Friday 27 December 2013

"Hummingbirds & Hope"

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. {Margaret Thatcher} Fight the good fight of faith... its so worth it! The victory is already yours! by andrearhowey, via Flickr

It has been two years since Adventures of a Survivor was born. Of course, I had no idea then what my future would hold - two more years on the hamster wheel of mental illness. It was so exhausting that at times I just wanted it to end. And by it, I mean everything. But here's the thing. Even when I was at my lowest ebb, I found some shred of strength and just kept going.

As I talk with people about mental illness and my own journey, two recurring misconceptions keep coming up - that people who are depressed are negative and that someone smiling can't possibly be depressed. There have been many times when my heart has clearly been pinned to my sleeve. You could take one glance at me and see my pain all over. But there have been the times when I have put on my mask and smiled through my discomfort and hurt. I have heard time and again, "But you always seem so positive and happy."
I have often felt discouraged by my illness, to put it mildly. And I have had negative experiences and interactions with people because of the depression. Well, because of the misunderstanding and stigma associated with depression. However, for some reason that I don't question, I have remained an optimist. Yes, there have been moments of "why me?" but I also know that I am not so special. One in five Canadians is currently fighting the same battle or will at some point in their lives.
"There will be times in your life when all you have left is hope for a better future. Never let go of that. Ever." ~ Robin Sharma
Hope is a powerful thing. When I felt it waning at times I would look for inspiration, something that is in abundance if you open your eyes to it. Hope, for me, was in the hugs from my niece and nephew. It was in a phone call from my best friend. It was in those effervescent hummingbirds dancing around my parents' garden on a summer afternoon. It was in a really good cup of coffee.
Depression can dull the small, simple pleasures in life. But it can also remind you how valuable those things really are, how integral they are to one's quality of life.
As you begin a new year, think about the small ways that you can make your life happier. No, I don't mean starting that diet or exercise routine. Yes, those can be wonderful things but I am talking about something different - cultivating hope and inspiration on a daily basis. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, not leave your spirit depleted. Create a tea time ritual in the evenings - get a pretty tea cup and saucer and try a new tea. When you go for a walk, don't think about the to-do list waiting for you at work or at home - focus on the scenery. Find a charity that resonates with you and choose a way to support them that fits into your life. Ask yourself, "What is the one little thing that I can do today that will make my life a little better?" Then do it.
Yes, I have had to fight the same battle many times in twenty years. It is very likely that I will continue to do so, off and on for the rest of my life. I am OK with that now because I know two things: I can do it and I will never lose hope. Guess what? You can do it, too.
KB xo
P.S. Have you taken the Pledge yet? Pledge to eliminate stigma surrounding mental illness and challenge misconceptions: Partners for Mental Health
P.P.S. Thank you, Tara, for my beautiful new tea cup & saucer. You inspired my own new tea ritual!


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