My Spirit Animal Is Eeyore

Eeyore-Quotes-12I’ve been feeling really good lately. And sometimes I worry. I’ve opened up to people that I’m depressed. The image that people possibly have of depressed people may fall around the image of Eeyore and always walking around with this perpetual dark cloud over his head. Am I being a liar that I have depression and I’m smiling and laughing and enjoying life? I have these moments where I wonder if I should stop smiling and have this look on my face that says “Hi I’m depressed” but I don’t. Please understand that even though I feel good and I’m in a good place, I still have depression.

I don’t share with many people when I’m in a depressed state. People who truly know me will figure it out quickly and if you are one of the few people I trust, I will just say “I’m just having a day” which is my way of saying depression has set up roost in my body at that moment. If you don’t know me well enough but can sense or read me, I’ll just seem off. Like my smile doesn’t reach my eyes or I’m extremely quiet or distant. If I’m in a bad place, I’ll just want to curl up on my side and sleep and just ask to be left alone.

I see depression as an article of clothing. Imagine one of those suits that cover you head to toe. img-product-lime2-f This is what depression felt like for me this past summer. It consumed me. It felt like it was strangling me and I couldn’t find a way out of it.The suit wouldn’t let me just be still. I had this sense of needing to keep moving. Unfortunately for me at that time, I did anything possible to not be in my house. No one was there, they were all away and I hated the sound of no one home. Sometimes, the head of the suit would fade away and I’d have moments of happiness and feeling good. Those moments didn’t always last long, but the depression suit didn’t come back to consume me like it did. At times the depression suit looked like an actual suit. More of my natural

At times the depression suit looked like an actual suit. More of my natural self-showing through and I could take off the parts of depression that felt heavy and confining. Then they’d go back on when the AT’s (automatic thoughts) came racing back in. I started therapy (with an amazing therapist) and decided to dive in. So the depression suit started to look like a tee shirt and jeans. Less control of me and less confining. Over time the depression suit began to become smaller and smaller. I could hang up the old suits and learn how to live with the new suit. Now I imagine depression to be like a tee shirt, more like an undershirt. The kind we wore when we were kids. We knew the undershirt was on, but no one could see it. They only saw the clothes we wore. My clothes are my feeling good and my happiness and my genuine smile. My depression suit is my undershirt that no one can see (unless I let them) and I always know it is there.

I’m very far from saying that I’ve conquered my depression. I honestly don’t think I can ever “conquer” it. I’ve got a handle on my triggers and how to handle them. Some I have to avoid or the depression suit will have me in turtlenecks and long pants sweating in the summer. Sometimes the undershirt of depression can be itchy. It wants to remind me that there are things that I have not completely gone away. That the issues will still float to the surface begging to be itched and become annoying. But that’s the thing. I’m learning how to deal with those triggers and learning that it’s okay to be happy and to be in a place of feeling good. I’ll always be scared of my depression. It terrifies me that it can come back when I’m not looking and consume me again.

I texted someone this morning and said this “I do have my moments where I have my doubts about things and I get worried I’m slipping back. But I hold on to what I know to be true and try to keep the doubts at bay.” I mean that with all my heart. I’ve had to learn what is true and what I can trust. I feel like my belief in myself was shaken to the core in what I’ve been through in the past year and I have to learn to believe in myself; that I am stronger than I think I am. I needed to learn that there are people there for me and who genuinely care for me. I needed to learn that I do not cause more bad than good.

I have learned that it’s okay to feel good, to be in a good place and to be happy and still have depression. Depression does not define me. It is just a part of me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

F**k Depression

download

 

I’ve talked about the marathon and the sprint and the road trip that having depression and finding happiness is taking me. I also mentioned the little Devil on my shoulder that likes me to feel bad about myself. If anyone wanted to know what depression felt like, it feels like I have this little Devil on my shoulder and he’s got that Angel tied up and held hostage. The Devil wants me to feel bad about myself. He wants me to hate myself and think I’m unworthy of anything good or happy in my life. He wants me to believe that no one likes me or cares about me. He is always whispering negative thoughts in my ear so I become afraid to take a step forward in the right direction.

The Depression Devil who has it’s roots buried pretty deep in my shoulder today is telling me I’m not worthy of being happy. It’s telling me that it is my job to make sure I do everything to make sure others are happy, but I don’t deserve that in return. I am trying to learn that no matter how bad things are today, there is always a tomorrow and I am worth the chance of being happy.

