The last entry I wrote was back in June 2017. I had gone from having a stable frame of mind to an unstable frame of mind in a matter of only a couple of weeks and now, it is April 2018. I don’t remember much about what really happened, but when looking back on my last two posts, I believe it was that last post about Humpty Dumpty that finally did me in. After that post, I never went back to see my therapist again. I stopped my blog, I stopped reading my self-help books, I stopped writing. I just stopped and crawled down the rabbit hole. Basically,
Looking back, I am not really sure why I just gave up. But, there were many factors that probably went into it. The crazy business of trying to keep up with a regular blog, family and work. I was trying to race my way through my blog and keep up with those full-time bloggers out there. I lost sight of what I was trying to do, help myself and others through my experiences. My blog turned into a competition and I burned out fast. So, I went on with my life and tried as hard as I could to just fake it. I had to fake it for my job or I would have gotten fired. I faked it for my family because I did not want the attention and to not fake it would have been painful. More painful than what I had experienced with Humpty Dumpty and I just did not want to go through that again. So I buried my pain and went on with life.
A lot has changed in the last nine months. One of the most important things that I have done, was to move. I just really felt that I needed a fresh start, so I moved out-of-state to start over.
Also, I started a new job!
The one thing that I seemed to forget was that life’s stresses move with you. I wanted a free start so bad, because I hoped it would make the depression disappear. It did not! Regardless, I am loving life but the last few weeks have been very trying. The last few weeks have been that crazy stressful, it is that type of stress that we all go through, but for me that stress is making me fall back into the rabbit hole again. They have been so hard, that I have had images of just driving off a cliff. From past experience, I know that these images in my brain are a cry for help. So, this time instead of hiding my thoughts I have been posting them and I am pretty sure I have scared a lot of friends and family, and for that I am sorry to all. But, posting has giving me hope, because I am on the top of the wall and the hole is below and I haven’t fallen of the wall like Humpty Dumpty, yet.
With change comes new ideas and while I loved my initial blog of Journey of Hope. I am going to go in a new direction. Not a completely new direction, I will still create art, share education about depression and other mental illnesses. However, now, my blog will not be that race and I won’t post according to how people thinks blogs should be written, or how often people post. It won’t be a competition or a business. It will just be a place for people to come and read, learn, and maybe try out some of the ideas that I have for getting over that hurdle of depression when they need a lift and just can’t figure out anything else. Then when I am in pain, and I need that break, I will feel free of all pressures to take that break.
So, if you are one of my readers, thanks for sticking around waiting for when and if I would ever post again. If you are a new reader, thanks for stopping by!
Welcome to Rain, Rocks, and Rainbows!
Now and Always,
I have really been struggling the past couple of weeks and so my posts have gone down. I am hoping that after I come out of the episode I will be able to start posting regularly again. Please stay with me and I will post again next week.
The last couple of weeks had been going so good, I wasn’t necessary on top of the world but I wasn’t in the pits of hell either. I was functioning, I was able to get stuff done, I wasn’t dead dog tired, so tired that I dreaded each and every day. That is when it started to hit me, the exhaustion of trying to take on too much at one time. The thoughts that nobody cares about me or what I have to say. The self-doubt that follows me around like a ball and chain. I was working really hard on trying to get rid of those negative thought patterns and I have always taken on way to much at one time. I do it to try and get some feeling, any feeling, that “emotional high” that I crave but rarely see. The emotional feeling that people without Chronic Depression feel every day. Their normal is my emotional high. Getting that feeling gives me such joy until…
It doesn’t take much. Not getting enough sleep one night, having a rough day at work, having to deal with conflict anywhere in my life, or just getting too much coming at me from to many people all at one time. I could go on and on, but this time all it took was one small comment from someone I love. It wasn’t even a bad comment, it was just a comment about their worry and their anxiety. Everyone has their own anxieties and worries and I am someone that this person trusts and feel that they can share with me. But this time, for me, it was different. You see, I had found a book about Chronic Depression and reading that book was like putting together the puzzle pieces for me. I had never found anything that explained what I have been going through for the last 20 years fit so well with what I was feeling inside.
So, for once I was sharing; and that sharing let me be vulnerable. I rarely share feelings, even with the people that I love. The true deep feelings that everyone else can share, usually without any problems. When I think something is going to make me vulnerable, I just shut down. This is so bad for me that if I even think that I am going to have to share feelings or be emotionally embarrassed at all, I will just shut down. I avoid all situations where I think I will be put into a situation that would lead me to feel this way. I would rather lock myself in a dark closet then deal with it.
