Choose to See

I’m breathing like a zombie, sitting on an empty fee. I think its pretty funny how you don’t see me. Certainly giving me all your advice for free. Sitting there shaking your heads, judging me. Basing all your hate on things you don’t see.

This will pass, you see. Gotta make it what you want it to be. That’s what they keep saying to me.

But I’m empty, scarecrow wondering who I want to be. Things holding me down, rocks in my pockets, underwater struggle to break out of the sea.

Yup, that was a cockroach crawling on my skin. Yes, living room lights dying, going dim. Can’t pay my bills and my patience is growing thin.

Work harder and smarter. Keep pushing farther and farther. Halfway through with a little baby starter. Everybody telling me to hold on longer.

Easy for you to say when food doesn’t hurt you. You want me to believe accepting your table scraps is a virtue. But I bet you can sleep and receive successes for your hard work, too.

Some of just hurt and hurt no matter how healthy we choose to be. We have to learn to trust in what we can’t see. Cuz our elbow grease and overtime leaves our energy stolen and our souls empty. Our experience shows we’ll never get to where we need to be.

Telling me I need to believe better. Telling me I must need to try harder. If I’m still not in my right mind, if I’m still falling behind, if I’m still running blind, I’ll never have anything to offer.

Fact of the matter is you don’t have to try that hard to get what you need. I used to run until my demons started to bleed. But my body decided I couldn’t even have that and I had to concede.

You brag about your bootstraps and all your achievements. While I’m out here fighting to get out of bed, my own mind, and bereavements.

I’m sinking but keep swimming. You’re throwing insults and demeaning. Some of us out here fighting fire in our skin, ducking and swinging.

Gotta run a marathon before we can step to our dreams. Cuz the giants are in our blood, pulling us apart at the seems.

We have to play doctor for ourselves. Pick up the pieces of our own egg shells. Take a gun to our personal Hells.

All of this before we get out of our beds. Because our hangman lives inside each our heads. All the while people advising us to start popping meds.

This is where you want us to break. Crying about how there’s only so much we can take. Don’t mind my creepy smile but this is where you made your mistake.

Didn’t you hear what I said? We’re out here working to silence the voices in our head. And that’s before we’re working on paying for our bread.

Yeah I’m gonna have days where I complain. Hello – no matter what I do, I’m in pain! But all this extra work isn’t in vain.

But listen up, pull out a chair, be a good kid and sit there. You don’t have to tell me, I already know life isn’t fair. But if we go a few rounds I’ll forever be there!

Oh yeah you’ll knock me down and I guarantee you’ll mess me up. But if there’s one thing we’re pretty good at, it’s getting back up.

You can fight me all day long but I’m a beast in the ring. You don’t understand the kind of pain my own issues can bring. But if you’ll notice, every day I’m the one winning. So if you think I’m weak or easy, you haven’t been listening. I’ll keep falling down but I’ll get back up and swing.

I’m breathing like a zombie, sitting on an empty fee. I think its pretty funny how you don’t see me. Certainly giving me all your advice for free. Sitting there shaking your heads, judging me. Basing all your hate on things you don’t see.

I think I’m going to mix it up and stay out of bed. Ignore all the ugliness swarming in my head. Do something different just like my heart said.

If I had to give advice, I’d say be careful what you’re fed.

 

by Daphne Shadows

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I Have a Better Question

Do you ever feel like a marionette?

The daily to-do’s and responsibilities as your strings?

Only they’re made of steel. Filling up your eyesight and jerking you from here to there. Yet leaving you oddly hollow, skin tight, eyes forcing themselves to stay open through what begins to feel like a meaningless shuffle for a cardboard crowd.

That’s how I feel today.

Tired.

Pointless.

Where’s the joy for life? The promise of something better?

Some days I feel like no matter how hard I try to climb my way out of this revolving door – I’m still here.

Still fighting.

For more.

Something better.

 

What to do?

I mean, we have so many options.

