Tag Archives: mental illness

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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Happiness

In times of trouble and unrest, it’s hard to think about happiness, yet, that’s exactly what I’m blogging about today. Because, in life, we go through a myriad of emotions and states of being, and it’s important to know nothing strange is happening to you. It’s simply life! When I used to be clinically depressed, I thought I would never ever be happy again. Boy was I wrong! However, once I got over the depression and other symptoms, if I ever felt down, I thought I must be slipping back into it. It’s simply not true! There will be events in our lives that brings elation and there will be others that will bring us down. And here’s another point, I learned to make peace with the waves of emotions that I feel each day. Peace is similar to happiness but you can have peace even if you’re sad for a reason.

Happiness is a state where you feel elated, free and light. You’re on top of the world. If you’ve ever had a runner’s high, you’ve got endorphins bringing you into a state of ecstasy running through your body. Laughing brings on a steady stream of happiness. Happiness is in a hug, a kiss, a smile, a job well done, a new birth, a new beginning, an ending, and so much more! Happiness is different for everyone and an inside job. However, surrounding yourself with happy and positive people will generally help you to feel good inside.

I am big believer in living life authentically and within my power by looking on the positive side. I strive to see each day as a brand new one to live fully, explore life, and look for the good. My childhood and much of my adulthood were some my worst days, and now it’s my mission to live the rest of days as my best days. I put the past in the past by confronting it, feeling it, processing it, releasing it, and moving on. I had many reasons for depression and now I have discovered even more to be happy. In order to be happy, I engage with life, do things that matter to me, I speak up, sing, dance, sleep, show compassion, experience and express all of my emotions in a healthy manner. See, it’s being authentic and not suppressing so called “bad feelings.”

I do my work with happiness. I can see work as drudgery or embrace it as a means to eat and live. I can sing and listen to upbeat music or be angry and complain while doing it. It’s all a matter of choice and perspective. Happiness is unique for each one and everyone has different things that brings in more happiness. These are some of the things that I do:

Attend laughter club

Meditate

Sing

Dance

Exercise: bicycling, walking, hiking

Read

Writing/blogging

Play with my grandkids

Crossword puzzles, sudoku, cross sums, anacrostic

Jigsaw puzzles

Listen to music

Spending time with others

Collect crystals

Hospitality

Watching birds

Daydreaming

Watching favorite TV shows

Think about what makes you happy, and do it. Make time for it. It’s the best way to balance out the chaotic lives we live. If there’s not enough happiness in your life, you may need to cut out some activities that are draining you or ask for help with it, like if you’re grieving. Let’s not be lone rangers when there’s a hard job to do or situation you’re dealing with. Life is meant to be easy and done within community of others. Find a group of people who mutually lift one another up, to share positive energy and bring more peace and happiness in our lives.

Some good books I’ve read about happiness:

Happiness Is A Choice by Barry Neil Kaufman

Happiness For No Reason by Marci Shimoff

Life Is Short, Wear Your Party Pants by Loretta LaRoche

The Healing Power of Humor by Allen Klein

Free To Be Me

Today our nation collectively and privately remembers and grieves the devastation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks fifteen years ago.  The theme for today’s blog challenge is freedom, what it means to me and why I do what I do.  I wrote my blog post early this morning and I took a break.  While I was taking a break, I thought some more about my blog post.  I thought of the words I used and the parts I had intentionally left out.   I realized since I censored some things, I hadn’t fully communicated what freedom means to me!  I had an “aha” moment.

This blog is one of the many outcomes of healing from mental illness.  However, I know that if I was still depressed, taking psychotropic medication, suffering with flashbacks from post traumatic stress disorder, and all the other problems I had at the time, I would not be writing any of this!  Because somewhere in our world and society we’ve decided not to talk about shameful or painful things.  We’ve decided it was not okay to hear about our wounds.  We’ve decided we should only talk about positive things.

There is a stigma especially for people who suffer with mental illness.   I understand there is a time and a place for these things, yet many times I cried in the darkness of my soul, all alone, because many people just didn’t want to hear about it.  For instance, at a ladies meeting at church, we broke into small circles for more intimacy.  When everyone was invited to share what’s new in our world, I said I was struggling with side effects of my medication for depression.  The facilitator replied, “let’s talk about something more positive.”  This was not an isolated incident.  It happened over and over again in various situations.  Or, sometimes people would say since the hurt happened a long time ago, I should just get over it.

