Little Black Dog Called Depression

What Is Depression?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depressive disorder, or clinical depression is described as:

“A common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.” These symptoms are present for a minimum of two weeks.   (Click here to continue reading: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml)

I personally think of it more as this annoying flea that has decided to latch onto me, leeching from my blood and somehow poisoning it at the same time. I’ll have a few good days, then it decides I’ve had too much of a good thing so it siphons off any feel good chemicals left from my mind and body for its own use. I’ve just made a happy bug… ugh.

Other times, it feels like a sad, lonely miserable animal that won’t stop following me around, pouring its pain into me, and I can’t escape from it no matter what I do…it always finds me. This video below is an excellent example of what depression is like, and also a great video to share to those close to you that aren’t as familiar with depression. Maybe they’ll at least stop saying things like “just get over it, pull yourself together, it’s not as bad as you think it is,” or whatever cliche insensitive crap uninformed people throw at you. 

Have you ever asked yourself, who am I without depression, without anxiety, or without _______ (fill in the blank)? Most of my life, I didn’t realize or understand that I was depressed or that I  struggled with depression. When I look back, all I see now is depression, insecurity, hurt and loneliness. If you’ve dealt with any kind of mental illness for a significant amount of time, whether knowingly or not, it can become part of your identity, sometimes a big part, like it did for me. 

I can be overly sensitive and emotional, I can find comfort in darkness, and brood over and stew in deep unpleasant or unsettling thoughts and feelings, unable to let things go. This is normal, well at least, my normal. So many years later, these “personality traits” still remain. I have built upon them over the years and even expanded some. I use to write to vent, express myself, and connect to my emotions, thoughts and feelings. Now I still do. Some of my hobbies, interests and personality traits that may have stemmed from my depression or as a coping mechanism, was there all along. Now I can thank the darkness for giving me more meaning, depth, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, empathy, sensitivity and powerful emotional depth that would’ve been rather superficial have little value to myself and others had I not had a black dog called depression raining on me day after day throughout my life. Not everything is bad, not everyone is bad either. Where in your life can you find the good in your mental illness? How has it helped you? What has it or having to live with it taught you? 

For me, it got to such a bad point that self medication and avoidance, couldn’t help me anymore. That I sought professional help, then when that wasn’t enough, more professional help, and then even more. Overtime through this process, I was forced to look at myself and my hurts of the past, which I would probably still be running from otherwise. After looking at more recent traumas, eventually I found a counselor that helped me get to the core of all of it. Who knew, most of our deepest insecurities, fears and pains often stem from childhood. Often they can be things we never considered, or things we forgot altogether, like I did. Usually though, it’s the emotions and the feelings that get stuck, and can often be the reason why out of the blue we feel down or anxious and have no clue why. It could’ve been just a brief thought, a look from someone, or a feeling that randomly popped up that took a part of you back to a moment you are still stuck in. Maybe your body/mind is trying to help you look at that memory, so you can heal from it, so you can feel it in its entirety to finally put it to rest. Through working on yourself usually through self reflection and focussing on being present the heaviness starts to lift away. One by one, those rocks and boulders fall away and break apart, and so does the depression and the anxiety. The negative thoughts start to fade as you become aware of them, challenge them and put them to the test. Take the beautiful parts with you and everything you learned. Know that you aren’t your mistakes and your diagnosis doesn’t define you. When you feel lost, alone, confused or depressed, instead of saying to yourself “Why is this happening to me?” ask yourself, “What is this trying to teach or show me?” Know that “no” is also an answer and often comes in the form of things not working out in the way we want or what we thought was what should happen. “No” is often a blessing in disguise. The universe has a clearer idea of what we need than we do! Look for the silver lining, find the message. Sometimes hard times are necessary to develop the skills, mature, learn and grow into the person we are meant to be. I know I’m not quite ready for whatever this world has planned for me yet. But, I know I was meant for something more, something bigger, and big rewards come with big challenges and struggles. 

No matter where you are at in your journey, know that these feelings don’t last forever. You haven’t lost control over your mind or body. You still have a choice. Are you going to let it win or are you going to rise up? It’s easier, yes, to feel defeated and much less work. It’s easier to complain about how crappy it is or how it’s not getting better. What’s hard and why most people are stuck is because they are afraid to do the work that’s necessary for healing. In this world of everything on demand, we want our health and healing to be on demand too. Well, let me ask you…. did you get to this point overnight? I’m guessing not. Generally, it’s quite a long process. The hard part is facing your demons and dragging them out of that dark closest and into the light, and having a long hard look at them and yourself. Can you accept your faults without crucifying yourself? Can you do this with compassion for yourself but also for those that wronged you? Can you find the good in the bad, the beautiful in the ugly, and the magnificent in the ordinary?

Let me tell you something you may not have heard in a while. You matter and you are here for a reason. You are worthy of selfless love and you have it within you to love so deeply. You have so much left within you to give the world. You are strong and you are braver than you knowYou are not lost. You are on a journey, and that is a beautiful thing! Embrace it! 

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J.R.R. Tolkien

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it! I want to ask you, what have you found to be on your mind more so lately? Any particular struggles or challenges you’d like me to talk about or even just share some inspiring words on? This blog is for everyone! A community for anyone who can relate, and a safe place for anything on your mind, with a thoughtful and kind group of people that can relate and have your back. Please follow and be sure to leave a comment with any thoughts, tips, or suggestions for this blog post or future posts. Thanks for your love and support! 

