Better Living. Mindful living. Essays on well-being and self-care. Straight-forward articles on mental health and the issues that affect our quality of life. Sometimes I interject some of my illustrations, quips, and rants. That's the humanity and authenticity of our lives.
To some degree or another, bloggers compare themselves to other bloggers. Sure, you may have lofty goals when we set out to “explore” new blogging horizons. Checking out other blogs is good for inspiration when kept in check.
If you’re like me, you probably have a perfectionist streak to your personality. You might be the type of blogger who checks your stats compulsively. I get it. There was a time when I installed the WordPress app on my phone and got a sudden boost of dopamine at every “like”, “follow” or “comment.”
Eventually, you experience a creative funk. It may be a period of inactivity due to writer’s block. Seeking out other blogs for inspiration isn’t always prudent, especially when you are knee-deep in feelings of rejection.
Other times, it seems no matter how much you write, nobody is reading your blog. So, you fervently dig deep into Google Analytics, hoping to get some insights. Nothing. You spend vast amounts of precious time researching SEO and how to drive traffic to your blog. Nothing. Perhaps some well-developed plugins can help you increase traffic. Well, some do, as long as you give up your privacy.
As long as you’re consumed with “blogger envy”, you won’t have any energy left to inspire others with your own writing.
Stop expecting overnight success!
Those bloggers you’re checking out have probably been at it for many months or years. They might have connections within the industry that allowed them a meteoric rise in the blogosphere. Have you checked out their credentials? You might be surprised.
Know this- Just because they have a great blog doesn’t mean they did it alone. If you’re a freelance blogger, expect to work harder and longer to get half the amount of success they have achieved!
I was discouraged with many of the blogs I created, although I started to get traction within a few months. Why did I give up on them? A change in style and interest, mostly. Some of the categories I chose didn’t suit me. It became uninspiring. Since I was uninspired, I started envying others’ successes. Thus, I didn’t replenish my already-waning creative spirit.
Seek Out Support!
Don’t rely solely on “likes”, “comments” and “follows” to motivate you. Many times, these “fans” are fake and just want you to engage in their blog. That’s not how it should work. I find that the communities that engage in these practices have a lower quality of content, and assuredly-less substance and authenticity. You don’t have to be highbrow about it comes to discerning others, just be sensible. Connect with others that seem passionate about their blog.
I love to browse Medium for inspiration. It’s nice to get “claps” from others, and those who clap become your fans. There are very few feelings of the obligatory following, unlike other platforms. These are industry writers, editors, arm-chair psychologists, tech-savvy wizards. Even if you can’t find followers, you can at least join in the honest and thought-provoking comments section.
For me, Medium helps me to refine my writing skills by the sheer knowledge that “competition” is vested in the platform. WordPress offers a level of support as well. In fact, it’s great for most people. The community is engaged if you are of the social persuasion. For me, it seems you have to spend a lot of effort reading and commenting if you want to rise quickly. If you’re content with the “slow and steady” growth of your blog, plan on blogging for the long haul and write longer content that will pick up in the search engines. You can guest blog for others, but they will often want 1,000 words in their posts. 300 words are the minimum word count suggested by Yoast for SEO.
Take a Breather
As with anything in life, moderation is the key. Get off that computer and have a life. It takes discipline, especially when your life revolves around the internet, but it’s beneficial for your well-being to take a break.
I put my laptop in the basement for a few days last week to renew my spirit and spend time doing inspiring things. By spending time being inspired, you will, in turn, flourish in your creativity.
Reaffirm Your Goals and Strategy
I struggle with developing a strategy because that isn’t the natural way I create or write. Sometimes I think to myself, “You’re too undisciplined to develop a strategy.” Strategizing isn’t a strong characteristic of many creative people. Even if you have to write blips of ideas onto sticky notes, eventually these sticky notes will become part of the bigger picture. Just be patient and continue to write.
If all else fails to inspire you, perhaps you should take a hiatus. An honest hiatus is one in which you refrain from looking at other blogs. Or, perhaps you could see if there is another platform better-suited for your niche. Better different is good. Who wants to be a cookie-cutter writer?
