Trying to understand depression

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Dear Diary,

On Monday I wrote about admitting I have a problem with depression and today I am trying to find ways to work through my feelings and understand what I need to do to overcome my highs and lows. I have realized that depression doesn’t always equal total sadness, it usually ends up that way but there are a whole slew of other emotions that come with depression – at least there were for me.  Anger, worthlessness, regret, lack of willingness and sadness are all emotions that people feel when they are dealing with situations that are just too much to handle.  The emotional cycle of depression is kind of like dealing with a death – actually it’s exactly like dealing with a death because when you are sad a little part of you dies.

Trying to figure it out

After a short stint of complete and total anger I fell into a deep sadness that had me questioning if my life was a life worth living.  I withdrew from everything and everyone because I thought that being alone would help me avoid disappointment – when in fact all it made me was lonely.

I needed something to bring me out of my sadness and help me start seeing the good in life again.  Binge eating to avoid my emotions was one way to deal with the pain, medication was the second option and excessive drinking to numb the pain was the third.  But considering that I was physically attacked by my Dad’s raging alcoholic girlfriend, drinking didn’t seem like the best option.

Minimize your focus and take it one day at a time

I turned to exercise as a way to deal with my depression because it seemed like the healthiest way to rejoin the world but still keep to myself at the same time.  I didn’t want to jump back into society but I knew that I had to get out of bed and start doing something.

Depression is just like any other disease, you have to hit rock bottom before you can get any better.  If you are not feeling like yourself you may be experiencing a personal depression.  Don’t try to pull yourself out of it too fast. Depression is a self-inflicted disease – and that’s OK.  All it means that is that you know what made you get into depression, and only you can get yourself out of it.

Get help – it’s the best thing you will ever do

My advice is to deal with the issue that is making you sad, go through the emotions and then find something to bring you back to life.  Focus on something you love.  Give yourself something to look forward to and a goal to work towards.  It will help regain focus and the success of achieving your goal – no matter what it is – will help you feel a sense of self worth.

When you feel like your life is once again worth living, you are getting back on track to overcoming your sadness.

Love always,

Photo by me in Las Vegas – Grab them for free

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Home Is Wherever You Want It To Be

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portland

A little under four months ago, I made a cross country move with my husband from Cleveland to Portland. After spending the first 24 years of my life in Ohio and never having been to the West Coast, I took a leap of faith and moved on my own accord, wanting to make a big move and see more of the U.S. before settling down and having children.

We spent three weeks on the road exploring different places across the country, some of which we liked (all of Colorado) and some of which we hated (Southern California), before we got to our final destination of Portland, Oregon. Four months later, I can say with certainty we picked the right place.

Home Is Not Always Conveniently Located

Portland is everything we want in a city — it has a fabulous food and alcohol scene, it’s extremely accepting, and it has big city amenities, yet a small town feel. What it lacks is both of our families. In fact, it’s about 2,500 miles from my family and about 7,000 miles from his.

While this is certainly a negative, our families’ homes don’t necessarily need to be our home. We have every right to move to a place that makes us happy, even when it isn’t conveniently located.

You have this same right. One of my favorite quotes is this: “If you don’t like where you are, change it. You’re not a tree.” Don’t spend your life complaining about where you are, because you can move.

Create a Home in the Right Place For You

Miles away from our friends and family, we are creating a new home — a place where we can love, work, and thrive. I want you to know you can do the same. Your family has chosen to settle where they are, but you don’t have to. They will still love you, near or far.

Portland is home for me. Where is your home (or “would be” home)?

Peace, Love, and Moving Vans,

Erin

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

Image from Doug Kerr


Depression doesn’t make you a failure

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Good morning Loves.  To say that the past few years have been a little rough for me would be an understatement.  I am not going to ruin your morning with all the details, but if you are an avid reader of My Diary then you know what I’m talking about.  If you are new here – then welcome – I will give you the condensed version of my life over the last few years: It all started with the market crash when I lost half my income and ended up $50k in debt, then my best friend passed away very suddenly, I was physically attacked by my Dad’s girlfriend on my 30th birthday and to make a bad situation even worse my Dad defends her and is still with her today.

The emotions of depression

So to say that I have not been super cheery and high on life would be a fair statement.  Now that I am 33 years old I am starting to realize that life is too short to let other people ruin it for you.  Yes of course being in debt was so stressful that it made me physically sick, yes I still miss my best friend every single day and yes I wish my Dad didn’t live with a total psycho – but my life is what it is and I’m trying to deal with it.

