Depression Steals More Than Your Soul

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This morning I came across and old picture from when I was around 7 years old and for some reason it made my heart hurt.

I miss that girl that I used to be. That photo of me was taken when life felt so easy and the sun coming up in the  morning meant new possibilities and hope. Who knew that one day the same sun coming up would bring out overwhelming feelings of dread and despair and so much fear.

Depression steals beauty and joy and the hardest thing for many people to wrap their head around is that this is not a choice.

Who knew that light was something that could be taken from you without warning? Who would think that the built-in emotions of happiness and loving freely could one day disappear without a trace? When darkness takes over these are the questions that fill your head and leave you feeling like part of your soul was stolen and you have no clue how to get it back.

One of the biggest ways my depression has stolen from me is my relationships.

When the ability to socialize, maintain friendships, call people back and show up for important events are no longer things you are able to do, people start to disappear. Who wouldn’t disappear if they felt like someone didn’t care enough to call them back to see how they are or be present at the big milestones in their lives?

It’s almost like a cruel joke that you can be born with this ability to be social and make friends and then one day, POOF, it’s gone.

I have played out in my head many times what people must think. She’s so selfish. She only cares about herself. Where did she go? I don’t need friends ‘like that’. I am over this friendship. I don’t want her to be in my wedding, I don’t even know her anymore. She doesn’t care about me, so I am done with her.

And just like that, the friends you thought would be in your life forever are gone. They gave up. They had to. Some may stay in your life but not to the same degree they would if you were able to be the past version of yourself, the person who wasn’t eaten alive with depression.

The worst part is trying to articulate what happened. You want to tell people you are so sorry but you just all of a sudden one day woke up and picking up the phone felt like the scariest thing you have ever done and showing up at birthday parties or showers would make your heart explode with massive anxiety. How could they believe you? That’s not how you used to be.

Exactly. That is not who you used to be and you have no idea how to get that person back. So you isolate and you mourn and you grieve the loss of yourself, your soul and your most important relationships. You have to. You really have no choice and that’s what hurts the most.

People call suicide such a selfish act and how dare they take their own life when so many people care about them, but living with this dis-ease of the mind is like being in a constant nightmare every single day. One can only tolerate so much pain and when your quality of living becomes dismal and lonely and misunderstood, you honestly just want out of the hell that is now your life.

Some of us don’t give up. Some of us learn to coexist with the pain and where our life has taken us. We see that we are in a dark hole but we start to see how we can have moments of pure light. We try to remain hopeful that one day we can go back to the way we used to be and if we don’t, we learn to have acceptance because that is all we can do.

So you see, depression is a thief. It’s  a rotten, heartless, cruel, atrocious, wicked, evil, harsh and brutal disease that steals every single thing that is important to you.

I am sharing this to let people who suffer from this condition know that they are not alone and for those who don’t know what it’s like and you have someone in your life who suffers, please try to have compassion and love in your heart for them and know they are doing the very best they can.

We already judge ourselves harshly enough, so please choose love, for yourself always, and others as well.

The Dark Wave

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The Dark Wave

Just like knowing that every minute or less at the beach a wave will roll in….This is the way I look at my depression, a wave I know is going to come no matter what medicine I take or how much I wish it away; it will continue forever.

I have no control over this happening which I have to remember I can’t control, nobody can. Wanting to believe that one day it will stop is an impossible as believing I can stop the waves of the ocean.

Sometimes my depression is so big and frightening that it brings me down to such a state of hopelessness and self hate that I contemplate not being around anymore because surely that would be way less painful…

I submerge to my bedroom and find comfort in hiding under the covers with pillows over my head in hopes of fending off this scary monster which has now taken over my mind..

The pain grips into my heart and takes over my chest. I see no love and I see no light. This feeling feels more like my reality, my end, my demise, my greatest enemy taking me out.

I never know what will bring this on. I could be driving to work, sitting in a meeting, in the middle of a conversation or playing with one of my sons…

I go from my happy and sunny disposition to the dreaded dark side. My hope, my faith, my love, my inner fire all go away in a matter of minutes.

