I’ve been pondering a lot upon this concept of “alone-time” lately.
I have always been someone who charged their batteries in solitude and really enjoyed their own company. However, I noticed recently that the ‘quality’ of the charge I’ve been getting in last few years or maybe even a decade is far lower and less nurturing than the charge I was getting when I was a child, pre-teen or even in my early teens.
I heard myself saying so many times how I am my own best friend and the company I enjoy the most at the end of the day, no matter how much I might also enjoy being with some of my closest friends. However, that’s not really true, because I haven’t been really meeting myself for a looong time, other than in bits and pieces and even those were bitter and uncomfortable and therefore short-lived.
What do I mean by I have not been meeting myself?
Well, if you are with a person whose presence you truly cherish and enjoy, with the person who you want to see in the depth of their soul and absorb everything they are trying to communicate to you, hold the space for them, offer compassion and understanding - you wouldn’t be scrolling on your phone at the same time, or reading a book, or watching a video, or daydreaming about your ideal vacation, or… whatever. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those, but they have their time and place and you wouldn’t be engaging in other activities (even if they are only mental) if your intention is to be really present for another - their feelings, their thoughts, their experiences.
You see now… I haven’t been present for myself for so long that just the idea of doing so is terrifying. Meeting the wholeness of my experience and facing all the shadowy aspects that start crawling out of their shelters once you direct the light of awareness on them is quite uncomfortable, to put it nicely.
So, we don’t do it. We find so many excuses. We trained our minds to redirect its focus so rapidly to some outward phenomenon or maybe even to some better-feeling thought if we have been religiously following ‘positive thoughts only’ concept, afraid as shit of anything that feels yucky and sticky and off, ‘cause it could bring forth some unwanted manifestations. However, just because you chose to suppress and redirect your sight from the thing it doesn’t mean that the thing will disappear.
I also think we are not meeting ourselves because we don’t know how to do it.
Most of us don’t even know how to fully meet another, which is of no surprise actually if we don’t know how to offer that same presence to ourselves. If we happen to encounter that empty space where we are not entertained and distracted by some activity and have a glimpse of what is happening inside, chances are the story will kick in as soon as we acknowledge there is something unpleasant there, being it sadness, shame, fear, blame, hate, etc. We immediately start to judge and shame ourselves for feeling that way and the momentum of toxic, self-depricating thoughts starts, gaining the speed, enriching itself by more bad-feeling thoughts and memories, nurturing and expanding its power, making us feel worse and worse, until we are so deep inside the hole that the only way ‘out’ is to actually distract ourselves. Grab a phone, a drink, a book, take a fast walk, go to the gym. From one side it can be a self-loving way to deal with the situation when we get too deep into that self-pity mind story, but the real solution lies in learning how to meet ourselves with love and compassion, without giving in to ego’s stories and succumbing to the judgment and shame.
If you are not sure where are you with meeting yourself, observe how you meet another.
Do you run away when they show sadness, rage or low self-esteem and want to be with them only when waters are smooth? Do you feed into their stories of victimhood and self-pity or try to aggressively pull them out of the low-feeling state, invalidating their emotions and maybe even getting afraid that those low vibes would somehow stick on you and make you less ‘vibrationally clean’?
When I was younger, I spent tons of time staring at the wall and feeling. I spent tons of time being with my parents and their friends, but really being with myself inside and feeling. I knew myself. I didn’t have the conscious awareness of any of it probably, but because of the lack of the available distractions at hand, the only way to somehow ‘entertain’ myself was to retreat inward and it was nice and comfortable and interesting. I haven’t yet learned to judge my feeling states, so I’d just observe and play with them. I loved being inside more than anything. I enjoyed my company the most at those times - when I was seemingly ‘doing nothing’.
Then we start to learn how to numb, how to distract, how to ‘deal with pain’ or sadness or shame with all this tools and techniques and if you are physically alone and doing nothing… it is like, wtf, go do something, go read a book, go call a friends, go help with the lunch, do, do, do. No time for being.
I forgot how to be. I left my safe shelter abandoned for so long that now is full of dust and dirtiness and all kind of old, weird objects that need deep-cleaning and rearrangement.
About 2 weeks ago, my phone got broken and even though my automatic response was to open the laptop and google how and where I can fix it or get a new one maybe - I stopped in the middle of it, took a breathe in - and decided not to take any action on it. I prayed the day prior to my phone falling apart for something that would help me on my path, whatever it might be, something to bring me back in touch with myself… and it happened. Universe never fails to give us what we need. It might not necessarily be what we want, but it is always what we need the most, as bitter as its taste may be at the moment of receiving it. Staying without my phone was exactly what I needed. The space that opened up without checking social media, taking photos and videos every day, listening to podcasts, going blindly around with eyes glued on the Google Maps as if there are no living, breathing humans all around that I may ask for directions as well… Scary amount of space, scary amount of silence.
It was just what I needed.
I am coming back to myself, re-teaching myself to be okay with whatever there is in those dark depths I left unvisited for years. I am learning to really BE with myself, as with a friend. As with someone I love.
And I hope that, eventually, it will start to feel again like the safe shelter where I enjoy residing that it once used to be, instead of the damp place that I am trying to escape at all costs.
Healing is a messy, dirty and painful process, but it doesn’t need to last as long as we make it last.
So, why does it?