Both my grandmother and my father suffer from depression, so I wish that I could just say sadness runs in my family but that seems like a cop out.  I wanted to be better than my sadness.  I decided that everyone has crap in their life that they have to deal with – my problems were not who I was, they were just what I had to deal with.  I decided to stop ignoring the sadness, stop letting it consume me and start dealing with everything that was wrong in my life.

Hiding it only makes it worse

I tried to hide my sadness because the last thing in the world that I wanted was to talk about it.  I tried therapy, but it didn’t work for me.  Talking to a stranger in an uncomfortable office just wasn’t my thing. I wanted to get better, but I had to do it on my own terms.

Now that I am overcoming my sleepless nights, anger filled days and hermit-like behaviour I want to talk about it to help other people going through the same situation.  I want people to know that depression is normal because sometimes we just have to face situations that we just aren’t mentally, physically and emotionally prepared to deal with.

You are better than your depression

Being sad is sometimes a part of life and you aren’t weird if you aren’t happy all the time.  The  key is to deal with the emotions and get better.  You don’t have to be singing and skipping all the time, you should just love your life enough to get out of bed every morning.

Love always,

Photos by me-Use Them for FREE

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A Domestic Disaster Tries a Little

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cooking

I am not a domestic person.

I’ve had many excuses for not being Holly Homemaker over the years — ranging from “I don’t have time” to “I refuse to be oppressed”. If you knew my husband, the latter would make you laugh hysterically as I am not oppressed in the slightest. In fact, he takes care of more of the domestic duties than I do…

Anyways, I am beginning to learn something. There is nothing empowering about not being able to cook or clean. While neither is “woman’s work”, both sexes should have basic skills in cooking and cleaning. Even me. *pouts*

A Top Chef I Am Not

As someone who was three years into adulthood before she learned how to make spaghetti (with canned sauce, mind you), I don’t seem to have the cooking gene. But I’ve learned something — neither does anyone else. Cooking is a very learned skill and takes lots of trial and error.

So here’s what I’m doing:

Trying. And then not getting hysterical when things don’t work out. Malcolm Gladwell says we need 10,000 hours of practice to master anything. I have like 16. If something doesn’t turn out, it’s really not the end of the world.

Carpet Lines Can Kiss My Ass

Cleaning is also not a skill I possess. Mostly because I get frustrated when things get messy again. Geez, I’m a whiny brat.

So what am I doing? You guessed it:

Trying. I made a little cleaning schedule with daily, weekly, and as needed tasks. My apartment is 400 square feet and I don’t own any furniture, this isn’t difficult stuff. It isn’t fun, but it certainly isn’t hard.

This is me, trying to acquire skills that every person should have, 6 years into adulthood. That’s embarrassing…

What about you guys? What do you need to just try to do? Anyone else lacking the domesticity gene?

Peace, Love, and Paring Knives,

Erin

Image from Rene Schwietzke


You’re Awesome

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photo (62)

It sounds funny, but I’ve figured out one of life’s biggest secrets. Are you ready for it? Lean in and let me tell you.

You’re awesome.

I don’t know if you were necessarily looking for that but that’s what I want to discuss today. How awesome you and I both are.

I work with students in an inner city school setting. I love it but sometimes…it can be emotionally draining. I teach a class that and do one on one interventions with students on a daily basis. Some students need it more than others and some are young girls. Do you remember what it was like to be a young girl in junior high? Let me refresh your memory in case you forgot.

It sucks.

Think about all the uncertainties you have and magnify them by a million. Yeah, that’s what it’s like. Combine that with stuff you can only imagine going through and there you have it. Sometimes all I can do is offer a hug and sometimes all I can do is listen. But, I tell everyone one work of advice that could work for you, no matter your age.

You’re awesome.

How many times have you been hard on yourself for no reason? I speak from experience. “You;re worthless. Nothing you do is good enough. No one likes you. Do you blame them?” These ugly thoughts went through my mind on a daily basis until my early twenties when I finally heard my friend say how awesome she was. At first, I was taken aback. I mean, who really goes on about how awesome they are? I had never really heard anyone say that, especially about themselves. But, my friend, who ended up becoming my best friend, had such a good point. If you don’t think you’re awesome, no one else will.

It sounds silly, but it’s like a jedi mind trick. If you start telling yourself how awesome you are, you will start to believe it because it’s true. You are awesome and you’re not all those bad things that your mind says you are. You are not your brain and the more you train yourself to believe that, the more it becomes true. Once you start believing, you realize you are enough and you can power through no matter what life throws at you. You know when things aren’t truly your fault and learn how to ignore the nay sayers.

