Archive | November 2014

In The Garden Of Hope

In the garden of hope, as in any garden, there are seeds and weeds.

What kind of seeds?

What kinds of weeds?

The seeds of hope, of believing that something good lies ahead.  

The weeds of negativity, and parasites that feed on the life energy so essential to nourishing the fragile seeds and seedlings newly sprouted.

I have written before that hope is not enough, and that hope is just a beginning, a good place to start.

How do we, or how can we help that hope to grow?

We must feed the seed that which we wish to grow, and create a nurturing environment for the seedling to continue to flourish after it has sprouted.

We must remove weeds that steal hope’s essential nutrients simply by being present in the garden.

Remove the pedestrians who would happily trample all over our precious seedlings, restrict them to tiny pathways that interfere not with life in the garden.

Remove the giant thistles that have dug their roots deep into your garden soil (soul), greedily stealing all the light.

Feed that little seed of hope, talk to it like it was the most precious seed in the world, and give it lots of love.  Give it every opportunity to grow by bringing in the best and the brightest to teach it the skills it needs to grow strong and stand tall.

And of course, every little sprout needs a cheerleader, to unconditionally cheer on it’s progress and growth, if for nothing else than to see it’s full beauty in bloom.

To all my readers who are making their way through the darkness right now, I send you my love and blessings of light.

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“Making Your Way In The World Today Takes Everything You Got”


Making your way in the world today takes everything you got;

Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.

Wouldn’t you like to get away?”

Theme song lyrics from “Cheers”, American Television Sitcom 1982-1993


For some of us, there is no taking a break from all our worries, because the worries are inside us, inside our heads, wreaking havoc inside our minds.

A reader asked me recently if I carry on in the hope that the Depression lifts.

I can only reply that I can only do my best on any given day.

I carry on, not in the hope that the depressions lifts.  I carry on for the exquisite rays of light that occasionally pierces through the darkness, and for the moments of love and happiness that brighten my world now and then.  I have seen the splendour and magnificence of beauty and joy.  That is what keeps me going.

Is that enough?

Who knows what’s on the other side life?  Maybe we take the pain with us if we die while in the grips of despair.   Wouldn’t that be the ultimate irony, committing suicide because of the need to stop the pain, only to writh in that pain into perpetuity?

Everyone has ups and downs.  No one is in perpetual bliss.  Even the brightest flames diminish in the dampening rain.

For people with Depression however, the downs are much deeper and darker than for others.  The rain becomes a torrential hurricane complete with tsunami tidal wave.

I have learned to ride the emotional coaster better, by being aware of the pattern of ups and downs.  It helps to have an arsenal of coping tools in my self-management toolbox to help me get through the lowest times; everything from spiritual healing to comedy relief and everything in between.  I have also learned that it’s O.K. reach out and ask for help.

I used to question what it was all for, the constant struggle that is life.

Survival?

But why?

Procreation?

I have procreated.  Does that mean I am done?

What’s the point?

According to Oprah Winfrey;


“The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.”


For me, for now, I am the person that I am; faulty, flawed and imperfect, trying to embrace with gratitude every small moment of joy I am given, before I am drawn under again by the next wave of darkness that hits.

I don’t make excuses for the way that I am anymore, and I don’t apologize either, for the sudden tears, or the occasional need for a small retreat from the world.  I don’t make excuses for needing to take medications to stabilize my mental health.  I don’t make excuses for needing support to get me through sinkholes in the road.

Do I want to evolve into the “complete person” I was intended to be? photo 3 (7)

What does that even mean?

Or maybe I have evolved, and this is the complete person I am intended to be this go round.  Imperfectly perfect.

I can accept that, or, I can continue searching, discontent in mind, body and spirit, straining and craving to change into some intangible “complete” entity I am told I should aspire to.

There is only one answer that makes sense right now.

“… grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time…”

~Reinhold Niebuhr

An Exercise in Self-Affirmation

When living with Anxiety and Depression, it is often so difficult to see the beauty and worth in ourselves.  The brain is faulty in its operation, being deprived of essential nutrients associated with low levels of serotonin, it skews our attention towards negativity and sadness.  So we have to use everything at our disposal to be the best that we can be.

A very powerful tool is the self-affirmation; the recognition and assertion of the existence of one’s individual self.

Here is a great positive self-affirmation exercise that I came across on my journey of healing.  Take a few minutes right now to think and write down your responses to these questions.

  1. How have you positively impacted someone who is close to you?  What did you do?
  2. What was their response?
  3. What was the outcome?

This exercise can be a helpful tool for you in your tool box of self-management, to pull out when you are feeling like you don’t matter.  From your responses on this exercise, you clearly do matter.

This is merely a reminder to help you remember that YOU ARE WORTHY.

Many blessings and may the light always shine for you.

“I Could have Been A Better Friend” ~ The Mantra of Survivor Guilt

Survivor guilt; a visceral animal that silently gnaws at a survivor after a loved one has committed suicide.

After the fact, the survivor looks back and agonizes over what they could have done to help;

jan-jun 2012 496

Photo Credit: Sandi Yee

“I could’ve been a better friend,

I could’ve been a better sister (brother, mother, father…)

I could’ve done more to show that I cared,

I could’ve done more to help if I had known.”

As someone who has attempted suicide, who has been immersed in darkness and doom, there is really nothing that anyone can do once the decision has been made.

Suicide prevention and intervention are at best temporary measures to stall a tidal wave.  It’s a strip of bandage on a gushing wound.

There is really nothing that can be done to prevent a determined suicide short of putting the person under suicide watch.

