They’re putting on a show. Some people are just more open and honest about their feelings. And that was never a problem for me before.
But when you hit rock bottom – you find out quickly who your friends are. And those people that stick by you, will surprise you most. I also find that this is a good time to make a clean sweep and start over. Make room for new friendships and connections to form.
Dropping someone as a friend when they are at their worst or in a serious depression, is more about them than you.
It’s not normal to be positive ALL the fucking time. And while I don’t see myself as a “negative nilly” all the time – I’m not the type to sugar coat my moods or hide my true feelings about something.
So. This phase of my life is more about finding friends that are similar to me and real.
Because let’s be real.
You can’t just shut depression on and off light a light bulb.
You can’t just shut feelings on and off. Well, some people can but I’m not one of them. I feel everything and strongly.
When one door closes it – use that fucking door to let someone new in who will appreciate you for ALL of you and the lessons they could learn from you.
For me, I’m grateful for the new friends I’ve made in recent months. They have shown me what support really looks like. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
People are temporary. Feelings are temporary. It’s those that stand by you during your lowest times – those are the connections and people that you treasure.
Anxiety and depression doesn’t just “Shut off” at will. And those who don’t live with anxiety, just don’t get it. Find people that “get” you.
I know I said I wasn’t going to post today but after a minor disagreement with a family member this morning about attending a birthday party, I thought I would share some information on joint instability and what it’s like to live with chronic joint pain and dislocations.
This is one of the reasons that I started this blog – not only to vent about daily issues but also to promote awareness around this horrible disease.
Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders
As a small child, I was diagnosed with hypermobility joint syndrome. Or back then, they called it “knock knees.” It was through recent research and chatting with other “Zebras,” that I learned the this term is outdated. People who live with hypermobile joints are now diagnosed with Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders or Hypermobility Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS).
Here’s a picture of me in 1985 after corrective knee surgery to stabilize my right knee. It was such a traumatic experience that I’ve been afraid of surgeries since.
What is HSD?
Joint hypermobility in layman’s terms means having overly flexible or extendable joints. Some people may experience full dislocations – where the joint pops completely out of place. Or partial dislocations, also called subluxation of the joints. Others may experience locking or popping of the joints which is equally as painful, if not more frustating.
However, hypermobility doesn’t just affect the joints. There are many symptoms and comorbidities that come with hypermobile disorders. There are some lucky individuals that have minor or very few symptoms with HSD. And then there are others like me, who win the “joint lotto” and have a multitude of health problems.
Common symptoms of HSD
The more common symptoms that affect patients with HSD include the following (but not limited to):
Chronic joint pain: and fatigue with early signs of osteoarthritis or osteoporosis and constant state of brain fog (memory loss, poor concentration or sleep)
Trauma: frequent dislocations or subluxations – usually the knees or fingers and toes. Those who experience dislocations in more than one area of the body (fingers, knees, toes, shoulders) may also be diagnosed with hEDS.
Physical markers: other musculoskeletal disorders can also be an indicator of hypermobile joints. These include flat feet, misaligned bones, mild scoliosis, and reduced bone mass that can result in compression fractures.
Common symptoms of hEDS
(Ehlers Danlos Syndrome)
The following is a list of symptoms that I’ve gathered from online support groups. It came as quite a shock as I suffer from quite a few of these issues myself. This list has been gathered from chatting with other hEDS patients and months of my own research.
Stretchy or elastic skin that is slow to heal from cuts and bruises or skin that is prone to bruising without trauma.
Velvety skin or translucent skin where veins are more visible.
Small or non-existent earlobes that often result in chronic ear infections or popping and clicking of the ears
Vitamin deficiencies or the body is unable to process vitamins naturally. More commonly iron (anemia), vitamin c and vitamin D3.
Prone to bleeding conditions or after surgical procedures.
POTS – a condition that causes lightheadedness when standing up or lying down, or just moving too quickly.