 

The Depression Devil likes to make me feel like I’m a fraud. He likes to make me feel like that every time I step into the gym. I know what I have accomplished there and what I am capable of. Yet for the past week, every time I have set foot in the gym (especially since Christmas Eve when I went “running” out of there in tears) I have felt like such a fraud walking in there.

I feel like a fraud when I have a good day. When I actually feel happy and I have a little bit of optimism. Then the Depression Devil squeezes my shoulder and reminds me of how bad I felt yesterday, or this morning and I feel like I’m faking happiness and I have no idea what it really is to be happy. I worry that he will take my happiness away and then I figure that I’m better off being unhappy at all times.

If you know me, please know that is not true. I hate that you are seeing that face. I am not an unhappy person at all times. I love life. I want to live my life. I don’t want to be depressed. I want to embrace all that life has to offer. I’m just lost right now and I may need your reassurance and helping hand to find that.  I’m not a fraud. I need to pause. Take a breath and think it all through. It’s okay to feel happy and that just because I’m having a good day doesn’t mean I’m faking it. Depression doesn’t rule my life.

I just finished reading this book by Dr. Robert Duff . I also follow him on twitter. I’m struggling right now and I wanted to share the notes I took from the book if you don’t mind indulging me. My comments are in bold

~depressive hopelessness is not the result of logical reasoning. It is a trick that your mind plays on you to convince you that it’s not worth trying. I am struggling today…well for the past week and a few days…with feeling hopeless. No, I’ve been feeling worthless. I don’t have anyone who cares about me. I don’t have anyone who thinks I am worthy of caring about. 
~The voice in my/your head, the one that tells you there is no point in trying is completely wrong. I know the “depression devil” on my shoulder is lying to me. Isn’t that the root of the devil? He tempts you with lies. (Not that I am a religious person in any way shape or form). But the depression devil is very convincing. He is telling me that no one cares about me. That I suck at all I do. I should just go live in a cave and let the world forget I existed. Get out of peoples lives before I make them any worse. That everyone hates me. 
~Before you jump to conclusions based on your gut feeling and the influence of the depression devil on your shoulder, give yourself the chance to examine the evidence. If it turns out that all of the objective evidence still points to something upsetting, then, by all means, be upset.
~Shitty things should feel shitty.
~If you are experiencing depression, it is almost guaranteed that you are distorting the way in which you interpret the world to match gross feelings in your heart.The way I am interpreting the world right now is through a fun house mirror. I know my depression is in full swing right now and I’m just holding on. 
~One way to counteract this process and bring about a healthier pattern of thinking is to avoid keeping it to yourself. I am trying to do this. It is hard. I’m embarrassed to tell people what is in my head. I fear they will think less of me and mock me behind my back.
~If you have people in your life that you can talk to, tell them a bit about what you are struggling with internally. Help them understand your thought process and invite their feedback about whether it makes sense.
~Tell them that you just want to know what they would do and that you aren’t looking to be told everything will be okay.
~opening up can be scary. Especially when you know that deep down your current thought process is a bit skewed.Opening up to anyone I trust, believe I can trust, is fucking terrifying. Like I mentioned before. I fear they will think less of me and see me as weak and worthless.
~No one likes to be thought of as crazy.
~Don’t ask them if you should be upset, ask them if your line of thinking makes sense?
So when the depression devil pops up on your shoulder and whispers some stupid self-sabotaging pseudo-logic in your ear, you also have your panel of trusted advisors that pop up and provide some alternative approaches that they would be more likely to employ.

 

 

 

We all feel the need to be authentic

Everyone wants to be liked. We want people to like us how we are. We want people to like us and get along with us. When we think people like us we thrive, we feel good about ourselves. But when we feel people don’t like us, “No one likes me”  or “I have to get them to like me”, it can become dangerous. Like with me when I worry too much about what others think of me. I’m reeling in that right now. I am completely in the mode that I do not matter and that people think of me like a bad smell passing by them (see previous post). I am struggling terribly this holiday weekend.

I think that everyone sees me as weak and a fuck up. I can’t see people seeing my strengths and goodness in me. I know they are there, I just think they are paying me lip service. I read that I should seek out a small group of friends that I can trust and learn to trust them and know that I’m loved. Ther problem is….I truly have no friends. Bernard Baruch said “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

 

I know I shouldn’t care if people think badly of me. Not everyone likes me, I know that from the past few weeks in school and I still lived and made it through it. The worst thing that could happen from knowing/finding out people don’t like me I know who really does like me…I hesitate at writing friend there.

