First of all I want to thank everyone that took the time and the effort to read my posts Call me crazy and Hello, this is your wake up call. It means a lot to me that you all did. I also want to thank everyone who commented in some way for their kind and encouraging words, it really lifted my spirit.
Even though I know there are a lot of people who suffer(ed) from depression, I was still amazed how many people let me know they suffer(ed) too. It’s so sad to hear that and a big virtual hug for any one that needs it and know that you’re not the only one. To me it’s a sign that it was a good decision to tell my story, thank you for letting me know. I was tough, but you all made it well worth it.
The other day I wrote a poem. Until now I didn’t have the courage to share it. But I thought, if my story helps people, maybe my poem will inspire/encourage someone as well. If it’s just one person that gets something out of it, it’s well worth it. Also, I no longer want to hide myself. I just want to be me and this poem is me. If someone doesn’t appreciate it, so be it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion (though I prefer them to like it 🙂 ).
sounds so easy
how hard can it be?
not always as easy
as I want it to be.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I struggled with a severe depression. Everything was so dark and I felt so lonely and no one seemed to really understand. As it turns out I’m in pretty good company. Lady Di, Winston Churchill, Jim Carrey, Charles Dickens, Audrey Hepburn, all of them suffered from depression at some point. I also have a lot of company, according to the WHO (World Health Organization) almost one out of five people suffers from depression at some point in their live.
Despite the fact that so many people get affected by depression (it’s not just the person that suffers from it, but also the people close to them) it’s surprising there is still so little understanding of depression. A lot of people still think it must be someone’s own fault/weakness. They think it’s just some negative thinking that someone needs to snap out of. They will tell them to “just think positive” or to “exercise more”. But depression is so much more than just a bunch of negative thoughts. And maybe if someone has a mild depression, thinking positive and exercising might be enough. But if someone has a severe depression, no matter how well the intention, this ignorant advice can even be harmful. Depression is not the same as sadness. Sadness is a state of mind most people have every now and then. In that case it is helpful to think positive or do something you like to do. Depression is an illness and should be treated like one. Treating the two as if they’re the same is like telling someone with a broken leg it’s merely a bruise. That it may hurt a little but there’s really nothing wrong with the leg. My sweet hubby found the perfect cartoon to illustrate this.
I have experienced myself that there was a difference between telling people I was dealing with depression and telling I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. A lot of people were much more understanding and compassionate when I told them about the Crohn’s. WHY?????? Because, honestly, I’ve suffered more from my depression than I did from the Crohn. Not in the least, because a lot of people told me to snap out of it or exercise more and didn’t really take me seriously. And I know most of them meant really well, but they just had no clue what I was dealing with and how much their words hurt me. And other people think you must be totally wacko if you see a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is merely a doctor, specialized in mental illness. No doubt there are psychiatrists that see people that are crazy, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who goes to see a psychiatrist is crazy. If you break your leg, you go to a doctor that can fix your leg. If you break mentally, you go a doctor that can help you with that. Call me crazy, but I did.
Once I went to an ‘experience museum’ about being blind. They made an “obstacle course” in which everyday situations were recreated that blind people encounter on a daily basis. And to make sure visitors wouldn’t cheat, they darkened the place. They gave you a cane and a (blind) guide to lead you through the place. It’s unbelievable how many obstacles there are when you can’t see. Suddenly you realize that most times you are not even aware you maneuver around obstacles. I mean, do you ever really see that garbage can? Probably not, you just walk past it without even giving it any thought. Not when you can’t see though. You are definitely aware of the fact that something is blocking your way and you have no idea what it is. During our trip we paid a visit to a playground. Now, that’s a real obstacle course, and there were not even children playing! While I was trying to find my way around the obstacles, the group started to leave the playground. Since I was already a little bit freaked out about the fact that I couldn’t see a thing, I wanted to stay close to the group. But the playground was fenced off and I couldn’t find the exit. I started to panic…., I didn’t want to be left behind…., I desperately tried to find the exit, but again couldn’t find it. Since I have a slight problem with asking for help, it was difficult for me to call out to the guide, but if I didn’t want to be left alone, I didn’t have a choice. So, I asked for help. And the guide came back for me and helped me get out of there.
