Archive for category Psychology and Mental Health
TweetD* my wise therapist says we all have an inner brat.
Not inner voice. Not egocentric tendencies.
I picture a pigtailed girl, arms crossed, sitting in her closet till she gets here way.
The BRAT in all of us is the warped and self-centered part of our souls that truly believes (despite all the convincing evidence around us) that we, in fact, ARE the center of the universe. And we deserve what we want. And everyone around has us needs, yes, but it’s not nearly as important as the needs of the BRAT.
D* tells me this matter of factly, “Oh you have brat alright. Alive and kicking in there. She’s a live one!” D* seems almost amused at my stories about inner conflict, anxiety, unreasonably high expectations that lead me to feel like a morose failure. I want to release the BRAT on D* herself and watch with popcorn as the BRAT eats her alive and triumphantly holds the DSM-IV above her.
Instead of engaging this fantasy, I tell D* that I am very aware of others’ needs. So much so, that I don’t even see mine anymore.
“Well, that’s why you’re in therapy,” D* says with a kind but self-satisfied smile. “Bigger perspective.”
I suddenly hate *D and all the ways she seamlessly weaves my troubles down to a simple hand held mirror with gentle advice to simply look deep enough into the mirror and I’ll find my answers to my questions.
So, I muse aloud, this BRAT you speak of. Is she someone that I can shut-up or do I have to live with her until I’m dead?
*D is typing away, probably adding a secondary diagnosis to my crazy label. I simply wished she would diagnose me on a MAC instead of an HP. I’m a computer snob and am offended. “Oh, yeah,” she says nonchalantly, making a mark on my genogram, “I suspect you’re going to have to struggle with the BRAT all the days of your life.”
Well, this is encouraging.
Laughter. Only I’m not laughing with her.
“What I mean is, “she tries to comfort me and reaffix her glasses on the bridge of her nose, “you are a person who is high passion, high energy, high creativity. And you tend to think in “if only, if only” mentalities. And your BRAT feeds off of that. So, as long as you are a creative person, you will have to struggle with the BRAT who feeds your tendency to think the grass is greener on the other side.” She looks at me, waiting for my reaction.
So, what you’re saying is that as long as I am ME, a person who creates and thinks with her brain, I will struggle with my inner BRAT who is, by nature, ego centric and whiny?
I knew therapy was a mistake.
*D disagrees, “You’re growing. This is what growth looks like. You revisit the same issues you have struggled with in the past, except this time, you are able to approach it in a different way. I bet you are talking about this much differently than you would have at 22 years old.”
At the thought of my 22 year old innocent yet cocky self, I laugh outloud.
“And I suspect that when you’re 42, you’ll look at this differently, too.”
The thought of aging to 42 years old sobered my giggling. Oh yeah. Growing older. I guess it won’t surprise you when I say that both myself and my inner BRAT are completely NOT EXCITED about being 42?
*D shakes her head. “Not at all.”
I run out of things to say, but *D has not. “I don’t know you well, but I suspect
How many things does she suspect in one hour?
that you have not been able to grasp and appreciate who you really are because you keep listening to that BRAT of yours. When you listen to anything or anyone that focuses your attention on the past or the future too much, you lose focus on the here and now. And the here and now is pretty fabulous.”
The here and now is pretty fabulous.
Perhaps. I’m open to the concept of fabulous, yes.
TweetIn graduate school, I took a class called, “The Spirituality of the Body.”
It was an intense course, and took on the questions of life. The kinds of questions that are so deep, so mysterious that most people gloss over them in regular conversation. Or, in the discomfort with the unknown, find a short-fit answer and tuck it into their packets, satisfied to have to no longer struggle over the unanswerable questions of body and life. It seemed fitting that an entire academic course could be devoted to tackling such formidable questions.
