A few weeks ago, on a beautiful, sunny Saturday I received a gut-wrenching phone call from my mother-in-law.
Mind you, just a few months before, we had received numerous calls, such as this, in the wake of my father-in-law’s massive stroke and eventual death. (I really do not like answering the phone much, these days.)
She shared with me that one of our close family members had lost her boyfriend to suicide that morning.
My husband and I were without words. We felt such a deep sense of sadness and longing for answers. Our hearts were breaking for our loved one.
We, then, came to the unfortunate realization that we would not be able to go and comfort our family member, unable to attend a funeral, not permitted to even give a hug of solidarity because we are all involved in a stay-at-home, self-isolation situation in our state (Ohio) due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
As the day continued on, into the evening, we found out through several conversations our family member’s boyfriend had been battling depression over the past few months.
This suicide made me start thinking much more deeply about the seriousness of the situation we all have found ourselves in.
People are isolated, they are not working as normal, there is financial instability in the economy, health concerns are high and unprecedented, people are scared, and personal finances are being affected in ways we never considered.
I also thought to myself, since depression is already a self-isolating mental ailment, how do all of these “stay-at-home orders” and “new normal measures” affect individuals with depressive tendencies.
I began to research.
How to know the signs of depression and What could be causing them
In my quest for some clarity, I found a major correlation.
There seems to be an underlying, cyclical effect -poor personal financial health often lends itself to poor mental health. As individuals progress downward on this slippery slope, each continues to increase as the other increases.
Another worthwhile finding, (in my opinion) was-whenever heavy debt is involved in a situation, anxiety, depression, and, even, psychosis can result at increased rates (up to 3X the norm!!?!)
I repeat. Poor financial health exponentially increases Depression and Anxiety.
I am certainly NOT a doctor, or a counselor. Nor, do I know ANYTHING about my extended family member’s personal financial situation.
But, this statistical correlation seems to be relatively significant to me, especially in the current Health/Economic Crisis we are currently experiencing.
What are the signs of depression we should be looking out for?
- Restlessness, irritability, frustrated
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, emptiness
- Loss of interest in things normally that bring pleasure
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Major changes in sleep patterns (too much, not enough, broken)
- Lack of concentration, memory lapses, inability for decision making
- Appetite/weight changes (eating too much/not eating enough)
- Comments/Thoughts of death and harming oneself (and others)
If you ever see any of these signs/behaviors, please seek professional help through a general medical doctor, or local mental health provider. If ever you find an individual is a danger to themselves or others PLEASE call 911. (The National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.)
Why is it important to do self-care?
As we continue down this pathway of a “new normal” in our culture, we must look to ways to head-off any inroads depression may have. We need to look at better ways to create positive physical and mental routines to keep us focused on the present, controllable circumstances.
Many of us have heard the term self-care tossed about in conversations, articles, and news programs. Yes, it may sound like a buzzword, but it is also a preventative practice in mental health for each of us.
Through my research, I found the following to be simplistic, yet, satisfying tips to add to our daily routines. (Three or Four of these added to our days makes a BIG difference.)
- Take a shower instead of a bath. Every. Single. Day. Why a shower? You may ask. Allowing water to run down and off of our bodies induces the notion that things are literally being washed away, down the drain.
- After the shower, put on CLEAN clothing. Now, is not the time to be “saving on water.” Clean clothes-only.
- Moisturize your entire body. Remember, we are not freely able to give hugs, or handshakes. Applying lotion can essentially replace these touching sensations.
- Blast your music and dance, if you want to. Music will forever soothe the soul.
- Make food from scratch. That’s right. Allow yourself to create a recipe from start to finish. You will feel amazingly accomplished, when you do.
- Clean something. Yes, cleaning helps. You can organize a drawer, clean out a closet, or rearrange your furniture. Seeing the change is instant gratification at its finest.
- Get outside and breathe fresh air. Looking around at nature really helps to ground our racing thoughts.
- Make something that no one has ever seen before. This could be a quilt, a painting, a poem, song lyrics, a guitar song, origami, a flower arrangement. Just create something new.
- Cuddle those pets. Take some photos with them. Tell them how you are feeling. They will listen to you and want to help.
- Call and check in on someone else. They need you, just like you need them.
I know many people may find self-care to be silly or small-minded, but keeping our human selves alive is the name of the game.
I truly hope each of us can help each other get through this current situation. We owe it to each other to look out for one another.
Loving each other is what we were designed to do.
Much LOVE Always, Alaina:)