IBS or chronic GI issues; bladder issues and loss of bladder control
MCAS – mass cell activation that exasperates ear, nose and throat infections or activity. This includes frequent incidents with hives, edema, or low blood pressure. Asthma is not uncommon with hEDS.
Organ prolapse – my uterus collapsed in 2013 and I can’t have children because of it. For others, they might lose a kidney or gallbladder – also true for me. I lost my gallbladder in 2000.
Mental health and neuro: Anxiety and depression, chronic migraines and headaches
What causes hypermobility?
Joint hypermobility is often heredity and can run in the family. In my case, there is a family history of protein disorders and musculoskeletal disorders like scoliosis. But for me, I’m the only one who has hypermobile joints. So, what causes it?
Collagen is a protein that is found all over the body in skin and ligaments. These ligaments help to protect your joints from serious injuries or trauma. People with hypermobile joints tend to have weaker collagen or another more serious connective tissue disorder.
If the collagen is weaker than it should be, this can present problems later in life with dislocations and subluxations. Popping or clicking of joints are also common issues that result in chronic and widespread pain and fatigue.
Living with HSD or hEDS
Unfortunately, there is no cure for hypermobility or hEDS and the prognosis is often poor. There are some people that are lucky and have only a few symptoms or very minor subluxations that don’t cause pain. But for people like me that suffer from full dislocations – this can seriously impact daily life.
Many patients with hypermobility are often misdiagnosed with Fibromyalgia. This was the case for me back in 2012-2013 I was finally referred to a rheumatologist. The guy was nice enough to deal with. He spent some time with me to cover all my issues and even referred me to a pain clinic. I had some help. But the misdiagnosis led to what possibly might be a missed diagnosis of osteoporosis. It wasn’t until I switched family doctors that I finally got a referral to a geneticist.
For me, it’s a bit too late. I’m almost forty-five and have multiple compression fractures throughout my body, evidence of bone degeneration and bone growth on my knee and shoulder. It’s been a hard diagnosis to accept. But it also makes a lot of sense.
Diagnosis and treatment
For others who get a diagnosis early on, the many comorbidities of hEDS and HSD can be managed by seeing the right specialists. What really helps is to gather as much documentation as you can with x-ray results, lab results or chart notes with diagnoses. Other useful information might be family history, and a complete list of your symptoms, no matter how small they might be.
I should have changed doctors when I presented a carefully thought out list to my family doc of more than 15 years and she was insulted. “What am I going to do with this?” I thought that was a normal reaction. Turns out I was wrong – it was unprofessional of her. She also got mad when I did any research on my own. I should have sought out a second opinion long ago.
Rheumatology (pain and joints issues)
Neurology (migraines, headaches, neuro issues)
Orthopedist (feet issues)
Physio therapy or occupational therapist
Family doctor (for referrals, medications,etc)
For treatment, that will depend on the severity of symptoms. For me, I’m in constant pain. There are varying levels of pain that change from day to day. A compression fracture in my spine has resulted in wedging (arthritis). I also have bone degeneration in my left shoulder and bone spurs in my right knee. I only just learned of this in September 2021.
This past weekend, I also wiped out on a patch of ice and fully dislocated my left knee. It wasn’t my first bad fall and it won’t be my last.
The point is, the earlier you get a diagnosis, the more chances you might have of a healthier life. A healthy diet. Healthy weight loss. Regular and low impact exercise like swimming, or resistance training can help to keep joints healthy.
Seeing the right doctor who takes the time to listen to you and is willing to make referrals is also key.
If your doctor dismisses your concerns and tells you it’s all in your head or to lose weight like my doctor did for many years — it’s time to see a new doctor.
Throughout my research, I was able to find a plethora of resources and supports. This research has helped to learn about my disability and how I can work on getting as healthy as I can.
If you are in the process of getting a diagnosis and need assistance, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments. I’m more than happy to offer advice. It can be a frustrating process – I know. But you are not alone. That’s what this blog is for. To share my experiences and to inform. And also to bring awareness to rarer diseases that many people don’t know about!
