My friend Dawn shared a video that touches on something that I have been considering and trying to figure out how to express for a long time. Thank you so much for sharing this, Dawn. I have had SUCH turmoil in my spirit for SO long about the things shared in this video – and now, that’s just gone.

Before 2015, and even for a short time after my father died – while I was still in denial – I was who and what Dawn expresses throughout this video. I believed. I didn’t believe in religion – I had already fought my battles with that and overcome and undone the hold religion had had on me as a child and teenager, because of the way it was so misused and so abusive and manipulative. I had not (and still have not) completely overcome the trauma of that abuse, but I am much farther down the road of recovery. I didn’t believe in “that” God – but in the Source. A higher power. An energy. And I believed in signs.

I believed in our ability as humans to connect with higher spiritual energies and forces and to receive guidance and to guide others. I knew that I had a gift and that I always had – I was able to understand that part of the reason I was so strongly opposed to religion was that I had always been more connected to that source than to buildings and books and that the source was found in the natural world that I had adored and revered throughout my life. I believed in the power of nature to heal, to guide, to teach, and to comfort. I believed in life, and not death.

I had faith – so much faith. I was positive and more happy and at peace with life and with myself than I had ever been, and all just felt right. Real. And yes, peaceful, even in times of pain and struggle. Even though I was at this place and knew I had been awakened and was living with my eyes and my heart open, I struggled with the physical complication of depression and anxiety – not because I didn’t believe in good or higher power or whatever you want to label it but because my body didn’t manage its chemicals very well.

When my best friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I was going through a loss of a different kind along with that terrifying and excruciating experience with my best friend, I held fast to my faith despite the creeping depression. My father died unexpectedly one week after the one year anniversary of her diagnosis with terminal cancer, and I continued to hold fast, knowing that he had been prepared and ready for his own death for some time. He had struggled and suffered for many years, and though his death was unexpected (diabetic coma leading to stroke and then to the sepsis which eventually shut down his body one organ at a time over the course of five days), he was at rest. At peace.

For another 8 months my best friend fought and struggled and suffered, and I was there. I was there until she pushed me away and asked me not to be. She did this with many, to be fair – she was afraid, she lost her ability to cope, and instead of realizing t was a brain tumor and fear speaking for her I believed it was what she really wanted and thought I was respecting her wishes. Weeks went by and during this time my faith began to waiver and my grip began to loosen on that rope that had always held me through those difficult times. She passed away 8 months to the day that we buried my father, and in that moment, part of my soul quite literally died along with her.

Since then I have struggled. I slipped so far down that taking my own life was an option and something I planned out and would have followed through with and completed had something inside me not spoken up and cried out to my husband for help. I don’t know why that happened, aside from my fear of leaving my son without a mother and destroying him, but it did happen and because of his help, and my willingness to fight a really fucked up system, I was able to finally get the help and the medication that I desperately needed. I still struggle. I still rarely leave my home. But in so many ways, I AM better.

In the spiritual areas, though? I have continued to struggle the hardest there. To founder. To nearly drown only to be held afloat by the tiniest life preserver with the thinnest thread attaching it to me. That life preserver has been comprised of my son, of music, of art and photography, and my unwillingness to just pretend like I’ve been ok. I found more strength in vulnerability and allowing myself to share my reality than in “faking it.” Only through doing that was I able to cross paths with some of the most healing people I’ve had touch my life in the past year. People who have encouraged me to continue to share and to have faith and hope, if not in healing, and the possibility of mending and growing and learning to live with the ache of grief, loss, and the “not understanding” or not having the answers or the closure I thought I needed.

Dawn has always been one of those people, and I am so grateful. Even though Dawn and I may be on slightly different paths in career and life in general in many ways, we also share things in common that connect us in very special ways – cancer, loss, grief, “the struggle,” seeking the way (whatever that may be for each of us) – and, what she expresses here about “giving it all away” is so accurate and in tune with where I am…

And that is the other issue that’s been weighing on me: the issue of why I give away (or dump out, as someone once said to me, and I can’t help but laugh at that because it’s so close to true so much of the time) so much stuff – just give it away with no real concern about marketing it or branding it or selling it. “Why do you just give all this creativity and energy away for free? You don’t even try to gain followers or build your brand.”

