“All we have is all we need. All we need is the awareness of how blessed we really are.”
– Sarah Ban Breathnach
Hi everyone, and sorry for taking a little while to write again.
Since my last post (Stop Calling BS Your Problems), I got many emails and private messages on facebook to talk more about depression. The people who reached out to me were either going through serious depression themselves or they knew someone going through depression and didn’t know how to help them.
After thinking about things over and over again, and feeling fearful of sharing something I am really not proud of, I decided to open up with all of you. I figured that I could at least make my struggles useful instead of letting them sink into my soul. So what you are about to read here is a part of my story, my truth, and how I was able to see the light after being almost buried – literally – by my very dark side; my darkest side. Hopefully people going through the same thing will be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel as well as hope after reading this post; and maybe some people will be able to identify their loved ones going through depression.
But first of all I just want to remind you that I AM NOT a medical doctor neither a psychiatrist or psychologist. I’m just going to try to help you with what I know from what I’ve lived. So PLEASE, NEVER STOP YOUR TREATMENT ABRUPTLY, AND TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR MENTAL AND/OR PHYSICAL HEALTH. As a Holistic Health Coach, my job is to help you open up and realize things for yourself while I support your every step in life and guide you towards your goals. With this mind, my job does not substitute the help of any doctors and/or therapists.
With that out of the way, let’s keep going: What do you usually think of when you hear someone say they feel depressed? Do you feel bad for them? Do you roll your eyes? Do you even believe them? Do you try to help them?
If you know someone going through depression you will probably worry about that person and will try to be helpful, and every time you do something to help you will always feel like you have failed them.
If you feel somewhat depressed, you will not necessarily worry, but probably will be able to empathize with that person and feel somewhat relived and comforted that you are not the only one feeling that way.
If you are in deep depression, you probably will roll your eyes and will care less about someone else; because you don’t feel the energy to even care about yourself. –> this does not make you a bad person, by the way.
Depression is a disease (DIS-ease) and can even be hereditary. Both sides of my family, including my paternal and maternal grandparents, and my parents per se suffer or have suffered from depression. I never knew that until I realized my mom was taking the same antidepressant pills I was, except that my dosage was much stronger than hers. I thought that fact was pretty interesting and decided to ask her questions. That’s when I found out about my family history on this subject.
Another thing I want to talk about before I get more into it is the symptoms of depression. THEY VARY! Depressed people are not only those people we see in anti depressant’s commercials: feeling blue, down, lacking energy, etc… I was very depressed and only my psychiatrist knew about it for the longest time; not even my family or my ex husband. That’s what is sometimes scary, because we live in a world where people love to judge others. If someone is not smiling, they are grumpy. If your words are short, you are rude. If you smile too much, you are weak. If you are too assertive, you are controlling… have you realized that? The problem here is that when a somewhat depressed person gets judged over, and over, and over again, they sink more, and more, and more into their depression until they become jaded. And that’s the scariest part.
I think that’s why a lot of people who are depressed “lack energy”; simply because they don’t want to face others telling them they should feel this or that way; look this or that way; to impress this or that person. They are just tired of not getting what they have been craving for for a long time… usually love. And before you judge them, hold on: we are talking about THEIR feelings, not yours. It’s about THEIR TRUTH – therefore their reality -, not yours. You may feel like you are the most loving parent, child, friend in the whole world because you have given your child, father/mother, friend the most you could possibly have… – and that is probably true! – but not for them. So get into their heads and understand them from their perspective, if what you want to do is help. When they get out of their depression they WILL realize all your effort, but not while their are living in the dark.
Since I was very little I had many things happen to me that triggered my depression later on in my life, some of which I will not mention here, but some of those things that contributed to my deep depression were: being afraid of my father, not feeling safe, feeling abandoned, watching many people from my family die, wanting to be accepted and failing, not feeling good enough, not looking good enough, not being smart enough, feeling lonely, developing eating and body image disorders, getting married to an alcoholic, being in an abuse relationship… phew! And the weirdest thing to me is that, while I was feeling and going through all of that, NOBODY knew about it but me (and later on, my psychiatrist). One of the most painful moments of my life was a Thursday night that my ex husband had burned me with a cigarette after an argument we had had and I called my family in Brazil. I needed to hear their voices and feel somewhat comforted even though they had no idea of what was going on in my life. After talking to my dad, he said: “I’m so glad that you sound so happy!”. That one comment cut me like a knife, because deep inside I was desperately crying, and my own family could not hear it in my voice.