There was a particular class that stands out in my mind that addressed the issue of mental disability. Specifically, we looked at mental retardation, individuals whose brain growth was either stunted or limited in its capacity. The class was confronted with a question: In the context of Catholic faith, how do you explain why some people are born with mental retardation?
It started a discussion that spanned nearly two weeks of class.
We tackled the answers that were passed down from other generations:
There was a sin somewhere in the family line and this is a direct result of that act of disobedience.
There are only certain types of people and families that can take care of someone with special needs and that is why that certain family was hand-picked by God to take care of “God’s special children.”
People with mental retardation serve as a reminder to those who are “normal,” that we are blessed and graced by God, and we should be grateful for those blessings.
People with mental retardation have special struggles in this life because they chose this path before they were born.
Each one was carefully considered at the heart of its meaning and intention and each one was eventually struck down.
It was then that the professor decided to let us know her thoughts. And even though she had finished her graduate work and dissertation at Harvard and taught some of the most distinguished theology on the planet, she offered a very simple reasoning, “Perhaps this is the regulation of life. We are not normal. They are not special. Nor are any people with special circumstances that require extra care for basic function. Perhaps this is the natural course of life. Whatever or whomever life comes from, this is the churning of it. It’s a part of life. There’s nothing to figure out. There is no why. This is – we all are – what life produces.”
I’ve been thinking about that a lot: the natural course of life and how much value and preservation we put into assuring “normal” people in our births and pregnancies and realities. Over the weekend, a close friend V* shared a recent miscarriage from a few months ago. Even though it’d been a few months, even though she had a healthy son, even though she was pregnant again, her and her partner’s eyes filled as they told us the pain and question of what that miscarriage brought them. The heartbeat of new life and possibility simply stopped beating, with no explanation.
“There’s nothing to say,” V* told me. “There’s no consolation, no words, nothing. There’s nothing you can do or say. All I know is that life is so incredibly fragile and the line that separates life from death is very, very thin.”
She went on to tell me what doctors told her about miscarriage: it happens all the time. It’s a natural course of the body. It’s what the body does. It can produce life and sometimes only sustain it for a short period of time. It’s a mystery yes, but is it uncommon, no. The words “natural” “this is what happens” “normal functioning” were used. And while that did not comfort my friends much, it did ring bells of familiarity in my head.
It reminded me of, “The Spirituality of the Body,” and how some of the basic questions of life have no answers and our acceptance or refusal to accept the normality of pain, suffering, death, passing, illness, is entirely up to us when determining our realities. The more we accept, the more peace we find. The more we insist on artificial and superficial definitions of normal, functioning, healthy, productive, worthiness – the more disruption we’ll find in our spiritual lives.
The more we prize able-bodied, traditionally educated minds on two walking, shapely legs, the more we lose in our ability to see life – in its perfection – at every stage and age and state. Life.
I see my son differently because of this reasoning. I don’t see children as small things waiting to grow up. I see them perfectly whole and acceptable as they are. Every inch precious and fitting in the time they are born and in whatever step they are developmentally. When they cry, it’s from a place as real as my need to breathe and feel love. When they laugh, it’s every bit as joyful as when I slap my couch with loud squeals and giggles.
Children are not adult in waiting. They are complete as is, gifts today as they were yesterday and the day before that.
My cousin who is diagnosed with profound mental retardation is not part of a man. Or a sad story. He’s a 28 year old man.
I once had a mentor who said, “Life is sweet as it is short. Life is fine as it is fleeting.”
Like one sip of port wine. Like a faceful of an August breeze.
The longer you wait to accept life as is – as fair and unfair, however long or brief that time is, in whatever condition it is birthed – the more time you spend in the land of wishes and worry, and less in the world of learning and compassion.
TweetWhen I studied Counseling Psychology, one of the most frequent topics of discussion was how to get over that initial hump: getting society to understand that therapy is a GOOD thing and not just for “the crazies” of the world.