Why do we keep on going back to our old wounds, talking them over, forgiving who needs to be forgiven and still, after all of that, we end up feeling like shit and those wounds continue to get triggered?
Because we do it through the mind and we are not even aware of it.
There’s no judgement here, because I have done it for years, as well, without even understanding what was really going on. As a society, we are so resistant to feeling and so attached and identified with our intellectual understanding of the world that we think that we can solve the emotional trauma with the same tool with which we solve mathematical equations.
If you tried, you know it doesn’t work, because the pain remains. Maybe it is a bit less sharp, once you revisited painful events from your past and understood that your alcoholic uncle used to beat you because he was struggling himself, or that that kid who stole your lunch money everyday at school was insecure and jealous of your grades, or that your mother was never able to love you how you wanted and needed to be loved ‘cause she didn’t love herself, so there was no extra love to give around… You may understand all those things on the intellectual level and feel some kind of relief when doing so… but it doesn’t really do much on the emotional level.
Our emotional bodies do not function the same way our brain does. You may have already discovered that just because something happened 5 or 10 or 15 years ago, when you revisit the wound it still hurts, it still hold the energetic charge, if you didn’t do the work and healed it.
Time by itself doesn’t heal. Time doesn’t really exists outside our minds that are programmed to organise reality in linear fashion, and therefore all the past events and the ways they made you feel are as present in your energy field as are those happening in the present. You don’t even need to have a conscious memory of what it was that caused certain emotional response, but that emotion, if not properly processed, still lives in your energy field and influences your vibration and consequentially - your ability to attract good things into your life.
If you have unresolved trust issues with your mom, per example, who was the principal female figure in the first stages of your life, you will keep on seeing women who you cannot trust in your life and get disappointed with female friendships all over again and finally deciding that you just get better on with boys, even though the reality is somewhat different. (Story I’ve been telling myself for years.)
So, if you still feel all that pain inside of you and are losing patience and hope, wondering what are you doing wrong, searching for another tool, method or book that may teach you how to forgive, how to overcome depression, how to… whatever. Stop thinking, please. You are going in circles and not making it easier for yourself. It is a great first step to gather the information and understand why of so and so, it calms your mind a bit, but your emotional body doesn’t understand shit of it. Your emotional body still may be stuck at 5 years old you who equals abandonment with death and there’s no ‘logical’ way to explain it that that is not what will happen.
See your emotional body as a garden and things that keep you imprisoned and in pain as weeds that grew over time and are sucking life out of healthy plants. You can research and understand why do weeds grow and it can bring you some relief as you figure out that it happens often and is not something so terrifying and scandalous. However, just you understanding it, it doesn’t make the weeds automatically disappear from the garden. You’ll have to go in and pull them out yourself and shed a tear or two, maybe sweat a little, maybe bleed some more… That is the only way.
I love you so much.
Now go and feel what needs to be felt.
A close friend of mine is going through some extremely dark times and I feel this huge necessity and desire to help her, even more so ‘cause I’ve been down there and know what it’s like.
What surprised me, though, is that my automatic reaction, words and tools I run to in order to try to help her were exactly those that, from my personal experience, being even more damage and pain to someone experiencing a depressive episode. I was shocked at how easy it is to forget and then started to wonder how difficult it must be to someone who never went through depression themselves to offer appropriate help to a struggling friend or family member.
In all of our eagerness to help we often bring even more pain to a suffering one that consequentially provokes even more closing and further isolation, shame and sinking. I remember that I’d often feel so discouraged and worse than prior to the person coming to me with the intentions of helping and I’d think to myself: “Can they just fucking Google ‘What not to say to someone who is depressed?’”
So, I am writing my version of it. It may not resonate 100% with every single person facing depression, but I believe most of the principal things are universal. Here it goes.
What NOT TO say to someone going through depression
My dad always uses the Croatian version of it and it makes me want to slit my throat even when I am not legit depressed, even though I know it is absolutely true and it seems to many people like a great thing to say when someone is swimming in those dark waters.
You may think it might bring them hope and make them see a bigger picture - it will not. It’ll do exactly the opposite.
First: you are not discovering anything new and ground-breaking to a person, they heard the phrase before and would prefer not to be reminded of it.
Second: they do know it is true, they do know that it is one of the Universal Laws and that what goes up, must come down, and then up again… and this makes them feel even worse, because they have been down and down and down for days, weeks and months. So, now they are not only failing themselves and people around them, they are also failing the very Laws of Existence. How hope-inducing do you think that realisation is?
2) “Everyone has their own struggles.” (and stuff like “Many people went through depression and came out to the other side. Look at xyz…”)
I understand the intention behind this - again, it is to awake the hope in healing and also to try to make the person feel less alone. However, it doesn’t feel good really on the emotional level.
People who struggle with depression are often ones who for very long time suppressed their emotions and pushed away the reflector from themselves onto another. Now, when they are finally seen in their authentic emotional expression of the moment… you gotta make them feel seen and authentic and keep that flashlight right on them.
It doesn’t matter who else got through it. Make it about them and them only. Honour their pain for what it is. Make them feel special and unique in their suffering, however fucked up it may sound.
