a shift.

When my depression was at its lowest, I was a very negative person. I was easily angered, frustrated constantly with public situations, traffic, slow pedestrians – annoyed if my dog was walking too fast, or too slow – Impatient with everything around me. I was also a jealous person. I would find myself looking through Facebook or Instagram, or seeing couples walking down the street, groups of friends laughing together, families out for dinner, and I would become furious with how every other human seemed happy, except for me. I would become jealous of friends in their success – if someone got engaged or married, maybe got a promotion at work, started dating a new special someone, bought a new car, adopted a pet – literally anything that changed their life for the better, I would isolate myself from that person. I couldn’t be around people who were growing and evolving because I was not. I hate to admit this, but I would even find myself feeling secretly happy when a friend confided in me that they had a bad day at work, or thought their relationship wasn’t going so well. Not because I didn’t want my loved ones to be happy, but because I didn’t want to be alone in my misery.

I am telling you this, because recently I have become aware of a shift. A change in my daily perspective, and how I feel about the environment and people around me. Now, this didn’t happen over night – it has been months of therapy, practicing of mindfulness, learning to be more self-aware, and learning that I cannot control a situation, but I can control how I react to said situation.

Here was my first realization in the shift: I saw an old friend on Wednesday evening – a girl from my past, who I cut off contact with because she was happy and I was not. In my eyes, she was perfect – educated and smart, beautiful, had a terrific family and significant other – really just “had it all”. I was very jealous of her; I deleted her from social media because I couldn’t even stand to see her photos. (This is a lot for me to admit right now, but I think being able to talk about this stuff is a step toward healing). So, we have recently reconnected, and she invited me over to her house, to enjoy the sun in her backyard and catch up. After an hour or so, I had this overwhelming feeling of happiness – not for me, but for her. And I told her – Friend, I am so happy for you. Really, truly, from the bottom of my heart, I am happy for your successes, and I am happy that I am able to celebrate them with you. 

In that moment, with absolutely no trace of jealousy or envy, I felt whole.
These are a few things that I have been enjoying lately, as I become more aware of myself and my surroundings:
-green spaces / nature / blooming flowers
-spending more quality time with family and loved ones
-feeling grateful for having a roof over my  head and food on my table (this is something I have struggled with in the past, as sometimes people who don’t understand depression can say “why are you depressed, it could be worse, at least you have food and shelter”, which makes a depressed person feel terrible…)
-my loved ones enjoying their lives in what ever capacity they choose to share
-listening to music
-the sun
-noticing that my mind is a little quieter
-not feeling jealous / angry / sad

Thank you for listening today. Happy Friday ❤

i’m lonely, but I want to be alone.

Yesterday was my third class in this new course I’m taking at the hospital, called Emotional Resilience. (You can read the blog post about the first class here.)

It was a bit of a heavy class. We talked about avoidance behaviours (not wanting to go to a crowded place in fear of becoming anxious, not making eye contact with people, etc), and safety behaviours (always sitting with your back against a wall, or always wanting a friend to go places with you so you don’t have to do things alone).

We had to write down a list of our own avoidance, and safety behaviours. Once finished, if we felt we could share, we did so with the group and group therapists. The therapists really want us to get to the root our complex traumas, so they can be a little pushy, and ask, “why do you feel that way – what is the emotion you are trying to avoid”.

One of the members of my group said he’s lonely, but he wants to be alone.

I’m lonely, but I want to be alone.

That sank deep into my chest. It’s a feeling I have felt so many times, over and over. Complete and utter loneliness to the point where my heart aches, but wanting to be alone because no one could possibly understand how I feel.

I can’t tell you how many times I have sat alone in my room, listening to a family gathering taking place one floor above me, wishing that I could join them. Or turned down a party invitation, knowing that I wanted to be with those people, but stayed home alone instead. But that’s the thing about depression – you don’t think anyone understands you, so you isolate yourself.

I’m writing today to ask you to get outside of your comfort zone. Maybe just once over the next week. Go sit with your family, even if you’re just silent, and be in that uncomfortable moment. Take a few deep breaths, know that you were able to do it, and excuse yourself when you need to. Baby steps – but every step counts.