I started therapy to help me will all these issues and the thoughts and feelings that no one cares. I have my next session two weeks from tonight. I need to learn what I want and what I need. I know I am going to have periods, episodes if you will, like I’m having now, where I can hear myself saying that people don’t like me and I built myself up to be more to them than I really am. I have been keeping my other journal and writing all that comes to mind. I talk to myself. I write letters to people. I need to deal with this on a level that goes beyond what I am capable of doing alone.

 

 

Here’s how Carl Jung put it: “May each one seek out his own way. The way leads to a mutual love in community…Therefore give people dignity and let each of them stand apart, so that each may find his own fellowhsip and love it.. Give human dignity, and trust that life will find the better way.”

Shiny Happy People

I seem to be on a kick about happiness. I’m struggling with it during the “most wonderful time of the year”. I tried…I’m trying so hard to get into the Christmas spirit. Too feel jolly and non Grinchy. It’s not working. I can’t stand to listen to any more Christmas music. Even my holiday trifecta of the Waitresses “Christmas Wrapping”, John and Yoko’s “War is Over”, and Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. I even got the Principal here at my school to let the staff do an Ugly Holiday Sweater Day for Friday and I just don’t care.

So, why am I just so…..blah?

Some mental health experts give/gave some tips on how to be happier.

#1 – Realize that happiness doesn’t mean having everything you want and being problem-free all the time.  No, we can’t always be problem free. Having a perfect life in itself is a problem. If you have everything that you want all the time, you have nothing too strive for or look forward to. In the same tone, we don’t have to be the victim of the bad things (as we percieve them to be) that happen to us. We need to take what happens to us in both negative and positive and see what we can learn from them.-

#2 – Cut “should” from your vocabulary, because it basically guarantees whatever you think “should” happen, won’t. The would should makes us try to live up to something that isn’t always atainable. Then we feel guilty about not being able to reach those expectations. Our behavior changes us to act in a way that is opposite than what we want to achieve.

#3- Remember that your negative thoughts are not true. They’re just thoughts. People like me believe that their inner voice tell them that the thoughts in their head are true and are most of the time the negative ones are the ones we..or I in particular … overthink and focus on. While in my heart of hearts, you know these thoughts are just thoughts and there is no basis in them.

#4 – Start your day by reminding yourself one positive thing about your life. I mean when you struggle with depression and anxiety, just getting out of bed and taking a shower and getting dressed is a major positive thing you should be proud of.

#5 – Actually take the time to plan short-term pleasure AND long-term goals (make your life the way your want it to be) I’ve never been one to plan out my weeks, but I do plan out my workout/gym time. I have to stop and see if I have doctor’s appointments and if my children have things that need me there and then I plan my week out. I always like to have some type of goal to work towards even if it is something like cleaning a room or meeting a weight goal.

#6 – Treat yourself with compassion and lots of love. I’m not very good at this. I am bery bad at self talk in a positive manner. I always go to the negative and no matter what it is, even something I am currently struggling with in my head – I know it’s not true, but I’m pushing the negative thoughts in my head. When people turn to me with problems, I’m the first one to tell them to cut themselves some slack and how there is nothing wrong with them or their self believed flaws. While I, on the other hand, see all my flaws and magnify them making me feel like a monster that should be shunned.

#7 – Don’t forget that your physical health has an impact on your mental health, too. I have heard this from my primary care doctor, my therapist and my trainer. Less so on the last part. But he and I did discuss that my going to the gym has helped me with my anxiety and depression. Well more like he asked and I told him that. Even when I struggle with things at the gym, it has been my zen place. When I don’t go I feel it and I don’t mean in my muscles.

#8 – Several times throughout your day, take a deep breath and tell yourself that everythingis OK. Eventually, your brain will get the memo. I’ve had to learn to do this. I’ve had to just stop my brain from carrying on and going crazy with my overthinking and with the thousands of things whirling around in it and take a breath to clear things out.

#9 Make a conscious effort to take care of your mental health the same way you would your physical health. I have just now started to do that.

#10 BE childlike 

If You’re Happy and You Know It…

Good for you1  Sorry, cold coffee in mug, cold temps outside, Monday morning snarkiness is high.

