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little victories

i just got back from a 2-mile walk. i realize that may not sound terribly impressive, but to me, it’s a fairly big deal. in my life, i want to be more active. i want to be fit and healthy. i want to live a long life with my awesome spousal unit. depression gets in the way. A LOT!

in therapy yesterday, we danced around the ideas of: 1. giving myself permission { whether it’s permission to practice self-care OR permission to be as i am, in that moment, without judgement } and 2. to celebrate/revel in/ be proud of little victories { REALLY DIFFICULT CONCEPTS FOR ME}

the universe must really want me to take those lessons to heart, because not only did i share { in solidarity } this with a co-worker, but one of my “regular sites” featured this post on how “tracking positivity” can help with depression.  so here i am, celebrating my little victory with the universe.

an amazing mentor { and friend  AND founder of The Women’s Intelligence Project } shared an enlightening piece Centering Wellness: Reimagining Justice, Care and Change Making Professions. the author, jardana peacock,  is speaking specifically about fields of work when she stares:

“we must see our work as trauma work.

We often experience that trauma as overwhelm, anxiety and stress. Compound that with personal trauma(s) and we are headed toward breakdown and burnout.

Without an emphasis on wellness, folks will continue to suffer exponentially from burnout, anxiety, and spiritual malaise….

The truth is trauma never goes away. Trauma will always exist in our world and in our bodies. Self-care/Community-care, wellness and spiritual practices will, however, provide a container of healing.”

this is what i am attempting to do: practice self-care. i want to heal.

The grange watercolor female profile

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power of the subconscious mind

this past monday, i underwent my first ever session of hypnotherapy. over the years of “regular” talk-based therapy, generative somatic therapy, and the like, i keep coming up against figurative brick walls, where no more insight or progress can be made. my current { and totally awesome therapist } likes to describe herself as “a little bit WOO”, as in she is also a trained hypnotherapist, reiki practitioner, and knowledgeable in all sorts of alternative practices { chakras, chinese medicine, etc.}. i finally decided to take the plunge and give hypnotherapy a try, since i fear a deeply rooted self-sabotage is WHY i keep hitting those walls.

i didn’t know what to expect, so i was nervous/anxious/excited all at once. going into a trance state, where the subconscious mind can be accessed, felt a lot like being submerged under water: my ears felt plugged up, i felt heavy & hazy, i was aware of myself but not completely able to control basic movements–nodding my head or signaling that i was rooting something into place took EXTREME effort. the one thing that i take away from this first experience, which was really about setting parameters for future session work, is that i am deeply influenced by madeleine l’engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME. Read the rest of this entry

nuggets of wisdom 2: “the noonday demon”

i had suspected that this book would be full of juicy, thought-provoking wisdom, and so far, i have not been disappointed.

from page 133:

Most people cannot emerge from really serious depression just by fighting; a real serious depression has to be treated, or it had to pass. But while you are being treated or waiting for it to pass, you have to keep up the fighting. To take medication as part of the battle is to battle fiercely, and to refuse it would be as ludicrously self-destructive as entering a modern war on horseback. It is not weak to take medications; it does not mean that you can’t cope with your personal life; it is courageous. { emphasis mine } Nor is it weak to seek help from a wise therapist. Faith in God and any form of faith in yourself are great. You must take your therapies, all kinds, with you into the struggle. You cannot wait to be cured.

help me { i’m an } adult!!!

adulting

it may have reached meme status, but–I’M DONE ADULTING!!! i’m truly at a loss as to how i’m supposed to get decent sleep, eat well/healthy, practice self-care, work, do laundry, pay bills, pay back your student loan, save money for the future, have something that resembles a social life…and NOT end up in a frothy attack of sheer anxiety.

today, 2 bills and my student loan payment were/are due. have i paid them yet? nope. what have i done with my day? stuff that ACTUALLY brings me joy. something i rarely do.

look, i know the reality is that *no one* has their shit together, but why does it feel so much like i’m failing??? like everyone else has at least ONE thing figured out in their life. that everyone else has mastered at least ONE aspect of adulting.

i want to get in shape- mentally & physically.

i want to eat nourishing, healthy foods.

i want a direction in which to take my life: career or otherwise.

i want to not be so damn sleepy all the time.

i want to have friends i do things with, and not like i’m some lonely hermit because i also want to stay at home.

i want to feel like i belong somewhere.

i want to not have raging panic attacks.

mostly, i want to go back and be a kid again, so the only worries i have are trivial.

