Demystifying the Path of Depression


Walking the path of depression is probably the best gift Spirit has given me.  The opportunity for growth is extreme. However, not everyone goes through depression the same way.  It can take some longer than others to heal.  There is no magic pill anyone can take to rid themselves of this mental illness. You cannot “snap out of it” or “make it go away with positive thinking” and as my friend Mel Horrod cleverly said this week in a conversation about demystifying depression and it’s stigma:

Just pull your socks up’, was something I heard over and over again when I was ill. I couldn’t even get the socks into the washing machine, let alone put them on and pull them up!

Humor aside, many, including me (at one time) have judged another suffering from this, at times, debilitating mental illness, and made assumptions on how they are not doing enough to heal themselves.  Well today, I know this is bullshit!

Even as I continue the healing process myself, with my meds and therapy, there are still others who think they have the “magical cure” and now I am speaking up.  Don’t get me wrong, when others offer advice, I know it doesn’t come from dark place, comments and advice are often well intended in order to help the person with clinical depression, and even though their words are coming from a place of love, sometimes, words, just make it worse.

Now, let me reiterate, that there is a HUGE difference between being depressed, and actually having a diagnosis of clinical depression. When I google:  define depressed this is what comes up:

de·pressed/diˈprest/

Adjective:
  1. (of a person) In a state of general unhappiness or despondency.
  2. (of a person) Suffering from clinical depression.

  Don’t let depression define you!

   Know the difference!

Synonyms: dejected – sad – despondent – low-spirited – downcast

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Courtesy of taram.carbonmade.com

Everyone gets “depressed” every once and awhile, however, not everyone suffers from clinical depression, bipolar disorder, or any other disorder in the mental illness spectrum.  It is important to know the difference and act accordingly.  No one wants to suffer alone in silence!   Yet, the pains, aches, and overwhelming thoughts can be very scary.  One wants to chase them away…

Yet, in order to heal the pain, you must feel the pain!

So, read as many self-help books you want, post 1000 post it notes in your house with positive affirmations, listen to up-beat music, however, this is not the cure for depression, and this is where many of us get frustrated.  Sure these are all tools, and I use them all the time, but, there are times, when all I want to do is cry!

Why can’t I be happy like everyone else?  ITS NOT FAIR!

Because, you cannot will yourself to be happy when clinically depressed.  It just doesn’t work!  Oh.. yes, on some days it can, but others, one just has to wrap themselves up in a cosy blanket with all their favorite books, journals, music and maybe even a stuffy or your trusty cat or dog, and just be.  Feeling those emotions are painful, yes, letting them well up without pushing them away is the most challenging part.. You’d think it is torture!! Yet, this is the best way to heal.

Surround yourself with cheerleaders

Take clinical depression seriously.  Have tons of cheerleaders, those who have been through it, or those who really want to listen without telling you what to do.  Also, have a therapist you can trust, yes I know they cost money, but if you cannot afford one, keep calling help centers or community centers near you until someone listens!! Do not take NO for an answer.. and if you are too weak to do so, ask your “go to” person to help!

The dreaded “pill” 

Medication is an option only you can decide.  I was totally against medication for years.  I have a son who has ADHD, and trust me, I tried everything before resorting to giving him meds, now he takes his dose of Concerta every day, but only when he is in school.  For me, the meds came when I found this most amazing Therapist, she eased me into the idea for weeks, without giving me an ultimatum.  The decision had to come from me and me only.  I was very afraid of medication since I had a bag experience with Paxil 11 years ago, and I was afraid of negative side effects.  So I started taking low doses gradually increasing month after month.  Right now I am on 15mg of Celexa, and its working just fine.  I have no idea if I will have to take the pills for 1 year, 2 years or all my life, what I know for sure is, the pills have created a bridge between the darkness and the light, and I see the benefits now.

The journey is your own, and yours only.  No one can tell you what is best for you only you know in the deepest part of your spirit.  Listen to that, and if depression is numbing that part of you, and you cannot hear what it is saying… be still.. it too shall pass.  I am not saying to only hear what you want to hear, there are times when one needs to be shaken’ up a little!  Yet for this, there is a time and place.

In the Arms of the Angels

If I had only one wish when everything was dark, and I felt alone in the world, and sometimes I even feel this today. I would have wished for a loved one to come, sit, read a book and NOT say a word when my tears started to flow.  I would have loved a hug, a snuggle or a pat on the back… The presence of the person, not the “advice” is what I would have needed at the time, and there are days, like yesterday, when I felt that too.  Yet, I am so blessed to have those friends, who in spirit, came to me every day, and offered me love and support.  I have a mom who still calls me every night a 7!  A dad who comes when I call, and I don’t call him enough.

I have my angels! My guides and my spirits!

I felt those loving warm arms of my late grandmother, and the warmth of my spirit guides whispering in my ears.

Love, in fact, is what held me tight… without love there would have been no light… Just like today, when I saw a glimpse of the sun, after days and days for rain and cloud, giving me just a tad of rays to brighten my day before the clouds rolled over it again, the love I received, even in small doses, the self-love and care I gave myself, I know there is more to come.

There will be sun, but there will be rain, and there will be storms, tornadoes and rainbows!  Just that when depression hits, it is the storms that envelop us, so please, just be there .. just be.  No need to cheer me up.. no need to “fix” me.. just tell me “I love you” and all is well.

Because, in fact, I love you too, and if someone you love is depressed, now you know how you can help.  Read them a story, offer to wash their hair, get them flowers, cook them a dinner, or just curl up with a book and watch them sleep..  Its is the most loving thing you will ever do!!

Wishing you love and light today!! 

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!