Mental un-wellness is like holding a boulder on a mountain all day long.
Molasses…..walking through molasses was the feeling I physically experienced during my years of major depression. Maybe you know what I mean, if you have depression?
Those days were excruciating.
The odd thing was how to describe the severity of pain when it couldn't be compared with anything. You know, like how passing kidney stones for men are often described as 'labour like'. I've passed gallstones (comparable in pain to kidney stones) and I've birthed 3 children. No comparison... birth was much more painful....but that's for another discussion. The mental agony of depression....THAT was comparable to birthing a child, but not on a physical level. Excruciating and debilitating is all I can say. A birthing woman can not go about her day during hard labor. No way, not going to happen. Same goes for a deep depression sufferer. Expecting them to go about their day, when at it's worst is like asking a birthing woman to do that. Impossible. I only bring it up because we tend to rate pain so others can understand, we search for common comparison, to appeal to our support system to garner their patience and understanding. At least that is what I tried to do. To date, it's the only comparison that I can find that sort of describes the level of suffering.
There's a kind of grief I think. You lose a part of yourself. For me it was the loss of 'joy'. Nothing was joyful, when it should have been and when many experiences used to be. I was a stranger in my own body, and that was paralyzing.
Every waking hour was an excruciating, boulder pushing, mud walking, energy sucking existence for me, until it wasn't. I put a lot of work into myself and it's taken a full decade to get to today. People ask me if it was hard to get to where I am now? My healing journey was tough in the beginning, but once I had momentum, the alleviation of symptoms on good days, although only temporary and brief were enough to fuel me forward. What was hard was surrendering to my instinct and trusting myself as I found what worked for me.
10 years ago, the story I was living inside and outside of myself all contributed to the crash and since then I have healed from being a depression sufferer. It's an optimistically cautious statement because if I ever find myself diving again, I know exactly what I have to do. I know my journey, I reflect often and I have a drive to help others that is so strong, that I am driven to continue to safeguard my wellness going forward. Being a guide for others is one way that ensures I am staying well. I strongly believe in not just talking the talk but also walking the walk. I wish to see more people happy, peaceful and living a well life, therefore I believe that first I must be that. It's the seed that keeps me fueled and inspired.
I have spent the better part of the last decade figuring it all out for myself and the answer to gaining back and safeguarding whole being wellness truly lies in nurturing our mind's, our body's, and our spirit, or what I like to call the energy that flows through all of us and is connected to the things around us. Perhaps you refer to this as Mother Nature, The Universe or God; if you can't relate to any of those label's, than I would like to offer: your inner Knowing or your instinct, that gut feeling you get, but tend to ignore....THAT. The most critical of the 3 that has been pushed aside by us busy "doer's", is the 'spirit' part. It is so tangled with the negative connotation that many of us have lost or have never discovered "connection" to the part of us that transcends our human-ness. Connecting to it. Is the answer. It is the key to safeguarding mental, physical and spiritual health., in my opinion.
CONNECTING and PROOF POINTS
My Soulful tip is to connect and to prove it. How do you know when you are connected? It feels different. What each person feels is individual but here are some sensations to scan your body for during your connection time. I call them Proof Points.
- Relief from mental stress,
There are more descriptions, but basically you will feel something VERY positive inside that is reassuring and wonderful. If you don't feel anything positive, it means you are not actually connecting to anything and your mind is likely a hamster wheel and you are stuck in your head.
What exactly are you connecting to?
Actually the easiest way to understand it is that you are connecting to your breath AND to your imagination. Imagination? You might have heard it called visualizing. People use visualizing for goal setting, future planning and for meditation. For the purposes of this article, it is for use in meditation. While meditating feel free to imagine yourself connecting to an infinite source of energy that is a well of inspiration, guidance and tranquility. Listening to guided meditation is a great way to start or follow the simple steps below:
- Schedule 10 minutes in your day to sit quietly and connect (if you don't schedule it, it won't happen...trust me)
- Sit upright in a chair, both feet on floor
- Breath slowly and deeply (fill every part of your lungs)
- With your awareness follow your breathing as you inhale and exhale, just follow it (this will quiet your mind chatter, if you get distracted with a thought, just redirect your awareness to your breath again).
- Scan your body for signs of relaxation, (this is a mind-body alignment point)
- When you feel relaxation in the body, continue to breath and follow the breath.
- Allow your imagination to take you upward and outward, maybe up to the Sun to imagine yourself recharging your batteries with Sun energy, or you may imagine your lower body growing roots into the Earth and you are absorbing Earth energy, or just let your imagination take on a life of its own.
- When you are done, take a moment and scan yourself for the proof points (listed above). You are looking for signs of stress relief, feeling uplifted & lighter in mood, peace or ease.
- Drink some water and wash your hands to perk you up a bit because you will feel really relaxed.
- Go on with your day
Finding your proof points is very important, because these signs tend to get missed. Proof points get missed because the mind chatter is too loud and with many people meditation has become a task to check off vs a true habit and daily practice. Without proof, it hasn't happened and you will not feel revitalized.
If you don't find the proof points in yourself, that's ok, it can take time. Have faith and try again tomorrow. You will find them, just don't stop the practice. That's why we call it PRACTICE and not PERFECT.
It was this connecting practice that I stumbled across 10 years ago and it cracked the deep dark depression I was in. Those cracks let in some light and although I still had a long way to go, I suddenly had hope that I could be well again.
Today, I AM.
I would love to hear from readers. Do you suffer from Depression? Does a loved one? How are you coping? What works for you? what doesn't work for you? The only way we can end the stigma is to talk about it.
Please SHARE if you know someone who could benefit from this read.