The seeds of depression

Depression runs in my family, and I am not immune. I never really knew that feeling until I experience a miscarriage, but that was the most terrifying and overwhelming experience of my life. I remember laying in bed eating Halloween candy, never truly feeling good and never really wanting to. I wanted to be left alone, I retreated within myself and not in a good way.  The sadness was very heavy in my heart and just thinking about it can send me right back there. 

The miscarriage led to other things happening, health of love ones deteriorating, my stomach issues, job stresses and a variety of things that seemed to just pile up creating a strong rooted depression. It took a while to come out of it; but,  here is the thing that I realized:  those seeds of depression are always with me – they could have very well been there always and I just didn’t have a voice for them up until that point in my life, but they are there.

The seeds of depression are always with me, and I am fortunate enough to be able to recognize them and for the most part I don’t water them, but  I know it’s very easy for me to water them and they can grow out of control.  They can consume you, all of you , and trap you inside yourself.  Depression for me is saying I give up and I don’t want to try anymore, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to live, in fact I do very badly, but I go to a place of just surviving without purpose, intention or will. 

I can recognize the seeds of depression, and they are always there.  The trick for me is to water all the other seeds of my life, so that it chokes out the seeds of depression, even  if it’s just temporary.  Small things for me make a big difference.  Things like getting outside for a walk, socializing at some similar interest groups, excercising, meditating, eating right for my body are all things that bring me happiness and allow my seeds of happiness to grow, which don’t allow the seeds of depression to grow.

I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a lazy person but the truth is, it’s more about my depression getting the better parts of me. Instead of sticking to plans with friends, I will sit on the couch binge watching Netflix and eating chips which doesn’t make me feel good; venting laughing and being with supportive friends would make me feel good. That’s the thing about depression, it is tricky and its responsible for me feeling bad about  me and my life. It needs me to feel bad, it needs me to regress, it needs that to survive; unless I choke it out with peace, with happiness, with love – depression can’t feed off any of those things. 

Most mornings I take my son to some sort of playgroup, but more often than not, I have to force that first step. I have to force myself to go out but I know once I get there we are happy and afterwards I feel so great.  If I stay at home, it often leads to me staying in all day and that changes my mood to a more somber one.  Depression is in there and it can take a hold of me and I aware of that; but awareness is the best place to start.  Simply understanding in that moment that this isn’t my true self, is how I often need to proceed.  Understanding that it can manifest itself into many forms : social, eating habits, fitness, wellbeing – they all can be affected by my seeds of depression.  I choose the brownie for dessert, and before I know it I feel sad and tired and say why bother, so I continue onward with all sorts of candies, I give up and start to feel bad physically and emotionally. 

It’s there waiting for me.  Or maybe I can learn to live with it, and recognize it but not be it. 

I don’t want to be trapped. I don’t want to be in bed having depression take my will to live,  because I wouldn’t take that first step.  That first step is very hard, and doesn’t always feel well at the start, but over time it does get a bit easier and it sure feels good afterwards. 

There are countless forms of depression, and every body reacts to things differently, this is what works well for me. This is something I have explored with health professionals and have come to terms with, and I encourage everyone to do. For me watering all my other seeds doesn’t leave much room in my soil for the seeds of depression, and that is where I want to be.

Present and fluid

Those who simply live in the present moment, truly experience life and are happiness at its most pure form. It’s so simple to live in the present, yet I struggle with it daily.

An epiphany last weekend, at tea with an amazing friend, led me to understand that if I live presently in that moment I can choose happiness. Actually just living in the present moment does me wonders, it makes me slow down and not only appreciate life all around me but I am filled with an amazing sense of happiness. 

Though I am working on being present and being aware, I realize it isn’t something that comes naturally for me – in fact some days I feel like all I’m doing is reminding myself to be present. All my life I am looking for the next thing. I am always looking forward to something in the future. Instead of enjoying the now, I’m looking at the future, excited for the next event; but when that event gets here it is disappointing because I have spent so much time idealizing it I don’t enjoy it in that moment. The moment arrives and I am let down and then start looking at the next thing. I am actually trying to fast forward myself through my own life.  Even in my daily tasks I am trying to get to the next one, then the next one and then get to sleep so I can start it all over again; never fully appreciating the moment I’m in, always looking for what’s next.

My personality tends to lean towards the planner, I like making plans, often well in advance. I think slowing myself down and living presently is something that I feel I have to work a little harder on.  People who live presently, still make plans, they just live moment to moment and not for that particular plan.  One of the things I am trying to do now is making plans on a whim, which in the past was very hard for me to do.  I am trying to let go of my shoulds, and simply be.  In the past if plans would change I would be upset, because I had a very hard time rolling with waves, but now there is a moment of disspaointment and I am able to move on.

