Finding Beauty In The Pain

cupofloveandlight

There is something oddly beautiful about pain.

It forces you to look at it square in the face.

The heaviness, the sadness, the despair, the hopelessness….

To know that one can feel so deeply, so weighed down with emotion, it’s like nothing you could ever imagine.

It’s trying, it’s scary, it’s a black abyss where you are all alone and no one can touch you.

The desperate feelings of fear, the heavy sting in your heart, the look of pure vulnerability in your eyes.

The beauty is in the realness.

Your strength is tested and you find courage in this space because you choose to wake up another day to face this soul-sucking monster.

You are afraid but you are aware, more aware than you have ever been.

You question, you plead, you try to run, but you know you are not handed anything that you cannot handle…. You just don’t know why..

Years of gut wrenching pain and sadness isolate you from the world but you retreat to a place where you completely reconnect with you soul and your purpose.

You find solace in spirituality because you finally see that your wounds are your lessons, your appointed teachers and they have broken you open to reignite a light within you that no other experience could have done.

You are oddly grateful for the pain you have endured because you know now exactly which direction to go.

You are here to heal others and show them the path back to the light.

You know the way well because you survived, you persevered, you struggled but you made it back, you are home.

 

The Girl With The Broken Spirit

course forgiveness piece

I finally heard it.

The exact words that describe what happened to me when I was a little girl.

“My spirit got broken.”

When I heard someone say those words the other day, a whole new world of pain opened up for me when I realized that it was exactly it, the perfect description to what started my journey into darkness.

I was this innocent light with so much happiness, so much joy and such a trusting nature.

I could do anything, talk to anyone, love everyone….I was full of life.

Then at the age of 7, fear entered into my life and I slowly started to disappear and disconnect from the fiery spirit I was born with.

Being a sensitive soul from the beginning, I could always feel everything around me, the negative energy, the positiver energy and hated the feeling when any sort of conflict would arise.

When the physical abuse started, it robbed me of so many beautiful things.

Being hit with belts and hangers did something to me that I will not ever be able to articulate with words how much this harmed me and my soul.

When the abuse started it made me question so many things that came so easily to me before it all started.

My self worth. What unconditional love really meant. Being able to trust 100%. Having an open heart. Being ok with not knowing the outcome.

All of that went out the window and I have had to spend over 30 years trying to get back to remembering my worth, rebuilding my self esteem and trusting that I will be ok no matter what.

All my work I do now it to help other broken spirits who have lost their way, who got the same messages I did about not being good enough or worthy.

I spent years blaming and escaping through self destruction to try to run away from the brokenness I felt at such a young age…..but none of that truly worked or made me heal.

My level of resentment has always far outweighed my willingness to forgive and that has only caused me more pain.

Today I need to take responsibility for my own broken spirit and forgive and move on.

I need to also remember that just because I am deciding to forgive does not mean I condone the behaviors that hurt me so deeply.

I am choosing to let go, release the hold the pain has had on me and finally reconnect to the beautiful spirit that has been there all along, it was just covered up in unnecessary suffering.

Reconnecting With Your Inner Light

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor.

“What hurts you blesses you, darkness is your candle.” ~Rumi

We are all born with it. The beautiful bright light in our soul, filled with love and happiness.

I remember having that feeling of being so alive and free and untouched by fear or worry.

This is who we are at the core of our being. This is our true authentic self, from before the world told us who we needed to be and negative outside circumstances started to tear down our self-worth and self-esteem.

I can tell you exactly what age I was when the light inside of me started to fade. I was seven years old and there was physical abuse at home with belts and hangers.

From the very first moment it happened, I remember being in my bed and hugging my Snoopy doll, questioning what love and trust really meant.

Worst of all, I started to believe that I was not worthy of safety and security, and decided I must be a really unlovable girl.

Having this negative belief about myself, I could no longer hear anything positive from anyone. No matter what compliment someone offered or how much someone would try to show me love, I would go back to this now instilled belief: “You are not worth it. No one will love you. You are supposed to feel pain if love is involved.”

This false self-perception led me down many dark paths into self-destruction and self-sabotage, and my world in my mind became very small.

I was attracting circumstances and people in my life that would reaffirm my low self-worth so that I could tell myself, each and every time I was abandoned, rejected, or broken up with, “See, what you think is true—you are not worth it.”