Because…I don’t want to. I create for the same reason that I breathe. I don’t WANT to make money from it. Making money from it takes away the spiritual connection and soul that I want to express. I LIKE giving myself away, as it were. I LIKE sharing myself and my creative stuff.

I used to like working on computers and tinkering and writing weird programs and so on, and then when I let people convince me to turn it into a career the heart got lost. It became stress. The same thing happened with my photography. I let people convince me to “work harder” and to get into shows and to build a site to sell it and so on, and it became stress instead of joy.

I don’t need to sell these things and I don’t want to sell them. I don’t feel like they can be valued by a price tag and that if they are then it somehow takes away from the true value of what is there. You can’t put a price tag on peace – your own or anyone else’s. It is PRICELESS. And if anything I have to offer can bring that to me or to anyone who shares in my creative endeavors, it’s absolutely worth the “freedom” – at many levels.

Ultimately, as Dawn shares, it’s healing for me to “give it away” because it’s healing for me to create – it’s my PURPOSE to create. I’m going to create regardless and if I feel that giving it away and even just possibly being of help to someone else, even if inadvertently, can be a part of that process…well, why shouldn’t that be free? A lack of monetary value doesn’t make that worth nothing. At least, not in my soul…

Sharing is priceless. It helps me to believe – and it helps me to believe even more when other people cross paths with me via my creative sharing and say, “hey, I believe, too!” or better yet, “hey, I know the struggle so well but I’m hanging on, too. Let’s hang on together. Let’s learn together. Let’s share. Let’s grow together.” Those people exist. Many of you who are regular readers of my blogs, or listeners of my music, or followers of my photography, have shared with me that you are those people.

While I love that others find success in selling their creativity and I even often purchase it from them, it’s just not something I want to do with the things I share creatively online. I need that connection – at least right now, that connection is worth far more to me than money ever will be. I want to be better. I am, at this time, extremely blessed to be able to survive and work on becoming better and not worry whether there will be food in our mouths or clothes on our backs or a roof over our heads without me having to sell my soul to cover it. I am so thankful for that – for my family.

I’m SO grateful that Dawn’s shared this and that it’s available for me to share with you. This has been on my heart for so long and I’ve not been able to figure it out until now. Thank you again, Dawn. So much!!

I encourage you to watch Dawn’s video and listen to her story, which you can do by clicking here. In many ways – especially the spiritual things she speaks about – it mirrors who I was and who I am re-becoming. It inspires me to continue to seek my own heart and hear it, as well as that of whatever this higher power has to offer me.

I hope that you will find some inspiration or encouragement in it, as well…

All the love,

C.

Today I received the most unexpected “thank you” note. It’s said, “thank you for sharing your story with me,” and had a nice note alongside that spoke about art and creativity and the healing of trauma, grief and broken spirits.

I want to thank YOU, for much the same thing.

I think we often forget that a person’s art IS their story – regardless of the type of art they create – and that’s where I’ve focused my mind this afternoon. When we create any kind of art, even when it’s not a piece of writing that “explains” what’s in our minds, we are actively releasing SOMETHING. Whether it is good or bad, whether it is joy or pain, beauty or darkness, we are actively expressing our hearts in any creative endeavor that we are a part of.

I truly appreciate the kind feedback here, at Instagram, and all the other places. I appreciate YOUR art and stories so much. It’s a wonderful way to remember that we are really all the same, just living our own stories…even when we aren’t sharing our own out loud.

Thank you for the kind response to my sharing of my music. I was really very unsure whether it was “worth” sharing, since I only create it as a hobby. Turns out it’s much like my experience with sharing photography and writing – people enjoy other people’s art, they enjoy SEEING another human being, and you get to know other people who create the same kinds of art, whether it’s photography or writing or music…

I’ve enjoyed “meeting” so many different people since I started putting that stuff out there. It’s a blessing to get to know and learn from you.

It’s always been one of my greatest joys to share my creative pursuits and my spirit with the world. Thank you for encouraging and reminding me how important it is for a creative person and artist of any kind to do that.

I’m thankful for, and blessed by, you. Keep expressing yourselves in your ways, too. And stay awesome.

