Aging, Menopause

Down the Rabbit Hole and Back Up Again: Part Two

Alice finding door

In Down The Rabbit Hole Part I, you may have walked away with the idea that falling down the ‘rabbit hole’ of depression is inevitable.  Well, for many of us it is, to some degree.  That’s why I’m back today.  Yes, I find myself depressed during certain times of the year.  The good news is, there’s a way out.

There are several things I do to get out of that rabbit hole, and none of it is as crazy as the stuff poor Alice In Wonderland faced. Through years of counseling and years of experience, I have found a formula that works for me.

These ideas may or may not work for you, but they are worth trying.  Of course, if depression doesn’t lift after you have done everything you can to help yourself, seek professional help.  With that said, these are my thoughts about ways in which I have found my way out of that dang rabbit hole.

Recognize Your Season

Falling down the rabbit hole is something I know is inevitable for me during certain times of the year.  Knowing this is part of my salvation.  As they say; “forewarned is forearmed.”

Depression is like many illnesses – the more we know, the more prepared we are, the more likely we are to recover.  When the dates approach, I talk about it with my family.  It’s coming.  I know it.  Saying it out loud with those who know me best (and most likely are going through the same thing) is a way to prepare.  Pretending this time isn’t coming does absolutely no good whatsoever.

Accept Your Feelings

It’s true that the years have softened the blows I feel from the losses I’ve suffered.  But what happens to people like me who have “situational depression” is that even small situations can trigger the FEELINGS of a bigger situation.

During the times when I’m most likely to become depressed, I recognize the small triggers and give them the same respect I do the big triggers.  This helps bring about the same result – lessening the depression or quickening the recovery.

Accepting the importance of these smaller triggers also validates feelings, and validated feelings are the only kind of feelings we can work our way through.  Unvalidated feelings get stuffed and land us back in that rabbit hole.

Remember Your Recovery

Each time I end up down the rabbit hole, I remind myself that it’s a temporary situation.  I remember the times I thought I’d never smile again; then I did.

I remember that even if I am depressed at times, I very often laugh at the same time.  I guess what I want to say is a good life full of laughs does not exclude depression, and depression does not exclude a good life full of laughs.

I am a happy person who also happens to get depressed.  I do not have a cloud following me around.  I am not a sad little stick figure on a commercial for anti-depressants.  Sometimes I am very happy and I still want to go to bed.  But, I know I will get up again. That’s what recovery is like for me.  It’s important to remember that.

Reach Out And Renew

I have people I love who know about this darkness and care about my recovery.  I have learned to reach out to them instead of pulling the covers over my head.

Make a phone call, write a note, contact someone to say; “Yes, I am in bed today, but tomorrow I’ll call you again.”

Making that connection is a big part of moving forward.  Then, you’ll be ready to take the next step; perhaps get together and walk.

On the same note as connecting, we sometimes need to accept a new challenge – to renew.  I’m not talking about something gigantic, just something outside of what we are currently doing.

I have been working at home for many years.  When the woman who does my facials called to say she needed someone to take charge of her appointments and phone calls, I knew it was something I needed to do.  The call came at the height of my depression.

I embraced the opportunity to get out of the house and do something new.  It was time I made a change.  I was outside my comfort zone, but only slightly, which was good.  Small changes are still good changes.

What I Know

I have what my counselor calls “situational depression.”  For this reason, I know that certain times and certain events will trigger my depression.

But, it’s alright.

Because there’s a lesson I can take from Alice In Wonderland.

Just like Alice, I will find that little door… and open it.

I am reassured once more that my depression is just a season in my life – not the entirety of my life.

Thank you, Barbara, for letting me share my thoughts with you and your readers.  I hope my experiences with depression will help clear up some of the confusion that so many have about this complicated issue.

p.s.  For more about the signs of depression, the dichotomy of depression, and how it affects us at our age, please read my blog post – Depression In Baby Boomers – I’m So Happy I Just Want To Go To Bed.  And don’t forget to leave a comment.  I love the company here in the blogosphere!

About The Tiny Door: 

Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage… she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains…

Discovering that little door, and finding your way through it and into that lovely garden with bright flowers and cool fountains isn’t necessarily easy.  Poor Alice went through hell and back to find her way.  I can feel the excitement of pulling that curtain back to discover that tiny door, and the hope that I might find a lovely garden and cool fountains when I work my way through that door.