Maybe You Should Consider The Sources
Beauty and travel bloggers seem to invoke the most envy for me. Many of these successful bloggers have sheer opulence and beauty that drive their marketing strategy. Do you want to spend time and money developing a marketing plan or a Pinterest or Instagram campaign? I don’t want to squander my time on social media, but perhaps an extroverted blogger thrives on social media. I can’t be consumed by this social media, although I understand that it’s wise to understand the inner-workings of the industry..As a result of my aversion to such interactions, I refrain from social media.
The most common advice I see being given on increasing blog traffic is to engage in social media. I don’t care what the experts say, my time is too precious for that. I suspect yours is as well. The first thing I have to accept that I’m not going to be the blogger that gains a huge following overnight. Over here in my lane, I’m still trying to find my voice. Unfortunately, my voice is obscured by envy, unrealistic expectations, and exhaustion. Welcome to the world of blogging! It’s going to be a bumpy, yet edifying ride.
“If it wasn’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.” -David Letterman
On the rare occasion that I have time to indulge in “retail therapy“, I try to be mindful. That is, I can’t spend too much money, or buy anything useless. I had some extra time and I wanted to soothe myself after enduring several medical tests. Where can I shop that is inexpensive and has stuff I want and need? The Goodwill in the next town has a great selection of self-help books, as well as half-price sales on shirts and jeans.
My shopping excursion was budgeted and I spent only $33 at the thrift store. The clerk entered my phone number and discovered I had a 30% off coupon, which she applied. I had two bags of clothes and books. I bought a couple of interesting shirts for myself and a few hoodies for my daughter. Since there was a guy lingering suspiciously near the men’s clothing, I was unable to shop for my son. I wanted to hit the DVD section, but it was also occupied by a very intense-looking person. That really disappointed me because I know this store always has a great selection of older movies for $3. Sigh.
I’ve known for a long time that I’m a melancholic. Melancholics are artistic, analytical, organized, detailed, determined and orderly. These aspects are great if you’re an artist (which I sometimes am an artist), but, in my own humble opinion, melancholics like myself can have high standards for themselves and others. In the quest for perfection, the melancholic is inflexible. Melancholics hold grudges and bitterness longer than the other personalities. On the flip-side, melancholic are ideal counselors because they have the ability to see the heart of others. Incidentally, I pursued a degree in sociology in hopes of becoming a counselor one day (divorce and work put those plans on hold).
The Dark Star
During the course of my life, I’ve wanted to be anything but a melancholic. How I longed to be a popular sanguine or peaceful phlegmatic. My sister is probably a popular sanguine, for she is, was, and always has been the bell of the ball- the toast of the town! We used to get into so many fights when we were young. My mom often scolded me for fighting back at such a demure angel (insert laugh track). The truth is she just didn’t want me to win a fight, but that’s a story for another time.
The popular sanguine sister often became volatile over petty things. Mostly, I had to bite my tongue or cover my head from her pummeling fists. One day I fought back. Mom stepped in because her favorite child was losing the fight. There was some blood and hair on the floor after we stopped fighting. Can you see how this melancholic still has a tendency to hold a grudge?
I’m very excited at the prospect of reading more of this book. Not just for insight into my own personality, but to understand the other types too. This book really jarred my mind. It’s odd because the book was published in 1998, yet it is still relevant and provocative today.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” -Kahlil Gibran
Last weekend was quite disastrous. Oddly, I started to feel a cold developing right after plans fell through the cracks. It was nearly lunchtime, so my family and I opted to eat at Wendy’s while discussing how to make the most of the rest of the day. We could’ve have eaten this meal in our own town, but we made the trek to Elyria, Ohio. We were advised on places to check for my children’s missing father, to no avail. So, there we were, eating “comfort” food- burgers, fries, chicken, and pop. I ate a salad for good measure- it went well with the spicy chicken snack wrap.
I feel like we cheated ourselves on choosing to eat fast-food. It seemed like a satisfying choice after running around all morning and driving for an hour. My mind probably sent off a dysfunctional signal to be rewarded by carbs and convenience. Now that I am being reflective, I am starting to see unhealthy patterns in our lives.
