Archive | September 2014

How do I love me? Let me count the ways…

Love-yourself1

Image Courtesy: alisina.org

How is it that it is so hard to love ourselves?

Our hearts are limitless in our capacity to love others.  We can add on countless children, siblings, pets, friends, lovers, and still we would have room for more.

But what of ourselves?

How do we love ourselves?  How do we know that we love ourselves?

Is it the respect we give to ourselves, that we stand up for ourselves and not allow ourselves to be taken advantage of?

Is it the little things that we do to spoil ourselves, little indulgences of Godiva chocolates, ice cream sundaes, spa days, diamond earrings just because?

We know how it is to love someone; spouse, children, parents, friends.  We feel warmth and joy in our heart, we smile with tenderness, we touch with affection.

Yeah… No.

None of these feelings apply when we look to ourselves.  Our hearts do not fill with tenderness and joy when we look in the mirror.  More likely it is quite another strong emotion we’re feeling all together.

What does it mean to love ourselves?

Perhaps it is in the kindness that we allow ourselves.

Perhaps we can show ourselves love by being kind to our heart, by being kind to our sensitivities.  We can be less harsh in our self-criticism.  We can forgive our flaws, forgive our mistakes, and accept them, because that is what we would do with people whom we love.

In the pursuit of happiness, there are countless advice and daily “happy” quotes to inspire us to love ourselves, to prompt us to focus on what we love about ourselves, rather than focus on the negative.

Thus, in an effort to establish how to love myself, this poem is an exercise in learning to do just that.

How do I love me? Let me count the ways…

How do I love me? Let me count the ways…
I love me with compassion and empathy,
To allow myself to be flawed, to be free
Of lingering doubt
That I deserve, that I am worthy. 

Image Courtesy:  Sandi Yee

Image Courtesy: Sandi Yee

I love me for my heart,  
For my art,
That I create,
That I relate,
To those in a state
Of despair and self-hate.

I love me enough to kind,
When I speak in my mind
To myself.
I love me for my truth,
For my authenticity,
I wear for everyone to see.

I love me for the strength
I have gained, at the length
I have traveled,
To have finally come through the dark,
To make my mark
And let the world know I am here.

Written by Sandi Yee – September 30, 2014

A bit egotistical?  A little.
Do I feel better?  Teeheeheehee…Yes, I think I do. 😀

Poem concept and title credit to Miss Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806-1861

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My Guardian Angels Wear Fur Coats

The first time my dogs saved my life, I knew I would forever need one in my life.

Suicide is always in my mind, a way out should my world gets too overwhelming, and my reasons to live just don’t make sense anymore.

Panda and Cubby

Panda and Cubby

On this one particular day, I was driving with both my dogs in the car; Cubby, a silver/gray poodle cross, and Panda, a lab collie cross. We were on our way home from somewhere, I don’t remember much from that day, the trigger, the reasons, or the people. The only things that stand out in my mind from that day were the intense feelings of despair and pain coursing through my body. They were so powerful, so fierce, I could barely drive, or see through my tears. I just wanted to stop the pain.

I knew there was a bridge ahead.  The urge to drive right off the bridge into the strong currents of the river raged strong. To sink into oblivion and leave everything behind, the fears, the pain, the hopelessness.

I imagined the scene; the car filling with water, my acceptance of taking water into my mouth, my nose, my lungs, and the peace I would have with my body sinking into depths of the murky river. The End.

I felt my puppy’s tongue lick at my teary cheek.  Then the image of my dogs flashed through my mind, of taking them into the water with me, drowning with me. Except they weren’t calm like me. They were terrified, struggling, pawing at anything they could get at to keep their little heads above the water.  Whining.  Yelping.  Their trusting eyes full of fear, begging me to help them, to get them out, to save them.  They didn’t want to die.

Oh My God!  What was I doing? These dogs were my beloved pets, adopted into my life, and loved as if they were my own children!

I pulled off the road and sat in the car, stunned at what had just happened in my head. It was real, the thoughts, the feelings, the impromptu scheme of drowning myself as I got closer to the bridge. It wasn’t the thought of dying that shook me. What shook me to my core was that I would kill my dogs. That I would inflict fear and death on them, as the last thing they would experience from me. How horrible to do so. I could never kill them. They deserved their life. They trusted me. They followed me. I am their mom, their alpha, they would go anywhere with me.

I could not lead them into suicide with me. I had to take them home.

