Thursday, 18 June 2015

Seratonin and SCUBA Diving

Found on Pinterest

Anyone who has ever suffered with depression can tell you, it is a cruel taskmaster.  So it was lovely to see Kelly-Ann aka The Four Queens speak candidly about her experience with depression in this video.  She is so eloquent and calm in her delivery of what I feel is a very honest and open dialogue about her mental health history, and her acceptance of this part of her life is reassuring to others who may be currently battling with acceptance of their own.  I know my daughter has learned to accept herself more through certain videos from Kelly-Ann and accepts her scars as something that manifested itself in her, but does not need justifying to others.  The people who matter to my daughter don't need to ask, the people who ask do not matter.

So as a way of a response to the video I decided to have a ramble about my own battle and my feelings on the attitudes of depression.

Only in the past 2 year have I managed to pull myself out of the black hole that had me trapped for over 3 years.  It's been a long climb up the path of recovery, two steps forward, one step back most of the time.  I dealt with mine using a combination of medication, therapy and taking a proactive approach.  I can now say that I am free from the medication and no longer have therapy but I still check in with myself regularly, I still make that mental visit to see if there is anything that my 'inner friend' needs.  

I would like to think most people who have dealt with depression and come through the other side do this.  It's not alway easy though, to recognise the thought patterns that can  take them back to that dark place.  Sometimes it isn't possible to avoid going along that path again and again, as anyone with depression knows.

People are quick to judge someone with depression, as it is not an illness that is easily seen.  Most sufferers cover it up so well that when crisis happens, what I call 'The Abyss', people around are shocked, even surprised.  They wonder how it has happened, why it has happened, and the most common reaction is telling the sufferer that they should have told people they were struggling. When in reality the times that we do reach out, I found the most common responses were;

Oh, it'll sort itself out.
Everybody has problems 
Pull yourself together/get a grip
You'll be fine, you're a strong person.

I feel over the years, depression has been re-defined and not in a good way, by people who have no real understanding of it.  Depression has become something that has been relegated to the ranks of having a bad day.  But it is not ' a bad day', it is not feeling fed up because you didn't get what you wanted.  It is  certainly not shedding some tears in  the doctors office, in the hope they will give you an official letter, so your university will give you special dispensation on your degree score, as you were too busy living it up instead of studying.  (Yes, I have been witness to all of these cases of 'depression').

Then there are the people who do not realise depression is a chemical imbalance, the lack of seratonin, that anybody can develop. Even the most successful, wealthy, loved, respected and publicly adored.  Yet it seems common for others to judge by wondering what these people have to be depressed about.    It is not the exclusive realm of the lonely, poor and under appreciated.  My depression started when I was married, we had a very good income, respectable jobs even 2 holidays abroad every year.  But depression caught me in its web and now, single, working a low paid job and taking each day with acceptance for whatever may happen, and not judging mine or others choices, I am happier than I have been for many years.

Depression, real depression is that smothering, crushing feeling, when,  no matter how you try and look at things, there is nothing. There is no feeling of hope or joy, there is no feeling of worthiness, there is no feeling of understanding.  There is only fear, hopelessness, mistrust and a mental loneliness as your brain tells you that you are stupid, nobody cares, and what is the point when you are useless and fail at everything and nobody really likes you, they are just being polite (these were just some of my constant mental processes when I started down the slope).

 But the treatment of depression has to be a proactive one.  Medication works for most people but the individual's thought processes have to be worked on, altered and diverted.  If not, then the medication just masks the underlying  issues and the cycle of depression remains.  I had 3 different talking therapies, not all worked, everybody is different though and what didn't work for me can be the key for someone else.

My mother is a perfect example of what Kelly-Ann describes as cloaking oneself in their depression.  To my mother it defines who she is, it excuses her cruel side and feeds her need for attention and getting her own way.  She wears it as her badge of honour.  She has been on antidepressants for 20 years (since my father's death).  She refuses talking therapy, as she claims the therapists are useless and don't help.  She expects them to solve the issues and feels they should provide her with the answers that only she can give. 

She refuses to participate in anything that may be enjoyable unless it is something she wants to do, and if she does take part, she will criticise and complain for the duration, spoiling it for everyone else lest she is proven wrong and she has a good time.  

And yet she feels her happiness is everybody else's responsibility.  I don't judge her for it, she has no understanding of her illness and doesn't want to learn about it.  So I accept her as she is and arm myself mentally against any negativity she wants to throw out into the world.  For if she won't  help herself, then I, nor anyone else can do it for her.  

Ironically it was my mother who helped me recover, when she made the comment, after being medicated myself for almost 3 years, that I was going to end up like her, stuck on 'useless' drugs for the rest of my life.  My inner rebel sat up and thought no way am I turning into my mother.  My path for recovery was set, that very day.  