Unhealthy patterns weren’t the only ways in which my family coped with distress that day. I suggested that we visit the old park where my kids played as very young children. It had been over 10 years since those early days of spinning around on the merry-go-round and the tire swing. In more recent years, we spent time at the park, scaling the rocks and blazing the trails.
Last week, when we visited Elyria, we were excited to see the renovations to Cascade Park. Although the park has now been landscaped differently- seemingly, with fewer trees and no access to the bridge, I found it to be more appealing to people that like to walk. Prior to renovations, the focal points of the park were the central playground, followed by the two smaller playgrounds. Over the years, we watched in despair as many of the pieces of equipment were left in states of disrepair. Kids no longer could take a ride on the bouncy car. There were a few enclosures filled with tables for families or couples to pause and enjoy the rolling green fields, or vast, lush trees.
The most important thing about last week was the time spent with family. In that time, we walked the newly-paved sidewalks and revisited the familiar rocks and caverns. For various reasons, walking was a breath of fresh air. Walking is therapeutic and it’s more than fitness.
We burned off our pent-up anxiety by walking. My mouth was a mile a minute, partly because I was angry, partly because I was rapid-cycling. We didn’t spend much time talking about the disappointment of the day. Instead, we talked about silly things. I also wish to say, there are a time and place where it becomes necessary to dig deeper into emotions, lest one might become prone to depression or resentment. I experienced depression following last weekend, but the depression was more intense than usual, on account of being sick.
Dialog- With Self and Others
Ever since I was a kid, walking around with friends has always been an easy (and free) way of socializing. It seems as though my kids aren’t always willing to go for a walk with me, though they might be more inclined to walk with their friends, nevertheless, when I coax them to walk with me, we usually have good discussions. Sometimes, we generate ideas by brainstorming with one another while walking.
Change of Scenery
Being around new scenes enables me to crawl out of the rut I’ve been wallowing. I think for this reason is why I’m able to generate ideas while walking. Of course, being with family or just moving in general, are also contributing factors.
While walking at the park, we saw many new faces and observed some subtle nuances in the environment. Perhaps my mind was working behind the scenes- trying to decode the changes and nuances, while my higher level dealt with the anger and disappointment in the preceding circumstances.
The visual beauty of walking is obvious. In Ohio, trees are abundant on many of the trails. One is almost always lucky enough to stumble upon a river or creek at many of the parks and trails.
A change in scenery and a breath of fresh air are a feast to both the mind and body. We can nurture ourselves by sharing a good walk with others- or, even just ourselves.
“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation
Lately, my depression is making it harder to concentrate on anything. But, today I didn’t have much to worry about, other than getting an echocardiogram. After my appointment, I took advantage of the time off work and bought some stuff at Walmart. I treated myself to some new clothes. Bought some clearance sneakers and some stretchy pants (love those things). The shopping trip allowed me to get some stuff, clear my mind and decompress. I even ran into a former co-worker in the parking lot, with whom I chatted for several minutes.
After I finished shopping, I zipped over to Take5 to get my car’s oil changed. With split-ends and flyaway hair poking me in the face for the past few weeks, I wanted a haircut. After much debate on whether or not the haircut would be worth taking the chance of them chopping off too many layers again, I decided no haircut.
The rest of the day was typical for a weekday- cook dinner, clean, clean some more. As I cleaned at the end of the day, I glanced out the window. Everywhere outside, people are doing “stuff” and enjoying life. They’re out there playing with the “toys”, the power tools, the patio furniture. They are laughing and having fun with their family. The laughter and joy seem to occur so easily for them. And they are out doing this every day in the summer.
I caught myself feeling alone, unworthy, and depressed. Maybe I was feeling depressed because I ate junk food. At least now I was able to see some root causes concerning my depression. They are more than dietary choices. It’s also about disciplining my mind. In my small world, I can’t see past my own ego. Yes, ego- because my ego tells me lies to “protect.” What is my ego protecting me from? The truth of why I am not living like other people. Why would my own mind try to cripple my personal joy and growth? Because if things improve or change, I may face challenges that I’m unprepared for.