And if you’re a loved one of someone who you notice is maybe struggling, and isolating themself, maybe you could just let them know you’re there. And maybe you don’t understand what they are going through, but you can listen. When I would close myself up in my room away from all my family, sometimes my dad, or sister, or step-mum would just come down to check in, and it always made the world of a difference.

Thank you for being here with me today.  I have so much love in my heart for each and every one of you, and I’m so proud of you for taking your step forward.

this is what strength feels like.

Tonight at the yoga studio, the teacher started the class by saying, “I was going to play music – and then I thought, no, I just want to hear your breath. Everyone breathing together”.

Nearly thirty people began to inhale together, and exhale together. Inhale – take your deepest sip of air – exhale – let it all go.

It was the most incredible feeling. Community breath. Breathing in your neighbours powerful energy, exhaling their stress. Deep and controlled breath.

I felt strong. I felt life. I saw a future for myself in that studio tonight – a life that I sometimes never thought I would live.

Breathing – it’s what strength feels like.

delicate.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “delicate”?

I think of a flower, perhaps a peony, that you must be careful not to bruise. I think of fine glass, that if dropped, would shatter into a million pieces. I think of relationships – family, friends, and lovers. I think of a heart, being given away. I think of emotions, that need to be handled with care. I think of a life, hanging in the balance, between a place of life or place of death. Mirriam-Webster uses the phrases “easily torn or damaged”, “requiring careful handling”, and “not robust in health or constitution”.

This word was said to me yesterday to describe a recent personal event, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind….. delicate, delicate, delicate. It’s just been running through my mind – I’m trying to grasp its full worth.

After sleeping on it, and much thought, this is all I have to say: life is delicate.

Be kind to people. Be kind to yourself.

 

a great kindness.

I am overwhelmed with emotion.

I have been shown a great kindness today. My community came together and supported me in a way that I never knew possible. Old and new friends, loved ones, and wonderful people I had never met before joined together to help me raise funds for yoga teacher training. It was a beautiful afternoon, with a few tears, and a lot of laughter.

From the bottom of my heart, thank-you to each and every one of you.

I would like to share a song with you, to take you into your weekend (thank-you to a lovely friend who shared the song with me, and a lovely yoga teacher who sang her verson in class this morning). You are light, and I am light.

I Am Light – India Arie

I am light, I am light

I am not the things my family did
I am not the voices in my head
I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside

I am light, I am light

I’m not the mistakes that I have made or any of the things that caused me pain
I am not the pieces of the dream I left behind

I am light, I am light

I am not the color of my eyes
I am not the skin on the outside
I am not my age, I am not my race, my soul inside is all light

All light, all light
I am light, I am light

I am divinity defined
I am the God on the inside
I am a star, a piece of it all
I am light

emotional resilience.

If you have been following along with my journey, you will know that I participated in a three-month program for Dialectical Behavioural Therapy at the local hospital. (If you’re new to the site, and would like to read about the program, you can click here to go to the blog post.)

I finished the program at the end of April, but wasn’t completely discharged from the hospital. There is one more course to take – one that the therapists do not allow patients to start until they have gained the coping skills and emotional balance from the dialectical behavioural therapy. The course is called Emotional Resilience, and I started it yesterday.

I have been terrified to start this course – it was explained to me as “delving into the complex trauma that affects your day-to-day life, and figuring out what triggers you, which causes anxiety and depressive episodes.” Yikes.

But I see it as a necessary evil: it will be hard, yes. I will cry, yes. I will drudge up memories that I have stored in the back of my brain in a locked box marked ‘do not open‘, yes. But it will help me to heal, fully.  So, I will attend this class for the next eight weeks, do the homework, and keep working on me.

A hand-out given in yesterdays class defined Complex Trauma: the kind of trauma experienced in early childhood when bad things happen repetitively. The experiences may not be life threatening, but they are repetitive, are associated with no real escape, and usually perpetrated by trusted care-givers. The trauma interferes with the normal bonding or attachment process that a child has to have in order to soothe oneself. Whatever the trauma may be, it is the individuals experience of the traumatic event(s) and the meaning it has for them that is the most important issue to understand.