While I was purusing Tumblr  as I do to just look at really amazing home decor and gym motivation things, I came across a post that is about the 12 things happy people do differently. Well; if you can entertain me for a post, I’m going to compare myself to these 12 things to see what I do wrong.

#1 – Express gratitude: When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. If we aren’t thankful for what we already have, we will have a hard time ever being happy. Well I do appreciate what I have, my family, my support system, all of them. While I will admit that I sometimes forget to tell them how much I appreciate them.

#2 – Cultivate optimism – people who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.  I do think optimistically….for others. I will always help people look on the brighter side, while in terms of myself, I am more of a pessimist.

#3 – Avoid over-thinking and social comparison – Compairing yourself to someone else can be poisonous. The only person you should compare to is yourself before now. I see these as two different things. I am the Duchess of Overthinking. The Queen of it. I over think things 99% of the time. Every time I do it, it ends up being a form of self torture. I see social comparison as completely different and it is something I do as well. I’m trying to do better with it, but it’s not an easy thing.

#4- Practice acts of kindness – Selflessly helping somone is a super powerful way to feel good inside. Perfect example of this happended yesterday for me. At the drive thru line at Staruck’s (yes I was too lazy to go inside) the barrister at the window told me that the car in front had paid for my order. I intern felt so touched by that gesture that I paid for the person behind me. I was told I was the 4th person in line to do this. I hope the gesture continued on for more cars.

#5- Nurture social relationships – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships. I have nothing. No seriously. I don’t have relationships like this.

#6 – Develop strategies for coping – It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your aresenal at your disposal. Working on that now. Some days it’s easy, sometimes I draw blanks.

#7 – Learn to forgive – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being. I can forgive for my own sense of peace, but I will always remember.

#8 – Increase flow experiences – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still. It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task. Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus….I’ve got nothing on this one.

#9 – Savor life’s joys – Deep happiness cannot exist withoug slowing down to enjoy the joy. ….Again, I have nothing on this one either.

#10 – Commit to your goals – Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whetever it takes to get somewhere. I know I am happy when I set my goals and focus to achieve them.

#11 Practice spirituality  – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us. I’m Agnostic and I will say that everyone has the right to focus on whatever makes them at peace.

#12 – Taker care of your body – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be. I do that everyday.

 

I guess I’m the Grinch 17caf71428c14ae70e71f31e873522ea

The Struggle Is Real

“The Struggle is Real” an expression used to emphasize the gravity of a frustrating circumstance or hardship, which is often used ironically online in a similar manner to first world problems.

This is how I feel today.Which of the feelings in my head are real? I feel happy and sad today. Which one of the me’s is me? Am I the happy me or the sad me? Am I the person person who is shy, withdrawn, desperate, suicidal, doomed and tired? I know I’m not suicidal, but I feel withdrawn and desperate today. I feel the doomed. I feel that nobody knows the real me. That no one knows how  many times I cried when I am alone. How many times I’ve lost hope and feel not only let down,but that I let people down. No one knows how many times I’ve come close to snapping. Well that statement isn’t true. They just know that I have, not how many times. No one knows how hard I want to talk to them, but I don’t just to keep them safe and keep their lives  happy.

The struggle is real. The “voices” in my head are friend and foe. They tell me that I’m doing great and then the foe tosses a comment from the peanut gallery that I’m not. This chatter going on in my head is making it hard for me to seperate emotion from truth; optimism from insanity. I try to keep the past thoughts away, behind that wall, but they keep rising up and try to jump over. I’m over analysing and overthinking choices that I have made recently and it’s making today a difficult day. I’ve tried stepping back and looking at those choices from the outside and see why I made those choices and what the outcome has been. The “shun me” shadow is creeping up and wondering if the world is going to shun me for my choices.

The struggle is real today. I’m feeling self doubt and an overwhelming sense of not belonging. I’m trying to look at the recent low points in my life and not be so harsh on myself for having them. I came through them; I didn’t succumb to them. But I am struggling today. I know this is going to be a daily thing. I have to keep reminding myself that I chose the comma and not the full stop.

 

Leaks in the wall…

plugging-leaksI always knew that this was going to be an uphill battle…fighting depression. I knew it wasn’t going to be a sprint, but a marathon…one without an actual ending. There would be good days and bad days and days that fall in between. But I will admit that there is/was a small part of me that hoped that I would just wake up and all the doubts and anxieties would be gone. I discovered that wasn’t the truth.