There are years and years of unacknowledged emotion inside of them, so help them savour it. Bring the focus together on the particular aspects of their pain body and examine it thoroughly. We are so conditioned to shy away (shy is not enough of a word, we RUN AWAY like fucking maniacs) from any dark and unpleasant feeling state, but that is not the way those states go away. We need to look at them and illuminate them with the light of our consciousness.
The more awareness we bring to them, the faster they will stop giving us hard time, ‘cause they will get integrated.
3) “Look what a wonderful day it is! Doesn’t it just make you feel so much gratitude for LIFE??”
No. It doesn’t. The person wants to die in order to make the pain go away and you are trying to make them appreciate LIFE just because the sun happens to be shining brightly on the sky. Seriously?
When you are depressed, every day is torture and chances are life itself is your greatest enemy, together with people who are overly stoked about it. When someone tries to lift you up so abruptly to their vibrational point which is centuries away from your low state of being - it feels extremely painful, because it reminds you how enormous is that “gap” between where you are and where you ‘should be’ to be considered a healthy, ‘normal-functioning’ human. It brings up lots of guilt that leads to even darker mood, self-judgement and shame and all of those are favourite treats for depression and make it stick around for longer.
Again - good intentions, disastrous outcomes.
Ok, so we got over few things NOT TO tell someone going through depression, but what to say or do then to make them feel loved, supported and seen in their suffering?
One word: presence.
Complete, full, unconditional, undivided presence. Presence that doesn’t ask anything in return, but simply is. It doesn’t have to be for 5 hours at the time, it can be 15-20 minutes, but it is crucial to be present with the person’s state with no intention whatsoever of trying to change it. It will change when the time is right and you are not there to influence that. Instead, take their hand and let them walk you through the museum of their hurts, look at each piece and give them your presence while they are getting to know their darkest insides, very likely for the first time in their life.
The only way out is through.
And if you really, truly want to help, keep that in mind at all times.
Lots of love,
#depression #anxiety #recovery #bipolardisorder #therapy #healing #darknightofthesoul
If you are not grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you’d be grateful when that what you desire finally manifests into your life?
Yes, you can roll your eyes.
I did, as well, probably each of 10000 times that I heard or read this phrase, because it doesn’t make sense to our minds that live bounded to this linear time-space reality and love to attach the ideas of happiness, joy and fulfilment to some future point in time (and often some other point in space and some other versions of ourselves).
What happens then is that that point in future remains forever there - in the future, and we end up wasting our present complaining, being miserable, feeling lacking of something/someone, in the expectation and at the same time in disbelief of the possibility of better times actually coming and our “luck” turning around. And the truth is: nothing can change and ‘turn around’ before our energy does. And energy exists in the Now, so it is only in this present moment that we can change anything and everything, because as soon as we switch our energy, we enter a new parallel reality that contains different past and future and different version of ourselves. The external circumstances arrange themselves to match that new energetic setpoint of our energy field and we witness a completely different reality.
Do not try to change external circumstances before you adjust your energy. Or - try, and find out for yourself that it won’t feel better. Even if you let go of your current friends, move to another country, change your career, ‘fix’ your physical appearance, break up with your spouse… once the initial excitement of those bold and abrupt external changes subsides, you’d be left with the same shitty emotional state and emptiness that made you do all those changes in the first place. You will realise that you feel exactly the same, if not even more bitter and frustrated, ‘cause all the expectations you put in those external changes proved themselves to be without any foundation - and now you don’t know what else to do to fulfil that excruciating emptiness.
Go inward. Work on your energy. Find a good-feeling place within you wherever you are, with whomever you are and cultivate that place daily. Make it a practice. The most important practice of your day. Dettach from the false idea that external stuff can make you feel a certain way. They can’t. They are extra, something to add and to show you where you are at vibrationally at any given time.
How do I know all these stuff?
Because I felt it all on my skin and spent days and weeks and months and years asking myself what the hell was wrong with me, why can’t I ever make this dark, empty feeling go away. I’d always let my mind guide me through seemingly logical ideas how to attain that feeling I was craving, so I changed and changed and changed, and moved away and moved once again, and modified each segment of my external reality, covered the broken walls with pretty paintings instead of targeting that brokenness first, instead of peeling off the layers and looking what’s beneath asking to be healed.
Go inward. That’s the only advice I wish someone gave me when I was younger.
And now I’m giving it to you.
I’ve been crying a lot recently.
Even though I’ve always been someone who cries quite a bit (at least compared to what other people let me know of their crying sessions), it is not that often that I am visited by these enormous waves of all kinds of mixed emotions that break through and send me to sometimes hour-long trips in which I am gasping for air, bending in rushes of intense pain, swimming through seas of sadness ocassionally getting pulled by the strong currents of rage, anger and despair. Once I reach the shore, I feel physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, but relieved - or at least partially relieved (which means there’s another trip in plan for me in a couple of hours or maybe the next day).
If you have ever read anything I wrote, you’d know how much I’m against any form of emotional supression or avoidance. It never resolves anything, it pushes things aside where they grow stronger and uglier just to explode in the worst possible moment or otherwise leak into your day-to-day life in form of weird habits, addictions, depression, opsessive eating habits, passive-agressive behaviour… you name it. You will have to deal with them now or later, in one form or another, so in my opinion it is better to face them head on and have the clean slate for living more joy-filled life later on.