For instance, if the ego tells my mind that everybody else is successful because they have more people supporting them, then I don’t have to try to go out and socialize. Plus, there’s always work to do around the house.
Somebody said a beautiful day is coming this weekend. I will make a concerted effort to get myself and family outside. Or, maybe I can go see a movie. It’s challenging to find the money for recreational things, but I can find some cheap theater or swimming hole. One thing I don’t plan on doing is being lazy with my mental health. I will take back control. Even when I get kicked back down, this is the battle I must face.
Why Am I Depressed? - The Shocking Truth Behind Your Depression - YouTube
People often use food to soothe negative emotions. Our pleasure should never be derived from eating. It’s not the proper response for feelings and emotions. Our emotions should be nurtured in other ways.
Jordan Troisi, an assistant professor of psychology at Sewanee, The University of The South, and his colleagues conducted a study in 2015. The research analyzed the social aspects of eating. Troisi discovered that securely-attached individuals prefer the “social utility” of comfort food. The utility in comfort food is a sense of belonging.
“Comfort food seems to be something people associate very significantly with close relationships,” says Trois (Time).
Finding Healthier Ways to Cope
Eating evokes a sense of belonging and nostalgia. We try to capture the sense of belonging by subduing our pain with food. Instead of reaching for food, it’s better to make healthier choices. Here are some healthy activities:
Aromatherapy and burning scented candles.
Going for a brisk walk.
Calling a friend.
Writing in a journal.
Drawing a picture.
Visiting a farm or animal sanctuary.
Running an errand.
Reading a book.
Playing the guitar or keyboards.
Listening to music.
Having a dance party.
Driving in the country.
Tending a garden.
Rearranging your furniture.
Organizing and donating old clothes to charity.
Playing in the mud- mold some air-dry clay.
Walking the dog.
Deep breathing exercises.
Learning to comfort your mind and body with healthy activities will keep you fit and help you to be mentally sharp!
“Real knowledge is to the extent of one’s ignorance.” – Confucius
Bipolar disorder has become the latest #hashtag among disorders that are generalized. I learned this from my observations with co-workers and from the media. In tv shows and sitcoms, friends and family joking refer to others as, “bipolar.” The term “bipolar” in popular culture, is used to describe an unstable mood. The term is thrown around without regard to any other factors.
Basic symptoms of bipolar mania- distraction, overconfidence, irritability, euphoria. Symptoms of bipolar depression include low mood for most of the time, sleeping too much or too little, feeling guilty or worthless, and having suicidal thoughts and feelings (ADA).
Other conditions and factors must be considered in order to receive the proper diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Symptoms of other conditions can mimic symptoms of other disorders. Impulsivity can be a symptom of ADHD or substance abuse. It could also be a characteristic of an individual’s personality.
But friends, family, and co-workers don’t have enough information about their loved ones, or various mental health conditions in general. As I mentioned earlier, it is very easy, and even in vogue to use the term “bipolar” to blanket a myriad of positive and negative traits associated with it.
In 2017, a psychiatrist evaluated me. She told me I was a little “bipolar.” When I requested my medical records, I discovered she had diagnosed me with a persistent affective mood disorder, not otherwise specified. Such a diagnosis is made when the full criteria are not met. In fact, I don’t know if she coordinated her findings with my family doctor’s notes and diagnoses. She would have learned that I have been diagnosed with PMDD, depression, and anxiety from as far back as 2012, in that particular medical practice. My history with mental illness goes back to circa 1993.
Although I am a bit skeptical about my diagnosis, I must observe that she took a reasonable amount of time and effort towards attending to my diagnosis. This is in stark contrast to the careless diagnoses I received when I was younger. The time in which I was diagnosed with depression, about 1993, was precisely the same time in which many antidepressants were released on the market.
Medical Coverage and The Beginning of My Journey with Depression and Anxiety
I had been in the workforce for a few years by the time I sought treatment for my depression and anxiety. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I had medical insurance to cover doctor visits and prescriptions. During my visits to different doctors, I was given free samples of the latest SSRIs on the market. In retrospect, questions about other factors were not discussed.