Still, I come across the stigma. When you hear that someone is in therapy, it’s as if you can see a small glimpse of their soul and – gasp! – there’s a really difficult issue the person is struggling through. Welcome to life, I say, home to frequently unsolvable problems and deep pain that requires coping skills that may need to be learned through relationships and community.
What’s ironic about the stigma of therapy is that it’s something only REALLY disturbed people do — like people who are fascinated by fire and like to play with matches a little too much, or addicts, or folks who struggle with OCD, or bereavement, or grief/loss, severe forms of bipolar or schizophrenia, or other mental disorders that general society tries to keep in a closet away from us “normal” folk.
Here’s the kicker: there’s no normal. There’s only a continuum of mental wellness and we all are planted somewhere along the spectrum. And we also shift. ‘Cause last time I checked, life is a moving, breathable thing that moves us from one place to another with different experiences, responsibilities, and realities. We’re never the same for too long. Hence, our abilities to cope and find our way through fluctuate with what we’re dealing with. That’s assuming, of course, you are trying to deal. There’s also a segment of the population, *cough* (men), who are socialized to NOT feel, not cry, and smooth out feelings even before they have prickled to the surface our conscious or heart. We all go through times of intense joy and dark sadness. We all move through days, weeks, and sometimes months of overwhelming feelings which are confusing and leave us restless, or unlike our normal selves.
I’m trying to normalize the path for those who think therapy is for “those” people over there. The crazies.
This little illustration may help…
When I was learning the difference between clinical psychology and counseling psychology, I was lost. I didn’t know which one was for me. Clinical psych, in my own words, is for severe cases of mental illness. I’d work with individuals whose lives were interrupted and limited by their illness. Counseling psych took a more holistic view of issues that occur throughout one’s lifespan. That’s a super general way to put it, and there’s a lot more than that, but that’s it in a nutshell.
I’ve been in and out of therapy since 2001 — once I left college and was proverbially on my own. I was navigating uncertain waters of an unconventional relationship and as newly minted college student, tackling severe cases of trauma as a sexual assault advocate. It was through exposure to my clients that I slowly began taking on more of their pain than I should have and the lines between advocate and friend were blurring. A co-worker suggested for me to talk it out. “Talk about what? I’m affected by my work — does that warrant a therapist?”
But the feelings I carried inside me after I met with clients – unresolved anger from closed cases from lack of evidence, chronic helplessness when I worked with abused children – caught up with me until I started looking at every stranger and wondered if s/he was a pedophile, or a sick, twisted lunatic with dark, unconfessable secrets.
Now THAT warrants a therapist.
It was soon after meeting with Bob, a hippy looking kind of guy with a doctorate in social work, that I realized it wasn’t about talking. It wasn’t the chit chat model that I thought it was going to be. It was structured analysis of feelings and behavior through verbal disclosures that started giving me my sense of peace again. I began believing that it was normal and ok for me to take in pain that wasn’t mine, but I must find ways to flush out the toxic and be healthy, be free.
It didn’t come right away. But I came a little closer each week I sat down in front of that massive fish tank and stared at Bob’s beard. He normalized my feelings and affirmed my humanity. Excellent therapist, to say the least.
Even after studying counseling psychology, working in a hospital, doing crisis work, running groups, and conducting and receiving therapy, I still hesitate to disclose that I’ve been in therapy. I’m not ashamed of it – quite the contrary! – but there’s so much stigma, still, attached to the idea of old school therapy that I don’t feel comfortable sharing the latest brilliant insight I had with Counselor_________ .
My therapist friends understand it best. We laugh all the time and talk about our former or current therapist as everyday characters in our lives, like we talk about our partners and family members. “Well, Diane, reminded me that it might be too soon to think about moving in with Dave. I mean, I don’t want to make the same mistakes again..”
And I can’t help but think how amazing that is — how wonderful the world would be and how healthier we ALL would be if people chose to enter into relationships with the objective of reframing their negativity into something constructive and purposeful, evaluating the progress and meaning of their lives and vocations, and strategized ways to deepen their connection to self, God (or whatever one believes in)…and family.
