Category Archives: mental health, well being, depression, PTSD, healing

Depression’s Effects…

The topic of suicide has come up a lot lately. A couple of years ago, when I started writing, I told myself I wouldn’t write about it. I decided it was something best laid to rest. I never wanted to revisit it. I had attempted it numerous times. Why should I be ashamed of it? There is a shame, guilt and sadness attached to it. It’s not easy to recover from it and it’s no longer my reality. However, I recently had a change of heart and decided to share a little bit on it. It’s not easy to write about it either.

In the many years I suffered from major depressive disorder, there were times when I had happy and upbeat moments but they didn’t last long. I would sink back into the reality of why I became depressed in the first place. It seemed to be a never ending spiral. I did attempt to hide my depression and PTSD from my children. I didn’t want them to have this bleak view of life. There were many good things in life to be grateful for, and I wanted them to see the bright side of life. However, they struggled just as I did to reach those bright days. On numerous occasions, I sank into very dark thoughts and in my despair just wanted to die. I would call a suicide hotline and they’d tell me all the reasons I had to live for. It sort of angered me to tell me to think of my husband or my kids or my family and friends. What if I didn’t have those people to live for, who would I live for then? I know this may sound dark, but if I were alone, would it be okay to go ahead with and suicide? Many people think it’s selfish for a person to take their life, but what if it’s selfish to ask this person to live in their dark despair? They wouldn’t want to if these other people were able to lift them up!

I could never presume to know what someone is going through in their darkest hours, that would make them want to give up because I know it’s different for each person. I do know that it’s a dark space, more like a hole that’s covered in dirt, it’s like being buried alive. There is no tunnel with a light at the end. Who would want to go there? Not many people will dare to tread the darkness searching for light. When I was in this state, I was very lost and alone. I didn’t think my wanting to die or my death would be a selfish act. I thought it would be a great relief. I thought it was an act of love and mercy for those alive if they didn’t have to see me living in this state of living death.

I really didn’t think of the pain I would cause others if I had succeeded, yet I know now, they’d be living in this perpetual state of depression and sadness. It takes a long time for someone to come out of this state though. Medication can help but sometimes it only causes it to linger longer. In my case, it wasn’t just depression but extreme anxiety that I wanted to escape from plus the memories I kept reliving. I hated having flashbacks and just wanted them to stop. I now see that the memories were there to help me heal.  Anytime, a painful memory comes up, it’s only service is to heal, ultimatly to set me free, not to shame, guilt or hurt anyone. The more I resisted these memories, didn’t face the feelings, or allow myself to grieve, get angry, or whatever, the more they persisted.

It’s not exactly something to go through alone either. It required the assistance of a therapist, counselor, understanding friends and family. It took a lot of people to walk through the valley of the shadow of death in order to get me through the other side. It takes the person who is in the light, who has hope, who knows life is worth the struggle and worth living to keep you going. It takes a lot of strength and courage to keep going when you just want to give up.

People with mental illness are not weak, they are the strongest people alive because they live with these images, voices, memories, hallucinations, and extreme emotions, yet continue anyway. They hold on to their humanity, keep breathing, keep reaching for the light, keep trying over and over again despite what life throws at them. They are a beautiful and loving reminder that people are strong, yet they are also fragile, that everyone is important, everyone has a purpose, everyone brings meaning into this world, and to treat each one with kindness.

We all have a breaking point, which is why it’s important to love yourself. If I’m tired, I rest. If I’m sleepy, I go to sleep. If I’m bored, find something fun to do. If I’m hungry, I eat. If I need to talk, find someone to listen. If I need a hug, ask someone for one. Balance my life with work, rest, and play! If I’m working and not laughing enough, find the joy. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, it’s imperative to ask for help and not try to be the lone ranger. Life is meant to be lived in community with others.  When the dark clouds descends at times, it helps to have someone who is above them.

Life is worth living and it is beautiful. Look at all of nature, it is a symbol of life, breath, and renewal despite the changing seasons and what appears to be chaos at times. I take in the breath of life each day. I allow myself to breathe deeply knowing that whatever is going on, it will pass. The seasons change. Engage in life mindfully.  Be in the moment. Do things that brings joy.  Just breathe.