We could always give up, give in. Let depression bury us in a myriad of distractions, mind-numbing things we do because it’s what we always do and we’re just so tired and change is hard.

We could let anger turn into bitter resentments. Become a nasty human who only spreads misery, always has a reason to martyr themselves or explain why they’re not responsible or how it’s someone else’s fault.

We could go the illegal route. Hurt or exploit others for money.

We could slap on a fake smile and pretend everything is just dandy while inside we slip further and further into oblivion. Lying to ourselves.

Or we could keep fighting.

Hoping.

Trying.

Looking for the positivity.

Doing what we can.

Enjoying the little things.

The little successes.

Keep finding a reason.

 

You see, I think we search too much for the meaning of life.

We’re here. I think that’s all the proof or validation that we need.

I think the point is to live our own life as best we can, treating ourselves with dignity and love, and then trying to help others.

I think our purposes can change as we do. But if we’re not really living life, then we’re not living up to our potential.

 

Enjoying life is easier said than done.

I’m still depressed, sitting on the couch, wondering why I bother to write, since I haven’t finished a novel I like yet and haven’t been published yet and simply lack for direction in my life.

But it’s a low day for me. I recognize that. Yesterday was a great day. And the day before that. I’m going to exercise in less than an hour from now and I know that always elevates my mood. I still feel like I’m running on a hamster wheel, though.

The reason I’m telling you this is, I think we can feel so stuck, so miserable, and fight for so long – that it feels like nothing will ever change. That we’ll never fight our way to the top of our own struggles.

But we will.

We already have.

What was so hard to you three years ago that felt like it would never end? Something you’ve conquered?

We’re stronger than we think.

We’re allowed to feel tired and depressed and sick of always having to fight for what seems to come easily to others.

We just can’t let that keep us from living and enjoying our own lives in whatever healthy ways we can.

 

Everything is easier said than done.

There are days where we question the point of our existence. But I have a better question.

What’s the point of giving up?

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Love Letter

Whatever you feel you cannot overcome, you can.

Whatever you feel you can’t survive, you will.

Whatever you feel makes you weak, can make you strong.

Whatever you fear makes you unlovable, makes you human and relatable.

Whatever challenge in your life feels like it will never end, it will.

Whatever or whoever has left you feeling empty and hopeless and broken and incapable of picking yourself back up so that you can keep going… it doesn’t matter what or who it is, they cannot win. Because you are so much more than who you were yesterday, then what you feel in this moment. You are so much more than your fears for tomorrow and the anxieties that you wake up to.

It does matter how afraid you are. How filled with worry you are. How much pressure you feel. It does matter that you feel terrified to fail, to let someone down, to let yourself down. It does matter that you feel alone or empty or broken.

Everything you feel matters.

But what you feel is what you feel. Your emotions are not your identity.

Do you notice yourself thinking, “I am angry”? That’s not accurate. You are who you are. You feel anger. That anger does not define you.

So when you feel broken. You are not broken. You are simply resting and recovering and grieving and preparing. You are growing stronger, gaining new experience, learning what does not work, building an extra layer of skin.

Every time you feel like you cannot keep going, you can.

I am not saying it will be easy. I am not saying there are any magic words that will take all the pain away and make you feel strong and in control and “all together”.

What I’m saying is, stay true to yourself. If you feel exhausted, you have the right to feel exhausted. Allow yourself to feel that. But it doesn’t define who you are. It’s simply defines what you’re in the process of overcoming.

Do you ever take a look at what you’ve already overcome? At the situations and relationships and challenges in life that you thought were impossible or would never end? You’re here now. You overcame them. They ended.

You can do this.

You can fight for the life, the job, the relationships, the identity you want.

But you have to believe you deserve it. I’m here to tell you that you do. You deserve all the beauty this world has to offer you.

But you also deserve all the suffering it has to offer to you. Because there’s no way for us to get strong if there is no pain involved. There is no growth if some part of us does not grow old and stagnant and die.

