Depression Isn’t a Choice

by Kelsey on August 13, 2014

With the sad news of Robin Williams passing, my social media feed has been buzzing with talk about depression and suicide. I’ve seen a few people saying well-meaning things like “smile at someone, it could save their life!” and a few others saying depression is for “weaklings” and suicide is for “cowards”.

So when something strikes a personal chord, I write about it.

What Depression IS and ISN’T

Depression isn’t because of a negative life event. Feeling low, hopeless, heartbroken, or desperate due to life events *can* lead to depression. However, it’s also totally possible for depression to strike out of the blue. It can be a result of low Vitamin D (as in seasonal affective disorder), it can develop from taking certain medications, it can be genetic, and it can be sparked from sleep disturbances or sleep deprivation.

The bottom line: depression doesn’t discriminate. Successful, wealthy, well-loved “happy” people who live wonderful lives are affected by depression.

Depression isn’t something that positive thinking can cure.
Depression is a complex web of chemical imbalances and isn’t a result of thought patterns. It’s not just something someone can “think happy thoughts” to get out of. I will say, though, that positive thinking doesn’t hurt. Anything that makes you feel connected (like humor or inspiration) can give a ray of hope to someone who is depressed. But it is NOT a cure.

Depression IS something many people can keep well hidden.
Someone like Robin Williams who seemed so full of joy and good humor is an example of that. If he’d never talked about battling depression, most of us would never have guessed. Even the people close to him probably wouldn’t have known.

Or Oregon mom Jennifer Huston. How could an attractive woman who appeared to have a beautiful life with a loving husband and adorable children be miserable to the point of suicide? How could she have kept such a terrible secret? I can only imagine the questions her family and close friends are asking themselves.

People keep depression hidden for many reasons. Shame is a biggie. Not wanting to be perceived as weak. Fear of judgment. Not wanting to be a “downer”. Thinking nobody cares. Feeling guilty about it. Many times the person who appears to not need help is the one who needs it the most.

Depression IS close to you, closer than you think.
Statistically one in four people suffer from depression or some type of mental illness at one point or another. Think about that for a second…one in four people. That’s a whole lotta people. If it’s never been you, count yourself fortunate. But know that you do know many people who have dealt with it. And you might not have realized it.

I’ve had bouts of depression since adolescence. Only a handful of people know that about me. Luckily, my depressive episodes are mostly few and far between. But it can show up without warning. BAM! I’m a wreck seemingly out of the blue. Even when life is going great. And then, just like it swoops in, it just evaporates and I’m back to “normal” (whatever THAT is haha). It’s strange and unpredictable.

However, I do feel an inexplicable underlying sadness nearly constantly. It’s pretty much always been there, right below the surface. Even when I feel deep joy, love, and happiness…the sadness is still there. It doesn’t really make sense, because how can someone be both happy AND sad? But that’s the best way to describe my general demeanor. I don’t talk about it much but I’ve started to be less ashamed of it. I’ve accepted it’s just part of who I am. I’ve also found methods of managing it so I can enjoy more happy days than sad ones.

A few years ago I lost a dear friend to suicide. She suffered from bi-polar disorder and had been a rock for me in my struggles. Watching her succumb to her disease was heartbreaking and terrifying. She was a shining light for many and yet her illness was too powerful. I learned a lot about forgiveness and compassion through her fight.

Why is depression so prevalent?

As a society, we haven’t done a good job of addressing mental illness as a medical disorder. Many people still think of it as a choice…or a need for attention…or a sign of weakness…or a mood that will pass. But depression is none of those things. And because of those prevailing cultural attitudes, many people suffer in silence.

When people suffer in silence, they don’t get better.

For those who seek treatment or help, they don’t always have access to the right resources. And sometimes even the best types of treatment aren’t enough. Did you know that the very prescriptions used to treat depression can create sudden suicidal tendencies in some patients without warning? Even if they’ve been taking the same medication for a long time. Scary and true. It’s all pretty depressing. Ha!

So what can we do to start to change things? There is an obvious need for science and medicine to find better treatment options. However, I think the easiest place to start is with ourselves. It’s a matter of having a willingness to try and understand depression and mental illness for what it really is. Developing compassion and empathy rather than knee-jerk judgments. Labeling someone as weak or cowardly for suffering from an illness just isn’t cool. Would you do that to someone who has cancer or heart disease? I’m guessing the answer is no.

For those of us who battle depression, we can open up and share our experiences. We can let go of the shame. And trust that by sharing, we shine more light on the topic bringing about more solutions for ourselves and others. The more of us who are willing to talk, the less of a stigma depression will have. I’m realizing that more and more people I adore and respect deal with similar issues to mine and there is tremendous comfort in that!

If you are depressed or have had thoughts of suicide, please seek help. Here are some resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Sound Mental Health

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The Coach KFos Guide to Football

by Kelsey on October 10, 2013

In my weekly column Socially Single over at MyEdmondsNews.com, I answered a question about dating someone who loves a sport you don’t understand. In this case, it was football. So I wrote up the Coach KFos Guide to Football. Enjoy!

Coach KFos Guide to Football

This isn’t the technical nitty-gritty, this is how to watch and make sense of a game when you have no clue about the actual rules.

How Long Does This Last?
Football is made up of four 15-minute quarters with half-time happening in the middle. Regular games don’t have a big performance at half-time. The Super Bowl and college bowl games are the exceptions. So don’t ask who is performing at the half-time show during a regular season game.

Now, just because the amount of playing time is one hour, the game will last a lot longer than that. The game clock gets stopped throughout plus there are time outs, etc. All in all, most games last between 2.5-3 hours. Prepare for that.