All the love,

C. 💜

I was challenged on Facebook to share “just me” in images and not just words. I suppose that’s a REAL challenge for me because I really despise sharing photos of myself, as most of you know. I’d much rather share the intimate details in words than to let you see my physical self. Who knows why – that’s so backward, right? I mean…that’s true nakedness.

Anyway, I didn’t copy and paste what the full challenge is but I did write my own thing because that’s kind of the space I’m in right now. The point of this challenge is to share just you, and lift yourself up, and by doing so encourage others to do the same. So…

This is just me. No filters, no makeup, sweating from hiking, in my element in nature. 

This is just me. No pretentions or expectations, a bit of a grimace coming through my attempt to smile because of the pain I was feeling in my body. 

This is just me. Christy. Leigh. Whoever I am by name, wherever I came from. 

This is just me. The nearly 39 year old mom of one who is struggling through grief, and who has so many diagnosed mental and physical illnesses I won’t even bore you by listing them again. 

This is just me. A woman you may not know anymore because I’ve changed so much or may have never really and truly known but who has been through hell just like so many others and is still here, somehow. Still has goals. Still has dreams. Still has a self inside. Still has a light somewhere inside all this inner darkness of depression and still fights on and walks through a lot more than what can be seen or expressed in words. 

This is just me. Yep, the fighter, the pusher-through. The trying-to-remain-an-optimist. The hoper. The lover. The never-giver-upper. The warrior. The mama bear mama-ing and trying to be the best example of surviving and thriving she can possibly be for her son, despite what she shares with the grown ups in her weakest moments. 

Here are the photos I chose – no makeup, no filters, just as I am about 99.9% of the time. This is JUST ME. I am beautiful as I am, I am strong despite my weaknesses, and I am enough.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” -John Muir

Coping mechanism #1 for me in dealing with this deep depression I find myself in is creative expression. It’s a struggle to remain in the right headspace for it during this time of my life but I try to be patient with myself and encourage myself to allow my moods – no matter how low they may become – to inspire creation rather than to eliminate it. I don’t know HOW I do it, just that I do. 

A lot of people I speak to say that when they are in a deep depression they find that they can’t find a desire to create, much less actually try to, and they ask me how I keep creating. I don’t really know. 

I think, personally, that artists (by that I mean people who create unconsciously, and continuously, in some way) experience creativity and depression much differently than non-artists. Depression, sadness, heartache, melancholy – those are the times when my creativity as an artist soars. I can’t explain that. It’s just how it happens. I do frequently get into ruts, though. 

I wish that I could help others to find an expressive way to cope with their depression and sadness but all I can really do is share what I create from mine. This is a photo (header image) I shot in my garden a few days ago, and I am working on composing music this weekend. I’ve titled the current track I’m working on “Escapism.” Not there yet with the track – but finding much comfort in the process. It helps being alone. Being alone with myself, my thoughts, my emotions, my tears, my melancholy…that is so very healing for me today. 

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

 
I’ve stated above that I don’t know how to help people to find or spark creativity during an episode of deression but I’ve thought more about this, and I’ve come to this conclusion:  I’ve been viewing it in such an objective way, almost as this “creative fire” that others seem to see in me, even when I am struggling with/in depression. That’s not accurate at all. 

After sitting for quite some time tonight (thanks, insomnia) and considering it in a more subjective way, it’s become clear to me that fire is not accurate at all. There doesn’t HAVE to be a blazing fire inside you for you to keep going, for you to rise above whatever is going on in your life that is bringing you down. 

A lot of people are under the mistaken impression that I must be doing fine because I’m posting – especially when I post “positive” stuff. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no fire here, y’all – there hasn’t been for over two years. But there’s an ember – there’s a desire and a wish to help someone else and feeling like I might be doing that helps me to keep TRYING to help myself. 

Mostly that’s through my creative endeavors, but even with that I’m sporadic and unstable. In reality, behind the one post here or there that people see that convince them that I’m fine, I’m irregular in posting, I teeter back and forth between whether to share and then I openly share my confusion. I share some pretty obvious ups and downs and struggles…but I keep trying. I’m don’t see myself as “strong,” or anything if the sort. 