There is no rebirth if part of us doesn’t die first.

The pain will end. You will continue to get stronger. You can find a way to navigate this life and still enjoy it.

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4 Things I Know to be True

 

Take a vacation in depression. Don’t move in and live there.

 

Life doesn’t have a one size fits all path.

 

Adulting comes with instructions that don’t work.

 

Parenting is like putting together a puzzle with one piece missing.

 

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How to Talk to Your Mentally Ill Friend

 

If you wouldn’t say it to someone with cancer…

If you wouldn’t say it to an amputee…

Don’t say it to someone with mental health challenges.

 

A person who is missing a limb can pray to God for help all day and night long. I’m pretty certain God (insert your Higher Power here, if not God) isn’t going to grow their limb back. We aren’t lizards. Not how it works.

Mental illness challenges are much the same. Not saying they’re the same as having your arms blown off, but you get me.

 

I get told to pray to God and He will take away my sadness.

One – depression and sadness are NOT the same thing.

Two – God gives us challenges on purpose. So we can figure out how to live with them in the way He wants us to. As well as help others who suffer from the same challenges. These things help us grow, challenge ourselves, rise to the occasion. Pretending like being bipolar is something I can just pray away is an insult to God and to myself. He has trusted me to handle this.

Perhaps it will go away. That happens.

Or perhaps it will be more like getting a knee injury. Occasionally, that knee will act up and I’ll have to deal with it.

There is no one way that mental health challenges work. Different person, different life experiences with mental illness.

But none of us can simply get up, decide to no longer have mental illness issues, and *poof* be healthy. Doesn’t work that way.

A cancer patient doesn’t get the diagnosis, decide to stop having it, and *poof* no more cancer. Uh-uh. They have to fight it. Give it everything they’ve got.

Sometimes the disease kills them.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes it goes into remission and comes back, only to go into remission once again.

 

If you aren’t sure how to approach or talk to someone with mental health challenges, consider how you’d talk to a friend who has fibromyalgia or is in the process of going blind.

Mental illness isn’t a choice.

 

 

Yes, making good choices can alleviate it or even get rid of it. But that’s a process. And is true of all illnesses. Get diabetes or cancer, you’re going to have to change what you’re doing, eating, etc. Get panic disorder and you’re going to have to do the same.

We can all make good choices.

That includes aiming for understanding, empathy, kindness, compassion. Instead of telling someone with devastating depression or a mood disorder or any host of other mental illnesses, to simply “knock it off”, “get over it”, “choose to be happy,” “pray and trust God to take it away”, etc.

Perhaps your Higher Power will take it away. Just as He might take away cancer. But that’s not going to happen without the person trying, working for it, making changes, and suffering through a lot of pain that they didn’t choose to have.

 

We can be happy and depressed at the same time. Because happiness is the opposite of sadness. Not depression. Depression is an illness.

You wouldn’t tell someone to just knock it off and quit sneezing when they have a cold, would you?

 

SO IF YOU’RE UNCERTAIN whether or not to say something to someone who struggles with mental health issues (anxiety, depression, personality disorders, dissociative disorders, mood disorders, etc.) a pretty good guideline is:

If you wouldn’t say it to someone with cancer…

If you wouldn’t say it to an amputee…

Don’t say it to someone with mental health challenges.

Worst Fear and Worst Enemy

 

“What’s your worst fear?” He asked.

“Myself.”

 

fight — don’t give in

 

I answered immediately.

I realized this later.

Didn’t skip a beat.

Didn’t have to think about it.

It wasn’t forced, it was honest.

 

I am my own worst enemy.

I knew this already, in the back of my mind. My subconscious always knew.

And, in the front of my mind, where I’m aware, now that I think about it…

I agree.

 

I tie myself in knots over emotion.

I don’t know what I feel, I don’t know how to get to what I feel when I do know what I feel, and I don’t know what to do with what I feel.

 

I read an article yesterday.

