In the Spirit of Depression


In Part IV in my series on depression. I thought it important not only to share my truth, but to continue the conversation about mental illness, thus helping one another find tools and ways to ride the waves every single day so none of us, whether you are depressed or living with someone who is, feels alone.

*note Part I in series starts here

I discovered, throughout this whole ordeal: my separation, my move, my past relationships with friends and family, that I had to learn to be my own best friend. Most importantly, I also had to deepen my relationship with the divine:  The divine in me, the divine in you, and  the divine in the Universe. This, is a task of great importance for me. To rely on something bigger than I, to surrender, to KNOW that I am not alone in this world. You and I, together, can find solace in knowing we are loved and supported.

Finding some sort of Spirituality doesn’t make depression go away. It does however, give you a chair so you can sit down and be with it while it is there.

– Mel Horrod

In the past, from a very young age I was always longing for someone to constantly be here to comfort me.. to be my security blanket… Where this feeling of incessant insecurity came from, I do not know.. Was it my parents separation, my father not always “being there”, the bullying at school, the feeling of being ostracized and not being part of the “in crowd”? This lead to bad eating habits and the constant urge to want lose weight over and over. Whatever brought me to today… whatever caused this person, who I am now falling in love with, to hate herself to the point of not even wanting to look in the mirror… is not of utmost importance (healing the roots are), yet, acknowledging that the path I have taken has led me to today has fired my critical urge to want wellness.

What I know for sure, is that I am a worthy and loveable human being. I know this!! right? But do I 100% feel this in the core of my being. I do not feel I am there yet.. and this is where I am going.

Which brings me to the subject of Spirituality. My spirituality has been there since the age of 4 (that is the earliest I remember). I believe 100% (this is my truth) that without the belief in God (this is my term I use to describe this amazing unlimited source I can tap into) I would be dead! Without my belief that there is spirits, Angels, sprites, light, Gods and Goddesses watching over me, I would not be of this earth. It is this belief that I am not alone which carries me through these troubled waters.

I also believe the divine works through people. Real people! I have surrounded myself with those you support 100% my well-being and detached myself from those who don’t. This is part of my spiritual path towards wellness, which also includes medication and therapy. Spirituality alone will not cure me, however, it has taught me to be aware and be there for myself in such a loving way.

In their book, The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Fourself from Chronic Unhapiness, the authors state in their introduction:

“Depression Hurts: It’s the “Black Dog” of the night that robs you of joy, the unquiet mind that keeps your awake. It’s a noonday demon that only you can see, the darkness visible only to you”. (p. 1 Williams, Teasdale, Segal and Kabat-Zinn)

Part of my spiritual path is to practice Mindfulness: The authors describe Mindfulness as:

“The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to things as they are.”

To me, this could mean during a panic attack to stop and focus on my feet touching the ground until the wave passes. Being mindful and grounded, instead of trying to “fight” the panic away is a tool I used often, which is, in fact, surrender and acceptance.

“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment.”

Lao-tzu

To sum up, my faith in God has been, and still is, a major part in my recovery. My understanding of the God in me, has brought me to here and carried me during the very painful times. My gratitude, for all that is and all that will be, creates a bridge for me to cross when times are tough. I am happy and grateful for this gift of depression, because it allows me to go inward instead of searching outside myself thinking I need to be fixed (no need to fix something which isn’t broken).

Even though I am battling depression now, I still choose happiness every day. Do I feel happy every day? NO! Do I feel happy in some moments of my day? YES! because I choose it.. because I know it is there, and I accept when it is not.

Remember we cannot chase away the blues when one is clinically depressed, however, we can use all the tools available: Medication, therapy, friendship, diary writing, mindfulness, and yes God whomever you wish him or her to be!

I leave you with this video of Jim Carrey as he explains how sprituality has helped him with Depression and Bi-Polar disorder.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfWN5EW5eo4

Love and light

Kim

Go with the flow


Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.  What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn?  What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice.  Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Last week I posted: Depression hits. Now What? = Love Yourself! I discuss the importance of self-love and the ability to treat and love yourself like you would a child or your best friend. This week I want share some of the strategies which help me with coping with certain fears, thus, often removing the feeling of overwhelm when I begin a new task.  Overwhelm, really makes everything bigger in perspective, so I need to break down tasks into smaller steps.

