Self Care

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Depression Does Not Discriminate


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Depression is something I have been experiencing for a long time now. I believe for me it showed up in middle school and has followed me into adulthood.

The first signs started in middle school,  when I first learned that my parents really fought and that my dad was and abusive man. To top it off I was dealing with changes my body was going through and the new found weight of societal expectations for teenage girls; what it meant to be beautiful, intelligent, and valued as a female.

But it wasn’t that big of a deal… right? Everyone deals with this stuff.

By the end of grade 10 my grades started to reflect a significant decline. I was tired all the time, had a hard time focusing on homework at home. This was out of the norm for me. I was a curious kid and always enjoyed learning. Despite the changes I still managed to keep up with AP classes, Varsity sports and Choir. I was an involved kid. I like it that way. The less time I had to spend at home the better. No big deal. Normal teenage stuff… right?

Slowly though the things that mattered to me all became muted, lack luster and lost meaning. I found myself being associated with descriptives like “lazy” and “fat” from family. But I didn’t see myself like that at all. I was trying… it just wasn’t showing for some reason. I became a source of frustration for my parents because they couldn’t figure out why on earth I couldn’t get my act together despite having everything I could possibly need handed to me to be happy and successful.

And I couldn’t figure it out either. Why was it so hard to just do it (Nike swoosh). I knew I was more than capable in many ways yet all my energy seemed to be drained by trying to be ready to be ready.  I would try to reason with myself (even up until a few years ago) by citing all the opportunities and support I have received through out my life from friends and family. But it would only frustrate me and fuel the torch that I was carrying that I did not have a valid or good enough reason to be depressed. I couldn’t be depressed. That was something that only happened to the weak of mind… right?

It became a vicious cycle that never led to any improvement. And to make matters worse people close to me fueled that flame further by re-iterating the “facts”. That I had no reason to be depressed. I was too “strong” and had so many cushiony things to be thankful for.

I don’t blame them for giving me bad advise though. People just didn’t know better. Honestly, most still don’t because it is the same mindless advise handed down to them. Although there is a shift taking place, most people are not being educated on mental health.

Till this day, as an adult that struggles with depression, I hear this misinformed advise pop up in conversations often. It usually takes form in the guise of a well intended pep-talk. ” Don’t be silly. Look on the bright side! You have so much to be thankful for (insert job, car, house, etc.) You just need to work a little harder, be more motivated or stop being so sensitive.”

Really? Its maddening. For many different reasons. But the main reason is that there is this pervasive notion that someone has to reach a subjective standard of being in a truly shit circumstance to be worthy of being able to feel or be depressed. Furthermore if you manage to jump that hurdle you better be prepared to jump another one to get over the stigma associated with seeking help for it. And if you don’t meet the subjective acceptable levels of being in a rough spot then be prepared to dawn the label of being a drama queen, someone that doesn’t take ownership or just being plain lazy.

Look I’m not advocating for depression to be a scapegoat for individuals who happen to be carriers of the not so great attributes listed above. But there is a difference between being plain lazy and being depressed. It may or may not be so obvious at times;  but thats were the aid of your friendly mental healthcare practitioner or simply spending time researching the topic would come in handy. Mmmk.

We don’t question someones validity to be sick when they are diagnosed with a cold or especially with something like cancer. So why do we question them when they are experiencing a form of psychological illness? It makes no sense.

Colds and Cancer don’t discriminate. Neither does depression.

It doesn’t matter what your socio economic class is, how tall you are, what color your skin is, what your age is, what your sex is, what car you drive or what your home mortgage costs every month. Depression can happen to anyone. It is not some right you have to earn to be justified in experiencing it. It just happens.

You are allowed to feel it, talk about it, and most importantly seek help for it no matter who you are or what your life circumstance is.

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THE UPSIDE OF BLUE


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I really do believe that I AM an optimist at heart. However, sometimes it gets really hard (like really hard) for me to remember that. Especially lately. And I know I’m not the only one.

You know that feeling you get when you pull yourself out of the dumps? It’s a pretty good feeling right!  Do you also remember giving yourself a celebratory pep talk that went something like, ” I will never let myself come to a time like this again!” Fast forward a few years and here you are again in a similar circumstance and a similar mindset. Now your back to the bottom of Sisyphus’ hill.

Well my friend I’m here to tell you it is A-Okay! I mean I know it doesn’t feel like that, but that’s kind of  the point. Let me explain.

