Friday, September 19, 2014

On Depression

"...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:  

"Haven't been in the best of places lately.  Weird really.  Some ups and downs.  The ups are extremely happy and amazing but the downs feel pretty dark.  Sad.  a little lost.  Depressed for sure.  This transition is harder than most for me.  Maybe because it seems so forever.  Maybe because change is just hard.  Period.  But I'm riding the waves and trying to listen to myself and give myself what I need.  Such a weird place to be.  So happy but yet struggling too.  With all the shit in the world, people who are really really hurting, and living in this place that everyone thinks is so great (and really is as great as it looks and sounds), it is almost as if I feel badly for feeling sad or depressed. Shame.  feelings of not deserving to feel a certain way because of how good I have it...  As if i have no right.  Again, a really weird place to be to feel ashamed of feelings. Or to not feel control over my sudden drops in mood.  Some days I'll feel good and alive and inspired and then two days later I can feel a complete lack of any interest in anything.  As if I'm just going through the motions.    New territory for me.  I also find myself wondering what the hell is wrong with me to feel depressed  and how can I be depressed but yet happy at the same time.  All the things I share on fb and blog, etc.  These are all real moments of joy...my book, the new dog, living in Bend... but there's a lot I'm not sharing too...the parts where I'm just sad.  It's as if I'm trying to wake myself up every week but yet I end up still stuck.  Some days it feels as if I'm looking at my life through plexi glass but I can't feel it or reach in and hold it.  I'm hoping that these are things that will change soon. Really really hoping to get unstuck.  Setting up my creative space today has made me feel hopeful that I can make this house feel more and more like space that inspires me.  I know enough about myself, depression, moods, creative people, etc. to know that this doesn't define me but gosh, it feels shitty to feel shitty every other day.  Lots of tears.  Lots of missing Asheville and then feeling guilty or embarrassed for missing it.  Just lots in this heart of mine.  I'm telling you this as a friend... a private conversation... not for any other reason than to let you in to my life a bit since you're a dear friend...if I seem distant as a friend or a really crappy emailer or communicator, I'm sorry.  This has a lot to do with it.  I know it is a season in life.  I'm fine...just taking it as it comes.  And if it doesn't get better then hopefully training more for a marathon will help...and making new friends...and continuing to find my place here....moves take TIME.  I've only been here for 6 weeks so I expect things to be rocky.  If only the moods would stay a bit more stable.  :)  But reading new things, changing my space, meeting new people, starting date nights up again, writing and reading...these things will help too." 

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....  



32 comments:

  1. My brother suffers from depression. Out of nowhere he had to be hospitalized a few years ago. He's younger than me, has suffered from learning disabilities since he was a kid and so I've always had this mama bear mentality about him. It was like he was my first child I looked after, although not literally. It was incredibly hard watching and supporting him through his depression. It affected all of us. He wouldn't let us in at all. Perhaps that was the hardest part. I think the shame and embarrassment he felt about it made him shut us (his family) out. Depression is no joke. It is a disease in a sense and with all diseases there ARE varying degrees, as you said. I think it was brave of you to write this post and I hope it helps others see how hard depression is for the person who suffers as well as their loved ones. I hope you continue to find your way. You will be in my thoughts and I wish you well.

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    1. Thank you. This sounds like some serious depression. I'm sorry to hear this about him. I hope he can find his way out. My depression has never gotten very serious. In fact, it wasn't until recently that I've even come to the point of acknowledging that that's what is really happening lately. And I think it can be triggered by different things and sometimes nothing at all...it can just be there. It's when I started feeling this "go through the motions" feeling and like everything around me was so happy and bright and brilliant and not be able to FEEL it where I knew I needed to address it more. Addressing it helps me. Almost to the point where I feel like it's gone but I know that as with my mom and my grandma and other family members in my family history, depression creeps in there and if we don't address it, and have ways to work through it, we can get wrapped up in it quite deeply. I think people also have the misconception of depression that if you are a person that suffers from depression, you can't be HAPPY ...truly happy...at the same time. Not true. Thanks for the comment. Is your brother better now?

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  2. Thank you for this post... While I don't see myself as an artistic person, your words are the closest to my experience I've ever found.
    I have to actively remind myself throughout the day - each and every day - to see the positive, to have patience, to love myself, to let the negative thoughts "go" like clouds. It's very tiring some days, and it doesn't go that well.
    As part of this effort, here is how I choose to interpret the Kerouac's words: we love so many people and things in our life that have sides that are really annoying or sometimes utterly despising to us. Our parents, our friends, our siblings, our spouses, our pets... But we still love them to pieces because of all the rest. That is how I will try to love my life each minute.