Then my fear takes over and I am no longer able to cope with the normal mundane things in life. My whole body is trapped in a dark hole in my mind. I know this place very well but every time I go there it still scares me as though it’s the very first time it happened at the tender age of 18…

I need to sleep, I have to sleep. I can no longer escape with alcohol like I used to. I am extremely exhausted and overly sensitive. Sleep will make it go away; I need to go to sleep no matter where I am or whoever needs me. If you only knew how badly needed to escape and sleep you would never get in my way or question what I was doing…sleep is my savior from this dark state of mind..

The shame and guilt I carry around is overwhelming. I try to hide this from my husband, my children, my friends and strangers, anyone who tries to look at me in the eye when I’m in my scary state.

This is not what I asked for, it’s not fair, and I can’t handle it, why is God punishing me like this? To know it’s never going to go away makes me feel so scared and so weak…

This is my cross to bear along with my alcoholism. I have accepted my alcoholism, why can I not accept my depression? Is one the cause of the other?

I thought I became a depressed alcoholic over a broken heart but little did I know I had a broken soul.

When your soul is broken your whole world becomes a dark place and you are forced to go inside. The only way through is through. It’s the only way back to the light.

I believe out of darkness comes Faith, how could it not?

Faith is the only thing you have when you are down that far..

Faith is knowing that “this too shall pass”

I know I have more dark waves to ride out in my lifetime and I believe only by acceptance of “what is” will get me through those dark waves and look at my biggest burdens and my biggest blessings..

The Truth About The Dark

I feel like I have this whole entire part of myself, 90% if I am being completely honest, that the world has never been exposed to.

If I told you about the thoughts, the deep, dark, dreadful thoughts that can run through my head on any given day; I think those who have never suffered from depression would think I was a crazy person.

That is what the stigma with mental health has created. A horrible shame around a disease we have absolutely no control over. But why? How did this happen? In our society people seem to have decided that if you have a mental health issue you are “crazy”. This stigma has caused so many people not to come forward and get help and talk about it because of the same exact fear I have had for all these years, I don’t want anyone to label me crazy or insane.

More than half of my life has been spent in a dark place. A place that I could describe but if I did, I would feel so judged and embarrassed and worried that I would be looked at so differently. But seeing what is happening in our community and so many others, I want to come forward because if me being honest about my depression can help someone;  I am more than willing to put my ego aside and hopefully save a life. There are kids who are throwing themselves in front of trains and taking their lives because of the hopelessness and despair they feel and every single time I hear or read one of those stories my response is always the same…A deep sense of love and compassion for them and their pain and a complete understanding of that dark place they traveled to.

When pain eats away at your soul day after day after week after month and then years you start to contemplate how you can escape this prison that is now your own mind. You have no clue where the happy and carefree person went and you have no idea how to get back there.

This is where I want to help. I need to help. I had no tools when I fell into my dark hole at the age of 18. I didn’t learn anything extensive in elementary, junior high or high school about depression. My escape became alcohol and drugs and shopping and anything that could fill this empty shell of a person I had become. No warnings. I just woke up one day and did not care if I lived or died. It was depression but I was away at college and lost in a sea of people who were partying and I completely disappeared. The outgoing, happy and energetic  girl I once was……was gone.

I have decided to make it my mission to tell my truth no matter how hard it is. I have decided to make it my life’s purpose to help others who suffer and give them the tools to coexist with a disease that wants to take you down. I want to share my tools that have saved my life and allowed me to get to my 41st Birthday when I never really believed I would make it this far.

I am going to take a stand against this stigma and be the face of depression and any other mental illness because I can’t continue to hear about these tragedies and sit back with a transformational story that could help someone.

“We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.”

Love and Light,

Courtney

Building My Sacred Space

“You must have a room or certain hour of the day, where you do not know what was in the morning paper..a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are, and what you might be.” -Joseph Campbell

First of all, most people may wonder, “What is a Sacred Space?”

I think the answer to this question has many answers but I will be telling you what it is to me and how it has been such a huge part of my journey back “home”, to me and my higher self.

I first had to define the word “Sacred” which lead me to ask myself the following questions to find my answer:

Who am I?

What is my deepest intention?

