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When Life Gives you Lemons, Make Lemonade: Coping With Depression as a Result of Economic Stress

Robin Kahler: Mon, May 2nd 2011

With gas prices at an all time high and budgets at an all time low, many families are left wondering what to do for a vacation this year. Especially as parents we can feel so overwhelmed with guilt and even depression when our small child looks up at us in sadness when we try to explain why that trip to the theme park simply isn't possible this year. Let's face it, even if there is no child, the child inside each of us can feel pretty low at the thought of staying home for vacation.

family backyard BBQBut, there are things we can do-some really fun things-it just takes a little "I Can Overcome This Attitude."

You can find some great ideas at your public library. Check out some "Cooking with Kids" books, a few crafty how-tos, or maybe some classics you've wanted to catch up on. It's a great time to explore a cave with Tom Sawyer. Or re-visit Lake Wobegon. Don't forget that the library is also the perfect place to rent FREE movies!

One summer when our children were young, we planned a few bi-weekly themes for the season. We spent each two weeks following a planned theme. One time we learned more about the Lock Ness monster. Now this may sound easy, but not when you research everything you can find on the subject. We even rented a movie about Nessy. The kids drew a poster and made a clay model. But most importantly, they had fun learning to research a project and draw their own conclusions about it.

Another time we created our own water park. (No money for a pool.) We found a sprinkler head that ran like a heavy rain and we hung it from a tree branch. Under it we placed a dollar-store shower curtain spread on the ground, (slip n' slide fun when wet). The kids filled water balloons and invited their friends. We bought a few water pistols, yes, even for Dad and Mom. We set up a volleyball net to play while we dried, and we ended the day grilling hot dogs.

One week we decided to learn all about apples. We bought a few of each variety, including some we had never tried before. (We had to visit a few stores to do this.) We looked up the countries they came from. We sampled and voted on our favorites. We made homemade applesauce; we added red cinnamon candies to turn it pink.

Dad and the boys set up the tent in the back yard one night. As luck would have it, a Great Horned owl stopped by for a visit. They are amazing creatures when they fly over your head at night with their near four-foot wing span! It's a "SWOOSH" I'll never forget!

In short-don't let a low budget get you down. There are so many things to do on a stay-at-home-vacation; in fact, you'll probably run out of time before you run out of ideas!


Robin Kahler

Robin Kahler is a patient who was diagnosed with affective bipolar disorder in 1988. She works from her home in Tucson, Arizona, as an antiques appraiser and dealer. She enjoys a full-time hobby as a freelance writer. Her articles are written to offer her personal experiences (successes and failures) with her own clinical depression. She was raised in an inner-city ghetto, with a parent who was also bipolar, and her stories reflect those situations as well. She and her husband enjoy running a home-based business. They have two adult children, six grandchildren, and several pets.

Reader Comments
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Wonderful Ideas - Alandra - May 18th 2011

This is a wonderful article with great ideas! I found it uplifting and appreciate the author's take on summer vacations... definitely something to keep in mind for everyone. You made me want to go explore that cave with Tom. :)

Thanks so much for sharing.

Wonderfully written.

yes, depression does hurt - Robin - May 13th 2011

I'm sorry you didn't find this article helpful. It IS much more difficult when a family is in your situation.  You make a good and valid point.

I would hope that there might be a communtiy program that could help you? I am bipolar and because I'm in stage three kidney failure, I cannot currently take any meds to help me deal with depression. I admit that I follow a careful diet and exercise and I force myself to stay upbeat, so far it's working for me most of the time.

Yes, there are days when I'm feeling very low, too. In fact, this morning was one of them. But I have to force myself to do things. Once I  give it that supreme push to begin, I feel so much better afterwards. Just that one, first PUSH. When you do it a dozen times and you learn  that it does work, and hopefully it becomes easier to begin the next time.

I  hope that you do find a solution. I believe there is always a door we can open. There are times in our lives when we really have a hard time trying to see something positive and I've been there, too. 

I assume, if you are homeless, that you are reading this at a computer at your local library. ASK the librarian about community programs that are available in your town. GO, ask now. :-)

Disappointing - - May 9th 2011

This is kind of a disappointing article. When we are depressed activities like the above might as well be climbing Mt Everestt. I was hoping to find some real coping strategies. I'm homeless, unemployed, no insurance for meds, and I've got four kids (living with dad) who are going to be bored this summer. Good ideas but I might need to find someone without bipolar to implement them.

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