This eventually turned into a huge black abyss in my soul, and there was no light in sight.

I tried to fill it with alcohol, drugs, relationships, sleeping pills, and whatever I thought might help me escape this deep darkness that was now my everyday existence, but nothing helped.

After many years of struggling, running, and numbing, I saw a quote by the great poet Rumi that read, “What hurts you blesses you. Darkness is your candle.” That was it!

I realized that my pain was not a punishment, and that I could see all this pain as a candle, a guide to bring me back to who I was before I decided I wasn’t worthy or lovable.

My journey into spirituality began, and I was able to come up with a process that allowed me to heal from each painful incident, no matter how bad it was.

Here are the steps that I have taken to heal some of my deepest wounds:

Identify what, exactly, is causing the pain.

I needed to go back to the beginning, before fear took the place of love in my heart, and remember the specific events that I allowed to negatively affect me. I created a timeline and wrote down everything that had ever hurt me up until my current age.

Take a quiet moment and sit in a place where you won’t be interrupted. Take out your journal or a piece of paper, and then sit with your eyes closed.

Bring yourself back to your past and try to recall a time when you felt hurt, scared, or fearful. Write down what happened and how you felt. This process is not an easy one, but the only way we can heal it is to reveal it.

Acknowledge the pain in the present.

After allowing myself to get clear about what had hurt me and caused me great suffering, I needed to fully acknowledge how each incident was affecting me in the present.

Once you retrieve the memory of what caused you this pain, sit with it and visualize yourself saying, “Okay, I am in fear/distress/pain/extreme sadness, and I am going to be okay.”

You are now acknowledging your feelings in this moment because you felt very alone and helpless before. This allows you to comfort yourself, which will bring you a feeling of peace.

Accept the pain.

What I was resisting, numbing, and avoiding was causing my suffering. My detour away from my light happened because I refused to accept that these incidents had so much power over me. I didn’t realize then that acceptance can set you free. I didn’t have to condone or like what happened; I just needed to accept it. 

It will be a freeing exercise for you to now write, “I fully accept this situation as being exactly how it was supposed to be. I am a stronger person because of this.”

This will alleviate the hold the pain has on you because you’ll be shifting your belief about what you experienced. Instead of feeling victimized, and consequently hurt or ashamed, you’ll feel empowered for having gained strength and wisdom through your experience. You can do this any time you feel you are holding on to something that is upsetting you.

Release, forgive, and let go of the pain.

Before I acknowledged the pain and brought it to consciousness, I didn’t think I had a choice, so the pain became part of my identity. Now I can release it. If I decide to visit it again and identify with it, I know that will be choosing to suffer.

Now is the time when you can release the situation and the hold it has had on you. In order to do this, you need to forgive yourself for carrying around the dark and heavy emotions.

You also need to forgive anyone who hurt you. It might help to consider that they, too, were hurting, and that’s why they did what they did. Recognizing that hurt people cause others pain, you now have an even stronger motivation to do this work to heal your own.

Envision yourself in the situation(s) you revisited with a beautiful white light surrounding you, protecting you, and allowing you to see that you are safe.

Picture yourself telling the fearful you that it’s okay to let this go because you are not there anymore. You are free from what you hurt you in the past, and it doesn’t mean anything about you or your worth. What happened wasn’t your fault, and you don’t deserve to live a life defined by that pain and shame.

This is where you detach from your story and choose not to identify with the painful situations.

You can now write out, “Universe, I am now fully releasing this situation and forgiving (whoever was involved) and myself. I am free from this pain. Thank you for taking this from me.”

The good news is that once we make the courageous decision to bring these painful memories and emotions into the open, and decide we need to confront the pain head on, we can start this healing process.

This is not a process that you will only do one time. This is something you will do over and over again until you feel the heaviness lifted from your heart and a sense of inner peace wash over you.

By shining light on our deepest and darkest wounds, we allow them to come to the surface so we can go through the necessary steps to turn our greatest pain into our greatest power and strength.

If your goal is to reconnect with your inner light and realign with who you truly are, I invite you on this healing journey that has forever changed my life.

