depression

FROM THE GROUND UP: GROWING INTO MY PURPOSE

I was lost. A child born in the summer, now living as an adult stuck in a perpetual state of winter. My fire was out. I had not one drop of desire to continue living. Depression had sucked the energy and happiness from me, anxiety sat heavy on my chest with its claws of tension clasped tightly around my throat, my body and head screamed in pain; I did not want this to be my life. I was tired, defeated and clinging on for the sake of the people who love me. My final straw was not being able to go to work and do what I loved. Migraines were becoming more frequent and debilitating, and my anxiety could not take one more conversation with my boss about why I could not come in when my head felt like it had an axe buried in it, and even the faint glow of my cellphone had me crawling to the toile...

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT: DEPRESSION IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY

“You’re just having a bad day.”  This was only one of the responses I got when I tried to open up about my depression. For so long I had kept it hidden, but finally, I was ready to talk about it.  During my freshman year of college, I started to feel these sad, negative feelings. There were days where I didn’t want to get out of bed, days where I felt like I had no purpose. I didn’t like these feelings and as much as I tried to suppress them, they only got worse. At the time, I was in a not-so-great relationship, constantly arguing with my roommate, and school started to feel like an unpaid chore. Yet, I still asked myself, “What do you have to be sad about?” Unfortunately, that’s how depression works. It makes you feel bad that you’re having these feelings in the first place.  Because of ...

DEPRESSION AS AN EXTROVERT

I’m an ENFJ. For those of you not familiar with what that means, it’s a personality code, and I happen to have the same one as Barack Obama. Future President alert? Among the many things that each letter stands for, the one letter I’m focused on for the purpose of this post is the ‘E.’ My ‘E’ stands for Extrovert. Now, as a Gemini and a naturally outgoing person, this diagnosis doesn’t surprise me. For those of you that have known me just for 30 seconds, it shouldn’t surprise you either. I consider myself the life of the party and the leader in professional and personal settings. Being an extrovert comes naturally to me. What this personality code doesn’t tell you, however, is that depression hides in the ‘E’ diagnosis...

“I DON’T WANT TO LIVE ANYMORE”

I DON’T WANT TO LIVE ANYMORE! (Can you even handle your truth?) Sound familiar? It was more than familiar to me. It had crept into my thoughts many times in the seven years prior and popped up on numerous occasions later. I was just a month shy of my 21st birthday. I should have been thirsty and eager to show the world who I was, but I was so far from it I may as well have been in another dimension all together. Some days were so dark that my heart and head both hurt so much; it was suffocating. I just wanted to f***ing run, from life and myself. I felt dispensable and like every corner held some kind of pain. I had no self worth or hope for a future free of hurt. I didn’t think I would ever have the strength to be the mother my two beautiful children truly deserved. I honestly...

DEPRESSION AND ME

And it’s back again. The heaviness. For me it comes as a surprise. I never seem to see it coming. It’s like I’m on a stage and the trapdoor opens. I fall only to be submerged in a huge tank of water and there I am swimming with my clothes on. Wondering how this happened. Why is it so hard to swim to the top and grab a breath of fresh air? I’m angry that I didn’t recognize the signs. I am exhausted from swimming. I am tired of trying to fight for air. The people in my life are on the outside of the tank watching me. “What’s wrong?” – “Why can’t you swim to the top?” – “How did this happen?” – my eyes glaze over because all I can think about is swimming to the top and I don’t have the energy...

SPIRITUAL AWAKENING: MY JOURNEY TO OVERCOMING DEPRESSION AND ACHIEVE REAL SELF-LOVE

In August of 2005 I asked God to take my life. I was hit with an intense longing for meaning a glimmer of joy and some kind of relief. I wasn’t suicidal, I would not have harmed myself. But I did want out of my personal pain. In total despair, I sobbed and flung myself onto the bed; my body trembled intensely. What happened next was a mystical out of body, near-death-like experience where I thought God was answering my prayer to end my life. My Near-Death-Like Experience was the end of the old me. I felt as though I’d melted into the bed and an immense feeling of inner peace overtook me. Shaking, crying, and desperately praying for relief, I suddenly saw and all-consuming, intense white light. Confused thinking the sun in Cannes couldn’t possibly get any brighter, I squinted, trying to fin...

