Into the Darkness: Inside My Depressed Mind

ImageIt’s been dark in here- in my head. Like all my goodness is being hollowed out with a shiny new ice cream scoop. I cannot say why, but my brain dances around the dark. I feel small, angry and raw. The slightest struggle turns me into a ravenous Werewolf and I want to lash out at the world saying, “Take it ALL Back- DAMN IT!- I can’t handle any of it!” The werewolf is desperate to protect the little girl in me. She cries and hides her face. She just wants to be loved, protected and remembered.

I fear I have no idea what it’s all worth. What are we doing this for? Who am I ever going to make a difference with and who really cares anyway? Sometimes, it just feels like I am going it alone. Other times, I just feel like my life is sloughing off like dead skin cells and in my own inability to really SEE, I will wake up one morning, used up and it won’t matter to anyone. No one dares ask the about the darkness in my mind, it scares too much.

I know this will pass and I know so many of these feelings are so far away from truth, but sometimes, it it just looks bleak out there. It is exhausting to appear like we are on top of the game all of the time. And worse, if I ask for help, sometimes it just does not come.

Today, I am disappointed and bruised– chest hurts from the hollowing and the werewolf is raging. I want to walk into the arena full of life, standing on the ground of my values and ready to face the challenges of each moment with the messy, stumbly grace that I call all mine. I want to sit at the silver 50’s diner table, topped with rocks of granite that is the baggage of my relationship, and remain honest, open and forgiving. I want to have faith in people, relationships and communicate that I need, I am flawed and often, I will just plain fuck it up.

But today, I feel lost in the desert. I want to ask Jesus and Buddha (yeah, its a two person job sometimes) to come and pick me up and carry me back home. Tell me that when it hurts like this, it will be better tomorrow- or maybe next week- but it will be better. Remind me that I am broken, but I am on the forever journey toward healing. I will die broken, but it is gonna be a beautiful scar- one that will trace this one precious gift that I have been given- My Messy, Beautiful, fucked up life.

I don’t need an A-men, But Can I get a, Yeah, sometimes- “Me Too?”

 

Be Aware of the Post Holiday Blues

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What leads a person to have the post holiday emotional let down? More importantly, what qualifies as symptoms of an actual depressed state? It is normal, each year, to experience an emotional high anticipating the many aspects of the holidays and regardless of which holidays we celebrate, there is always a sense of excitement and anxiety that will abruptly disappear in January. Some experts report as many as twenty five percent of us will suffer with a holiday let down lasting for a few days to a week with symptoms similar to depression. So often our expectations are not realistic or we have high hopes for repaired relationships that do not materialize and are left with feelings of disappointment and grief. Many experience a high from all of the bustling around in the commercialization of the season the let down is inevitable.

However, only some of these feelings will lead to an episode of Major Depression.

The National Institute of Mental Health reported that approximately 6.7 percent of American people over the age of 18 are affected by depression. These symptoms can include a consistent lack of motivation, unintended changes in weight, sleeping too much or too little, irritability, a sense of helplessness or hopelessness and feelings of suicide (even a vague sense of not wanting to exist qualifies). Most importantly, these symptoms must significantly affect the person’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis. It is very common for a person to report they are “getting by” with the minimum life requirements, yet all other aspects of their life have been neglected by the depression. If many of these symptoms have persisted for two or more weeks, it may be time to seek professional help through therapy and when necessary, medication.

But once the holidays have passed and the emotional let down begins, there are many preventative measures that can be taken to stave off an episode of major depression. One can begin by simply following through with those new years resolutions that are often quickly forgotten. Most importantly, EXERCISE. If ever there was a cure-all, exercise is it! It improves our mood, boosts those happy neurotransmitters that make us feel like “everything will be o.k.”, increases healthy sleep patterns and decreases irritability. These improvements do not account for the additional positive physical effects on the body.

Other important preventative measures include taking time out for ourselves. There appears to be a common misconception that if we make time to do something just for ourselves we are being selfish. Yet, I will consistently argue that it is a farce if we are depleted and continuing to attempt to give to others. Remember, we can not take care of others without first taking care of ourselves.

Finally, a tactic used with cognitive-behavioral therapy, focus on the positive aspects of your life and use that energy to move forward. In what ways could you use this positive energy to begin a new chapter in your life, start a new project or renew worthwhile relationships? Let us be grateful for even the small moments of grace offered in our lives and remain proactive in our self-care to prevent depression.