There’s a whole lot of cultural boundaries as well and, believe me, I know firsthand how quick someone is to say, “For WHAT?!” when you share you go to therapy.
What most people don’t know is that their lives, thoughts, and choices can be done with much more freedom and intention when their self-awareness is tightened by the spindle of reflective therapy.
In this world of same old, same old, who DOESN’T need a new way to think and re-invent themselves?
TweetThere’s nothing sexy about pain. There’s nothing even remotely redeeming, glorified, cute, or remarkable about pain.
I came into this realization quite quickly Sunday morning when I was dressing Isaiah for mass. I began lowering him to the floor, felt a horribly familiar pop! in my lower back and I immediately recognized that telling radiating heat that spread throughout my lumbar region as I fell on one knee. Isaiah screamed in my ear as he harmlessly wobbled back from me so he peer into my face to see what was wrong. All he could see was my face going paler by the second and my breath quicken in short spurts and outbursts, trying to control the pain.
No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
Not again. Not again. Not again. NOT AGAIN.
I just got back to the gym this week. I just started getting back on the treadmill, back in the zumba studio, back for my first swim in the pool. I just …
I just got over my back injury from last month.
Remembering my phone was in the inner pocket of my purse, I slowly walked to my purse on the ground and gently leaned forward. I reached and immediately fell and screamed in pain.
I somehow got my phone, I don’t remember how. (A friend told me that when her back went out, she blacked out from the pain.) I remember feeling calmed by the smooth surface of my phone, thanking God it was charged and relieved that Nick was only 5 minutes into his day, ahead of me, and on his way to work. I whispered frantically to Isaiah that everything was fine and threw him a toy as I winced in pain. He hobbled away, whimpering at the site of his mother in such disarray and distraction.
I burst into tears and could barely get the words out to Nick, “My back…w-w-went ou-ou-out a-a-a-gain…”
It was at that moment that I retreated from the world, the pain was overwhelming, almost blinding.
A co-worker told me later she saw Nick walking on the street when he was talking to me, all dressed up for work, briefcase in hand, but in an unusual walking speed, “a near run” she told me. So she stopped and offered him a ride to wherever he was rushing to. “Home,” he said, “Leese threw her back out again.”
It’s hormones, my chiropractor told me yesterday. All the hormones and chemicals that loosen the pelvis and back, readying the body to deliver a baby, are still in your body and, likely, the lumbar region isn’t as tight as it was before and isn’t as strong. Doing household chores and lifting things can sprain, strain, and injure the lower back, says the doc.
All of this from hormones? Still? It’s been 14 months.
Hormones and chemicals can linger in your body, doc says.
A number of friends – all who have given birth in the past two years – have confided of their recent and surprising chronic lower back pain, some so severe that it prevents mobility. Few have found comfort. All have tried natural healing, gym trainers, chiropractors, physical therapists. This strange community of back pain mothers comforts me.
I toss two pills of Alleve in my mouth and tried to smile at Isaiah in the kitchen. He put his chubby arms up for me to carry him and starts grabbing my clothes for leverage, like trying to climb a tree. Nick immediately scooped him up and tries to cheer him up with a jolly, overly boisterous voice. The shriek out of Isaiah’s mouth was one I could interpret instantly, “What’s the matter with you? Why won’t you pick me up?” He’s taken away from me and, out of nowhere, I have an image of him being taken away from me the moment he was born when all I wanted to do was hold him. I shake my head, and gently stir the boiling orzo.