Most days I’m not even “positive.”  But I am TRYING (and then there are those who can’t see even the trying, much less do they think of me as “strong” or “capable”). What matters is how I think of myself. The actions I take. The words I allow my brain to absorb from my emotional self’s rants at me. But mostly in this whole process and experience of deression, I keep tending my embers. Sporadic though my “fires” may be, my embers are still hot. That’s all I can take credit for on that front, really. 

NOBODY is perfect or has a perfect, pain-free life. EVERYBODY is hurting at some level and in some way or another, and all any of us really need is a glowing ember inside to inspire creativity (artist or not), strength, kindness, compassion, the ability to ask for forgiveness and to forgive, to overcome demons and struggles… 

It doesn’t have to be blue-white hot glowing flames. A single yellow-orange ember is all it takes. Maintenance is key – and that’s a huge battle in living with/in depression. 

I’ve spent the last hour reminding myself that life is about balance and cycles. Fires are always going to die out, eventually – it’s just the nature of things. But if the embers are always hot, the fire can be started again fairly easily. We just have to find the right “material” – the thing that works for us. 

Depression loves to try to piss on your coals and tell you you’re unworthy. It CONSTANTLY reminds you that you’re misunderstood. On a daily basis mine reminds me that, “people will hurt you; they will let you down, ignore you, judge you, blame you, hate you, be unresponsive to your kindness, be impatient with your moods and emotions, turn their backs on you, stab you in the back, tell you lies, walk out on you, and hell, sometimes they will even die.” 

Hey, nobody’s perfect, and we will do all of those things to someone else at some point in our lives, whether we mean to or not, or even whether we ever realize it or not. 

Everybody perceives you and all the things you say and do differently. Every. Single. Person. You. Meet. Try to remember that when someone has issue with you and struggles to handle you during your struggle with depression. Also remember it when you have an issue with someone else, for any reason. 

NO ONE is perfect. Try to be patient with yourself, and with others. We’re all just doing the best that we can, where we are, with what we have, one day at a time. And that’s OK. That’s life, and we have to stop fighting, keep flowing, and maintain the embers. 

I hope that you’ll enjoy this post. I hope that you can find and experience what soothes and heals you this weekend, and that you’ll find YOUR best way to maintain your embers.  

❤🙏🏼❤ 

C. 

Good morning, friends. I have spent the last couple of days really sitting with and holding my feelings and thoughts – some very deep ones stemmed from my last post and the response I’ve had to it from you at Instagram and via e-mail here. I’m so grateful for your expressions and to be on this journey of recovery, and life, with you. 

I am a lot of things. But one thing I am not is a quitter. In fact, that is often one of my flaws – I don’t know WHEN to quit sometimes. I’ve been in situations where I’ve just refused to give up or to give in or to let go, even when the situation or person has clearly given up on me. That’s a flaw and a strong point, all at once. I’m not a quitter, even when I should be, and sometimes that causes extraordinary pain in my life. But more often than that, it keeps me alive. 

What it really is, at its core, is hope. Even in the throes of depression, deep within me there is this hope. I have not yet defined it for myself, and perhaps it doesn’t need a definition. All I know right now is that it’s what drives me on, and I want to share some quick thoughts with you this morning on that. This has been the core element of my thoughts and feelings since my last post. 

I try so hard to encourage people not to give up because it helps me to remain accountable in doing the same thing. Sometimes, that becomes a slippery slope – but in the end, hope – false or not – is never any worse than wanting to die. 

I hear often, and used to believe, that false hope was as unhealthy as doubt. When it comes to depression, I don’t believe that at all.

My morning thought for today is this:   if you are struggling with depression and you have even an ounce of hope left in you, hold onto it with everything you have. 

Hold onto it even if no one else understands it, even if your hands begin to bleed and the hope itself becomes stained with the blood of your pain.

Whether it’s a dream, a person, a desire for your life or for someone else’s, whatever it is is, HOLD ONTO THAT HOPE. It’s so much harder without it, and to see the stains on it when you eventually walk (or crawl) through your depression and back into your joy will remind you, no matter what your hope is, how valuable that hope always was and will be. 

I believe that, and I believe in you.

Much love,

C. 

I’ve continued to search my soul for an answer to my doubt and my unhappiness with sharing on social media, and this morning I posted another expression – this time of the place I find myself in as that original doubt and question evolves more into an answer. After I posted that train of thought, I received several messages from like minds and souls sharing their personal experiences and thoughts about it. 

