"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world,
the master calls a butterfly."
- Richard Bach
Well here the hell I am again.
I don't know why I have had such writer's block for so long but dammit I love to write and I love to share and yes…I am giving this ANOTHER go.
And I'm only prefacing this post with this AGAIN because I know I have exclaimed "I'M BACK!" about 347 times of late…or not so of late if you will…but life happens and mine has been busy.
So here's the low down peeps.
Admittedly, I am very good at giving out all the great motivational pep talks and inspirational quotes and yadda, yadda yadda…but lately I have not been very good at following my own advise.
It's now April, 2016 and things have been busy - as I said - but off balance.
Depression and anxiety have reared their ugly heads again and here I am in one of the places that I often find solace - The Hugging Home.
So what am I gonna talk about today?
I'm gonna talk about how it's OK.
I know many of you out there are struggling too - and I want you to know you are not alone. I know I have written about this before on several occasions - but the conversation needs to continue.
The stigma of mental illness needs to stop.
Fuck I hate that term.
Why do I hate that term? Because of the stigma attached to it.
Many people hear it and visions of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" pop into their heads.
"Mental illness" as a term, has been very closely knit into the fabric of our language along with words such as "crazy" or "nuts"…and ya know what?
It's not true and it's not fair.
Now please don't get it twisted sister. I'm crazy. I'm a total nut-bar. But not in the "I'm going to grab a weapon of mass destruction and go postal at the local mall" kinda way.
I'm crazy as in "kooky. I'm a goof-ball. I have an off-side and very sarcastic sense of humour and it is one of the things that I really like about myself quite frankly.
Part of the problem is that "mental illness" is such a broad term. Do the rare people who go out and commit heinous murders suffer from mental illness?
But the majority of us who struggle with mental illness are not psychotic. We are not dangerous (although let me be clear that depression can be very dangerous in some cases. Suicide is an epidemic and it's main root cause? STIGMA!!!)
And this is why I share.
The majority of people who struggle with depression and anxiety are high-functioning, are often very bright and tend to be highly sensitive.
Sometimes to a fault.
And by that I mean that many people give and give and give and give and then suddenly realize that they have nothing left to give.
The well runs dry and then we feel as though we are dying of thirst.
Women are especially prone. (Not to say that men do not suffer. I know MANY men who struggle with depression and anxiety - as do you. And their struggles are just as real and as difficult as those of women. But being a woman - and a mother - and a single mother at that - I am sharing MY story. I simply don't want to discard or diminish the struggles of those who are not in a situation - or of a gender - that is not mine).
I am incredibly hard on myself. I take a lot of pride in being a good mother, a good employee, a good friend, a good partner to my boyfriend…and just a good person in general.
But the standards I set for myself in my head are often based on the chaos of what I see and hear beyond myself and what I do. Someone else is always "doing a better job" at any of these things. In my head, I am often telling myself that I am NOT a good enough mom…that I am NOT a good enough employee…that I am NOT a good enough…well…you get it.
My negative self-talk does not end there. I'm not skinny enough. I'm not pretty enough. I don't make enough money. My house is not tidy or clean or big enough. I could go on but I think this is enough to make my point. (Or is it enough?)
Clearly…the main message in my head is that I'm just not good enough. And no matter how "good enough" I actually am (because I philosophically know that I am)…my brain distorts this truth and it makes me anxious because no matter what I do, I can always do BETTER.
Now there's a fucking word and a half.
I'm a Virgo so this is classic. But I was that student in school who would get 98% on a test and instead of being proud, I would stew about the 2% that I screwed up on.
And just as yet another aside - I want to be clear that I put this pressure on myself. Some people become this way because they are endlessly criticized by others - like their parents for example - to be perfect.
I was - and am - lucky that I am not that person. I was encouraged by my parents to try my best and work hard - like any responsible parents do - but even they would have to remind me to put things into perspective.
They still do.
So I've gotten to the point - again - to where I've run myself into the ground by not giving enough care to MYSELF.
And it's time to make a shift.
I have not yet totally figured this out. Far from it. But I know I need to be as kind to myself as I try to be to others. I need to give myself a break.
I need to take time to feed my soul.
Mind, body and spirit.
So this is a start. Writing feeds my soul. Being creative is like water to me - I NEED it. I also love to perform and have not done that in many, many years (unless you count drunk karaoke in which case…well…never mind.)…and so I am looking into finding an outlet for that again.
I am still learning to find the peace and joy in being alone.
And by alone, I don't mean not having close relationships - because I have lots of those. But I need to be more at ease with enjoying solitude when my boys are with their dad and when I am not with my boyfriend and when I am not with friends.
I lived so long trying to be the perfect mom and (former) wife and employee that I slowly but surely lost myself along the way. I sacrificed my own needs and happiness to try and please everyone else.
And that is what I need to change.
I have made some progress over the years and for that I am proud of myself (when I am thinking logically - which is not so easy for me apparently).
I left an unhappy marriage despite having three beautiful sons (who their dad and I are co-parenting quite successfully - when I am thinking of it logically - which is not so easy for me apparently).
I have taken steps to move my career back up to a level where I can feel challenged and stimulated (so far this is a work in progress - but I know I will get there - when I am thinking logically - which is not so easy for me apparently).
A few years ago when I was going through a similar bout of depression and anxiety - I finally took hold of my health after getting pneumonia and finding out my body was physically wearing out. So I changed the way I was eating and treating my body by taking the time to take better physical care of myself - and it helped me tremendously. And again…I know I can do that again - when I am thinking logically - which is not so easy for me apparently.)
I'm a critical, decisive and logical thinker in the workplace - but personally - well…apparently not so easy.
I think I've made my point. (Oh but have I made it well enough??)
And I bet if you are suffering from depression and/or anxiety you are hard on yourself too.
Way too hard.
I remember when I went through depression and anxiety as an adult for the first time. I never thought I would get through it. I was never suicidal (thank God) - but I was a mess. But I DID get through it.
And because of my past experiences I know I will prevail once again. I just need to work on how my brain processes and reacts to situations. I need a re-boot. A cleanse.
I need to shed my skin like a snake.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!
If you are one of the millions of people struggling with depression and/or anxiety in silence - please see you doctor. Reach out to a friend.
You are not a burden. You are a human being.
You're worth it.
And when I'm thinking logically - which is not so easy for me apparently - I know I am too.