Friday, December 16, 2022

Depression: An Update

Depression is hard. 

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash
That's true. And, yet, a huge understatement.

I can see ways that I've improved:
  • I can more readily spot the signs of depression worsening.
  • I have been growing my toolbox with ways to help me in battle.
  • I find myself reaching outside of myself more than I used to.
I'm trying to focus on those things, but the truth is that there's so much other stuff chattering in the background... that I'm right back where I've been time and time and time again. Like there's no way to not.

Over the years, I've experienced depression to varying degrees. It's always there, though the depth, intensity, and disruption vary. Each episode is a unique and ever-changing combination of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks... making it a moving target to identify and manage. 

I've been in a depressive cycle for nearly 4 years. There have been moments of sheer beauty and joy, but the lows have been just as impressive as the highs. 

Depression does its best to push those positive moments out of my memory, while latching on to the painful ones. I'm doing my best to allow the space to grieve the losses and experience the joys, both with the intensity that shows up.

I seem to have more recently turned a corner to experiencing the deep lows, but the highs feel dampened. This may be partly due to deep sadness and grief stacking atop the depression. It's too heavy. 

I'm so tired and weary. The daily battles feel like a permanent fixture in my life.

I'm not sure how to get through all of this... but, there is no other way but through. 

Update: I wrote the above some number of months ago. 

There have been ebbs and flows to my experience of depression. Sometimes, depression is in the background and things don't feel quite as heavy and dark. Other times, there's a sense of emptiness and it feels like there's a blanket over everything. It takes a lot of hard work and energy to try to allow and accept even the difficult moments. I'm trying.

"I’ve managed to live with and through Depression before and can do it again. And that is a truth Depression cannot dispel." - Marie Shanley (Mxiety)

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Allowing What I Need Right Now

I'm grateful for words that show up at the perfect moment and resonate.
Photo by Andreas Wagner on Unsplash

"Allow yourself the things you need right now. Whether that's space, rest, support, or something else, know that you are not a burden for taking care of yourself." - To Write Love On Her Arms
I'll admit that I don't always do the best at identifying or allowing myself what I need in the moment. It's something I've been intentionally working on... and it feels like life is giving me tons of opportunities to practice.

I have read the above quote at different moments over the past few months. It remains something I need reminded of, even though my responses to it have varied. 
  • I have no idea what I need right now or how to make it through this pain, this grief, this moment. None of those things will bring relief or reprieve. 
  • I am doing all the things I'm able to do for what I need right now, including, acknowledging that various pains (physical, mental, emotional) often team up with one another and have a propensity for telling lies. 
I'm fighting back with truths:
  • This moment is hard, and I will make it through.
  • The pain and grief are real, and I'm anchored to the One that will see me through each wave of every storm.
  • I am doing what I can to take care of myself, and that is always enough.️
I know that there's likely more I want to write and explore on the topic. I'm choosing to focus on getting through the current storm, jotting thoughts down as I'm able, and being ok with revisiting them when I'm better able to. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Pain Wraps Us Tightly Into Ourselves

Pain wraps us tightly into ourselves.
Photo by Erik Kroon on Unsplash

I wrote these words a couple years ago. They have proven to be so true. I have seen and felt it in me. I have seen and felt it in others.

Physical pain. Mental pain. Emotional pain. Spiritual pain. Relational pain. All pain. 

When pain is acute and deep, focus tends to draw inward. Toward the hurt, pain, chaos within. 

It sometimes feels like there's no way out of the protective walls that shoot up when the brain thinks we are in danger. The truth is that those walls often close off the very people that are willing to help. 

"I started to build a home with all the walls I was putting up for myself, but when I was finished, I realized I had built a cage and didn’t make a key." - Lidia Longorio

I have worked for years to recognize and intentionally act in ways that counter the closing off that feels natural when pain hits hard. 

One way I do this is to reach out, when I feel myself closing off and turning inward. I do this through prayer and connecting with a friend. It doesn't always make an immediate notable difference for me, but I can usually notice that it positively impacts the person I reach out to... and it ultimately impacts me, too, even if it's delayed. 

My goal in reaching out is to connect. This sometimes involves sharing about my current struggles, but not always. Oftentimes, it's simply to let them know that I'm thinking of them. This is likely related to me feeling alone in that moment and wanting others to know that they're not. I find that true connection helps both individuals feel less alone. 

"Knowing that you're not alone really does make all the difference in the world." - Normani Hamilton

Thursday, July 7, 2022


Grief is a difficult part of my journey. It weaves its way through in so many different ways that I often don't even recognize or acknowledge its existence. I know that grieving the various and many losses in life is part of being human. And it's really hard.