Having said that, the temptation to give in to some numbing or distracting tool when you are dealing with such strong avalanches of emotion several times a day, is high and real. It can be really tiring. What’s even more tiring, other than feeling all those painful emotions bumping into the walls of my physical vessel while trying to find their way out, is the mental process that kicks in everytime I embark on my tearful release journeys. What the fuck is this? What’s wrong with me? Why I feel like this? Is it because of _____ or ______? How can I stop this? I am psycho, I am hopeless, I am so deeply fucked up, will I EVER be stable? I am so ashamed of myself blah blah blah… It goes on and on, making the pain escalate even more and making me go purely hysterical, half pitying half hating myself until I become aware of that voice and start separating myself from it and tell it to shut the fuck up, it is already hard enough. It is a damn taugh job to stay mentally strong in order to distinguish the mind’s voice from your true essence when you are in the midst of an intense emotional turmoil - so props to everyone who manages to do it, I admire you, guys.
I imagine that stupid voice’s speech doesn’t differ a lot from one person to another (at least from what I’ve heard) and I am hundred percent sure there’s always the phrase, that obvious and logical and practical, but oh-so-fucking irritating, phrase that I, myself, am guilty of pulling out 9 times out of 10 when I see someone crying and the phrase is (you guessed it) -
Why are you crying?
Why are you crying? It is a normal, logical question in a world when situation A necessary leads to emotion B, in every person, no matter their age, personality, character traits, sensitivity, accumulated emotional trauma, hormonal imbalances, past life experiences etc. etc.
Well, let me tell you something. We don’t live in that world. We would like to, because it would be easier for us to grasp and hold onto something stable in order to understand what the fuck is going on around and inside of us, but we don’t.
Tell me if I am missing something here, but I don’t think we can ever truly understand why a person is having an emotional release in form of crying (or any other) nor that there is a “reason” in the way we like to think there is. It is probable that even the person going through it doesn’t really understand it, but forces themselves to go over with a fine-tooth comb through everything that preceded the explosion, looking for that trigger that was responsible for the meltdown, but… that trigger is just that - a trigger. The accumulated emotional charge was there from before and once it was too much to be held inside - it had to be let out and cleansed. It is actually useless to try to detect the “cause”, ‘cause there are so many and at the end of the day… does it really serve you to understand it? Will it help you prevent more suffering in the future? How can you be sure of that? How can you even be sure that you traced down every single ingredient of your emotional vomit? There’s no way to be certain of that.
And I believe there’s no purpose in doing that.
I am telling you that, because I tried. I tried so many times to understand, to dissect, to judge myself, to hate myself, looking for the cause, the source, the…the… SOMETHING that is at the root of the pain that emerges periodically and abruptly. The other day, while I was in midst of it, third time around in the same day, my lungs aching, my lips and eyes red and swollen, grasping for the 15th tissue with my left hand, exhausted as shit and slowly but surely out of strength to deal with it… I saw a word. The word. My word, the word that I need the most and that’s why I tattooed it on my left wrist.
Surrender…surrender…surrender… I started whispering it to myself and noticed the silence spreading through my head, the brain emptying out. There was a moment of peace, the suffering subsided and then I felt a stab of pain coming from my womb… and I allowed it. I surrendered to it. I cried and let it come out through my eyes, letting the energy leave the space of my body.
We don’t have to understand it. We don’t have to try to explain it. We don’t need to feel guilt or shame for not having a palpable “reason” for our emotional meltdowns. We just need to let it occur, let it come and go, without placing any label on it. It may seem an impossible task to do, but it makes the whole thing immensely, but IMMENSELY easier. Because once the storm is over, you take a deep breath, you feel a new space that has been liberated and you go on with your life, enjoying more serene days, instead of overchewing and asking why of the storm over and over again. It doesn’t matter.
Stop asking why. Stop trying to understand it. Stop resisting it, fighting it. Stop trying to make it stop and give in to it.
Surrender to it.
And thank it for cleansing you and taking away those dead parts of you that you no loger need.
I love you.
Anyone who has ever struggled with depression or any other mental health issue knows how incredibly important and at the same time unbelievably hard and nerve-wrecking is to gather the courage, pack the pride away, take the shame by the hand and - seek the help we need. It may be easier or harder depending on our beliefs about mental illness and the amount of judgement we place on it, as well as how the topic is treated in our community and what is the profile of people we decided to reach out to. Whichever might have been the case for you, I think you’d agree that just the thought of opening ourselves up about the painful state we found ourselves in is overwhelming and terrifying and it is most often shame and fear of the reaction we’d encounter if we opened up to someone, that keeps us delaying looking out for support and help.
I get it. I’ve been through it and it took me years and years until finally admitting, firstly to myself and then to others, that I couldn’t get out of it alone.
But, there’s another aspect of mental health journey that I’d like to address here and that is: What if we already “conquered” the depression, went through psychotherapy, been on medication, did all the holistic, cognitive-behavioural, mindfulness stuff, came out the other end as a “depression survivor”, as a winner of a kind, placed that label on our forehead… and then it hits again?
How to deal with THAT amount of shame, self-judgment, feelings of failure, guilt for having spent so much time and money on helping ourselves just to come back to the starting point all over again? How to find the courage within ourselves to suck it up and go to the people who saw us coming through to the other side the first time around and say: ‘That depression thing, you remember? That I officially left behind x years ago? Well, it’s back again. Your efforts didn’t result, it seems.’ In lots of senses, the other time around is ‘easier’ (better the devil we know than the one we don’t) as we probably collected a wide range of tools to cope with it when it comes, but that doesn’t mean that it is ever ‘easy’. Having the tools is not what saves you, it is applying them - and sometimes, we lack the strength to even open the drawer where we stored them, let alone put them to work.