One of the conversations (with a lady that has become a soul sister and close friend to me recently) led to someone asking me, “what do YOU want?” In the last year and a half, not a single soul has asked me that – and I was almost shocked to read it. I mean, I know a lot that this person is struggling with (including grief and chronic illness, similar to myself) and to be so aware of that and have them genuinely ask me, “what do YOU want?” both blew me away and grounded me a bit all at once. It’s been a long time since I felt that connected with anyone – at least with someone who had experiences of their own to truly grasp where I was. My truthful answer was, “I don’t know.”

Regarding life in general, that could be true for a very long time. But as far as here? At this blog AND on the actual Instablogs on Instagram I don’t know specifically what I want to do but I DO know that I want to continue to create and share – art/photography obviously, and my own thoughts, mostly – or, at the very least the much better expressed ideas of others about things that are affecting (or plaguing, as the case may be) my life.

Whether pretty and pleasing or dark and uncomfortable to take in, no matter the contradictions (because depression is good at those), I want to share it all – because that’s who I am, always have been, and always will be. I am best when I am open. I am best when I allow vulnerability and truth – no matter how it looks to anyone else. That’s how I cope, even though sometimes the pressure (self and otherwise) gets to be too much. I appreciate your support in that. I do, from the very bottom of my heart. 

That said, I don’t know what direction my posts (or my life, for that matter) are going to go in at this point. I don’t know where my heart is, especially in creating. It’s there, but I don’t know where. That’s why I started playing with some found footage from the farm tonight (which I can’t share here because my subscription doesn’t include video storage directly to the site and I don’t want to use YouTube). 

Anyway, I played around with editing and went with the flow…for a brief moment I found myself truly immersed and connected with my own being, and as I experienced that I asked myself why I had chosen that footage and felt so calm and creative about it. The answer? It felt safe. Safe is good right now. I play it VERY safe with EVERYTHING right now. And while it’s a necessity right now, I hate that. I HATE IT. Playing it safe destroys creativity and it erases the experience of adventures because adventures simply don’t exist. In this place, my wild woman is hidden away – and she’s the part of me I love the most. That’s another blog for another day…

I’m literally fumbling around and along in my life right now. Depression has taken hold, even as hard and as long as I have fought it off. But we all know, those of us who are touched by it, that it’s GOING to finally get to us. Maybe it varies each time it comes, depending on circumstance and current physiology and level of consciousness to it. Maybe it sneaks up behind you and gently, silently drapes its black cloak over your shoulders while you aren’t looking, taking you completely by surprise. Maybe it jumps on your back like a dog in heat as soon as it smells the scent of sadness or doubt. 

Or maybe, like me in this last year, you see it coming. You watch it closely and calculate all your moves as you observe and take notes of it’s strategy this go around. You try to bravely stare it down with all your might, daring yourself to stand firm and face it, truly believing that this time is going to be the time that you rise above it before it grabs hold. Yes. This time you’re going to make it – or dodge it, at least. But then, you don’t. You don’t make it or dodge it in time…because depression? Depression always wins that face off. 

So, now you just hold on with all your might as it slings you around and beats you into the floor, making a mess of every physical and emotional piece of you. Or maybe it’s very intimate and gentle with you, and it taunts you with promises of how much better things will be if you just give in to it and let it rape you, heart and soul. Or maybe it’s a silent and unpredictable demon for you, and you walk in fear of what it will do next. Me? All three, and a few more I can’t quite sort out with words yet. The point, though, is that you struggle. 

That’s where I am… 

Depression. Yes. That’s where I am…and you’re going to see it. I’m going to write it, and speak it, and create from it – whether that looks pretty and light or scary and dark. 

I’m not going to operate under the theory that not speaking it makes it not true. Depression doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t buy the affirmations; in reality it just hears lies and uses them against me. It may be different for you, and that’s ok. But that’s what happens for me. So I’m not going to pretend I’m ok, because it’s OK not to be OK. And I want YOU to remember that if you’re in a similar place. 