With so much hype about Prozac, I feed the doctors the answers that would garner me a prescription to try. While it was certain that I suffered from anxiety and depression, I wanted to abdicate the responsibility of my mental health to the family doctor. Medical information systems weren’t set up as efficiently as today’s medical practices. My information on endocrine health wasn’t discussed. Any other precipitating factor or condition was treated separately from mental health.
PMDD- An Condition That Affects Mood
Since 2012, I had been diagnosed with PMDD– a severe form of PMS which causes severe irritability, depression, or anxiety in the week or two before your period starts. During my evaluation with the psychiatrist in 2017, it’s unclear if I had disclosed my condition. When she asked the reason for scheduling an evaluation, I told her that I had suffered from many of the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, but that I was confused because my monthly cycles had such a profound influence over my disposition. I didn’t want another prescription. I explained that SSRIs failed me in the past. Prior to writing out her prescription for Lamictal, she told me that SSRIs aren’t effective for individuals with bipolar disorder.
But my records didn’t state my diagnosis as a bipolar disorder! It didn’t matter so much, because I didn’t take the pills. I still exhibit depression and anxiety symptoms, and PMDD wreaks little-less havoc on me now.
Educated doctors have challenges in establishing the proper context of bipolar disorder towards their patients. The careful doctor and psychiatrist not only use their training in treating and diagnosing patients. They dig deeper into the analysis of surrounding conditions and factors. Shouldn’t we all make an effort to be considerate when stereotyping mental illness?
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you may know that I’m dissatisfied with many blogging platforms. There are a number of reasons why I feel this way. I dislike many of the features or lack of features. Some blogs overwhelm me with complex coding functions. Still, others offer little more than a text editor.
In the past few months, I created and deleted a WordPress.com blog. In the 2 or 3 months it was running I amassed about 115 followers. Most of my traction began in the last month.
I became discouraged by how slow the process of gaining followers and views. There was a glimmer a hope when I started to see my blog rank in Google. My blog was right up there with other similar blogs in my niche. The niche was mental health, positive psychology, and mindfulness. Yes, that’s as far as I “niched” down with my planning.
Instead of focusing on my goals, I started mindlessly following the suggestions of “the experts.” Everyone is an expert at espousing how to make a blog. In fact, it has become something of an inside joke to blog about blogging. But to me, I thought today that I might take a shot at this niche. Instead of telling others what to do (since I’m not an expert), I have decided to write about my challenges of blogging as a person with mental health issues.
In my previous blog, I tried to do all the right things, but one key thing I was missing was the education and credentials of psychology and mental health. It seemed to be walking in dangerous territory to provide articles on depression and the like. Not to say that I didn’t do my research. And certainly, I do have some college education. When I noted all the leading mental health and even mindfulness books, those authors are doctors. Even the bloggers who write about mindfulness have some kind of mindfulness coaching training. Some do yoga or sell crystals. My point is, I’m none of those people.
I wanted to blog with simplicity. My goal is to share my personal stories about depression and anxiety. There is also a desire to make money in the future, but that’s not my primary goal right now.
As a blogger who wishes to be creative and write (and perhaps draw a little), I have goals in the long term. It’s much too overwhelming and inconsistent for me to try to produce digital content, i.e., a book.
I want to platform that offers me recognition and community- which I had in the WordPress.com platform. It seems I have a love/hate relationship with WordPress.com/JetPack/Automattic/Gravatar. Yes, I completely closed my account with them a few days ago when I started getting depressed.
The self-hosted WordPress.org is very similar to WordPress.com, except with amplified features. One prominent feature I love is Yoast SEO. It guides my writing process, lets me know when my sentences are too wordy.
In the past few days, I went through a type of creativity renewal. In an effort to find the best blogging platform to suit my style and needs, I created a blog on Proseful.com.
Here is a screenshot of my blog:
Here is what the dashboard looks like:
When you click on the “Account” settings, you are given the option to upgrade for $7 a month. With the upgrade, you get a custom domain, can add static pages like an “About” or “Contact” page. You can also integrate Google Analytics to see your blog stats, add high-quality images and remove the Proseful branding from your blog.