I talked a lot about depression here and I believe I’ll continue to revisit this topic many, many times again in the future. At one point, however, I felt sick of myself for bringing it back up all the time and I thought that it is better to leave it alone, let it drift away with the rivers of the past. I thought that maybe through talking about it over and over again I am perpetuating the pain that would otherwise naturally die away, if I just didn’t pick at it all the time. Then it occurred to me - it is not part of my past. It is still present in my now. It will continue to be present in my future probably as long as I am here on this Planet.
I heard a girl recently comparing this state - when we just came out of one depressive episode, but there’s a possibility of getting into another one somewhere down the road - to the so-called “cancer remission.” What is cancer remission? It is when a person who survived cancer does no longer have detectable signs and symptoms of the disease, yet there’s a high probability that cancer still exists within the body and can get activated in the future. Therefore, the person is asked to take the utmost care of themselves in order to prevent the reattack to occur.
We can also think of it in terms of having a genetical predisposition to develop a condition, illness or behavioural pattern. Although the genes for a thing exist in our cells, it depends on myriad of different influences whether the genes will get activated or not. People like to use this “bad genes situation” as an excuse and opportunity to slip into the victim role of shitty circumstances, but actually we still have a high degree of personal and decision making power when it comes to whether the thing will manifest itself or not. We cannot neglect the cards we had been dealt with - we just need to learn how to consciously play with those and how to find the hidden perks they possess even though they may be hard to detect at first few looks (and perks are ALWAYS there, trust me).
I came to believe that depression lived inside of me since I was born. As far as my memory can reach back, there has always been some sense of darkness, some doom lurking from beneath, sucking the energy away from my brain, filling it up with fog, making me lethargic which was often seen and labeled as lazy, shy or ungrateful by the adults around me - and I would believe it, as I didn’t know it could be anything else. I accepted that I was just a lazy, grumpy, never-content kid. It got fully activated when I hit puberty, around the age of 12. My mom found my first suicide poems and drawings and took me to a therapist office from which I faked myself out after just one session, succeeding in convincing everyone that I was ok, that it was just for the sake of artistic expression. And my life as a “high-functioning depressed person” went on, supported by my self-medicating habits that I picked up when starting the highschool, but which power to keep me up on my feet gradually paled away. Just when I moved away from my hometown and started Uni is when things hit the very bottom and I was left with no choice than reaching out for help.
And I got it.
I got all the help I needed, all the love, support, comprehension and compassion when the person in question couldn’t possibly grasp on what I was feeling. I was in psychotherapy for 4 years, took antidepressants, changed my habits and lifestyle, let the people who were toxic to me fall away, worked on my thought patterns and after a long and bumpy journey - I felt I was finally cured. I proclaimed the battle officially over once I quit my medication completely, seeing that act as of big importance and meaning, because if I no longer need the tool for fighting something, it means that the very thing I was fighting is no longer present, it no longer resides within me.
But it does.
It is hard as fuck to admit that, but it sure well does still live inside of me. It may be asleep at this very moment while I am going joyfully and high-on-life through my days, but I can feel its calm breathing in the undertone of my heartbeat at all times. I know it is there. Sometimes I can feel it moving, opening an eye and slowly waking up. Sometimes it wakes up during the night, while I’m asleep, and I enter the morning with my throat clenched in its merciless grip and heaviness resting on my chest that disables me to take a full breath in.
And let me tell you something, guys. I used to get extremely, extremely angry, disappointed and ashamed of myself when this would happen. My mind would go on a rant, calling me all kind of ugly names, telling me that I am useless, incapable and undeserving to live, ungrateful, impossible to be aided and saved. It would tell me that I am a shitty person as I have so many people that would kill for me, that sacrificed so much just that I’d feel well and here I am again, swimming at the bottom of the dark lake. You should have probably stayed on medication for the rest of your life as it doesn’t seem like you can make it on you own. Oh no - wait! Even medication ceased to help at one point, so not even heavy chemical stuff can keep you normal. You are HOPELESS, useless, you should better just… blah..blah..blah…’
It is exhausting.
If there’s any fear and shame about admitting that you’re struggling the first time around, it is 1000 times worse every next time, especially when you made everyone believe you are over it for good. I am deeply aware how much my parents suffered through the lowest points of my mental health issues and just the thought of admitting that I sometimes feel bad again and how hearing that would make them feel breaks my heart. So, I don’t. I cannot handle it. I avoid, I don’t answer calls when a day is particularly rough. To protect them and to protect myself, as well. There’s enough self-judgment on my end already that I couldn’t possibly deal with someone trying to fix me and offering unsolicited advice when I don’t want any. In those instants, however well-intended the person trying to help is, all attempts at trying to change your current state seem like invalidating the way you’re feeling, provoking a new tornado of guilt and shame. Those who went through similar would know what I’m talking about.
So, what to do? Not reach out for help?