This time though, I opened up because I felt excitement that I had found a piece of the puzzle that made my life so miserable and I had trust, the trust of someone who loves me. Unfortunately, that vulnerability made my brain decided to perceive the message this person said to me as “quit reading, quit trying to get better, quit learning, you are not important, and I don’t want you to change.” I really started to just literally think that maybe life is just better off the way it is, with me being so unhappy with my life. Why? Because the reality of it is, that in my depressed brain, I don’t matter anyway, the only ones who matter are the people that I love.
On this particular day, I had a therapy appointment and until I started talking I had no idea how hurt I was from the conversation with my loved one earlier in the day. Six months into therapy, I had not yet cried in front of my therapist and I barely sat down before the tears started flowing. This made it so much worse, because now I was feeling hurt and angry that I had to be put in an emotionally embarrassing situation. I was so mad at myself!
When I left that therapists office, it was like I was Humpty Dumpty and I had fallen off the wall, I was cracking and starting to break apart. I couldn’t stop crying and so, I didn’t return to work, I drove and drove until I was so tired, I just needed to go home and sleep. God, how I dreaded going home. Would anyone be there? Would I have to try and hide my feelings, yet again? Fake that I was not feeling well so I could just be left in peace to finish breaking apart in my own way. Or, would I have to act angry, like so many times before. This is the easiest way, because then they do stay away.
I am still so exhausted. It has taken so much energy to just write this piece, to not cry and to send it out to the void so that my readers will understand what it is like to suffer from a mental illness. I am trying very hard this time to stay positive. It is so hard!
I just want to quit.
Quit the blog,
and quit life.
But I can’t, because there are people that need me, even if I don’t need myself, there are readers out there who maybe, just maybe, will be helped by my writing and because I know that there is a purpose for life, I was put here for a reason. There is a reason for everything I am going through it has just not been shown to me yet.
Now and always,
A few years ago, I was seeing a therapist and at this particular session, we were talking about my commute from work. See, I live about 40 minutes from my job if the traffic is good, but when I am driving in rush hour; my drive can turn into an hour to an hour and a half. No matter what I tried, I just could not get used to that drive. I would get so frustrated being in traffic, hardly moving at all. I felt that it was just a waste of my time and my time is precious. At least to me it is!
She asked me what I listened to on my way home from work. I told her that I would ether talk to my husband on the phone, in which we would vent about work during most of those phone calls. Probably not a good thing when trying to wind down. Or, I would listen to the news or a radio show called “Moon and Stacie,” which I did not like very much. Her question back to me was, “Why do you listen to it if you don’t like it?”
I really did not have an answer for her and for a couple of years I just continued to do the same thing, but I never talked to my therapist about it again. In looking back I guess I felt ashamed, but to this day I don’t know why.
It was during this last winter of 2016/17, when I was going through one of my depressive episodes, when I started to listen to Christian Radio. At first, I would only listen sometimes, but soon I found myself listening more and more. For some reason, this type of music calls to me, it is inspiring and brings me peace.
I found I would catch myself singing and how I love to sing, and before long, I had a few favorite songs that I had downloaded. When I had a particularly rough day, I would turn to these few songs and sing my heart out. I still do! Most of the time, it would be the same song over and over all the way home. Somehow, these songs brought me peace and happiness and when I would get home, I would not even realize how much time had passed. I would even drive a couple of extra blocks when I was in the middle of a song so that I could finish.
There was and still is one particular song that just speaks to my soul. The song is “Oh My Soul” by Casting Crowns. You see the lyrics in this song are so telling of how I was feeling at the time and even today, when I feel myself taking a step backward I listen to this song.
During my depressive episode, I would constantly worry, cry and was failing to hide my depression as I had all of the other times. I am always depressed but it is so mild most of the time that the only one who knows it is me. This time though I went into a really bad depressive episode, which they call a double depression when you have Dysthymic Disorder. This episode just kind of snuck up on me over many months and before I knew it I felt like my life was collapsing all around me.
After almost losing my job and getting myself back into therapy. I knew that I had to come to terms that I might always suffer with Dysthymia and have these double depression episodes. I had to come clean and be honest with myself in order to start the healing process.
At the time, I felt lost and alone. I felt like I was just not strong enough to live with this disorder any longer. I felt as if I had nothing and no one to turn to. There was no one who could understand what I was going through and the truth is, there is still no one who understands. I sure don’t, so why would anyone else.
All I knew at the time, was that this one song made me feel better, even if just for a short while. I could feel the Universe talking to me through this song, talking control of my emotions and just letting me be who I was really meant to be, even if just for a little while. The feeling was and still is strong enough that I created a painting off of the main chorus.