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Beauty of Hindsight

I don’t know how many times I have wondered, “Why did this happen to me?” I don’t know how many times I wondered why I was let go or dismissed. I thought I had done everything right and followed all the rules. I put my best foot forward, I was nice, polite, and “something else”! Yet things didn’t go as planned! What I’ve learned is many people learn their lessons in hindsight. After all, if I’d known a relationship wouldn’t pan out, maybe I never would have started it. If I had known the job wasn’t a good fit, I wouldn’t have tried it and left. Perhaps it was meant to go that way to teach me a lesson! Not many of us have the right perceptions in order to avoid seemingly “disastrous outcomes.” Yet, I believe all of these experiences are life lessons.

However, it usually takes a long time to learn the lesson when I’m resisting it. Like many years ago, I was very depressed and hurt at the way my life was going and the relationships not working out. I wondered what I had done wrong. I didn’t feel like I had done anything wrong. The more I pondered it, the more I wanted an answer, the more I stewed and couldn’t let it go. This is where the danger of falling into depression and being unable to cope comes in. Yes there were many other factors, but at the time I didn’t know how to just let go. I didn’t have the life skills, yet this exact situation was teaching them to me! Resisting, and insisting on answers caused me to lose the lesson until many years after I had finally moved on, and one day I had an “aha” moment of revelation!

I often ask myself now, when things seem to be going awry, “what is this situation trying to teach me?” Sometimes, it’s apparent and other times I need to wait. When I’m stuck in the middle of something, it’s hard to see where it’s going, and what I’m being taught. I’ve learned to be patient, compassionate, forgiving, and loving with myself so that I can continue to function and breathe without spiraling down. This in turn empowers me to give others patience, compassion, forgiveness, love and grace when they’re going through their own struggles. Once I figured out that I learn things in hindsight, I was able to love, forgive and move on.

Resistance slows the process! I had to learn to go with the flow! It takes patience, wisdom and trust in yourself, that you’re going to okay.  As I look back on my life, I see I have overcome so much, and I’m grateful for the beauty of hindsight!

Peace, love, and light!

amazon.com/author/sophiasimo

Today I’m celebrating the two year anniversary of publishing my book Dear Sophia, Love Yourself! I am going to do something celebratory even though I have no idea what right now! Lol. I am somewhat of a dreamer. The idea in my head of what I’m going to do to celebrate and reality is very different! I see myself dressed up, surrounded by friends and family, at a nice restaurant drinking champagne or sparkling cider for me since I’m
a light weight. I see us sitting around in comfortable chairs talking about the favorite story from my book. I can dream right?

Dreams are what this life is made of! Lots of things start out as a little dream. When it’s acted upon, it becomes a creation and reality. Everything I see around me started off as someone’s idea or dream. It’s interesting how it works out. I have received numerous messages of how my book inspired someone or gave them the idea to write their own stories. The messages always warm my heart.

I’m still writing, blogging, and slowly working on my second book. The heart of my book is the 2nd to last chapter called “Therapy Love.” I write about how my therapist was the biggest factor in my healing and changing my mindset. She gave me a rose quartz bracelet which was very special to me. I started buying rocks, stones or crystals as a result. I fell in love with all the colors, the uniqueness of each one, their strength, and the fragility of crystals. They remind me to love myself and others, and to not compare. We
are all unique. All the crystals shine on their own right. So do stars. They just shine, in the darkness, whether we see them or not. This is the person I choose to be today. I choose to be love, I choose to be peace, I choose to be kind and compassionate on my own. I choose to shine my light in the darkness of our world. Thank you to all my friends, family, and fans for your kindness and support. Peace, love, and light.

In The Driver’s Seat

Many years ago, I was in such a mental state that someone had to drive me to my counseling appointments. The therapist was about an hour away and sometimes it was a very distressing appointment and I was in no condition to drive home so she made a rule that someone had to drive me. I had forgotten all about that period in my life until recently when I’ve been driving people here and there, and all over the place! Suddenly, I remembered and thought, “I’m in the driver’s seat now!” It was a wonderful aha moment of recognition. Of course, I’ve been there for a while now, but something in my soul wanted me to recognize how far I have come.

There are many people who choose to ride in the back seat for various reasons. Yet, it’s important to know regardless of who is driving, you’re still in charge of your life, you still get to choose the path, and the means of getting from one place to another. Yet there are those who idly sit by and let someone else dictate what they are going to do with their lives. Maybe it’s a parent’s dream for you to be a Doctor, Lawyer or pro basketball player, but you want to have nothing to do with those things. It’s okay to choose a different path
for yourself.

