Depression Stigmata

I wish… that depression didn’t have such a stigma attached to it. I wish people wouldn’t question my symptoms because they can’t be seen like other illnesses. I wish I didn’t have depression but I do.

It’s easy to get trapped in thinking that you don’t deserve anything good especially kindness. Depression grabs ahold of you like cheetah to an antelope and it won’t let go until it’s gotten the kill.

Many times in my life I’ve felt weak, more times than not. Recently I was faced with something very difficult and the depression flood gates were opened wide up. The waves could have taken me under and washed me into sea but I stood still.

It’s not been easy. In a few days time I was transported to three years ago when I stuck in Nashville faced with the death of my sweet Mama. No matter how far I run I can’t see to get away from those two days. With the snap of my fingers I’m instantly transported back to that scary place. Where I’m alone and scared.

Even today I feel alone and scared but I refuse to give into the pain. I might end up homeless and alone but at least I’m still standing. No matter what is thrown my way I will survive it.

When you’ve faced depression head on for so many years you begin to rack up the scars. Look at them one by one and all you can see is the pain but if you’re able to look at them from afar you realize they’ve turned into armor.

The future is unknown. Even tomorrow is unknown. What I do know is that I deserve kindness. I deserve to be happy. We all do. I am not my depression. I’m so much more than that. So if you know someone struggling and you’re unsure how to handle the situation just show them kindness. We don’t expect anyone to solve our problems but a little kindness goes a long ways.

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Throwing a Tantrum

I just want to throw a tantrum… a full blown childhood meltdown. I get so pissed that my Mom died that all I see is red. I’d scream bloody murder if I thought it would do any good but I know it won’t bring her back. That’s the sucky thing about death, it’s permanent and it’s something I won’t ever get use to.

Just when I’ve simmered down something reminds me our mortality and I feel all those feelings all over again. I want to scream until my throat is hoarse. Something has to lessen the anger as it’s eating me alive.

I’d run but have nowhere to go. I feel like I’m wasting time. Stuck in a moment. Can’t move forward, can’t move past. Barely present. Floating in outer space. A mime without an audience. I go through all the emotions.

I’ve been through enough. I’m done suffering. God didn’t give me this artistic ability to not use it. I know NYC didn’t happen for no reason. I’m tired of waiting…

 

The Illusion of Fear

fear /fir/
noun
  1. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Fear is a learned behavior and usually the result of getting hurt. Fear can protect you but it also can cause harm. It can keep you from living a fulfilling life.

I grew up in a family that was fear based. We were groomed to fear God and life itself. That’s the goal of fire and brimstone. The more you feared God (going to hell), the better your chances of getting into heaven. For me, that fear kept me in hell. At one point in my life I was so frightened by God that hearing his/her name would send me into panic attack mode.

To get away from that fear I pushed God away. It was the only way to cope with the idea of burning in flames for eternity was to stop believing in anything. I didn’t realize until recently how damning that was to my soul as well.

While I put the fear of God away it manifested itself in other fun ways. I replaced one fear for another like they were candy bars in vending machine. When you’re groomed to fear it’s often difficult to see anything else. As an adult various experiences confirmed that I had something to fear.

I would venture out into the world like a scared, little rabbit. Something would spook me and send me hopping for dear life back down the rabbit hole. For most of my adult life I’ve been single because of fear. The few relationships I’ve had always ended badly with me being devastated and heart broken. All my experiences with love resulted in misery so that hard wired into my brain that I had something to fear. I couldn’t risk getting hurt so it was easier to be single. I went over ten years of being single and the relationship that ended that streak was the worst relationship to date.

I almost stayed in an abusive relationship because of fear.

I’ve thought a lot about fear, for an example spiders. Spiders scare the hell out of me and I’ve often wondered why? What makes a spider scary but a ladybug cute. The thing about fear is that it’s not always based off experiences it can passed on from one generation to the next. The tipping point for me with spiders started when I watched the movie Arachnophobia. That scene in the barn freaked me out. I won’t give you the heebie jeebies by describing what happened. If you haven’t seen it let your imagination fill in the blanks.

Everyone has fears. My greatest fear was losing my Mom. I was so frightened to lose her that I made her invincible. It never dawned on me that she would die when she did. So you can imagine that when she died my fear spiralled out of control.

I was so afraid that something bad was going to happen to my family that I turned into a hermit. I would go weeks without ever leaving the house. I encapsulated myself in a fear bubble and it slowly sucked the life out of me. When my Mom died it opened the floodgates to anything happening. So if someone who I thought was immortal could die so could anyone else.

One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Strictly Ballroom, “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.” I’ve lived a half life.

In the last year I’ve worked really hard in therapy to overcome this fear but it still holds a knife to my throat. It no longer has me held hostage but I still give it more power than I should.