If you’d like to learn more about the comorbidities of hEDS, then please feel free to check out my Living Well series. It’s definitely not a new idea – I’m just sharing my own personal experiences to help others like me.
I’m not going to apologize for not writing as much as usual this week. Sometimes I need to take breaks. And other times, I just don’t feel like cooking. That’s what this week has been. But I have some ground beef defrosting in the fridge and perhaps I’ll make a meatloaf and share my recipe with you later today.
I think I just realized why I’ve been quieter this month and haven’t had too many things to say. With COVID, things have been tough as you all know and probably feel for yourselves. My dad is in stage five with Parkinsons and he’s in long-term care. Cases are on the rise and they’re talking about another lockdown. My dad barely survived the last one.
With Parkinsons, comes dementia. Dad had a hard time remembering what was going on from day to day. He went from seeing his kids almost daily between me and my sister. To not seeing anyone for months at all. The depression kicked in. He mostly slept and cried all day, everyday. We were told he was getting the help he needed but he wasn’t.
We’re looking at moving him into the next level of care but this process could take a long time. Up to a year. I’m hoping we can move him closer to my sister so I can visit them more too. They live in Sherwood Park. If that’s the case, then when I move in the spring, I might move closer that way. It makes more sense.
So, I’m really worried about an impending lockdown. Not seeing my dad for months on end nearly killed me too. I live alone. The isolation was damaging.
The other reason I’m not too talkative this week. I turned down a funeral through the church two weeks ago. I played for a funeral last Saturday. And there’s another funeral coming up this Saturday and our family knew the deceased.
Music is something I’ve done for most of my life. It used to bring me such joy. Now with COVID, all the fun parts are gone – seeing people, connecting, meeting new people. It’s not the same. And funerals in general are hard. They’re so hard since dad got sick. He’s my only parent left. I’ve lost all my grandparents – years ago.
I’ve even lost some old friends this year. And it sucks when you can’t even go to the funeral because, COVID.
And so, grief has taken form once again. But I wonder – does it ever really go away?
This morning my neighbour was up early at 6:30 am and woke me up out of a dead sleep. I banged on the wall and fell back into a restless sleep. I had nightmares about the house. Bad. Bad. Nightmares. They’re getting worse. And it’s not just me. My siblings – the women – are ALL having similar dreams. But this one – it was like a bad horror movie at the house and my dead mother was the guest star.
Maybe I need to take a break from horror movies. But it’s almost Halloween.
I just emailed the pastor. He offered to have someone else play for the Sunday All Saint’s service and I took him up on the offer. I can’t do a funeral AND a candle lighting service. My emotions are just wrecked.
I don’t think grief ever really leaves us. Especially when it’s someone like your parent or a loved one. I think some days just are just easier than others because you can keep busy and distracted. But every now and then a dream will happen, or a memory is triggered, and you’re right back to where you were when you first lost that person.
Grief. They say time can truly heal, but I think some hurts never really do.
Someone asked this question on reddit today about how to cope with anxiety. I thought given everything that is going on in the world today – I’ll share some of my ways to help with my own anxiety problems. I’m currently not on medication for the anxiety. I never liked the way anti-depressants made me feel. But I recognize that some people need more help. And I really encourage you to speak to your doctor about medications that can help you – if nothing else works.
That said – let’s get right into it.
Note: I am not a mental health professional. HOWEVER. I worked in Addictions and Mental Health for four years. I was part of the provincial lead team for Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools project and learned so much from my time working there.
Writing is therapy
This blog started as a way for me to vent my daily frustrations about – daily life. I wrote using a pen name which was great – until I wanted to start sharing some of my art and music with readers. If you’re worried about privacy, buy a paper journal and keep track of your thoughts on paper. Or create a private blog and only grant access to the readers you want to read your private thoughts.