The question, “Who Am I?” used to give me anxiety because I felt as though my answers were so surfaced. I am a Mom, I am a Daughter, I am an Aries, I am an Alcoholic, I have depression and those answers felt so empty.

When I started my meditation practice my answers began to change and I now know I am a spiritual seeker, a survivor of depression, a healer, a coach, an empath, an innocent child of God, a student of A Course in Miracles and so much more.

My deepest intention has been inside of me since as far back as I can remember.

I used to tell my family when I was a little girl that I wanted to save the world and I wanted everyone to be happy, to be kind to one another, to get along, to be conflict-free and coexist in harmony. When life showed me a very different picture, I had to walk down a dark path to the deepest depths of my soul to heal the pains and the disappointments and by doing that I am now seeing that my true soul intention is to help people back to the light. Give others hope.

My Sacred Space is a place that started with a beautiful wooden box, a candle, some essential oil and my intention journal. I placed it in the corner of my bedroom and 3 years later I have added more things that speak to my heart, pictures of the Virgin Mary, beautiful tapestries, a picture of my boys the day they were born, Ganesh to fight off my obstacles, my crystals, my singing bowl and my Angel cards. Any item I place in my Sacred Space speaks to me and brings me a sense of peace.

In my next blog I will be talking about my daily ritual which has enhanced my journey and made me excited to meditate and be still.

Love and Light

XO

“Do you ever wish you could unmeet someone?”

I came across this quote and it made me wonder if I truly did wish I could unmeet someone..

What it sparked for me was wondering; did I wish I could take away the experience of having my heart broken? 

After the first time it happened I swore I would never allow myself to feel that way again. I was broken. This was the person who was supposed to be in my life forever. Since it was my first time being in love, my walls were completely down and I trusted this man with my whole heart. I never imagined he would ever hurt me or walk away from me. 

When the relationship ended and he went away, my hope and faith I had in love went away as well.

I built a wall around my heart and I swore no one would ever get inside again.  I didn’t think I could ever survive pain like that in one lifetime. To have absolutely no control over the loss made me question what love really was.  Was it possible that you could allow someone inside and trust them 100% with your heart? My doubts outweighed my faith and I continued to believe it was not possible.

This is a very lonely way to live.

Garth Brooks sings a song entitled “The Dance” and one of the lines stuck out to me:

“Looking back on the memory of, the dance we shared beneath the stars above  

For a moment all the world was right, how could I have known you’d ever say goodbye 

And now I’m glad I didn’t know, the way it all would end the way it all would go 

Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, but I’d of had to miss the dance”

That was it.”.I could have missed the pain but I’d of had to miss the dance”..If it never happened I would have never known what it was like to love so deeply. To fall without worrying it might end and to trust someone with my whole heart; it was one of the most amazing feelings I have ever experienced. I would not take it back for the world.

On my spiritual journey I am learning how important it is to let my walls come down and to trust again. 

Do I wish I could unmeet this person? No, because I’d of had to miss the dance….

 

 

My Discomfort With Change

Change: To become different

I am not sure how comfortable I am with different. When you become comfortable with how your life is, you never know when things will all of a sudden go a different way than you had planned. That’s the thing…I have absolutely no control over what will change in my job, in my relationships, in my health or in anything really.

Change that is painful is something I am struggling with right now.

In my quest to avoid anything painful (not possible) the changes that have occurred in the last year have brought me to my knees many times because I wasn’t sure I could handle the kind of suffering and heartbreak I was enduring.

Going from a married woman to a divorced woman is an experience I would not wish on my worst enemy. The huge black hole I fell into seemed like a challenge that I would never ever survive. The loss, the grief, the shame, the heartbreak were all common daily emotions that I am not sure will ever truly go away. Questioning and  trying to see future outcomes of decisions that were made became so heavy, I was not showing up for my life. I hid under my covers, I tried to wish it away. I tried to sleep it away and my career suffered in a big way and so did my relationships with the people in my life. I was not reachable, I was not able to help anyone because I was in survival mode and I had two little boys going through this extreme transition and all the energy I had went to making sure they were ok and felt loved and didn’t feel the change of their family unit in any way. Their love was the only thing in my life that kept me hanging on.