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    1. Thank YOU for this comment. Very much. Life is so much better when we connect with others in this way...thank you. And I love your beautiful way of reading this quote...yes! yes! That is the meaning I was looking for...very lovely perspective on this. Thank you.

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  3. I'm proud of you for being real, Amanda. I'm not going to pretend to know anything about it or to offer any ignorant advice. But, I will say THANK YOU for what you said about seeing a therapist! I think the generations before us think of that with such shame when it could be such a life changing tool. Happiness 24/7 doesn't exist no matter what anyone tries to show on social media and comparing ourselves, trying to keep up - it's just not possible. We are seeing one tiny spec of the story. My wish in this life is that everyone has the ability to discover the best version of themselves. Which, absolutely, includes accidentally sticking our finger in the moldy, oozing, rotten cucumber in the back of our refrigerator that we somehow were completely oblivious to for quite some time. As we grow and live this complicated life that best self is going to change and morph over time and we have got to allow for that rediscovery in the place we are and in the time we stand. Open doors that we slammed shut and have forgotten about. The ugly stuff is never going to go away but we can absolutely use it in a positive way. Sometimes that includes getting help from others sometimes we can do it on our own. Regardless - love, support, loyalty, honesty, faith - those are the things that keep us moving forward. You have them. Here you prove that and I'm proud of you for using it and speaking up. Not just for you, but for anyone who stumbles along your words. I love you for always!

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    1. Thanks T! You know, I've wanted to be more open about my therapists on here for some time. But even then, it has been something I've kept from social media. But damn, I'm ready to be way more open about it because my time with my therapist in Asheville is one of the most incredible parts to my journey and self growth. I started seeing a therapist when I was a kid due to some of the struggles I was having with my dad's death. Then not again until college when my boyfriend at the time basically told me he loved me too much to see me so angry and hurting so deeply and hurting those I love because I was so hurt...he is the reason why I started again as an adult. Thank you to him. Thankful that he had a mom who was a counselor and he was raised with such awareness and compassion to understand that therapy is a good thing. It is for everyone!! I encourage everyone to do this! I especially like the CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) approach...it's about changing the way we think about things...the cognitive skills we have for working through our struggles. Not just sitting and talking about past things but actually learning about what's going on with us and finding ways to change the way we think. Good stuff. Good education. Yes, sometimes we are fine on our own and sometimes we need a little help.. And sometimes, it is just always nice to have a support system no matter where we are at with life! Love you Tayarra.

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  4. Thanks for this, Amanda. I can imagine it would be hard to put all that out there for others to read but it is good to hear people's honest feelings. I have been feeling very "stuck" lately too. I keep using that word. I know it is a phase too. I have tried to be really careful with social media. Right now it doesn't feel inspiring to see someone run their hundredth marathon in the cutest running clothes with their garmin arm shot when I am struggling to make myself get out for a crappy 3 miler. There. said it. And yes, I feel better too :) Hang in there!

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    1. Thank you Holly. Yes, hard at first but then once I shared with my closest friends, things felt way easier. I'm sorry you've been feeling stuck too...it is a good word to use...it describes it well. I so hear you! I hope you continue to feel better. Thank you for taking the time to comment. A community of people talking about the real crappy stuff with the real happy stuff is refreshing!

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  5. I've actually written an almost identical post but there it sits in my drafts. I haven't had the courage to click "Publish." You're brave and I am so grateful for people like you who talk openly about this.

    I've also suffered from depression for as long as I can remember. It's been REAL bad there at times and has affected my life so terribly but I try not to talk about it. I don't want to be a Debbie Downer, so instead, I become a hermit and don't face the world. Well, that's no way to live! We should be talking about this. I hope it felt really good to post this! Of course I don't wish depression on anyone but I have to admit, it is comforting to know someone like YOU who is so radiant, such a wonderful mother, a talented runner, with a beautiful family, also suffers like I do. It really does make me feel a little less alone and crazy.

    THANK YOU times a million for being open and honest. Hoping it gets better soon. :) XX hugs.