Dealing with depression and anxiety has been a challenge and a huge awakening at the same time. (see:  Let The Truth Be Known:  I Suffer from Depression) I realize, after some great reflection that depression, anxiety and panic have been part of my life since my early 20’s, maybe even earlier (according to my therapist) However, with this latest onset, I have discovered self-loving ways to overcome some of the challenges I face. These self-loving ways are things I didn’t do in past recoveries.. I mean yes, I started, however, I never took them as serious as I do now. There is the little voice inside of me (which I call my higher self) which guides me through. This “voice” is beginning to replace the “negative voice” which ruled my life for 20 years. These following strategies helped me “unlearn” the old and experience new and loving ways to be gentle with myself.

The two (2) things I needed to work on (huge mountains) were: 1. Self-care (Taking care of my body and showering) and 2. Going out / socializing. These 2 things, if I didn’t pay attention to them, could send me into a deep downward spiral. Think about it.. Looking yucky would lead to more self-hate, and not seeking support or running errands would lead me to feel alone and my kids wouldn’t have food to eat. So, during my treatment, these two areas of my life need to have some sort of plan. A flexible plan.. but a plan.

Remember, if you’re headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns!  ~Allison Gappa Bottke

Plans help me shape my world. I for one, was never really good a making plans and sticking to them. Even with the post today, I had a plan to find some terrific article to back up my post, however, I cannot find a single thing which I find “inspiring”. Being too rigid does not work either. “Go with the flow within guidelines” is my new motto! If I were to stick strictly to adding “facts” from an outside source, it just wouldn’t work. This gives me some control over certain situations and help me feel safe. Just like one would devise an “escape plan” in case of fire, I devise an escape plan in certain situations. Take going out for example:

Lets say I must take a bus to go to an appointment. Taking the bus is quite scary, because this means I am going to be far away from “home base”. Home base, is my safe zone. So I usually devise a plan before I leave giving me a 100% right to change my mind at any time. Meaning, I give myself permission to return to home base.

The first thing I do is to make sure I have my cell phone on me. Then, I stash a $20.00 in my purse. This allows me to take a taxi home if ever panic really strikes. Then as I walk out of the house… I talk to myself. I give myself support throughout the journey. Last week, I had to do this and I told myself I had permission to get off at every stop. This permission allowed me to go all the way!! Get it! When I know I have a choice.. it eases my anxiety.

Choices, we all have. Giving ourselves the right to choose differently allows for freedom. So in the end, I always end up where I wanted to go, or do what I planned to do, because I had a choice! I didn’t feel like I was choking on “I must” or “I have to”.. I felt alleviated with “I can, but I can change my mind at any time”…

As for taking a shower, I now get in the bath! I prepare everything around me. I may even break out a few candles and some bubble bath. I wash my hair with clean water from the tap and rince. Giving myself this “motherly” love is exactly what I need!

You can Google “Anxiety busters” or Depression Strategies to find tons of strategies which will work for you.

Yet, the message here is. Give yourself choices. In most instances, you’ll stick to the plan. However, if one day you don’t, that is ok too.. since it is part of trusting yourself, you can take yourself back home. Just like a mom who promises her child she will pick him/her up right after the first day of school, keep those promises to yourself too! I know I did, and it makes things easier.

Its going out and taking a shower still difficult for me; OH YES! However, now that I have “escape plans” and “mothering techniques” these tasks are much more manageable..and will get even more manageable as my recovery continues.

Keep on moving and smile!

 

 

I Grasp!


“Do not be afraid of tomorrow; for God is already there.”  

~Author Unknown

Writing candidly about my depression has been a release for me.  I am able to share, not only my successes, but the journey of recovery while I’m ‘in it’!  In other words, the good, the bad and the darn ugly!

Yesterday, I had a long conversation with God in my journal.  I told him all my worries, and finally asked God to take them!  I can’t carry the burden alone.. I wont.. I refuse to feel crushed by the thoughts which run through my mind.

So in the end of our “conversation”  God told me

“Let me take care of this Kim.  Relax.  Take a walk. Go forth.”  

So.. go forth I went.. this was yesterday..

This morning.. inspiration came in the form of poetry:

I Grasp!

Waking up at 5 am;

Soaked in raging waters;

searching frantically for a lifeboat.

Finding comfort in shallow waters

My feet are on the sandy shore.

I breathe.

Silence is calling me;

I hear the distance

Quiet, crackling, a song!

Intricate details emerge all around me..

Light, texture, beauty come forth.

I am aware!

The presence surrounds me

for a fleeting moment.

I grasp on so tight my fingers hurt..

bathing in silence.

Raging waters emerge anew…

Yet I walk..

knowing I can

knowing…

the presence fo the Universe will come to me

again…

and again….

and again..