Don’t go to Chinese restaurant for nachos, Christine Hassler says and that insight is so crucial when it comes to seeking support. Explore from every angle the state you are in and get to know it intimately. Experiment with what helps you in those moments and what doesn’t and - probably the most important thing - talk with your symptoms. Ask them why they are visiting, what message are they bringing, what are they pointing your attention to.
I worked a lot during the last year or so on befriending that aspect of myself that I here for the convenience-sake call ‘depression’ and I found it being closely linked to my sensitivity. I am an extremely sensitive human that just recently learned to cherish that trait as one of my greatest gifts, while for the biggest part of my life I tried to shut it down and get rid of it in any way I could think of.
However, being that sensitive, I have to take very good care of myself if I want to feel good and be at ease with myself, my life and my surroundings. And whenever something is out of alignment, that little animal resting at the bottom of my chest will start to stretch its pawns, yawn and start to wake up. My depression is my alarm system and it is a damn good one. It never fails to warn me when I lose the connection with my Soul, when I leave some area of my life unattended for longer spans of time, when I neglect any aspect of my wellbeing.
So, what I try to do now is to work with my depression instead of working against it. I recognize it when it wakes up, I thank it for coming and try to scan through all sections of my inner and outer life to see where’s leaking, to locate the position of the hole it entered through. At times, it is very easily detectable - lack of sleep, not enough alone time to recharge my introverted self, bad quality food, saying too many times ‘yes’ when I want to say ‘no’, accepting conditions that don’t resonate with me, neglecting my creative life, neglecting my sensual side, denying myself fun and play etc.
Other times, though, I cannot trace it down as hard as I try to.
And then I pray.
I pray for clarity, I pray for faith and trust, I pray for seeing the lessons and learning from this state I find myself in. And of all the things that helped me during my mental health journey, the biggest was and will always be - Spirituality.
Spirituality that I encountered within my own self, through my own experience, not the one they tried to impose from without. Spirituality that holds a safe space for me where I can go back to every time I need, that allows me to see the bigger picture or, if not see, at least feel that there IS something that I am not seeing and that it is all in Divine Order even if my limited vision cannot grasp it.
And then I surrender to it. And I breathe. And soon enough the Sun lurks again behind the grey clouds and lighter period sets in.
Yet I never let myself forget the little animal living at the bottom of my chest and that I have to bring myself back into alignment moment to moment if I want it to stay calm and asleep.
How does it happen that something we love to do so much simply ceases to be the priority and falls into the background of the everyday rat-race while we’re trying to keep up with the pace of our life and the world?
What it is that pushes us away from our medicine in times when we need it the most, blurs our sight and tricks us into thinking that there are more urgent, more important stuff to be done than connecting to our inner flame, the Source within us, the soul?
Ironically, what happens in those situations, when we deny our soul the medicine it needs, when we let ourselves fall off the track for a day, two, three, a week… it gets harder and harder to swallow the pill. Days pass and the resistance increases, we don’t even want to open the pill container, let alone take those pills that would bring our soul back to life. So, we hide the box in the dark, humid place and forget about it - even though, let’s be real - we never really forget about it.
It stalks and haunts us during those restless nights, it appears in the foggy visions at the dawn when our minds are not yet alert enough to shut the images down, push them back to the black hole where they emerged from. Paradoxically, the more we avoid the medicine the more present it is in our lives - the dance of the starved soul and the ever-increasing resistance to feed it never stops, bringing the unexplainable malaise and excruciating pain that we cannot track down to its source.
Feed the soul and things will fall back into place, I heard.
Yet, I didn’t obey.
Until I was forced to.
Even now, when I finally sat down and took time to write - which is my medicine, my sacred tool of understanding, releasing, expressing, connecting with my soul and my inner wisdom - even now I feel immense amounts of resistance. However, I know I cannot continue delaying and avoiding - there’s only so much starvation a thing can handle before it completely withers down and God only knows if and when will it be possible to bring it back to life again.
So I write. I am trying to get quiet enough to hear the voice of my soul again against the loudness of my mind’s bullshit. It is hard. I am trying to remember the tone of her voice as I left it behind for last few months, swept away by the events, emotions and general overwhelm of life. I put aside writing ‘cause it felt too much, it felt too much to feel, to process, to see the things black on white, to feel the realness of the tornado that passed over just when I felt I reached the calmer ground. I was feeling too much and being vulnerable, even if just in front of myself - seemed like too big of a challenge at the time.
What I want to say to you today, dear friend, is…
Make feeding your soul the priority.
A starved soul cannot wait too much before it starts to decay, infecting the rest of the body with its poisonous fumes, stealing the colours, one by one, from our world and turning down the vividness of our perception.
Then it takes tool on our emotional and spiritual wellbeing, washing us over with the waves of sudden and inexplicable rage, frustration and bitterness, coming finally to the densest of all - our physical body. Aches and pains start to pinch from here and there, even to those of the greatest health up to that point. The sparkle in our eyes dies out from one day to another and soon enough we fail to remember it was ever there in the first place.
Finally, a starved soul decides to enlarge the territory of its dominion, desperately wanting to fill the profound dark hole that it is, so it starts to suck the energy from around, making us act out and treat unjustly and badly those around us, even if they come with nothing but love and openness lurking from their pockets.
A starved soul will do anything and everything to satiate its emptiness, yet there’s only a scarce palette of options that can really feed it and each one’s palette contains different set of colours, so you better get to know what yours are and you better get to use them often - as often as you can - until it’s too late.
