Depression: Survival Strategies (That Don’t Work)

(Clearly, I’ve not yet made up my mind whether titles should be in sentence case or title case. Does it even matter?)

Yeah, I’m still depressed. It seems to be getting worse, if anything, but it’s not yet reached the point where I stop communicating all together, which must be a good thing.

The weird thing about depression at this stage, is that even while I’m behaving in a unpredictable, emotional, unreasonable, mean and bitchy manner, a small part of me stands back and watches and says, “why are you reacting like this?” – but despite that, I can’t stop or change the way I behave/react.

So anyway, on the weekend I decided I would have to put some of my depression survival strategies to work.

Food, always first on the list, was ruled out because of my diet. If I fail to lose weight, it’s only going to make me more depressed. So I couldn’t indulge in binge eating involving chocolates, ice creams, pizzas and other unhealthy stuff. We had three-and-a-half dinners out (or ordered in) in succession, but if you don’t let yourself go all out and eat like there’s no tomorrow, it doesn’t work.

Shopping – I’m not much of a shopaholic, but it does help sometimes. It’s been ruled out since the advent of the twins, just because getting out of the house is so difficult. And going shopping with two toddlers AND a husband in tow, each with their own idea of what constitutes a good shopping experience, is completely impossible.

Spending money – You don’t have to actually go shopping to spend money. There are certain kinds of shopping which hardly even qualify as shopping, while they quite easily can require satisfactorily large sums of money to be spent. Such as, for example, buying a new refrigerator. Ours is very old and extraordinarily small for a family of four. Unfortunately, Amit is not being adequately supportive of this strategy. Sigh. Husbands…

Getting a haircut – this always works. It is one of the wonderful things about having short hair, that you can always make it shorter. You can change the length, the style, the shape, whatever, and come away looking almost like a different person. (People with long hair never really do benefit from haircuts – they just cut off an inch or two, and with 39 or whatever inches from root to tip, an inch or two is neither here nor there, is it? They never get to enjoy that wonderful feeling of shaking your head and finding that nothing moves about on top of it.)

As a stay-at-home mom, it is quite difficult to find time for a haircut, though, involving, as it does, a protracted stint away from home, preferrably during daytime hours. So when I found a small window of opportunity on Saturday evening, I grabbed it. I had only enough time to head for the nearest local beauty parlour, which I had never ventured into before, far less trusted my hair to. But I figured it wasn’t too much of a risk – how bad can a haircut be, after all?

On entering the beauty parlour, I found four women, sitting around and gossiping, one painting another’s nails. Apparently, none of them was a customer. This was not confidence-inspiring – do all local beauty parlours employ “beauticians” (note the double quotes around that word) to sit around and beautify each other?

Anyway, I took a chair, and had a sheet flung around me and fastened at the neck. They put what must have been the most inept of the four on to me. My hair was distinctly oily, but the hair dresser didn’t offer (far less insist on) a shampoo; in fact, she didn’t even comb it, just pinned it up and started cutting. I could tell by the way she handled the comb and scissors, that she was no expert, and the results soon showed just how inexpert she was.

In short, she butchered my hair. I came out of there looking like a serial axe-murderer. True, I had asked for a ‘boy cut’, but I hadn’t counted on getting a ‘mad-boy cut’ – that is, a haircut that looked like it had been executed by a mad boy. What’s worse, it was too short for any more experienced hairdresser to be able to rectify it.

Amit was most kind about it. He said it made me look younger. Then he drew some similarities between me and survivors of the Union Carbide gas tragedy, and followed that up with comments about how people look when recovering from protracted bouts of severe illnesses. In both cases, he concluded that they generally did not look as bad as I did. He was clearly reluctant to be seen in public with me, for which I could hardly blame him – I’m not sure I wanted to be seen in public with me, looking the way I did.

After I had showered and gotten about a million bits of hair off my neck and shoulders (the wrapping having been at least as ineffective as the haircut itself), Amit relented and took us all out to dinner. We chose a quiet restaurant where I attracted only half-a-dozen funny looks, and came home by 9 p.m., just as the Saturday evening crowds were beginning to build up.

Now, I’m only worried about the upcoming adoption hearing. What if the judge takes one look at me and decides that I must be an escaped convict who is not to be trusted with the health and welfare of two small kids? Maybe, if I wear my most terrible scowl, he will get really scared and decide not to get on my wrong side, and pass the order in double quick time.

The only consolation is that it’s hair – it will grow back eventually and then I can get it fixed. Meanwhile, I only have to stay indoors for the next three months or so. That should be easy enough – misery hates company anyway.

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11 Responses to Depression: Survival Strategies (That Don’t Work)

  1. AM says:

    That’s why one should have a hair cut as seldom as possible. I have one about once in 6 months. My hair looks bad no doubt, but I don;t have to pay for it!!

  2. Sadia says:

    Sorry to hear about your hair! The nice thing about having little daughters is that they think you’re beautiful, no matter what. My depression solutions: play and dance with my children, eat lots and lots of leafy vegetables, and spend time outside. The sunshine makes a world of difference. Okay, I’ll be honest. My real magic bullet is therapy. I’ve been seeing the same therapist, on and off, for four years now.