I knew there was some positive things in my life, I knew I could find that fun, loving person that was squashed so far down inside of me.  I knew I had to coax her back, gently with love, compassion and patience.  I had to wrap my arms and heart around the 'me' that the depressive mind had told me was gone and I never deserved anyway.  I had to dive deep, search through the murky depths and try and find that little glimmer of gold. Believe me it took some time to find it through the wreckage that lay covering it. Once I found that first little piece I went back every day and searched for more and more, until it was like I had found the actual treasure chest, where all the happiness lay.  I can not say I will never suffer any further episodes of depression, it is not something I plan on, however nobody ever does, but I know for now my life feels good I am happy with who and where I am and that is what matters more than anything. 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

From Buckets to Bengalore, to Breakthroughs

XI Breakthrough.  Osho Zen Tarot.
 Being 'of a certain age', I have, over the course of the past six months, been writing my bucket list.  The idea being, once I hit my next birthday, I will start crossing things off, said list.  Some items on the list are relatively small things, such as going camping with my grandson.  Others are far more adventurous.

I've always had wanderlust, my mother calls it 'itchy feet syndrome', and doesn't understand why I want to investigate this wonderful planet we inhabit.  A bit rich coming from the woman who dragged two children under the age of four across to the other side of the world, and back again.  I feel being so transient in my younger years has left it's mark.

My parents emigrated to Australia in 1966 by sea, a journey of almost 7 weeks, and we travelled back to the U.K in 1971 in the same manner.  I can say I've been to some amazing places although cannot recall most of them now.  I do know I have been through the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal, I have sailed over the equator twice and have trinkets and souvenirs from places, that in my childhood, many people could only fantasise about.

When we arrived back to the U.K, we were effectively homeless, but my parents worked miracles going from lodging with relatives to buying a small 2 bedroomed flat, to a 3 bedroomed house within 2 years.

That never satisfied my mother though, she wanted bigger, better, more space, a bigger garden, a nicer area.  And so I was moved about more than most.

This has always been a part of my life.  I've never been one to want bigger and better though,  I just like investigating different places.  I've lived in rural areas, I've lived city centre.  I have done conventional and controversial but I always enjoy the adventure.

So there on my bucket list is the desire to live at an Ashram in India, it's a big wish as I fear flying, but there is such a strong pull for me to do it.  It is something of the long term goal as obviously I would need money for flights and back up, but I have my heart set on it and am planning ways in which to achieve it.  I cannot shake the feeling that this is something that I will regret not doing.

I have done  community living before, where everyone worked for one goal, that however was for the material benefit of a singular person.  It was hard work with no nurturing of the spirit, only relentless physical work.  This time I want to assist with something worthwhile, for the benefit of all beings, the benefit of this amazing planet and for the benefit of spiritual nourishment.

I asked the Osho Zen for a card to show how following this idea could help me grow and it gave me XI Breakthrough.  In brief, I feel this experience will break down any barriers I have about my spiritual growth, stripping me down to my very essence, giving me the chance to begin a whole new way of living my life spiritually for the better.

I think I've been given a big thumbs up from the universe, now all I need to do is start saving hard and getting my priorities set.  Time to address the unnecessary spending and relinquish the so called necessities, that in the cold light of day are little more than snacks for the ego.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Ker-Ching and I Ching

Tao Oracle by Ma Deva Padma

I took a mini road trip today, along with my daughter, grandson and puppy (both make up the Toddler Squad) to visit my youngest daughter at her new home since she re-located to another part of the country.  I had been wanting to go and visit her but my finances were tied up elsewhere and it just wasn't possible. 

You see, we like to make a proper day of it, eating out, coffees at nice caf├ęs and with having a toddler in tow, there is always something to buy to appease his need for everything he sees.

The weather was beautiful and made a very long drive through the English countryside a pleasure.

Driving through the Yorkshire Dales is like stepping back in time, the views are spectacular, the roads are winding and the company was great. 

We enjoyed a nice lunch from a quaint little deli, then spent the rest of the day walking along the river, feeding the ducks, playing in the park and browsing the quirky, independent shops (the village has an amazing natural health store).  It was so relaxing and it was nice to see my youngest letting her hair down after 4 years of serious studying for her degree. It was nice to spoil her a little.

It's always a wrench when I leave her,  I still see the little girl she was, as she waves us goodbye, even though she is 22 and lives with her partner, she will always be 'my baby'.

There's always that feeling of an empty nest when I arrive home, although my dogs give me such a welcome and usually spend the night cuddling up to me, it's not quite the same.

So arriving home this evening I was greeted with 2 excitable dogs and a parcel.  My Tao Oracle has finally arrived.  I have had this deck on my wish list for so long and was recently enabled by Ellen to purchase it. 

It has made coming home a little less daunting as I had eagerly anticipated this deck's arrival.

I cannot wait to get some time in with the cards, having only had a quick browse through the deck (stunning images) and  a quick glance through the book, which looks quite meaty.   However I have plenty of time on my hands to relish it and take my time with it as I am now back to pauper status.