Depression 101: Myths and facts

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I have spent a lot of time talking to people about depression since my post in February “Suzy Sunshine🌞“where I openly discussed my own depression.  I have absolutely LOVED the feedback and discussions that my blog generated and am so happy I took that huge leap to open up and talk about something that many people struggle with.

While talking to people though, I have realized, even more, how many misconceptions there are about depression.  I am devoting this blog to a few of those but will be writing more blogs on my experiences and knowledge in the future as I can see that people NEED and WANT to talk about it.

The first misconception I will address is that those people you hear say “I am so depressed” do not struggle with/suffer with depression.  I know they are just using it as an expression, but it really kind of minimalizes the pain and suffering those of us who are actually suffering go through.  Those of us who do, do not just randomly use this expression; we suffer in silence mostly and if we do ask for help it is just that.  We say that we are struggling and need some help only to those very close to us who we trust.  This is EXTREMELY hard for us though.  I am better at it now that I have opened up to more people, but those suffering are generally doing it in silence.

The second misconception is that depression is something that you can just “snap out of” with the right distraction and attention.  Oh how I would love it to be this easy!  No matter what people say to us (“everything will work out”), do to distract us (try to get us to laugh etc), remind us of the good things (“be thankful for all you have”) it, sadly, doesn’t help! I wish these heartfelt gestures by friends did help, but unfortunately I end up feeling far worse as I am made to realize that “yes, everything is perfect, so why am I SOOOOOO sad all the time!!!”  I know that these intentions come from the right place in your heart, but the best thing you can do is give me a hug, not ask me how I am (I’ll just break down) and let me know you are there if I need you.  Most people have learned to read me well and for this I am thankful.

I am in the very fortunate position of having a wonderful support network and for this I am eternally grateful!

The last misconception is about taking medications to help in treating depression.  I, as I have been quite open about, am a believer in medication so want non-believers to understand that taking a medication for a mental health illness does not make you weak.  Many people are uncomfortable with admitting they are are on meds but this is ridiculous. People believe the meds will “change you”. If by change you you mean level things out in your brain so that you can deal with life like the average person can, then YES, they do change you. A positive change that helps you cope with life on an even level.They are not happy pills that make you feel numb and happy. If they do you are on too high a dose! Don’t be embarrassed. Be proud that you are getting the help you need.  If I needed help seeing should I be embarrassed to wear my glasses? It’s the same thing❤

I am going to leave it at that for this blog, but those of you who have opened up to me, please pm me any time, and continue to reach out for support.

Your Simply Susan lesson the day! 😄

 

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‘Twas the night before school…..

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fit2borganized

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Twas the night before school and all through the town,

The children were whining and all feeling down.

Their bags were all packed, and all filled to the top,

With lunches, and snacks, a few books and a pop!

The children were crying and getting ready for bed,

While their parents drank wine, relaxed and some read.

And daddy in his pj’s and I in mine too,

Were sitting downstairs with nothing to do.

Wait what? What’s that? I hear a big shout,

I look up the stairs and see one child running about.

She is up in her room making sure is ready,

For the first day of school has to be just right and steady.

She is one of a kind, loves the first day of school,

But this wears off soon, by day 3 it’s not cool!

The other child yells  “Why????”,  and puts…

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HIIT me!!

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For those of you that are not up on your new exercise lingo, HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. Basically, you are working really hard for short bursts of time, with little break. I personally LOVE HIIT workouts and find they are great to use when time is tight. Another huge benefit is, all you need is shorts, a top, shoes and a small area of open space (you could totally do this in a hotel room or apartment!)

My new favourite HIIT workout comes to you courtesy of my ever-so-wonderful husband Shawn! The reason he created this workout for us is that we had to get to a dance competition for one of our daughters and had only limited time and wanted to get an effective, hard workout in. This HIIT workout takes about 15 minutes and you should be tired and very sweaty at the end!

What you are doing for HIIT workouts is doing 3 high intensity exercises in a row with no break then 30 second to 1 minute recovery. Repeat 5 times.

Here are the exercises:

  1. 15 Push ups
  2. 15 Jump Squats
  3. 15 Squat Thrusts

Rest 30 sec to 1 minute, basically just until you catch your breath!

Repeat the above 3 exercises 5 times.

That’s it! SO easy, SO effective, SO hard, SO fun!

Your Simply Susan HIIT workout of the day. Go do it now, I dare you!😏

Suzy Sunshine 🌞

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For those of you who know me personally, would you believe me if I told you that I struggle with depression? Even to my faithful blog readers it’s likely not something you would have figured out, since I like to keep my blogs positive and happy.