Because a starved soul can wait only as much before it starts to decay.
Nothing solid and lasting cannot be built on the shaky foundation.
I witnessed my life falling apart before my very own eyes this summer. I witnessed all of the illusions I nurtured so diligently crashing down and dissipating into thin air. I got scared, discouraged and confused. Suddenly all of the structure I was holding myself onto proved to be false and I found myself floating above the ground, directionless, clueless and uncertain of a single thing.
I also developed resistance to writing this blog. Somewhere along those hot summer days, I lost my initial vision for the blog and the fear of others’s perceptions and opinions grabbed me from behind while I wasn’t looking and even though I fought it and pushed through few posts that were begging to be written (somebody out there badly needed to read them), I finally surrendered and made a conscious decision to not publish any of my writings until I feel calm and grounded again. How could I ever help anyone if I myself feel like a wreck? How can I offer clarity and hope to another if I’m not able to see further than my own fingertips at the time?
Although I deeply trust that “our mess is our message” and that the struggles we encounter on our path are our greatest lessons, often meant to show us the way and asking us to share them with others, there’s something to be said about respecting the time it takes for the lesson/experience to ripen before it can be put out there under the magnifying glass, analysed and dissected in order to be used in service of the collective.
From personal experience I can tell you there’s an immense difference between vulnerability and courage needed to step fully into it so that we can share what we feel insecure and unproud of (usually guided by the desire to serve by our example, connect with others, offer hope and encouragement and allow the illusional barriers between our individual selves to dissolve) and premature sharing that can come under the disguise of those same motivations, but can never really accomplish them as it comes from a hot, steaming place - from a low vibrational point as it is an unloving and punishing act towards oneself and it cannot become anything else.
At times, as well, we unconsciously look for compassion, pity or some kind of “acknowledgment” of our pain from others - but it never results as we secretly hope it would. Nothing and no one external to yourself can offer you that and you’ll just get disappointed with your subconscious expectations crushed in a blink of an eye, probably even prolonging the time of healing and integration.
So, let your wounds dry out before you expose them.
Stay in your grief and feel the storm, but wait until later to describe us its power and colours.
We cannot serve anyone before we are in full service of our Inner Being, before we fully respect and honour ourselves. We cannot teach anything that is not fully embodied within us and if we try to, people will instantly feel the lack of authenticity and run the other way.
When the smoke goes out, the picture will be clearer and in the meantime you’ll gain the necessary distance from the experience so you can share it from the place of vulnerability, BUT without being attached to it as you were at the point just after it happened. You will certainly remain with some cords and feelings connected to the experience, but time and proper tending to the wound will provide you with the possibility to detach from it so you can slip out of the victim role and make the best use of the event through integrating its lessons yourself and sharing it with others for the greatest benefit of all.
Lots of love,
“There’s no reason to cry, nothing to be sad about”;
“Ohhh, such a beautiful girl and crying - what a shame”;
“There are so many worse things happening to other people - you shouldn’t be sad/angry/resentful about it”;
“Don’t cry, everything’s ok”
Any of these sound familiar? If you are a human and reading this post, chances are you heard some of these phrases or variations of the same many times during your childhood and adult life. The society we grew up in fears negative emotion like nothing else and we tend to avoid and escape it ourselves and help our loved ones do the same at any price and as quick as possible.
But, let’s take a look at the following situation.
What really happens when you are passing a sad moment and crying, especially as a child, and an adult figure you love, trust and appreciate comes and tells you that “there’s no reason to cry, nothing to be sad about” when what you feel indeed IS sadness and tears are pouring out of your tiny eyes without you willingly forcing them to do so?
What happens in the internal world of the child who is having an emotional experience that is real and palpable and they feel it in every cell of their body and yet the adult human that they trust and see as a more knowledgeable guide tries to convince them that what they are feeling is not valid?
Imagine the confusion within the child. I shouldn’t be feeling this way, yet I do - therefore there is something wrong with me, something not acceptable. I should feel different. I should force myself to feel different, because they say that what I am feeling is not valid or good.
That’s how we first learn suppression.
Although the intentions of the adult figure in the example above are most probably positive and loving, the act itself brings a message of shame and guilt, invalidates the emotional experience of the child and teaches it to suppress their emotions and not trust their internal guidance system. It pushes the child from their heart space and body to the mind, asking them to rationalize something that is not meant to be rationalized. They may stop crying and calm down, but don’t let that calming down trick you into thinking that you really helped them. You actually made the biggest disservice that will haunt them for long years to follow. You literally asked them to distrust their internal voice, filter the emotional state they’re in through the rational mind and place their trust externally into your words and explanation of why their experience is not valid. You didn’t “change their mood”, although it may easily seem so, you just taught them to suppress and ignore their internal compass.
And that’s how we continue to go through our lives - using the same approach whether the person passing through the difficult emotional experience is ourselves or someone else.
When we feel sad or depressed and someone tries to deny our experience through either listing reasons why what we feel is not valid or through trying to forcefully push us into the better feeling state BEFORE we are ready to move on, before the emotions we are having are fully processed - we start to feel disconnected and alone. Alone in our current experience and invalidated for going through it.