Music Therapy has been used since the dawn of civilization. The ancient Greeks used Music Therapy in their healing Shrines and would have patients listen to the soft melody of the flutes or dulcimer hymns. Modern Music Therapy gained traction after World War II. Doctors found that patients suffering from PTSD and other mental health issues were better for a time after listening to music.
According to Melanie Kwan, co-author of the study and president of the Association for Music therapy, Singapore,
“Active music engagement allowed the patients to reconnect with the healthy parts of themselves, even in the face of a debilitating condition or disease-related suffering,”
The American Music Therapy Association states,
“Music is a form of sensory stimulation that provokes responses due to the familiarity, predictability and feelings of security associated with it.”
“The aim of therapy is to help individuals develop relationships and address issues they may not be able to address using words along.”
Additionally, Music therapy has been shown to help the following:
Using music to heal sound so much like using art to heal, they are just different mediums. I encourage you to go out there and find some music that is inspirational and peaceful for you and just listen. Take a walk in nature, meditate, or just sit and relax. Maybe find that radio station out there that you never thought you would listen to and just listen while your driving in your car. Give yourself a 30-day challenge and see how you feel after.
Please take a few minutes to watch the Official Lyric Video for Oh My Soul, the place I got the inspiration for my painting.
Now and always,
I had never heard of Bibliotherapy before until it popped up in a web search while looking for Art Therapy sites. I happened on Good Therapy.org and according to the article Bibliotherapy,
“Is a therapeutic approach that uses literature to support good mental health, is a versatile and cost-effective treatment option adapted or used to supplement other types of therapy. Proponents of the approach suggest mild to moderate symptoms of several mood related conditions can be successfully treated with reading activities.”
Bibliotherapy is used in many ways from “Prescriptive Bibliotherapy,” which can be referred to as self-help books to “Books on Prescription,” which is a reading program that is prescribed to you to help your mental health needs by your mental health provider and “Creative Bibliotherapy,” which uses imaginative literature like, novels, plays, poetry and biographies.
There are benefits from using Bibliotherapy, you can personally tailor to the specific circumstance or problem that you are trying to solve. Bibliotherapy allows you to seek treatment at your own pace; however, it should not replace your regular treatment with your Doctor. If you are seeing someone please keep seeing them and maybe talk to them about adding Bibliotherapy to your treatment. Another great thing about Bibliotherapy can be practiced in private; no one needs to know what you read, why you are reading that subject or what you hope to get out of it.
When you are reading for Bibliotherapy there is a difference then when you are just reading to read. You have to have a kind of mind set that allows you to let the author engage you in a silent conversation. But you also have to be able to understand what is being communicated to you. For instance, in Jacqueline Stanley’s book,
“The reader must struggle to understand what is being communicated at the deepest levels and, as a direct consequence of that communication responds by making a positive alteration or modification in behavior or attitude.”
After researching about Bibliotherapy, I found that I actually use it a lot all ready, but with this new found knowledge I will just read the books I choose specifically for Bibliotherapy differently. I already have been utilizing Prescriptive Bibliotherapy and will continue to do so, but I might dabble with Creative Bibliotherapy as well. I have always been an avid reader, it is one of my favorite things to do.
The first book I am going to talk about is “YOU are a BADASS” by Jen Sincero. Warning possible spoiler Alert!
I would not have even thought of picking this book up, except that; in May, I was in a weight loss challenge group and to read this book was one of the challenges and I am so glad that I picked it up. The author has a no nonsense way of talking to you and it help me to stay engaged.
You are a Badass is broken out into five parts. Each part builds on the other parts. As I journey through each part, I will let you know what I took to heart and how the book helped me.
In Jen’s first chapter she talks about how our conscious mind and subconscious mind tells us completely different things. Three things that she says is:
I can totally see how she is right. When I was a teenager, my mom told me that I was only a “B” student and that my older brother and my younger sister were “A” students. She went on to say that I should become a teacher because it basically was a “B” student career. I never went on to become a teacher, but I wish I had; not because of what my mom said, but because I love teaching.
When I think back on how I have viewed my schooling and career, subconsciously I think this comment stuck with me. I am a perfectionist, and being a perfectionist can be a good thing but it can be a really bad thing. According to Psychology Today,
“For perfectionists, life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It’s a fast and enduring track to unhappiness, and perfectionism is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. And love isn’t a refuge; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance. Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality, and often it leads to procrastination. There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection. The need for perfection is usually transmitted in small ways from parents to children, some as silent as a raised eyebrow over a B rather than an A.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/perfectionism
Through that conversation with my mom, I was basically told you are not good enough!
So my conscious mind has moved away and is thinking life is going pretty good, I went on to get two degrees, my BS in Accounting and a MBA and all the while I am doing this, my subconscious mind is screaming out in my head “You are not good enough!” I know it was, but just didn’t realize it until I read this book. Get this, when I started taking Intermediate Accounting in college, I was really having a hard time with it and ended up getting a “C” in the class, but that was not good enough; so, I paid the tuition out of my pocket about $1,240.00 so I could get a better grade. I ended up with a “B” in the class and was still super upset.
Who does that!!! I will tell you, someone who does not think they are good enough.
In the second chapter, Jen talks about the G-word. All of this chapter talked to me and I want to point out how she approaches the issue. I loved it! When it comes to spirituality and religion, I am super open minded and I feel that we are all here on our own path and will end in the place that we need to and if we let it, the Universe, God or whoever you call it will help us along the way. Jen writes,
“Wherever you happen to stand on the God issue, let me just say that this whole improve your life thing is going to be a lot easier if you have an open mind about it. Call it whatever you want – God, Goddess, The Big Guy, The Universe, Source Energy, Higher Power, The Grand Poobah, Gut, Intuition, Spirit, The Force, The Zone, The Lord, The Vortex, The Mother Lode – it doesn’t matter.
Once I read this, I was hooked and couldn’t read the book fast enough.
In this part of the book, Jen starts to talk about how you need to love yourself. One of the things I loved about this book is that no matter what part of the book you were reading, she always ended the chapter or the process with “Love Yourself.”
I have this horrible issue with Negative Self Talk and Jen points out that we really just need to stop with that. There was a sentence that really stuck with me, she says,
“Our thoughts become our words, our words become our beliefs, our beliefs become our actions, our actions become our habits, and our habits become our realities.”
This is so true from me, so I have been trying really hard, to start to change my words, because then everything else will follow.
I really needed part 2 of Jen’s book because, the majority if not all of the points she brings up, I was doing the opposite of what she told me. Also, if I was doing it, I was not giving myself the credit that I deserved. One of the biggest parts that was brought up was about fear. Jen talks about jumping in the deep end and following you’re your fantasies. Because I have really just been existing and not fantasizing here are a few that I have thought about learning. 1) Learn to play the guitar and starting to sign again. 2) Write a book instead of just talking about writing a book. 3) Take an art class. 4) Write the blog you have so long wanted to write.
In this part of the book, Jen talks about how to really tap into your inner-self. She talks about meditation, which I have tried in the past and loved it but in reality I just never made any time for it and have started to meditate again, but in small doses. Jen has a lot of really great tidbits of info in this part of the book. She talks about how you really need to change your thinking and beliefs if you want to change your reality. Here is a quote from the book that she found super important.
“You have to change your thinking first, and then the evidence appears. Our big mistake is that we do it the other way around. We demand to see the evidence before we believe it to be true.”
To is helping me change my thinking and beliefs, I started a vision board just to help me. I am consistently updating pieces to my board, but the main piece for me at least in 2017 is positivity, because I have been so negative and pessimistic in my adult life that I really need to change that belief.
Another important aspect that Jen talks about is Gratitude. I have always know gratitude is important and practiced it sometimes. But after reading this book, I practice it every day. If you follow me on Facebook you can get in on the Gratitude too with my Gratitude posts.
Here Jen talks about how we are extremely wrapped up in our stories. Here is an example she gave,
“I don’t have the money, I’m not good enough, I can’t quit my job, I’m lazy, I have bad hair.”
She goes on to say,
“…trudging through life with our heads down, clinging to our false beliefs like lifeboats full of doo-doo, that we prevent ourselves from seeing the literally infinite sea of possibilities and opportunities surrounding us at every single moment.”
What got to me in part 4 is a statement where she said,
“You’re the author of your own life – not your parents, not society, not your partner, not your friends,…”
See that one sentence hit me with a ton of bricks, because part of my negativity was because of my belief that everyone else was the author of my life and that I did not have a choice. When all along I have had the choice, I could just not see it. I have chosen my life so far, regardless of whether I like it or not.
Jen has a chapter on fear, and she tells you that fear has not happened yet so fear is really all made up. So, I asked myself, “What’s stopping you?” Here is what was stopping me, I was afraid of what everyone else would think. I was ashamed of my depression and didn’t feel I would have anything important to say or even how to say it. I took a really good look inside and just decided to jump and the product of jumping was the inspiration is what you are reading right now. This blog!