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    1. Hi you. Oh, I'm so glad you commented. Talk about radiant and wonderful and talented..this is you too! Wonderful and radiant and talented people can be some of the most depressed people at times. You're also a very passionate and soulful person Kate! So glad you shared here. Yes, hiding is no way to live. Share your story!! Depression really does need a voice! I hear you on the comforting thing. Always nice to not feel alone ...I think if more and more people keep being real about the downs and not just the ups....then we can make this something that people don't feel shame about. Things are already better. That doesn't mean it won't come and go....yes. xoxo

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  6. I wish I could jump out and give you a great big hug!! I know I don't have any magic words to make the hurt go away but I am thinking of you and pray that you round the corner of this pain. You are right- we live in a world where we see all the positives and best moments of everyone's lives because it's blasted all over social media. It can make us feel inadequate or like a failure. I've definitely felt like that in the past few months. I've had to avoid twitter and Facebook lately because I follow so many running pages that it was depressing me more when I couldn't run. Now that I've started back it's not so bad but I constantly have to remind myself to be content with where I am.

    I've never heard this before but I really like it- "Ex-pression is the opposite of de-pression. Whenever we de-press, we usually need to ex-press." So true!!

    I appreciate your honesty and openness. Hugs!!!!

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    1. Thank you Tia. Appreciate you. Glad we have a lull in our work right now...because my creative flow has been worthless! But time to recharge ...expression here has already helped with that! Big hug back and I will email soon! xo

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    2. Oh, and I am so so so glad you are running again Tia!! It makes such a difference in our lives! And when we can't run...ugh, it makes everything else so much harder...ideas, work, parenting...life!

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  7. I agree that with social media it seems like everyone else is living the perfect always happy life.
    Since I started blogging I've tried to keep my blog real and some days that means it is just a place for me to vent because that is needed. Some days it is all rainbows and other days it is just what it is.
    I have funk days but I know that is nothing compared to what you are dealing with. I will tell you what a good friend learned years ago after trying to pretend that her depression wasn't real. She finally realized that if she was diabetic she would treat her disease (whether through medicine or natural methods). Once she was able to admit that it was a disease she got the help she needed and it made a huge difference in her life.
    I think that it is a very real thing - unexplainable in many cases because on the surface it looks like you should be happy but...
    Thank you for being so real. I hope that writing this helped you and that if you need more help (even more than training for a marathon:) you will do whatever you need to - you are so worth it!!!

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    1. Thank you Kim! Yes, and on the surface, I think we can be happy ...even deep down happy ...but then depression can work in really weird ways. Good days and bad days. Then stretches where there's no depression at all! I don't suffer from depression like some I know and I want to see them tell their stories...so they and others can know they are not alone. Depression happens to GOOD people! Smart people. Lively and Talented people. Anyone. And we have to keep reminding ourselves that we have a right to feel what we feel.

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  8. So many times I've wanted to write about depression but held back because the story is not mine to tell but my husband's and my son's. But I live with depression. I've seen it up close and dark and raw and hurting - where all you want to do is wrap the sufferer in your arms and tell them it'll be okay and it won't last forever but they won't believe you because the hurt is just so deep.
    My son is going through a really bad patch at the moment. A suicide attempt seven weeks ago has thrown my world into chaos. And trying to get decent help has been a nightmare. But things are slowly improving. There are better days and the lows are not so low. I think he's seeing that there is hope with the help of meds and a good psychologist who he can relate to and isn't scared to say the tough stuff.
    Keep writing about it Amanda. Keep putting it out there. It's something that affects so many people directly or indirectly so by putting it out there you're taking away the stigma.
    Big hugs from me.

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    1. Ah Char, big hugs from me to you too. Thank you for sharing this. Ah, my heart hurts for you. i can't imagine the pain that it causes you as a mother to see your son struggle this badly. And your husband. It IS a topic that needs to be taken more seriously. After Robin Williams died, I think so many people opened their eyes a little more....someone so BIG and LOVED and VIBRANT...someone I think we all loved in some way... how could he feel this low? I'll be the first to admit that my depression is nowhere near your son's...my struggles have been off and on and to varying degrees. Change makes it harder. Mostly I've seen my mom suffer BIG time...she's one of the biggest reasons I chose to write this post. To give people like her a voice too. But it was really this last month that made me realize that we all have a voice and need to speak out about these things. When I was sitting in the car last week and just feeling so low again after the day before that felt awesome, I knew it was time to take things more seriously. So much happiness in my life but yet some days felt as if life was just moving outside of me and I was inside this box unable to feel...taste...experience. So weird. And then another day of feeling okay but then it would come back. Telling my story and being honest about my struggles is one way I think we can continue to help others who suffer with severe depression (or even mild) to not be embarrassed or ashamed of how they feel. Thanks for your comment Char. xo