 

meditations on ashes & dust

i have always loved the liturgical season of lent. a drawing within; deep introspection and solitude in anticipation of easter. i attended an ash wednesday service last night–for the past 3 or 4 years, it is one of the only times i still attend church, the other time being good friday. during the service, a blessing was shared, and i continue to reflect on its words even now:

{ from Circle of Grace, by jan richardson }

Return
Remember.
You were built for this,
the ancient path
inscribed upon your bones,
the persistent pattern
echoing in your heartbeat.

Let this be the season
you turn your face
toward the One who calls to you:

Return, return.

Let this be the day
you open wide your arms
to the wind that knows
how to bear you
home.

i went up to receive the imposition of ashes { when the pastor/minister places a small cross in ash upon the forehead to remember/contemplate both our origin- dust/ash, and our destination- dust/ash } and then returned to my seat. later, as i drove home, i was reminded of other writings which speak to just how marvelous ashes & dust can be, which i will leave below:

  • I would rather be ashes than dust!
    I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
    I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
    The function of man is to live, not to exist.
    I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
    I shall use my time.  { jack london }

 

  • The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff. { carl sagan}

 

  • The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust. { neil degrasse tyson }

 

“guest post”: depression

it’s no secret that many of us battle day-in-day-out with various forms and degrees of depression. i have been thinking a lot, recently, of my own on going battle with the disease that lies { as i prefer to call it }. instead of giving you all the long, drawn out history, i’m going to attempt to condense it all into brief tidbits, and then allow the “guest posts” { aka other bloggers/webcomics  i will gladly give full credit to } to speak their truths in a more enjoyable way.

my mother claims i always battled the “dark and morose” feelings and was an emotional rollercoaster even at the tender age of 4. in my own recollection, the onslaught of the disease that lies began my senior year of high school, and manifested itself as crazy, brutal, epic panic attacks of doom! { registered trademark } that sent me home on a semi-regular basis. i was overwhelmed with the thought of dying–and not in the suicidal way– no no, i was CONVINCED that i was about to die, any second. driving home from school, i would chant mantras of “please let me live until my parents come home so i can tell them i love them” or “please don’t let me die, because then my car will careen out of control and take innocent people with me”….it was horrible, and followed me through several states and into my early college career. the anxiety difused, but never fully went away { every once in a blue moon, i still get an epic attack }, instead turning into a constant monologue of self-deprecation and doubt.

this general “depression” was made worse by a year of non-voluntary, semi-confinement { also known as teaching english in a foreign country } wear my nearest native-english speaking neighbour was a 20 minute drive away, i didn’t have a car for the first 4 months, and said person was a misogynist chode. matters were made worse by the committee of elderly “gentlemen” who were my direct supervisors and made me feel like shit about myself for not being the MALE TEACHER they had requested. so enduring a year of this, on top of recovering from major anxiety, and plagued with all sorts of other demons, has left me more broken than i would be…which is unfortunate in that, besides the suckitude of making me feel isolated and unworthy and alone, that year abroad was actually quite an amazing experience. had i been placed somewhere more central, or with less old-fashioned, misogynist bosses, i’d be way better adapted.

SIGH. which brings me to the “guest” part of this post….because all these amazing people are going through similar feelings that i deal with at least on a weekly basis.

the admirable wil wheaton from his blog/mini-empire wilwheaton.net : an excerpt:   I haven’t ever felt suicidal, but I do have Depression and Anxiety. I suffered for no good reason for decades, until I couldn’t reconcile my awesome life with feeling terrible all the time. Talking therapy wasn’t ever enough for me, and I was very resistant to medication, because I believed (and continue to believe) that we are an over-medicated culture.

another incredible person the bloggess { aka jenny larson } updates often on her struggles, so i’m including not one, but TWO links…this one is about depression greeting cards and brings awareness to national mental health awareness week.  this one is more introspective, and really brings home the message that **depression lies**—When depression sufferers fight, recover and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark…ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness…afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t.  We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe.

finally, for those of you who are more visual, i give you “adventures in depression” by the fabulous webcomic artist/site hyberbole and a halfthis is just part one of her journey, which is concluded in her most recent post “depression: part two”, where she so aptly describes what suffering from the disease that lies is really like: At first, I’d try to explain that it’s not really negativity or sadness anymore, it’s more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can’t feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you’re horribly bored and lonely, but since you’ve lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you’re stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is.

with that, i leave you with this panel from hyperbole and a halfDEPRESSIONTWO8.2

letters to friends lost/ letters to friends retained: part two

z,

this will { most likely } never be read by you. i am not sure whether i find that to be a blessing or a hindrance, but i suppose it is what it is.  perhaps it will allow me to share what has been weighing on my heart for the past 7+ years.