Let The Truth Be Known: I am clinically depressed


As the darkness started overshadowing the light.. I knew it was time to admit there was something wrong.. something very very wrong…  Kim 

2 years ago, I fell to my knees.. I was in the shower getting ready for work and for a moment everything stopped .. I couldn’t hold on any longer..  I dropped in fear.. calling my partner for help. This was the beginning of a long rollercoaster ride to myself… and I am still riding!

I am writing this post today because I think the world needs a crash course in depression. It affects many of us, men, women, children and teens.. yet I feel there is still a stigma attached to it. Those who have never experienced depression, cannot understand the challenges our minds and bodies experience. Not all people share the same symptoms of depression, and to the eyes of some, a depressed person can be judged as lazy or just fearful. This is not truth. The truth is, depression is an illness and there are several symptoms attached to it.

Here are some of my symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty doing ordinary things like: showering, getting out the door to do groceries, reading, focusing, even doing the dishes can be a HUGE mountain to me.
  • Anxiety and panic (borderline agoraphobic)
  • Ruminating and worrying (a gazillion things go through my mind)
  • Crying, hyperventilating
  • Not recognizing myself in the mirror (self-image)

According to Deborah Grey, in her article, Top 10 Depression Myths Debunked, she states: “For all the misconceptions about clinical depression, it seems that there’s a depression myth for every truth — and this makes it difficult to get a real sense of the illness and its capacity to be treated.

Perhaps part of the problem stems from our vocabulary for moods and mental illness: We use “depression” to describe so many ranges of experience that the meaning of clinical depression can get lost in the mix. Furthermore, because simple bad moods are a universal experience, many people think if they’ve had the blues, they know all about depression.”

Judge of your natural character by what you do in your dreams. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the past couple of months I’ve been judging myself! These are the old tapes which run through my mind trying to tell me I am lazy (for not working) I am slow, and if I could just “snap out of it” all will be ok. However, depression doesn’t work that way. Lately (due to the onset of the meds) I’ve been reading EAT, PRAY, LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert, I really love the way she explains her depression, and I want to share a few excerpts here.

“When you are lost in the woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered a few feet off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore…. “

She continues:

“I took on my depression like it was the fight of my life, which, of course, it was. I became a student of my own depressed experience, trying to unthread its causes…. …. What a large number of factors constitute a single human being! How very many layers we operate on, and how very many influences we receive from our minds, our bodies, our histories, our families, our cities, our souls and our lunches!! I came to feel that my depression was probably some ever shifting assortment of all those factors, and probably also included some stuff I couldn’t name or claim. So I faced the fight at every level.

And here is where I am at: (same time frame: 2 years)

“The last thing I tried, after about two years of fighting this sorrow, was medication. If I may impose my opinions here, I think it should always be the last thing you try..” she continues “Those drugs were part of my bridge to the other side, there’s no question about it, but I wanted to be off them as soon as possible.”

The part can never be well unless the whole is well.  ~Plato

I could excerpt more, because I totally identify with this whole discussion on depression in this book! I felt as if I was her. The truth is, this part of the book, confirmed I did the right thing by starting on the meds. I want to Attraversiamo (Lets cross over) to the other side of the bridge!

So as much as I would like to say to my friends and family: Please be patient with me… What I really need is to be patient with myself. I need to give myself as much love, compassion and gentleness at this time.. because frankly, depression sucks!!! I wish it would just disappear, and I can continue to move forward better, stronger and faster! Yet, it is not the will of God right now. My choices may have led me to here (but I know there are medical factors involved too) and I must make myself no 1 right now. Moving forward, always, today getting out the door to go shopping is moving forward.. cooking dinner = moving forward, taking a bath = moving forward, writing a blog post = moving forward. This is NOW! My now.

Thus I am

Kim

Continue reading here:

Santa to me is…


My request this Holiday Season, was to write a letter to Santa. Asking him for whatever it is you wanted: From world peace, compassion, to the next IPAD or that “thing” you’ve eyed at the store. I The point of this excercise was to pour your heart out or even get mad at him for that “thing” you really wanted but never received.  

Making Christmas wishes is not only for Children, I find when I write my letter to Santa, I feel surrender happening.  

This first prompt is not a letter but description of the writer’s beliefs and profession of faith:  

Santa to me is:   by Sherry Barrett

When Kim posted this I was not sure how to go about it or what to say, so here is my thoughts on it.