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  9. Oh Amanda. What a post. And as always, so much to learn. I was going to write you privately and then I thought - no - you're right. We should all put this stuff out there (even if I'm hiding on your comments page). I need to tell you two things: I have been struggling recently myself, for the first time in my life. I don't think it's huge, and it definitely goes more than it comes, but I have, for the first time ever, felt crippling, gut-wrenching fear and anxiety. And it's awful. Running helps, meditation helps, talking to my husband and friends helps - it all helps. The other thing I have to tell you is this - that when I see your stuff on FB I think "wow - she's got it all sorted". This incredible engaged parenting, this beautiful running / beer town where you now live - from the outside - the social media side, I guess - it all looks so very enviable - and I have envied you. And now I think you're right. We all do it. Someone said to me the other day that they loved my photos because I'm always smiling. I don't always smile. At all. But I guess I don't post those photos. This is an incredibly brave and beautiful and honest and courageous post Amanda - thank you for sharing this. I'm always here - at some distance, I guess! - but I'm here for an email or a whatsapp or a skype call. With great love and great faith in you. Hugs, Petra

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    1. Hi sweet Petra! So good to hear from you. I'm so sorry to hear that you are struggling... I so hear you here. Not huge and comes and goes but it's so real. Yes on the fear and anxiety too...last year was the first time I'd ever experienced this kind of fear and anxiety...panic. It was so scary for me. Nope, I don't have it all sorted at all! Just one chapter at a time! Yes, I feel the same about you...a lovely looking life! And I'm sure it is lovely and wonderful but we don't get to see all the hard parts on social media. I think these parts make life beautiful too. Thank you for reaching out here. I love your words Petra. You are such a loving light. Thank you.

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  10. I definitely deal with patients at many points on the depression spectrum, and I admit that it is difficult for me to empathize with them. I recognize this and try to work on it. My personality is generally quite positive, and I'm easily content/pleased, so depression is foreign to me. One of my little brothers, however, has been seriously depressed, so I try to use my experience with him in understanding my patients, rather than my own experiences, or I'll be that person asking, "Well, what's WRONG?" You know what I mean - the person who thinks it's a problem with an easily definable root cause, and if we fix that cause, we've eliminated the reason to be depressed. I know for sure that that kind of response is not helpful!
    One thing that I try to do is to give my patients the space to react first, and then I can support them in the best way possible after that. Because I'm a pharmacist, I almost always get asked for advice - in which case, I like to offer a few tips like, "Make sure you get fresh air and sunlight every day" and "Choose a project or hobby with a goal, work on it every day, and record your progress and improvement." But sometimes people (especially patients I know well) just want to talk, so I let them talk. I have a counseling room I use for that. Once I had one patient crying in my counseling room and another crying at my counter at the same time!
    Sending hugs and support your way, and thanks for sharing.

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    1. I really enjoy reading your perspective here Gracie. It sounds like you are doing a good job here in giving them a chance to talk and express themselves. Your job sounds like it can get stressful!

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  11. What a great post. Honest and real and so very important. Writing this must have been difficult, yet in some way therapeutic. I don't have any real words of wisdom but feel it's important for everyone to know they are not alone! Thanks for the post and I find that running always helps!!

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    1. Thank you Robin. Yes, hard and therapeutic for sure. Yes, running is awesome!

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  12. Thanks for being so open and honest in this post. One thing I've seen in my few years working as a therapist-and I my own experiences is tha depression thrives in secrecy, and shrinks empathy and support.

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    1. It definitely thrives when we don't address it.

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  13. Words from my recent post that follows this one...thought I'd include them here too since they are on the topic: Follow up to On Depression
    I can't help but feel exposed after my last post: On Depression. Writing on the topic of depression wasn't easy but it was freeing and helpful in finding a refocus. Honestly, writing it was therapeutic. Reading your comments and private messages made me more aware than ever that mental health is something that needs to be taken more seriously. Depression is just one mental health topic that our society needs to talk MORE about in order to give people a voice and sense of hope. I read so many of your stories--stories of depression, anxiety and fears of talking about and admitting your struggles. Because there is such a stigma that comes with depression, so many people are embarrassed to talk about it. There is also such a spectrum when it comes to the severity one can experience depression. Someone like me, who is quite low on the spectrum might feel embarrassed to even admit to having a level of depression at all. I mean, have you ever searched the hash tag for depression (#depression) on Instagram??? I did this, as I often do before I slap a label on my Instagram posts...just to make sure I'm putting my blog posts with the right category (you never know!). Oh MY! Before Instagram even let me into that hash tag group, I got a warning along the lines of the images I was about to see would be disturbing. Wow. My recent stretch of feeling depressed and struggling to understand my lower level feeling of depression were nothing like what I was seeing in these posts. They were labeled #depression but so may of the people posting were dealing with things far far beyond anything I can even come close to comprehending. Some SEVERE mental illness! With that being said, I think writing my post served even more of a purpose than I realized. It helped me process and acknowledge some very real feelings and gave a voice to others who might be in the same place of feeling embarrassed to admit to experiencing some level of depression. I'm glad for this.

