Tag: happiness

Depression and Cognition: A Correlation

Once upon a time, depression was viewed by many as a term used by desperate individuals, who were seeking attention or individuals lacking willpower and coping skills. Flash forward to today and we’re seeing the dangerous effects of untreated depression, such as suicide, murder, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and so on.

We all go through some form of sadness from time to time, whether it’s from a job loss, a failed relationship, a sudden death, and even poor family dynamics, however, when that sadness becomes a part of your everyday routine, you know it’s time for a doctor’s visit. Depression affects you in more ways than you would think and it’s absolutely vital to seek help when you notice certain changes before you begin to spiral out of control. Personally, the one symptom that got me to my doctor’s office was my lack of concentration. As a writer, you cannot function without it and I became very suspect that something wasn’t right, right away. Social isolation is also something I experience as I work from home. We know that friendships become scarce the older we get, so imagine working from behind your computer screen, while living alone and you get the perfect case study for depression and the deterioration of one’s cognitive abilities. My short term memory doesn’t exist, brain fog is consistent, focus is almost impossible and the two things I haven’t lost as yet are my sense of humor and wit, which I am almost positive will ultimately make an exit. Cognitive decline is one of the most embarrassing and debilitating thing to happen to anyone, in my opinion, especially due to its social effects such as losing your train of thought in the middle of an interview.

Recently, I was diagnosed with a mild form of depression known as Dysthymia, a persistent depressive disorder (PPD), which now puts everything into perspective. Like major depression, it’s a mood disorder with similar effects. “Diagnosis of dysthymia can be difficult because of the subtle nature of the symptoms and patients can often hide them in social situations, making it challenging for others to detect symptoms.” Sansone, 2009, Dysthymic Disorder: forlorn and overlooked. This disorder isn’t biological, however, just having family members living with depression can put you at risk of developing dysthymia. Research also indicates that this type of disorder is far more chronic than major depression because it can begin in early childhood and go undetected for many years until it manifests into major depression. It makes perfect sense as to why I’ve always felt a deep sadness within me that I couldn’t explain and being the social and charismatic kid that I was, made it impossible for anyone to suspect that I was depressed. As a child, I thought my sadness was the result of not having my parents around, but as I grew older the feelings never left. As a young adult, I spent my early 20’s feeling sad and depressed because everyone around me had their own ideas and opinions about who they wanted me to be. Being emotional as I am, I internalized everything, which eventually lead me to develop suicidal thoughts. The fact that depression and mental health weren’t taken as seriously as it is today, allowed my dysthymia to progress. Fortunately, with therapy, it is possible to regain some sort of normalcy and control in one’s thoughts. Will my poor concentration and memory loss be a thing of my past? I sure hope so because my writing nor 150 LSAT score won’t magically appear.

As I researched this topic, I spoke with several people dealing with some form of depression, who each had one thing in common, an innate fear of being labeled and stigmatized, so no one wanted to speak with me on the record. This alone shows that even though we’ve come a long way with educating society on depression and mental health, we’re still not in the clear and more work needs to be done. If we came together to discuss our experiences with the disorder then maybe people wouldn’t suffer in silence or resort to taking his or her own life. Time and time again we hear about suicide cases, especially amongst celebrities and we’re left baffled as to why because they seemed fine. Well, in most cases we don’t find out until it’s too late.

Depression isn’t a joking matter because it can affect anyone and at any given time, but the key thing to remember is that it’s possible to overcome. Wanting to end your life shouldn’t be your first thought, instead, think about ways to manage your symptoms and coping mechanisms that have been tried and proven to work. I think that a lot of sufferers are those with empty hearts, who feel burdensome by their limited or lack of fulfilling and gratifying relationships. For these sufferers, a simple “hello” or “how are you” can make a huge difference in their mood and energy. We all want to feel valued, loved, and cared for, thus making it important to stay away from abusive relationships and negative people. Negativity in every form is bad for your health and your well-being, and it’s crucial to find a balance if you want to improve your cognitive skills and life. Life is too short not to be happy.