“I am not drowning myself today. I am not killing my puppies. I love them too much to take them with me.” I said to myself over and over again.

I sat in the car for a long time, sobbing out my relief at what I didn’t do, what didn’t happen. They didn’t know why I was crying, or why I held them so tightly. They were content to just let me.

I took them home and we lived another day.

Thinking back to that day still brings chills up my spine. Even though it never actually occurred, the images of my dogs struggling for their lives as the car filled up with water are still vivid in my mind. I didn’t take my own life that day because I didn’t want to take their lives as collateral damage. They saved me that day, just as surely as if they had dragged me by the neck and doggy paddled me safely to shore.

HPIM8209

Panda 1995-2012

The two dogs from that day have since passed, and still I miss their presence by my side. But I am grateful for the time I had with them. They kept me present, gave their unconditional love and devotion in times when I felt like life was unbearable.  They stayed by my side when I was buried deep in the dark hole that is my bane in this life.  They kept me grounded by giving me their bodies to hold onto when I felt myself drowning.  Without intention or plan, they came into my life and became my therapy dogs.

Thank you, my girls, thank you.

Part II ~ “What does she have to be depressed about?”


“What does she have to be depressed about?”DSCF3092

This comment always gets under my skin!

Yes, I get this comment a lot.

The first time someone is told of my depression, this comment is usually their first reaction.

People don’t make ignorant comments like this to those with other health conditions, such as oh…cancer. That would be highly callous and crude.  Cancer survivors get kudos and sympathy, encouragement and toasts to their intestinal fortitude, for coming face to face with death and beating it back to its gate, and live to tell about it.

But for people like me, who look at death every day as a possibility, who plan out each and every detail of how, when and where to commit suicide, we get told to get over it, to think about something else, change our perspective, keep busy so that we don’t give ourselves the time to be depressed.

The worst of all is the outright invalidation. We are told straight to our face by well-meaning friends and family;

“You don’t have depression; there’s nothing for you to be depressed about.
You have a good life!”

Can you imagine saying those things to someone diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, who is looking at death`s door only a few feet away;

“You don’t have cancer, you’re just losing weight.

Think about something else, that will make the pain go away.
Stay busy, don’t give your mind or body the time to have cancer.”

WTF!

This is why so many people hide their depression; the stigma, the invalidation, the lack of understanding, the ignorance with which people view this illness.

I did NOT ask for this illness, my body created it all on its own, without my consent, without my consult.

Depression is not caused by personal weakness.  It is a serious illness, medically acknowledged, and medically treated.  I cannot will it away.  I cannot wish it away.  I cannot meditate it away. Nor can I simply change my perspective; shift my paradigm, and POOF! I am healed.

who symbol

Image courtesy: World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) published in 2012, that globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.

My doctor once told me that depression has a fatality rate of 1%. For every 100 people who have depression, 10 of those will attempt suicide, and of the 10 people who attempt suicide, 1 will succeed. Based on this fatality rate and the WHO publication of 350 million people who suffer from depression, then 1% of successful suicides would work out to more than 3.5 million people.  That is four times the number of people as published by the WHO earlier this year, quoting a little over 800,000 people, who die from suicide every year.

I don’t know where Dr. W. got his statistics from, but it was enough to stop me on my tracks and make me pull back on my ideas and plans for killing myself.  Holy *%*&! Those are real numbers, with real people behind them. This illness is real, with real consequences.

I am not depressed.  I have Depression.

Happiness is

ocean shore

Happiness is…

Tickles, giggles and wiggles on the floor.

Cuddles and snuggles at bedtime, warm and cozy.

Skipping down the beach with my daughter’s hand in mine.

My family.

Happiness is…

The tender caress of a lover’s hand.

A long, hard…

Belly laugh…HaHaHaHa!

(were you thinking something else?)

Happiness is…

Sunshine and high blue skies

dotted with puffy little clouds.

Standing on the shore on a windy day,

embracing the power of nature in the gusting wind and crashing waves.

Peace in connecting with spirit and the Divine Source in quiet solitude.

Happiness is…all around if only I look to find.

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Photo Courtesy: Sandi Yee

Welcome

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Living with chronic depression is a daily process.

It is a management of emotions each and every day, from morning til night.

It is the commitment to look up, even as you are drowning.

For many who have never experienced depression, it is difficult to understand that it is a disease, an illness that needs constant and consistent treatment. One can never fall off the wagon, because falling off the wagon could mean death.