    I enjoyed this article: Overcoming the Stigma of Depression.

    A few bullet points:
    I've never been clinically diagnosed with depression. I know there are people out there that have severe levels of depression that I don't even begin to understand. However, I do know the difference between just feeling down and blah and truly experiencing lows that feel out of our control.
    Mental Health in our country...the world...is equally as important as physical health. I so strongly believe that we need to address this topic more and more. In fact, it is likely that with an increase in mental health awareness and support, we will see a decrease in physical illnesses.
    This last month of my life has definitely been about finding my ground and setting down roots. A close friend came to visit this weekend and reminded me that it takes time for plants to have a strong root system and she compared this to how it is for us to feel rooted after a big life change. Yes! Feeling unrooted, stuffing feelings of struggle as they came up, and then getting to a point where I just felt stuck, led to some pretty dark feelings. Getting stuck like this and not knowing what to do with all the hidden feelings we've stored up can surely make us feel sick on a mental level.
    Being depressed and truly struggling for awhile isn't the same for everyone. For example, running, self awareness, diet, self expression, talking it out, setting goals, and being heard...these things are just some of what is enough for me to get back on track. Others might need much more. Although I've never needed, wanted or used antidepressants or any kind of medication, I do think some people need this! And I don't think it is anything to be ashamed about! In fact, talk about it!! That's just it...let's talk more about this so people don't feel so alone!

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  14. Amanda, I commented before but I do not see it published - maybe there was something technically wrong with the process, or you did not want to publish it - which is fine, it was meant for you. But just in case you did not see it, I will repeat some points that I think could be helpful to you to be aware of.
    1. Your relevation was not a surprise to me. There was plenty of signs in your other posts, even the most cheerful ones. You always stressed so much positive thinking and gratefulness that looked simply "too much work and pressure".
    2. Be attentive to learn what makes you stronger and what weaker, and make it a priority to do everything what helps you to be as far as possible from the depression. You can not help others in your family if you are not in the best shape, so spoil yourself with anything within your power that makes you strong.
    3. Your children notice your mood and situation, if you are open to them or not, if you use the word D or not, if you want to hide it or not. Be a good role model to them how to deal with this, don't pretend to be stronger and more courageous and more cheerful than you really are.
    4. You can get a clinical diagnose or not, I suggest you also look into dysthymia.
    5. This post of yours on depression is very vague, overly general and quite lengthy. I think it would be helpful and interesting to you and to your readers to be more specific - every person is a different story and you are a strong intelligent person and your "illness" is far from extreme, but in many ways this is the most difficult situation because once you are supported by experts and medication, it just does not depend so much on you any more, which can be kind of a relief in itself.

    This comment is well meant, I hope you do not get offended by it. I am thinking of you, wishing you all the best.

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    1. Hi Ilsa. No, I didn't see your comment before. Welcome. :) Yes, I've never kept this secret...and I don't keep my feelings secret from my family either. Surely not the case around here. My posts have been honest and real. Even if they are the happy parts filled with gratitude and goals...that is REAL too. I think I've always been honest in expressing the sadness and struggles too. The ups with the downs. The real and the raw...happy, blah, medium, and the struggles with life...parenting, friendship... You know, as much as ups and downs can be frustrating, I'm so glad for exactly who I am. It makes me me. My struggles add to my life. As far as kids. Of course they know! That's always what bugs me about social media that comes across fake. I've always made a point to only post what I'm feeling. If I really am caught up in a moment of joy and I share, it's real. If I am feeling awful, I don't snap a picture or write a post of happiness when it isn't real. I either say how I'm feeing or don't post. It always gets me when I see these people taking these happy pictures with their kids...selfies.. when I know the inside scoop that really they aren't having a good day at all or a good time...kids see this. They see these masks...they see that mom isn't feeling well and then shows the world something different. That's definitely not the case in this house. I believe in teaching our kids to be true to their feelings by talking about them and NOT pretending to feel one thing and show another. Emotional intelligence is equally important to me for my kids as intellectual intelligence. Understanding their feelings and thoughts and being able to communicate...this starts with us!! ... to be cont