Alice finding door

“Alice Finding Tiny Door Behind Curtain” – The Tenniel Illustrations for Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland by Sir John Tenniel

Visit Project Gutenberg at www.gutenberg.org to see over 42,000 ebooks, free for your viewing and downloading pleasure.  Enjoy.

Patti school pic

About the Author:  Patti Winker has enjoyed reading and writing ever since she can remember.  She likes sharing stories of growing up in the 50s and 60s on her blog RemarkableWrinklies.com You’ll also find her stories in our collaboration – Tangerine Tango

In addition to waxing nostalgic, Patti also writes about aging well.  Part of Patti’s journey through life has been her battle with depression.  This two part guest post is her way of telling others that depression doesn’t need to defeat a person, but it isn’t always easy either, especially as we get older.

According to the CDC, the highest rate of depression occurs between the ages of 45 and 64, then drops off again after 65.  In her blog post – I’m So Happy I Just Want To Go To Bed Patti explores this problem that many ‘baby boomers’ are experiencing right now;  reaching a perceived perfection, but not feeling the joy.  I hope you find some useful information and support in these posts.

About the Picture:  Patti said she laughed right out loud when she found this picture of herself and knew immediately she had to use it for this guest post.  I think she looks rather “Alice-ish,” don’t you?   Patti estimates this to be her 2nd or 3rd grade school picture, about the time she would have been reading Alice in Wonderland, and wondering what kind of crazy person Lewis Carroll was.

Menopause

Down the Rabbit Hole and Back Up Again: Part One

Alice pool of tears

A post by writer Patti Winker:

“The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.  Down, down, down!  Would the fall never come to an end?”

Let me start off by saying I’ve never been a fan of Alice In Wonderland.  It was always kind of creepy to me, both as a kid and as an adult.  Although, as an adult, I can appreciate the twisted dark thoughts and innuendo.  Or am I reading more into it than I should?

Anyway, I digress.  For whatever reason, the whole story is just weird to me.

That said, Alice In Wonderland has felt like a familiar friend to me at times… times in which I fell down the ‘rabbit hole’ of depression.

I know, I know.  The commercials all say that this is supposed to be the time of our life.  We’re all supposed to be happy as skylarks, singing glorious notes as we fly off into the azure shades of early evening on our way to our vineyards, sailboats, horse ranches, and fat retirement checks.

We’re supposed to all be planting seeds for our sunset years, while enjoying the vim-and-vigor of this quasi youth.

It doesn’t always work that way.

I learned from a counselor many years ago (during my first marriage) that I had what he called “situational depression.”  Sometimes this is referred to as “adjustment disorder.”  It is covered in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), so I guess I can accept that.

Okay, I don’t like to think I have a “Mental Disorder” but, hey, something was terribly wrong.  With or without a diagnosis, I was falling down the rabbit hole.

“Situational depression,” by its very nature, comes and goes.  Depending on, well, the situation.  Coping is possible, but there are times when it becomes difficult to face even the simplest challenges.

For me, those times are tied to anniversaries, seasons, and memories.

At our age, we have all suffered trauma – loss, abuse, pain, and illness.  At some point, all those issues converge and create a palate that colors our life.  Someone or something at some time will most likely trigger a reaction.

There are times during the year that I ‘re-suffer’ some of my most difficult losses. There are birthdays, wedding anniversaries, holidays, death anniversaries, more birthdays… and the list goes on.  Every date on the calendar that has memories attached gives my heart another opportunity to suffer.

I am not alone in this.  What happens to me isn’t uncommon.  As we reach a certain age, as I mentioned, we are bound to have some sort of loss, some trauma, that can send us into that downward  spiral.  For people who deal with any form of depression, these unavoidable dates on the calendar can loom large.

For baby boomers, this time in our life can be great, but it can also provide some of the biggest challenges we will encounter.  These challenges can cause severe stress, sadness, illness, and depression.

And, just as Alice worried that she would be “going out altogether, like a candle,” I have moments where I struggle with believing that things will ever be okay again.

The good news is, there are things we can do to keep from pulling the covers over our head and disappearing from the world.  I know I don’t want to waste even a couple months out of the year, hiding in the dark, away from all the people I love.

In Part II, I will share a few thoughts about climbing back up and out of that rabbit hole.

Stay tuned…

About the Pool of Tears:

 “Things are worse than ever,” thought the poor child, “for I never was so small as this before, never!”  As she said these words, her foot slipped, and in another moment, splash! she was up to her chin in salt-water… in the pool of tears…

Depression can feel this way; beginning with hopelessness, then a sinking feeling. Some people describe depression as a feeling of being over your head in a pool of water, unable to reach the surface, or to even see the surface. I can feel the struggle, the hopelessness in this illustration.