From grieving losses related to chronic illness to losses of loved ones, I'd like to write through to try to make sense or peace with some of it. I'm not sure where this path will take me, so I'll start right where I am now.
Photo by Todd Turner on Unsplash 
Grief is so complex. It shows up in so many ways, at so many times, both expected and unexpected.

My body seems to remember anniversaries of losses, even if I don't immediately recognize the timing.

My mind has been returning to / flooded with memories very intensely in recent weeks, and I didn't realize why. Eventually, I looked at the calendar and realized that there are several deep losses within a few weeks of each other from late June to early July.

How long ago the original losses were doesn't seem to matter. Grief knows no time. It calls for experiencing and processing over and over and over. The waves sometimes seem to lessen in certain ways (like frequency or intensity), but they continue to come.

In my experience, grief can hit in different ways:
  • Specific: the loss of a certain person or thing.
  • Multiple: the loss of multiple people or things.
  • General, over-arching, all-encompassing: a sense of all of one's losses.
  • Combination: multiple ways at one time.
When multiple losses surface at the same time, the associated grief compounds. Instead of facing the grief of a single loss, which can be heavy and difficult enough, you're simultaneously facing unresolved grief of multiple or all losses. It can feel like drowning.

There's no way to shortcut grief, which really sucks. It demands to be felt. And it's in our best interest to experience and work through it, when it shows up. It sounds so simple, but I've never experienced it to be such.
As I face the grief of multiple losses, I'm doing my best to tread water, as the waves crash over me. I know that the storm will pass, or at least change. So, I do what I must to weather it and process what I can along the way.

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
- Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross

Sunday, January 2, 2022

A Year in Review, Kinda (2021)

I like things to be in order. I always have. Sometimes, it gets me locked into place and prevents me from starting or reaching out or sharing at all. It's more than ok to start from where you are... from where I am. That's where we are: now, this moment.

This year has included many health-related challenges, including a hospitalization, multiple infections,
major surgery, new symptoms, testing, imaging, new diagnoses. Oh my!

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash
I've faced a lot, made it through a lot, and learned a lot. 

I'm still going through a lot, processing through a lot, and focusing on healing a lot. 

A lot.

It's been nonstop.

Generally, my primary way of processing is through writing. It's how I move through life's ups and downs... especially the latter.

This year, though, my writing has been more focused on documenting what's going on, defining a bunch of new to me terms, and doing my best to wrap my mind around it all. The processing part has been tricky, as I've often been merely trying to get through one moment to the next. 

I want to write.
I want to process. 
I want to share.
I need to survive.

There are times that the physical side of recovery consumes all of my energy. That's compounded by trying to strike a balance of allowing the emotional aspects to ebb and flow, and not getting completely swept away by the waves of emotion. Physical pain is rarely experienced without an emotional impact, at least for me.

So, I write thoughts down. What that looks like varies: snippets of thoughts or ideas, a list of questions, prayers, words or songs that resonate with me, unedited raw emotion, a moment when dots suddenly connect... even a complete blog post.

Then, weeks and months (and, sometimes, years) pass by before I finish or share / post what I started writing in the midst of it all.

I know that it's ok. And, it can feel overwhelming.

I have to start somewhere. Somewhere is here. Now.

I'm struggling. On multiple fronts. 

There are times that it feels like there's no time, space, or energy to slow down to process something before another thing drops. 

I recognize that I'm in a season of needing to focus on my health and hurts. I know that it's important. Crucial, even. I know that it's what I need to do. And, it's really hard. 

I'm not comfortable with needing to focus on my stuff so intently, for so long. It's exhausting. 

I'm well-versed in managing and seeking support for the chronic illnesses I've had for years. Asking for and accepting help have been things I've gotten much better at over the years (Help: A Four-Letter Word). The trouble is, there's been so much new health stuff this year, and I don't yet know what help or support I need to ask for. 

It's frustrating to so frequently have something new, worse, and/or more going on with my health. I feel like I don't have much left to give to others... and, that... that is so hard.
I acknowledge that feeling it doesn't make it true. It's a self-judgment / critique. I truly believe that a poll of my people would show that I'm giving others love, support, care in multiple ways and that I am and have always been enough.
I'm also able to recognize that I've grown in how I handle and face uncertainty, change, loss, complexity. I'm still learning and growing, for sure. 

I don't know how things will look here on my blog moving forward. I plan to continue to use this space as a place to process and share. I think that might look like a combination of words I wrote in the moment and where I'm at in the process now. 

I'm looking forward to writing and sharing more of my journey. 

"No matter how big or small, allow yourself the chance to reflect on all of the things you've championed in the past year. You are allowed to feel proud of yourself." - Olimatta Taal

Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog is intended as medical or legal advice.

What I write on this site is my own, and if it is someone else's, I take special care to attribute it to the original author. So, please don't use any of my material without proper attribution or permission. Thanks.