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    2. As far as specifics...I don't think my post is all that vague but here's the thing, I feel like I expressed a lot. Almost all of it...I was feeling very sad, stuck, blurry, up an down, almost as if I was enveloped in a bubble and not able to get out except for brief moments...moments of real happiness. moments of joy and then just wanting to be in my bed and cry. I cried about how I felt, and even at nothing at all except to cry. I also missed (still do) Ashevile so much and leaving there made me terribly sad because I felt so at home there...it brought up many old feelings from my past. I live a life that is really what I always wanted for myself and this isn't just out of luck...I was intentional about so so much of it....my marriage, children, profession, athletic endeavors, finding a good therapist (therapy is so good if you find the right therapist!), etc. But there is so much out of our control too...this I know. And it felt so frustrating to be feeling sad when things were so good too. This was embarrassing and I felt like I had no right to feel sad when life was so good...so I stuffed it and this led to darker feelings. That's when the real depression started to show itself and scared me and then that's when I knew I needed to share myself ...share my story. So, if you think it is vague and YOU have specific questions that would be helpful to you as a reader, feel free to ask them by emailing me. I'd be more than happy to answer you. Nothing to hide here.

      Yes, I think as mothers...people...we do need to feed ourselves. I have always done this. I have not found the need for anti depressants but thanks. I think so many other things work for myself and others when our depression and life circumstance isn't sever. ... running, writing, friends, beautiful places, healthy food, time connecting, and sharing myself in authentic ways like this...THIS is what helps keep life pretty damn AMAZING. and mostly happy for me. Change. Change is the big bugger that trips me up every time. Especially a change as big as this...this move, setting down permanent roots for a an indefinite time, leaving a place I love, feeling a little lost...THIS is what the trigger is for me . Talk about specifics... someday I'll explain this on here...why change is harder for me than hard. I'll tell about the big changes in my childhood that has left a very rough taste in my mouth and spirit when it comes to huge life changes...some pretty big stories that involve death, moving, religion x2 (not just religion but entire belief systems being ripped apart at a young age)...some pretty confusing times for me. I don't live a very secretive life...we all have our secrets of course but eventually I'm pretty darn open about most of it. Feel free to ask. Definitely don't mean to be vague. I think we need to tell our stories.

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    3. And thank you for your comment. No offense at all. In fact, thanks for the term dysthymia. This was helpful reading on this search...yes! Thank you. That's just it...minor forms of depression are sometimes not addressed like they should because of the major cases of depression and personality disorders that leave people with mild depression feeling isolated and not sure how to identify.... such a stigma. And then by not addressing it, it leads to isolation and deeper depression.

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    4. Thanks for your reply, Amanda, all 3 of them :-)) I was hoping for a response like that. Let me just clarify that I do not think you should be on medication, far from it, I just wanted to say that mild depression can be also very very hard because it is a battle on your own, without any chemical help. Understanding dysthymia can really help to understand that some people are more prone to low moods that can turn very very low and into depression, so taking good care of yourself is extremely important! About "vagueness" of your post: in my opinion it was an essay on depression in general, still good for you to publish it, but your blog can hardly bring new general info on this subject to anyone slightly interested in the topic - on the other hand, your blog is a personal public presentation on what you want to share and how you want to present yourself - and it is an extremely interesting story how you specifically deal with your mild depression that hopefully will always be controlled and managed without major medical system support. You are a wonderful and interesting person, although frankly your writing for my taste is a bit "wordy" and "vague", I like to read your blog. And your reaction to my crude comment strengthened my sympathy for you. I will always cheer for you!!!

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    5. Thank you for your comment back Ilsa. I wish I knew who you were. :) I love comments like yours that give me food for thought...thank you. I chewed on your comment all during my trail run today and the more I thought on it, the more I liked it. You had some really good points and made me feel understood. Yes, as far as wordy, I agree. I'm not the most concise with my writing. :) Easier to use more words than less and still say something similar... this is something I'm working on with a book I'm writing...being concise and not using more words than necessary....the fluff. I can see how this can seem vague. Thanks for your support and intelligent comments and feedback. I appreciate you.

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