Is this what birthing mothers deal with, I asked my head as I stare at the back of Nick’s body. His is so strong, so solid. Simply clad in jeans and a white tshirt, Nick’s body looked beautiful to me; his wide and capable back seemed fearless. His stride was fluid, like a complicated piece of piano music keyed effortlessly. I look down at my body. A staccato mess of surgeries, stretch marks, and my skin’s opinion of the pregnancy weight gain and loss. I see my scarred belly from three surgeries with another scheduled in the summer to fix an umbilical hernia. My inner eye sees an exhausted and red lumbar region, a weakened lower back throbbing with stubborn stiffness. It strikes me, with almost a pin needle acuteness, that Nick’s body hadn’t changed at all since we had Isaiah. Nick’s body remained intact, with no incisions, no stretches, no torn anything.
I pause in that realization.
His tongue had never mistaken water for metallic liquid. His nose never became so sensitive as to be able to detect the cleaning fluid on the floor of a grocer. His heart ventricles never widened to allow more blood flow. His calves and feet never swelled with unbearable water retention. His chest never billowed with heart burn. His mind never clouded with postpartum depression. His nipples never cracked with pain so deep that his shoulders shuddered. His skin never broke out in rashes. He never vomited from anesthesia or used his foreman to protect a 6 inch abdominal incision against a winter chill. He never had a catheter put in at the same time as a suppository while compressors pumped blood away from his legs. He never had an abrasion in the back of his eye because the surgeons forgot to completely close and protect his eyes before surgery. He never had to take pills to stop, prompt, or control a menstrual cycle. He never felt a flutter of life in his belly or feel the hiccup of a new being inside his womb.
Because he doesn’t have a womb.
Nick did and does everything a parent could possibly do. He transformed his emotions, his life, his commitments, and reformed his schedule to accommodate me and every little thing I needed throughout my pregnancy and birthing experience. He respects anything I tell him or request. Nick continuously and gladly lays in a metaphorical railroad track for me and our son. If that’s what needs to happen, that’s what I will do, he says.
But in the confines of my bed, nursing this near paralysis, when I hear Isaiah’s laughter and Nick’s efforts to keep him occupied, I realize, with ringing clarity something that I could not have known or respected prior to going through it myself: our bodies are entirely different and our needs are entirely different. My body endured all of this and my body cried differently than his. I knew this beforehand, but I never really Knew It beforehand. Maybe my body never really cried until I became a mother.
So this difference between Nick and I exists. It exists as sharp as a paring knife, as real as our love. That difference – that my body changed while his did not – initially sprouted a rocketing resentment against anything him, society, and anyone else that didn’t Get It. It = women’s bodies are a terrain that only we ourselves can travel. It is not for anyone to lay laws upon. It is not to be conquered, violated, disposed, or mishandled. Along with the resentment, I also noticed a widening reverence for my body. From which new life travels, the woman’s body is the canal to existence. It is from our very bones, the calcium of our teeth, the marrow of our own breath that the woman’s body offers and sustains a new being. The woman’s body is the epitome of automated self-sacrifice. It is the ground zero of renewal — if the environment agrees that her life is valuable and the time to recover is respected. We women, we give birth. And we are also born into a new identity and a new body.
Are there two more powerful and daunting words in the English language?
But we women are also prone to set back and injury because of what our spines uphold. Our bellies swell with life and our spines pull back to hold us up and in shape. Sometimes, though, the spine gives way and loses its strength.
Pain, whether it’s the lower back or elbow, or migraine, or menstrual, is a debilitating state of existence. Not because of the physical pain itself. It’s debilitating because chronic or severe pain draws our minds inward, incapable of fully giving of ourselves to anything or anyone else. In pain, I become unlike myself. I don’t unravel. I do the opposite, I am mummified. Most people, but especially me, are social beings. I feel endorphins from conversation, laughter, and intellectual exchange. However, in the confines of a bed and four walls, my spirit goes down. My intellect goes dim and my emotions begin to go dark. Swathed and cast in my own stillness and short breaths, pain dictates my freedom. I no longer care about anything. All that matters is finding a pain-free, mobile existence. Which is why when I check all my social media outlets – email, Facebook, Twitter, newsfeeds, and listserves – I shake my head that the world is celebrating Mardi Gras and International Women’s Day. I wish I had the energy to care. I find all kinds of interesting stuff to read, but before my mind digests in the information, my back spasms again and I nearly drop my laptop in shock.