So I guess it’s not just living presently where I am moving towards, but also being more fluid. Two things that I work on daily, that with time will get to be more natural for me.  The only way I can work on them is through awareness, simply saying to myself “I am in the present moment” and “just relax and let that go”.  It does work, but like any new skill it takes practice.

I am gearing up for a trip tomorrow, and it’s really easy for me to go list crazy and feel that stressful energy of my to do list.  Do I have things that I would like to get done for this trip? Of course, but the list doesn’t control me and that hyper energy to complete it does not serve me. I will do my best to live in the present moment today, trusting that it will all get done.  Right now I feel the need to write, later I will feel like packing and in packing I will find joy in the present while packing instead of that “I need to get this over with and move on to something else”.  

I am not perfect, no one is, but I am aware and bit by bit, I will be present and fluid.

Time out for me

One thing that I am really passionate about is people taking time outs for themselves, particularly mothers.  When I first became a mother I remember a co-worker saying to me to take time out for yourself, it makes you a better mother.  At the time I thought it was ridiculous, how can time away make you better ? She couldn’t have been more right. 

Recently I have been going through a routine funk, not etching out any time for myself.  It was hurting me way more than I realized.  The worst part is when you are in one these funks, you don’t necessarily want to get out of it; it gets really comfortable. I believe that by not taking any time out for me, I was physically hurting myself – enter my recent stomach pain battle. I’ve read how the stomach acts as a barometer for change, so when you get stuck sometimes you find yourself in some sort of gastrointestinal distress, it can be minor or in my case a lot more severe.  Whatever it is, it has caught my attention and I realize now that some changes have to be made.

I love writing and I let it fall by the waste side. I used to occasionally have a long bath or meditate or both but haven’t done that in a long time.  Circumstances have even let me meet with friends less and it all has to do with me not taking time out for me.  I go through my day, in my routine and at the end of the day just zone out and watch Netflix because I have no energy left in the tank.  I have let myself fall into an old pattern which was once described to me as the walking dead. You are just going through the motions, walking around as if you are dead.  

This has happened to me before.  Before I experienced a miscarriage a few years ago, I felt exactly this way – like the walking dead and it took something very life changing to get my attention.  I learned from that but change was hard to make, so I got back into a mundane routine and thus the first time I experienced these stomach pains came to be; and now here they are again, practically yelling at me. How does that go again:  those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

I have a hard work aversion and I dont necessarily think it’s the fear of the work, but rather, the fear of failing from the work.  Even though I know failing is one of life’s greatest lessons and is necessary to any success, I have risk aversion and usually avoid rocking the boat. In fact my whole life I had done just that, took the mediocre job, did the mediocre things all because it means not standing out, it was safe.  After all that I went through, I made a huge change, I quit my job, I did what others around me weren’t doing and what I am surprisingly often cristisced for:  I stayed at home with my kids.  I took a risk, and it came with a lot of failures and some huge lessons to learn but as I was evolving I was also refusing to change. I got caught up in the mundane and refused to step into another level.

I did this by taking away my me time: my time to think on my own, to talk it out with a friend, to meditate on it or to write about it was all lost and in process so was I. The routine lost meaning.  I lost meaning.  Now I am sitting here trying to re-establish that lost connection, and the only way to do it is to take some time out for me, I have no idea where any of this will lead, but I do feel change is on the precipice.  The only way to get there is to find myself, the only way to find myself is to take some time out for myself.

I suppose that’s why I am so passionate about taking time out for yourself, it’s way more important then we often think and it can make all the difference in your life: you can either go through the motions or you can live and I really would rather live.

Compassion

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.  – Dalai Lama

I am a firm believer of self love and self compassion and that you can’t project these things if you don’t have them for yourself.  If you don’t have compassion for yourself it’s pretty hard to have it for other people.   I also know that you are the only one who has access to your thoughts and feelings so you are the only one who knows what is right for you; but I think a piece of the puzzle that I’m missing is to do that with compassion for others. If we are all supposed to be connected through life then we should all have empathy and compassion for others. This doesn’t mean living for others, it means living for yourself with kindness and love for everyone.  

Empathy is something that I find myself incredibly frustrated with in life.  I find many people I come in contact with lack that empathy and compassion for others. In fact in the past when I have demonstrated empathy or kindness for someone I have been met with angry confussion. Why is she doing this? What do you get from this?  Is it possible that all I receive is happiness knowing that your happy.  Why can’t that be my goal?