“Alice in Pool of Tears” – The Tenniel Illustrations for Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland by Sir John Tenniel    

Alice pool of tears

Visit Project Gutenberg at www.gutenberg.org to see over 42,000 ebooks, free for your viewing and downloading pleasure.  Enjoy.

About the Author :  Patti Winker writes about topics that she and others of “a certain age” are concerned about.  In her blog, RemarkableWrinklies.com, you’ll find thoughts and information on aging well, health and fitness, having a bit of fun, a few debates, and some nostalgia thrown in.

She likes to cook and eat good food, spend time with her family, including two grandchildren, ride her bike, walk, swim, go to the beach, and enjoys simple living surrounded by nature, but also appreciates a big city.

Patti is a contributing writer in our Tangerine Tango collaboration, and you’ll often find her here joining in the discussion and guest posting from time to time. To read more of Patti’s guest posts, click these links:  Pushing Fifty or Pushing Puberty and These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Patti

Menopause

The Moon and The Menses – aka The Lunar Link

Moons - Perigee and Apogee

A post in honor of the moon by writer Patti Winker:

The full moon is upon us.  And, not just any full moon, a supermoon.

The word ‘supermoon’ refers to a full moon at perigee, the point in the lunar orbit when the moon is closest to the earth. It’s a pretty cool full moon as it appears to be much larger than a regular full moon.

But, aside from the awesome spectacle of a supermoon, why is this important and what does it have to do with the subject of our menses?  Plenty.

There is the linguistic connection between the moon and the menses, of course.  The words come from the Latin mensis (month), which derives from the Greek meis/mens/men/mene (moon).

So, this we know; month-moon-menses, all related at the root.

But, it goes further than that, at least for me.

First, I have to admit to being ‘moonstruck.’

I was born and raised watching the moon rise over the river. It held a fascination for me. A huge orange Harvest Moon or giant white Snow Moon have always been, and always will be, thrilling to me.

I think that’s why I was keenly aware of one little bit of information that many of my girlfriends glossed over when we learned about menstruation.

It was suggested (by the menstruation authorities who gave us Very Personally Yours and Growing Up And Liking It) that our cycle would typically be 28 days.  Interesting.

I made the connection.  The phases of the moon are about 28 days, too.

Coincidence?  Maybe.

But, just in case, I made sure my ‘discreet calendar’ included the phases of the moon.

For decades, as recommended by the authorities, I kept my little calendar and counted the days, making my ‘X’s along the way.  However, the whole 28 day thing never really panned out.  So, I thought, “What do they know.”

Then I moved from Wisconsin to Florida.

As I merrily made my ‘X’s through the months, I noticed a very strange thing happening. My periods started getting closer and closer together.  Was this just a symptom of perimenopause?

After about six months, I noticed a pattern emerge… and stick. Another month.  Another month.  Another month.  It was undeniable.  I have the little ‘X’s to prove it.

My period started each month on the full moon.

It finally came true.  It took moving closer to the ocean for it to happen, but my body had finally synched with the moon.

Coincidence?  Science says there is no proof of lunar affect on humans.  I say science is wrong.

My girlfriends pooh-poohed the notion that somehow the cycle of our periods were connected to the phases of the moon.

Perhaps we just lived too far away from the pull of the tides.

Or maybe it just takes a lunatic such as myself to actually be affected, both body and soul, by the moon.

Either way, I’m going to enjoy basking in the glow of this month’s full moon – the supermoon.

Oh, and in case you think menopause puts a halt to all that moon cycle stuff, it doesn’t.  I still have the same crazy symptoms every full moon.

And, in the words of the great lyricist, pianist, and singer of songs, Billy Joel: “You may be right. I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.”

Thank you, Barbara, for allowing me to share my craziness with your readers.  I hope you enjoyed it and get a chance to also enjoy the supermoon.

About the author :

Patti Winker writes about topics that she and others of “a certain age” are concerned about.  In her blog, RemarkableWrinklies.com, you’ll find thoughts and information on aging well, health and fitness, having a bit of fun, a few debates, and some nostalgia thrown in.  She likes spending time with her grandkids and family, cooking, biking, swimming, walking, and going to the beach. She enjoys nature, but also appreciates a big city.  Patti is a contributing writer in our Tangerine Tango collaboration, and you’ll often find her here commenting and guest posting from time to time. Click these links to read more:

Pushing Fifty Or Pushing Puberty

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Patti

About the image:

The comparison in sizes of a full moon at perigee (left) and at apogee (right) is an illustration based on Galileo spacecraft images.