If you want to see what formatting a post looks like, check this out!
When formatting a post, you have the option to create headings and subheadings, add images, and links.
I’m swooning at the simplicity of this platform. When I wrote my post, the words poured out much more easily than when I’m working in a cluttered interface. There are a few other similar platforms I tested today that I may discuss soon.
If you enjoy a community or reading other blogs in your niche, this may not be the right blog platform for you. However, if you are somebody that struggles with productivity and distractions, it may be an excellent choice.
Writing used to be more fun before I started blogging under a brand. The purpose of creating a brand instead of using my identity was to hide my identity. Some of my content discusses issues at my workplace and within my family that I don’t want to be revealed. In reality, I probably shouldn’t care if my identity is known. Much of the information I share is benign. I think I need to analyze why I opted to create a brand. Brands are for big companies. What am I thinking about this strategy?
The writing process was more fun when I wrote cathartic essays to release the inner-toxins of my mind into the world. Once I had a WordPress.com blog called “Mindful of My Mess.” Before I deleted it, I developed quite a following in a short amount of time. When I read over my posts from that blog, most of the entries discuss purging and anxiety. Maybe it resonated with people. Eventually, I decided I wanted to expand my content. I wanted to create content that would speak to readers.
Not a Social Butterfly!
I’ve never been a social person. It seemed the longer I was on WordPress.com, the more I was inundated with tips through my reader on how to promote my blog. Such tips told me to write for the readers. Engage in the blogging community. This all was very different from my initial goal of writing essays on my mental health issues.
Over time, I tried different angles. I changed my blog name a few times. Then I changed how I wrote. Now I read that to optimize my blog, I should create online courses or ebooks.
Rigors and Restrictions
Publishing and writing a book has always been a dream for me. When I research submission guidelines, I get discouraged. Maybe my mind is only capable of writing blips and chunks of information. This seems perfectly suited for blogging. But blogging experts tell me to promote on social media and offer exclusive digital content. When I get this message, I start my mad cycle of chucking my blog idea and concentrating on writing a book. Books continue to generate royalties, whiles blogs need constant work. Blogging doesn’t make most people rich. Given the climate of today’s media, it seems the corporations with fat wallets have the money to push their content over the indie bloggers.
Although I now realize that I’m not a book writer, there may be a future possibility of publishing a collection of some kind. Possibly is the operative word here because it’s unlikely to happen.
Blogging is where it’s at for me, for better or worse. I have to decide if I’m going to chase trends and beg for scraps in my pursuits. It’s easy to get distracted by the internet and media. I find myself overly concerned with other’s successes.
To help guide me in my blogging endeavor, I will shelve any other writing and marketing efforts that distract me from my work.
The writers with agents, fat wallets, or large followings can have the book deals. Not that I wouldn’t love to be offered a deal. I’m pragmatic to a certain extent.
My mood issues are a big part of who I am and I can’t just crank out a book. I think I might have a little ADHD at times. Mania and depression, not calendars and goals.
Perhaps I’ve been spending too much time being distracted online. At any rate, I get the urge to clear out the clutter in my mind. I think all creative people should renew their minds by getting rid of unnecessary distractions.
Maybe I should be more mindful of where my attention is going instead of just shelving my dreams.
“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” -Gever Tulley
Have you ever wondered why some people can bounce back from adversity, while others stew over the obstacles in their lives?
Some people are simply thrust into adverse situations and have few resources to buffer against distress. I was this kind of person. From my earliest memories of my mom scolding other family members to not “baby” me, I started to believe that if I was in need of anybody’s help, then I was weak. It was humiliating for me to experience “need”.
Where my family lacked in nurturing me, I eventually relied on supportive grandparents when I was young. As I grew older, I had solid friendships in high school, and, eventually, in some of my jobs. For the most part, however, I kept people at a distance to protect myself from hurt and embarrassment. I always thought this kind of distance was considered a “healthy” boundary.
To this day, when I see people with strong relationships, I feel a bit awkward. I still haven’t overcome the shame I felt as a child. The shame in needing encouragement or consolation. I long to have people care that much about me that they would validate my feelings and care so deeply for me.