Being depressed is kind of like that. You’re somewhere in a very, very dark place and you have no clue where you are. You may be standing next to the exit, or you could be standing on the edge of a cliff. At first you try to make it out of there by yourself. But you can’t find the exit, you keep on bumping into obstacles, you start to freak out, become desperate. So what are you going to do, keep on trying, hoping you will make it out of there in this lifetime? Or will you ask for help? You still have to make the journey yourself, you will still encounter obstacles, but at least you have someone to guide you to the exit and you’re no longer alone.
Like I said, I have slight problem asking for help. And as I’m writing this, I can see Mr. M. looking at me in this tone, so let me correct myself. I have a BIG problem asking for help and that’s now, it was even worse when I was younger. When I was in my early twenties I knew that things weren’t going too well, but I wasn’t really aware I had a problem. Not until one day, I was staying with my boyfriend at that time at his mom’s place. What happened that day opened my eyes and changed my life. It was an awful experience and I still feel sorry for her she had to go through that, but it was a life saver for me. Early that morning a noise woke us up. We heard his mom yelling and screaming. At first we thought there was a fire or something. But when we heard what she was saying, we realized she was psychotic. She was delirious, screaming and laughing hysterically. It was scary and at that moment, I finally realized that if I wouldn’t change anything in my life, I might end up just like that. You can try to ignore the difficulties you encounter, you can choose to hide them somewhere far away, but sooner or later they will catch up with you. This was the moment I decided to face my problems. Not that things changed over night, but it was the crucial awareness I needed. And, even though it was really, really tough, I reached out for help.
I worked my way through university, visiting a student counselor and after a few years, I graduated. The moment I had tried to postpone for as long as I could had finally arrived. I had to find a job. I was afraid that if I was going to work somewhere, I would get stuck there, because of my fear of new people and situations. So I made a decision of which I’m still very proud today. I choose to work for a company that would outsource me to municipalities that needed help. Had I not done that, chances are I would still be working at the same place I once started, and I would have never met Mr. M. and never had my little girl. So, it was the best choice I could have made, because I wouldn’t want to miss them for the world. However, I was depressed (even though none of the counselors I had seen so far had noticed – yeah, definitely getting more and more convinced about my acting skills 🙂 ) and it turned out I didn’t like the work and I made long days because often I had to travel far. But I dragged myself through it for almost a year and then, then, one day I couldn’t get out of bed anymore. All I could do was cry. And I had such abdominal pain that I was convinced I had appendicitis. So I went to my physician. Fortunately I had a really nice and understanding physician. And for the first time someone told me I suffered from depression. When he said it, it seemed so obvious, but until that point I had never realized it. I went to the psychiatrist he referred me to. She was very nice, and I was ready to talk, but she also suggested medicines. That was a little bit too much for me. Talking? Fine. Medicines? I don’t think so. Until about two weeks later my world was so dark, I was willing to try just about anything to make the pain go away. So I got medicines and within two weeks I slowly felt the darkness get a slightly less dark. I was so grateful that it helped, because it does not work for everyone. Taking medicines can help to get out of the deepest darkness so you are better able to handle things, but it still means you have to deal with it. It’s not some kind of miracle pill that will take away your depression and make you live happily ever after.
If you think you might be suffering from depression, please look for help. Talk to your physician, pastor or a good friend that will take you seriously. And if you think someone around you might be suffering, try to talk to them, let them know you’re there and will take them seriously.
If you think my story might be helpful to other people then please, do share it. If you don’t know anyone that might benefit from it, please consider sharing my story anyway to help me create more awareness and understanding for depression. If you want to use parts of my story somewhere, please feel free to do so. All I ask is that you give me credit for the words I wrote.
Not sure it will make a difference? I understand, I have these moments too. And when I do, I think about what the Dalai Lama XIV said:
If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.