I love to tell people, your past does not define who you are today. It doesn’t define who you are becoming or where you’re headed either! Everyone can choose at any moment who we’re going to be, right now, today. We don’t have to be bound to our past decisions and choices. We also don’t have to believe or do everything our parents did. It’s my life. It’s your life! Make it a good one!

The Last Straw!

Years ago, in foster care, I had a foster sister who kept cutting school and getting into trouble. She was angry and cussing out all authority figures. She had no respect for authority at all. At one point, she got a new social worker, and after a while, she got to know the new one. She ended up telling the social worker she had been raped at school. The social worker didn’t believe her at first. There were statistics of how rape victims behaved. This young lady had been raped and molested numerous times in her life. The social worker thought because of statistics, she should not be functioning as she was, she should be in the hospital, medicated or something. Well, eventually, she did believe the young lady, and sought to get her treatment.

In actuality, the young lady was very strong, but she had post traumatic stress disorder. She really didn’t think much of what happened because it had happened so many times before, she just didn’t want to put herself in that situation again so she stopped going to school. It’s a sad plight many girls,  boys, men, and women go through. Everyone is different and isn’t going to respond in the same way. We all have our breaking point. When you see people out marching, demonstrating, protesting, you gotta believe there’s a reason for it! The straw finally broke the camel’s back. There was a catalyst that may actually not have much to do with what happened to them, but believe me they are fed up with the status quo. They need justice, need to see a change, and for social systems to improve.

It’s a beautiful thing when people gather together in one voice and ask for change to happen. If you don’t see a reason for it, that’s okay, but don’t stop them. Listen to their stories, understand their point of view, and know that perhaps in little ways, they have been trying to say it for a long time, but no one heard them. At the same time, speak up for the helpless, for those being oppressed, for the hungry, for the thirsty, for the homeless, for those experiencing social injustices, and don’t wait until you just can’t stand it anymore. It’s always a good time to show empathy and wild compassion!

Aha Moments

A few days ago, I went to the store to find some aerobic dance shoes. I needed some shoes that would help me glide as I dance. Within minutes at the store, I heard over the speakers, the song, Just Dance by Lady Gaga. I laughed inside for the coincidence or synchronicity of it! I just notice these things all of the time! Everyday, I see numbers, signs, words, people engaging in various activities which relate to what I’m doing! Have you every noticed it? The things that are on our minds and hearts tend to show up! It’s not always the case, but it does happen to me a lot. I see it as a bit of divine inspiration. I also see it as my reason to make a conscious effort to watch my thoughts, and make intentional choices everyday to do what I know in order to achieve my goals, desires of my heart, and aspirations.

There are signs in creation and all around us everyday that inspire our daily lives. If I open my eyes and my heart to notice, I’ll know that I am never alone and there is always hope. Life is easy and never a reason to worry or fear. If it sounds like I’m in a bubble, you’re right! I’m in a bubble of belief and support that everything good always comes my way, I’m loved and all is well!!! Look for those synchronicities and have your own aha moments! When I started seeing them, I realized the beauty, love, and magic of life! Life is magical!

Peaceful meditation

When I first began to meditate, I was just curious about all the hoopla about it. So many people talked about the wonders of it, I felt like I was missing out! I had to find out! I wondered if it could really help me be more at peace with myself. I certainly wanted a lot more peace. I wanted to know if it would help me to sleep at night. I wanted to know if I could really shut down all the anxiety producing thoughts that were constantly running through my mind. The very first time, I concentrated on an LED light and I ended up falling asleep. I did it again and again. At the time, I had extreme anxiety and PTSD. I had inside and outer voices going on. I was coming out of a major depressive disorder. It worked wonders.

At some point, I was able to stay awake during the meditation time. When I’m awake while meditating, I am able to just observe my thoughts without judgment. I can see what is capable of changing. I see my knee jerk reactions, my sorrow, my happiness, and joy. I accept them all. Being in a meditative state brings about clarity. It’s calmness in the storm. It’s looking at life from a bird’s eye view and knowing it’s going to be okay. It’s letting go of all the “I have to”, “I need to”, and “I should”. It’s allowing life to happen at a natural flow. It’s going with the flow. It’s knowing what I can control, which is me, and what I can’t. Meditation has helped me to face my feelings. It has helped me to look at them and understand where they come from.