In this final part of the book, Jen talks about just making that decision, money, and surrendering. I really needed help with my decision making as I have always been indecisive when it comes to me and this is something I will have to work on for a long time. Some of the things that she pointed out were that you need to want it bad, get good at what you want by learning and eliminate the negotiation process. I have been talking about blogging for years, but I was always indecisive of what to blog about and I used that as my excuse to not blog. I really just had to eliminate the negotiation process in my own mind and just blog. The learning is coming, I have already learned a huge amount and have so much more to learn. And you know what,
The last part in Part 5 that spoke to me was her chapter on surrendering. Jen says,
“It’s about showing up every day with an excellent attitude, doing your best, leaning back, celebrating what is and steadily working with the grateful expectation and belief that The Universe is sending you a new, more lucrative opportunity.”
I will use this expression in every part of my life, at home, work, and my blog. I used to celebrate, but I just got to a point where the celebration stopped. I had to realize that working hard and steadily to your goals is not worth its weight in gold if you can’t stop to celebrate your successes.
There is so much more to her book then what I have touched on, so I hope that you will pick up a copy of the book and see for yourself. If not “You are a Badass” then pick up a different book something that peaks your interest and will help you to solve one of the problems in your life.
Happy Reading, learning, and healing!
This particular piece was harder for me to write and much easier for me to create. I think that was, because for me, I could see the pictures in my mind and knew what it looked like, but to put that into words; well, that was the difficult part. It is hard to let something go that you have held onto for so long, so here I go.
I am here to ask you what you truly need to heal all of the pain that over shadows you?
To truly heal, I need you to really forgive yourself, not just think or say you do, but to really let go of your guilt and regret.
I know that you tried to hard to be the perfect mom and wife, many called you a supermom. What you have gone through over the last 20 plus years was hard. It is not easy to raise three kids and one with severe ADHD too. You did this all while working full time and going to college. It is OK that your house was not perfectly clean. When you look back on it ~ does it really matter anyway?
I know that the guilt eats at the inside of you, because money was so tight and you were not able to put your kids into every sport or dance class that they wanted. That when they were in some activity and they wanted to quit, you were so OK with that because time was such a problem for you on top of the money. The guilt lies in not making them continue because you knew they enjoyed it, after all, they were just kids and wanted to be anywhere else but at practice. Now as adults those same kids say things like, “I wish I wouldn’t of quit” and “Why did you let me quit, mom?” These types of things continue to grow your guilt but it is what is was, and you can’t change the past.
The guilt that you feel for not being able to spend the time you really wanted to because you were so busy sitting at the kitchen table studying to get your degree ~ all you really wanted was a better life for your family. Because of your hard work, they have had a much better life then you ever did. You did it, you accomplished your goal.
The regret of having to work nights so that you could pay the bills and missing out on bedtime stories and kissing them goodnight. For never seeing your husband because you both had to work opposite shifts and by the time you did see him you were so busy with the kids, cleaning, homework or were just so exhausted that the time you spent together was not the perfect time you had envisioned from your childhood fantasies. We are all dealt the cards that the God gives us. We are not perfect and you did what you had to do.
For the depression that you suffered through and still suffer through that would put you in a dark room for weeks on end and the guilt and regret because it took you away from your family.
For having such self-esteem issues about your body and always saying things like, “I’m Fat!” or “I look so ugly!” in front of your daughters. To never being able to accept a complement and always denying what that complement was. Like, every time you husband tells you “Your Beautiful!” and you say “No, I’m not!” The guilt you feel every time one of your daughters makes a comment about their own looks, or you see that their self-esteem has been harmed.
I am here as your pain to tell you. No one person is perfect and I want you to know that it is OK for you to forgive yourself and just let it go. Your children grew up and they are beautiful kids that have started their lives. They have free minds and great ethics because of what you did accomplish. Your husband loves you, and each and every flaw that you see, he sees as a unique you. That is what makes him love you even more.
So, now you know what I truly need to heal.
I need you to forgive yourself!
I need you to let it go!
and most of all…
If you have some emotional pain that you are going through, I encourage you to write a letter to yourself. Maybe create a collage about what that pain looks like to you. You don’t have to share it with anyone. If you are hesitant because you are afraid someone might find it than after you have created it, have a forgiveness party for one. Go out to a place where you find peace and burn your letter and/or your art work. Truly ask yourself for forgiveness and maybe send out a prayer to the Cosmos or God, or whoever it is that you need to help you through your emotional pain as it might help you truly find the peace you are looking for. Then when you are done,
Everything was going great, I was jazzed about my blog, the people it could reach, the people that I could help. I hadn’t seen my therapist in a while so when I went to see her this last week I was pretty pumped up and spilled my guts out for about 30 minutes about what I had been up to.