I am not always an empathic person and I am not always compassionate but I find myself incredibly frustrated with the lack of trying in today’s world.  Doing what’s right for you should include love and thought for yourself and as well as others. I don’t always do this myself but we can do what’s in our best interest while thinking about love and empathy for others. We don’t know their whole picture but we know what we feel so we can apply that.

I used to work in philanthropy and I worked with a woman who always said “True philanthropy is anonymous.  It is simply doing something kind because it is kind, not because you get anything in return”.  I couldn’t agree more.  When you are operating from a place of love you can’t go wrong.

Decisions we make need to have ourselves in first thought but we need to do it with love and compassion for others.  We don’t live in a vaccuum so  I can’t just say I love grapes so much and eat all of them leaving none left for the rest of my grape loving family.  It’s about balance, some for me, some for you – I satisfy my need for grapes while being empathic to my families need for grapes too.  A better balance is something I’m really striving for.  Can I do something for myself,  with my best interest at heart while still being empathetic for you – absolutely; but it means a little practice in getting there. 

There is a lot of anger and frustration in the world and I’m just as guilty as the next person to live there but what if we just cut each other a break? What if we were kind, understanding and compassionate in balance with ourselves?   

That would be awesome! 

Save me

I’m struggling through this health journey and I have days that are so incredibly frustrating; I have other days when I feel like I’m making progress. One thing I’m absolutely certain of, this isn’t just me seeing doctors figuring out what could be wrong and what could make it right; its me figuring out me and learning a lot along the way.  
I’m a big believer that physical pain isn’t just physical pain, it’s something inside you manifesting itself in a particular way. Do I believe my stomach issues can be cured by simply looking at my life and changing my thought pattern, not entirely, but I do believe it helps, in fact it’s a bigger part of the solution then I often realize. 
Right now I’m trying to navigate through this health stuff and it is never just a simple answer, but I wish it would be, – I am always looking to be saved.
Growing up my parents referred to me as their little princess but it wasn’t solely because I was a cute little kid, well I was adorable but it was because I wanted my Prince Charming to rescue me. I was constantly looking for someone else to do it for me, someone to save me from me.When things get difficult or I get lazy I seek someone else to save me. 
When I had my first child I learned very quickly just how hard I had to work and that there was no one there to save me but that didn’t stop me for resenting that. Though I had long given up my crown, it hadn’t given me up and I was finding it in all sort of hidden ways. I learned quickly how to adapt to the work, how to push myself harder, how to be strong but I didn’t release the resentment. I would compare myself to others, who had more help, more everything and think – why not me?
By the birth of my second child I understood that wasn’t a good way to operate and that comparing myself to others led to nothing but unhappiness. I did some big things: I quit my job to stay home with my kids, made some major changes in perception and had to say goodbye to some hurtful relationships but I was happy for the chance to grow into myself in a way that brought me peace and happiness. All the progress and all the happiness I gained was wonderful but quietly in the corner sat my crown.
Being a stay a home mom, living off one salary means not a lot of money for extras. It means living differently not necessarily badly and that often brought the old princess out of me dreaming of how it would be so nice if I came into a lot of money and how I would conduct my life if I had no financial restrictions.
I actually have a great life financially, I get to do things many would dream of but that’s the thing about the princess she always wants more and she doesn’t want to do anything to get it. I went back to work after the birth of my first son, I had two incomes then and I can assure you all I did was waste the more money that I had.
That stupid crown doesn’t just rear itself financially but in all aspects of my life. Personal goals, writing goals, health goals – there she is, wanting it all done perfectly with no effort. Sometimes I don’t even know she is there. I almost didn’t recognize it but the longing and the want is spilling into my health journey.  
I want a problem and a solution and I want it resolved quickly with little effort on my part. I don’t want to do the hard work and I certainly don’t want to live in this world I am living in right now with no definitive solutions. I want instant gratification. It’s taken a month just to start more medical testing and that is way too long. The crown wants me to be well by now. I have life to live and I don’t want this weighing me down. It’s all I can think of and it frankly leaves me having to adapt in a way that doesn’t feel like I am even participating. 
There’s nothing wrong with wanting things a certain way, or dreaming of a certain life. I mean if I’m willing to work for it I can accomplish all my goals and more importantly, find myself in the mess. The problem comes from me wanting someone to save me, to do it all for me, and the truth is only I can save myself.
So I relinquish my crown and instead of looking at all the dreadful work ahead, I will enjoy it. I will enjoy the work because I know it leads to great things. It leads to the life I’m meant to be living and most of all it leads to me, the true me.