When the Depression comes, it is all consuming.   There is no logic, no love, no light, no sense of right or wrong, and no sense of up or down, there is only abysmal pain and despair.  Nothing anyone does is going to make any difference to that mental state of mind.  All those promises and contracts made in therapy not to hurt yourself, or to call someone when you feel that you will hurt yourself, those are the farthest things from the mind in the grips of mental anguish.

My attempts to commit suicide were not successful (else I would be dead and not writing this article), not because of what someone else did to stop me or to help me.  They were feeble and ineffectual attempts because I was young and ignorant.  I didn’t know any better.  I didn’t know how to kill myself properly, and I bungled it.  How totally inadequate of me.

The next time will be the last time, because now I know what to do.  Now I am older and wiser.  I know my plan is fail-proof.  It is lethal.  I am not young nor am I ignorant anymore.  Suicide is no longer my cry for help, it is because I want to die.  My plan can be executed regardless of external intervention or prevention.  It’s just a matter of when.  My husband knows this, he knows my plan.

So when I see all the awareness on Suicide Prevention the powers that be are propagating,

I am not convinced.

I applaud the good intentions, the efforts, commitment and desire to help.

But I see reality a little differently.

Image Credit: afsp.org

Honestly, do you really think that removing potential poisons, ropes and sharp objects are going be effective in preventing anything, if the person has made their decision to commit suicide?

Delusion!

I see this as merely a coping tool for friends and family to feel less helpless, to have something they can do, anything they can do, to help.

wrist cut lines

Photo Credit: Sandi Yee

A dear friend of mine was completely ignorant that her beloved teenage daughter was hiding a razor blade in her room.

For a $1.50 at Walmart, anyone can buy a blade knife, complete with small plastic handle so no need to worry it will become too slippery to handle when drenched in blood.

This tormented teenager cut herself for months, and no one had any idea that she had been doing it.

To this day, the parents do not know.

I am the only one she trusted enough to tell.

That razor could have easily sliced through vital blood vessels if she was so inclined.  She would have had privacy to do so, because in our society, we give our teenagers the right to close their bedroom door and shut out the world.

Robin Williams hung himself, while his wife was in the house.  It takes at least 5 to 15 minutes of asphyxiation to die by hanging, unless the neck is broken immediately.  He had not been on suicide watch.  He was found dead.

The suicidal mind just wants the pain and suffering to end.  No one would know unless they had cried out for help, unless the warning signs were so obvious that they could not be ignored (for instance; stumbling out of their bedroom and announcing to a house full of family and friends that they have taken a bottle of pills; this actually happened with a family member).

Even then, everyone has their own lives to live, their own burdens to bear.  They cannot be expected to sit on suicide watch for their mentally unstable sister, daughter, friend…

My doctor told me to go to the hospital if I feel like I am going to kill myself.

I just have to shake my head at that.

I have lived with this condition long enough to know that feeling like I want to kill myself is part of my daily life.

If I am going to kill myself, I probably will.  And it’s not going to be with sharp objects, or poisonous substances, or the ghastly rope.

Would my friends and family have survivor guilt?

Probably.

Would they regret that they didn’t do more to prevent it?

Probably.

Could they have done anything to prevent it?

Probably not.

And no.  I am not going to kill myself today.

Is Hope Enough?

“Every happy ending begins with hope.” 

~ Snow White / Mary Margaret in Once Upon A Time.

What is hope?

Is hope the feeling that something better is just around the corner?   Is it the thought that tomorrow is a new day, an opportunity for a new beginning?  Is it the belief that things are going to get better?

Is this what makes the beaten and battered continue to get up?  Because of the hopeful belief that eventually the beatings they’re getting are going to get lighter?  Or that their batterer is going to stop hitting, never again to lift a fist against them, and they live blissfully in love for the rest of their days?

Really?  Is hope really enough?   Does it really work that way?

The man, who hopes to get that great job but does not apply for the job, just keeps on hoping as he watches his neighbor celebrate one promotion after another.

The battered woman who keeps hoping that her partner will change, eventually passively dies at the hand of her batterer.

The woman, who cannot swim falls overboard from a cruise ship, hopes desperately that she will be saved, but drowns passively with her face down and her limbs unmoved.

Hope is useless without action.

Life is not a fairy tale.  We are not Sleeping Beauty whose prince will someday come to kiss away our curse and dance happily ever after, whirling us around in a ball gown spiced with magic.   We cannot lie passively waiting on our hope to change our life, to bring us happiness.

We are citizens of the 21st century.  We can do more than hope.

We can do.

We are able.

We can enable ourselves to define our day, our week.  (That is enough for me, for now.  Next week is another story).

Yes, every happy ending begins with hope.   But that is only a beginning.

Let that hope spark action, to do more than believe that everything is going to get better.

Grow that hope by taking action.  We must do for our self, for our health, for our mental and emotional well-being.

We must not give away the only real power we have, the power over our own body, our own mind.

We must not give that power away, to our doctor, to our therapist, to our psychiatrist…

We must not merely ask for, “Please heal me,” and leave it to our healthcare provider, or anybody else to heal us.  We must take an active role in our well-being.  They can only give us the tools with which to heal.  We must then take those tools and utilize them as they ought to be used.  The doctor can give us the prescription, but it is up to us to put that pill into our mouths, and keep on taking it.

We must manage our own health, our own bodies, and our own minds.

Where to start?  

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Lao-Tzu 

My first step was making the decision to heal, to take control of my body, my mind, and my thoughts.