You’re not alone. I promise you. And pretending you’re OK when you’re not in order to leave an image of love and hope untarnished DOES NOT HELP HEAL DEPRESSION. In fact, that’s the only consistent “rule” I’ve encountered across the board of myself and others I meet who are counseling others, living with, or struggling with depression. People who do not understand actuality of or have never experienced depression in it’s deepest, rawest, soul-eating form will never be able to grasp this. But for those of you who have messaged me and said, “why do you always apologize when you don’t post positive stuff or don’t know what to post?” You do get it, and YOU ARE RIGHT. We must be true to ourselves. I thank you for that reminder. 

Depression is simply not pretty and it’s far too romanticized in our society today. It’s scary, and it’s messy, and it’s downright uncomfortable (and ugly some days). Some days, you could smear all the love and hope in the world over yourself and wrap yourself in all the most beautiful and positive quotes, and you’ll still be scared, messy, dark and ugly inside and to the core of yourself. And that’s OK – because that’s depression, and it’s a process; for some, a life long one. 

In discussing this with other depressed people, I heard a lot of them say, “but why DO you try to stay on the more positive side of things?” Well, in a general sense and even in lacking religious faith, I want (choose) to try to look on the bright side – even if it’s with sarcasm and dark humor. For me, I know that if I lose hope altogether, I will die. My depression WILL KILL ME. Of course I have my (regular, lately) moments of existential anxiety and darkness and cynicism and anger. But mostly, in my heart? I hope. I love. I want to see and to do good. 

So yes, I’m guilty of believing and sharing a lot of fru-fru stuff. I like the fact that I have found a sort of balance between gentleness and toughness in my self and self-expression, and that I can be honest enough with myself to embrace both sides of who I am.  But if that doesn’t work for you? That’s OK! Forget all the self help, new age, love and light mumbo jumbo if it doesn’t work for you! It doesn’t work for me every second of every day or even every day or week or month at this point in my life (although I know I’ll still be sharing from that place within me on the days when that side is winning). 

We are complex emotional creatures, even at our best. Adding depression into the mix of who we are complicates things greatly for most of us who are affected. It’s not a RULE that you need self-help or spirituality to cope, or else you’re a bad person. In fact, there is no set-in-stone list of rules that we can all follow that will work 100% of the time for all of us in the same way to help us to cope with and/or overcome depression. NONE. Not coping that way, or without religious beliefs, or even without a smile on your face, doesn’t mean that you aren’t still filled with love, hope, purpose and spirit. Just because you forget it doesn’t mean it’s not there – kind of like those dirty dishes from two days ago or the laundry you meant to fold last week. It’ll keep. 

It doesn’t make you a negative or unworthy person, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t making or going to make progress, to deal with depression in a way that others most often criticize and judge. It just means that you struggle with depression, and that’s a beast that only those who have battled it can understand. We must embrace ourselves and whatever we are feeling at least long enough to try to grasp WHY we might be feeling that way and whether it is helping us. At least, for me, that is the only way I can get through most days. 

The other part of that for me is absolutely the ability and the means to express myself, regardless of what that expression is on any given day or in any given moment. I encourage you to express yourself, too, if you can in some way do that, and I promise you that I will try my best to practice what I preach, post from my heart, always, and walk this often contradictory cliff’s edge with you. 

I love you. 

C. 

**A memory…**

 

It is…

Dark soul…

Untamable.

Black.

Deep space, ever deepening.

Always expanding, demanding.

Churning black hole, hollow.

Sucking me in everyday,

Spitting me out every night.

Holding me hostage.

Prisoner.

Chained.

Bound.

Aching.

Swallowed.

But holding on.

No choice in the blackness.

Can’t afford to get lost…

Yet…

Feel my way around it…

Hold on to what can’t be seen:

Angel wings.

Butterflies in spring.

Positive thoughts.

Energetic streams.

Consciousness.

“They need…me.”

Private tears.

Silent screams.

Memories blur.

Sleep.

Restless dreams, where she smiles.

Brightness, but not enough to pull me out of pain.

Rain.

Tears inside.

Anger.

Resentment.

 

Shower it all away.

Scrub until the skin is as raw as the pain inside.

Sing Tiny Dancer…

Cancer…

Churning sucking churning sucking churn suck churn churn churn churn.

Today I thought we’d lost her.