Becoming a single Mom has opened my eyes to so many things and the one huge thing is the fear I carry of being on my own 100%. I have started to repeat an affirmation every morning when I wake up that lessens the fear, “Everything I need is provided for me today and everyday”. A weight is lifted because I have to trust that I can do this.

In the relationships that have been very meaningful to me I have seen that change can cause a huge sense of loss. The loss that feels like a part of your heart will never, ever be the same no matter how much time passes. I keep reading that there are people that come into our lives for a reason and those are the people who are only there temporarily to teach you a lesson you need to learn to be equipped with the answers you need in the next phase of your life. This hurts the most because these seem to be the people who hold you up, support you, love you when you can’t love yourself and make you see that you are stronger than you know. When these people leave my life I go through a grieving process and convince myself that they are supposed to leave and I need to be grateful for the short time I did get to spend with them. I don’t like to let go, I never have and I doubt I ever will…

The holidays this year are challenging because people are missing who I used to spend every special event with, I don’t have my boys all day and night for Christmas and what used to be something so familiar and comfortable is now completely different, it’s the new normal; it’s a huge change that I need to accept because it’s never going to be the same way again.

I am not sure if everyone has a difficult time with change or if they go through the type of grieving process I go through but I need to remind myself that sometimes change is the Universe doing for me what I cannot do for myself.

I am not broken. I am “under spiritual construction”

I once told a friend of mine I was broken.

To me broken meant I was broken hearted, defeated, had a jaded soul and I had no hope. I had fallen to pieces and I needed to pick them up one by one in order to be whole again.

One day my friend referenced my comment about me being broken and I had an almost defensive feeling inside because I realized that saying I was broken was not it at all; I was just “under spiritual construction.”

This made me feel less hopeless and made me realize that making the necessary changes and taking action to heal would be much easier than “picking up the pieces.”

What does this term mean? “Under spiritual construction?” Why does it take the weight off of my heart to know I am not broken?

When I think of a new home being under construction I know they have to lay the foundation first that this is the most important part because the foundation is what holds up the entire house.

I need to rebuild a foundation for myself because I never truly had one that was strong enough to hold up to all of life’s trials and challenges. My foundation was made up of what other people thought of me and how I could please other people so that they would be ok. I depended on people to love me and show me I was worth it. My friends and men became my Higher Power and I eventually crumbled. I saw that the more I looked for validation outside of myself, the less I could handle my life and so I self destructed.

So now that I am aware of this issue, I get to have a fresh start. I know what needs to be built first. I need a solid foundation consisting of self love, respect and Faith that I am going to be o.k no matter what comes my way. When I become whole I will be able to love others and not expect anyone to fix me or make me feel worthy.

I am not going to worry if this process ever ends because this could definitely be a lifelong journey for me.

There are definitely hard days when I feel like I am on shaky ground and all my fears come rushing back to me; but then I remember I am in the process of rebuilding my foundation and the more challenges life throws my way, the stronger I will be.

The word forever. Have you made that promise?

The definition of forever is: without ever ending; eternally

Have you ever made a promise to do or not to do something, to love someone, or be committed to something/someone FOREVER?

I think saying the word forever is a very steep promise. I believe it’s a word that one may not really have the capability to say because it could seem like something doable for that specific moment in time and could change if circumstances or feelings change.

If a person makes this statement to commit forever and then they no longer feel they can uphold this commitment what happens then? Do you stay in a situation or continue to do or not to do something when it’s no longer right for you because you made this promise?

I want to be able to say forever and truly mean it. I want to be able to commit to something and honestly believe in my heart I can do it for the rest of my life. It’s just sometimes  the rest of my life seems like a very, very, very long time to make a  statement like that.

I would love to say I could stop drinking forever because I know it’s not right for me and not good for me. I can tell you that I won’t, and when I am saying that I am most likely feeling strong and confident. Then on a day when I am feeling weak and feeling the need to escape I may want to take back the fact that I said that because if I do, I don’t want to be drowned in guild.

There is a statement that is supposed to help this overwhelming feeling of forever and that is doing something “One Day at a Time” which even then feels like too big of commitment. I have days where I have to tell myself “One moment at a time”..

Does that make me weak or have a lack of willpower because I have promised people who love me that I will never do it again?