An Important Question to Ask if You Feel Suicidal

It’s a great article. Even if you’re not suicidal, even if you don’t even have depression — its a great eye opener. The stigma of depression, suicide, and anxiety is made up of untruths, half-truths, and ignorance. This gal goes all in, committing to be honest to her readers.

I’d like to do the same.

Lying has never served me.

I’ve always had the urge to be honest. Vulnerable. Ironically, vulnerability isn’t my thing. I war with myself, in case you haven’t noticed.

Anywho.

 

and just so ya know, fighting sometimes simply means surviving the day healthily

 

Depression isn’t my fault. It wasn’t my choice. I didn’t ask for depression, didn’t sign up, didn’t decide, ‘oh yeah, sure, no problem, I’ll work with this’.

Depression isn’t who I am.

It’s only part of who I am. Also — however I deal with depression, with all my struggles, that’s also who I am.

 

The gal in the above article put into words my exact thoughts.

If there was a lever I could pull, one where no one would get hurt, and I would die in a painless, instant way — some days, I would pull this lever.

Not today.

Today I’m doing pretty good.

Okay, that’s a lie.  But I’m not ready to pull that lever.

And pulling that lever — that’s not me. That’s the parasite living inside me, drugging me with this disgusting, confusing, and numbing paralytic.

Sure, I learn through dark and painful stories, but I’m stubborn and I always try, sometimes even to my determent. I’m optimistic and goofy as well as dark.

I fight depression. Giving into struggles isn’t my thing. Stubborn, and all that.

 

So I suppose I’m my worst fear because I don’t know how to define myself, how to reach myself, how to be all of myself.

But hey – at least I’m aware.

Awareness, Acceptance, Action

That’s a good start.

 

What’s your greatest fear? Worst enemy?

During Therapy

“I know of people who are bedridden. I’m not saying I’m not grateful.” I smirk at her. “You know I’m a lot more grateful now, than I ever was. I see the greatness in my life, the potential, options, beauty, goodness.”

I look down, play with the black tassel of the zipper on my bag. “I fight it. I don’t think I’ve accepted it, how it affects me, controls me, every day.”

My therapist smiles softly. “How do you fight against it?”

“Struggle to be awake, to focus, to get rid of a chronic illness, one of many. It’s like I’m filled with lead in a world of people filled with helium. And I’m sitting here berating myself as if I’m only being lazy.”

“And how would you be if it didn’t affect you?”

I shrug. “Without ME? I’d have energy. Suddenly not be affected by it at all. Be able to focus and be part of my life. I actually like life now. I want to be here for it. Instead I’m sleeping it away.”

“What do you think you’d have to do in order to stop allowing ME to affect you?”, my therapist asks.

My laugh is short and without humor. “Be God.”

 

She laughs and smiles. “You’ve got it.”

“There are only two things you need to know about God.” She holds up a finger. “One, there is a God.” A second finger. “Two, you aren’t God.”

 

“You’re experiencing a lull, yes. But it’s normal.” She responds to my concern. “Life does this. Humans do this. It’s like going to college. At first, you’re excited, you’ve got your eye on the prize – your degree, your desired job. Freshman year is a breeze. But then it gets hard. The homework. The papers get harder. The professors, the lack of sleep.” She looks at me, kind, clever, and all-knowing as ever. “You’re somewhere in your sophomore/junior year. Keeping going.”

“Right,” I agree, nodding my head as I think it through, “life is always going to be hard.”

I brighten a bit, a troubling issue illuminated. “You’re right. I’m doing everything I need to be. I’m taking care of my responsibilities and striving to do better at being kind to myself, accepting myself for who I am. I’m finding ways to enjoy my life. I eat some froyo and deal with the minor migraine later that night. Then the next day I go back to eating the way my SIBO having self can deal with, without regretting or getting down on myself for indulging. I’m still trying and in many ways succeeding.”

I smile to myself. Take a deep breath in, let it out.

“My depression and anxiety are just taking me through a detour. I’m still on the right path.”