I attempted to write this piece over a month ago. I wrote the title and that’s about it. I wasn’t even sure about the title at the time because I wasn’t completely sure of the direction I wanted this piece to take. It wasn’t until last week when I had dinner with my best friend, I was reminded of the importance of personal values and how they keep you grounded. How the things that you were taught by your parents, and grandparents inform you of where you came from, who you are, and what is the most important to you. These things were either taught to you in a positive way, leading by example, or in a negative way, where they show you what you don’t want in your life. I have to say that for the most part, my parents and family have been a positive influence. I was lucky. My family is not perfect that’s for sure, we are all human at the end of the day, but they have taught me a strong value and belief system that I still hold strong today. It is these core values that has helped me to fight against my own depression.
My depression has been a very humbling experience. I got into my depression by slowly forgetting about who I am, what I stand for, and who I dreamed I could be. Little by little, I let fear and self-doubt take over. Depression doesn’t just happen. It’s not like one day you wake up depressed, even though it can definitely feel that way. However, depression starts slow, it’s an accumulation of all the soul wounds you’ve experienced in your life. It comes from you constantly trying to “fight” your reality using defense mechanisms that only isolate you more and have you feeling worse than you did before. The thing is, when you’re living your life you don’t always recognize the negative events in your life as lessons, but rather as punishments. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be upset or feel pain when bad things happen to you. In fact, the only real way to turn these events into lessons is for you to feel all the pain that comes with it. Surrender yourself to the pain, don’t hide from the pain. Don’t drink your pain away, don’t smoke your pain away, don’t party your pain away, don’t try to pretend that you don’t feel hurt. Been there, done that. It doesn’t work.
For me, I lived the majority of my life deflecting my pain. When I was hurt deeply by someone else or by an event in my life, I would cry and be upset, then I would say “it’s fine, I’ll be okay.” I never wanted people to worry too much about me, seeing their fear for me would only amplify the fear I already felt. For example, my parents are great. They love me and my sisters more than anything in the entire world. I would always joke that my parents “care too much.” I know this sounds crazy, how could your parents “care too much?” Especially when some kids desperately want their parents to care about them just a little bit. I know this might make me sound like a spoiled little brat, and maybe I am, I don’t know. But eventually I stopped being honest with my family and friends as a defense mechanism. I was already feeling overwhelmed, and ashamed by the things happening in my life, I couldn’t bring myself to speak honestly about it with anybody, let alone the people who loved me most. I carried my crosses my entire adult life up until this point mostly on my own. I would sometimes drop hints here and there, but I would never allow people to help me. I would always say “this is my problem, don’t worry about it, I’ll figure it out,” or “I know you can’t help me, so what’s the point of talking about it?” So very foolish, and naive of me. I still do this, old habits die-hard. However, writing about my struggles in this way has helped to free myself of my own pain. It has allowed me to lift some of the heaviness I feel. It has slowly freed up space in my mind, body, and soul. Depression is like wearing chains and restraints that you have put on yourself, as punishment for not being able to do better, be better, for you basically being unworthy of happiness for whatever reason.
I think that we forget that we ourselves are human. We make mistakes. Whatever we did “wrong” in the past only happened because we didn’t know any better, or it happened because we weren’t ready to change. If you weren’t ready, it’s because you were scared. And that is OKAY!!! Punishing yourself for being scared, only keeps you living in fear. For me, I was always pretending that I wasn’t scared because I didn’t want anyone else to be scared. I was doing that to protect other people but also to protect myself. For me, it was easier to focus on helping other people because I would never have to really face my own fears. The things that scared me most. I’m extremely extroverted, and so I poured a lot of my energy into my friendships with others. Always being there for them in any way I could. I don’t regret this. Yes, doing this has put me in the place I’m in today, but at the same time it has allowed me to establish a really strong foundation and tribe for myself that allows me to now focus on myself fully and freely without fear. I know I don’t have to worry about loosing my friendships or my family. No matter what happens through this healing process, I know I have several people who love and support me. It is so very comforting. I now know that I don’t always have to be “around.” I don’t need to see them every single weekend like I used to. I don’t have to do EVERYTHING with my friends. I can be alone with myself and my thoughts now more than I ever could before. Not only is this important, it is healthy. I needed to learn to love myself, and to forgive myself for all the things I used to punish myself for, even things that I would punish myself for that I couldn’t control. I needed to let go of the shame and guilt that I’ve been carrying. The same feelings that brought me to my lowest point on New Years Eve 2018. I was with all my best friends, in a beautiful Air B&B celebrating the New Year, new possibilities, and I felt so scared and alone. I had this heavy guilt and shame on my chest. I broke down, I was bawling my eyes out, and I was hyperventilating. The thing is, I wasn’t alone, and my friends reminded me of that. Having all my closest friends there during my lowest point reminded me that I was safe. It reminded me that no matter what I am deeply loved. That is so powerful. New Years Eve may have been my lowest point, but it was also the most honest I’ve been in a while. I could no longer keep the barriers up that I worked so hard to build in order to protect myself. They were no longer helping me, instead they were preventing me from my own healing. That moment, looking back now, showed me just that.
This knowledge, that I can be completely vulnerable and show the parts of myself that I don’t like about myself to the people I love the most and they would still love me was huge. It gave me the courage to continue to be honest. A value that my parents, especially my mom instilled in us at a very young age. Honesty was probably the one value that my mom stressed the most. This is probably why I’m actually a terrible liar and why I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m actually a very genuine and honest person. I only withheld the truth because I thought at the time it was what I needed to do to get through the shit I was going through. I now know how detrimental it was to go against my own values and intuition. It only made me feel more isolated and overwhelmed with the stresses going on in my life. It’s still very hard for me to talk candidly about what’s going on in my life. I still find myself focusing more on the positive aspects of my life when I speak to my loved ones, because again, I don’t want them to worry about me. I’m in a better place today because I’ve found healthy outlets for myself. Writing these blogs allows me to speak my truth in a way that feels safe to me. I have complete control over my story in this way. When I write about my thoughts, feelings, or the things that I’ve been through, I am the protagonist of my life story, and I am no longer the victim. It is my story to tell, and well, I’m a story-teller. Always have been, always will be. Another truth about myself that I’ve rediscovered. If you’ve been following my blog, you will know that there have been lapses in my posts that would last months. I lost my inspiration, my creativity, my motivation. I couldn’t bring myself to write. My life was too stressful at the time, and when I did write it was out of “necessity for my business.” It wasn’t really for me, it wasn’t genuine. I guess you can say I’m grateful for my depression, because it’s humbled me to come back to square one. To come back to my roots. To learn to be honest again, and to learn the importance of telling my story, of speaking my truth. That is the only way I can really help myself and therefore the world. We’re all human, we make mistakes but if God or the universe loves us then we’re gonna be alright.