I am talking about Chronic Clinical Depression, the kind of depression that never goes away, no matter how good life is, no matter how many people surround you with their love. The kind of depression that grabs hold of your entire being, your heart and your soul, and pulls you down so deep that you are submerged in an abyss of darkness where there is no air to breathe, no light to see, no love to feel. There is only pain and aching hopelessness.

I have lived with depression my entire life.  At 42, I am finally strong enough and secure enough to share the struggle that has consumed me for as long as I can remember.

In my search for an understanding of my depression, healing, and trying to make sense of what was happening to me, I have looked to so many people, to so many sources, only to find more of the same negativity and despair I was struggling with.

Yes, there is information out there, clinical, unfeeling statistics of what depression is, how it can affect people, and how to get help and get better. And then there is the “woe is me”, bitter wailings of people who can’t move on from being fired, from getting dumped, from getting rejected, from life.

I did not want any of that.

I wanted to find hope. I needed to find hope.

I needed a path that I could walk, with someone whose story was similar to mine, that I could walk alongside and share my journey with.

I finally found someone who could be this for me, and more.  It took me a long time to finally find a sense of belonging and camaraderie with someone going through the same daily struggles as me.

Image credit: MotivatingGiraffe.com

Image credit: MotivatingGiraffe.com

She is my Godsend, my someone to talk to, who is going through the same daily struggle, the same medications, with children, husband and family situation that was and is parallel to mine.  Having her helped me to really know that I am not alone, that I am not crazy, or lazy, or inadequate for this life. Thank you, Heather.

It is with this in my mind that I write this blog. I want this to be a place of hope, of healing and sharing, of finding safety and a sense belonging in the comfort of knowing that I also walk this journey of living with depression with you, my reader. I encourage you to share your stories with me, to comment on my posts, and allow me to share your stories with others as well.

Together, we don’t have to feel alone.

What Does She Have To Be Depressed About?

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I am not depressed. I have Depression. Photo Courtesy: Sandi Yee

“What does she have to be depressed about?”
“I am not depressed.  I have Depression.”


I have a good life.

I live in a free country, where I have no fears for my physical safety, where I am free from threats of political or terrorist violence.

I have a good home, a good family, clean healthy food and water every day to feed my body, spiritual connection to feed my spirit, and pharmaceuticals help to stabilize my mental health.

Indeed, what do I have to be depressed about?

I am not depressed.

I have depression.

I have a mental health illness due to a possible deficiency in the levels of serotonin produced and/or absorbed by my body.

No one knows for certain where depression comes from, how or why.  There is only hypothesis, an educated guess based on what can be observed and measured.

Serotonin is a chemical produced in our bodies that acts as a neurotransmitter, helping to send signals from and to different areas of the brain. As a neurotransmitter, serotonin influences a large majority of brain cells, including brain cells that affect mood.

My doctor officially diagnosed me with Chronic Clinical Depression.  He prescribed antidepressant, Citalopram (the generic prescription substitution for Celexa), for my condition, and later added another prescription to help boost the effects of this one.  He explained to me that this medication was going to help my brain grow receptors for serotonin, to help my body absorb more of the chemical (serotonin) into my system.  Hopefully, this should help lift my depressive state of emotion.  He said that it was going to take time for the receptors to grow, and to begin absorbing more serotonin, about two weeks or so.

Sure enough, after a few weeks, I began to feel emotionally lighter, less of an urge to curl into myself and cry.

My thought patterns changed. Where previously I had daily thoughts, ideas and plans of killing myself, after taking the prescription for a few weeks, those thoughts no longer lingered in my mind.

I felt lighter in mood, body and spirit.  The awful weight that had stooped my shoulders, dragged at my feet and darkened my path, one day suddenly dissolved itself.

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Photo Courtesy: Sandi Yee

I could finally breathe a full, deep breath.

The medication worked!  It really worked!  Finally, a happy pill!

“Nope, not a happy pill,” said Dr. W.

Dr. W. said that this drug will NOT make me happy. It is a drug that will help bring me back to my normal self, that I otherwise would be if my biochemical levels were normal.

As it happens, it would seem that I am normally a giggling, dancing, laughing, singing, type of person.

Cheers to that!    😀

I am and always will be, a work in progress.  It has taken years of counselling and therapy, trials on different medications and prescription cocktails, many painful hours of introspection, and a network of strong support to see me still standing.

I am still standing.