You’re awesome. Remember that.

Sincerely,

Athena

 

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Putting My Ego Aside to Learn New Things

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learn

I have a strange reluctance to listen to other people about blogging, freelancing, or even life in general. While on an intellectual level I understand that I am not actually more knowledgeable than the pros on these topics, my ego suggests otherwise. I have an issue learning from others about things that I want to be great at. A bit of a Catch-22 going on here…

Well after spending 4 days hanging out with other personal finance bloggers at a not-so-little gathering called FinCon, I’m beginning to change my tune. For four whole days, I listened to tips, tricks, and tools for writers, freelancers, and bloggers. I took notes and truly listened to what people had to say. And guess what? I learned a lot of things I would have never thought about on my own.

Shocker. I actually learned when I listened to those with more experience.

Putting My Ego Aside

As much as I like the idea of knowing everything about everything, I really don’t. And you don’t either. We all have a lot to learn from those who have walked the path before us. Is there really anything wrong with learning from other people’s mistakes? We’ll probably still have to make them on our own, but it’s nice to know that someone has lived through the same mistakes first.

Not to mention, you’d be amazed at concepts that are seemingly obvious that you’ve overlooked and others have not. But you can never take advantage of this information if you are unwilling to listen to it.

Listen and Learn Something…Today

Maybe you all are mature and secure enough to listen to others with letting your ego get in the way. But maybe, like me, you have a problem with this. So this is what I want you to do…

Find someone with more experience in something that you are interested in. Perhaps this is someone you know in real life or perhaps it is someone on the Internet. Either way, I challenge you to learn three new things from them and then apply those lessons in your own life.

I am using the lessons learned at FinCon to improve my blog, my freelance writing, and my networking. What are you going to learn today? How are you going to use those lessons to improve yourself? Let me know in the comments!

Peace, Love, and Dorky Conferences,

Erin

Image by Kathryn Greenhill


Letting Go of the Things You Can’t Control

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plane

I am a self-described (and family-and-friend-described) control freak. I’m a lister. I’m a planner. I’m afraid of anything and everything that could possibly kill me. I need things to work out my way or else I throw a fit — usually just to myself and a few friends or family members who have the unfortunate luck of being nearby or picking up my phone calls. I really like being in control.

The things you cannot control…

As I write this, I am sitting in O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, waiting to board my 6th plane in 8 days. Yeah, sixth. For someone terrified of anything that could kill you (which is basically everything), planes make me a bit uneasy. But they are also teaching me something.

There are things you cannot control no matter how badly you want to.

What would happen if my plane crashed? Would I be able to fix it? No! So instead of stressing myself into an early grave (which statistically is more likely to kill me than flying), I’m working on accepting this. After all, the universe isn’t doing a terrible job directing my life.

As y’all know, I gave up control when I quit my job and moved across the country without a place to live or a real source of income. This is not the same as flying, but you get the idea. Within the first week in our new city, we had an apartment, my husband had a job, and I took the leap into full-time freelancing. Some of the best parts of my life happened outside of my plans. Flexibility not only reduces stress, it also opens up a world of opportunities. Who knew?

Everyone, Erin. Everyone without control issues knows that.

Learning to let go…a little bit

I’m not going to stop writing lists or making plans anytime soon. I believe  goals are crucial to moving forward and improving your life. What I am going to do is let go just a little bit. While I hope a plane crash is not in my future, avoiding planes is not the answer. Allowing fear to dictate my life and rigid plans to keep me from living isn’t the key to immortality. And I have to be okay with that in order to live my life to the fullest.

Have you had to give up control recently? How are you handling it?

Peace, Love, and Airplanes,

Erin

Image by Steven Conry


Sometimes You Have to Save Yourself Before Saving Someone Else

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Minor-Stressful-Events-Can-Cause-Major-Emotional-Reactions-SS

I have had some family problems recently and it has been taking its emotional toll on the family and myself. The issue has been with my younger brother. He has been experiencing some hard emotional problems lately. I really don’t want to go into detail to what kind of problem specifically he has but it is something that can be quite debilitating. The real problem is that he refuses to seek help or therapy for his problems.

My brother is a very special person-especially stubborn sometimes. Siblings are like that sometimes. He always has and probably always will be. Ever since we were kids, he was the type of person that wanted to do thing his way or not do them at all. I remember one time when we were playing in the park on a sunny day when we were kids. My brother found a snake by the river that was sunbathing on a rock. I immediately freaked out and yelled at him to run away but of course, he did not listen. You can probably guess what happened. The snake turned around and bit him. We all had to make a beeline to the hospital in order to treat the bite. Luckily, the snake was the non-venomous type and he only needed a stitch or two to close the wound. It would be great to tell you that he learned his lesson, but there were several instances where his stubbornness got in the way yet again.