With Bell’s Let’s Talk Campaign approaching us, I want to bring awareness to Depression and Mental Illness and encourage people to recognize the signs and symptoms and I thought I would start by telling you about myself.

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That’s right, I am one of the many people who deal with this on a daily basis and have learned to hide it very, very well. Not only that, but I have also learned to cope with it and also learned who truly loves me and accepts me for who I am.

I know this likely comes as quite a shock to many of you who think that I seem like the opposite of someone who suffers from depression; I mostly always have a huge smile on my face, I laugh A LOT, and I always have something positive to say to people! I am often referred to as “Suzy Sunshine”! The thing is, I treat others the way I want, and hope, people will treat me and others. It’s as simple as that. I want to feel good, and I know that when people greet me with a smile and a friendly hello, it can instantly make me feel good. I like to spread the joy and it truly makes me a happier, better person.

I feel the need to bring this out there and deal with it head on as I feel like there needs to be so much more awareness and acceptance out there about mental illness.

I came to terms with it only about 5 years ago now, but know definitely that it is something that I have hidden, struggled with, denied, and coped with since my teen years at least. Depression can be brought on by traumatic life events such as sickness or death of loved ones, or, as in my case, genetics. Because depression is a mental illness, people in older generations have difficulty accepting and admitting to having it as they see it as “psychotic” or “mentally disturbed” among other things. It is not accepted by them as easily. I have tried to educate and show my family member that they also suffer from it and could benefit from treatment, but this was not well received, and in fact it was adamantly denied. I can easily trace it back 2 generations and in my case, it is genetic. Thankfully, my children are now fully aware of it and we have many open discussions with each other and our doctor.

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It is such a very hard thing to come to grips with and accept. For me, I totally recognize that I have a great life; an amazing, loving, supportive husband, 2 incredible, supportive children, a wonderful home, a job I love…..so when I was suffering daily, crying, feeling hopeless, feeling so sad that I thought life would be better for everyone without me, I knew that this was not right. For too long I suffered in silence thinking I just couldn’t handle the stresses of daily life because I was weak. I put myself down, had daily battles with myself, and faked it, faked it, faked it to those who knew me quite well. I truly thought that if I told people, that they would judge me, think I was making excuses and think I was weak. So, I hid it and suffered in silence as so many do.

Once I hit rock bottom…..everything in my life was going very well, yet when I was using one of my best coping strategies (running it out) I was crying uncontrollably and decided that enough was enough, I got home and immediately made an appointment to see my family doctor. She knows me very well, and has helped me very much over the years.

Now I know many people are against taking medication to help them deal with depression. They worry that it will change them or that they will be on it for life and be dependent on it. If you had diabetes and required medication to stabilize your blood sugar would you take it? Of course you would. So why, when you have a chemical imbalance in your brain that can be regulated with medication would you not take it? Medication can definitely help, but is not for everyone. There are so many treatments available to you, you just have to first accept that you need help then speak with someone you trust to see what is out there.

One thing people don’t understand about depression is that just “thinking about happy times” “thinking about all I have, the great life I lead and all I have going for me” or ” watching comedies” doesn’t get me out of my downward spirals. Boy do I wish it were as easy as that! That would be the life! Thinking of those things actually makes me worse because I realize that I have no tangible reason to be feeling as bad as I am feeling and I feel I must have everything wrong with my brain if I feel uncontrollably sad when I have no real reasons to be. I hated myself for feeling the way I would feel and felt so weak and like such a loser.

Negative thoughts are like magnets that attract each other and get heavier and heavier eventually weighing you down so far you feel as though you are in a deep hole that you’ll never get out of. You get a sort of tunnel vision and you just want to bury yourself in a hole and never emerge. Thankfully I am starting to recognize when I am spiraling down and reach out to close friends and my family for help. Now that I have opened up to some people that I knew would not judge me, I am able to get out of my spirals sooner and feel better more quickly than in the past.

I don’t have a tried and tested way for getting myself up and out of these downward spirals, but I THANKFULLY have some very special people in my life who really help me and love me no matter what. It is these people (and my dog Finely of course!!) as well as other factors that get me up and out of the hole I am. Sometimes though I still feel like such a burden that I try to hide it so as not to bring others down with me. I still feel weak a lot of the time for letting things get to me and not being able to cope but am learning to accept it for what it is an not over analyze it as much.

I accept that this is a lifelong struggle I will have, but with acceptance comes happiness…eventually!

WHOA! That was a lot to unload.