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Tips and tricks for easy traveling

With my pending travel arrangements, I thought I’d share with you the system that I’ve created for myself to make the packing process much simpler. Now, I haven’t always been this creative, but after averaging five successful trips last year, I can confidently say that it works. If you’ve already discovered this, then carry on. Anyway, I grew up in a household where not much traveling happened so, whenever there was a trip, I remember how overworked and flustered my mother would get with having to go through everything she’d need for that trip. Over the years I’ve tried different ways of staying organized and getting all of my essentials ready for packing, but no matter what I did there’d always be a missing link. I’ve perfected this safe-proof way of ensuring that my needs and comfortability will be met no matter where I’m going, who I’m going with or how long the trip will last, and I hope it helps you too, to be more organized and less stressed. Here we go:

  1. Don’t procrastinate. We grew up hearing these two words from elementary all the way into adulthood, and yet we consciously engage in said act. Well traveling is not the time to procrastinate because nothing is worse than reaching your destination and then realizing that you switched purses the day before, so your wallet isn’t in the purse you brought with you. That’s a colossal damage! Anyway, take time to plan things out and I don’t mean to lose sleep over it, but make sure you allow yourself the extra time to decide on what you’ll be needing.
  2. Make sure all ID’s and passports are current. No one wants to book a flight, get to the airport and then find out that your passport has been expired two months ago. It’s imperative that before you decide on a trip, check to see if your credentials are up-to-date. I’m not just talking about passports, green cards, visas, etc, but also your state ID’s, both health and car insurance cards (in case of emergencies), credit cards, and the works. Check everything and never leave without it! IMG_2486.jpg
  3. Arrange for your pets and plants to be taken care of. Many flights allow you the luxury of bringing Sally and Penny with you for an extra fee, as well as with the paperwork to prove that they’ve been vaccinated and approved for flying. That’s all well and good. It’s easier to carry your babies if you’re traveling by bus or train, and off course by car, either way you still want to make sure that they too, will enjoy the trip as much as you will. As for your plants, simply get yourself some Aqua Globes and they’ll be fine. You can pick them up at any botanical or home improvement store, as well as Amazon.
  4. Gather necessities before packing. This is extremely important if you’re all about comfort and relaxation. Going back to my first tip, after deciding on what you’ll be needing, lay everything out in front of you just so you have a complete visual, and it’ll make the process a lot easier. After laying it all out, get a few Ziploc bags and then separate, separate. Put all of your medicines and first aid items together in one bag, then gather your shower, dental and hair products into another, then continue on with your after shower products, then move on with your makeup (I’m assuming you won’t be traveling with your entire makeup collection), then your cleaning agents (lysol is highly recommended if you’ll be staying at a hotel), and so forth. To maximize space, I usually use a bag for my undergarments just so I’d have enough space for my clothes and shoes. It really helps to have everything placed in bags because it’s far easier to take out and put back, plus if you’re a worrier like myself, it’ll be less hectic proving to yourself that you did bring your hair brush. Now, If you don’t mind spending extra money for toothpaste and toothbrushes if they’re left behind, go ahead and dismiss this entire list!

  5. Select clothing wisely. Plan out your outfits, so you don’t go over your 50lb limit. It’s much easier when traveling for business because you know you’ll need an extra suit, shirt, tie, necklace, a pair of shoes, an extra casual outfit, maybe a little black dress for after-meeting cocktails and another outfit for your return flight. Great! But if you’re traveling for vacation or honeymoon, you know you’ll be needing all sorts of clothing. This is why you should plan outfits based on your itinerary and/or destination. You’ll need outfits for the beach and pool, night(s) out, casual daytime outfits, lounge and sleepwear, workout gear, cold weather gear, and at least one business casual outfit. It all reflects back to where your priorities lie.
  6. Don’t neglect who you are. Have fun. Be out-going and explore the area because that’s the reason you went, right? So enjoy yourself, however, do not allow yourself to become an easy target for criminals. There’s a difference between having fun and enjoying yourself, and putting your life at danger. Spring break is approaching and as much as I’d like you to enjoy yourself, I also want you to remain safe and return home in one piece! It’s never wise to leave with someone you’ve just met no matter how charming or beautiful. Stay with your partners and mates, and always put together a plan in case you get separated. If you do, remain calm, seek out someone in authority to help you with your search or finding directions, go back to your hotel and wait. Keep your valuables close and out of sight, don’t be too eager to make friends, and remember to be respectful at all times. Without forgetting to mention, always visit the U.S Embassy in any foreign country as an added safety precaution to inform them of your stay. It helps in case something goes awry. Go out people and enjoy the wondrous life of travel.