depression

On suicide – An open letter to Wentworth Miller

I watched this speech from 2013 by Wentworth Miller for the first time yesterday and it has touched me in a very unexpected way and I felt compelled to share it. Suicide has been high on my radar recently and after a couple of coincidences this week, like happening on this video and reading Tim Ferris blog about his experiences, I feel it’s time to talk about it here too. But first, here’s the speech:


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Dear Mr Miller,

I want to thank you for speaking out in 2013 at the HRC about topics that were no doubt incredibly difficult  and painful to address. Finally it felt like someone was speaking my truth about how I have felt for a large part of my 44 years…I & me are a large part of my vocabulary while we, us or community are still not. I hadn’t made the connection to my childhood situation however – being thrown into self-dependence and having to have maturity levels far beyond my years at a very early age on my own has left me constantly feeling alone and lost within a sea of family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. We are not the same but like you, I struggle with a sense of community – also of mixed race, religion, born in a country where I was a foreigner, moved to my home country where I continued to not fit in and now two countries later … I still do not feel like I belong…anywhere. “I have no home” is something I frequently say when asked where my home is. What I crave the most is community – a sense of belonging but I have yet to find it. Your speech has made me realize that this lack of community could be a story that I continue to tell myself rather than actual reality – that there probably exists, somewhere out there, a group of people that would readily accept me – if only I’d ask. I just need to find them. Or rather, that I need to start speaking my truth where I am and see who sticks around. It’s hard because I’m scared. I thought I had my shit together and yet there are still things about myself that I hide. You have inspired me to speak more truthfully and this is something I will try to do more of starting now. I recently starting talking about my childhood wounds in public, of my constant companion depression and I’ve alluded to suicide but not openly discussed it. There were many suicide attempts, especially in my teenage years and early twenties, though few people knew – like you, it was less of a cry for help (even though that was a part of it) and more of a desire to get the hell out of this painful place. A result of hopelessness and a loneliness that believed no one cared. I thought I was better but when I thought about suicide last summer, less than a year ago, I realised that I am still in its grips even though I have developed many happiness tools and habits that help me emotionally day to day. When Robin Williams killed himself, I understood. So many people questioned it but I just got it. And this is what worries me – I have two huge reasons for not killing myself … I do not want to make that part of their childhood story. I want to break the cycle (after watching my mum try to take her own life throughout my own childhood) and so far, I am doing OK, but I now realise that I really do need a community to help me stay strong and for this realisation, I thank you. I need to bring we and us into my world. And I need to be more open about my sexual orientation rather than talking around it, especially for my kids. I never felt accepted by the lesbian & gay community where I was because there was always the belief that “bisexuals were just sitting on the fence pretending they weren’t gay” – times have changed a lot in the last 20 years so perhaps this has too. Time to come clean and see what happens. Time to find a community that knows my secrets and invites me in with open arms. And if I can’t find one, I’m going to start one – where each of us is loved and worth loving, scars and all. If you know nothing else, know that your speech has touched at least one person (but no doubt many many more). My gratitude knows no bounds. Thank you thank you thank you Mr Miller. 

Tipxo

The big black dog (OR things that really help)

Another video for you today – I hadn’t intended on two videos in a row but well, I really liked this one I saw the other day.  It reminded me of the things I know (and often do, when I remember) that really help my depression.  I suspect that you also know the things that help you, even if its only deep down in the back of your brain, but I hope that this encourages you to bring them back to the front and perhaps put them in place when you’re feeling the “black dog” get bigger again.

I was lying in bed thinking about this and well, I guess I should preface all this by saying that while I am anti happy pills, I am not trying to discourage anyone from taking the steps that help them. I just prefer to manage and have been using a natural approach for many many years.  If it’s all new to you then take your time to figure out what helps you best.

So, some of the things that help me:

1. SLEEP!!!  Tiredness makes everything worse.  ALWAYS.  I’m a former insomniac but I’ve stopped resisting sleep and now embrace it in a big way (having little kids definitely helps you appreciate any sleep you can get!). I could go on (there’s probably a whole blog post worth of sleep tips I could share) but simply put – aim to get enough QUALITY sleep every night. Enough depends on you but listen to your body and just do it (for me, if it’s a quality sleep then I’m good with around 6 hours but if it’s a restless night then 8 or more is what I need!)

2. EXERCISE!!! Ugh. I hate the word. BUT some form of physical activity will help…even if you just go outside for a walk for a few minutes (preferaby in the sunlight – more on this later).   WHY?  Nature’s own happy pills, that’s why, in the form of a seratonin (and other good stuff – very technical I am) boost. Actually, if you’re having trouble sleeping, exercise usually helps with that – at least I know that it helps me sleep better! 10 0r 15 minutes is usually enough.  I’m sure you could squeeze that into your daily routine – just make it a priority for feeling good. (Before you say anything, I know that this is HARD.  Who wants to exercise when depressed, right? I know all about that – I’m just at a point at my life now where I schedule it in and also have the ability to listen to my body.  It, in no uncertain terms, tells me that I’ve been neglecting myself and I go do the things I know I MUST to make it better.  Mind over depression, as it were.)