When you’ve surrounded yourself with fear for a good portion of your life it’s difficult to come out of the shadows. It’s quite like being in a dark room for a portion of time and immediately walking into full sunlight. Not only will it blind you but it can knock you off your feet. It can also send you fleeing for the comfort of the night but it’s a false sense of security as it keeps you from the warmth of the light.

I think the key to overcoming my fears is to face them head on. I’m frightened as hell to venture back into the world but I’m tired of being paralyzed by the fear. I’m safe but I’m miserable. This isn’t the life I want to lead. My Mama wanted more for me. I deserve more for myself.

Whenever I face my fears they’re never as gigantic or scary as I’ve imagined them to be. Illusion is the only thing fear has to hold onto. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

 

Losing My Religion

I grew up in fire and brimstone. I was groomed to face life in fear. As an adult I have struggled to put out all those flames. While most I kept to a smolder I still fight against the few that are resistance. For so many years I’ve allowed them to ravage my soul. Those flames have left me with a blackened out forest.

Now it’s time to use those remaining flames to fuel me. I think the key to unlocking my happiness is to stop searching for answers from the outside world. I don’t need to find something, that I already have inside of me. I’m worthy of that love, as is everyone.

Things may seem bleak but they won’t stay that way. I guess sometimes in order to find yourself you need to get lost.

Coat of Many Colors

Watching Dolly’s movie about her life called Coat of Many colors reminded me of many things. There was a line in the movie that hit me most and it was Dolly saying that growing up was not only some of her hardest times but best times as well. I wish I remembered the quote exactly, as it was more eloquent.

I have to agree. I can look back at my life and see all the wonderful things. There was a time that all I could see was the bad. Like little Dolly when she lost her soon to be brother to heaven, my heart hasn’t sung in a very long time. I’ve been angry at God… angry at Mama. I’ve tried to do it alone because I didn’t want to hurt anymore but that doesn’t work either. God is like love, without it the world becomes a very dark place.

I was raised in a very similar background as Dolly. My family was quite religious, Southern Baptist as a matter of fact. Many of my Sundays were spent in a similar church as shown in the movie. I don’t remember the fire and brimstone but I do remember all the singing. For a moment I was transported to my Mama and grandmother singing. I’ve tucked away my spirituality because of the fire and brimstone not realizing I was giving up the singing.

I think the moral of the movie and the testament of Dolly’s life is letting your heart sing. I can’t remember the last time those melodies plucked at my heart strings. My heart stopped singing long before Mama died.

While my childhood wasn’t quite like Dolly’s in regards to be poor we certainly didn’t have it easy. While I was watching Dolly’s Mother portrayed in the movie it was like my Mom was on the screen. My Mom did what she had to do to provide for us including making crafts for extra money to get my sister and I the things we needed.

My Mama did grow up in a family much like Dolly’s as they were very poor. To help the family my Mom had to work in the muck fields which meant picking onions in the sweltering summer sun. When kids were out playing she was out in the muck. The house she grew up in was the size of a small apartment with an outhouse for a bathroom. There were nine children in the family as well. So it was a full house.

I don’t know when but my Mom also stopped singing as well. We were both very codependent. She grew up with a father who was an alcoholic. From a very early age she learned how to walk on eggshells and was groomed to expect it out of life. Her adult life only mirrored that just like mine has.

When you grow up in dysfunctional family you learn how to survive, not to live. Chaos becomes the norm and it transforms you into an altered being. One where you tolerate other bad situations because you feel that’s what you deserved.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cycled through these moments where I’ve questioned what will happen next… as in when the ground will fall apart underneath my feet. So many times it’d fill up a book.

I’ve been beat down before but I’ve always gotten my voice back within a considerable time. While I’m further from that bad place (where I tried to kill myself two years ago) my voice is still soft. I don’t know how to get it back. It’s the exact feeling when I was being abused. I wanted to yell but nothing came out.

It’s been three years since my Mom has died. What keeps me from singing??? My therapist recently asked me if my father was a wise man. At first I thought why the heck she was asking me but after a few moments I said no… that he was foolish. She then asks me what I believed such an idiot and to which I replied I don’t know…

Ever since I’ve been scratching my head wondering why all these years I’ve listened to foolish people. I’ve let them keep me from singing for far too long. I’m just not sure how to create the life I deserve.

I’ve built a world around all the wrong things. Life (a happy one) seems so far away. No matter what I refuse to give in to the hopelessness. At times those voices are so loud they’re painful but I’m just angry enough to say fuck it. The good thing about getting kicked to the ground, you can’t go any further.

I would just like to use all that junk (the bad feelings, people not believing in me, the pain, the grief, abuse) as fuel to fight. To just say fuck it to the world and push through. Up until this point it’s dragged me down.

There is great resiliency in taking a stand and saying you’re fed up. No one has control over me but me. I don’t know how or when but I will move forward from it all.

So I’m going to put back on my coat of many colors as I’ve earned it. I’m going to hold onto my songbook and wait for the day I have something to sing about again. The notes are still there deep inside of me. I just have to discover them and I will…