((09-15-14))

…a very raw, and real one – one of the ones I almost always keep private…

April 5, 2017. 10:55AM

First of all, how is it that my writing today coincides exactly with the timing of my writing about volatility on March 28th, the last time I day-journaled? That’s weird…or not…but mostly, yes.

Today I feel ESPECIALLY volatile. In fact, I just texted that to a friend. The reasons are many. I haven’t had sleep in many hours (one hour, about, in the last 36 or so hours). Anxiety is the fault AND the cause of that, and of many things in and of itself. And all of those things are the cause of many other things. I mean, it’s like I told the fairy god-therapist recently:  we can sit around analyzing that until we’re blue in the face and we’ve managed to work our way all the way back to our time in the womb, maybe even before that based on some belief systems, but it’s going to solve NOTHING about now. I hate that sort of cognitive psychology. Mind stripping bullshit… I hate it, but yet I love it and it’s a huge part of my personality – especially personality and understanding of self – to do just that.

Today, due to lack of sleep, due to anxiety, due to the chaos of thoughts that NEED to escape my mind and can’t escape fast enough, and then annoyingly get lost and ruin my train of thought all together and then I almost obsessively try to start all over (with that cognitive bullshit that I have a love/hate relationship with)…I just feel volatile. This flood of expressive thoughts that I can’t express fast enough, and all the noise around me – even the little noises like the birds chirping – make my head feel like it will explode.

They are like fingernails on a chalkboard, even the positive, happy sounds that we often invite into our environments. Everything makes my brain feel like it’s going to explode and all I want is perfect stillness and perfect quiet – kind of like the “perfect darkness” you achieve deep in caves, which is the only place on the planet you can ever achieve that. I don’t know where to go to achieve a literal perfect stillness and quiet in this physical world, and I certainly can’t escape to a cognitive version of it, even with meditation, with this “dis-ease” that seems to be swallowing my mind and consciousness.

I have been getting to know a new, light-warrior friend via Instagram through chat, and I was just expressing a similar (but not nearly as immediate frustration) in a conversation last night, during the peak of that episode of insomnia. I relayed how I have found myself simultaneously nodding my head and saying, “yes,” out loud as I’d read each thought they shared, whether in their posts or conversation on my posts or the human transactions that were being shared via DM, and how I was so grateful for that but it was also overwhelming.

Isn’t that so odd! To connect with someone who also wishes to spread love and positivity and happiness… Light…. And to be so blinded by that because of my condition. It both took me by surprise and made me sad. I was so happy – ecstatic, almost – to have felt such a deeper level connection with someone again and to have these conversations, but also sad and annoyed at my brain and chemicals and processes being as they are so that I also felt such an immediate and almost panicky need to express all of this I was feeling because I’d forgotten it all once before and I didn’t want to lose it again before I understood it, but mostly before I LEARNED from it.

A conversation ensued about the issue of “dis-ease” and I shared about how I will have down days, sad days, mad days, doubtful days, as part of my “dis-ease” as they call it (doctors and therapists and so on – the “helpers”). Even as a part of my grief. But the reality is that there can be kindness and love shared from THEIR realities (“normal, functioning” realities that they exist in, within themselves) versus MINE (the disturbed, lost, seeking, hurting, grieving, sick version of myself that I have become). They’re just so judgmental, in their perfect little boxes, conforming to a broad spectrum of socially acceptable norms that I don’t fit.

They don’t tell me or teach me positive things. They constantly teach me or relay to me, whether they mean to or not, that I am broken or in some way not good enough. I know I need HELP with my issues and conditions but I do not need to be FIXED. There’s a difference and that’s very frustrating and counter-productive for me.  This new friend said to me, “what if you just looked at it as down days or feeling anxious, instead of labeling it a disease? Don’t listen to mainstream media, doctors or anyone that has no concepts of living outside of that box. You can help ease some of the anxiety and depression simply by not ever calling it a disease anymore. You just have more ups and downs and anxieties a little more often than others. Yet all the same – we are all sharing these same emotions. You’re not alone – just let them come and go. The words we say to ourselves mean everything – shaping reality thought by thought and word by word.”