This weekend was the fourth weekend of my NLP training. It was a very interesting and enlightening weekend. A very emotional weekend too. We were working on re-imprinting memories that have affected us in a negative way. What can I say, I have few of those in my memory box. So, when working with this, I got kind of emotional. Ok, very emotional. Hate it when that happens, that means at least 2 days of red, puffy eyes 🙁 . Anyway, apparently it had to come out, and still, I had no clue.
Sunday, after another emo-moment, I had a little talk with my trainer. She told me, she thought I was having a depression. Silence…… I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’m through with that. Or not? It’s what my beloved Mr. M. told me a month ago. But I said no, no way.
So, this was wake up call nr. 1. I realize now I wanted things to go well so badly, I was in denial even though the signs were there. Also, I compared it to the severe depression I overcame in my mid-twenties. And compared to that, it’s not much, but that still doesn’t mean I’m not depressed right now. Ironically, I was just working on a post about the depression I had in my mid-twenties, hoping to create more awareness and understanding for depression. In that post I make a remark about how people are not always aware they are depressed. Well, apparently experiences in the past are no guarantee you will know next time.
She also told me that I come across as a beautiful, tall, confident woman of the world (ehh… we were talking about me, right?) and the fact that I keep my distance may not feel very comfortable to others. That was wake up call nr. 2. I never realized that people may see me so differently than I do. I feel so insecure and to me it feels as if I’m an open book and anyone can see how clumsy I am and how I’m struggling to connect and that the distance is created by my inability to communicate properly. Hmmm, you think I may have missed out on a beautiful career as an actress? Anyway, if people really do perceive me as a confident woman that’s keeping her distance, yes, I can see how that may come across.
Well, I have a lot to think about and figure out. And a doctor’s appointment to have myself checked out.
In March Lisa will turn 7. What she really, really, really wants for her birthday? A bunk bed! She’s been talking about it for months. I found a nice (and affordable) one at Ikea. Actually it’s a loft bed, but it thank goodness it did qualify. I think it were the pink doors that did the trick 🙂 .
When I asked her if she would like to have this bed, she was so happy, she gave me a whoooooole lot of kisses.
We’ve decided to give her room a complete make over, so it will be really her place where she feels comfortable. So, I have some measuring and painting to do. Or actually a lot of painting. I would prefer the walls and the ceiling to have a nice fresh and bright white color instead of the Bellevue beige that’s on there right now (beige is a very popular neutral color over here, like white in the Netherlands). Other things I need to do are reupholster a chair, revamp a lamp and finish a wall decoration that has been lying around for a while now. So, plenty to do. Let’s start with some measuring and picking out the right colors.
A while ago I had a ‘sewing date’ with a friend of mine. She has been sewing for a long time and makes really cute stuff for her kids.
She helped me pick a dress from a pattern book and showed me how to work with an actual pattern, because I had never done that before. All those lines just seemed so intimidating. And although it’s not that hard, you have to stay alert with all those lines, because it’s easy to miss something or mix things up.
So, now that I had the pattern, I was eager to get started. I went to shop for some fabric. What I found wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I was to impatient to order something online. I just wanted to get going 🙂 .
It was my first time working with stretch fabric and with my serger. Stretch was a little bit intimidating, the serger was scary. It goes so fast and cuts the fabric at the same time, so you can’t afford to make a mistake. After some practicing, I decided to go for it (fingers crossed). I was a little bit worried but tried to do it as slowly as possible and it turned out really nice. At the bottom of the dress I made a rolled hem, also on the serger. Stretching the fabric at the same time gives a nice lettuce hem, I love that! This is the result.
Thanks for your help Marloes! The second dress is on it’s way 🙂
Eureka, I’m a genius, the next Einstein!
Ok, not so much, but it is an important reminder to me.
Remember the ugly plain brown sweater I jazzed up a bit? Well, Lisa didn’t still didn’t want to wear it 🙁 .
So I asked her, what if I put some more hearts here and here, will you wear it then? The answer was maybe, which is basically a no. Then Mr. M decided it was time to intervene and asked her what exactly needed to be changed so she would want to wear it. Much better result this time, she said the sleeves were too wide and the waistband too tight. Ah, I can fix that.