After I left my therapy appointment though, I started to feel tired and the feeling just got worse and worse. At first I did not think anything of it, it had been a long week after all. I was going on day five of my work week and with the newness of juggling my blog, work and family I felt tired that was all. Oh so I thought!
Then I got home, I don’t know what the trigger was, a messy house, the dust, so many people around wanting my time and attention. It could have just been the over-stimulation. All I know is that my happiness and my energy evaporated like a puff of smoke. POOF!!! I did what I always do and just used the excuse that I was tired. I wasn’t really lying, because I really was tired; but, I was just more then tired I was going into the that dark valley that I did not care so much about. How long would I stay this time?
As my brain continued down this path. All those negative words started to fill up my brain ~ What happened? ~ Your tired that’s all! ~Exhausted, just get some rest ~ and then the words in my head started to get darker. No one likes you ~ you have no friends ~ why does this always happen ~ you just don’t fit in ~ everyone hates you ~ I just can’t keep going ~ I wish everyone would just leave me alone ~ and finally the regret that I can’t stop the words, force myself to feel better to just be happy. That I know that I have to just wait it out.
So after a restless night of sleep, this morning I decided to create some art, to get it out in art form and maybe it would help me to get rid of the demons.
The picture is of a window and outside is a rain storm that is just grey and angry. As I look out the window the rain is dropping those words and once the words get soaked up by the earth, it is my hope that they just disappear from inside my head.
In order for me to understand why this happens, I went in search of some information. I did not find much out there other than yes we do have ups and downs, everyone really has ups and downs regardless of whether or not there is depression involved. But when depression is there, the ups and downs are much worse. Louise stated,
“My experience with depression leads me to describe one of its worst features: its variable symptoms. These symptoms not only make the experience of depression particularly distressing for the patient but also confuse and mislead those who deal with the depressed person. No one really wants to meet or speak with someone who is depressed. Whenever a positive change occurs, everyone hopes that it is a permanent improvement. When this proves not to be so, impatience soon appears.”
“Depressed persons soon find that many people avoid them. Only the “normal” or “up” phases of the disease are acceptable to others. But rejection during the “down” phases can considerably add to the depression.”
What Louise said rings so true to someone who is battling depression and it is not something that I can really change. Perception is the reality of life, so to speak. So, I started to look for information on how I could cope.
Write it out: When we are hitting that valley, if we can take the time to write our thoughts and emotions down it helps us to figure out what is really upsetting us or worrying us. It also gives us a way to get it out of our head.
Say something: If there is someone you can trust about what’s going on talk to them. They can often bring in a new or different perspective.
Do something: Think about what has triggered this valley and do something, anything big or small to address it.
For me, I am using this blog post to write it out and I created some art to help put it down on paper a creative way.
One of the biggest things that I learned from this journey was that I am not alone and if you are suffering from depression you are not alone either. So if you are stuck in a valley verses on top of the hill, do something, write in a journal, go talk with a trusted friend or family member, take a walk, go for a bike ride, or draw a picture.
If you are a family member or a friend of someone you know who is going through the hills and valley’s of their depression, be there for them even when the going gets tough. That is when we fill most alone, misunderstood, and unloved.
Peace & Blessings,
I have always enjoyed the outdoors. I love to hike and camp, and whenever I was feeling down if I could get myself to take a walk, I always felt better afterword. So, when I started learning about drawing and how to look for the shapes to make it easier to draw that tree or bird, I started paying more attention to nature when I was out there walking. I started to see that there were shapes to our flowers, trees, and even a blade of grass. When looking at it this way I saw that art is all around us we just have to pay attention to it enough to see that it is there.
The shapes of the trees are circles and triangles and sometimes you can see a square. The leaves of trees have heart shapes, teardrop shapes and many leaves remind me of the shape of the club on a deck of cards. Even water had a form of natural shape. This just made my walks even more enjoyable.
I have just started drawing and here are a couple of my first drawings that are all about nature.
You will see that birds have ovals and circles for their bodies, their beaks are triangles. Leaves are heart shaped or have a soft diamond shape to them. Tree branches are cylinders. Flowers are heart, oval, and round.