  3. Siri says:

    Hug πŸ™‚

  4. Siri says:

    Mika, thank you for the comment πŸ™‚ No golden handshake or any other lay off scheme because all of this was so unexpected. Everyone, including the Company CTO only got to know this Monday. So…
    Luckily, we do get paid what is due to us. So I guess that is good.

  5. Lubi :) says:

    Hang in there buddy…life isn’t entirely unfair…kabhi kabhi even when it rains, the sun shines brightly thru’…

  6. Lubi :) says:

    As for the mad boy cut…i had one almost 3 mths back…n i’m still growing my hair in order to get something reasonably done to it so i may look normal again πŸ˜€
    Welcome to the club!! πŸ˜‰

  7. doug H says:

    Hi Mika.
    No, the best remedy for depression is probably not a bad haircut.

    I’m not familiar with the weather patterns in your neck of the woods, but here in the US, it seems like everyone gets depressed during the Winter, when the days are short and the skys are normally overcast.
    Scientists have recently acknowledged a direct link between vitamin D (the ‘sunshine vitamin’), and one’s mood.
    Most vitamin D is produced by direct contact between the skin and the sun’s rays.

    It sounds like, irrespective of your current local weather patterns (is it monsoon season?), you’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time indoors. Artificial light is of insufficiently broad spectrum to do much good in the vitamin D department. (I’ve replaced most of my light bulbs with “daylight bulbs”, which approximate the full spectrum of sunlight, and seem to be of some help in combating Winter depression. …don’t know if they’re available in your area, although I have seen them online.

    There are two types: wide spectrum and broad spectrum. Most experts recommend going with the wide spectrum, since the broad also emanates UV light, which can be harmful to the skin and eyes. But if you’re not as fair skinned as most Europeans, and as long as you don’t stare directly at the bulbs for hours (which would probably indicate a broken computer and t.v. set), you may respond better to the broad spectrum variety.

    Also, it seems that vitamin D plays a vital role not just with mood and the production of neuro-chemicals but also performs important roles in virtually every cell of the body; even in such areas having anti-carcinogenic properties, being beneficial to the cardio-vascular system, and so forth.

    In addition to the light bulbs, I’d recommend taking a vitamin D supplement.

    In this area, at least, there’s a powdered version of D, called “D3”, which is superior to the oil based version. (The oil based kind is absorbed into the body’s fatty tissues and in time can build up to toxic levels.) The recommended dose is a minimum of 1,000 IU’s (international units) per day, although I’ve been taking 1,200 with no ill effect.

    Another supplement which acts as a mood elevator are Omega 3 oils. Besides being beneficial to one’s mood, they also play important roles in regulating the blood pressure, improving hair and skin quality, aiding in the suppression of arthritis, lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of blood clot formation.

    Don’t know about in India, but here they were basically eliminated from the food supply with the arrival of canned foods. They have a very short shelf life. And they’ve been a part of the human diet for hundreds of thousands of years.

    If you grind your own grain daily, or someone in your area does, and you consume those grains within a day or two, you may be getting enough Omega 3. If not, supplements are also available in a variety of forms: Omega 3 fish oil capsules and flaxseed oil (which must be kept refrigerated) being two of the most common. (Just make sure that, whichever form you take, they have high levels of EPA and DHA. Those are essential fatty acids who’s names are too long to spell out.)

    If all else fails there’s always therapy. There are a number of anti-depressant drugs available, each acting somewhat differently from the other. The odds are that one of them would be the right one for you. (Although it’s normal to go through a bit of experimentation, with the help of a professional, to find the right one.)

    I hope some of these suggestions provide some relief for you. Of course, having experienced my own share of depression, one of the problems of having it is the feeling that nothing is going to help. Hence, there’s a strong tendency to avoid trying various treatment methods, although the trip to the butcher shop/beautician’s was at least a commendable effort. Still, it’s a treatable malady, and I hope you force yourself (if necessary) to try some of these ideas, or to find a good professional counselor. Often it’s impossible to lift oneself out of such a state by one’s own efforts alone.

    P.S. – Have you thought of wearing a hat to the adoption hearing? A scarf? How about a wig?
    Good luck with that, in any case. I think it will go well, despite your hair. (It could have been worse – a friend of mine’s barber was watching a football match during his haircut and wound up cutting off a piece of his ear.)

  8. doug H says:

    p.p.s. – I should have specified that just any type of grain ground and consumed locally wouldn’t be sufficient to provide enough Omega 3’s.
    It specifically needs to be ground flax seed, which can also be purchased whole and mixed in with your food.
    You will probably get higher amounts of the needed essential fatty acids from supplementation, however.

  9. poupee97 says:

    Thanks Siri, Sadia, Lubi, Doug. Feeling better already.

  10. paulie11 says:

    I like your blog. It is good that you are talking about surviving your depression. It sounds like getting an edward scissorhands haircut didn’t help. I have a list of depression survival tips on my blog. I would like to know what you think of them. The post is called Depression survival tips

  11. poupee97 says:

    Thanks Paulie – those are good tips too.

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