But that wasn’t my family’s fault. I chose not to tell them. I didn’t want them to worry about me and I guess I did a great job at that, but that made me sink in deeper into my own depression. Do you see how crooked this is? I wanted them to help me, I wanted them to love me my way, and at the same time, I was doing everything under my power for them not to help me, because I chose to not tell them anything.
That’s a depressed person’s mind: we are comfortable where we are at. We feed ourselves with negativity; that negativity bring us down even more, and deep inside we like it, because that’s what we know; that’s what’s familiar, and we are afraid of the unknown.
That’s the reason why when people actually want to help us we push them away. I said this on my last post, but when my family found out about my depression and tried to help me they told me they didn’t recognize me; that I was acting like an animal. And I remember acting like an animal but I didn’t care. I needed to be fed by more and more negativity, and how could my mother dare to try to make me happy and get in the way by throwing me a birthday party at my favorite ice-cream place in Brazil?? No way!! Seeing my family smile and have a good time made me angry, jealous… That same night was the first and last time I yelled at my mom to shut up and threw her out of my room. And she just wanted to love me and was worried sick because at this time I was having to see a psychiatrist 3x/week because I was suicidal.
I can only imagine how hard that was for my mom. And I heard her cry outside my room that night… … …and I did nothing about it.
Doesn’t that sound evil? Not if you are depressed. Actually, if you are depressed being angry is a good sign. (I learned that later on, during a retreat). Everyone should learn about the Emotional Guidance Scale for you and your loved ones to identify if your depression is getting better or worse, so here it goes:
01 – Joy, Knowledge, Empowerment, Freedom, Appreciation, Love
02 – Passion
03 – Enthusiasm
04 – Positive expectation, Belief
05 – Optimism
06 – Hopefulness
07 – Contentment
… going to depression …
08 – Boredom
09 – Pessimism
10 – Frustration, Irritation, Impatience
11 – “Overwhelment”
12 – Disappointment
13 – Doubt
14 – Worry
15 – Blame
16 – Discouragement
17 – Anger
18 – Revenge
19 – Hatred, Rage
20 – Jealousy
21 – Insecurity, Guilt, Worthiness
22 – Fear, Grief, Depression, Powerlessness, Victim
The closer to number 1 you get, the farther from depression you are; the closest you are to number 22, the closest to depression you are. So you can see, for me, feeling jealous, angry, having that uncontrollable rage towards my mom and my family was actually a good sign. But of course most people who don’t know that, jump to conclusions, JUDGE, and only make matters worse. I wish I knew this tool back then and I really hope you use it for yourself and also if you are dealing with someone going through depression.
So how did I get out of my depression?
I have to admit I loved going to the therapist. It helped tremendously to talk to someone. I would go in, talk, talk, cry, cry, cry, talk some more and leave. Then therapy would “stop working” or I would feel that way anyway, and say to myself that the therapist I was seeing was worthless, and then I would switched therapists. And the cycle would start all over again. I probably had about 6 different psychologists and 3 psychiatrists in a period of 8 years. Why do I think that happened? Now that I think of this clearly I can see that it was because I was so depressed that I needed to feel like a victim (number 22, right next to depression): after I told one therapist everything that happened and couldn’t feel like a victim anymore, I needed to go on to find someone else to feel like that again — this was another way for me to feed my dark side.
So in the end, therapy did not work for me because I didn’t want it to for the same reason I didn’t want my family and friends to help me. I was very isolated, had 2 jobs, was going to school full time, and still married.
