I felt like I’d been throwing myself against a brick wall over and over.
I kept falling down with new bruises, and I kept getting back up and hurling myself into the wall all over again, telling myself to keep looking on the bright side.
It will work eventually. That wall will crumble. Keep going. Just f*cking manifest it already. Don’t use negative language. Be positive! I’m strong! I’m fine! Whump!
Then, a few months ago, I admitted to everyone I was struggling. I finally admitted that I felt like I was moving through mud, like something was broken inside of me. The small things felt like big things, and the big things were completely overwhelming to me. I was functioning just enough to get by—but I was avoiding the rest, and it seemed like maybe I was suffering from some kind of depression.
Friends reached out and said I was brave for being so vulnerable and sharing about my possible depression, but really I felt like I was just being honest.
With myself and with everyone else. No more bravado. No more feeling like I should be able to handle it all, like nothing should be wrong. Just my raw, naked truth.
I needed a little help. Just a little boost. Just a little support, because it is so daunting feeling like I have to do all of this alone.
Just a little spark to turn the light back on inside.
I’ve heard the advice before that in order for us to stop being lost and find our way, we have to first admit to being lost. Yes, being positive can be powerful, but it’s never helpful if it’s a lie.
I don’t think positivity is denying what is honest and real. I think being positive is our capacity to hold space for the supposed good even in the midst of the supposed bad. It is the capacity to understand there is no “good” without the “bad,” and fundamentally everything just is. If I am going to have the capacity to experience the “good,” then I must have equal capacity to experience the “bad.” There is no exuberant enthusiasm without equal capacity for temper, because it is all the same passionate energy. The good, the bad, the uphill and down, the what’s working and not working.
My friends have reminded me this is all part of the human experience. Positivity is the capacity to keep going, even when I realize I have to change course or go back to the drawing board or completely start over. Again.
We still keep going. We still keep being human. We stay and we face what needs to be faced.
Admitting that I’m lost, that something isn’t working, and I need a little help means I can stop doing what’s not working and take a hard look at myself and my situation so I can try something different and break free from a stuck pattern. I can start to find my way again. And, yes, it’s vulnerable and it is brave.
And it helped. I could feel things shift, and I felt more open space inside of me. People extended their hands to help me up and dust me off and shared their own struggles and inspirations. I’m not alone. I’m so grateful to everyone who reached out. Thank you.
I’m still struggling, but it’s different now. There are varying shades rather than a seemingly uniform bleakness, and admitting to and really understanding my struggling has made me focus more on healing and taking care of myself. It’s like before I was ignoring that I’d hurt myself until I finally stopped and realized, “Oh! I have a boo-boo! I gotta take care of that!”
For these non-physical wounds, I’ve been really focused on seeking out and cultivating brightness, cozy joy, and compassion for myself. There are the familiar things like consulting with a medical professional to make sure a vitamin or mineral isn’t lacking, or another medical cause. There is getting outside in nature, some sort of daily exercise, reading inspirational books, and keeping a gratitude journal.
There are some things I’ve done that have helped me that I didn’t really expect, and maybe they can serve as a guide post for you in your human condition.
(Please understand, I have not been formally diagnosed, which is why I’ve placed qualifiers before the word “depression,” because I might not actually be truly and clinically depressed. If you suspect you need more help, I encourage you to consult a qualified professional so you can get the level of support and help you need. You are not alone, and it is okay.)
1. I bought a pass to a local bouldering gym. Bouldering is something I just love, even though I am afraid of heights. With bouldering, I don’t need a partner. I love the problem-solving it requires, I love the physical challenge it gives me, I love how it makes me face my fear while, amazingly, I’m having lots of fun at the same time. I love how it is teaching me to trust my body and my instincts. I completely suck at it too, right now. So, for me bouldering is failure I’m thoroughly enjoying—and that is something I really need in my world.
2. I spent an entire day cleaning, organizing, and re-beautifying my living space. I went through the giant stacks of papers and took a long, hard look at all of my things, culling and re-organizing. It gave me so much anxiety to do it. I was an existential FOMO wreck through the entire process. My stuff was so overwhelming, and I had to make some hard decisions. I had been putting it off for quite some time, and my space was becoming uncomfortable and unlivable. It wasn’t working for me. But I did it, and, yes, it was hard and it was completely worth it.
The beauty of my space brings calm and peace to my being. The ease it has brought to my day is astounding. I can work at my desk. I can sit in my chair. I can easily roll out my yoga mat. I can find my socks. Hey, there’s that bra I’ve been looking for! When everything feels so hard, having such ease in the small daily things is imperative.
3. When I was 20, I lived in western Massachusetts. It was February, and I was deeply bleak and sad, until I saw a bouquet of the most perfectly pink tulips at the local grocery store. I was so captivated and filled with joy when I looked at those flowers. I bought them. I’d never bought myself flowers before. I put them in a vase on the kitchen windowsill, and every time I looked at them the joy would bubble.
Years later, I read 8 Weeks to Optimum Health by Dr. Andrew Weil, and he advised having fresh flowers around us because they raise our spirits. Over the years, I have found this to be true for me. Last week, I bought light pink spray roses, this week some daffodils. The sustainability and ethics of cut flowers is important, but I’m also not going to let myself get too bogged down in it all. I’ll do my best, you’ll do your best, and we’ll both enjoy the magic of our flowers.
4. Supposedly “unproductive” writing. I keep saying I’m not writing and I’ve only just realized this isn’t true. No, I haven’t written any articles lately, but I have been writing. Lot’s of writing and processing and processing some more in the pages of my journal and notebooks. I couldn’t have written an article like this without the pages of writing in my journal. I can’t share with you until I understand what is within me. And I’ve written this article; it has taken me forever to finish it, but I’ve finally f*cking done it!
5. Music. I am very driven by music—so much so that one of my friends asked me if I’m an emotional DJ. Yes, I think I am! When I hear just the right song for a moment in my life, it is absolutely magical.
I’ve been coming across some really amazing songs these past few months, and this badass playlist is what I most want to share with you. It’s full of energy. It’s powerful with a beat like our hearts. You can dance and cry your eyes out and feel alive to it.
I hope you enjoy it as I have.
1. “Giants“ by Savoir Adore
2. “Champion“ by Bishop Briggs
3. “The Hype“ by 21 Pilots
4. “Dusty Trails“ by Lucius
5. “Never Give Up“ by Sia
6. “The Greatest” by Sia
7. “Alive” by Sia
8. “Madness“ by Lucius
9. “Line of Sight“ by Odesza
What’s on your playlist?