When Chronic Illness Feels Like Depression

Am I depressed or just sick? Am I depressed because I am ill? Am I ill because I am depressed?

The National Institute of Mental Health provides the following list as signs of depression:

  • Feeling sad, irritable, or anxious;
  • Feeling empty, hopeless, guilty, or worthless;
  • Loss of pleasure in usually-enjoyed hobbies or activities, including sex;
  • Fatigue and decreased energy, feeling listless;
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions;
  • Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much. Waking too early;
  • Eating too much or not wanting to eat at all, possibly with unplanned weight gain or loss;
  • Thoughts of death, suicide or suicide attempts; and/or,
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment.

Think about that list. Most of the items, with possible exceptions of the final two, are fairly common in cases of chronic disease or illness. For the individual, this can create uncertainty regarding mental, or even physical, health. If the root cause is unclear, so too is the treatment plan.

What does this mean for the individual? I think it means that those of us dealing with chronic illness need to take it easy on ourselves when we can’t maintain a positive mental state. It doesn’t mean we should give up, but we shouldn’t feel so guilty.

What does this mean for caregivers? Patients with chronic conditions may need treatment for depression or they may need to be reassured that these feelings don’t necessarily mean clinical depression. Caregivers may need to spend more time talking to patients to get at the psychological and emotional issues, and maybe be prepared for some tears, or guilt, or anger.

What does this mean for family and friends? The person you care for may not be able to be as fun as you want, even during times when the illness seems to be under relative control. Your loved one may need you more mentally or emotionally than physically, but simultaneously may feel an abundance of shame about that. And you may, in turn, be angry or frustrated and need to find someone else to talk to about it.

The interaction between chronic illness/disease and mental wellbeing is complicated, like people are. We can’t expect it to be simple or easy, whether we are the patient or those offering support.

Splendid Spoon – The Trial

A few weeks ago, I decided to give Splendid Spoon (http://splendidspoon.com – not an affiliate link). a try. I signed up at the standard cost and plunked down my money for a week’s subscription to show up at my door.

And then I waited for my selected delivery day – Wednesday. The order arrived. Theoretically, it was food for 5 breakfasts/snacks, 5 lunches, and a day of soup fasting. They anticipate you will make something else for your dinner.

Eating 3 meals just doesn’t happen in my life, so for me, this was going to be 5 brunches and 5 dinners, and then the extras spread out into the next week since I’m typically not at this location on the weekends.

I timed it pretty well, because shortly after I got the order, I broke my foot.
Oops. That was unexpected. So, it was good to have food around that I didn’t have to really think about to get a meal in. And, living on my own Monday to Friday, it wasn’t like someone was going to make dinner for me.

The food arrives frozen and WAY packed in ice. It could sit out for quite a while and would not thaw enough to be a problem. After you receive it, you can let it thaw in the fridge and use within a week, or keep in your freezer. The soups mostly come in bowls (with a few exceptions) and the smoothies in bottles.

I’m now finishing up my second delivery from Splendid Spoon and here are my general thoughts. The soups are good. I like to add some salt or salt substitute, nutritional yeast, or hot sauce to them. They tend to be a little bit bland, but are quite filling and the ingredients don’t taste over-cooked. The broccoli still has a bit of crunch, which is nice. I haven’t run into a soup that I really didn’t like, though the beet bowl was not my favorite. While they say that you can eat them at any temperature, I find that I prefer them hot.

The smoothies are ok. I prefer my smoothies to be pretty smooth and most of these have some sort of texture that requires chewing, whether that is coconut, nuts, or seeds. Because I don’t do the soup fast, and some of those come in the smoothie containers, I’ve been a little fooled a couple of times. I tried to drink a bottle of apple and parsnip straight up and cold and then gagged on the onion flavor.

Would I recommend Splendid Spoon? Yes, with reservations. It’s not inexpensive if you are using it for 2 meals a day and then adding a third meal, plus having 1 day a week that you have to have other food for. Since I’m supplementing only with a little probiotic stuff (yogurt and sauerkraut), some apples, coffee, and other drinks, and then some food on Saturdays and Sunday mornings, it’s not so bad. I’m also only getting a shipment every 2nd or 3rd week.

But, if cooking anything interesting for yourself is a struggle, this might be a good idea. And, there is no commitment, so it’s worth it to get a week and try. You can order once and stop, or keep going but skip any weeks you are not interested in.

Have you tried a food delivery service with vegan items? What did you think?

A Water Bottle More Square Than I Am!

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Clean Bottle, a company that specializes in BPA free water bottles – in the past focused primarily on cycling bottles – recently contacted me and offered to send me one of their new Tritan Square bottles to try out. After researching the bottle, and the company, I agreed, and I’m happy that I did.

The company describes the Tritan Square this way:

The Square is the last water bottle you will ever need.  Its iconic shape prevents your bottle from rolling if dropped, while it’s wide handle is perfect for comfortable carrying.  Both caps use a simple quarter-turn twist to remove, and the bottom cap makes cleaning your Square easy, no matter what you may have left in your bottle.  The Square uses durable silicone gaskets in both caps to ensure a leak-proof seal everytime.  The Square’s elegant shape is sure to get you noticed, and don’t worry, it still fits in most cupholders.  Plus, the Square has an optional Water Filter or Fruit Infuser, so you can customize your Square to be perfect for you.

The bottle is 25 oz (.75L), is BPA free, and is dishwasher (top rack) safe. It also has a lifetime guarantee, which I love.

My Square arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been testing it thoroughly, to make sure that I could give you a good review.

What I love:

  • The bottle opens on both the top and the bottom, making it easy to clean out very thoroughly. This, to me, is the biggest sales point. I have thrown away more than a couple of water bottles because I was worried about what might be lurking in the depths.
  • The handle makes the bottle really easy to carry/grab. It’s so handy for running around campus with or taking a walk. I haven’t tried it, but I suspect you could use a carabiner to hook the bottle to your bag.
  • The infuser works perfectly and is easy to clean. So far, I’ve made lemon water, lime/mint water, cucumber/mint water, and cucumber/lime water. The only time any bits got into the water was when a mint leaf got pulled to pieces in my haste to move it along.
  • The colors make me happy. I have been trying out a green bottle, but I want an orange and a blue (school colors).
  • The twist on bottom and top seem very secure and there has been no leaking, even when the bottle did fall over.

What I less than love (but don’t actively dislike):

  • I don’t actually dislike the square shape. I just have no feelings about it one way or another, other than it is different. I guess if I was camping or otherwise doing things where I might be setting the bottle down on uneven surfaces, it might be more useful to me.
  • At the moment, I’m happy with the top/bottom quarter-turn locking. It does make me a little nervous, however, that it could get knocked loose in a bag. It hasn’t happened though. I’m keeping an eye on it and will report back if it does.

All in all, I really like this water bottle. My daughter saw it and wants one, so I suspect I’ll be purchasing some for upcoming holiday gifts (they have a Buy3Get1Free deal).

Clean Bottle was kind enough to send me 2 extra bottles to use as giveaways for my lovely readers!

Tritan Square Giveaway