The Not So Fair Choice With Antidepressants

brokenandOK

 

When I am in a low of my depression, my world becomes very small, dark and I am in an extremely desperate place.

 

Most days in this place I am wishing I was “not around” that is my version of I want to take my life or life to just take me out.

 

It’s morbid to think that, I know, trust me, I have been carrying this debate of ‘to stay or not to stay’ for over 20 years and it feels morbid each time I feel it.

 

The toughest part is, before my depression I was one of the happiest girls who was most of the time seen socializing or dancing around without a care in the world.

 

If anyone was to describe me, ‘bubbly’ was usually one of the top 3 descriptions.

 

So when I turned 18 and became diagnosed with major depression it was a shock to everyone in my family and almost harder for them to take because they no longer recognized the girl I had become.

 

A few years in, I was able to go on 2 different types of antidepressants that allowed to me to have moments of that bubbly girl. Not all the time but I would say about 50% which is great odd for someone who was in major depressive episodes so often.

 

Recently in the last 4 years or so, my medication stopped working.

 

I couldn’t leave my house, I couldn’t stop crying, my suicidal thoughts were increasing and I needed help quickly or I was very worried my darkness would make the final decision for me.

 

My psychiatrist told me to try a 3rd medicine which I was hesitant about because, well, to be honest, shame, I didn’t want to be the girl who needed 3 medicines to make it through life because it still embarrassed me and hindered my pride.

 

After a few months I said okay and was told about the side effects.

 

Weight gain (that’s a fun one), muscle stiffness (hmm), twitching (embarrassing) and along with 10 or so other ones, she let me know they found breast cancer in rats in one of the studies!

 

You can only imagine what I thought about which is always that I have to make this INSANE choice between wanting to live (taking the meds and having the horrible side effects) or not taking the meds and maybe taking my life.

 

Seems obvious to most, but this decision really just isn’t fun because I am choosing to live yet have to endure odd side effects and then pray daily that I don’t get breast cancer from this new drug.

 

This time the side effect I am having is being pointed out by my family and described as “You seem withdrawn, like you care about a conversation, but not really. You don’t seem rock bottom depressed, but you don’t seem happy. You are definitely not who you used to be, the girl with energy and the sunny disposition. I hope we get that girl back but if not, at least you want to be around.”

 

OUCH.

 

I know my family is only trying to tell me the truth, but this is the reality of taking antidepressants. The drugs want to alter chemicals in your brain that are causing you to be suicidal and they end up doing that and stealing you joy, your zest and apparently my ability to engage in an energetic way in conversations.

 

This is life on meds and my heart goes out to all who are on medication.

 

I want you to know, I get it and I understand.

When You Want Out Of Your Head

depoverthinking

There is nothing much different today.

The only difference is I don’t want to be inside my head.

Is it because I’m without my meds? The clouds are back? My fear?

This shift is typical, but never welcome. It invades my insides, mainly my mind and heart.

It’s all gray, there is no color. I am ugly. I am tired. I want to just give up.

I see my children’s love that is filled with realness, but I can’t feel it because my soul feels like steel.

I don’t want my family to ask me. Please, please just leave me alone.

I feel like a circus animal when people watch me. Up and down and down and down. What can they do? They only stare.

Watch me fumble and change and it’s fast.

People want explanations and I can’t tell you one.

I. Just. Want. Out.

What’s the point if this point is always revisited? No matter what, my mind takes me back here.

It’s not fun, it’s not fair, it’s not me and the hate exceeds the love by a long shot.

Just please disappear into the fog and no one will see me. I feel like no one will care because my disappearance would be healing.

They would want normalcy if they didn’t have it. They would want to be able to look in the mirror and not see the ugly, vacant eyes looking back at them.

What’s this beauty people speak of? I have prayed to see it and still only see dread and despair and faults.

Would be better if. Should feel grateful. Could try to fight this.

I’m tired. Tired beyond the exhaustion of a person running around their day. Tired beyond anything I have ever felt.

Life feels too heavy. I’m too weak.

That’s my truth, at least for today.

A Letter To Warn Me About Depression Coming

(A Letter I Wish I Received To Warn Me About My Depression)

awarness

Dear Courtney,

I know right now life seems easy and you enjoy your life, but I need to let you know that you need to prepare for a big and dark storm that is coming your way at the age of 18.