My family is notorious for being stubborn and sometimes they don’t always think ahead. I have to say that I am a little on the same page but maybe don’t want to admit it. My brother is especially stubborn. This is probably why my family is so annoyed with him right now. The problem he has is something that I know intimately. I was able to reach out to one of my old therapists and she has agreed to take him on. Of course, my brother is especially keen to tell us his excuses for not going. He told us that the therapist was too far away and he simply didn’t have time. Please keep in mind that this is the same person who said only a week ago that he was miserable and in a lot of pain. Needless to say, we were all a little exasperated with him.

My brother is doing better now but this served as a lesson to me that you can only do so much for someone. You can yell and scream until you are blue in the face, but sometimes the person doesn’t want to hear you. You have to be willing to accept that that’s okay too. It may hurt and claw at you heart but it’s the truth.  We all have instances where we really wanted to convince someone of something and have failed. It is best sometimes to save yourself simply for the fact that you can put yourself in a place to help someone else. This is the lesson that I have been trying to learn lately.

 

Photo by Psych Central

 

 


Using Gratitude to Increase Happiness

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Sometimes it seem like life is one huge rollercoaster of emotions and circumstances. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with everything that may be going on. Everyone has their own set of problems and complications that can easily send you into a tailspin if you are not careful. I know from personal experience about this and I wanted to share a little secret to keep you happy and light.

Being Thankful for What You Have

Taking time out to be grateful for what you have is so important. This is certainly not a new concept by any means but this doesn’t minimize the advice in any case. When I am feeling anxious, I like to go over a list of things in my head over the many reasons I have to be thankful. I may go over the people in my life that care about me or how much I love certain things in my life. An example of this would be how much I love writing and running. It helps me clear my mind and stay calm. It also gives me motivation to do the things I want when I am feeling stuck. Exercise is very important.

Letting Go of What You Can’t Control

We all want to be able to control the things and people around us. Wouldn’t that be great? The truth of the matter is that there is only so much we can control, and we need to admit that. Being appreciative of that can also be good to remember. Focus on what you can control like your thoughts and your actions. Accept the fact that you may not be able to deal with everything at once. Take time to do thing that can help you feel happier and more alive. Laugh at the little things. If you can’t laugh by yourself, go watch a funny movie or some stand-up comedy. Bring that feeling of gratitude within yourself to achieve something else.

Reminding yourself that you always have things to be grateful for in your life is important. This can really help when you are feeling stresses out. Writing things down in a journal can also be helpful to reinforce those feelings. Make sure to always take care of yourself so that you can the best you can be. This will lead to a happier life for yourself and your family.

Take Care,

Natalie

Photo by eschipul

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Staying Positive In An Often Negative World

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It happens daily. Every day we are bombarded with negative this and negative that from a hundred other things. The news is a daily reminder of how messed up everything is.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of constantly being told of how many armed robberies there are in my area or how many deadly car accidents there have been on the road.  Unfortunately, this is what is pervasive in modern culture and its important to rail against it.

Staying Positive: Looking through the bad to find the good

I was watching the news recently and there was a story about a little boy who had advanced cancer. He was standing is his room surrounded by pictures of family and friends. The reporter asked him if he felt sad or depressed about his situation.

Well, that boy looked right in the camera and said that he wasn’t worried about his condition or what it may mean. He was happy to be alive and positive for the future. I was deeply moved by his attitude. If he can have such a bright outlook when life had dealt him such a cruel hand, then surely I can learn to be more positive no matter what is going on in my life. All it takes is the right mindset.

Staying Positive: What makes you happy in life?

Having the right outlook is so important. Keeping a list of things you are thankful for and reviewing it nightly has always been very helpful to me. Doing things that I love also helps.

I really love to run and generally just laugh at stand-up comedy alone in my room with my headphones on. I have a smile on my face just thinking about it. Being a better you takes practice but just about anyone can achieve more positivity in their life if they try.

So my dear friends, I urge you to do what you can to keep that glowing smile on your face. There are simply too many things out there that are trying to take that away from you. There’s lot of people who would rather see you happy then sad.

I know that I would rather hear about the good things going on in your life than the bad ones. It helps me too to feel those happy vibes. Sometimes it takes work to be positive, but it really is worth it in the end.

Photo by Kim Alaniz

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