The quote that I put in my last post by Sarah Silverman (I think the difference between being miserable and finding happiness is just a matter of perspective. If you live your life defining yourself by what other people think of you, it’s a form of self-torture.) sat on my mind as I tried to fall asleep last night. I was torturing myself worrying about what people thought of me and if in any way shape or form I thought they were thinking negatively of me, then I found my hapiness disapating. To combat worrying what people thought of me, I thought I’d build a wall up around my mind and to some degree my heart to keep the thoughts I felt away. So now I have this wall up; even though I no longer self-torture, I feel these cracks in the wall I’ve built.

Sometimes a little leak over there because of something I said and I take the comment/reply the wrong way. I percieve a look from someone and a leak spurts in my self confidence. Okay, plug up that. I think I’ve got that covered and worry that I don’t. That all the old thoughts and worries will come back. Do I have to “equipment” to seal that crack or will the leak wear out the foundation around it and cause more and more damage?

One thing I have an awful life long habit of doing is replaying conversations (either verbal or written/text) in my head and I go over and over them. Did I say the right thing? Did I make myself unclear? Do I sound a certain way? This is one of the things that I hate about text and email. You don’t know the frame of mind or the intent of the writer, you have to interpret what they have written based on your frame of mind.  And this…meaning my frame of mind….can sometimes….no let’s be honest – a majority of the time – cause some serious leaks in my walls where I look like the guy in the picture above.

And that brings me back to the quote. I’ve spent a great deal of my life defining myself by how I think other people think of me. Of what their perception of me is.Do they see me as a kind person? Do they see me as petty and needy? Do they see me as a funny person? Do they see me as a joke?  Most of the time I am wrong in my thinking.

In my family growing up, I am the oldest. My father drank until I was 16. It wasn’t pretty. He wasn’t abusive he was just a drunk. When he stopped drinking, a popular threat to me was it would be my fault if my father started drinking again. I hated that threat and how it held on to me. I had to do to make sure I didn’t do anyting to make my father drink again. So much so, I ate to ate to conceal my feelings.

Looking back at my friends and relationships growing up, I would conform myself and who I was to make sure they would like me.In college, every guy I dated, I transformed myself to be someone he’d not want to loose. I lowered my standards and made bad choices. (I hope I have raised my daughter to be better than me in this area.) I made friends with girls who I had nothing in common with and would do everything I could to become their best friend and their go to person. Even now, in another situation, I’ve found myself doing that. Pushing my way into someone’s life (and she is a family member) and trying to be their friend and confidant because I feel the un-nerving need to be needed and I’m twice her age.  I pushed too far and caused some serious damage. I felt and still feel stupid and petty for all I said and thought. We’ve worked our way back from then, but I still feel awful and ashamed of how I acted. There are times, like last night, that if I feel  I said the “wrong” thing; I’ll be pushed away and shunned. Then the cracks show up.They showed up last night and sent me on this post idea and wondering what my wall looks like. It also made me look at why I feel the need to be defined by a person’s opinion of me.

And then I get scared. Will the cracks over power my wall and send it crashing down on me drowning me in all my self doubt and insecurities.

Finding my happy…

My last post was an open letter written to someone who doesn’t suffer from depression. It was actually written to one particular person. If that person knows it was them or not, I do not know. I write a lot as if I’m writing to someone in particular, this is to no one in particular.

Today I was driving along taking my dog to the dog park and I started crying. They were actual tears of happiness believe it or not. I realized for the first time in a long time I was really feeling good. I was feeling happy. It was an odd feeling. I honestly thought I’d lost my happy. I thought I’d be spending the rest of my days with a mask on my face pretending to be happy and dying on the inside. A week ago tonight I was convinced of that. This past Monday found me (at the suggestion of someone I trust) to call my doctor and tell them that the depression was worse on the dosage of the new med that I was prescribed. Maybe one of the best calls I’ve made in a while. They upped my dosage and that creeping feeling of depression holding on to my back has slipped away. It does come back every now and then, but I have dealt with it. And I’ve noticed that I feel happy. I don’t mean that my depression is gone for good, but I mean that I feel myself smiling when … well for no reason. Like on the way to the dog park. I just felt genuinely good. This will be a daily battle for sure, but it made me think about finding my happy. About anyone finding their happy. What is happy?

What is happy?

