Depression & Personification
Hello there again! Last time we spoke of anxiety; the purpose, what it’s trying to tell us, why it’s here, and how you know. One of the greatest things that I am able to teach is awareness. Asking yourself, why am I feeling this way, what’s going on? Even if you take something as simple as, last night, I did a meditative exercise with myself and my 2 children (sons aged 10 & 7) and surprisingly even the 7 year old was able to follow though, completely, and at the end of it I was able to realize how tense I was, how tense my shoulders were. The funny thing is that I just had a massage 2 days ago, so something has happened in the past few days that I am carrying that causes the area to feel heavy and full of burden. It wasn’t until I took the time to do the meditation for me to realize how bad it had gotten in just 2 days. We lead a life that’s so on the go, and the last thing we pay attention to is what’s happening to our bodies. Sometimes I have friends or clients tell me that they were so busy at work today that they didn’t have time to stop and eat, or that they have a migraine and don’t know why, or can’t breathe and don’t know why. My last talk with you guys was on recognizing how our bodies tell us that something is wrong, even when everything seems completely normal. We talked about how important that is and why. Well today I want to talk about depression and how they go hand in hand. Depression is also trying to tell you something. There is a misconception that people who are depressed are sad, cry all the time, have a hard time getting out of bed, following through with their responsibilities. Well as the poster child for depression, I can tell you that’s not always the case. I, among other men and women that struggle with depression, often have a more atypical presentation of the symptoms and how they manifest. Ours is more “lets see how much we can overcompensate for the feelings of depression by going a thousand miles an hour” so that we don’t have to stop. Because when we stop, we realize that something is missing, something is wrong, we don’t feel whole. Obviously this is a very generalistic explanation of it but one of the things that I have heard about working with depression and also my studies is how we have these themes that go across our lives that we struggle with. Whether its not feeling good enough, something isn’t right, no matter how hard we try we just can’t seem to get “it”. What is the “it” though? It could be happiness, connectivity, companionship, success, it is different for everyone. It’s that theme that usually triggers these depressive episodes. Today I really want to focus on acceptance. This is something that a lot of people that I work with struggle with. That’s accepting that this is a part of who we are, it’s part of what we struggle with. It’s not something to “get over with” or “get rid of”. For someone that struggles with mental illness, especially depression, it’s not something that we try to wish away, there’s not a magic pill you can take, its a pattern of adjustment. There are steps that we take to adjust and recognize that there will be moments where the feeling comes back. For me, unfortunately, depression is something that I’ve struggled with for my entire life and it’s something that I will have to continue working with for the rest of my life. Now the intensity won’t be as strong, but the more that I work with what happens, the more that I’m aware of the symptoms and what triggers these depressive episodes, the better I will be able to deal with it. The power comes from having the ability to recognize what’s happening so we can have the power to deal with it. It really is no different from other medical conditions. If you take blood sugar for example, someone who struggles with hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, they get to a point where they can recognize signs that their sugar is crashing and they have tools at their disposal to take care of it and get it back to normal. It’s no different for depression. We have to be able to recognize what sets us off, how it feels, recognize that it’s coming and do what we need to do to fight through it. Sometimes it’s like “okay, I see you, I’m acknowledging that you’re there and I’m going to exercise, play music, eat delicious food, surround myself with people that are positive, uplifting, and supportive”. And I’m going to make time to sleep more, to take care of myself. There are other times that I just can’t. Motivation isn’t something that I laugh about, when it comes to my clients. I tell them, motivation is not coming, don’t wait around for it, don’t wait until you “feel like it” because that day is not coming. It is rare that you ever get that spark of inspiration that “I’m gonna go work out and I’m going to feel better” especially if you hate running, like I do. I don’t feel motivated to come to the office early in the morning and get my insurance billed. I don’t feel motivated to go clean up the dishes and make the house spotless. Especially if I’m struggling. It’s not something that just happens, so one of the things that I tell people is that you have to just do it. It gets done because it needs to get done. It’s no different with self care. You have to show up for yourself the way you show up for everything else that’s important in your life, because guess what? You matter. That’s probably the hardest thing to do, the hardest thing to recognize and believe, especially when you’re trapped in another depressive state. So what to do? I want you to sit back, and to personify this state of depression. Sounds crazy, I get it. But I want you to give it a name, an identity, an image. For me, she’s a she, dressed in black, an elderly woman in mourning, a fashionista by the way, because everything about me is. She has a veil over her face and she comes to visit from time to time. So whenever I do recognize that she’s come for another visit, I want to sit down with her, I want to ask her “why is she here? What is she trying to tell me this time?” I want to go deeper in meaning with what led this encounter again. Sometimes healing just comes from that. To be able to see a facet of yourself that you may not even be aware of, that was triggered or missing somehow. For me, my latest adventure with this woman, was a few weeks ago. I feel rundown, so my body feels rundown. I feel like I’m catching something, feverish even though I don’t have a fever. I’m not sick, but this is a manifestation of this physical sense of being depleted. I’m just done. I don’t have a lot of energy for myself after a full day of the babies, work, homework, playtime, and then they are in bed and I am just exhausted. This is a different kind of exhaustion. I recognize that it’s when I don’t want to stay up after the babies go to sleep and read or catch up on my shows. It’s my “me time”, and I love it. But, it’s when I recognize that I don’t want to do these things, that I realize something is up. On top of that, I wanted the new Beauty and the Beast, and I was SOBBING. My poor babies were like “mommy, it’s okay, he didn’t die” and everything is okay in the movie again, why am I sobbing? I had to sit down with “her” when she came knocking again, and ask “okay what is it?”. My life is on point right now, my kids and I are in a great place, we are having fun together, I was able to hangout with some of my friends and catch up on girl time. I was dating someone. My family was healthy. So what was it? Then I realized the 2 things that my brain was picking up from Beauty and the Beast. First, my mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer. It was manageable and the best case scenario in a horrible situation. But it was okay. Second, I was dating this guy, things were going fairly well, but what was the problem? Well, I had just started to have a good relationship with my mom (who is my step mom) for the first time, about 2 years ago. We started to get close, and here I am watching this movie with the kids, and everything is handled, but the thought of the cancer and the whole situation was looming. Her surgery was coming up in the next week. In the movie, she lost her mother and longed for her, and here I am, I finally have that mother and it’s all the sudden being threatened. So there you go. Seems pretty extreme, doesn’t it? Well that’s because it is. Subconsciously, it is a big deal. Once again, my body and emotions are responding to something that’s very deep rooted, but when you looked at it from the surface everything was fine. The second thing, Belle had just found love. Well here I am, 34 years old, longing for a place with a partner that I wonder if it even exists. A place where my heart is full and my soul is understood. Same thing with Belle! I can’t believe I was feeling all of this from a Disney movie, but I was relating to the character and how she was feeling. It was kind of all in my face, hello there woman in black! Knocking on my door yet again out of nowhere. So this is what you’re trying to say. There is no way that I would have been able to get through to all of that, the concept of how im really struggling with my mother’s illness and how lonely I am without a partner, if I hadn’t sat down and taken time to try and understand what my woman in black was trying to tell me. So this is my challenge for you guys. If you are faced with emotions that are more intense than usual, try to see what’s going on. Try to personify the experience and ask it what is going on? What are you here to teach me? Then maybe you can get a better understanding of yourself.