Interestingly enough I do not remember writing letters to Santa as a child, wonder why. God is my source so I would pray to him for world peace and to rid the world of famine and to help every child to have love and a safe place to live and grow up and to stop the pain I was living in and that no child would be hurt as I was. So many prayers sent to God through those formative years and still to this day, knowing that God can handle everything far better than I could and would eventually make good out of the bad and bring about healing as I have watched it all unfold holding on through it all to the time when I would shine forth as gold as He said. Been quite a journey thus far and I look forward to the continued healing and what I become in and through it to be a better person and help others to do so too.

I remember seeing sleigh tracks and hoof prints on the lawn as a neighbor I later found out tried to make it look like Santa had come, I remember going to see him in the mall, we had out picture taken once with Santa, and I remember getting gifts that were from Santa as well. I remember my older siblings finding the gifts that were hidden away and knowing their was no Santa who brought them. I remember the church buying us gifts from the special tree as well to make out Christmas special.

Santa to me was like God as He could be everywhere and know everything and so I believed in him and prayed to God. As I said I was a deep child and thought alot about things and so figured in my ming thatwas how it worked I guess.

Thankful for the memories and the gifts and the Spirit of the Season.

Sherry Barrett

Getting naked!


God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose.

Take which you please – you can never have both.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s not easy to speak the truth.  When you are having a very bad day and someone, an acquaintance, asks:  “Hey, how are you doing?” Your first instinct would be to reply “Fine thanks. You?”  At that moment your mind starts to think for itself.  “You are not fine, darn it, you feel like crap!”  Why do we ever speak the truth when someone asks “Are you ok?”  Instead of replying fine, why don’t we say “Hey, NO, I’m not ok, I feel like shit and I want to crawl under a rock”?  Wouldn’t that be more authentic?

Obviously in society, we are conditioned to save those crappy moments in our lives for our loved ones.  We obviously do not want to look like “the drama queen of the office” or come off as “negative”, but sometimes I think if we really acknowledged how we felt.. Wouldn’t speaking the truth be cleansing?

Since this summer,  my theme is truth.  I’ve been walking around with my truth stone (Yes! I have a truth stone like the one in the picture above)  to remind me to tell myself the truth and not hide so much under a mask.  No no.. I do not go around town telling the milkman of my recent separation etc.. but I did catch myself telling the school’s crossing guard!!

The conversation looked like this:

Crossing guard:  “Hi, how are you?  Did you move?  I notice you come from the opposite direction now.”

Me:  “Yes, I moved down towards 20th avenue.  I’m separated. Back to being a single mom again!”

Notice how I threw in “I’m separated” and “single mom” in that answer! I’m sure you did!! I could have left it at 20th avenue.  Yet I have this tendency to want to gain sympathy I guess?  If I am speaking the truth here… isn’t that what I am doing by throwing in “I’m separated” into the conversation.  Maybe, maybe not. It really doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I am aware of this and that I know that its ok to need sympathy now, however, maybe not from the milkman himself! In my defence, I’ve known this crossing guard for at least 9 years. She helped my children cross the street every day when we lived on 14th, so openly declaring my recent separation, to me, means that I trust her and she is familiar.  Thus, I admit, I probably did need an acknowledgement, a tap on the shoulder, or a “its ok, you are strong!” kind of response.

Speaking the truth, removing the mask, taking off all my clothes (not literally phewf!)  leaves me feeling vulnerable, very vulnerable.  However, if I keep the mask on, I will be doing exact thing I cannot stand (Scorpio me):    Saying: “I’m fine” when obviously (I can tell right away ) you are feeling quite sad or angry!   It is hard for me to ignore when someone is feeling low.  Yet I have learned over the years, to let the person be once I have asked once “Are you ok”.  I am not a pro at it yet.  I sometimes drive my daughter crazy with this.  She tells me “Its ok mom” and I return and say: “Are you sure?”.   By then I have received the “teenage glare” that no mom can ignore.

I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth– and truth rewarded me. ~Simone de Beauvoir

Truthfully speaking, am I ok?  No, not always.  I’m I going to be ok?  Yes, eventually.  There are times when I am perfectly ok.  I am ok with my apartment, I am ok with my children, I am ok with my hair (on some days) I am ok with my goals… and yes, sometimes I still find joy in the little things and I still can laugh!  However, there are just some things I need to accept.  That will come in time.

If there is one thing I have learned from this process I am working on, which is:  breaking a lifetime of old habits, is that it is painful, it is a challenge, it is like digging a deep hole to go find some archeological relic which will eventually open my eyes to my past.  I can choose to dust off this piece and carefully look at it, appraise it and see its worth, or I can leave it where it came from and move on to the next piece.  I may also discover a whole new historical world there, which may be the discovery of the century!!

