Ahh January. The month of clean slates, new starts, and ambitious goal setting! I jumped on-board the momentum for the month and I feel as though I lived a year in a month! In January I had a Yoga Teacher training weekend, completed my Reiki Master Course and began the life changing work in Medical Intuition. With all of that soulful learning and transformation there is no doubt for me that the very core of my being has been altered. As the month came to a close and I was taking time to reflect #BellLetsTalk day landed softly in my lap. Depression comes in so many different sizes and shapes and wears so many masks, just read the above few sentences to get a glimpse of what a manic episode can look like, yes I said MANIC episode. Confused? Let me share my view.
As defined by Dictionary.com Depression is “a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep”. Truth bomb #1 writing this blog is the very first time I have ever looked up the meaning of the word (side note to self use the dictionary more often) and it is logical that if depression is often caused by guilt and dejection then the last thing most sane people want to do is subject themselves to the possibility of more dejection by talking about it! So in reference to the above paragraph for me depression can easily look like the over achiever who is trying to find a place to fit in. Moving on to truth bomb #2 also as defined by Dictionary.com Manic or Mania means “ excitement manifested by mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganization of behavior, and elevation of mood”. Where I am going with this is that for 37 years I have hidden my experience with depression by using “behavioral disorganization”, “inability to sleep”, and “elevation of mood” in socially accepted ways. In the above paragraph those traits have largely enabled me to embark on some of the most incredilble accomplishments of my life. What I am trying to illustrate is that Depression comes in so many sizes, shapes, and forms and it affects many people, including me.
To anyone reading this that knows me, this entire blog may land with a slap, a thud, an “aha” or all of the above. To those of you that don’t know me you may be wondering how someone gets a way with potentially experiencing bi-polar depression and never raises flags. The answer is actually quite simple, keep moving. When you move a lot, travel, you have no consistency in doctors, jobs, friends, or in my case even a partner. On the outside I am a very put together, well spoken, adventurous, often exuberant and a life loving human being. I present well, I am highly intelligent, I’ve always supported myself and most people like to be around me. On the inside I am all of those things but not always so put together. Inside my head and heart there have been some epic battles where I have been fortunate to have damn good angels reach me in some of my darkest suicidal hours. It has taken me 37 years to vocalize or write down my experience because the fear of admitting I was suffering held me back from the possibility of what help could feel like.
I have loved archetypes for all of my adult life (thanks to university psychology, Caroline Myss, Senses of The Soul, and Sifting Into High Gear). In saying that, it was selective love! I loved the ones I liked the meaning of and have loathed the ones that I most needed to learn from like, the Victim. I was so afraid of sitting with this archetype and being labeled a victim that my solution was to go through life like a raging bull (warrior) just pushing ahead no matter what. I wanted so desperately to belong and fit in that I thought if people ever found out who the real me was no one would love me. I became paranoid that if anyone knew I had experiences of depression or anxiety they would judge my every move or action that somehow people would stop me from doing things in life if they knew and so I worked very hard to push people away or let them in only as far as I felt safe. I thought to be strong meant to keep everything inside, that my feelings were invalid and unnecessary and I tried very hard to erase all trace of feeling in my life and maintain that hardened exterior I thought was necessary to be loved and accepted. The cycle is viscous and the harder I tried to avoid feelings and maintain the facade the more depressed I became. At first it was easy to numb the feelings (pain, shame, guilt and dejection) with seemingly healthy things like dancing, a career and spirituality. If I just kept busy I couldn’t feel. I started to notice that this didn’t always work so I escalated my numbing techniques. I started to travel, move, change jobs and throw myself into building other people’s dreams with reckless abandon (society rewards work-a-holics). The worse I felt the harder I self sabotaged (yes another archetype) and I tried abusive relationships, alcohol, sex, and drugs to make it all go away. I worked so hard at masks and keeping people away that no one on earth truly new me, not even family, the epitome of loneliness and disconnection. Brené Brown has a quote “In the absence of love and belong, there will always be suffering” and for years I was suffering.
Depression is terrifying. In the past it has taken over my body got into the drivers seat and called some awful shots. Luckily I realized that depression is a terrible driver and slowly I began to take back the keys. I finally realized how lonely I was, because with depression driving I never let anyone in the car. With depression driving I never roll down the windows for fresh air or stop to see the rainbows. With depression driving I can’t do the dishes, wear nice clothes, or do my hair. With depression driving I can’t be a mom and nurture another human being. After the birth of my son I became very ill. Instinct is a powerful thing and for the first time ever I reached out for help and used the dirty D word. Being newly post-partum I felt safe to use the depression for the first time ever knowing that it was “normal”, well talked about and temporary. That was the first way in which my son helped me with healing and the second has only just surfaced. With a recent diagnosis of some health and development concerns by practitioners my son is once again helping me heal by inviting me to examine what he is mirroring back. I believe our children choose us and they are our greatest healers and teachers, I couldn’t have known that it would start at such a young age! When I play with what he is showing and I bring it back to me, the message is clear, self worth. Its taken me a very long time to grasp that the only person I need to belong to is me and that the greatest love of all comes from within. I have been getting help and have spent four months working solely on healing myself and getting to know the glorious person I am and remembering how to love her. Having my son really made me realize that when you work that hard to numb your feelings you also sacrifice the great ones like joy and love and I am not willing to miss out on that with him!
I am not suggesting everyone become a parent to cure depression, in fact I am not even suggesting their is a cure! I am only wanting to share with you how I have experienced a spectrum of emotions in my life and how I am working with them. I believe there is a contrast of learning in every thing including emotions like depression and anxiety and also within archetypes like saboteur and victim. The choice is ours if we want to lean in, explore and grow.
I truly believe one of the greatest gifts as a human is our gift of free will. We always have a choice even if its a small one. In the words of Will Smith we can choose to take response-ability instead of of finding fault and re-frame our lives including our views on ourselves. I make daily choices sometimes hourly, some are good and some aren’t so good but I own them. I make a choice daily that being a parent means committing to my health because I can’t give or model what I don’t have. I love my son with all my heart and the best gifts I can give him are to model self love, authenticity, integrity, and curiosity. This is a practice and a life long journey and I am all in heart and soul!
How am I taking action and staying in the drivers seat? I spend my time taking online courses, reading books, visiting healers & therapists, and do Yoga. I was taught a powerful question by someone very special and I ask myself often her line “if I was feeling 100% worthy right now what would I do” and I get curious about the answer and lean on into it (Thank you Tammy Price). I read a lot! Brené ‘s books have been instrumental and taught me that the only place I need to belong is within and my worth is not up for negotiation PERIOD. I am working harder to watch what I eat and using food as medicine along with herbal teas and tinctures. I am re-designing my life to support my whole health needs and provide the best possible life for my son and I. I am doing this, writing blogs, opening up my heart, welcoming people in and offering to share my gifts with the world one day at a time.
So why speak up now? Its part of the healing for me. For too long I have been fearful of making mistakes or offending other people but now I am living the words of Brené Brown “I’m not going to let my imperfection move me away from tough conversations because they’re too important”. #BellLetsTalk day brings to awareness how important of a topic this is, how many people are suffering, and how this needs to be talked about in new ways. Talking about things normalizes them and in safe containers it allows us to work through our own healing. In sharing my story there is a chance that someone who reads this may find courage, inspiration, comfort, or get curious to ask more questions! These are all reason enough to speak up and invite the conversation of depression to continue. Our world is shifting rapidly and “its going to take a million acts of kindness and consciousness to change” (Brené Brown). Change starts small and it starts with me, one small act of brave action at a time…so Let’s talk, today and everyday.
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