It is a help that is no help at all, as it shows us that what we feel shouldn’t be felt and therefore there’s something wrong or bad with us for feeling that way. People with depressive disorders usually have a loud and pretty toxic inner critic that would not miss this kind of opportunity to wake up even more and start beating up the person for feeling the way they’re feeling what will consequentially make the person feel even worse - it’s not anymore just the heavy, dark feeling of hopelessness and malaise but also an added layer of guilt, feeling of inadequacy and incapability to jump from one emotional state to its opposite when that is exactly what their surroundings expect of them.
If you happen to have a friend or a person you are close to who is passing some kind of rough time, depression or simply a hard day - don’t invalidate what they are feeling. Don’t set as your goal to try to make the person feel better, stop crying or make them smile. Make it your goal to be with the person, to be with them in their feeling state and make sure they understand that is completely fine what they are passing through. That does not have to be expressed verbally - a simple hug and presence is enough.
In desperate desire to help someone in pain, we often worsen everything by constant chatter and going over memories of other people passing through the similar stuff. Even though it is often with the best of intentions - many times it just creates more distance. Be with the suffering one and give them your undivided presence and love. Validate their state by not trying to understand it rationally even though you may not really “get it”. Feelings are not to be “get” or “understood” but FELT. And that’s a huge one everyone still needs to learn.
If it’s just within you that you are struggling to find a loving place from which you can be present to yourself while in pain and passing negative emotional experience, try to bring a complete awareness to those moments. We are programmed to move as quickly as possible through “negative” and uncomfortable feelings, bulldoze through, numb them and run like maniacs to the other side of the river, but that is not really useful and if you stumbled upon this post, the chance is you already learned that through your own experience.
Stay in your pain, stay in your discomfort, feel it and bath yourself in love and light while experiencing it. There’s nothing wrong with you. Nothing you should feel guilty about. Nothing you should try to explain or understand. Surrender to the wave of energy passing through your field, acknowledging it, feeling it, without judging or attaching yourself in other ways.
Most of my life, when passing through hard depressive episodes, I’d make myself suffer the double ‘cause of the belief that what I was feeling wasn’t acceptable, valid or “explainable” by the rational mind. Still, it didn’t change the fact that I was feeling it. Other times, when the judgmental voice inside my head would get too loud to bear, I’d reach out for help but many times to the wrong people who would, instead of easing my way through the pain or simply being with me, add more wood to the fire of self-loath and self-negligence. Not out of evilness or cruelty, but simply because they didn’t know any better.
Society taught us to escape negative emotional experiences in any way we could think of, so that’s what we’re doing. But, guys, you cannot go anywhere before you REALLY acknowledge and experience where you’re at right now. Non-felt feelings come up to haunt you later, they resurface when you least expect them or grow denser through time and suppression and manifest as a physical condition and disease.
Next time you find yourself or someone you love going through rough emotional experience, remember it is just about meeting you/them there and bringing your loving presence.
Nothing to understand or rationalize. Nothing to push away or run through.
I pulled my hair back from my forehead, preventing it from getting into the way. Once it’s over, I don’t want any scent to remain. I don’t want to linger here more than necessary.
Just get over it and move forward, flush the memory with fresh water and watch it disappear down the black hole.
Arched over the toilet, all of my body hurting, surrendering to the overwhelming urge to let it all out - the only problem is there is nothing left inside. The emptiness is too heavy for my system, it burns the walls of my stomach and melts the sore edges of my eyes. I breathe in deeply, letting my skin stretch out, allowing the warm air to caress my aching insides, breathing out rage, hate, pain, black, yellow and dense remains that I somehow believed to serve me.
You are safe now.
Why I keep feeling this way then?
If all of the demons are gone who is it that is ripping my chest from the inside?
It was always you who did that, the voice answered. There was never anyone else. No one else exists. You took their words, squeezed the juice out and drank it all the way down. It’s ok, though - that was the best you could do, it was the only thing you knew how to do. Now, however, you can choose again. I am giving you the opportunity to spit out those spiders, throw the poison out and fill their place with whatever YOU like. Choose wisely.
My knees are trembling as the last drops of the bittersweet liquid leave my lips. I can see faces and silhouettes forming out of the fumes of my vomit, shouting at me, trying to make me feel guilty, trying to make me change my decision and reopen the gates of my fortress. I am stronger now, though. I am not letting them find shelter in my rooms again.
Yesterday, while walking back home, I started picking flowers to put them into that room that had been left empty. I don’t know how to hold flowers and where to place them, they are uncomfortable to carry around, it is all strange and new and I am still getting used. My eyes tear up from their colours and their smell makes me cough.
Give it some time. It is this that you want, right?
It is. The faith that it’ll become more natural with time is what sustains me. The faith that it is really only me who can decide what and who can get in. It took me so long, but I finally learn that I can close the door at any time.
You see. It was always you. The one who picked the flowers and the one who cleared the way for the spiders to come in. Don’t forget that. It is the only thing that matters. Keep the room clean and safe, but don’t close the window, let the air and light sneak in. Mop the floors every once in a while, but don’t close the window. It is the openness of the window that matters, do you hear me? When you close it, you might feel safer, but that is when the Flow dies. That is when all those flowers you carefully carried all the way home will wither.
I love you and you are supported.
It is up to you to decide whether you want to see it or turn your head the other way.
It is up to you, darling.
But, whatever you decide, remember that there is always the opportunity to choose again.