What I know for sure is:  delving into my history to find the “truth” and break the cycle of abuse will be the most loving, compassionate, caring, amazing thing I can do for myself right now. 

Truthfully!!!

21 days


They say (and I really never found out who “they” are) it takes 21 days to create a new habit.  It takes 3 weeks to settle into a new way, a change, a transformation of sorts.  A couple of months ago, I blogged about my truth, that I was looking for my new place in order to begin a new adventure.

When the time came to move out of my life and into this new one.  I was so excited.  I was counting down the days to freedom, and boy oh boy I couldn’t wait!  I would finally be free!! … I had no clue what I was going to face once in my new place, yet I was so sure it would be much much better than where I was..  Yet, to my surprise I was faced with something even more scary:  Myself!!!

Don’t get me wrong, my new place is great!  It’s clean, fresh, and full of light.  We established our space, the children and I, and finally got to the point that YES, this feels like home.  Yet, something inside of me was screaming!  With no internet, limited cell phone use, and no cable tv.  I had no place to escape from what was going on inside me.  My support system online was gone, and my family and friends had limited time for me.  My adult mind understood that, however, inside of me I was angry, hurt and felt so alone.

I tried different ways to ease the discomfort I was feeling.  For one,  I started buying the newspaper (something I haven‘t done for many years) but I couldn’t sit still long enough to read it or do the crosswords (although the crosswords did become a good distraction week 1 and 2).  My stomach was in knots from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep.  The movement in me felt dark and cold and I thought I was going crazy.  Literally!

Speak the truth to yourself about what you feel, about what you need, about what you see, about what you want. So many of us don’t tell ourselves the truth. We don’t speak the truth into our spirits. And then we can’t understand why there’s so many dishonorable things going on in our lives. This is about you and your voice and your truth.  Iyanla Vanzant

One day, after calling a local health center for help, I was put on a waiting list for therapy, yet thought to myself:   “How can I wait 2 and a half months when I need help NOW?!!!”  I was determined not to take “wait” for an answer.  So, the next morning I followed an instinct I had previously to go to the community center.  I put my coat on and walked across the street, opened their door and walked right in.  I was in tears when Sylvia (a kind woman) greeted me and she asked how she could help.  I wanted to know if there were any support groups for separated/divorced people.  She led me into her office and listened with a gentle ear.  I felt welcomed, I knew right there and then I walked into the right place.

Sylvia, referred me to a licenced life coach/psychotherapist, who called me that night to set up an appointment for the next day.  I was so relieved.  I went promptly the next morning and she greeted me with love.  We immediately set goals for myself, but most importantly, she listened to me, she valued me and acknowledged me.  That was exactly what I needed.  To be seen and heard!!!  She also urged me to keep contact with my online friends, however, I didn’t know how since I didn’t have access to internet very often. So I got creative and asked two of my online friends if they would be so kind as to keep my company through texting.  They accepted and I felt even more connected spiritually to them and the outside world.  Thanks Ladies!!

Being unplugged for 21 days was a gift in disguise, it helped me face the darkness I was experiencing to an intensity that I couldn’t handle, which led me to seek help (thus the reason it is important to seek help when your gut is telling you, mine told me years ago).   I am now taking responsibility for my life, and facing my truths.. YES ALL OF THEM! One at a time.

In order to do this, I must be kind and gentle with myself.  Right now I am reading In The Meantime by Iyanla Vanzant (for the 4th time) yet, every time I read it, I work on something even more deep.  This week I was reading this passage which is extremely powerful:

She writes:

“With the old you gone and the new you emerging:  when you find yourself in a situation similar to one you faced in the past, you can create a new response.  …. Love those who come to wallow in your stuff with you.  As you are loving them, you can fogive you.  FORGIVE YOU FOR MAKING IT SO DIFFICULT ON YOURSELF… Forgive you for having such bad feelings about the people who have been trying to help you.  Forgive you for asking and allowing other people to help you hurt yourself.  This is the ultimate demonstration of responsibility and just about all you will need to propel you up…” p 278

I cried at this point, because I know, I am the bully to myself.  That is the truth I was seeking.  From now on… no more bullying:  I am kind and gentle with me and that my friend is a promise I am making to myself.

Being back online is wonderful!  I do not think I want to go 21 days unplugged again.  I am a true believer support through spirit and even though my online friends come from everywhere around the world, they are my friends and I need them.  However, I will take more time offline to focus on things which I need to work on, and that is what I call balance!

So, if ever you are experiencing a life crisis, go unplugged for 21 days.. You would be surprised at what you will find.

Blessings!