When I think about freedom, it is to live without fear of tyranny, terrorism and oppression.  It’s also not living in fear of rejection and having to censor yourself, filter your words to make others more comfortable.  I do believe in the adage, “speak the truth in love”; to write and talk with compassion and consideration for others.   I eventually came to accept my truth and not hide in shame or embarrassment of it. This is how we grow and learn to accept, love, and honor ourselves which leads to healing.    It is listening with an open heart, and giving space to someone who might not have all their stuff together.  It is being authentic and honest.  I realize some people can’t handle the truth, and they live in fear of others finding out.  Fear is a cage we lock ourselves in real tight with the illusion of keeping our secrets safe.

It is perfectly normal and okay to grieve as long as it takes.  It’s okay be a work in progress.  There’s no rule of how long it takes.  It’s okay to be in therapy, have a psychiatrist and take medication.  Do what it takes for you, precious ones!!  Don’t let anyone make you feel less than or inferior because you have different problems or deal with life in your own way.   Life is beautiful and we are meant to be free to express ourselves in our own fashion.

Freedom is sharing from the heart what is most important to me.  It is having compassion for myself and others because I’ve been there.  It is living free without fear of what others are going to say or do.  It is living comfortably in my own skin, with my own personality quirks, and accepting all of it.  It is being my own unique self and not in competition with anyone else.  I can only do me, and choose to be my best self each day.  It is being free to shine my light, a la Sophia style!

“This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 2 [insert URL for this blog post, which ishttp://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/10DBC-Day-2]”

 

 

 

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!!!

Showing Up

When I used to struggle with mental illness, I felt very lonely. Besides my counselor, I didn’t know very many people who understood what I was going through. Sometimes it was self imposed isolation. I avoided people because I didn’t trust them. I worried about triggers and being judged. Now, many years later and I no longer have those problems. I show up for life and I’m not lonely. Today, I know that if there is no one around me, life still shows up. The sun still rises. When it goes down, the moon greets me and the stars twinkle brightly that there is life and there is hope for me. The leaves on the tree cling or fall. The water flows or is stagnant but it’s there The flowers bloom. They’re saying, “We are here!” At times when feeling utterly alone or lost in our head, it’s important to get outside and notice nature. Notice who shows up. Is it the sun or the moon? Is it the snow or rain? Is it the wind? Is it simply the ground on which you stand? And to cement the idea you re not alone, speak with nature with a hearty “hello” and “thank you!” It makes a difference because no one is ever truly alone.

While on the subject of feeling lonely, I might as well say that there are others who are lonely as well. When I was struggling with mental illness it’s true there were some who didn’t understand. And some I just didn’t trust. I didn’t need to expect everyone to be too busy for me and not understanding. Some are not too busy and are understanding. If someone is brushing me off, I understand now that they are not the ones for me. It doesn’t mean there isn’t anyone. It’s just that one person. I didn’t need to give up on people.

There is another element to this. Someone out there is depending on you and me to show up. Someone who is accustomed to seeing you whether happy or sad. It lifts their spirit to know you are alive. They want to hear and know about you during the good and the bad times. These are those precious few to hold on to and seek out. They are there but sometimes I was so caught up in my own stuff, I didn’t notice it. We learn, grow and heal within the context of relationships and community. Interacting with others is important as long as they are the right ones. I personally try to seek out positive people to hang out with. I take a positive attitude everywhere and smile at others so they know they are not alone. We all need to show up for our lives. There is only one me and one you. No one else can do what I do or you. I’m one of a kind. Oh and I am awesome at being me, too! No, I’m not a perfect person but I’m perfectly me.

Hello world!

This is my other blog!  I share my wisdom and stories a bit unrelated to my book Dear Sophia, Love Yourself!  Okay this might sound corny but you know my name is Sophia which means wisdom in Greek.  I feel this great unspoken pressure to be wise.  Yet it comes very natural and flows freely from my pseudo version of spirituality.  I’m probably going to share things you might not have wanted to know me.  However, it will at least sound wise most of the time.   I actually graduated from the SHK, but I didn’t stop learning and I find myself learning on a deeper level and new understanding of things I learned long ago.   For those who don’t know SHK is School of Hard Knocks!  You might find this hard to believe but I am sort of a wizard of wit and wisdom, hence the reasoning behind Sophia’s Wizdom!  I have no plans to quit my day job and become a comedian nor guru.   I just happen to believe I have lots of insight into many things and I happily volunteer my time to share it with the world and my faithful readers.    It may appear I’m full of myself, but I’m actually quite meek and humble.  I’m not trying to brag here, but just rest assured, I have several humble badges.   I share stories of love, joy, laughter and tears.