Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Positivity IS Possible

Some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.

Ever hear this phrase? It rings very true for a few reasons. Basically it's saying that some days you are the one on top. You are the one taking the dump. You fly along, doing your thing. Everything is cool. Gotta go? No worries! Let it go!


Right onto the statue. The unwavering statue. Can't move from where it sits and just has to take what happens with a straight face. The rain will come eventually and wash it away, but there will always be another bird coming.

I have always found this to be very relatable to life. It doesn't matter how much you think you have it all together. Something will come along to derail that concept eventually. For some of us in the trenches, it's a constant shift between bird and statue. Work, family, finances, life. The struggle to balance it all and keep your focus. Factor in a lifelong  battle with depression and anxiety, and the balance is more complicated to maintain. Your scale seems perpetually weighted too heavy on one side, so you are always trying to compensate for that on the other side. It's exhausting.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 16, though I felt it's creeping darkness long before that. Over the years, I have tried everything to keep that darkness at bay, or at least under some sort of control. Younger days were spent trying to pretend it wasn't there. I numbed it with alcohol. I covered it up with the attention from other people that I craved and did whatever I had to in order to get. I fought the loneliness with promiscuity. I made a lot of broken promises. My heart took the brunt of it.

Later as I moved into my thirties, I was a divorced single mom and the old methods were no longer applicable to my life. I tried various medications. Some worked, some didn't. I finally found one that did the job better than the rest and I stuck with it. I stumbled into mediation and yoga and those helped. I found Buddhism and threw myself into my studies, trying desperately to understand the world around me. About this time, I was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder that affects the nerves. I was on medication though, so I was coping with it. The darkness was more of a gray than a black these days, and sometimes was even a blue or a purple. I fell back in love and got engaged. We became pregnant.

We lost the pregnancy.

My world stopped spinning for a little while. I seemed to forget all those coping mechanisms that I had used over the years and just shut down. It was a working shut down though, and I continued to function. I went to work. I planned a whole wedding. I attended several. I lost a job, got a new job, Things just kind of happened around me and I took part, but I didn't seem to feel any of it. It was like trying to talk with novacane. You can make the sounds, you can communicate, but you can't really feel it happening. You know it is because you can hear your own voice. You know you are making it happen. But that sensation of motion you would normally feel is just not there. This was me going about life.

This is how depression will happen. It will always be there, and eventually we can get a handle on it. We can find life again through those clouds and finally see the sun again. Something will happen though that will knock it all off track, plunging us back into darkness and we have to scramble to find that footing again. This is not easy. This is hard as hell.

But you CAN do it. Even through the darkness, positivity is possible.

My husband and I became pregnant again last year. The fear that filled me was incredible. I was afraid everything I did would make me lose the pregnancy again. I was afraid of myself. I was afraid of the world. My depression and anxiety were incredible despite my medication. My doctor kept me on the meds throughout my pregnancy and this year I gave birth to a healthy little girl. Would I be ok with this? Would I be able to feel the love through all the darkness?

It's not easy for me. My ordinary depression and anxiety has been compounded by PPD - postpartum depression. Every single day I have to wake up with the determination to make the day a success. Depression is not a choice for me. It's a disease. I have to fight it like one. Part of that is being positive. Some days I win. I wake up and tell myself I will make this day a success, and it is. Some days I lose. I wake up and tell myself I will make this day a success, and I lose terribly to the darkness. It overtakes me. But I know I tried. I did my best. I will always do my best for my kids. I know they need a mom who is here - who is present. Who can get things done and keep the smile on her face. I won't be anything less for my kids.

So methods. How can we do it?

I have found that being kind to others is a huge motivator. Kindness is infectious like good laughter. Once you see it and you feel it around you, it's hard to resist. When everyone is being kind to one another, do you want to be the lonely jerk? No. Of course you don't. All that aside, it just feels so GOOD to be kind. Something as simple as a smile for the person you pass in the supermarket. Hold the door for the person coming in behind you. Smile and be polite and cheerful for the cashier, no matter their demeanor towards you. It becomes habit and it feels very good.

Being neat also helps me. If I keep a clean environment around me, it helps keep the environment in my head a bit cleaner as well. Simple acts like making sure the dishes are done every night makes a big impact on me. Waking up to a dirty, disorderly kitchen ruins my mental space for the day. Waking up to a clean, orderly kitchen in the morning is a breath of fresh air to start my day. I am also a big fan of occasionally moving my furniture. The change in the room seems to shift the energy in my home and things feel new and improved, even if all they are is in a different place.

Keeping lists is another big one. It seems like a small thing, but if I have a list of things I need to get, things I need to do, people I need to pay, etc, it feels like things are orderly. It feels like things are organized. It's a small thing but has a big impact.

Most than anything, it's telling myself that I am doing ok. Sitting in meditation for a few minutes to clear my head and then letting myself know I am ok. I am doing well. I can get through the task at hand. I can make it happen. Things are ok.

Some days I will still be the statue. But I am having more days where I am the bird than I used to. Here is hoping you have your feathers as well.

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