When you Google search what is happy, you come up with a ridiculous amount of quotes about relationships between lovers. Do you really need someone to make you happy? Well to a point you do, but your happiness is from you and another person can contribute to it and make it grow. But if your happiness is dependent on that one person, then that’s not happiness, that is a control that person has on you making you a slave to them…so to speak. I suppose to a point I let people decide my happiness. I let them control how I should feel in terms of myself. Taking the reins of control back has been an uphill battle. Today was a perfect example. I felt the reins slide out of my hands for a bit, but my inner strength held fast and didn’t let them go. There was a feeling of Oh Fuck No. I don’t want to go down that road again. I understand it may be a tempting side trip in the road of life, but if I took that side trip down that exit it would be up there with going to the Circus for me. Clowns and things I don’t like.

 

Quotes I found say that you have to decide to be happy. Okay, well that can be a big fuck you to someone like me. I absolutely hate when someone would say that to me. Like I have a switch on my neck that says “up for happy; down for sad”. It doesn’t work that way for someone like me. Someone who has depression and overthinks and has a surplus of negativity about herself. If I had a switch like that, I’d tape the fucker in the on position 24/7. But my switch has and up position, a down position and 300 stops in between. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, it maybe has 5 stops in between.

You have the sad position, but that’s not the bottom one. The bottom one is the I can’t deal anymore position and I’m thinking everyone I care about will be better off without me position. It was stuck there last weekend. The next position up is the sad position. That’s not really a bad position. We all have the right to be sad.You have to have sadness to balance things out and see what you really have to make the sad go away.There’s all kinds of sadness too so it’s not always a bad thing. Next up is the fake smile one. It’s where I really feel useless and undeserving (not to be confused with the lowest position) and have a fake smile on.  The next position is the neutral one. I’m neither happy nor sad, I just am. I felt that way last week. It’s like walking in a fog. Gravity is pulling you down to the lower buttons, but they can’t succeed. Next button is the momentary happy. You feel moments of normalcy and happiness and think that it will all be okay. Buttttttttt not really sure that position will hold. Then the top is true happy. Like Snoopy dancing happy.

Quotes said, ignore the drama, ignore the hatred, ignore the pain….but when you feel you have caused the drama you deserve the hatred and the pain you feel. When you suffer from depression, you think you are the drama and people hate you for the drama you bring to them not always on purpose. It’s hard to turn that all off and say that you can find the happiness in yourself if you let that go. The only way to make that happen is to have amazingly supportive people who will call you on the drama and tell you that yes, they may be angry with you and your actions or words, but they still love you.

Happiness is a choice. No one chooses to be unhappy. No one wakes up and says “Oh today, I will be unhappy. I will put on my unhappy socks, unhappy pants, unhappy shirt and go out and bless the world with my unhappiness.” You will never be happy until you let go of the things that made you unhappy. Sounds like a very simple thing. Dust off your hands and BOOM, all those nasty little unhappy things are gone. For me, being unhappy had a sense of safety in it. Unhappiness had been where I’d spent so much of my time that I knew the landscape, I knew the scenery. I knew all the bumps in the roads and knew that unhappiness gave me security. Happiness was foreign. It was unknown. It was that road that was new and unexplored. (Yeah, milking the road scenario).

Then there is the infamous “Happiness is liking yourself.” Well here’s the thing with me. I don’t know if I like myself. This is how I see myself. I see someone who is not attractive (yes, happiness comes from the inside, but I need to spell this out) I see someone who is quiet and shy. I don’t feel I contribute much to society or bring much to the table of friendship. I think I’m an awful friend. I may be able to give advice because I’ve been through so much in my life and it’s those things that lend to me not liking myself. I feel I brought so much of it on by my own actions. I tend to hide and make myself invisible. Thinking if no one can see me then that’s a good thing. People have told me I’m funny and kind and have a great writing voice. But those things to me are what I give to others…if that makes any sense.I think I have a petty heart. I think I’m needy. I think I’m a loner. I don’t mean I think I’m better than anyone else, I just think people find nothing in me redeemable as a human being to be my friends.

And finally what is happiness? How do you find it? I guess that’s a personal answer for each of us to find. One thing that made me happy in spirit this week is the comment that Selena Gomez made at the AMA awards. That if you’re broken, you don’t have to stay broken. I’ve been broken for a long time. Most broken the past few months. I’m not intending to stay broken. I’m going to find my happy and hold on for all it’s worth.

