January 14, 2015


this post addresses some aspects of depression. it may be triggering to some. i am not a medical professional and this post is not meant to act as advice or replace medical intervention.if you are struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, please seek out treatment. there is help. 

                                                                    Santa Cruz Beach, CA - Jan 2014

i understand that most aspects of mental illness are polarizing and people have very strong opinions - i tiptoe carefully into this discussion - my deepest desire is to share my personal truth and journey with authenticity, vulnerability and honesty in the hope that it will help some one else feel less alone and less ashamed. i have sat down to write about this a thousand times before only to pull back - for many reasons - i was still too fragile from my own experience, i was scared my struggle would trigger rather than help, fear of being judged, it's too dark, i feel too vulnerable, it's uncomfortable, i'm not healed enough to write about it and share it, etc. then all of a sudden, this post just spilled out of me yesterday. sometimes the story just writes itself and you are the vessel used to tell it. even then, i still sat with it for awhile, thinking long and hard about publishing it for all the aforementioned reasons. as i was wrestling with my thoughts, i opened FB and the first thing that popped up in my news feed was a link to a post about depression....i clicked on it and there in bold, all caps, the words just jumped off the screen at me 

It's crucial that we open up the line of communication on this weirdly taboo subject.
JUST TALK ABOUT IT...end the stigma of depression and save lives.

so, i felt like the author of that post was talking right AT me. and it felt like confirmation that the post that had poured out of me needed to be published.

but before i launch into my own story, i would like to recommend you first go to this blog - Hyperbole and a Half  and READ the post titled Depression: Part two

in my opinion, this blog post from hyperbole and a half, depression part two, was and still is the BEST, the very, very best thing i ever read on depression. here's why - if you have never dealt with depression, i think it will help you understand it or if you have or are suffering from depression it will help you feel like you are not the only one and that everything that is going on in you has happened to someone else and if they survived it then maybe you can too. 

Cartoon Source: Hyperbole and a Half Blog
it articulates every thing i felt or stopped feeling during my depression. i stumbled upon it late one night, (and while i was still very much in the grips of depression.) it gave my depression a voice. it gave me a voice. and it didn't trigger me - it actually made me laugh. that laughter was the first genuine response of emotion that i had had in months. even more shocking was that it also had me fist pumping and crying and vigorously nodding my head and whispering "yes. yes. exactly." which was all quite profound seeing as i had been DEVOID of any sort of genuine emotion for months.

it also had me repeatedly elbowing the hubster, rousing him from a deep sleep by screeching "wake up, wake up! you have to read this. NOW. right now. this will help you understand what is going on in my head.

i'm pretty sure that i totally freaked him out - after all, how discombobulating would it be to suddenly have your wife emoting after months of her being in a freakishly zombie-like state. NEVER MIND that it was at 2 in the morning. 

brave man that he is, he kinda stared at me for awhile and then wiped the sleep from his eyes and took hold of the ipad i was frantically waving under his nose.

and after he read it, he said, "i think when things get better, we should share this - it could be such a useful and helpful tool altho it's sorta exploding with the f-bomb. that kinda makes it a tricky thing to share."

- oh yeah, THAT. be forewarned - the f-bomb is used multiple times. i know that some folks will find that really super duper offensive BUT, and please hear me say this in the MOST non-confrontational and loving tone i can muster,

"get over it and read it anyway."
HERE'S THE LINK:(click on it) 
Hyperbole and a Half: Depression Part Two 

The cartoons posted on in today's post are from the Hyperbole and a Half /Depression Part Two Blog...and were created by the blog author, Allie Brosh. This one in particular made me laugh. hard. real hard.
(Be brave and read it and then come back here and carry on reading my post)

okay, carrying on with my own thoughts on the subject now. 

i've been thinking a lot about the new year upon us and how hard the dawning of a new year can be on people. obviously my thoughts are with those with chronic illness because you are my community. you are my family. and i understand the unique set of challenges we live with.

i know that there are many people that are in a situation that feels hopeless and how things never seem to change. and even tho we've all heard that nothing ever stays the same -some times it just feels that the change is always on the downward trend. sure, things change - they keep getting worse. year after year, you live in survival mode and so just how the hek do you face one more year of THAT?

Cartoon Source: Hyperbole and a Half Blog

for those of us in survival mode, the dawn of a new year can be daunting. disheartening. demoralizing. scary. overwhelming. infuriating. gut wrenching. 

maybe there have been many years where you bravely faced the start of a new year with hopes held high and were determined to think positive change into being - this will be the year that i get better or start to get better or find victory in what ever struggle i've been battling.

and then the year passed and in spite of your best efforts, things actually got worse. and even though you faithfully persevered in doing all the right things that should bring about change or healing, life got a whole lot more painful.

i've been there. i get it. 

i so totally get it.

i'm not going to go in to a lot of detail in this post. i just want to say enough so that  those of you that are down to nothing and drowning in an abyss of hopelessness feel like there is credibility when i say, i get it.