Image Credit: NASA

Menopause

The Pink Nude and You Nude

Pink Nude by Henri Matisse

I recently met the above naked lady at an exhibit at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art. You can read more about this fabulous exhibit here.

Painted by Henri Matisse in 1935, The Pink Nude is one of hundreds of pieces of French art collected by the Cone sisters from my hometown of Baltimore.

Claribel Cone, a physician and researcher, and her sister Etta  were supported largely by their brother Moses. The sisters were avant-garde in their artistic tastes. (Although you wouldn’t guess it from their outfits.)

Here they are with their buddy, Gertude Stein.  (Gertrude is in the middle):

images (7)

The Cone sisters had an eye for art and became a patron of Matisse when he was little appreciated by the art world.

Their pink friend in the painting, looking oh so nonchalant and tres comfortable with her pose au naturel, got me thinking about nudity.

My own.

Sometimes, in the shower, I glance down at myself and think, rats! I’m starting to look like  the world doesn’t think nudes should look. I could make a long list of famous artists who would never bop down from heaven to paint me.

And other times, especially when I’m in a good mood, I’ll stand in front of the mirror in my bedroom and think, hey, sure you need to put some clothes on soon, but Barbara nude isn’t so bad.

Now it’s your turn.

I’ve bared my thoughts. Time for you to bare yours.

Patti Winker, you’re extra brave about telling us stuff.

Do tell.

To  help fuel the conversation, here’s another Mattise from the Cone Collection.  She’s on the blue side, not nearly as comfortable in her skin as the lady in pink.

images (3)

What about you? Does nudity make you rosy or blue?

Note Card Giveaway!  Congratulations to Diane, who won the Suzanne Cheryl Gardner giveaway.

Menopause

Guest Post: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things – Getting Fewer All The Time


Lace Snowflake

A holiday guest post from writer Patti Winker:

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes.  I open the closet door and look at the boxes piled to the ceiling…

and I close the closet door.

These are the boxes filled with the stuff of Christmas.

As far back as I can remember (and where memory fails, family photos fill in the blanks), Christmas has been a season of decorating.  There was the huge tree, often cut down and dragged home from some far off woods.  Evergreen branches were cut and brought inside to be artfully arranged across the windowsills and on the fireplace mantel.

The walls, windows, and mirrors were covered with cotton ball snowmen and construction paper Christmas trees.  Paper chain garlands and popcorn strings were draped on the tree.  There on the top of the tree perched the angel, crafted out of an empty toilet paper roll and lots of gold and silver sparkle.  She was especially angelic when her inner-light shown brightly with the aid of a strategically placed Christmas tree light bulb.

Along with all the boughs, countless handmade ornaments decked our halls.  Years and years and years of school projects created our Christmas decor.  With 11 kids in the family you might expect that.

There were probably a few store-bought ornaments, but I can’t seem to remember them… oh, except for the lead tinsel.  Boy, that stuff hung prettily.  I’m just glad my Dad was the only one who took charge of hanging it.  He said it was because he was the only one who knew how to do it right.  Thanks Dad.

Fast forward to when my daughter was growing up.

Once again we have the handmade ornaments from the classroom or Girl Scouts or hobby.  Added to that are the new ‘collectible’ ornaments, the keepsakes.  Also, perhaps because buying ornaments was such a new experience for me, I loved shopping for them. I have to say, I found a lot of unique ornaments and decorations that I still love to this day.  Then, the crafting bug took hold and I created even more ‘treasures.’  We often had multiple trees just to hold all the goodies.

Yes, I can think of many, many ornaments and decorations that I have loved for years.

And they are tucked neatly inside those boxes.

Fast forward to today.

We now have our grandchildren’s construction paper Christmas trees and other delights decorating our walls, windows, and mirrors.

Much of what I cherished from the past is either in my daughter’s house or in those boxes.  Very few decorations see the light of day anymore.

When we moved from Wisconsin to Florida, we downsized.  I knew this would happen, but what I didn’t realize was just how much our focus on decorating for Christmas would change.  Partly from necessity (lack of room) and partly because, well, it’s just too hard to drag everything out, again… and put it away, again.

Now we pick and choose a few items that mean something special to us.  Some years we choose the paper cutout snowflakes my daughter and I made.  Some years we choose the little felt skates my daughter made in Girl Scouts.  Some years we choose all the angels.  Some years we choose the handmade ornaments my sister and I made.

