Sunday, 27 April 2014

"Choose Joy"

Hooray!


If you believe the research, it ain't looking good for me. Nope. Not at all.

Studies show that for every major depressive episode that a person experiences in life, the chance of experiencing another grows significantly. In fact, recent research from the Institute for Mental Health Care in the Netherlands shows new factors that influence recurrence such as length of time between episodes. Interestingly, the longer time that elapses between episodes, the higher chance of relapse.

Super. So just when you think you are out of the woods, the darkness can come sweeping back over you. Have I ever mentioned that I have three major depressive episodes under my belt? Super duper.

I think this is something that most people who have experienced chronic, recurring mental illness have come to take as a given: that cumbersome, weighty, dark cloak is never far away. And with that understanding can come a pitfall - we fall into the trap of letting illness define our lives and dictate how we live in a limiting way. Big mistake.

We are not even half way through 2014 and I have lost two people. One was an old school friend, gone well before her time, and the second was just a week ago - my uncle. Incredibly, horribly sad. Both of these losses have served as a wake up call to me, however. They have reminded me of a few things.

First, everyone struggles in life, everyone has something hard to deal with. My uncle had a painful cancer that he fought against until it finally became too much. And, of course, my cousins, aunt, and my dad (his brother) are now experiencing true sadness and loss.

So my 'thing' is a chronic illness that is very likely to take me through another major depressive episode at some point. I am actually OK with that because here's what I have learned: I have the strength to make it through that journey. I can ride out the darkness and pain. I have done it before and I will do it again.

But here's where I am shifting my thinking: in my daily life, in the times between the lows. I can't afford to lose any time to feeling cranky or complaining about things that are just not worth it. It's time to shake things up and practice daily gratitude and joy for the life that I been blessed with, in a much more conscious manner.

I had a dream so big and loud
I jumped so high I touched the clouds

"Best Day of My Life" ~ American Authors

The most valuable lesson is a simple one. Life is too damn short - no matter how long you live. As of today I choose to live each day to the best of my ability. Today I choose to live a life that I will look back on one day with pride. Today I choose joy. What about you?

KB xo

P.S. Not sure what depression is or what it looks like? Please read this from GoodTherapy. org

P.P.S. Here's some musical inspiration by American Authors - Enjoy!

Monday, 21 April 2014

"Progress Not Perfection"

strive for progress.


In my last post I said something that isn't true. I said that I am getting better at managing stress in my life. Wrong.

My body sent me a reminder of this recently - frequent lightheadedness and some heart palpitations thrown in for good measure, just in case I didn't get the hint from the dizziness. Message received, loud and clear.

The diagnosis? Physical symptoms of anxiety. Doctor's orders were to take a week off from work and focus on slowing things down and creating more balance and quiet in my life. And to make sure that I heeded his advice, the universe also threw in a rough bout of the common cold. I had no choice - I was forced to slow it down and focus on my health.

So why do we ignore what we know to be true when it comes to our physical and mental health? Why do we avoid doing what we know is healthy and good for us? With mental illness it is frequently a battle between the negative dialogue of depression (you aren't good enough; work harder - you have to prove yourself) with reality (you have nothing to prove; you are good enough just as you are). Honestly? The negative dialogue often wins. The negative perpetuates a cycle of depression and anxiety.

“Dare to love yourself
as if you were a rainbow
with gold at both ends.” 
~ Aberjhani, The River of Winged Dreams

Here's the real truth: I don't have all the answers. You're shocked, I know (insert sarcasm here). But I learn a little bit more every day and what I glean from my life experiences, I apply to my journey. And what I have learned from this most recent experience is the importance of perspective and what is really important in life.

So here's my pledge to myself:
* I pledge to create pockets of quiet time in my daily work life.
* I pledge to create simplicity and avoid complication.
* I pledge to express my love every chance that I get to the ones who are important to me.
* I pledge to just breathe in and out.

Life is stressful - we can all agree on that, right? At work when I ask someone how they are, I often receive a response of "busy!" My final pledge is to not fall into that trap - I will focus on the positive.

Every day brings new lessons for us. And really, what is the point of life if we don't choose to learn and grow? I shall strive for progress, not perfection. Perfection is boring, anyway.

KB xo

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