I started to wonder, how nature effects depression and here is what I found. In a study done by Stanford University, they looked at “the nature effect” and how it might reduce rumination, which is a pattern of thought that you go over in your mind, repeatedly; here is what they had to say:
“Rumination is what happens when you get really sad, and you can’t stop thinking about your glumness and what’s causing it: the breakup, the layoff, that biting remark. Rumination shows up as increased activity in a brain region called the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a narrow band in the lower part of the brain that regulates negative emotions. If rumination continues for too long unabated, depression can set it.
In their study, they had a group of people walk in the forest and another group walk along the highway. The group that walked in the forest saw a decrease in their Rumination and the group that walked along the highway saw no decrease at all. I can totally see how this would be true because walking in nature helps me too.
In an article from the University of Minnesota on How Nature Impacts our Mood, multiple studies have been completed and here are a couple that stood out to me.
In one study in Mind, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, too anxious to more calm and balanced. In other studies by Ulrich, Kim and Cervinka, show that time in nature or scenes of nature are associated with a positive mood, and psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness, and vitality.
Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to you physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.
My challenge to you is to go out and take that walk in Nature. Go to a nice nature preserve, park or forest and just walk. Listen to the sounds of the birds, crickets, and wind. Pay attention to what you are seeing and try to find those shapes. They are all around you. See how you feel when you return home.
Happy walking – Becca
Over the last 20 years or so sense the diagnosis of my depression, life seems like a blur. There were days, weeks, or months where it was me just doing what I had to do. I was a mom and wife and had a full time job and I knew I could not just stay in my dark cave all day and be miserable. But that is what I really truly wanted to do. I did the same routine day in and day out. I would get up and clean, get the kids off to day care or school, go to work, come home, make dinner, help with homework, and put the kids to bed. Rinse and repeat!
It is most likely what every adult parent does, but for someone with depression it is not that easy. I tried to be the best mother and wife that I could be, but there was that emptiness, that black hole that was just eating me up on the inside, like a black hole in the middle of a galaxy that swallows planets slowly over millions of years.
Now in the present day, I know that the black hole can get smaller, the emptiness can go away – at least I hope it can, because even though I am healing my emptiness has not completely gone.
It is so hard to explain how you are feeling to people who just don’t understand what depression is or what it feels like. Once a friend told me, “Live life to the fullest” another friend said, “Just think those happy thoughts, no negative thoughts.” You read everywhere about the power of attraction and affirmations. To look in the mirror and say “You’re beautiful, or I love me.”
Here is the problem with that, when you have that black hole in your heart there is no looking in the mirror and seeing the beautiful you. There is only seeing how tired you are, how puffy your eyes are, and how fat your face is getting. I could go on, but I am sure you have the picture. All you see are the negatives – it is very hard to see the positives even on a good day. But then again, on the good days if you look in the mirror and get the right angle of the sun hitting your face, you may think, “I am beautiful!” but on those bad days, where the blackness and emptiness are consuming you. You are just consumed in that dark place of nothingness.
Now life was not so easy for me while my kids were growing up – I worked full time at night, I was going to school to pursue my degree and I was a full time mom and wife, taxi, housekeeper. I could go on and on as most mothers can. Most of the time I did not have the time to even think about being depressed. It just was what it was. Now I am not saying that I was never happy I had good days, months, maybe even a couple of years in there but, when you suffer from depression it is really hard to remember the good times.
For me, depression has shown its ugly head in many ways and it has changed throughout the years. There are a couple of ways that depression hits me the most and I hope though time I will be able control it instead of letting it control me.
One of the ways that depression affects me the most is that I just become a hollow shell. I quit talking and if someone asks me if I am mad or if something is wrong, I just say, “I’m fine,” even if I’m not. There are times where I go through my daily routine, and let me just say that I have gotten pretty good at just faking it, I would go home and everyone would just scatter, my depression radiated negativity off of me like an super nova. I would just go into my dark room and stare at a TV screen, not even paying attention to the screen most of the time. It is as if all the energy I had is gone and my body has been sucked out into space. I did what I needed to do and I can’t do anymore, my system has been overloaded and I just shut down.
My latest symptom of depression has been anger and irritability and it has destroyed some really good friendships and almost my career because I did not know it was my depression. I was so unhappy and miserable that I could not see what I was doing to those around me. It took me almost destroying my career to figure this out. I was angry all the time and I just had an “I don’t care attitude!” Part of me knew that there was something wrong, but I was so lost in space that I had pretty much given up.
I was just angry at life.
I was angry everywhere I went.
I was angry that my life did not turn out the way I had pictured it.
I thank the universe that I was forced into getting the help that I needed; and looking back, I am so glad I did get help.