I found this quote by Sarah Silverman: I think the difference between being miserable and finding happiness is just a matter of perspective. If you live your life defining yourself by what other people think of you, it’s a form of self-torture.  

 

Is this what I’ve been doing?

An Open Letter

I’m writing this to the person who doesn’t suffer this. I want you to understand what it feels like. I’m not a terminally depressive person. I’m not a lost cause or a person to be avoided. I didn’t wake up this way. I’ve fought it my whole life. But recently, be it life changes or hidden truths revealed, things became off in my life. Things that made me happy suddenly didn’t. I struggled to find the elusive ray of light and happy that I always had.
Tears..well tears became too common. And I don’t mean the kind that you see in a Hallmark movie. I’d burst out crying over dumb things. Things I knew were lies Depression wanted me to believe and the struggle of heart and mind brought oh so many tears. I am a writer at heart, but vocalizing a simple request or plea turned top over bottom and made things worse.

I forgot how to genuinely smile. I couldn’t look in the mirror because the image I saw was Depression grinning back.
I felt this wall go up and it wasn’t brick and mortar. It was glass. Distorted glass at its best. I saw my family and friends in that elusive ray of light; living and loving and having everything I didn’t think I deserved. Behind this glass wall I felt worthless and no matter how hard I tried to get on the other side of the glass wall, I couldn’t make it. I began to feel like I was falling and no one would catch me. Every past failure, real and imagined grew in volumes in my head. People were mocking me, every look I got was followed by a laugh. They saw me as attention seeking. Silly girl, who do you think you are? Who cares about you? That was my mantra. Who did I think I was? Why would I think people would want me around? What value did I bring to any table? Who would miss me if I was gone?
Oh, that terrible … awful road. Depression grinned. It found me at a crossroad. Go left, take one step even if your feet felt like they were mired in cement, I would make it. Go right…well that road took me to a final place. I stood there scared and alone. I thought of those I love and care about. How they’d be so much better with this albatross off their neck. Would they notice me gone? How easy could I be replaced? Very easily I believed. They would move on til the missing albatross was naught but a memory.
There I stood at my crossroad. Depression climbing up my body threatening to engulf my soul. And there in the darkness I saw it. No bigger than a speck of glitter, it lay on the road to the left. Depression grabbed tight and whispered in my ear. It told me I was not worthy of that speck of glitter. It begged me to follow it to the right and let the hurt go. Stop being a burden to my family. But that speck of glitter began to glow. My heart fought back and began to beat harder. The glitter became a gleam. Depression tried pulling me away from the light that beckoned me. I looked to the left and saw my family and loved ones and knew that they would be there no matter how lost I felt. Then I looked over my shoulder to the darkness on the right.

“Not tonight.” I shrugged Depressions hold and started down the left road.
I’d like to say this is a metaphor, a nice little explanation; but it was this past weekend. I’m still here. I’m not okay today. I may not be okay tomorrow or the day after. But I will get there. Please be patient with me.

Improve Your Mental Health & Wellbeing

This article is from bayart and I’m using it as a frame for this post. Italic part is from the article.

This article says that the World Health Organization says 350 million people suffer from depression. The following are some things that various studies say we can do to help improve our mental health and well being.