For me, sharing what I’ve learned over the years with others helps me as an outlet. Sharing my personal struggles and experiences as a way to help others overcome their own anxieties – that’s what really helps me.
I have so many short stories and books in draft form that it makes me think I should really sit down and finish them. Getting lost in a fantasy world often helps to forget about life around me for a while.
I wrote an article last night – and didn’t notice but THREE hours went by just like that. I had to turn off the computer and force myself to go to bed. That’s how fun writing is for me. Getting lost in a world of make believe and dreams.
That said, if writing makes you anxious – then consider private therapy with a trained therapist. Over the years during troubled times, I’ve reached out for short-term counseling. I learned a lot of ways to cope with difficult situations or people in my life. It helped.
Pour your feelings into a creative outlet. Pick up an instrument and learn how to play music. Work with your hands – draw, paint or sculpt. Or learn graphic design – I use Corel Painter for this when I need another creative outlet. Putting your energy and anxiety into music will in a way, feel like cathartic release.
Cooking – I never thought that cooking could be relaxing. But there is something methodical about chopping vegetables and working with fresh food that relaxes me. Same with gardening and planting flowers. Really, anything you can do with your hands is a good detraction.
As a musician, I can attest that my own feelings come through in a lot of my compositions.
If sitting at home is doing nothing for you, then put on some clothes, put on your shoes – and go outside. Go for a walk around your neighbourhood. Go for a drive in your car. Join a fitness class. Or go to the pool when it’s safe to do so.
If you’re not up to working out, sit on your balcony or in your yard every day just to get some sunshine and fresh air. It really does do wonders. I love early mornings for this – enjoy a hot cup of coffee while sitting on my balcony when the world is still quiet. Those moments are rare.
Exercise is a great way to get the body moving, pump up the endorphines and it’s great for weight loss.
Cardio kick boxing – just punching the air helped me during troubled times.
Reconnect with Nature
Eventually as I lost more weight, I got into hiking which was my spiritual reprieve from the world. Being alone in nature is a great way to ground yourself. I found being near water put me at ease. I also listened to music while hiking. There was very little wildlife and no risk of bears where I hiked – it was safe to do so.
If you go hiking alone – just make sure to tell someone where you are hiking and turn on your cell phone’s gps tracking. And wear proper hiking boots. Runners won’t cut it in the mountains.
I learned some great meditation techniques when I was in my early twenties, exploring the world of Shamanic journeying. Now, that I’m in my forties and don’t get out as much – I use music to meditate. There are some great channels on youtube that you can listen to. I’ve got a whole page dedicated to meditation techniques.
What works for me is listening to relaxing instrumental music.
Find a quiet spot in your home – bedroom will do.
Turn off the lights and light a candle or two. You can use incense – I like Dragon’s Blood for meditations but any incense will work. Jasmine and Lavender work well. If you don’t like incense or can’t have it, opt for scented candles or herbs.
Get out your headphones and make a playlist of your favorite music to mellow out to.
Lay down on your bed or find a quiet spot to sit. Get comfy. Close your eyes and just listen to the music.
Breathing techniques can help you to relax. Just take in several deep breaths – in and out slowly. Repeat. Until you feel the stress literally melting away from you.
There is nothing quite like the beat of a steady hand drum paired with a rattle or pan flute. This sets me at ease almost instantly.
Learning to cope with anxiety and depression
These are just a few things that I’ve learned over the years that help relax me. In trying to live a healthy lifestyle, I try to avoid drugs or alcohol as a way to cope. Drinking is something that I enjoy doing socially – but most booze gives me migraines. So, most of the time – I just don’t bother. The odd glass of wine or rum is fine for social gatherings.
I’ve learned that sometimes on a bad day, it’s best to stay at home or keep to myself. Spreading a bad mood around isn’t always a good thing to do. Other days, I just need to be around people. I know that is especially hard right now with COVID and unrest in the world. But with technology, I encourage others to reach out to loved ones. Pick up your phone. Call them. Hearing someone’s voice on the phone does wonders for the mental health.