I do not want you to think that I, or anyone struggling with depression, uses this as an excuse for being grumpy, cold, moody, or short-tempered, I just want everyone to be aware that things and people aren’t always as they seem. I have become a “master of disguise” and it certainly has fooled others because those who I have shared my suffering with truly had no idea. One of my favourite comedians always comes to mind when I think of people having depression and hiding it well, r.i.p. Robin Williams.

My advice to anyone else out there who thinks they may also suffer with depression? Be honest with yourself and talk! That’s the best advice, talk, be open, accept yourself for who you are, and get some help.

Feel free to comment or send me a personal message. This was a big step for me to admit this in such a big way, but hopefully by reading this I will help at least one person and hopefully many more.

Your Simply Susan truth of the day!

Keep positive and smile on! You know I will.

I like my big butt and I cannot lie!

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So, a funny thing happened to me by accident over the past few months….I developed some pretty strong butt and leg muscles, and yes, a bigger butt!  Now, I didn’t go into this with the goal of getting a bigger, stronger butt, but that is the result and I have to admit I like it!

So, anyone out there interested in how to make that flat butt round? Anyone interested in how to make those skinny, shapeless legs firm, toned, and shapely???

Well, if you answered “yes” to the above questions please read on and watch the video clips so you can!!

The first thing I did was to mix my regular stuff up for 3 days of the week.  I run 4 times a week and while this keeps me strong and toned, it doesn’t build new muscles, and your body plateaus when you do the same thing all the time.

How did I mix things up you ask??

I now do 3 cross-training days instead of 2 and only 1 of those is spent on my stationary exercise equipment (Stationary bike, and elliptical).  The other 2 are spent doing high intensity cross training.

On one day I do what I refer to as my “Ladder Workout“.  Here I do a series of 15 or 10 down ladders of various exercises.  For those of you who don’t know what a ladder workout is, it is where you work your way down the ladder doing 10, then 9, then 8, then 7 on down to 1 of 1 exercise.  So, I do a 10 down ladder of “Burpees”  first with maybe 30 sec to a minute between sets. (By the end I have done 55 burpees)

Following this I do a 10-down push-up ladder with the same 30 sec to 1 min break in between sets.  In the break I actually do back exercises where I squeeze my shoulder blades together for 3 sec (10 reps) to work my upper back muscles. (Helps improve posture)

The next ladder I do I call “Fartees“!! Sorry for the somewhat offensive title, but these are basically reverse burpees, so I like to call them Fartees!  I’ll attach a video here as this is hard to explain.  These ones burn your butt and legs and I think have had a lot to do with my stronger, bigger butt!

The next thing I do is some arm exercises with my bands to rest up a bit from the “Fartees” as those are quite exhausting!  I do 2 sets of each exercise:  12-15 bicep curls then 12-15 triceps extensions.

The last ladder I do is a 15 down “Jump-Squat” ladder.  I personally LOVE doing jump squats as they are tiring and make my legs burn and feel SO strong!  I take a 20-45 sec rest between sets and work my way down the ladder to 1!

Then, the last thing I do is hop on my stationary bike for 10 minutes to do a quick interval session, then I’m done!

That’s the workout I do 1 day every week and it is tiring and oh-so-worth it!

My 3rd cross-training work out I do at a local place that has 2 stair cases, and 2 hills leading up to a large grassy area.  I run over (about 1.3km) then immediately run up 1 set of stairs then walk to cool down (30 sec) then run down and back up another hill, then walk (30 sec) then run down a hill, then straight up another hill then walk and repeat.  I do this for 6 sets total.

Next I go to the big grassy area in the middle and do 10 sets where I split between 3 jump squats, then, run backwards to the middle then forwards to the next spot where I do 3 squat-thrusts, then backwards to the middle, then forwards to the next spot for 3 jump squats. Repeat this until you have done 10 even sets (5 of each).

This is a “Squat thrust“:

Lastly I go back to the set of stairs and do 3 intervals with one set of straight up double steps in between each.  This set of stairs has a platform every 6 stairs so on each platform I do “something”.  This varies but the things I like to do are:  3 push-ups or 5 squat jumps, 3 squat thrusts, large stair climbs (3 on each leg), or 3 lunges on each leg.  What I do is I pick one of these and do that on each level (5 levels).  Then I run/walk back down, do a straight up double stair set then down and choose another interval from above.  And then repeat this until I have done 6 sets total.

There you have it!  So, as it turns out, all those jump squats, large stair climbs, squat thrusts, burpees, and fartees create a strong butt!

