how to connect with depressed friends

I LOVE this TEDx talk about connecting with finds who are depressed. I’ve found so many times that depression is all the more isolating, because friends and family don’t understand what depression really is like to live with or know how to be there for those they care about when they are depressed.

The best times I’ve shared with others while I was depressed were the little moments of quiet companionship and maybe a dark joke. Like Bill says in the video, you can be sad and still be ok. It’s disheartening when you feel like you have to put on a mask in order to be accepted and loved. The thing that is the most comforting when you are depressed is knowing that you are still loved, appreciated, and valued exactly as you are at that moment.

Our culture is obsessed with fake happiness, and the truth is that life is messy and hard and sad, and so many other different emotions that we hide, and don’t allow ourselves to experience because we are afraid of not conforming to what society tells us are acceptable emotions to feel and display. The amazing thing about feeling down is that you appreciate feeling good so much more. The lower you go, the higher you can go.  Once I started to honor the darkness, and the light, I realized how integral and beautiful they each are to our growth.

I heard a quote the other day that was talking about how we could never see the beauty of the night sky and the stars unless the moon was dark, because if the moon was always full we would only know the light. I finally realized after watching this video that the gold in the pain of depression for me, is that it causes me to slow down and practice gratitude for all the small, beautiful things that life is full of. Depression has helped me to become more compassionate towards others. It has also taught me how beautiful the impermanence of life is. Death and life are the same. Without one the other wouldn’t be possible.

complicated

When did being yourself get so complicated? At what age did we first start changing ourselves because we realized that by doing it we made others happy? And we could get our needs for attention or whatever else it was met. When I think about this it makes me really sad, because I wish I could go back in time and find out who I was before I started to make everyone else happy. I understand that this was necessary, in many ways, for survival and all of that, but why is it still necessary now?

Have you ever noticed how much of yourself you hide from certain people (even the ones you love and trust the most), or what behaviors you change to make others comfortable. I’m all for creating spaces of harmony and respect but I don’t want to live by some script created that says is it’s the only way for me to get what I want: a paycheck, relationship, whatever it is. People are complicated. We’re like chameleons, constantly shifting to match our surroundings… but when does that start to drown out who we really are and what we really want?

The thing is, people don’t want you to tell the the truth about who you are. They can’t handle it. They want to put you in a cute little box and know exactly how you will behave in each situation. It’s scary to be unpredictable. They can’t protect themselves from possible hurt if they don’t know how you are going to behave. But god, everyone takes everything so seriously. And I mean don’t get me wrong, I do too, but I’ve been realizing more and more that every single thing each person (myself included) does is completely about them. And I’m tired of being responsible for other people’s emotions – that’s not my job.

I do my best to be honest and kind, but sometimes we activate old wounds in each other. And that’s good! Because how could we ever hope to heal them if we don’t bring them up to the surface for a good inspection. Healing is a painful process.

I guess my whole point of rambling this much is that I just want to live my life! I’m trying my very best to be sensitive and kind to others, but I feel so weighed down by their expectations of who and what they think I should be and the emotional labor they expect me to do for them. I have my own wounds I need to heal. I can’t tiptoe around everyone else.

And I also need to work on my gratitude. It’s so easy to forget how much you have and to always live in a state of scarcity. It’s crazy how when I have the least amount of material things I am always the happiest, because I am grateful for every. little. thing. The bird I just saw fly by, the buds forming on the trees, that my car has enough gas to get where I need to go! It’s taken a long time to learn, but I’m slowly figuring out that abundance really is a state you can live in, no matter your material possessions. The more material possessions I acquire the more scarcity I see. I guess I’m scared of losing it all. But when you don’t have much to lose (materially) you start to realize just how full of beauty and love and support the world is.

The past few months have been really rough financially for me. I haven’t paid my phone bill, car payment, car insurance, credit card payment… you get it. And today I was almost out of gas… so I woke up this morning and started catastrophizing and going deeper and deeper into all of the fears I have about money and never having enough and how will I feed us or take my son to school… imagining the worst of the worst happening. But then I realized those were all just stories I was telling myself. None of it had actually happened, and might never. So I did a quick 5,4,3,2,1 and decided to meditate and clear my mind.

I remembered all of the incredible things I have to be grateful for: I woke up today, my sweet little boy is safe and healthy, I have food in my kitchen to eat, I slept in my warm comfy bed in my wonderful house, my good health, the birds chirping outside my window, the beautiful mountains… and the list goes on. I am SO lucky! And maybe I’m not rolling in the monies, but I have so many things that are worth living for. And guess what… a few hours later I got an email from my agency about a surprise check 🙂

So as alone and misunderstood and out of control and lost and forgotten I’ve been feeling, I know that is all a facade. I really believe that everything happens for a reason and the Universe has a much better plan than I could ever design in store for me. And it’s my job to go with the flow… and I’ll end up somewhere better than I could have ever dreamed alone!

Anyways, back to my original point: I am releasing my need to be what other people expect of me. I am the same Phobewhether I’m sleeping on the street or in a mansion. Whatever material things surround me don’t define who I am. And whether I have all the monies or none of them, I am going to live and love the life I have. I’m letting go of all the responsibility I’ve been carrying around for other people and all the healing I’ve been trying to do for them. That’s their job!

I want to be around people who are committed to growth and taking responsibility for themselves. Who encourage me to change and grow and not live by the rules, but to create my own. People who live their dreams at any cost and push me into doing more than I ever thought I could. I want to be one of those people too… so I’m practicing humility and self awareness and taking responsibility for all of me.

grateful. 

I’m a high stress individual. I worry about literally everything. I even worry about how much I worry. I think it’s something I learned from my Mom. While I was growing up I could never understand why she was so stressed all the time, but now that I’m a single mom too I totally get it. There are a lot of things to worry about! But I’m realizing more and more that there doesn’t have to be. 

Most of the things I stress about don’t ever happen. And even when they do, they are never as bad as I imagined them to be. I read some really great books this winter (“Loving What Is” by Byron Katie & “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle) that helped me understand the root of my anxiety. It comes from me never being fully present and experiencing what is happening Now. At first I was skeptical that by accepting things exactly as they were it meant that I was complacent and unable to change situations I wasn’t happy with, but it’s the exact opposite! 

After getting really honest with myself about my life purpose and what makes me happy I realized that all of my suffering is self created. Life is constantly bringing me exactly what I ask for and what I need the most. Most of the time it just doesn’t look how I envisioned it to lol. So after months of struggling and losing -hard- I decided to give in. I took inventory of my life and realized how extremely lucky I am. 

Here are some things in the top of my list:

I know every mom says it, but I really do have the most amazing little boy ever. He has changed my life in so many ways and teaches me how to love unconditionally. 

Also I have the opportunity to model quite often. I’ve been taking this for granted a lot lately and after coming back from LA, I have a fresh appreciation for my wonderful agency (TMG) and all the hard work they put into me having a successful career. 

AND I am very blessed to work for such a funny and understanding boss up to my ears in beautiful flowers all day! 

When I started to make a list of the things I’m grateful for I realized I could go on forever. Every day the Universe reminds me that I haven’t been forgotten and I am always well taken care of. I’m learning to welcome things falling apart knowing it’s so that something greater can come into place. The world isn’t out to get me (like I thought) but is in fact rearranging reality to match my dream life. 

I know that the future holds fulfillment of all my dreams but the most important thing to remember is that the only way for that to happen is valuing the moment Now. All we have is Now and I’m doing my best to make the most of it! 

What are ways you practice gratitude?