As a daughter of immigrant parents, I often reflect on what it means to be American. My parents put careful thought into what it would mean for their children to be raised in America, and beyond their desire to experience the “American Dream,” they also hoped each of us would find our place in society through education, successful careers, and relationships. For the most part, each of us would say that we have achieved those dreams. But let me add two more. I believe the exercise of two actions — voting and giving — are the epitome of what it means to be American. And if you are an American by birth or by citizenship process, I want to encourage you to exercise these American privileges to vote and give today.
A few weeks ago, I found myself musing about the real “face” of depression. I personally find it absurd to think that anyone who lives a full life can escape the feeling of being depressed at some point in their lifetime of 365-1/4 day trips around the sun. A full life – one in which you choose to be awake – includes its fair share of tragedies, heartbreaks, endings, and losses. As I am writing this, we are on the eve of experiencing a hurricane that affects hundreds of miles of homes and businesses, which can only mean that millions of people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake, and the thought of human loss is grieving and yes, depressing. Yet rather than sharing only statistics and norms and “how to’s, I’m sharing my personal and professional musings on depression not just as a situationally-caused mood disorder, but also as a real “face” that seemingly has no cause, or to which we look beyond cause. What is the real face of depression?
“I have no reason to be depressed”
You probably know at least one person who tells you, “I have no reason to be depressed.” Such a statement falls falls from a mouth of an intelligent, successful, healthy adult man or woman who appears well-loved and appreciated for his or her contribution to the community, the workplace, and the home. She or he can count off at least ten or more reasons why depression should have no place in her life, and yet there it is: this heavy, achy, tired, brooding feeling of either not wanting to have to wake up to another day (with suicidal thoughts and fantasies of ending it all), or the same heavy- achy-tired-brooding-feeling, only without suicidal thoughts. That same person may have tried counseling or some form of “talk therapy“, and while strategies for managing the symptoms of depression are discussed and employed, the person expresses dismay that after six months of weekly sessions, she doesn’t feel much different. Just depressed.
How To Thrive When Summer Turns to Fall (And Skip the Winter Blues)
by B. Imei Hsu, RN, LMHC, Artist
Every year in Seattle, it’s pretty much the same thing. We have a slow-to-warm up summer, which includes a rainy June and early July, followed by a spectacular summer without the extreme heat of the Southwest, and minus the uncomfortable humidity of the upper Northeast. By August, we’re sittin’ pretty! Yet, I know every Fall, right around mid-October, it feels as if a powerful Being reaches its hand over to the giant light source in the sky, and pulls a metal chain. Lights out! The chill in the air, which develops slowly over the preceding weeks, triggers locals to pull out their jackets and windbreakers. A few people jump the gun and start wearing warm boots. People stumble around with a bleary-eyed, caffiene-enhanced expression, mixed with a depressed slump in the shoulders. The rustle of leaves and the waning light signal the end of summer, and I can literally hear people groan about it. Instead of groaning and complaining, make a commitment this year to prepare for the change in weather. Learn how to thrive when Summer turns to Fall, and skip past the Winter Blues.