You Are Loved
I’m not so sure I have anybody that gives me validation, but that is quite alright. I’ve come to the point in my life that I know God loves all His children. He loves you, He loves me- equally, even if the rest of the world do not regard each other in the same way. We are loved by the Highest!
If you are not a believer yet, that concept may seem cliche to you. But it is the cornerstone for many other beliefs, such as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is called the Golden Rule. It comes more naturally to treat others with care if you regard yourself just as worthy.
For many years of my life (before I was saved), I disregarded many people. I felt disregarded. In fact, I reduced myself to nothing with my faulty beliefs. I also did this in the substances I abused and the type of people in which I associated. I really lived my life like a heap of junk!
Nowhere to Turn
When I became saved, I was not immediately relieved of my trials and afflictions. I went through the toughest battles after I was saved. There was a time my children and I were living in a home filled with discord, alcoholism, chaos, verbal and emotional abuse. People who were in a position to help us turned their backs on us or brushed the issues under the proverbial rug. One domestic violence shelter was so concerned with their own agenda that they kicked me and my kids out after only 2 weeks. I realize now that the staff at the domestic violence shelter were not equipped to handle my mental health issues.
My own parents, who provided childcare and shelter for my sister and her sons, were quick to turn down my request for any kind of help. In reality, my mother really didn’t want to help my sister either. She only helped because my stepfather offered shelter and childcare. He often favored my sister over me. I didn’t care because his personality was obnoxious and overbearing in contrast to my reserved, melancholic personality.
Yes, most of my life was dark and melancholic. That darkness in me started to lighten when I became spiritual. Like I mentioned before, my trials persisted after being saved at the age of 28. Melancholy tendencies lent themselves well to depression and anxiety. My natural tendency was to turn inwards. Anything negative was always turned inwards- fear, anxiety, guilt. The light I received made it possible for me to weather all the storms in my life: An abusive marriage, postpartum depression, anxiety disorder, poverty, loneliness, divorce, to name a few.
I could spend every day looking for another self-help book. Some of them are very helpful and resourceful. But I see that behind most of the philosophies espoused in those books, a common theme seems to speak to all people.
So many things contribute to resilience- confidence, positive view of self, morality. Apart from God, it is secular humanism. Can being a good person help you be more resilient? It certainly can help your social and community standing to simply be a good person. We do a great disservice to ourselves and others when we don’t acknowledge the God of the universe in our ability to overcome the world.
Building Resilience: 5 Ways to a Better Life - YouTube
“When you are totally depressed, you should try giggling. Just make yourself laugh. Force yourself to laugh.” -Yoko Ono
Oh, how I long to just snap out of my depression. Wouldn’t be great if it was as easy as some people suggest? I’ve heard all the mantras they use to try to motivate me. The problem is that these people are trying to reason with an unreasonable disorder. While it’s true that depression is not something one can easily and quickly change, there are some lifestyle changes that can be applied. With a little bit of discipline, those suffering from depression can ease their symptoms or become more resilient in the long term.
The tempo of classical music is similar to that of the human heart. This rhythm helps to reduce anxiety and ease depression by boosting dopamine secretion. (Science Daily).
Neutralize negative thoughts.
This doesn’t mean to “think positive thoughts.” It means to analyze your negative thoughts carefully once they take root. Try to counter each negative thought with logical outcomes. For instance, the prospect of losing your job may cause you unrest. But is losing a job that hasn’t given you a significant pay raise in the past few years really that bad? You might not have another job lined up, but you could at least have time to look for a better job if you were unemployed. You might even have time to do freelance assignments that could lead to a better job.
Indulge your creativity
Whether your spark is ignited by playing the banjo, painting along with Bob Ross, or reciting questionable poetry at a local coffee shop, creative endeavors give people a sense of purpose and even help us to find a community of like-minded bohemians.
None of these aforementioned things will cure your depression! The key part of suffering from depression is accepting the fact that it may never completely vanish. Disciplining and nurturing yourself with these practical tips can give you leverage over your moods, and help you build resilience to overcome your battle.