"...the act of repressing it seems to repress everything else too, simply because I am spending a lot of time avoiding something."
"When I'm cranky now, miserable, dissatisfied, pessimistic, negative, generally rotten, I recognize it as feeling. I know the feeling can change. I know it is energy that wants to find a place in the world and wants friends." --from Writing Down the Bones --Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
"Ex-pression is the opposite of de-pression. Whenever we de-press, we usually need to ex-press. Tune your channel to creativity and let the goodness flow out of you!" --Sark
I've been depressed. There, I said it. I finally decided that if I'm going to ever pick this blog back up again and make it something where I truly have a place to write ME, connect with others in authentic ways, and have it be the blog I intended it to be...the blog I WANT it to be...I have to be honest...real...and willing to write what's on my heart as it comes. The happy and wonderful things as well as the low and kind of ugly things. With that comes vulnerability. I don't like that V words these days. But with vulnerability and sharing real feelings comes connection. Chances are, if we break down our walls and expose the things that are most pressing on our hearts, there are others that just might relate and find some of the same freedom in reading as we have in writing.
When it comes to writing the stuff we are drawn to write, it can feel scary and too personal...so we hold back, repress, replace the hard stuff with surface, and the cycle of STALE continues until we can express ourselves truly. Repressing the pressing thoughts and feelings can be quite DEPRESSING. I think it's time for some real heart driven writing so I can make room for other energy.
Depression. Definitely not a word to toss around lightly. There are bad days. Blues. Feeling dumpy. Being in a rut. And then there is some more serious stuff that can creep in there and really take a hold on our life for longer than just a day or two. I know this because I've struggled with depression on and off for much of my life. Not always in the ways it has presented itself lately though. Recently, depression has taken a form in my life that I haven't seen before. It's been a little darker. Deeper. To the point where I've been embarrassed and confused by it.
It took me awhile this time to acknowledge that what I was dealing with since moving to Bend six weeks ago was really a little more serious than just feeling sad. It took seeing some of my friendships suffer, noticing my husband worry, and realizing that I was slowly becoming a shell of myself where I needed --wanted-- to reach out and tell my friends how I was feeling. Just this act of reaching out led to a lift and feeling happier. What a FREEDOM it is to be able to EXPRESS our real human bags of STUFF! Yes?
Email to one of my closest and most special friends a few days ago:
When it comes to Depression, there are so many misconceptions and labels out there. They have crept into my thoughts and been a bully of sorts. This bully within has told me that something must be wrong with me to be feeling these dark feelings at a time where I'm still happy and have so much to be grateful for. It's told me to feel shame and hide the depression...stuff it deep in the back draws where nobody has to see it. The only problem with that is that it is still there! Being repressed...hidden...the opposite of expression and ultimately leading to more...depression.
It doesn't help that we live in this society of social media that has turned into something that almost holds us to this standard of perpetual happiness and all things Happy. Somewhere in this attempt to present our best selves and focus on gratitude and happiness and making LIFE GREAT with our intentions (all very very good things in themselves), we've almost made it seem wrong to express the ugly stuff....the stuff we don't like...the stuff we struggle with...the stuff that is really, kind of a downer. We forget that life does't always have to be HAPPY. You can still have a heart full of gratitude and incredible intentions for living and be SAD...Angry...Depressed. You can still be living a GREAT LIFE that you LOVE DEEPLY and need to process the shit! I say we bring back our ability to tell the world...those we love...the people on our Facebook and Instagram feeds...what we REALLY feel and stop trying so hard to stuff the gross stuff and only show the good stuff. What do we fear? Being a downer? Losing friends? (um, newsflash: they weren't friends in the first place if they "unfollow" or shut the door when you are real.)
One of the biggest and most important things I've learned about myself and depression lately is that it doesn't help us in any way to hide it from others. In fact, this only suffocates us. Sharing helps. Telling people in our lives how we feel deep down...this is what helps us get unstuck. Expressing our shitty feelings and the dark parts that creep into our life sometimes does so much for us. And others too, really. When we are real, we help others to feel freedom to be real too. We tell our friends that it's okay to struggle and not be alone with our struggles. It tells them that it is normal to not always feel happy. It leads to connection and clears our energy so that we can do just what we want so much to do: find happiness and continue living in authenticity. It helps us be true to ourselves and get rid of the shit so we can keep climbing towards the our best selves. Our best self doesn't mean PERFECTION or PERFECTLY HAPPY every single day. Sorry social media and surface bullshit posts, you suck in this regard. Sharing when we are happy is awesome. Sharing gratitude is even more awesome. Sharing the good parts ...YES, bring it on! Inspire. Radiate JOY. Yes yes! But share the stuff you struggle with too! At least with those who are closest to.
|Am I the only one annoyed by this post being tossed around out of context?|
It's posts like this above that really sum up what our society has pushed so much. To the point of ridiculousness. Fake. Fear of being real. And heaven forbid, NOT being in LOVE with our life every minute of every day! Seriously? Yes, this is a great message that focuses on love. But in reality, are we really in love with every moment of our life? Hmm, after I get over how much this post (being tossed around on social media OFTEN) annoys me, I can see the truth to it. Yes, I could analyze it and say that yes, I'm still in love with my life even though I don't love everything about every day. But I just think this captures that high bar of living...that unspoken expectation from the world of social media (which is unfortunately how so many of us connect these days)...that unattainable level of perpetual happiness that really leaves many feeling like one big fucking failure because we can't keep up. We can't keep up because we are holding these heavy bags of shit that we just need to address so we can do just that...Be HAPPY. Be REAL. True to ourselves. EXPRESS. Live with Authenticity. Find JOY in BEING with ourselves where we ARE and not always one step ahead of the game, masking ourselves with only parts of our life that really are happy no matter how real they are. If we are too scared of cleaning our life fridge out, eventually no matter how much fresh produce and food we stock up with, there is still going to be rotten food inside that stinks the whole damn fridge up. I'm not in love with these parts but I still have to deal with them.