  • Make your bed every day.
    I do this because it drives me crazy if I don’t. I’m one of those people when I take a nap on my bed, I don’t get under the covers. I use a blanket. Weird I know, but it’s how I roll.
  • Value yourself. 
    Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons. Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language. Okay, this I do. Well there are things I do every day. Working out is one even if I have to drag myself there (which isn’t too often) and I do an online jigsaw puzzle every day – except on Wednesdays…I really hate the way they cut the parts. But it’s just a moment or two of central focus.
  • Feeling stressed? Smile.
    It may not be the easiest thing to do, but smiling can help to lower your heart rate and calm you down. I’m not the biggest casual smiler. I do it when I’m working. Sometimes the students need to see a nice smile. But if I’m on my own, I feel like I have perma-frown face.
  • Give yourself. 
    Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it’s a great way to meet new people. I volunteered at the Spartan race this weekend at Fenway Park and I had such an amazing time meeting people and seeing all sorts of athletes. I totally think this changed a small part of me.
  • Pick up a hobby to make you feel good. 
    Not a hobby that will look good on your college apps or your résumé. Not something you’re eh about but that you think will make you a more well-rounded person. Literally, just something you find fulfilling or relaxing or cool. Going to the gym sort of counts in that manner. I like to read. I like to do this blog. Not sure if any of those count as hobbies to make you feel good.
  • Take 30 minutes to go for a walk in nature
    it could be a stroll through a park, or a hike in the woods. Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well-being.  I’m sure this is true.
  • Try meditation. 
    I am not big on meditation. But if it works for you….then by all means.
  • Practice gratitude.
    Life’s so much better when you’re acknowledging the bright side. Research suggests that expressing what you’re thankful for — from your dog to your favorite song on the radio — will improve your mental well-being. 
  • Put a small memory in a jar every day. 
    writing down the amazing things that happen to you when they happen works as a great gratitude exercise day to day. This is funny (a good funny) because a memory jar is a gift I’m giving someone for Christmas. Maybe I should do one for myself.
  • Say “no” more — without explaining yourself. 
    One of two things inevitably happen when you say “yes” to things you don’t want to do — either you do them at the expense of your own happiness or you make excuses and flake later at the expense of your relationships. Don’t do that. Be gracious and polite, sure, but look out for yourself. “No” is a complete sentence.
  • Complain less. 
    Not only does it make you an unpleasant person to be around in general, but also complaining = ruminating in negative thoughts. And ruminating in negative thoughts takes a big toll on your mental health in the long run. Don’t hold stuff in, by any means, but make an effort to express those negative thoughts once and move on. I’m not sure if I’m a complainer. I mean that I’m not sure if I’m an obnoxious, overbearing kind of complainer. I have no doubt that I make them. I know I have negative thoughts, but they are usually in conjunction with myself.
  • Treat emotional pain like physical pain. 
    If you need a mental health day, take one. If you find getting out of bed getting more and more difficult, go to the doctor. Don’t brush something off because it’s not an obvious injury. I believe in mental health days. I work with children. Sometimes a week can seem like a month and I need a day for me.
  • Experiment with a new recipe, write a poem, paint or try a Pinterest project. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked. I LOVE Pinterest. I have done several new recipes from there recently.
  • Break up the monotony. 
    Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule. Alter your jogging route, plan a road-trip, take a walk in a different park, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant. I like to have a routine, but I understand the perks of breaking up the monotony. I sometimes call it stepping out of my comfort zone. Doing races alone is a big one for me.
  • Write in a journal. 
    Putting pen to paper can be a liberating and cathartic experience. Try keeping a journal or even just writing your anxieties and tossing them in the trash. A 2012 study found that writing what’s stressing you out and then physically throwing it away may help clear your mind. While I keep this blog and am some what exposed with it by letting others read what I’m thinking. I am considering keeping a personal journal. One where I am doing actual pen and paper.
  • Spend more alone time with yourself. 
    Carve out time once a week or month to date yourself. Take yourself out to dinner and a movie or go exploring around your city. Learn to be comfortable spending time alone. Learn to love your own company. It’s funny. I just did two races alone and I was okay with it. One race someone joked that I couldn’t find anyone to do it with. Truth was a little evident in it, but I’m okay with doing things alone.
  • Start every day by reminding yourself of one positive thing about your life. 
    We tend to hold on to negative thoughts a lot stronger than positive ones, so expressing gratitude before you get out of bed in the morning is a small, effective way to get on the right path and to connect with happier thoughts. This is a short coming of mine. Maybe if I start using a journal again, I can try to write one positive thing each day even if the rest of the post has negative overtones.
  • Take time to laugh.
    Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy or check out cute videos online. Laughter helps reduce anxiety. I’m a big proponent of this. For me; it’s dancing in the kitchen with my children while we play really cheesy songs.
  • Celebrate little victories more often. 
    There’s nothing wrong with setting big goals for yourself this time of year — but achieving little goals is just as important, so celebrate those, too. I set goals for myself gym wise and right now I don’t have anything on the horizon. So this is a chance for me to set little goals, like getting my squat form right.
  • Dance around while you do your housework.
    Not only will you get chores done, but dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases endorphins (the body’s “feel-good” chemicals). Even for my husband, housework is not done in our home without music playing. Though my choices totally are better than his!
  • Quiet your mind. 
    Try meditating, Mindfulness and/or prayer. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life. In fact, research shows that meditation may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of therapy. My mind is rarely quiet. This is a problem. Again, I’m not into meditation and I’m not a religious person. For me, being on the treadmill at the gym, listening to music and just zoning out works.