Pain draws us inward.
So for me, today, the one day (unfortunately) that calls women from all over the world to stand together, I lie in bed, with my eyes closed, waiting for relief. Luckily, for me, I am certain of two things:
patience and writing can be worked on in bed
I do and can stand up for women’s rights and gender justice on a daily basis. But right now, regaining my spiritual and psychological composure after a back injury and remembering the awesome capacity of a woman’s body seems like my fight for today.
Tomorrow it may be something else.
TweetI was recently in California and was taken to wine country. From Ohio – where temperatures were in the teens and ice had sheathed the city of Cleveland – to this, a place of light, color, warmth, and flowing petals in the wind, I don’t know if I had smelled cleaner or sweeter air. And the color! The blue of the sky, the green of the grass, it took me to a calmer place. Cleveland was battling more than just an embarrassing NBA losing streak, I could not remember the last time the sky was not overcast with heavy clouds.
Mental health is a topic that so many of us do not address. It’s one of those topics that carries even more taboo than sexuality. When you’re the one that brings it up, people assume you struggle and no one wants to think their moods, or feelings, or mind struggles with balance.
It’s a ridiculous assumption and expectation; to believe or make-believe that we are 100% in balance all the time. We’re all plotted on the spectrum of mental health. Depending on the conditions of our geography, stress, job, family, and relationships, our wellness fluctuates. And that’s normal. It’s more abnormal, I think, to say that you are unaffected by life, seasons, and sun exposure.
It’s critical to take care of our minds and spirits. It’s critical not only for ourselves, but for those we live with. Just ask Nick.
When I came home from California, I picked Nick up from classes. I hadn’t seen him since I got home the previous night because our schedules didn’t match up. When he got into the car, he saw me and his eyes grew as round as saucers as he exclaimed, “Wow!”
I smiled, “Missed me, huh?”
He stuttered, “Yeah, of course, but, not just that – YOU’RE GLOWING!”
I flipped down the visor and examined my face in the mirror, “I am?”
Nick took my hand, “Yes, you look so alive!”
If and when you can find it, find the sunshine to get you through the winter. Get some sunshine, walk, breathe.
Never underestimate the power of a brief but timely vacation and the benefits of natural sunshine on your skin. And write this on an index card and post it on your mirror, “If winter is here, can spring be far behind?”
Ehrenreich argues that, basically, a little realism and truthful admittance of our feelings when we are dogged by the inevitable harder aspects of life are not only normal, but quite healthy. She talks about her new book which explores the roots of “positive thinking” which hit close to home when in treatment for breast cancer and was advised to “embrace” her disease.
Another insightful and interesting perspective from Ehrenreich that may have me borrowing this book from the library once available.
The one point I would either disagree with or elaborate with Ehrenreich:
For the very depressed person, you’re just convinced that everything is going to be miserable, that you’re not going to enjoy anything you undertake, that you’re going to fail at everything.
There, too, you’re just projecting things. It’s extremely hard to “see things as they are.” It’s a project — we have to consult other people, we get other views, we sometimes have to question other people’s views, but that’s the only way to proceed, and that’s how our species has survived as long as it has.
The anti-deflatable population, those who are absolutely committed to seeing everything rosy, are not positive thinkers. I would argue those folks are in denial. Denial is powerful. It has the capacity to mentally save us from crushing circumstances when we need to focus on something else, like a strategy to survive. Denial is not always a bad thing. Psychologically, denial is a coping mechanism that, when appropriately used in a timely manner, can be extremely effective and helpful, provided you deal and process whatever is troublesome soon afterward.