Peace and Love, 

Laura

Just make it stop!

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What do you do when you’re feeling down? How about when you’re feeling really depressed? Take a second and really think about it.
If you’re anything like me, you may sleep too much during the day, stay up late doing absolutely nothing remotely productive (Game of Thrones for the forth time through perhaps?), then you might beat yourself up for being a slob and wasting your days getting nothing accomplished. You might go multiple days without a shower (don’t judge! we all do it from time to time), eat almost nothing or eat your feelings, and you might find it particularly difficult to get up in the morning and go to a job that makes you feel even worse. It could be because you don’t feel heard or seen, are constantly walked all over, and no one seems to give a shit or show any sensitivity or compassion whatsoever. Everyone needs to feel valued and appreciated. Instead you get railed day after day and are always on your ass. Do I need to get a hall pass to go pee?!!! Being micromanaged is the worst!!
https://gfycat.com/scrawnycalculatingbuzzard
Dealing with this everyday really started to get to me, and I became more and more depressed…again. Ugh…I was doing so good!

I’ve been told in the past I can be very negative. That was hard to hear, especially from someone I wasn’t particularly fond of, but he was right. Growing up with, having friends, or just being around anyone that is negative or has a pessimistic outlook on the world, people and life in general is suffocating. That was the kick in the ass I needed to see something unpleasant in myself, acknowledge it, and change it. I’m guessing if you suffer from depression in any form, you know how hard this can be. Your brain has become fantastically wired to f*** with you, to bring your demons out into the open, to constantly remind you of everything that may not be going the way you wish it was, and make every single tiny thing seem like the worst thing ever. Anxiety sometimes accompanies this. It feeds into your past traumas, fears, self-doubts, and insecurities. It loves you to feel like you’ve lost control. We’ll get into anxiety more in another post… Depending on how bad your depression is, this may be the part where suicidal thoughts come creeping on. I know better than to act on them, at least now I do, and that has a lot to do with being in a better place than I was years ago.

Depression and I go way back. It started really becoming apparent in high school, and I didn’t realize that until this year to be perfectly honest. I was reading through some of my writings, poems and songs from back then and like a light bulb, suddenly it made perfect sense: the gothic clothes, love for singing along to Evanescence songs, writing poems about pain and rejection, and even the way I decorated my room. I always looked back at those less than stellar times as me being a typical hormonal teenager. That wasn’t exactly the case I see now…  but that was my normal, and I didn’t know any better or anything else. That’s just was who I was: the gothic-punk misunderstood band geek who’s happy and safe place was swinging on the swing sets at an elementary school play ground, at midnight. There was something so peaceful, tranquil, comforting and familiar about it. The silence was beautiful and the light breeze was refreshing and rejuvenating. It made me feel alive and hopeful again in my darkest, loneliest and weakest moments. Having these moments, singing, journaling, playing music, and just writing in general was how I dealt with my depression then.

Those dark, heavy and deep emotions I was only able to connect to through singing were just the tip of the iceberg of years of repressed emotions and deep subconscious hysteria from traumatic childhood memories that I couldn’t even remember. That’s what our brains do – they protect us from pain, trauma, and anything else it deems potentially harmful. That’s also part of our fight or flight response. So, to protect me from painful,  memories it couldn’t possibly know how to process at a young age, and the feelings attached to those memories, it buried them deep down into my subconscious. I never even imagined those particular memories or certain times in my life could possibly be a major source of the pain and suffering that has been so debilitating over the years and caused so much distress, anguish, and anxiety. I would’ve never guessed it could have had such a strong impact on me and my life as an adult almost two decades later.

Over the years throughout my healing journey, I’ve been tirelessly searching for anything that would help me feel better. I’ve tried so many different things for mental, emotional and spiritual health, as well as anything to help relieve these associated physical pains that manifested in my body from years of intense stress. I’ve researched, looked into and tried anything I could get my hands on. I tried prayer in my most desperate times (that’s a whole other article right there). I’ve tried and used acupuncture, trigger point, massages, numerous doctor visits and tests, long-term chiropractic care, medication, and so much more for the physical pain. I’ve used and tried therapists and counseling, group therapy, out-patient care at a mental health facility, medication, psychiatrists, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, coloring, journaling, time in nature, numerous medications, music, alcohol, sex, drugs, holistic methods and practices, herbs in various forms, marijuana, and so much more with varying results in hopes of any  bit of relief mentally and emotionally (I’ll go more in depth on this as well at a later time). I just wanted to make it stop. I just wanted to be normal. To have a normal family, normal childhood, normal home, normal anything… I wonder if some people have an abnormal life or experience because they were never made or meant to be normal. I wonder if some of us go through horrible things and have a tough life because we are the ones that were given the strength (unbeknownst to me) to somehow endure and persevere so we can turn around and lend a hand to someone who can relate and resonate with your story and your truth. Maybe because we were meant for bigger things, meant to make a bigger impact by sparking change and hope in the hearts and souls of others in need. Perhaps everyone has their own story with unique experiences, trials, tribulations and we are meant to use those experiences, the wisdom and knowledge gained, and a special ability and deep levels of empathy and sensitivity to connect to others on a deeper level that couldn’t have even imagined…