Use video chat or face time when possible. Reach out to those that you think might need it most. For me, I call my dad almost daily. Even if he can’t hear – he’ll just hang up on me. But at least I’m making the effort for that contact.
Look out for you
It’s okay to say “sorry, I don’t feel like getting together today” or “I just need some down time to be on my own.”
At the end of the day, you are the one who is looking out for YOU. So, be kind to yourself. Know when to reach out when needed. Surround yourself with people who understand what depression is all about. Join support groups.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. We all face mental health issues at some point in our lives. There’s no shame in it. All we can do is make the best of it.
Since this week is all about promoting mental health, I think this is a good time to speak on some women’s health issues like my article yesterday on What is PCOS? Today, I want to touch on some of the symptoms of hormonal disorders like the dreaded subject: hot flashes.
What does a hot flash feel like?
That’s a good question. The first hot flash I had was in 2014 when I was on a combination of Cymbalta (mild anti-depressant for pain) along with Celebrex (also for pain). I remember getting a call from my case worker about my weekly check in. We spoke for about ten minutes. I had to provide regular health updates. By the time I hung up the phone, my hand was covered in sweat. I mean, it was dripping. And it was nasty.
One night, the hot flash was so bad – I went outside for a brisk walk in -35 degrees in a t-shirt. That actually felt good and refreshing. Even now when I get them – nothing helps except standing outside in the cold winter weather. Getting a hot flash in summer months is even more disgusting. There’s nothing you can do. Combine that with leg swelling, a red face and matted hair – and it’s just plain ick.
What is a hot flash?
As I mentioned yesterday, a hot flash can feel like a fever or even a mild panic attack. I think every women feels it differently. According to breastcancer.org, a hot flash is a sudden, intense and extremely hot feeling all over your body. But mostly affecting the face, upper body – like arm pits and chest. Some women experience weakness, headaches, anxiety or the feeling of suffocation or chills. This is why hot flashes are so difficult to diagnose.
For me, I knew it was a hot flash on Sunday because it came with severe pain in my ovaries and pelvic region. I knew that stepping outside would be the only thing to make it go away. I took some pain killers and by morning, I was okay again. Luckily, my doctor knows the risks and gave me some Toradol (pain killers) to take home with me. I’m going to savour these and keep them for bad days only.
How are hot flashes treated?
The treatment for a hot flash is going to vary. The key is to find out what is causing the hot flash, as hot flashes are often a symptom of another illness or disease. The main culprit is a hormonal imbalance.
As mentioned yesterday, with PCOS, the body can produce too many androgens which is the male hormone. But some women can have too much testerone or too much estrogen. This is where your doctor will need to conduct some lab tests. Usually a CBD differential, and basic endocrine function tests.
Remember, I’m not doctor. I’m literally reading this information from my requisition forms. I’ve come to learn a lot about my body, women’s health and lab tests over the years in my research.
There are a lot of treatments for hot flashes out there that include natural supplements, hormone replacement therapy, and over the counter products. However, I do recommend seeing your doctor or OBGYN to find the source of the hot flashes. Some medications can cause similar side effects.
When in doubt, just step outside, into the middle of winter. Trust me. I went to my appointment yesterday wearing just a sweater and it felt amazing.
The main purpose of my sharing this information is not only to help promote awareness on women’s health, but to also share my experiences. I’m not a coach, but I feel I missed my calling in being able to help others professionally. I’m here just to share my experiences and my own personal research with you.
I have six years of experience working in the health field on the administrative side. During my time in addictions and mental health, I learned a lot about reducing the stigma of mental illness, and during slow periods, I used the information I had available to me, to conduct a lot of research. I’ve kept this to myself. But I think perhaps my purpose at this time in life, is to share that knowledge with you.
Please know that you are not alone in your suffering. There are many great resources out there that can help you. There are tons of blogs, websites, and Facebook groups dedicated to offering support. If you feel you need help, reach out to your local state services.
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