A summer of single days

In the middle of this summer, I have made startling discovery. As I try to live my life one day at a time, the anxiety of achieving a future state of happiness has gone away and I am, well, pretty relaxed.

It used to be that days were marked by day, month and season. Weekdays (aka workdays) were dreaded and weekends were celebrated. Rainy months were supposed to be dreary and summer months were eagerly hyped as a time for play.

I have always that found vaguely stressful. There seems to be a lot of pressure placed on the “good times” of weekends and summer to have, well, good times. I always felt that I wasn’t quite doing enough – camping enough, partying enough, have crazy adventures enough.

Here’s the weird thing. As I’ve focused on just living one day at a time, I am finding that those expectations have fallen away and I am learning to appreciate the presents of the present.

Sometimes, I am focused on just one day because that’s all I can manage to think of getting through. It’s kind of relief to know that I don’t have to make things better. I can accept the sadness or loneliness of the day as just one day.

Sometimes, there seems so much that “should” be done that I’m overwhelmed and have to break it down to what I can do just for today.

Sometimes, the day is great and I can enjoy each slow moment of contentment.  I can treasure the little things, express gratitude for my many blessings and laugh and be silly.

As I try to live each single day being the person I want to be in this world rather than some version of me that I think I am supposed to be, I find that there are no wasted days and each comes with its own gifts. I am inspired to keep striving, to pushing my boundaries, to live with my whole heart and to be authentic each day.

This week, I spent what is normally a work day out kayaking with some friends. It didn’t feel strange at all to be not at work. It was just what that day had in store. I have had great days at work. I have had long, lonely weekend days. I have frittered away a sunny day indoors when I should be outside. I have reveled in the return of the rain. I have let the depression win some days (and the potato chips). I have said “no thanks, I’ve camped enough for one summer.” I have treasured quiet coffee chats with friends. I’ve gone to bed before the sun goes down and I have partied late into the night til the sun was coming up again.

And, somewhere in there, I think I stopped living for an imaginary future where I accomplish all my “should” be items. Waiting for a future vacation, or a future weekend. Or a future anything.

And you know what? I’m having a really great summer.

One day at a time.

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The landscape of grief

Grief is a strange and timeless landscape.

Yesterday, the day took a dip and I was again journalling through my thoughts and emotions, back in that familiar landscape of sorrow and disappointment and the struggle to understand life’s twists and unexpected turns.

I know I am making progress. The dips are less frequent, less deep and last less long. Still, there is that little voice that says, “Back here again? Shouldn’t you be over this? What’s wrong with you?”

I am firmly telling that voice to shut up.

Grief takes it’s own sweet time.

It digs deep into your heart and unearths previously unknown places. Places of pure and intense emotion – anger, beauty, collapse, courage. And, in that intimate place of self, there is a strange connection with the ghost of the person who has passed out of your life.

I guess that’s why it’s sometimes hard to let go of grief. Because you also have to let go of that person who you are moving away from and leaving behind. Leave them in the past and move into your future without them.

Leave that version of yourself behind and move into a different future.

It’s a journey we all take alone.

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Music Monday – My Inner Ninja!

Hey yo, I’ve been high and I’ve been real low
I’ve been beaten and broken but I healed though
So many ups and downs, roughed up & clowned
We all got problems, but we deal though

I’m tryin’ to do better now, find my inner peace
Learn my art form, and find my energy
When my backs on the wall, I don’t freeze up
Nah, I find my inner strength and I re-up

My inner ninja!!!!!!!

Out of the pothole and into the firing squad

After Saturday’s post, I have a whole new level of understanding around why it is hard to talk publicly about depression.

Not that I regret sharing. The comments on what people do to self-care were so enlightening.  The number of  “me, toos” that came in made me feel so much less alone and more normal.  And, the check-ins from my friends by phone, text and e-mail filled me with gratitude for the love and support that I have.

So, not for a moment am I complaining. Quite the opposite.

But the thing about depression is that it thrives in the dark and in the isolation.  When I took that away, and when I shone the light right into it’s scaly little eyes, wow was it uncomfortable!

