Things That Made Me Smile (August 30, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hi everyone on this beautiful Monday evening. I was feeling a bit down in the dumps earlier today. The reason is the fact that I had a vision screening by the blindness agency this morning. The result was more or less as I expected: I only have a tiny bit of light perception in the central visual field of my left eye. It however was a bit of a bummer too, in that I’d hoped to perform slightly better.

To cheer myself up, I thought I’d join The Weekly Smile and share how amazingly far assistive technology has come. It may not replace actual vision, but, combined with my imagination, it can go a long way.

What I mean by assistive tech specifically is VoiceOver Recognition, the iPhone’s built-in image description functionality that was released first in iOS 14 not even a year ago. Last month, I already mentioned that it can recognize some basic shapes and colors (such as my pink, heart-shaped polymer clay ornament.

on Wednesday though, my father-in-law posted a picture of a statue to the family’s WhatsApp group and asked us to guess who it was. Without VoiceOver Recognition or similar third-party apps, I would have lost out on the fun. VoiceOver Recognition though immediately described the image as a statue of a bear on a water fountain. I replied with this answer in the group and was asked to name the bear. A little Googling revealed that it was “Berend Botje” from the nursery rhyme by that name.

My husband told me that, from the picture, he hadn’t made out that the statue was of a bear. I ran the image through VoiceOver Recognition and Seeing AI, one of the more commonly-used third-party apps for image description, just now and neither recognized it as a bear specifically this time. However, the fact that I “won” my family’s very visual riddle despite being totally blind, definitely makes me smile.

I’m also joining in with #LifeThisWeek and #SeniSal.

Depression: What It Feels Like #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day four in the #AtoZChallenge. Today I am once again struggling to find the motivation to write. I also didn’t think up a topic for today until just now. Today’s topic is depression. Most people will have some basic knowledge of it, so this isn’t going to be a primarily informative post. Rather, I am sharing what depression feels like to me.

From age seven or eight on, I experienced depression. However, in my case, its main manifestation wasn’t sadness. I wasn’t crying all day. In fact, I rarely cry unless I’ve had a meltdown. Rather, my main manifestation was irritability. This is common in children and adolescents.

However, because my most obvious mental health symptom continued to be irritability into adulthood, I wasn’t diagnosed with depression until age 30. I had some assessments for it when in my twenties, but always checked off just a little too few boxes.

When I got diagnosed with depression in 2017, I first had a screening tool administered. This tool covered some of the more atypical symptoms of depression, such as feeling like a weight is on your body, gastrointestinal symptoms, etc.

Depression to me feels like a constant heaviness on my body. I can literally feel it weighing down on my shoulders.

Another important aspect of depression is feeling low. When I was first assessed for depression in 2007, I didn’t know what the feeling of depression meant, so the psychiatrist clarified it by asking if I’m sad. The thing is though, sadness and depression are very different. Though some people with depression cry all day, most don’t feel particularly sad. It also isn’t a situational thing, as sadness often is.

Another thing about depression is that most sufferers have trouble sleeping, eating and maintaining weight, resulting in weight loss. However, in my case, I sleep too much, eat too much and gain weight.

Suicidal thoughts are also a part of depression, but most severely depressed people are too lethargic to actually be actively suicidal. When I have vivid thoughts of ending my life, I can tell it’s usually more situational and due to emotion regulaiton issues. When I’m “just” depressed, the thought of ending my life is a constant lingering presence at the back of my mind.

Lastly, a common symptom of depression is psychomotor agitation or retardation. This means people get slower or conversely more restless. I tend to experience a mixture of both, but usually when I’m purely depressed, slowness is the overriding symptom.

What Emotions Drive Me to Bad Habits? #Write31Days

Welcome to day eight in #Write31Days. Today’s post, like last week Monday’s, is yet again focused on emotions. I took another prompt from The Self-Exploration Journal. It asks what emotions drive me to bad habits.

I have a few self-destructive habits, some of which I engage more regularly in than others. For example, I overeat on average at least once a week, but only self-injure by cutting occasionally. Then there are these little habits that I engage in so often that I barely even notice them anymore, such as nail-biting or most recently teeth-grinding. Just a few minutes ago, my husband asked me to stop grinding my teeth.

Basically, I can be pretty sure that the type of emotional state that drives me to engage in all of these bad habits is stress. Stress is usually thought of as a type of anxiety, but it is not necessarily fear that drives it.

I tend mostly to engage in the little bad habits, like nail-biting or teeth-grinding, when not feeling much of a clear emotion at all. Rather, I tend to be in a state of worry, thinking in circles.

When emotions do reach the point where I notice them, they are pretty close to boiling point already. When this happens I may engage in self-harm behaviors or overeat.

When I look closely at what emotion causes me to engage in these self-destructive behaviors, I see that it is usually a sense of loneliness. Loneliness is not an emotion or so I’m told. At least it isn’t a primary emotion. Sadness is and that’s often what’s underneath this sense of loneliness.

Anger can also drive me to engage in self-destructive habits. Usually though, I am angry at something too minor to matter. The emotion underlying this anger is once again sadness.

What emotions drive you to bad habits?