Please appreciate being able to wake up every morning and being excited about life.

Appreciate that you are happy, joyful, curious, optimistic and hopeful because this will all be changing.

Your natural ability to be social and make friends will suddenly disappear and you will have no desire to talk on the phone incessantly like you currently do.

Psychiatrists, medications, psychologists, suicidal ideation, self-help books, loneliness, doubt, fear, isolation and extreme sadness will be your new familiar and constants.

You will try many different anti-depressants and experience many various side effects that go along with them.

This is all very expensive and all very annoying because you told the healthcare companies that you suffered from Depression so they denied your claim to insure you.

Aside from all of this major stress, confusion and darkness, society will begin to look down on you and judge you in a very harsh way.

You may be labeled “crazy” or “insane” and if anyone finds out you take medication they will tease you that you need “crazy pills.”

There is a really bad stigma involving mental illness and there is more judgment than compassion.

Since you never learned about it in elementary school, junior high or high school you won’t know how to articulate what is happening.

Your natural tendency will be to carry blame, self-doubt, insecurity and a very big desire to disappear.

But don’t give up.

Despite this major turn of events in your life you will become a different person, yes, but you will become a stronger person because of this.

You will be braver than you ever could have imagined yourself to be and you can start to speak about your mental illness so that others who suffer know they are not alone.

Everyone in life is handed a set of cards with some good decks and some bad decks.

This deck of depression is a scary, unforgiving, self-hating and lonely but if you can just trust that one day you will get on the right set of med, have the right doctor and have enough people in your support net to make you remember how loved you are, you will be just fine.

Love,

Your Older Self

Surviving “Those” Days

Unfortunately I know the difference between living and surviving my life.

My definition of living would be waking up, getting out of bed and doing the normal steps of the morning without pain and discomfort and an overwhelming sense of dread.

When you are surviving your life, each small step that seems to come so easily to most human beings feel like the hardest tasks you have ever had to do.

That is what I feel like when my depression is at a really bad low.

There is no joy, no ease and no hope.

Each step I am taking has 1,000 thoughts of why I should just go back to bed and forget about making any attempts.

Everything hurts. Heaviness on my heart, heaviness in my head, a black and dark sadness in my eyes and soul.

The most difficult part is the pretending I am ok, pretending I am capable of being present without this burning desire to retreat back to isolation where I feel safest, where I feel I can be how I truly want to be. Alone in my despair and dread.

The negative thoughts that are coming at a rapid pace are too much to handle and make the focus on anything I need to get done pretty much awful. The self-hate, the doom, the hopelessness feels all too familiar and that is not a good thing because that makes you realize that your quality of life is really not that great. Which leads you to start the great depressive debate where you question your existence and the never present feelings of peace and content.

My prayers for days like this are the following:

  1. Please help me
  2. Please nobody ask me how I am
  3. Please let me go back to bed and sleep away this pain
  4. Please explain to me why I am not getting any better and only worse?

This energy, life sucking disease has it’s stronghold on me and I am completely aware of this but there is nothing I can do. No magic solution. No gratitude list or telling myself to “just be happy” because nothing works.

You just hang on and try to recall what it feels like to be at least able to drive down the street without fear and angst.

This is what it is.

This is the ugly truth. There is no sugar coating because being honest about it may help someone else who is too petrified to tell their truth about this experience.

This is the no matter what depression I speak about.

This is the ‘if you looked at my life on the outside’ and then read these words you would not think they belonged to the same person. But they do. Even though every part of my heart and soul wants it not to be, it’s what lives inside of me.

My hope is that one day, something will work, something will change, something will take this black and dark pain, something will lighten this up somehow.

But until then, I wait.

I try to pretend like I am strong enough to handle this because that is my only option.

This is what it is and unless I accept it, I can magnify the amounts of suffering that I endure.

This is not a ‘please feel sorry for me’ type of thing.

This is just a very clear window into my experience with Major Depressive Disorder so that if someone in your life has it, you can stand beside them while they try to slay this disease and you can remind them that you love them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You Are Tired Of Being Brave

brave

The other night when I was going to bed, I told my fiancee that I was not sure I could “do another day  like today.”