After years of scolding myself for letting myself get down, I recently realized something.  Contrary to popular advice of pushing through, sucking it up, and essentially ignoring my feelings because they were just a form of weakness that I needed to push through like a cross fit work out: I have arrived at the conclusion that it is OKAY to FEEL sad. In fact it’s more than okay, it’s actually probably helpful and maybe even necessary. I know, I know.  You are probably thinking “what gives lady? How is being sad helpful? Clearly you must be abusing Valium or have never really experienced a crap life circumstance.” While neither of those are true… I understand the knee jerk, eye roll response. I had the same reaction. But hear me out.

As annoying and debilitating as the emotion of “sadness” is, don’t you think it too deserves a silver lining? Think about it. What purpose does sadness serve? I don’t believe that it is some perfunctory creation of our biology or consciousness. Everything in nature and its very design (which we are a part of) is amazingly efficient and highly organizational. Meaning that every thing and being and all of their cells have an efficient purpose and function. So why would our biology be any different? Assuming that emotions arise from biochemicals, why would they be an exception to the rule? And even if emotions aren’t created biologically,  but rather come from some other part of us that we are not able to yet measure, they still function within our physical-ness (…biology). My point is we are not an exception to the highly organized and efficient nature of nature. See what I did there eh eh… Anyway my point is that we are not above it all. We too are nature. And somehow we as a species have forgotten and/or may have been actively fighting this fact. But why?

Really though…WHY?

You see it takes way too much energy to produce emotions for me to believe sadness is just this storm of nonsensical neural activity driven solely by potentiality based on a meaningless influx of neurotransmitters generated by chance reactionary circumstances. Yeah.

What if our emotions, good and bad, are the equivalent to one of our other senses and not just residual from a reactionary process. Acting as feelers for when we are in alignment with what we essentially want to create and experience. For example, we use our other senses to help us navigate the world to either move towards or away from what we perceive to be good/bad, pleasant/unpleasant, safe/unsafe experiences. So perhaps our emotional states serve the same purpose and then some, creating a bridge between the physical and the inner mushy place(aka. soul, inner being, energy).

Now I’m examining sadness specifically, although I do suppose our many other emotions would serve us in the same way as well, but sadness is a quirky little feeling. People mostly find it annoying and it kind of gets neglected on the list of emotions to be grateful for. But what if it’s just misunderstood. What if it’s purpose is to let us know when we are creating or trending toward an overall emotional state that we may not be in alignment with. What if sadness isn’t so much a reaction to an event we just experienced but rather a reaction to the emotional reaction we feel to said event… still with me?

Let me break it down. Say for example you have a goal to lose X amount of weight before a tropical vacay because you plan on feeling fabulous in that super cute bikini that has been stalking you on IG. But then all of a sudden you feel like time decided to slingshot you to a week before the trip and you are no more fit then you were at the start. You start to feel uneasy, anxious, and maybe even resentful toward yourself for not having the will to get it together like you said you would…and now you feel sad. You think you feel sad because you’re not going to look like that IG model did in that bikini or because you essentially failed to meet a goal you had set for yourself. But what if the sadness was actually being generated in response to the negative self-talk and negativity you are creating for yourself in that moment. What if that is your inner beings way of telling you, “Hey! We are starting to go down a path that we don’t want to. A path far away from the truth”. And the truth is you are fabulous and you have a choice to feel amazing in that bikini regardless of how much you weigh. The truth is you are already whole perfect and complete and now you are forgetting that… and perhaps that is why you are feeling sad now. Because you are out of sync with that little inner voice that is a relentless cheerleader for all things made of rainbows,glitter, and cotton candy clouds.

What if we stopped fretting about the inevitable negative emotions, like sadness that we WILL experience, and embrace them instead as a hint or sometimes strong nudge trying to point us in the right direction. And by embracing them we can stop running from them. We can start recognizing the power behind them and learn how to utilize it to move forward instead of getting stuck in a ditch that we keep digging deeper. And if we stop for a second, then maybe we can collect our thoughts for a moment, that may just lead to a foot hold that we can use to pull ourselves out. And then maybe,just maybe we can start feeling better much sooner.

Now I do recognize there are major life events such as the loss of a loved one or a major tragedy that hits us out of no where. And naturally we feel sad at those times. How does this theory of sadness fit in here? Honestly, I am not entirely sure. Mostly because it’s hard to wrap this up in a neat explanation in the face of a tragedy and the ungodly things that people face everyday. So for now I will humbly say I don’t know. And that’s okay. Because really no one knows. We are all just trying to figure it out using our feelings mostly because logic kind of floats away when it comes to comprehending the big why’s in life. No one really has the rules or the answers to this game.

I realize this may sound overly simplified. However, it’s worth a shot trying on a new perspective even if all the details aren’t figured out ahead of time. Maybe somethings can only be revealed to us by the perspective we gain from participation and not from the sidelines.

Either way it’s an interesting thought.

✌️❤️

Elysianish