In the early days of learning to meditate, I was able to forgive lots of people, including myself. I let go of all the anger and unforgiveness by forgiving those who hurt me. I also forgave myself for those I hurt. I let others off the hook and I let myself off the hook. It’s a win-win situation. I let go of feeling guilt and shame for my past transgressions. I allowed forgiveness into my heart. It’s as easy as that! It doesn’t have to be hard or difficult.

I let go of the fear of what’s going to happen in the future. I accept that there are many unknowns and deal with what’s right in front of me. I can plan and take steps towards the future I desire, but I don’t have to have all the details worked out. I work with what’s available to me at this time while knowing and believing it’s all going to work out. If it doesn’t work out the way I planned, it’s okay. I’ll do something different! It’s okay to not have all the answers or have everything figured out. I’m at peace with myself and the world. I choose peace. I choose to be a peacemaker. I choose to live with the people in my life to the best of my ability with peace and love in my heart. I do what I can each day, then I go to bed in peace, knowing I did my best, and will carry on the next day.

I’ve made meditation a regular part of my life now. It is my number one stress reliever. It doesn’t take a lot of time. Sometimes, it’s just taking a deep breath in, and exhaling. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. I can do it anywhere and anytime. I used to hear people say, “peace is just a breath away”, now I know what it means!  I breathe in peace, exhale stress!  Meditation is healing for the mind and body!

Gift to Readers

amazon.com/author/sophiasimo

I’ve got the “f” word on my mind!  F is for family, friends, fans, and most importantly free!  This holiday season, the kindle version of my book, Dear Sophia, Love Yourself! is free to download from December 23-26 on amazon.   My  book is full of short stories about dealing with mental illness, and healing.  I had depression with psychotic features.   It’s my commentary of the mental health system, friends, and family who helped me through a dark period in my life.  It’s inspirational and a primer to think differently about mental health issues.

From the back cover:  Since I was a teenager, and for much of my adult life, I have been in and out of the mental health system, and have had various physical conditions for which I needed assistance.  This book is a compilation of stories about what I have overcome and how I did it.  These stories are my commentary on the help, or non-help, I received and various life experiences from which I learned valuable lessons that I want to share with the world.   I hope to inspire others who feel like there is no way out of a seemingly hopeless situation, or who just want to take positive steps to change the direction of their life.

Enjoy!

I like to inspire others to take actively participate in their own healing.

Changing & Loving Myself

These are exciting times for me because I’m continually changing or evolving. There’s only one constant thing and that is change. We’re either getting better, or we’re not, but change is subtly taking place. Our actions dictate what’s going to happen next or not. But things are changing. I’m getting older and dealing with habits I developed a long time ago differently if only because I’m older. I understand more. I am able to see clearly what action steps to take next in order to shift my life. Even if it seems the same, the fact that I can look at it and notice, means it’s slightly different.

People really do change. I used to not believe it, but then I changed. I used to be chronically suicidal. I was very depressed and had PTSD. But I healed and I changed. I changed my mindset, too. I changed how I think about life and how I deal with life. I realize I was stuck believing I would always be ill, but here I am now healed. I changed how I deal with problems. Instead of spiraling down into chaos, I deal with whatever is presenting itself to me. I have a wide range of emotions, I am no longer afraid to feel nor express them. I allow myself to feel sad because I know I won’t cry forever. I allow myself to get angry without being destructive. I allow myself to be happy! I allow myself to be in the present, right now, and no longer look back at my painful and chaotic past. If I do take a glimpse, and I smile knowing I survived! I conquered! I lived to tell about it!

Some people believe change is hard. It’s only hard if you resist it. Go with the flow. Make the necessary adjustments and you’ll see how easy it can be! Our resistance is what makes it hard! Change is constant and it’s good for us. Not too many years ago, I would constantly check in with myself to make sure I was in touch with reality. I no longer do that because I am no longer in that state. I changed. Now I meditate, I sing, I laugh, I cry, I dance, I exercise, I read, I write, I spend time outdoors, I talk to people, I write blogs, and lots of stuff I enjoy, or, that is good for my mental health! I take care of myself. I honor myself. I sleep when I’m tired. I eat when I’m hungry. I take care of my mind and body. I love myself!

I want to reiterate, I wasn’t this way before, for I was in a constant state of turmoil, depression. suicidal ideation, and chaos. I was on lot of psychotropic medications that only dulled my senses. The medication didn’t change my mindset about life, and dealing with mental illness. I no longer have the symptoms of mental illness. However, I will not venture to say I’m “normal.” What the hell is normal anyway? There’s no such thing! I’m simply me. I am a sensitive person though and it took me a long time to realize this! When I realized it, I was able to see that I’m different from others and I am unique. I didn’t need to strive to be like someone else. I merely wanted to be comfortable with me in my own skin!