Which Team is Which?
There are two teams of 11 men each on the field. The best thing to do is immediately make note of who is wearing what color uniform. The colors of the uniforms can be different week to week (home game or away game). Pay attention to what uniform you will be cheering for right away.

Offense and Scoring
The team in possession of the ball is on offense. You can tell which team is on offense because the quarterback will be on the field. Who is the quarterback? He’s probably the one guy whose name you know (Russell Wilson!) and the TV cameras will be focused a lot on the quarterback. The team who isn’t in possession of the ball is on defense.

The field measures 100 yards and each team has an endzone where they are aiming to score at (opposite end of the field). The point of each play is to get close to the endzone and be in scoring position. When a team is on offense, they are trying to score. Ultimately a touchdown (worth six points) or a field goal (worth three points).

The team has four chances (called downs) to move the ball toward their endzone by 10 yards. You will hear a lot about “first down” which means the team on offense earned another four chances to either score or get another first down. First down is GREAT when it’s your team who gets it (lots of cheering) but a first down is NOT great when it’s the team you don’t like.

A team gets a touchdown when a player either catches the ball in the endzone or runs the ball into the endzone. LOTS and LOTS of cheering when your team scores a TD!

If a team runs out of chances (downs) to score a touchdown, and they are close enough (in field goal range), they will attempt a field goal on fourth down (last chance to score). This is where the ball gets kicked in between the big U-shaped thing at the end of the field (goal post). Field goals don’t get as big of cheers as touchdowns but many games come down to a matter of a few points so a field goal is still a GOOD thing!

Now, after a touchdown is scored, the team kicks for the extra point. This looks just like a field goal but they kick from much closer and it’s only worth one point. There is also a way to score two points after a touchdown, called a two-point conversion. The one-point kick is much more common though. You can always ask a guy “why didn’t they go for the two-point conversion?” and he’ll be happy to explain, plus you’ll sound like you are into the game.

Defense
The defense tries to stop the other team from scoring. They can intercept (catch) the ball being thrown to a player on the other team, they can “sack” the quarterback (tackling him before he has a chance to pass to another player), they tackle a guy who is running with the ball, and they do all sorts of things to encourage a fumble (dropping the ball) to then grab the ball into their possession.

When your team is on defense and successfully stops a play, lots of cheering. When your team is on offense and the other team’s defense stops us, lots of yelling.

The defensive players can get a little rough and sometimes the refs call fouls on them, sometimes those illegal tactics get overlooked. If the other team commits a foul and gets caught, your team can gain yardage closer to scoring position (lots of cheering). If your team commits a foul and gets caught, the other team is in better position (usually lots of yelling about “bad calls”).

After the Game
Watching the post-game show is a great way to learn more specifics about the game and get clarification on some of the things that happened during the game that didn’t make sense to you at the time.

For a more definitive guide to the game of football, you can check out the NFL’s Beginners Guide here. Or you can always ask your guy to explain!

GO HAWKS! GO DAWGS!

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Best Dating Blog of 2013 Second Place!

October 4, 2013

I’m super excited to announce that my little blog here won second place for Best Dating Blog of 2013. This was an international competition with many entries of established blogs. Being that I just started about a year ago, I am pretty proud and humbled by this honor. 🙂 Check out the entire list of […]

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Socially Single: After the break-up

October 2, 2013

This week in My Edmonds News, I dish out advice on what to do after a break-up. I see so many singles make the same choices after getting their hearts broken. Actually, once upon a time, I made the same choices. One key piece of advice that isn’t in the article? My recommendation to purchase […]

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Ask Coach KFos: Falling for Bad Boys

June 25, 2013

This week in Ask Coach KFos: Why do I always fall for “bad boys”? “I admit it. As much as I say I want a nice guy, there is just something about a bad boy that I’m just so attracted to. What is that about? Can I re-program myself to kick this habit?” Dear Bad […]

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Ask Coach KFos: Online Dater-Hater

June 14, 2013

This week’s Ask Coach KFos: Is online dating my only option to get dates? “I’ve been single for a few months now and I’m frustrated that I’m not being asked out more. I sort of envisioned that once I was back on the market, friends and co-workers would be setting me up. I also figured […]

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Ask Coach KFos: Becoming a Ruthless Email Ninja

June 7, 2013

This Week’s Ask Coach KFos: Becoming a Ruthless Email Ninja “I finally mustered up the courage to start online dating. And it’s been fun except, holy smokes, no one told me the amount of email I’d receive! And I’m just a normal-looking relatively attractive woman. The men who send thoughtful and personal messages are in […]

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Ask Coach KFos: Speaking up about sex

May 30, 2013

This week’s Ask Coach KFos: Speaking up about sex “I have a question about sex. Specifically, I’ve been with my current boyfriend for about nine months. Things started off great and we just fell into our intimate relationship without ever talking about it. And I guess we’ve fallen into a rut of predictability. There are […]

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Ask Coach KFos: What Counts as Drama?

May 24, 2013

Ask Coach KFos: What really counts as “drama”? “My boyfriend and I had a small disagreement. Not a huge fight, just a disagreement where neither of us wanted to compromise right away. I got a little frustrated because he was the one renegotiating our original plans. I told him I was frustrated and he accused […]

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Ask Coach KFos: Flirting with Danger

May 16, 2013

This week’s Ask Coach KFos: How do I stop having feelings for my married co-worker? “I have an embarrassing situation. I have a married co-worker who I’ve developed feelings for. It’s more than a crush, I genuinely care about him. And I think he does for me, too. Though he’s told me, ‘I’m married. I […]

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