Complex trauma creates a disorganized attachment (ie – Is it safe for me to be attached to this person?) The hand-out states, “when early attachments are dangerous, it creates an internal struggle between the yearning to attach and the drive to be safe. ‘Do I run toward, or do I run away?'”.  The teacher in class described it as a push-pull scenario, which resonated with me deeply. I have always had a yearning to have a relationship with my mother, but when I get close to her I always get hurt.

I want to leave you with these song lyrics that I heard a few weeks ago, and felt very attached to, as they reminded me of her.

Julia Michaels – Issues
“…you got hands like an ocean, push you out, pull you back in”

 

remember what you’re fighting for.

This week has been a blur, trying to get things organized for my Go Fund Me campaign. I hadn’t been writing, or even practicing my newly learned mental health coping skills, and I found myself having a busy mind, and not stopping to just breathe.

Then I saw in the news that musician, Chris Cornell, committed suicide, and I was reminded of why I am running this campaign in the first place. To raise awareness about mental health. To let people know that there are humans out there, suffering, and they need your help. They need understanding, and forgiveness, and unconditional love. To talk about depression, and suicide, and for me to tell my story, so you know you’re not alone.

I can host all the fundraising events in the world, and I can go to this Yoga Training ten times over, but what really matters here is spreading the word. Ending the stigma. Fighting for a life.

So I would like to share a journal entry from May 13, 2017 – I was having a rough week:

“I think there is a difference between wanting to kill yourself, and not wanting to be alive.

I do not actually want to cause my body harm. I don’t want to feel pain, or have my family find my lifeless body in some surprise gruesome fashion.

I wish that upon no one.

I do have moments, many moments, where I think it would be better, easier, if I was not alive. It would be less of a burden on my family and friends, both emotionally, and financially. 

But mostly, it would end my suffering. This ball of constant anxiety that lives in my throat, that I choke back each day, would be released into the universe and my energy could be used to create something beautiful, like a star.

The star could light the way for my loved ones, to move on, knowing I was at peace.

Please don’t think I am going to harm myself. I know I sound morbid, but it is just how I feel inside.

I feel so alone.

I am lonely.”

It’s important to know that there are ups and downs in every life, and I feel grateful that I was able to get through this rut. You are not alone. Always remember that.

 

*as a side note, I would like to extend a huge thank-you to all that are helping my in my journey – those who have donated money, items for me to sell, time, and much more, thank you.

one step forward.

Depression is a dance that I have not yet learned the steps to – a waltz of sorts, and I can’t quite get the footing down.

Each time I learn a new step, a pattern that I finally figure out, I am hurled backwards and I lose balance. One step forward, two steps back.

I feel like I show no grace as I stumble through this journey. I have no fancy footwork, no elegant twirl, no final dip. The performance is just me, wading through a pool of emotions, trying to figure out the next step. But I don’t feel much like dancing, and sometimes, I’d like to sit this one out.

Regardless of the coping skills I have learned over the past few months, I find myself asking, why?
Why does the universe think I am strong enough to bare this burden?
Why do I sit, surrounded by loved ones, yet feeling so alone?
Why I am so tired?
Why me?

I know there are no answers to my questions; I know that it is up to me to build my strength, and surpass the questions – create my own path.

So maybe I don’t have to be any good at dancing with depression (waltzing was never my strong suit anyway). Maybe I’ll change the music and freestyle my steps, so there are no backward movements. I’ll just keep moving forward.

One step at a time.

freezing cold, soaked in sweat. 

My nightmares are back with a vengeance. For a few weeks there they had ended, allowing me a restful nights sleep, bringing me to a joyful morning. 

But now they’re back; I wake in the night, whimpering like a wounded animal, freezing cold and soaked in sweat. 

Im groggy in the morning, and can barely make it a couple hours without needing a nap. I’m exhausted, which contributes to my anxiety, which begins the circle again. 

During the day, I feel like a tortured character from an old movie – the ones where they strap the good guy in front of a tv, hold open his eyes and flash pictures of atomic bombs, poverty, death – trying to turn him to their side, the bad side. 

I keep reminding myself to breathe, counting to ten with my breath – 1 on the inhale, 2 on the exhale, and so on, and then I begin again. 

Let’s all take a minute to be aware of our breath today – for without it, we would not be here. Even on the bad days.