Here's what I've had to really tell myself lately about depression:
- All kinds of people can struggle with depression. Depression doesn't mean something is terribly flawed in you. It doesn't mean you are broken. It means you are human. Some of the most amazing people we will ever meet in life have struggled with depression.
- You can experience happiness and depression in the same stretch of life. Your depression doesn't negate your happiness.You can certainly be happy, thankful, and living a great life and still struggle with depression. I think it is when we repress our feelings and try to hide them from the world in hopes they will go away...that's when depression can really creep in and suffocate us.
- People need to share. Express. Validate. Acknowledge. These things help.
- Depression is hard to understand. People ask "Why? Why are you depressed?" This can't always be answered with a clear cut sentence. Sometimes you just feel sad. And sometimes you are depressed. Even if the life around you is happy, thriving, and full of so many reasons for why you should feel blessed! In a recent attempt to reach out to someone, my mom explained her depression in a way that made so much sense. She said, "It's like standing behind plexiglass watching your life but not being able to reach in and really feel...touch...taste.." YES! This is how I've felt so much lately.
- I think there is a definite connection between creativity and depression.. I've learned a lot about myself as a creative person lately. Actually, a lot about creative people in general...writers, artists, musicians, comedians (all artists). Creativity or lack of creativity can come in waves...these waves can have a dance with depression. I've noticed this particularly with my mother as she's suffered from pretty serious depression over the years (all my life really). Her brilliant (damn near genius) creations with her art are often followed by long silent lulls. I can't ignore the fact any longer that this is MY mother...a woman I am very much like. I've tried so hard to not be my mother (don't we all?) that I think I've skirted around the issue that I too have some struggles with depression even if my life is full of so much JOY.
A note on depression: I think there are surely varying degrees of depression. I'm far from an expert on the topic. In fact, it is just recently that I've even acknowledged that depression is a real thing for me...more than just sad feelings. Not to the point where it has taken over my life...but enough to address it! If you think you are experiencing serious depression, GO See someone. Yes, I think the term depression is tossed around quite lightly in our world and I think too many people are too quick to want to get a quick fix with medication before they try other things. There's a difference between moodiness and feeling blah and true depression. However, we need to stop judging people here and recognize that depression is also a real thing that people avoid talking about. Many people really need medication. Although, I've never used antidepressants, I know many people that do. This is okay. My depression has never really gotten very bad...it comes and goes through my life...usually at the end of a creative spell or during huge life changes. For the most part, I have found incredible relief from depression and very long stretches where it isn't dominant in my life (most of the time really).
Things that help with Depression:
- Running. Running has always provided a natural release for me. I know some people are sensitive to tossing around the term: Running is my therapy. But I have no issues with this. Running has been therapy for me in a sense. I've always guided myself through the roughest patches in life with the wisdom deep in this head and heart of mine...these words often come out on a run. Running is also known for producing ENDORPHINS. Endorphins are real. They do boost mood. So far, this has worked for me.
- Talk about IT! Talk about it. Share your heart. When we stuff the things that are the hardest for us, we ISOLATE ourselves. This eventually leads to some pretty heavy stuff. Reach out.
- Therapy is a good thing. My opinion is that everyone could benefit from therapy. Even if we aren't depressed or struggling in life. I've seen a therapist lots in my life. I'm open about this. In fact, some of the the biggest lessons in my life and about myself have been learned through therapy. If you have ways to see a therapist, take advantage of that. Get matched up with someone and GROW. Process. LEARN. A good therapist can be an incredible asset to our lives. Someone to talk to. My last therapist was a cognitive behavioral therapist (CBT) who taught me some powerful cognitive skills for working through some of the anxiety and fear I was dealing with. The things she taught me are tools I will have for the rest of my life...breathing, self talk, understanding research behind how our brains and bodies work. Real stuff. Don't ever let the word therapy embarrass you or cause you to feel shame. Some of the smartest people out there...leaders...have a therapist. Brene Brown, one of the most widely known therapists around has a therapist!
- Diet and vitamins!
- Yoga and mindfulness.
- Cry. Cry when you feel like crying. Such a release.
- Be Honest with yourself. Journaling helps.
- Let others LOVE YOU.
Okay, there you have it. Even if this was mostly for myself, it has worked. I already feel unstuck. Is depression gone for good? No, I don't think it works like that. I think we just continue to find ways to work through those sides to ourself...we learn to own it and take the good with the ugly. It takes time to work through everything at once, but after writing this, I feel incredibly empowered. Admitting my struggle with depression hasn't taken away from happiness in life one single bit. Nope. In fact, I now feel like my dirty fridge has been cleaned out, I've added another layer of REAL and authentic, and I'm free to enjoy the good stuff. My creative energy feels like it is free to flow again....