Tag Archives: anxiety

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.

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!

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!!

Fear and Bullies

When I was little girl, I was afraid to let my foot hang over the edge of the bed. I was afraid of whatever was under the bed would reach up and grab it and drag me under. I was also afraid to go in the closet at night and I slept with the light on. I didn’t like seeing any dark shadows! As an adult now, I can see how fears can grab hold of me and take me under! It makes me afraid to speak up or to let myself be seen. Lately, the theme of overcoming fears has been coming up a lot. Fears of the unknown needs to be illuminated. I’m not saying there are no real dangers out in the world, I’m just talking of the unknown ones. Nowadays, if I’m afraid of what’s in the closet, I’ll go in there and make friends with it. I go in there, turn on the light and see that there is no monster!! I turn off the light and see there is nothing there. The monster was all in my mind. I created it with my fearful thoughts. If there is anything I’m afraid of, I go find out what it is. I make peace with it and “it” really is just fearful thoughts that try to get the best of me. I encourage each one to not be paralyzed by the fear of the unknown. If something or some place is dark, turn on the light. Illuminate it and see it for what it really is. Don’t be bullied by fear of the unknown.

Speaking of bullies, that’s exactly what they do, they instill fear and terror in their victims. I recently saw a movie about bullies. It helped inspire this blog post. I had my share of bullies growing up. Many kids are teased and picked on for being different. They are made fun of if you have a disability, too short, too tall, too round, too thin, too smart or not smart enough. The list goes on and on. I was a sensitive child.  I had many fears of the unknown but many of them were based on actual monsters in the form of a bully. When people are made fun of because they’re different it hurts to the core and a person can develop all kinds of fears, withdraw from society, have an inferiority complex, depression, anxiety and on it goes.

I was very sad and lonely as a child. I cried a lot and I felt everything deeply. I still feel everything deeply. Some of us are hardwired that way. Some people said I was too shy, too thin skinned or needed to toughen up. Yes, the world can be a harsh and cruel place to live in but I don’t believe becoming hardened is the answer. No, because there are so many people in this world who are different. There are no two people alike. We all have strengths and weaknesses. No one needs to be ashamed of themselves for being different and not fitting in with the “normal” crowd. I would submit that the world is what needs to change. Those who are different don’t need to adapt but the world needs to adapt to them. The world can learn to be kinder, gentler, accepting and loving to those who are different or tenderhearted. The world can learn to be at peace and accept everyone and live at peace with all peoples. It all starts from within. It starts with our hearts and accepting those who don’t look like you, talk like you, act like you, or think like you do. No more bullies!!!

Natural Life Cycles

One of the most surprising things about my recovery is that I recovered! It’s not that I don’t experience depression or anxiety, they just don’t dominate my life and I no longer need medication. I’ve noticed there are many factors which contributed to my healing. Yes I did lots of therapy. I learned to coping skills. I learned to meditate and laugh!! I also believe there is a natural life cycle at work here. I outgrew those old coping mechanisms. I no longer need to dissociate or be disconnected. I healed the painful wounds which tormented me for years.

In my observation I’ve noticed life frequently calls upon us to learn and grow. Think about it. There was a time when I was an infant. I learned to crawl, walk, and then run. There are things one must learn before proceeding to the next level. Many times, when I was struggling with my mental health, I just wanted to be done with therapy. The more I got better, the less patient I was with the process. I wanted to run to the head of the class! My therapist office was no longer acceptable to me. I wanted to be out in the world to explore and be part of society. These are natural life cycles.

When you allow yourself to learn, to grow, expand your thinking, get out of the box, discover something new about life and nature, you automatically shift yourself into another mode. The old mode and way of thinking is out dated. It’s time for an upgrade! At one point, children leave their parents home when they are ready to live on their own and make a living. These are all natural life cycles as is letting go of old ways of doing things. It seems like everyday I am challenged to let go of something old, to see something or someone with fresh eyes to embrace or create something new. Being stuck in the past, and not moving forward creates a cycle of disappointment and sadness which leads to anxiety about the future or how things are going.

Mostly, I am challenged to be gentle with myself as I walk through this life as I recognize there are cycles to everything. Think about the seasons. There is winter but spring and summer are on the way! It’s important to recognize what cycle I’m in so that I do not lose heart or give up but to keep going. But you know it took me many years to learn this! I was 46 years old when I finally learned to love, respect and honor myself which includes accepting myself. I’m here because I want to inspire others to know this is an important part of learning to navigate the natural cycles of life. It begins with loving yourself and recognizing the cycle of life you’re in so that you know where you are and where you’re headed or if adjustments need to be made. It’s all good when it comes from a place of love. Change is good, and natural!