He quickly asked me what I meant when i said that and I had to run away because I wasn’t brave enough to say it out loud….I can’t take pain like this again for one more day…Or I may have to disappear…forever.

He didn’t run after me because he knew I wanted to be alone with my tears. I had been crying all day long over this excruciating pain which I can only describe as pain over my pure existence.

See, when someone does not suffer from the lowest of lows of depression, there is no way to truly describe what is exactly “wrong” because it’s not one of those quick fix problems like, “Oh I am sad because someone said something rude to me, or “I’m sad because the girl or boy I like doesn’t feel the same way”, it’s not something that is easy to articulate.

Really saying what is going on in your mind that is making you so depressed is too embarrassing to say out loud because it will sound a little crazy and not make any sense.

Fantasizing about “going away forever” gives you sense of comfort, like you have a choice whether or not you will endure this type of pain again. If you can tell yourself that you are not strong enough or too tired to do it anymore, that sense of admitting defeat allows you to see that you can wave the white flag of surrender in a way that could have permanent consequences….but you are only thinking of the pure bliss of that horrific pain being gone.

There is nothing pretty about Depression. It is one of the ugliest things I have personally ever witnessed and no matter if you are a super model, athlete, movie star or a homeless person on the street, when you look in the mirror your eyes look  vacant, you look pale and depleted of life and that just makes it worse.

It’s certainly not attractive to talk about it, especially because of the stigma the majority of the population has about Mental Illness in general. That is why most everyone, like myself before I began writing to help heal this perception, goes into total isolation and shuts everyone they love out of their life.

It’s the isolation that can kill you. The hours, days, weeks or months you spend hiding out as if you have leprosy and don’t want anyone to catch it. You can’t let anyone see you this way because they will take you to the hospital on a 51/50 psychotic hold or tell you that you are crazy or nuts. Such cruel labels we fear when it’s our brains that have turned against us and not the other way around.

When there is a suicide in the news, people make comments like, “She seemed so happy” or “He was such a good Father and Brother”, but they are baffled at why they would take their own life before coming out and asking for help. It’s because Depression and Mental Illness steal the joy from you and blind you from your blessings.

It seems as though people who don’t struggle with depression feel as though they can relate or judge because depression is usually described as “having the blues” or “sadness lasting for weeks” when in reality it’s much deeper than that.

If I were to be 100% honest about what it feels like I would tell you that it feels like a horrible nightmare that you can’t  wake up from. It’s like being forced to walk down the worst neighborhood in the world with people throwing knives and shooting at you but you have no protection. It’s a broken record player in your mind that you are tied up to all day and night repeating the worst possible things you could ever imagine someone saying to you.

I believe people can relate with sadness and desperation but the difference is when a depressed person goes to low levels of sadness their only option for them in the depths of the pain they are experiencing is to take their own life or “disappear and escape”.

When you love someone who suffers from Depression or any Mental Illness, you don’t need to tell them that you can relate because you really can’t, please don’t tell them to snap out of it or that they should be grateful for all the great things they have in their lives. We know that and hearing that makes it worse.

What you can do is remind them that this dark place will pass because it always does and that you love them no matter what, their dark side as well as their light side.

 

 

 

She, The Uninvited Visitor

DepAfraidofownmind

Yesterday she came to visit and as always, she was not invited.

She was, as usual, ruthless and relentless with her words telling you that you will never get better and for some reason yesterday you actually believed her.

She reminded you like she always does, that she hates you and has gotten to the point where she despises you.

She says there is no beauty around you even in your children’s eyes. She tells you they would be better off without you and that one day you will only be a distant memory to them.

She reminds you of the things she has temporarily stolen from you: your smile, your zest for life, your inner peace, your happiness, your ability to love fully and your inner light.

She laughs that your social skills become non-existent because that allows her to trap you in isolation where she can tear you down further and there is nothing you can do.

With her she brings pain, tears, despair, fear, darkness and hopelessness.

She encourages self hate, suicidal thoughts, physical and emotional pain.

She tells you that if you tell anyone they will think you are crazy and that you should be ashamed of what you have become.

She grows stronger when she sees that she has such control over your mind. When you realize this you become willing to do anything to escape her, even if it’s taking your life.