in oct of 2013, i was suddenly engulfed by the dark, thick, suffocating, all consuming blanket of depression. i never saw it coming. no warning. one day i was fine. the next day it descended on me like a bat out of hell.

i fought really, really hard to get out from under it. i tried with all my might and strength to desperately hold on to any shred of hope. i confided in a few trusted friends. i told my medical team. i told the hubster and he listened and heard me and together, we sought the help of professionals and medicine. yet, i became increasingly consumed by thoughts of suicide.

by december 2013, i lost hope. all hope. 

and so i started last year's new year with a plan to end my life. at the time, it seemed like a very rational and logical plan. it made perfect sense to my depressed and upside down mind.

so i get it.

i know that you can be really brave and work really hard to hold on to hope and still lose hope.

i know that you can love Jesus with all your heart, mind and soul and still get sick with depression because depression is an (mental) illness not a spiritual defect. 

i know that you can still have faith and believe in Jesus and fervently plead with him to lift it and yet, despite your fervent and earnest prayers, you can still suffer from depression.

i know that your love for your family/loved ones can keep you holding on and tolerating a painful existence for a very long time and then one day depression can whisper in your ear that your death would be your family's release. and you wholeheartedly believe that lie because depression messes with the mind and twists all reason and logic.

i know that depression makes everything about your life's circumstance seem so obviously hopeless that you cannot understand how those around you cannot see that it is utterly hopelessness. that the people in your life that are telling you differently are either lying to you or just in complete denial of the obvious.

i know that depression can turn everything upside down and inside out and so sideways that no matter how you look at your life, every thing you see seems to serve as confirmation that your life is not worth living and that you are not worthy of living it.

it is hopeless.
nothing changes.
you are a burden.
a waste of space.
a drain.
broken beyond repair.

depression is hitting rock bottom...and having rock bottom give way beneath you. it is tumbling into a bottomless abyss of nothingness. 

depression is totally and completely full of empty. 

i get that life can get so painful, so hopeless, and so terrifying that not living can look like a really good alternative. that you can feel so trapped by your circumstance that the thought of escaping it can bring you a profound sense of relief and euphoria.

i get that life can just be too much and that you have had enough and you don't feel like you can carry on through one more day or one more hour.

i get that.

life can get to be too much. too hard. too painful. too messy. too brutal.

i get that because sometimes it is just way too much

it even makes sense that you have lost hope.

there is NO shame in that. none.

hear me again. there is NO shame in losing hope.

                                                                        Santa Cruz Beach, CA - Jan 2014 

it can and it does happen to the bravest, strongest warriors.

you can lose hope...but i want you to know that you CAN survive it.

hear me again. 

you can lose hope and survive it.

not by trying to get it again - that is too hard. after all trying to have something you don't have is frustrating and futile. in fact, trying to have something that you simply don't have makes you feel like an even bigger failure. it would be like trying to make a banana appear out of thin air. you can't do that (personally, i would never even try because i really don't like bananas at all but that is beside the point.)

the point is, you cannot make something out of nothing - and trying to do so only leaves you feeling smaller, weaker and ashamed - if you have lost hope, you cannot make yourself have hope - but you CAN survive losing hope by just holding space for it.

i want to be clear that i am not suggesting you hold space for hope without support and medical intervention. you NEED that...but here's the thing, i thought that once i got help that i would feel better - and i did eventually- but not right away. in fact, at first, i actually felt worse. a lot worse. i don't know if it is like that for everyone, but for me, i lost ALL hope AFTER i started to get help...because, in the beginning, even the help and support felt totally stupid and pointless and like bullshit. and that made me feel like i was totally beyond hope and help and that was really, really scary. it was at that precise time, that i had to hold space for hope.

hold space for hope.
it CAN be done. 
hold space in your heart for hope to return.
it is possible.

you CAN survive losing hope by holding space for it.

it isn't easy and it can be really, really scary to continue to live and breathe when that space is empty and depression is shrieking in your ear that you are beyond help but if you can hold space for hope, if you can hold it open long enough, hope will return to fill it.

dearest warrior, 
hold space for hope. 
even when you can't feel it or see it or hear it.
hold space for hope.
you are loved. you matter. your life matters.
hold space for hope.
you are worthy and your life is worth living.

hold space for hope
hope will return to fill it.
it does.
i promise you it does.

i held space for hope
eventually hope returned.
stronger. braver. wiser. bigger.

PS - 
One more thing!

in the course of writing this it suddenly dawned on me that when i was in the grips of the deepest, darkest months of my depression, that HOPE was so far flung - that it actually felt like a four-letter word to me. i recoiled at the sound of it. to be completely frank,  i thought hope itself was total bullshit. brutal honesty - hope felt more foe than friend. hope felt like the fish hook that had kept me swimming in endless circles that led no where for years.

so i get that you can get to a place where even hope feels more foe than friend

so if you are in that head space, then i will say this to you - hold space for corn.

just hold space for corn. it will find you.

Cartoon Source: Hyperbole and a Half Blog

(if you don't get that, it means you didn't read the hyperbole post - please do.)

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