I’m no stranger to Depression. I was clinically diagnosed at 16 and on various types of medication for 10+ years following my initial diagnosis. Voluntarily Baker Acted at 19 years young, and did I mention this was before I lost my father to cancer and my sister to a car accident? I understand what it’s like to be living out your own personal flavor of hell on earth.
I’m since medication free and operating under a liberating new paradigm of Mental Health and healing. I begin though, with a very small snippet of where I was, for the purpose of relation. AKA – I get it. I am intimately familiar with The Great Sadness. Deeply experienced with the burden of such heavy emotion, and well acquainted with the fear surrounding all that was previously unknown to me about “why we feel the way we do.”
If you’re in that place now, I have something to say to you:
I believe one of the worst things for you to engage in when you’re depressed is fear about being depressed. Fear of your symptoms, fear of your state – it just perpetuates your already negative feelings and it reinforces this story we have in our minds that “this is bad, it is happening TO me, it is outside of my control.” What if we were able to step back and look at our “depression” as what it were for us in that moment? A profound and crippling feeling of sadness, maybe? Then, possibly meet this awareness with a kind of detached curiosity, which is something we can actually learn to do when we’re not so attached to the fear. “Hmm, my body is feeling this way.” I know it can sound foreign or even silly to think like this, but what have you got to lose? “Wow, this body and mind of mind are experiencing sadness so profound that it is actually scaring me. I wonder what it is that I am afraid of right now.” And I get that even getting to this place of detached awareness can be a feat. For me, it began with unlearning a lot about my mental illness. I thought that I was a victim to my mind. That there was some faulty wiring and misfiring of chemicals that was inducing a visceral response within me so profound that it was controlling the way I could and could not survive in a given day. I was scared about what I didn’t know. I’ve heard people who were depressed or who were suicidal say they would rather have cancer so they could at least die with dignity. I’ve felt this same way, though I was content with not actually dying and “merely” suffering. To suffer with something Tangible and Recognized felt greater to me than suffering from something intangible and unrecognized. And I know the thought behind this is because cancer is “real” and depression is… not. Let me just tell you, whatever is FELT is a real experience, whether or not a test can measure it. Give yourself more credit than that… you know how you feel.
So my fear of what I didn’t know about depression lead me on a search to discover something (read: anything?!?) more than the story of “chemical imbalance.” I learned so much over the past several years about what promotes our feeling bad vs. what can support our feeling good: Like the role of:
- The food we eat
- The movement we get
- The community we surround ourselves with
- The way our bodies hold onto trauma and conflicts, that lead to dis-ease
- The thoughts we let go unattended
- Inflammation in the body
- Nutrient depletion
And *the most important thing*, feeling good about any of the above – feeling good about whatever protocol you may choose to do, whatever movement you engage in, whatever feels intuitively good to you. Not what looks good on paper, but what feels good in your heart.
It came down to the fear about my depression that was the driver of deeper states of depression. Now, sometimes it will look like my “illness” has not gone away by conventional standards. But what I can confidently tell you, since I am the only one in charge of me, is that my experience with mental illness (starting with severe OCD at 5) had been radically transformed. Because of what I understand now, it’s my relationship to my emotions that sets the stage for my feeling “ok” – not the emotions themselves.
And I couldn’t have arrived here, in this way, without the understandings I now have that allowed me to remove fear from the equation.
After so many years of thinking the opposite, I now know that our symptoms are simply nothing to fear. They. Make Sense.
It makes sense as to why I feel on the level that I do. It makes sense that when I’m making progress or forward movement toward the feelings I want, that the old can come back up. When I’m not scared by that, but curious about it, my experience changes. And so can yours.
I’ve gutted some pretty awful places for the gems that were shining under their dirty exteriors. I’ve lived in and lived out of so much fear that it’s helped provide such a stark contrast in seeing what hurts vs what helps. And possibly best of all, it’s become my heart’s work to share with you, well… what helps. I’ve created a no-strings-attached (because you don’t play around with well-being) 20+ page eBook for you on the Five Pillars to Mental Wellness. Sign up for your copy here, and it’ll be delivered to your inbox straight away.
Cheers brave woman, to this vibrant life you were made to embody. I’m rooting for you.