I also made a commitment to love someone forever in front of over 150 people which included my parents, friends and relatives and I didn’t keep that promise. I can’t say that I no longer love that person, because I do, I just vowed to be in a relationship with them for the rest of my life and I no longer am.

Does that make me feel weak, guilty, sad and heartbroken? Yes, absolutely. How could I make a promise like that and not have those feelings and beat myself up?

I wanted to mean it.

So now I sit here by myself and think back to times where I have made that statement of saying I would do something forever or not do something and it makes me wonder if I haven’t fought hard enough to uphold to that commitment and am I capable to endure anything and everything to keep that promise to myself or someone else. Is that perseverance that some people have and some people don’t? Is it willpower or lack there of?

This is something I want to know because one day I want to be able to say that word and mean it 100% with all of my heart and soul and not look back because a promise is supposed to be just that, a promise. The definition of a promise is: a declaration that something will or will not be done.

Have you ever said forever and truly meant it and kept that promise?

If the answer is yes, I admire you immensely.

Do you ask for signs or do you have Faith?

Sometimes I think I can trust my gut and my intuition and sometimes I am WAY off.

I ask for signs all the time which I used to do when I was younger but they were far less important (well not to me back then) but they were things like, “If Bryan likes me this stoplight will turn green on the count to 3…1, 2 (green!) OMG he does like me. And the funny thing is, I would believe it!

Now the signs I ask for are much bigger with major life decisions. “Should I leave my marriage? Should I pursue this job or look for a new one? Should I end this friendship? Should I let go or keep trying?

Sometimes I get signs right away. Last night I was journaling about a relationship issue and my answer came in the form of a text 10 minutes later! I literally got the text and took the words as meant to be because it was something that made sense to me and I had asked to be guided.. Crazy? Maybe, but I believe in signs because this happens to me quite a bit.

When I get to a “fork in the road”, I tend to get into a LOT of fear because I don’t want to make the wrong decision, which I guess I am only naming right or wrong. I want a sign to fall from the sky with a road map of which way I am supposed to go because God forbid if I  have to feel any pain from my choice or have to suffer in any way. See, I want all my decisions to be the “right” ones because I will try to avoid pain at any cost. But life does not work that way. It’s through the “wrong” choices we learn our lessons so that in the future we are both stronger and wiser.

I think my request for signs is something I do because having Faith is much scarier for me. I have a sign in my room that says ‘Faith’ on it, and I look at it every single day in hopes that with whatever happens I trust what direction I am going in.

Faith is such an easy word to understand and yet it’s so hard to obtain on a daily basis. I am a believer that nothing happens to us by mistake and each challenge or joy we face is specially selected for us to grow and learn more about ourselves. Faith has become a goal for me to achieve because having it will alleviate my fear of any decision I have to face and maybe one day I will stop asking for those signs and just trust myself and my intuitions.

A goodbye letter to Billy, my first hairy son

Dear Billy,

The reason I need to write you this letter is because I want to thank you and although you may never receive this personally, maybe someone in doggie heaven can read it to you.

I remember the first time I saw a Puggle in the park I knew I had to have one. I went home immediately and looked them up online and a breeder from Oklahoma had a site and there you were with your brother Joe who had just been purchased.

When I showed Daddy your adorable picture we laughed at your name because we had never seen such a human name (Bill!) for a dog. I wanted you immediately!

We had just gotten married and bought a little condo and I was told that our place was probably too small for a dog because we didn’t have a yard and that having a dog was a big responsibility. I listened to Daddy tell me this and I really did agree our place was too small and that it would be a big responsibility to have you but none of that mattered because I was already in love with you.

The next day when Daddy went to go play a round of golf he said goodbye to me and I was at my computer. The minute I heard the door shut, I pulled up your profile, grabbed my credit card, clicked ‘Purchase’ and requested ASAP on the delivery. You were ours! I was a little nervous because I didn’t run this decision by Dad, so I called him on his cell phone and told him that I bought you and instead of getting upset he just laughed and was just as happy as I was.

I remember when I picked you up at the airport in the baggage claim area in your purple crate. You were so scared and had gone to the bathroom a number of times in your crate and so I couldn’t pick you up but I put my fingers inside so that you could kiss me and get familiar with the way I smelled, just like a new baby does.

