Hey there people and Happy Thursday to you. I hope you are having a fabulous day, wherever in the world you may be.
Today it is time for the third installment of my shine a light series.
What is Shine a Light all about? It is where I share with you the highs and lows and the fighting spirit that has lead me to where I am today. The spark, the light and the love that gets me through. And sometimes the tears, the frustrations and the setbacks that still ultimately led me to this point. This life. This path.
I only hope that by my telling my story, others will feel inspired to keep going with their own lives and potential difficulties, and perhaps even be inspired to tell their stories too.
Here’s the thing – I am not a trained counselor or therapist or anything like that. The only training I have is the training of life itself. If what I say helps (and I really hope that it does) then that is totally wonderful and I will feel as though my words are working, that I am influencing people in just the right way. But my training has only come from that one place – life. More specifically, my life. You can read my first posts in this series here.
I have worked hard on my emotional health and my outlook on life over the past few years. It has been very difficult to come up with a strategy and a game plan that has taken me from a deep depression to where I am today.
For a long time after the depression I lived in total fear that my it would return. That I would be struck down once again. I lived in a state of hyper vigilance – always on the look out for the tell-tale signs, the warning signals. I was so focused on not returning to that dark place that I actually exhausted myself back there in a matter of months. Eventually I had to realise that I couldn't keep up the constant pace of distraction and alertness I had begun. It just wasn't doable.
Like a lot of people I guess, when I first got clear or the depression I wasn't really clear of it. Yes, I’d put enough distance between me and the dark cloud to be able to see clearly, but I hadn't quite been able to put everything to bed and tuck in the corners. There were issues I hadn't dealt with properly. There were things I still hadn't talked to anyone about.
For me there were two levels to my healing process. Level one was where I was able to go back to living a normal life with a job and being able to leave the house without having a panic attack and all of those things. I was pretty happy with that level initially. I also knew the warning signs that this depression may be about to return. I knew that if I found myself just wanting to sleep all of the time this could be the beginning of a return bout. I knew that if I found myself avoiding talking to people, not answering the phone or texts that I was starting to shut myself away.
So, I flung myself into a busy and active life. I had a new job, I attended church and art classes. I sold things part time to make some extra money (because as regular readers will know money has been an issue for me and can be a major trigger for my depression too). I didn't allow myself to shut away or to block anything out. I didn't let myself not answer the phone ever, or to sleep in when I didn't think I should. I just kept on keeping on.
The job I had was quite an emotionally demanding one, working with students who had varying needs and often very challenging and heart breaking issues and problems. I kept on keeping on. I did some counselor training, I learned some Sign Language.
Until I couldn't any more. During the Summer I had to seek counselling once more and return to the medication that made me feel funny for taking it at all. The difference was this time I was much more able to get to the bottom of the problems I faced. I was able to be honest and open with the counselor in a way I was never able to with the previous counselor I spoke to. Gradually, one by one we worked through all of the underlying, lurking issues I had there and we talked them all out.
After this bout I felt much stronger. I felt able to live without medication and to look life full in the face and tackle it head on. It made such a huge difference for me.
So, I guess what I am trying to point out here is this: it doesn't matter if this is your first, third or four hundredth spell of counselling or medication or whichever method you are using to deal with your problems. If we just keep going, inch by inch, little by little, we will all get there. We will all get to where we need to be.
And I promise you it’s worth the gradual struggle. The view from within my happy creative life is a very bright one right now :)
Have a great day people!