But that’s not the kind of denial that I’m referencing with this population Ehrenreich is describing. The denial of whole perspective, the denial of seeing the source of pain and unfairness is not positive thinking. It’s intentional self-blindness.
The folks who Ehrenreich speaks of are the classically weak. Those who run from insecurities into big homes and refuse to acknowledge pain. Those who tell laid off workers to have a better attitude or say that cancer is “a gift.” I don’t believe those are positive thinkers. I think there can be redemptive strength and epiphanies that come from suffering, as many cancer patients attest, but, I tend to agree with Ehrenreich on this point: How about a little realism?
The world is a living paradox. It is filled with peace and injustice, good and bad, healers and killers, miracles and tragedies. Those who actually see this, those of us who are see BOTH sides of humanity and still see hope, those are positive thinkers. Those are the visionaries who have walked through the caves, curse at the darkness, hate the stench of oppression, identify the causes of crises, and STILL, despite all of that maintain some sort of decent, whole, and active existence in the world. Those are positive thinkers.
It’s not to the lengths that she describes in her cancer treatments, but I think of my own experiences with “positive thinkers,” or people who don’t want to hear the hard knock truth of our emotions when faced with crisis or even severely stressful situations.
I cannot begin to count how many times I have tried to discuss certain fears I have about delivery, about becoming a parent, or even about the plain Jane pain that will take over my body in a few short months when I give birth. To which most people automatically direct me to “think about the positive parts of this! You’re having a baby!”
There is no minimizing the miracle or joy I experience on a daily level because of this new life. There is no way to diminish the unparalleled brilliance of what is transpiring in my body right now.
At the same time, there is still an abiding anxiety that I neither reject or ignore. It is part of the REALITY of my life, this experience. To project PURE positive thinking is to deny a reality which can be very much part of a positive gift later on, but for now, the deep anxiety and concern I have over the H1N1 vaccine, developing gestational diabetes, traumatic birth, birth defects, and overall, what kind of parent I will be are all so very real and scary.
But everyone loves to talk about the positive parts, the hunky dory pieces of nursery talk and baby land.
To “see things as they are” is, indeed, a rare perspective these days.
TweetWhen a person is in therapy, there is a dismantling of problems that occur. From the dismantling, one can see connections between problems, the depth of rootedness, and what is springing forward in new vines.
When a person is in therapy, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Therapy, contrary to popular belief, is not being told things will be alright. Therapy is being told things are, actually, quite NOT alright and the sole holder of misery and also power to change the course of misery is yourself.
Depression can show itself in many forms, in many waves, and in many frequencies. I do not have clinical, postpardem, seasonal affect, or manic depression. I have the depression that comes in surprises, at night, when the fullness of the day is over and I am left to think about what I did or did not do. The kind that couches me and makes me think of all the things I’d rather be doing: traveling, photography, writing, and yoga when I must be doing other things. This morning, I woke with a feeling of dark glum; buried in feelings of nothingness, apathy, irritation, and profound sadness. I do not know why.
I don’t want to “feel better,” I want to live better. Living better, for who I am today at 27 years old, means I will take reasonable control of what I can in my life and CHOOSE to fight. Self-indulgent thoughts can include over-brooding your life and problems. I CHOOSE to limit my self-indulgent thoughts and move forward. I CHOOSE to move forward in my controversial family, my evolving with bumps along the way marriage, my No Through Way job and limited access to my soul friends who live so far away.
If there is one thing I got from therapy, it is that we must BUILD into our lives what we want to get out of it. You want joy? You must build joy into your life. You want comfort? You find comfort and build its accessibility into the seams. I want health. I must build health.
Moving from the margin to the center of your own life is taking life in your fist and refusing to let go. I refuse to give into depression. As I found a delightfully open and fortunate parking spot this morning, I glanced at myself in the rearview mirror and saw a fierce woman I remembered. I told her and whatever was looming inside this message, “You gotta come at me with more than that. I don’t back down. I’m more than this.”