We called you our first hairy son and we were so proud.

I didn’t to to work for a week because I didn’t want to leave you and you quickly became our world. We would get so excited to come home and see you because you were the cutest puppy in the whole world.

Now Billy, I love you but you were impossible to train and chewed up expensive sunglasses, baseball hats, shoes, paper towels and much more. We took you to puppy school and had a trainer come to our house, twice, but it was no use, you were just a little jackass but you were our jackass.

Derek was born in August and we were nervous about a baby coming home with us because we didn’t want you to feel unloved. Daddy brought home his little hat from the hospital so you could sniff him out before he came home. When we walked in, we put Derek down on the floor in his car seat and you walked up and continued to lick his little face with kisses and we knew that you loved him too. You were so incredibly patient with Derek as he grew older when he would pull on your tail or try to ride you like a horse. You were an amazing big brother and you and D formed an amazing friendship.

In 2010 when Cooper came home with us, you again impressed us with your love and patience with yet another boy in the house! Cooper fell in love with you too and although he was a bit rougher than Derek, you and he became fast friends and now you had four people to be protective over.

You were probably the most active, happy, healthy, energetic, loving, naughty, affectionate and crazy dog we had ever encountered but as any dog owner knows we loved you like a son.

I will never forget our daily walks and every single time I put your leash on and we walked out the door, you and I had a power struggle and you would yank on the leash with your teeth because, ok, I can admit it now, you were the Alpha and I was just the Mommy who let you do whatever you wanted. (Don’t tell Dad I admitted that!)

On our walks you would be checking everything out and I would say your name and you would look back and I would ask you how you were or tell you that I loved you. This always made Dad laugh, but you were human to me and I always secretly wished you could tell me how you were or that you loved me too even though your actions throughout your life showed me and our family how much you loved us. You never had to say a word. We felt it when you would run up to us when we walked in the door, cuddle with us on the couch, bring us your ball constantly, sleep on my or Daddy’s legs every single night or cry when we would drop you off at camp.

You made us laugh so hard when we would give you and bath and the minute you got out you would race around the house like a crazy man and we would all chase you with a towel to try to dry you off and we would have to shut all the doors to catch you.

For a guy who never spoke you were my biggest teacher of what unconditional love really is. Cuddling with me on the days I could not get out of bed, being so excited to see me even if I was only gone for 15 minutes at the grocery store, loving our baby boys like your own, never holding grudges, always protecting our family from any noises you heard at night and being a best friend we counted on to love all of us no matter what…Thank you Billy.

That is what made it so absolutely devastating when you hurt yourself. What did you do Billy? How did you get a slipped disc in your back that paralyzed your back legs and then lost control of your bowels? How could you go from active and healthy to weak and helpless in one week? You just turned 7, we were supposed to have more time with you. I wish you could answer these questions because the hardest part is that we will never know.

I’m trying not to cry every day because you always hated when I did and would lick my kisses like you were saying, “it’s Ok Mommy, don’t be sad.” But I am sad Billy. I miss you and I love you and I want you to know how much I appreciate you and how much Daddy, Derek and Cooper love and miss you too. There are huge holes in our hearts and we just want you back.

Poor Daddy was the one who had to take you to the hospital on your last night when you were giving up and not getting any better. He called me from the room you two were in and put me on speaker and I had to say goodbye to you. I felt so badly that I was out of the Country and not able to be there so I told you I loved you more than anything and that I was so sorry and what I forgot to say was Thank You which is why I am writing you now.

One of the hardest things in life is saying goodbye to someone you love more than anything in the world, especially when it’s too soon or not fair.

Billy, you were not just a dog to our family. You were our son, the boys’ brother and all of our best friend. You were loyal to us and protected us every day of your life and for that we are forever grateful.

I am sure you are up in heaven eating whatever you want,trying to get the squeaker out of a hedgehog, causing a little chaos and now protecting us, although not in person but as our guardian angel.

I’m not really sure how to end this because it breaks my heart still that you are really gone but just know in your heart that you were loved more than you will ever know and I am forever blessed that I got to be your Mommy in this life…

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