3. Get some SUNLIGHT – I know, it’s hard, especially in the winter months (hence my recent daylight lamp purchase) but sunlight also boosts your seratonin.  No excuses here, get yourself some form of sunlight, stat. (Besides which, our bodies need it to produce Vitamin D – necessary for many things but it also boosts your immune system so if you get sick often then sunlight is the key.  Or eating more fish for Vitamin D – I’ve been observing those Scandinavians and they know all about this stuff but I digress.)

4. Remembering the good stuff.  Things that really make you smile.  If this is hard, take a moment to sit down and write some of these down.  Dig deep and look for them.  Truly happy events.  I’m lucky – I have some pretty BIG ones in the form of the birth of my two kids…just writing this takes me back there and the joy is indescribable.  My wedding day is also pretty high up there and I’ve been lucky to have had two wonderful loves of my life BUT if I go further back before these things happened there are still happy memories.  Like the day I got my dog for my 12th birthday…he was so tiny he fit on the palm of my hand…it was such a beautiful moment.  Go back to your childhood if you have to, before all of “this” started (I don’t know about you but I was always very happy until puberty hit) and find some happy memories to pull up when you need them.

5. Massage.  Or anything else that pampers you.  I like getting a massage.  For some reason it makes me happy.  Literally. Go get one. you deserve it after all that exercise!!!

6. Eat right.  Another blog post I think about the effects of food on my mood.  But simply put, step away from the sugar (including those white carbs) & stimulants to “help” you.  They don’t.  It’s a viscious circle.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my morning coffee and never say no to chocolate but it’s about moderation rather than extremism.  Too much of anything can be a bad thing.  So, be aware of what you’re putting in your mouth. Keep a food/mood diary for a while where you log what you eat and how you feel – the results just might surprise you!  (Like, I have observed that I am a b*tch when I have my post sugar dip – truly awful…”keep away people” type of nasty!  Eek.)

7. A meditative practice.  No, I don’t mean that you need to ohm your way to happiness or anything, what I really mean is stopping to look inward and listen to what your body is telling you. This has helped me recognise early when my depression starts to take hold (it happens in waves for me and comes and goes) so I can put in place all the things that I know help minimise it.  It has also helped me separate my depression from me.  I am not depressed, I just have a chemical imbalance that makes me feel depressed. I have chosen yoga because I like it, it helps me center my thoughts and it’s exercise and kind of a form of massage (I like to be efficient and it ticks a few boxes!), but this really could be anything…art, baking etc … find something you can focus on that centers you.

8. Last, but definitely not least, cuddles.  Yes, that’s right, cuddles.  I’m blessed to have to little cuddlers at my disposal on a daily basis.  Even if they don’t hug me, I generally steal  a few cuddles every day.  I have become quite a hugger and every friend I meet gets one on meeting and one on departure.  Do not underestimate the benefit of a hug. Physical contact helps. I also used to find that patting my dog helped me feel better – perhaps cuddling your pet might also help, now that I think about it.  But, try to get a hug or two into your day. I think it’s OK to say “I’m feeling a bit down today, may I have a hug?”.  The thing is, most people secretly love hugs and are likely to give you one (I’m not suggesting that you ask strangers or anything – let’s just start with folk you know first!) – for some reason we’ve just all got a bit weird about it. And when you hug them, close your eyes and really experience it.

I know you’re probably laughing right now but hey, that’s also a good thing, right?!

Well, I think I have waffled on enough this morning.

Are there any things that you do to help lift your mood and make the big black dog smaller?

With love,

Tipxo

2014. My year of GRATITUDE.

Well, I’ve just joined #oneword365 with my word of the year, which fits in nicely with my #365daysofgratitude2014 picture project I started over on Instagram. Funnily enough, I hadn’t heard of one word prior to today (even though it started in 2009!) but it’s something I seem to do each year – set an intention using one word, so joining them and perhaps finding my “tribe” seemed like an apt thing to do.  This one word a year thing actually all started when I joined Susannah Conway’s Unravelling course a couple of years ago, but I digress …

So, why have I chosen gratitude this year? Because I have decided to kick this depression to the curb (as they say) and finally get on top of it in a more structured way AND I saw the video below that seems to confirm that an attitude of gratitude could possibly help my cause. I’ll try anything that works (except going down the route of prescription drugs – more on that later), so here I am. Let’s see how this experiment pans out.

 

Reflecting back on my word for last year, simplify, I can honestly say that it does help to set some sort of intention for the year ahead. I’ve never been great at keeping resolutions (I mean, is anyone, really?) but one word – well, THAT I can do. Mostly. And my 2013 was filled with simplifying. My home, my life committments and mostly, the stuff swilling about in my brain. It’s helped me feel much lighter and led to a great deal more happy days so this year’s word is all about taking that momentum and moving forward with it headlong into positivity! I’ve always been good at being thankful and reflecting on the many blessings in my life (hey, you don’t get through 30 years of depression without remembering the good things) but this is about conscious gratitude…and also, saying thank you to the folk around me that have lived with and loved me through both the good and bad times.

Time to stop my babbling for a while and go snuggle in bed with the hubs but I leave you with the question:

If you had to pick one word to set your intention for 2014 – what would it be?

With love,

Tipxo

PS I also finally bought one of those lights that are supposed to help with S.A.D – told you I was getting serious about this! 🙂