Today is my first blog post about how I’m living (not suffering) with depression, anxiety and addiction. It's really a follow-up to a video challenge I posted on facebook. You can see it here: http://on.fb.me/1DuqhgG
Here’s the thing I want to share with you about living with chronic mental issues.
You MUST be a warrior.
You MUST fight your way through this.
You must SAVE YOURSELF.
You need a tribe that understands you, BUT if everyone in your tribe is sleeping, on vacation or busy, you need to be able to PULL even the tiniest of movement out of yourself.
If you’re like I am on many days, it’s a feeling of being a little inwardly inspired, but no energy, motivation or interest to put ANYTHING into action. You have the motivation in your mind to go and do something, but you can’t get you to MOVE. You’re stuck. You’re covered in a cloak of darkness, but you can see light, you know it’s there.
:: Get to where the light is ::
About a year ago, I went through one of my worst sober depressions ever.
I had moved my business from one city to another. After we got all settled in, I developed a rash. A blistering, spreading, crazy painful rash. On my face, hands, arms… I’m a massage therapist. You can see how this would kinda suck.
Long story short, it got worse. I got so depressed. There was a LOT going on in my personal life that certainly contributed to the depression. All that was reason for anyone to be depressed, but this was different.
This depression was HUGE. Ugly. Dark. No light. Just pitch black darkness.
I couldn’t see the purpose of staying sober or even living. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to live this way either.
I took an extended leave from my business. Over 6 months to be exact. My business that I had spent most of 7+ years obsessing over. I lived, ate and breathed my business. Suddenly I just didn’t go in. I was glued to my bed. I’d go days without a shower or brushing my teeth. I ate crap. I quit counseling, because it was too hard for me to show up. I watched endless hours of shows on Netflix and Amazon….HOUR after HOUR. Day after day.
I would come in at 5 am to collect money and write out checks to the staff. That was about it.
Fast forward a few months, one of my “key” massage therapists that worked at my office told me she was leaving and going to work somewhere else.
What am I going to do? What’s going to happen? Everything is already in the toilet, now I just need to flush it?
I decided this.
Do one thing to save yourself.
But what one thing? I had a zillion things I needed to do. Find a new therapist. Talk to my landlord. Tell my other therapists I might be closing the business. Tell them what’s been going on with me… Massive marketing to get new clients coming in. Taxes. Bookkeeping. Cleaning the office. The list was 2 pages long of what needed to be done. All by me.
I’m in BED. How can I do this from bed?
I had choices I needed to make. Fast.
Do I let it all go? Let myself sink even further into depression? Just give up?
My mind raced. What! How? Can I? Will I? I don’t want to….I can’t. I don’t have the energy. I’m so sad, I’ll cry whenever someone sees me.
What do I tell everyone about where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing?
I dreaded all the questions. Are you better? Is your rash gone? What’s happened?
I’m in BED. I can’t move. I can’t think well enough to even remember where my hairbrush is.
PLUS I gained over 30 pounds. Nothing fit me…
Here is my ONE THING that got me out of bed.
I promised myself to get out of bed and show up at my desk in my office. Period.
Just one thing.
I did that. I cried (bawled) most mornings. It was SO HARD. I often pulled into my office parking lot just crying my eyes out.
How am I going to do this?
I went to the office. Shut my door (with a sign that said “do not disturb") and sat and looked at my computer. Sometimes I napped on my couch. Yes, I have a nice comfy couch in my office.
Just one thing.
That ONE THING led to one more thing. One more thing. One more thing.
Within a few weeks I was interviewing therapists + seeing massage clients again. Many one more things stringed together makes for getting things done.
The next month I reached out to a friend who had no idea all this was going on, and asked if she wanted to get together to walk with me. She did. We walked. (one more thing)
Here I am now. Still on the mend. I still have to put on my “mental” warrior outfit in the mornings.
Honestly, today was one of those "one thing" mornings after that video debut. I felt (self) exposed, hyper-self critical and like crapola.
I’m working on my overall wellness day by day. Nutrition. Emotions. Relationships. Fitness. Business. Life purpose.
:: I’ve come to learn that depression isn’t always a serotonin deficiency.
:: I’ve come to learn anxiety isn’t always too much caffeine and “generalized”.
:: I’ve come to learn that our addictions are often here to protect us.
Here are a 10 “one things” you can do right now to move yourself out of stuckness:
Clean out ONE drawer, your handbag, or the fridge.
Wash + DO your hair.
Paint your toenails a color you wouldn’t normally pick for yourself.
Sit in silence for 10 minutes. Breathe in “I am”. Breathe out “at peace with myself”.
Do 10 jumping jacks or squats or push ups.
Sit in the sunshine. Feel the radiant rays filling your cells with healing energy.
Walk barefoot in the grass and feel the grass under your feet.
Look outside of yourself. Go to another room in the house and really look at it from ceiling to floor. Wall to wall. Take in every thing.
Get a pan or bell or whatever you have that makes noise and go from room to room in your house and make some noise. Change the energy of the room.
Call a friend and talk or write about (at least) 3 GOOD things that you’ve done in your life and that you’re grateful for.
Here are a couple of more “adventurous” ONE THING’s to do:
If it’s raining, go outside and get wet. Feel the rain. Feel your aliveness. Fel the rain washing off the darkness inside of you. Dry off when you get inside though.
Volunteer at an organization that needs your help. Pet sanctuaries, homeless shelters, food pantries, senior centers, and hospitals… Helping others helps us help ourselves.
Take a yoga class. Yoga helps you embody your body through breath and movement. It takes you out of your “mind” and into your body + spirit.
Take a nature walk. Nature heals. Period. HUG A TREE. It helps. Pick up a rock and really LOOK at it. Feel the earth as you walk. Give thanks.
Take an art class. Art is prayer. Many local chain art stores offer very low cost art classes.
Make a mandala. Mandalas focus your thoughts to the task at hand. The colors and shapes are all up to you.
Go to Udemy.com and take a class. Something easy, yet fun. Not something you “should” be doing… There are lots of free options about happiness there.
I have a LOT to share with you about living (not suffering) with depression, anxiety and addiction.
A note on “non-supportive people”: If you have people in your life that tell you “why aren’t you happy?” “What’s wrong with you?” “Stop crying, be strong, and get over it”. RETHINK those people being in your life.
You need support, while still being a warrior. Not someone telling you how worthless you are when you’re already feeling that way on your own.
This is hard when you’re depressed. You think you deserve someone treating you like that. You think that is all you will ever have.
It’s not true. As you get better, you’ll understand. I did. That’s a whole other blog topic, but I needed to throw it in here, because it matters.
That's it for today...
I’m excited you’re here!
Till next time.
Stay in the light.
IMPORTANT SIDENOTE: When you’re in the midst of an acute depression, every (attempted) little move you make feels like you’re in quicksand, going deeper and deeper into the darkness. With this kind of depression, please seek medical help ASAP! Don’t delay. Here’s the number for someone you can talk to right now! If you’re in immediate need of help call 911.
Here is another resource if you need some help now:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
For hearing and speech impaired with TTY equipment: 1.800.799.4TTY (779-4889)