It was really fascinating because it was like reading back my own expressions not so long ago – mostly, before heartbreak and death… I LOVE it. I totally get where they were coming from because I used to 100% be and live as that person with that mindset. And then, the “dis-ease” of it became a reality that suddenly touched, and then began to swallow me. It was almost like a suitor, wooing me – that’s how it always happens. It woos me and taunts me with certain aspects of it that are appealing to me (the melancholy, the muse of it, the creative expression that comes from it) and then once it begins it sucks me into this “toxic relationship” whereby I end up swallowed in darkness with NONE of those appealing qualities actually being a part of it. It’s a sneaky little bastard, that one.

And it IS disease. It IS illness. There is no escaping from or denying that, or there is no getting better at all. It’s a variance back and forth, for me personally, with the things I face mentally, between believing that our words can shape and even literally heal us and accepting that sometimes that’s just not the case. It’s like cancer – some people are healed and they claim that their believing was part of the recipe. But that doesn’t work for everyone.

When Dorie died I came to accept that even if everyone else believes along with you, with all they have, with all their being, sometimes it’s just not enough to overcome death. It’s similar with my mental health – it’s a hard balance to find when a) it’s hard to find meaning and purpose and believe in positivity and self-worth (depression, ptsd) and b) I’m working with therapists/doctors to try to get help for the medical aspect of it (replacing/balancing hormones and chemicals in the body, along with healing my physical body from the damages of chronic physical illness and rebalancing and at least stopping further damage, even though I can never really repair what’s already wrong – celiac disease).

Those people, as I just mentioned, may be trying to help you in a gentle way (as human beings doing the best they can) but the system is flawed because it’s always spoken about in such a negativistic way. What COULD you do? What SHOULD you do? How COULD you or SHOULD you change and what COULD you or SHOULD you change? All of this, when from the other side of their mouths (and the spiritualist parts of society and our selves), it’s all about how we’re all good enough, worthy, loved, made of love, perfectly designed, etc. Really? Because that’s not how it feels when you struggle with mental illness.

It’s because it IS a disease, down to a physical level. I can’t pretend it’s not or I end up missing out (due to escapism and avoidance) some of the good and even best ways I can be helped. But, at the same time, what that person shared does apply. The disbelieving and the labels and the basic bullshit of American medicine are not helpful factors and it IS important to try to steer clear of those things from a subjective place within ourselves. I love that suggestion and somewhere inside me I DO still believe and need to live more from that place. But mental illness is part of a two-sided coin of very real medical condition for me and it’s all so very hard to cope and to live with.

I try to remain in that positive space regardless and to not give up on myself or doubt when I step outside the positivity zone – I try to avoid definitions and labels of failure or success from that perspective, and I tried to address that in some writing I did about how just continuing to try is, in itself, success for ALL of us. That’s what I encourage others to do, and I know that I have to walk the talk as much as possible, mistakes though I might (WILL) make, and just continue to walk and grow. I feel like if I owe anything to anyone I owe THAT to my SELF, to my loved ones, and to the world. We all do. Just our best, and our love. You know?

He understood all this, even in all it’s chaotic and insomnia-influenced version of expression. He said, “Definitely – always breathe and be grateful for NOW…and YOUR continued journey. It’s not selfish to live and dance for the ones that no longer can… We are all here by ourselves, really, anyway. Love yourself, talk to yourself. Be your own best friend (again). It could a long one, friend!” And he is so right – that, what he described in those statements, that’s who I’ve always been. Even in my darkest times and struggles with depression and mental illness in my past, I was always able to hold on to that somewhere and  now, with her death, it FEELS like that is gone. And I’m so terrified at every level because I literally feel as though I have lost myself.

I love his perspective and his confidence in life and in love – and so many of my other kindred spirits in that community. I can’t even wait to write more posts from the food for though he/they have gifted me. I can’t wait to continue these conversations together and with the world at large. But it’s also daunting, because I have very little faith in myself that I CAN do that. The darkness says, “there’s no light, tunnel or not, you are deluding yourself.” The me that desperately seeks to not become wholly lost forever strives to believe and convince myself that that itself is the delusion. How ridiculous this carousel is, and seems to remain…

In closing, for now, I thank you for reading, and for existing as a very important part of the tool set for me to at least attempt to express myself. I am so grateful for you.  I wish you all the love and light that I want to believe is out there and within you and me – all the light, everywhere. May we all continue to seek it and to find it, and even if in the most unexpected of places and ways may we always allow it in.

C.