But why didn’t I think of asking her that simple question? This is so NLP, the NLP Metamodel is all about being specific and what questions to ask to get the exact information you need. I couldn’t stand it that I didn’t ask her that. Apparently I need to practice more. I didn’t ask a specific question and therefore didn’t get a specific answer, so the result wasn’t what I wanted. So, I need to remind myself that (specific) Question(s) + Answer(s) = (desired) Result.
And so, I went back to my atelier (sounds much better than craft room) and narrowed the sleeves and cut off the waistband and cuffs. This is the result and best of all, she wanted to wear it immediately after I finished it. Hence my little reminder Q + A = R.
If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them to become what they are capable of becoming.
When I read this quote, I had to think of the Rosenthal-Jacobson study. You have probably heard of this study. In the late 1960’s there was an experiment at an elementary school. The teachers were told that some of their students (their names were revealed to the teachers) were to be expected to excel. In reality these students were randomly chosen. However, at the end of the experiment it turned out that the students that were supposedly better in fact did have better results than their peers. This is what became the Pygmalion effect. It was named after the mythological Cypriote king Pygmalion who sculpted a statue of a woman that was brought to life by Aphrodite.
And this study reminded me of a book I recently read. Outliers: The story of success by Malcolm Gladwell. In this book Gladwell describes how a little advantage at the start may end up a very big difference at the end. The little advantage, for example being a few months older and therefore a little stronger and faster, may lead to an other small advantage, getting a little more training, what may lead to a little bigger advantage, getting on a better team, which means more training, getting better and may eventually lead to becoming a professional player instead of being just one of the millions of average sports players.
So little things can make big differences. And I wonder, what would the world be like if we all treated ourselves and others with high expectations and love? What if we would treat ourselves and the people we meet, especially children, as the people we ought to be instead of who we are? Being aware of and stimulating our abilities instead of our disabilities and the things we’re good at instead of focusing on our flaws.
I realize that it may not always be easy, but the first step is awareness (it took me only 40 years to get there 🙂 ). When I catch myself saying something that I would prefer to say differently, I start over and say it again the way I want to.
What ever you choose to say or do, just be aware of the impact it may have, it might just be bigger than you’ll ever know.
The other day Lisa was in a school play in which she was a boxer dog. For that she needed a plain brown hoodie.
Even though I bought the cheapest one I could find, I thought it was kind of sad that it would only be used for like an hour. So I decided to jazz it up a little so hopefully Lisa wants to wear it. I bought some fabric and started cutting, sewing and glueing. Actually the glueing part turned out to be rather tricky and I spilled some of it on the fabric next to the pocket. On the back it said the glue could be removed when wet, but it didn’t go away 🙁 hence the heart next to the pocket. Fortunately Lisa liked it and she wanted more hearts, so the other pocket got a heart as well 🙂 .
This is how it turned out, hopefully Lisa will wear it.
Yesterday I posted a message on Facebook in which I asked people if they might be interested in a meditation session guided by me (by the way, if you didn’t read that, but you are interested, please contact me). Personally I like to meditate, especially when guided.
One of the reasons I recently started meditating on a regular basis is to connect to my body and spirit. I have been living in my mind/ratio for a long, long time. And though the mind certainly has its purposes, I think it’s not good to be in that state nearly all the time.
For one thing it has tricked me into having quite a few limiting beliefs about myself. For example, I used to have some very limiting beliefs about my abilities to form and maintain relationships. Now I’ve decided to ask myself: how can I do things differently so I will be more succesful in forming and maintaining relationships? One of the things I realised was that I need to be really me (yeah, I know, everyone could have told me that 🙂 ). In order to do that I need to let go of my limiting beliefs and go back to my core and feel and experience who I really am, not who I think I am. It’s not always easy yet, but I do feel that I’m going there.
So, when I had several reactions of people who want me and apparently trust me to guide them through a meditation it made me happy.
And as a bonus I got reactions of some people I had not spoken to in a long time, which was really, really nice. To me that is a sign that I am on my way to being me and that it’s paying off.