I think I will always suffer from depression. My hope is that it will go into a nice remission for a very long time, but realistically I know that I will have difficulties and will always need medication. For me, it is more than just about life not going the way I want it to, or stressful times in my life, or the grief of losing someone I love. It is a true chemical imbalance.
When you have depression, you can’t help it, it is not like you can turn your symptoms on and off. When you are depressed most of the time, you don’t even know what you are doing or why you are doing it. For me though, now that I am aware, I am hoping that I can gain some control and stay ahead of the depression verses the depression taking control of me.
I am currently in therapy and will be for a long time. There was something that my therapist said to me that has just stuck. She said,
“Sometimes depression is a way of trying to tell you that something is wrong, by slowing you down, slowing down your mind, by becoming fuzzy or losing focus. Sometimes, you just have to see that is why the depression is happening.
I am still figuring out what that means for me, but what I did learn was that I was not living my life under my terms, I was living life for everyone else and I knew that needed to change. I have lived life for everyone else for so long though that it i going to be a journey.
And so the journey continues on……..
A conversation with myself
When I look at the collage that you made about your depression, the biggest piece that stands out is the “I’m Fine” pictures, you have two of them. When someone asks you how you are, do you always say, “I’m fine.” Are you really?
Not always, when I say “I’m Fine” or the “I’m Fine, I’m just really tired.” Sometimes I am just really tired and I just have no energy to get into a conversation. But most of the time, I am probably feeling one of these emotions – Broken • Unhappy • Scared • Hurt • Mad • Confused • Heartbroken • Sick • Terrible • Depressed • Lonely • Sad • Pissed • Angry • Unloved • Lost • Empty • Trapped • Stuck.
For me, “I’m Fine” is my general response because I have said it for so long. Now that I am really working on getting healthy, I am trying to get into the habit of using a different phrase but it is not a habit yet, so when someone gets “I’m good” or “Great” then I am having a really good day.
What about the man rolling the ball up the hill?
All of my life I have felt that I am consistently struggling, even if I am not. My life has been such an uphill battle, from my childhood, teenage years, through the years of raising my family. Even today, I feel like I am on an uphill battle and when I am in a depressive episode it is even worse. It is like trying to walk in knee-deep mud vs. just walking up a hill.
Ok, that makes sense, what about Professor Snape on that collage?
I have never really liked Professor Snape, but he is so right about life not being fair. My life did not turn out the way I thought it would and I believe that is because I have never been able to accept it. I will have these temper tantrums in my head screaming at myself and the world “It’s not fair!” and I think that is one of the reasons I have depression. I have to learn to let it go, let go of that childhood vision of what life should have been. Professor Snape reminded me of myself, someone that is really unhappy and angry inside that is screaming in their head, “Life is not fair.” Just because I scream though, does not mean that I can’t have a good life. I have learned over the past few months that I am in control of my happiness and I am trying to take the control back, not an easy journey but one I am willing to take.
Interesting, I see that you have portrayed yourself in a cage, why don’t you tell me about that?
Because I am not very accepting of how everything has turned out in my life, I consistently feel like I am so caged and scared. Never mind the fact that I have a great life. I am living the American Dream. I have a great marriage; I actually married my high school sweetheart. I have three beautiful children who have all grown up to be awesome adults. I have a great career and I have worked hard to get there. For some reason though, I have just never been able to shake the caged feelings. It is something that I am now recognizing and will deal with day by day.
Wow, you have recognized that there is something there with that caged feeling. Now you can start to work that out mentally and emotionally. What about the colorful lady with the quote?
When I went searching for pictures, that one just really stood out. She has her mouth covered with her hand and the quote says, “Always speak the truth even if your voice shakes.” Well, there have been many times that I have just stayed silent, even if it did not benefit me. So much of my life is different then what I thought it would be because I let myself get influenced by others even when it was not what I wanted. So, my advice to those reading this letter is …
The last picture that I see is a woman that it walking away with a suitcase down a road. What does that mean to you?
Well, that final picture of my college is me walking away from it all. It is one of my internal fantasies that I have when I am feeling really down and out. So often in my life I have felt like walking away, but I just have way too many responsibilities and people that I love to really run away. I just get to this point where I am just done. I have nothing left to give to anyone and so I just want to run away, it is my coping mechanism. Usually, when I get like this, I will find a way to get away for a day or even a night, sometimes more if I can afford it, I need it so I can just recharge. Sometimes it helps me come of the depression and sometimes it doesn’t.
That is what depression looks like through my eyes, right now in my life. Everyone is different and depression can change. I have good days and I have really bad ones. I am hoping that by using Expressive Art or other therapies that I can find myself again.