As we get older, we decorate with fewer and fewer things.  Yet, the boxes remain.  Piled high, behind closet doors.  I can’t see letting any of those treasures go.  They’re safe there.  Just like the memories attached, I think they can stay put.

Christmas Tree

Thank you so much, Barbara, for allowing me to share my Christmas memories with you here.  I believe our stories are important because they reveal the common threads that run through our lives and connect us all.  In my blog, RemarkableWrinklies.comand in the stories I share in Tangerine Tango, I try to pull the past experiences into the present so we can sort out some of the mysteries of who we are.  Since we tend to remember special events so much more than everyday life, I guess it’s only natural to wax nostalgic at Christmas time. (Here’s where I apologize to my grandkids because the stories are starting to pile on and repeat… insert eye roll.) Thank you again, Barbara, and may you have many memorable moments this Christmas to create plenty of eye rolling from your grandkids someday!

Top Photo:  We do choose to bring out a couple decorations year after year.  One is my Gramma’s hand-tatted lace ‘snowflake.’  I don’t believe it was ever intended to be a snowflake per se; probably more of an example of tatting lace.  But, I like to think of it as a snowflake.  I hang it on my pine cone wreath (made with my sister from pine cones collected in part from my Gramma’s yard) to remind me that I should have taken my Gramma up on her offer to teach me how to tat.  {{sigh… when will we ever learn}}  Also, this little lace snowflake is a reminder that some things, just like some memories, and some people, should simply be treasured forever.

Black and White Photos:  Our tree (above), and yours truly in the ballet costume (below) that Mom made for me and my sister for our Christmas program, circa 1958.

Patti Christmas Ballerina

Menopause

Tangerine Tango! (And a Bright Orange Book Giveaway)

Color! Color!  Color! Color! Color! Color! Color!

The older I get, the more I’m drawn to vibrant colors.

And so is Lisa Winkler, because she titled her  new anthology Tangerine Tango: Women Writers Share Slices of Life.

I  am delighted that Lisa selected three of my poems and three of my essays for the book.  Thanks, Lisa!

Here’s what the press release says about Tangerine Tango’s contents:

  • There’s Donna Barry who writes about her mother, her father, football, the ocean, and one of her first jobs.
  • There’s Stacey Caron who is a food blogger and antique dealer. She shares her grandmother’s chopped liver recipe, a tart from Spain, and her love of food.
  • You’ll swoon in green with Judy Ackley Brown and smile as you read about Barbara Chapman’s Fifth grade memories, her fight with breast cancer, and her work with hospice.
  • You’ll lick your lips with Gabi Coatsworth’s description of ice cream, empathize with her trip to the dump, envision her shrimping with her father and her grand-daughter, and be moved by her poem dedicated to her sister.
  • Dawn Landau’s ode to her daughter teems with raw emotion and her vision of seeing her late mother is almost scary.
  • Chris Rosen’s mother will amaze you, you’ll share her pride in her rock musician son, and want to climb in the hot air balloon with her.
  • Like Leah Singer, you’ll be annoyed at the salesman, disturbed by her parents chiding her about her weight, and proud that she has made her interfaith marriage last.
  • Those with siblings will hear themselves in Madeline Taylor’s telephone essay.
  • With Patti Winker, you’ll wonder about life with 11 siblings, learn about running a candy store, and reminisces about life with clotheslines and before helmets.
  • From Lisa Winkler, you can reread some past posts – about fashion advice from our mothers, medical advice from her father, hopes for college graduates and tolerance for varying religious beliefs in her own family, and ice cream flavors.
  • Barbara Younger shares three lovely poems – about buttons, socks and fudge, and essays about her father’s music, her allegiance to her ancient stove, and a Valentine’s Day when she was 11.

Me again:

Start your holiday shopping!  A great present, the book’s tiny size makes it perfect to tuck into a gift basket or bag.

Don’t forget birthdays!  With its focus on living an exuberant life, Tangerine Tango makes a great girlfriend birthday present.

You!  And of course you’ll want a copy for yourself!

Purchase the book here. 

Proceeds from the sale of Tangerine Tango go to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

Giveaway: In celebration of the publication of this colorful collection of essays and poems, I’m giving away two copies.  Post a comment by October 24 saying you’d like to win. Two winners will be chosen at random.

Photo Above:  Marina Bang designed Tangerine Tango’s delicious cover!

Photo Below:  Giveaway books stand proud on our old stove, the topic of one of my essays in Tangerine Tango.