I recently went through a period where I wasn’t participating in life.
I was MIA from the social feeds, writing and any sort of social circles. Not because I didn’t want to, I just couldn’t. I didn’t have any motivation, any spark, any desire to really show up for anything in my life.
(This coming from someone who is usually filling my Instagram feed with inspiring quotes and motivational tips.)
I had nada, zip, zilch to say on how great life is and to just love and trust, and everything will be okay.
In fact, had I read things like that, I probably would have wanted to punch myself in the face. It’s really hard to read that stuff when we’re in a low place in life.
It had been a crazy couple of months and for a long time I was at a loss of words about what was going on within me.
Now I have the clarity.
I was battling a mild case of depression.
Depression is a really hard for me to say out loud.
I’ve felt so much shame around that word for a long time. Like I’m broken, my wiring is off.
Mostly I questioned how this could happen when I thought I’d done so much in the realm of my own healing and personal growth. How could I be depressed? It didn’t make sense.
A few years ago, divorce sent me down the depression road but what about this time? I was coming up blank.
It’s easy to label our depression when there is an event that sets it off. Divorce, job loss, death—it all make sense. It’s harder to understand what we’re going through, and harder to talk to others about it, when there isn’t a particular event that points to why we are feeling blue.
I’ve come to realize that depression set in because I was grieving many parts of my past—old friendships, old memories, an old life, an old version of myself.
It was like I had a hook in me, pulling me back into the past and until I looked at it, owned it, and let it go, the hook would keep pulling me back. It didn’t matter how many affirmations I said or how often I tried to reframe my thoughts, I needed to feel emotions.
In fact this bypassing of my emotions was actually keeping me stuck.
I had to own my anger, my fear, my shame. I had to look it square in the eye, admit it, understand it, accept it, and then that hook could come out of me.
Our emotions do that—they live in our bodies, and they won’t go away until we look at them. Once we look at them, admit how we feel, and forgive (ourselves and others) the emotion can move. It’s why we feel a sense of release after a good cry.
The most important thing we can do for ourselves is allow ourselves to grieve—if we feel all of our emotions, personal growth and healing can occur.
Here are four things that helped me the most to move through everyday depression:
Relaxing activities and creative expression were the two ways I essentially “mothered” myself during this time. When we are grieving and letting go of the old, we are essentially birthing the new. It can be an incredibly tiring time. Napping, being in nature, reading, taking a bath, whatever our favorite form of relaxation—do that, and do it often. Dancing and painting were creative activities that helped me find clarity and brought me back to the present moment. This is a time to take extra good care of ourselves and not overextend. Be easy on yourself.
The thing that kept me stuck was placing judgment on what was going on within myself. It wasn’t until I accepted how I was feeling that I actually found relief. Allow yourself to be exactly where you are, feeling exactly what you feel. Let it come up. Feel it. Cry through it. The feeling always passes once we express it.
Talking to someone about what we are experiencing can help us feel seen and heard. I don’t believe that we can get through this process alone—in fact I don’t think we are meant to. Talking to a trusted friend, loved one, therapist, or coach can help.
A lot of the emotion we experience comes from holding on to grievence from our past. The only way to truly let it go is to forgive. That doesn’t mean that what happened to us was okay. We are forgiving for our own sake, not theirs. Forgiveness gives the final release. Here’s one way: write a letter to the person, getting everything out that you need to say. Don’t hold back on anything. Just let yourself free write how you feel. Then burn the letter or rip it up.
I don’t look at depression with as much shame anymore. I think it serves a purpose. It allows ua access to our grief, if we let it. Grief is a good thing because it means that we are feeling, no longer numbing or not looking at the pain.
Feeling is the key to releasing and moving forward.
And if we can feel the grief, no matter how scary it is to look at, we can eventually move on.
I’m sharing my story because it feels good to finally own this instead of pretending like everything is always “fine.” I also want you to know that if you are going through something similar, you are not alone. I’m right there with you. I see you. I stand by you.
Remember, as with all things in life, this too shall pass.
Author: Laura Snyder
Image: flickr/Evil Erin
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock