Recognizing the Early Signs of Depression

Deborah Gray Health Guide
  • One corner of the kitchen in our 1950s ranch is all windows. Ceiling to hip height three-foot wide windows that let in the incredibly strong California sun. When we first moved here a little over two years ago, I had no idea how strong that sun was, and I made simple short cafe curtain ruffles just to decorate the tops of the windows. I didn't want to block the view of the back yard. That summer I found out just how relentless the sun can be. The kitchen gets sunlight most of the day and can get unbearably hot with nothing filtering it. With my Multiple Sclerois, I couldn't be in the kitchen more than a few minutes on warm days, as getting overheated can awaken new MS symptoms. Plus, we wanted to use the table in that corner to put bread and produce on, and the sun made that impossible. Condensation built up inside bread wrappers and mildewed the bread, and the produce literally cooked within a day in the sun.

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    So last spring I started sewing some curtains that would block the sun. Although I had loved the fabric I made the first set of curtains from (pictures of diner food sprinkled on a light turquoise background) I couldn't find any more of it. I got a nice light yellow fabric with pictures of all sorts of coffee drinks all over it, perfect for a kitchen. I figured that the color would still allow enough light to come in that the kitchen wouldn't be gloomy.

    Sewing curtains for a room is not a big deal for me. Curtains, at least the kind I usually make, are a snap. Since we moved into this house, I'd made curtains for the kitchen, bathroom, Lawrence's room and a window on a hall door. I got a brand new sewing machine right after we moved in, and I was giving it a workout. I also made a shower curtain to match the bathroom curtains and a comforter cover to match Lawrence's curtains, plus full length muslin curtains in place of closet doors in his room.

    So I started on the curtains, cutting up the fabric, ironing the hems (I prefer that to pins) and finished half of one curtain. Then the sewing machine needle snapped. Not exactly a big deal. I've replaced sewing machine needles before. But for some reason this totally threw me. I put the curtains aside. The fabric sat there next to the machine, gathering dust and taking up a heck of a lot of room. Last summer, since the curtains weren't blocking the sun, the kitchen became unbearably hot again and we couldn't put any food on the table. I was irritated at myself for not finishing the curtains, but I just felt stuck.

    And this wasn't the only project that had been abandoned. It's been a couple of years since I made any handmade soap or natural body care products. The birdhouse I started painting in spring of 2006 is still only half painted. Until recently, I just turned a blind eye to the half finished projects, and didn't have any ambition as far as starting new ones.

    So what was going on? Well, it looks like I have been a little depressed. Not enough that I'd notice, but just enough to turn something as minor as a broken sewing machine needle into a major stumbling block. That's one of the less publicized symptoms of depression. Your motivation gets sapped. Without that, it doesn't take much to get you off track.

  • Fortunately, it looks like my new antidepressant regimen has kicked in. I (and my husband) started noticing that I was getting a lot more done on the weekends. Now, to be fair, I do have a lot of challenges. I have a full-time job, a part-time job, MS and a five year old son. But there's no question in my mind that it was my mild depression that was keeping me from getting much done other than the basic essentials.

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    So, a couple of weeks ago those unfinished curtains really starting bugging me, especially since we had a couple of hot spells that reminded me how unbearable our kitchen can get in the summer. This weekend I sat down at the sewing machine, after having excavated all of my sewing notions containers from underneath piles of stuff. I found a new needle and studied the manual until I was sure that I wasn't going to break anything. I replaced the needle and tested the stitching on a piece of cloth. I fiddled with the settings until I was sure that everything was perfect. Then I went to work, and a few hours later I have a new set of curtains that let in just enough light in the kitchen.

    In the last couple of weeks I started getting ambitious about other projects, too. I decided I wanted to make batches of my natural first aid and bruise balms, something I've been meaning to do the last two or three years, but just couldn't get motivated enough to begin. But now I've bought the herbs and started marinating them in jars in the sun. The whole process takes a few weeks, but I'm confident that I won't stop part way.

Published On: May 04, 2008