When my little brother had that mini-stroke I talked about on my last post was when I realized my problems weren’t really problems. That was the first time in many years that I stopped being self-absorbed and cried out for help. I had learned about the Law of Attraction (about being positive and asking for what you want; the more you think about something, the more it will happen, no matter what that thing is), and I decided to put it in practice. Besides praying so much and very often, my mom and I only thought positive thoughts about my brother. If one of us would slip and start crying, the other would remind us to think of healing thoughts, imagining and seeing my brother healthy, laughing, happy, etc. And it worked. Like I said, my brother recovered 100% and I became a miracle believer as well as a Law of Attraction true practicer (is that even a word?? hehe).
From that day on I decided I needed to be grateful… and GRATITUDE is what saved me. Having a gratitude journal is a powerful tool.
When we are feeling upset, depressed, angry, or anything from numbers 8 to 22 in the Emotional Guidance Scale, we hear a lot of people tell us: “Be happy! Change that face!” But how can you become happy if you are feeling sad? Feelings don’t turn on and off like a light bulb… Well, kind of. You can force yourself to be happy all you want, but your happiness will remind you of why you are sad… it’s like the yin and yang. The same thing goes, for example, if you are feeling anxious. I can tell you all day long: “Be calm, relax, stop being anxious”, but that is only going to remind you of the reasons that made you anxious in the first place, and you will go back to feeling anxious again. Do you follow my track of thought?
The only way to get out of this cycle is to feel grateful. Being grateful forces you to shift your feelings around and you become free. Even the light bulb needs a switch to make it turn on and off, and being grateful is that switch. So try this: the next time you are upset about not finding the closest parking spot to the entrance of the grocery store on a rainy day, instead of being all upset and making your blood pressure rise, be grateful that you have a car. Be truly grateful you don’t have to catch the bus on that rainy day. Also, be grateful that the handicap parking spots are the ones closest to the entrance. Being grateful for things that don’t even have to do with your own lives expands our love for others – for people we don’t even know – and that’s an amazing feeling.
The next thing I did was to take care of my body and the way I ate.
When I was depressed I didn’t even remember to eat. I didn’t want to eat and I got angry at people who told me I needed to. I was 12 pounds under my ideal weight, weighting 123lbs (I am 5’7″) and looked like a skeleton. By watching what you eat, even if you are not going through an extreme depression like I did, you take control over your life again. We have (at least) 3 chances every day to nourish and show the care we have for ourselves during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our relationship with foods is THE SAME as our relationship with people — and that is true for everybody, even when not going through depression. I had no friends, was completely isolated, and of course foods also had no room in my life, because I didn’t want people in my life either! Now, if you are not as depressed and have some emotional eating episodes, you are trying to fill in the lack of that friendship or that love with a piece of pie, for example, instead of going after what you really need.
I also allowed my relationship with my ex to take its course instead of trying to save it (I basically decided to save myself), I quit smoking (I wrote a post about it also: “I am a (PROUD) quitter”), and also colored my hair back to the way it used to be — during my worst years I colored my hair black.
With all of these things happening in my life I learned that the most important thing of all is to be awake. We need to be conscious of our behaviors and get help before it is too late. It is OK to ask for help… we are all human beings and everyone of us struggle about something. I learned to ask for what I want instead of being a victim of others and eventually of myself. For example, this past monday was my birthday and my older brother forgot to call me. I am not going to lie, I got very upset about that but I didn’t become a victim of this situation. What did I do? I sent him a text message the day after saying: “Happy Birthday to me yesterday! Yay!! Thank you!! I love you too!”. He didn’t answer that text message, but immediately after sent me a very loving message on my Facebook wall which made me extremely happy. 🙂
If you know you are depressed, please look for help. It’s very hard and too difficult to be in your skin — and that you already know. But don’t lose hope because just like a sunflower who survives snow storms appearing completely dead in the winter, will bloom again and look for the light in the following spring.
For the family and friends of people who are suffering from depression: know that you, your patience, and your love are truly appreciated even when it doesn’t look that way.
The bottom line is we need to love ourselves because only we know what we really need. Learn to ask for what you want. Learn to be grateful for what you have. You are important. Your life is worth it. We are all little kids living in adult bodies. We need love and care. So be the first one to give it all to yourself and love that little kid that lives inside of you to the fullest.
I wish you all much love and peace within.
S2 and Gratitude,
Eminent Health – Choose To Be Healthy
October 23rd, 2013