If anyone is local and ever interested in joining me, message me and we can set something up!

So, there you have it, your Simply Susan fitness tip of the day!

 

A smile a day……keeps negativity away

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20160214_142317.jpgI have made it a personal goal of mine to approach each day with a smile and a positive attitude.  Some days are certainly harder than others, but as long as I work at it, I generally succeed……I did say generally, I am only human and just like everyone I have days where I keep to myself and avoid seeing and talking to people.

The difference here is that I recognize I am not in a good mood, acknowledge it, and purposely try to keep to myself so as not to affect others.  You know what?  We are all busy, we all have daily life challenges, and we all have some crap going on to deal with!  I just want to stress that just because you may feel like a miserable cow doesn’t mean you need to bring others down with you!!!!

I just HATE being around people that think that everyone needs to know how life has wronged them, how they have “Way too much to do!” , how everything is “so expensive!”, etc., etc., etc.,!   WE ALL DO!!!!!!!  That’s called life and it’s the CHOICES that we make that can make or break us.  I purposely CHOOSE to avoid people, or keep to myself if I am feeling negative because I am quite aware that what is going to come out of my mouth won’t help!

When we are around those “negative, dark, cloudy” people we can’t help but be brought down with them.  What do I do?  I try and say something positive, and I LEAVE!  I refuse to let someone ruin my day just because they think the world is out to get them!  It’s not worth it!  Life is too short to waste time with people who don’t affect you positively.

I want you, my loyal followers, to really think about these things as you surround yourself with people.  Who do you realize is your “dark cloud”?  Who makes you feel good?  How can I help this person to see the good rather than the evil??

2016-05-10-14.35.02.jpg.jpgLife is a series of choices, let’s try to spread  positivity and happiness.  I LOVE to smile, and am thrilled to hear that my smile makes those around me smile to. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Always remember those wise words from your mother…..“If you don’t have anything nice to say to say, don’t say anything at all!”

Love, smiles, and hugs to all my fit2borganized followers.

Please feel free to comment, and add suggestions as to what you would like me to tackle in this year’s blogs!

Your Simply Susan SMILE of the day!!

For the love of dog!

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2017-02-08-20-13-02.jpgOn my daily walks with our puppy I have been thinking a lot about how much he has improved not only the quality of my life, but of my family’s life as well.  The random smiles I get from watching him do, well, too many cute things to mention have made me realize how amazing a decision we made to add this wonderful addition into our family.

2017-02-08-19-52-52.jpgI have thought a lot about how when you have both a puppy and a baby there are many similarities to how you spend your days.  Before having children I never spent time at a park, I never took daily walks to get fresh, I wasn’t accustomed to daily chatting with strangers and so much more.  I realized that having a dog is similar to this. I treasure my morning walks with Finley and having to do this has made me a better person. It forces you to get out of the house (a positive thing), it encourages you to socialize with other dog walkers, and it takes you on paths you may not have traveled otherwise.  I love that each walk with Finley is different somehow; I take a different turn down a different street, I take that “off the paved path” through the stream area or whatever.  Whatever it is, it is always a daily adventure that I, and I truly believe that he too, looks forward to.

2017-02-08-19-43-51.jpgI never knew that I could be so attached to an animal before Finley.  He is the simplest joy around and is always there for me no matter what.  He will sit by me day in and day out, follow me faithfully around the house keeping an eye on me, and most importantly he will give me (and of course the other 3 members of my family!!!) unconditional love always.

Dogs don’t hold grudges.  They don’t judge you if you make a mistake.  Dogs are truly just there to love and be loved.2017-01-29-19-17-15.jpg

I love our Finley in a way I could never have imagined.  I always heard other people tell me about dog ownership and how great their dogs are.  Funny thing is, I always had a dog growing up and loved them (well, some more than others!!).  I obviously was not the one they were most bonded with, and now as an adult I realize my mom did ALL the work for our dogs.  I really had no idea what was involved, but also the fantastic and SO WORTH IT payback that a dog gives you if you treat it well.

We put off dog ownership in my family until we were truly ready and could both spend the time training our dog, and had the time to spend with the dog.  I am so happy that I spend the time with him that I do, I think that is why he is so loyal and well behaved and he’s only 7 months. I can’t imagine life without Finley, but I am sure glad that we waited until the time was right!

2017-02-14-15-14-53.jpgFinley rocks!  He is one amazing dog and we all love love love love him more than we ever thought possible.

If you’re ready for it and have the time, give dog ownership a second thought.  It is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO worth it.

Your Simply Susan happy thought of the day!