She is the definition of darkness, a thief, a heartless and worthless monster but you can’t get rid of her no matter how hard you try. So you sit with her and cry and pray for the day to be over so that she will leave you alone.

Late at night she finally allows you to fall asleep because she has claimed defeat on your soul for that day.

When you wake up in the morning you are afraid to open your eyes because you are praying she is gone……After a few moments of peace and quiet you realize she is gone.

You feel as though you were hit by a mack truck and feel this overwhelming emotional hangover from her visit the day before. But even though you are more tired than you have ever been you are grateful that she is gone.

There is a little bit of fear in your heart that she will come visit again, because she always does, but you know in these moments free from her grip you can work on getting stronger.

You are a little bit braver than you were the day before she came to visit and you are also more courageous. This type of resiliency and strength will help you in the future when she stops by and hopefully next time she won’t stay as long.

 

 

 

 

Shame With Anti-Depressants

hope

At the age of 18 I was hit with Major Depression.

Since I was in college at that time having no prior education or awareness around what had happened to me, the only way for me to escape my pain was through drinking and partying.

This, as one would assume, only made me fall deeper into a hole but I was determined to fight whatever it was that had stolen my happiness.

When I graduated, a few pretty large life circumstances occurred bringing me even further to my knees to a point where I needed to contact a Psychiatrist.

Still not knowing that I had Major Depression, I went to my first appointment to tell this doctor about what was happening in my life. My parents were out of nowhere divorcing after 24 years, I was diagnosed with Melanoma skin cancer and I had just graduated and couldn’t seem to get out of bed in the morning and couldn’t deal with my life on life’s terms.

The first thing that came out of her mouth was that I had Major Depressive Disorder and  needed to get on medication ASAP and quit drinking right away before I hurt myself and took my own life.

I was devastated.

Why I was devastated was not having someone tell me I was severely depressed but she said I needed to be on MEDICATION!! Oh no. Not me. I am not going to be one of those girls who takes “happy pills’ every day just to be ok. Not me, never, NO WAY!

The book “Prozac Nation” had come out recently and the way people spoke about and judged those who had to take medication for their “crazy brain” scared me so much.

Who was going to marry me???? I was not dating at the time but my fear was that there was no man on the planet who would want to be with me, especially  not forever. This was a nightmare. I can’t be depressed enough to need this. These pills are going to ruin my life and I will be single forever.

I pictured myself at the pharmacy in line picking up the medication and being so worried that the Pharmacist would say the name of the medication too loud and everyone in line would hear. I feared when I would have to disclose to a guy who had taken me on a few dates, “Oh, by the way, I am on anti-depressants” and the look of horror he would give me and never call me again. This was just not the way I planned on my  life going.

I decided to keep trying on my own to fight my Depression with mind altering chemicals and sleeping pills, and the result of that landed me in an intervention with my now broken family telling me I needed to start taking anti-depressants or I was going to hurt myself and they could no longer watch me live like this.

I gave in that day and called my doctor and told her I would try the pills and if they didn’t work I would stop them immediately.

It’s funny because that was over 20 years ago and I remember taking my first 10 milligram pill of Celexa, an SSRI(Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors or serotonin-specific re-uptake inhibitors are a class of drugs that are typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders) the doctor prescribed me and I thought that right away all of my problems and pain would just disappear….and they didn’t.

It has been a very, very, very long road with my anti-depressants and finding the one that would eventually work. Unfortunately, it’s a trial and error process that I have always questioned because I felt like Depression is such a life threatening disease and it’s our brains we are taking these chances with, trying out all sorts of medication with odd side effects, but it is what it is.

I have tried over 15 different medications and have now finally found a combination that makes me feel like a version of my old self. The girl I was before Depression reared it’s nasty head in my life. It’s been combining meds, therapy and my own personal spiritual/holistic approach to healing that has allowed me to show up for my life.

Oh, and as for the guy? I found the perfect man who loves me for my light side as well as my dark side. He supports my Depression and has never thought twice about marrying me. He even picks my medication up for me sometimes at the pharmacy 🙂

So never lose hope when you are told you need to start medication. It’s not the end of the world, in fact, it can be a new beginning. There will always be someone who doesn’t care that you have to take them and if they do, they weren’t meant for you anyway.

Peace, Love and Light

XO