LET’S TALK ABOUT SUICIDE

When Kate Spade took her own life, my Twitter feed was on fire with opinions. There was sympathy…but there was also judgment. People were shocked, wondering aloud how she could be so selfish, leave her family behind, and on and on. I bet that Kate Spade thought she was doing her family a favor. She wouldn’t be a burden to them anymore. Not even a week later, Anthony Bourdain took his own life. I wonder if he was thinking the same. I have personal experience with depression and suicide. I have attempted it; the first time at age 14, but I have a better support system now and feel stable. When I was in the black hole of depression, I felt that I would be doing everyone a favor if I didn’t exist. They wouldn’t have to deal with my moods, feed me anymore, listen to my problems. I wouldn’t have...

I AM ENOUGH

Oh, there’s that bothersome underlying belief that I am not enough again . . . Where does that belief come from? It comes from realizing as a small child that you would never be enough to fill the holes of the people around you. This belief does not just creep in and come from dysfunctional homes. It comes from all homes because guess what? We are all raised by human beings and humans are a messy species. We learn from a very young age of what we need to do to fit in and find belonging in our homes, communities, and the world at large. Mine took on the qualities of perfectionism, people-pleasing, and silence. I was the quiet child who made sure everyone around her was happy and felt seen, heard, and understood. Then I was the star runner, dancer, and student. That is how I found my belongi...

MY THREE YEARS ON THE COUCH

It all started when I read Sue Monk Kidd’s book Traveling with Pomegranates: a mother-daughter story. In the book she mentions that just 18 months before, she had ended seven years of Jungian analysis. Her analyst gave her a farewell gift, a framed picture of a woman making her way through a forest. Her analyst said to her, “You’ll be fine if you follow your spirit and travel with your instincts.” Soon after this, Sue Monk Kidd got her famous book published: Secret Life of Bee’s. And it’s been all uphill since then (in a good way). I was reading Traveling with Pomegranates in someone else’s living room, on a borrowed mattress on the floor, because the week before I had fled my abusive husband and my life was turned upside down. Her words struck me like lightening. Seven years of Jungian an...

HOW MY MOM RAISED (OR DIDN’T RAISE) ME WHILE BATTLING DEPRESSION

I realized I was just like my mom when my husband had his first panic attack. Driving through the city, he had to stop, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and take over, thinking about how dramatic he was being, downplaying his emotions, his terror, his sheer, brain-zapping panic.  That’s what she was, my mom. That’s what she did. Other’s emotions were too much, or not enough. Too complicated or oversimplified. She was always too busy or too overbearing, hovering or hiding.  I learned to deal with my emotions alone. I learned to walk softly, speak little and make myself small.  She wouldn’t call me for three months and then threaten to come beat down my door to “make sure I was okay” after she decided to text me during the work day, and I didn’t respond within 60 seconds. There was never...

YOU ARE

After you took your life, Mom gave me your goldfish bowl. You filled it with shells and stones and one silver medallion, and everything in the tank was balanced just so. A large moon snail shell sat by the front, bottom left, upon two flat stones. These assorted tide-swept artifacts were once scattered across your table. I could imagine you working with thoughtful intention while Fela Kuti’s singing sailed through your stereo speakers. I carried the bowl gingerly back to my house and placed it on the kitchen table. Soon I knew how to carefully touch one of the shells with just my fingertip, without disturbing the arrangement. And I would think, “We’re close to each other again.” So much beauty in one bowl. Concentric ridges in the clam shells resembled whipped cream spread on a tiny pie. G...

FOUR WORDS

Anxiety and depression often seem to go hand in hand. It can happen to anyone yet you’re still left feeling like you’re the only one who suffers from it. It’s lonely and confusing, not to mention scary. You find yourself questioning every second of your life. You’re suddenly very aware of your heartbeat and the items or people around you. Heat takes over your body but there’s a chance you’re shaking, making others think you’re cold. Sometimes you can sit there with friends around you all the while your head is screaming at you and your limbs to leave. Sometimes you’re doing absolutely nothing and you get overwhelmed with this feeling that you still can’t fully describe. It’s everything from fear to being uncomfortable in your own ...

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