i’m not really sure where to begin— when we met? when i first felt utterly hurt/ betrayed? on the reflections i have made since that initial crushing blow? maybe i will begin with the question that has been weighing most heavily on my mind: were we EVER truly friends, or was i just a convenient “accessory friend” to keep around for awhile?

sigh. i am no longer sure what hurt the most. from the very first moment i met you, i felt i had found a kindred spirit. i stood up for you. i fought for you. i had your back when other students questioned your life decisions. i hated all the times that i had to take a backseat to your need to be the center of attention, because i was always willing to let you be, even when i needed it too. it hurt so much when, shortly after i was married { and figured, since you also married young & had many people second guessing your decision, we’d support each other, stick up for each other… } you joined in with all the other skeptics, and singled me out as the reason my spouse was now losing all his friendships. you were supposed to be my best friend! we had lived together, cried together…we had even stood up at each other’s weddings! at the time, though it hurt, i chalked it up to part of your need to fit in with the greater group, to maintain your position as center of attention….and i forgave you.

when i moved away, things got better for awhile. i felt we were repairing our friendship over our phone calls. i listened to all the difficult stuff you were going through at the time, and you listened to me. i figured the long physical distance between us was helping our friendship heal. i was elated.

then came THE INCIDENT. in all truth, i know longer remember the exact details…did you actually send me  a letter or email? or do i just remember it that way??? all i remember is that—out of no where—you made it perfectly clear that you didn’t want to have contact with me. i didn’t understand why at the time. i **STILL** don’t completely understand today. perhaps because of the detached way everything happened from then on???

so you sent me a letter. or email. or neither. maybe our mutual friend y told me everything over the phone.  all i knew is- for the time- or friendship was over. and it was somehow my fault. but i didn’t know why or how or what i had done. i THOUGHT i was being a listener/ support/ true friend but you felt very differently. there were months { maybe even years….it’s rather foggy now } of silence.  what felt like overnight, i went from still considering you my best friend to learning you sort-of hated me at the time. and now considered the aforementioned y your best friend. in fact, you had decided y wasn’t only your new best friend, that the 2 of you were the same person/ each other’s doppleganger.

i hated being cut off from you. i worried about you. i missed you. i didn’t understand what i had done wrong, why you didn’t want me in your life. { to this day, i still don’t know completely }

i moved again. to a new state. the same state & city as y.  everytime you called y, it hurt. everytime i had to hear about you from y, it hurt. and then came the nail in the coffin…i *FINALLY* got an explanation about what had been going on…. from y. because you had given her permission to finally tell me. do you realize just how painful that was?!?!? that you had decided i should finally hear what had really been going on, but you didn’t want to tell me yourself. that your new “best friend” got to tell me. and the worst part is, i still don’t get your reasoning.

that was 5 years ago. since then, i think we have seen each other twice. both times have been…fine. civil. even mildly pleasant. but they are a shell of what we were.

here is what i don’t understand: if you thought i was going to judge you, you clearly never really *knew* me.  the things that “drove us apart”…were all things i said/did BECAUSE i cared so deeply for you. and wanted what was best for you. and was always going to be by your side no matter what. and it kills me that y is now your best friend, not because it isn’t me, but because she is an enabler. TRUE friends are the ones who give “tough love”, but let you still be you….not the people who tell you that anything goes and you can do whatever you want. it kills me that we can’t talk about ANY of this, like it’s some deep dark past we’re supposed to ignore. it hurts me because i sooooo desperately care for you, even today, despite everything that’s happened and i’m so pleased to see the person you have become/are becoming and i have the knowledge that it’s all apparently one way.

i wish, sometimes, i could just write you off. a lost friendship.

when you’re feeling sad & lonely…

…you obviously stop updating your blog. { speaking from experience here }

this last month has been really really hard. i started  this project/blog in an attempt to make progress/move forward in discovering myself and the world around me. but i find myself constantly sliding backwards into old habits and old & destructive mindsets. i know writing about it would be therapeutic, but who really wants to read another woe-is-me-my-life-sucks-will-it-ever-get-better-type blog post? { ironically, some of the most helpful & reassuring posts i’ve read are from people i respect who write honestly about their struggles. so maybe people WOULD read it. hmmmmmm }

i am truly at a loss to express the depths of emotion i’m feeling. how much pain and anger and strife i am currently going through.

i am in desperate need of a miracle, folks. and i am not beyond asking for your help. so if you are reading this { all *two* of you } i need your strength. your prayers. your well-wishes. your spells. your charms. your thoughts. i need to be upheld. i need a miracle.