In fact, the vulnerability was excruciating. Squirmy, skin crawling, bolt for the door, in the firing line excruciating. Every fibre in my being was saying Run! Hide! Don’t let them see you! Don’t talk to me or acknowledge me!

And as much as I hate it when people worry about me – who me? I’m fine – I think what I really fear is that people will pity me. Or that people will think I am pitying myself. After all, who am I to complain! Snap out of it!!!

Things are much better today.

The self-care helped. The writing helped. The sunshine helped. Talking helped. Friends helped. Hugs helped.

Growth happens at the edge of our comfort zone.  Dammit.

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The gaping pothole in my heart

I don’t have cable but I understand that Dexter is a pretty good show.

My sister recently commented that Dexter calls his psychosis his Dark Passenger and that she was going to start calling her depression her Dark Cloak because it envelopes her yet it can be comforting in a warped way. I commented that a Dark Cloak can also make you invisible, which is sometimes exactly how I want to be.

This week has been a tough struggle against the depression. For me, depression feels like a reoccurring but always unexpected pothole along my road. I can be traveling along my path – the uphills, the downhills, the flat boring sections, the curves and the vistas – and suddenly there is this gaping hole that opens in my heart..

Sometimes, I fall inwards before I realize it and I am left at the bottom staring upwards and outwards at a far away world. Sometimes I see and feel the hole appearing, like a landslide in the road and I slip and slide desperately trying to regain my footing as the ground becomes unstable under my feet.

Sometimes, at the bottom there in the dark I am too tired to contemplate the scrabble and hard work of pulling myself back up or even calling for help. I just want to lie down and disappear into the darkness.

They say that one key piece to battling the depression is good self-care. For years I never really understood what that meant because people’s examples of self-care including things like going shopping and buying some new clothes, taking a long hot bath, treating yourself with food or calling a friend.

In my struggle with food issues and body image, the first three were out of the question. Staring at myself in a mirror, with bad lighting, wearing ill-fitting garments, aka clothes shopping, is a just plain awful. Treating myself with food was just numbing out, something I was trying to stop doing. And, lying naked in a bath staring at my body was so far from relaxing that I might as well have just grabbed a shovel and started digging the hole a little deeper.

Calling a friend was just perilously close to asking for help. The phone might have weighed a thousand pounds it seemed so heavy to pick up. And, what would be the point of worrying my friends when there was nothing they could do to help?

In frustration, one day I asked a friend (okay, my therapist) what exactly self-care was supposed to mean? He said that self-care was anytime I did anything to act upon what was important to me. Huh.

So, self-care is anytime I get some exercise because being healthy is important to me. Self-care is calling a friend; not because I expect them to do anything but because I care about them and how they are doing. Self-care is taking the time to write and journal so I can be honest with my feelings and actions. Self-care is healthy eating behaviours which separate food and emotions. Self-care is saying no when I need to set boundaries and saying yes when I’m scared to tread the edge of my comfort zone. And self-care is giving myself time each day to be creative so that I grow and learn.

Turns out, self-care means taking care of myself!! That is what allows that pothole in my heart to fill up again (with self-love?), carrying me back to the surface.

In my struggle this week, I was reminded of this when I read this list of 55 gentle ways to take care yourself when you’re busy busy busy. Some great ideas in there.

All except taking a long hot bath. That one is never making my list, even if Dexter comes out in favour of it.

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Thank you for breaking my heart

Thank you for breaking my heart

For the depth of the pain ...
     which showed me how much I could feel
For sending me into the dark ...
     where I found my light
For the broken pieces ...
     which allowed more space for love

For the ocean of tears ...
     which washed away the unimportant
For the hot rage of anger ... 
     which helped me to set my boundaries
For the fear that took my breath away ... 
     and forced me to inhale my courage

For shattering my foundation ... 
     and giving me the chance to rebuild 
For bringing me to my knees ... 
     where I could see the helping hands of friends 
For the vulnerability of my weakness ... 
     which is intertwined with my strength 

For taking away the certainty of what I knew ... 
     which let me do what I never imagined I could 
For plunging me into the unknown ... 
     and for all I learned there
For the wrenching change in my path ... 
     and the unexpectedly places it's taken me

Thank you for breaking my heart ... 
     for I prayed for love 
     and I was given the opportunity to love

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