There are some people who are very different from others, and because they don’t think like them nor act like them, they think there is something wrong with them! And you know what else? Those other people think there is something wrong with them, too! But no, there is nothing wrong with being different! Do not change yourself to fit into someone else’s view of you or to fit in! Be yourself. Love yourself! If you want to change something about yourself, that’s fine, but do it for you and no one else! I have learned to just love and appreciate myself just the way I am and things have a way of sorting themselves out.

It’s easy to change when you love yourself. I eat healthy foods because I love myself. I exercise my body because I love myself. I sleep at night because I love myself. I drink lots of water because I love myself. I meditate daily because I love myself. I take a break when I’m tired because I love myself. I spend time with others because I love myself. I give generously to others because I love others, and I love myself. I am compassionate to me and others because I love myself. I clean my home because I love myself. Everything I do is out of love for life, others, and myself.

I’m just as important as others. I am worthy. I am lovable. I am loved. I love. I love myself. I’m not just changing though, I am releasing or letting go of things that are no longer good for me. I love myself so I don’t abuse my body. I don’t talk badly about myself. I don’t berate myself. I talk lovingly to myself. I ask for help when I need it. If I fall short of my best self, I forgive myself, and keep on loving myself. I am the key to changing myself. I am at peace with myself because I love myself. I am free to be myself because I love me! I love who I am today and who I am becoming! I love myself!

Sing A Song

The last couple of days, I’ve written about bullying, today I’m switching it a little bit. My biggest point in writing about it has been to empower yourself, speak up for yourself or someone else. Use your voice, your actions, and compassion to overcome the effects of bullying. So today, I will briefly share what I have done and am doing to help myself. I believe I was healed in order to heal others, to share my stories of healing and lead the way for someone else to rise up out of despair, depression, anxiety, and on.

An important aspect of my healing was talk therapy, lots of journaling, writing, and basically communicating. It’s important to have the right person though. Let’s be honest, not everyone is prepared to hear our sad stories, or to deal with depression and anger. Sometimes people just don’t want to talk about difficult subjects. You notice in many social circles the rule is to not talk about religion nor politics. Okay, I’m getting off the subject for a second. The reason is because the subjects can be heated since everyone passionately believes in their stance. Sometimes, anger arises, frustration and sadness. People don’t always know how to deal with these so called negative emotions. However, these are common feelings which everyone has! Why are we uncomfortable with them? It’s perfectly human to get angry, frustrated, sad and depressed over the state of the world or our inner turmoil. It’s what we do with these emotions that counts.  We don’t hurt anyone with our words or actions when we’re feeling angry and frustrated.

This is where compassion and patience comes into play. When we are discussing difficult subjects such as bullying, it gets uncomfortable because in many situations we’re told not to talk about it We’re told not to talk about the family business. The alcoholic uncle, addicted sister, molestation, incest and mental illnesses. However, I’m here to tell you that in order for our society to heal collectively and individually is to come out of our comfort zones and speak it or write about it. It’s the way through and up. Do not shove it under the covers and hide in guilt or shame. Shine a light upon it and in time you will see your healing. It’s scary at first, but with each baby step, next thing you know, you are running towards release, freedom and healing. You are no longer carrying that heavy burden. I highly recommend a compassionate therapist, friend, family member, or support group to get help and healing.

One way to strengthen your voice, and to feel confident is to sing. If you can’t sing, then hum a song. Eventually, just sing your heart out. I had to take back my voice. I used to speak in a very soft voice, and I didn’t enunciate my words very well, or I spoke too fast due to nervousness. I still struggle sometimes, but I’m much more confident now. I sing my favorite songs, one is Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All. I can’t reach her vocal range, but as I strive to, it helps me to exercise my own vocal chords.

When you are singing and working those chords, and you think you can’t get them to get any further, go just a little bit more. I feel empowered, strong, and courageous to share my stories as I learn to use my voice or just writing. The other thing it does, is you are less effected by criticism and I don’t fear judgment so much when I have confidence in speaking. Look into laughter clubs, too. Just google “laughter club.” It’s good to have a nice laugh every now and then, and you learn to relax in social situations. Love yourself!!