“Stuck in a moment… and you can’t get out of it.” – U2
So I wrote this whole book about my life story that was vulnerable as sh*t. The moment it came time to publish it – I literally sh*t my pants. Well not literally, but as close to the feeling of that expression as possible. My thought was, “If I publish this, the whole world, anyone who wishes, will be able to see me completely naked. In ways that even when you’re naked you’re not seen!” Hello. That’s pretty freakin’ naked!
Anyways. The thing that got me out of that nakedness-fearing-ditch – was the thought that if this book made even one person feel not alone, or feel braver, or led to a more fulfilling life for them – then even if everyone else hated it and judged me – it would have been worth it. So, I did a big gulp… like in the cartoons …. with sweat beads on my forehead and all – and hit publish.
Mic pick back up….
The biggest surprise of all happened in the moment immediately after that. I felt COMPLETELY FREE. FREE FREE FREE. Like a panty liner wrapper blowing in the wind. Freer than I’d ever felt before.
Why? Bc I had forever, and in a way I could never take back, told the truth about who I was – the good the bad and the very very bulldog ugly. And – I’d freed myself from having to pretend to be something I wasn’t – bc I actually couldn’t anymore. What .. a .. woosah!!! Like a panda bear taking off some tight pants and officially letting that belly go! Ya man.
Then. Only up from there. Everything just started to happen so magically. It was surreal! People really connected with the book’s message. The press rallied behind it. I got unbelievable, soul touching reviews on amazon. People, both ones I knew but had no idea what they were going through, as well as complete strangers, we’re reaching out to me every day to say how much the book was touching them, making them feel unalone, and inspired and brave. Every single day.
It was just such a high. It was like the creation of the book it self was fulfilling enough, and then every day it was more and more and more fulfilling, seeing the positive impact it had on people.
“Oh boy” I thought. This is just too good to be true. And aware that life is yin and yang, high ups and low downs – a balance – I was like “Shit – if this is so high – how bad is the come down gonna be!” But I decided to just enjoy the moment anyways while it was there, and deal with the low later when it would come. And that I did. And that it did.
One day a few months later – when the momentum had peaked, it started coming back down slowly. And there I was spiraling down. Initially caused by an incident with an old friend who was going through something difficult. Then made worse by hitting a road block with my work. And finally, the winter took an aggressive turn, and it was just like ‘Bodoof boof boof’ – drop – done.
Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to – Seasonal Affective Disorder. Otherwise known, very sadly, as SAD. Happens mostly to people who grow up in a warm climate that move to a cold country. Their body can’t adjust to the lack of sunlight and fresh air and the confinement, and so they become physically depressed because of the hormonal imbalance this circumstance causes.
It was happening. It had happened to me once in college and I had to drop out for a semester and make up the classes in summer. So once it started happening, I knew exactly what it was.
So this time it was different.
Let me first be clear. The depression I refer to in my book was depression that was caused by my mind and my natural biochemical predisposition. It was just depression – no reason to be sad – not caused by external circumstances – just depressed as hell for no good reason – biological thing.
So now that I learned how to handle THAT – surprise surprise – life was like, “Yeah man, you think you know whattagwan. Tek snow. Tek lock up inna house. Tek farin without family,” – life has a Jamaican accent apparently.
Sigh. One hurdle jumped – now another.
I pulled out all my tools for dealing with depression. Exercise, no processed food, good sleep, meditation, keeping my energy field clear. And it definitely padded it, making it not as bad as it could be, but it still felt really really sh*tty. And it became exhausting continuously trying to keep it at bay.
One night in trying to explain this to Lasse, my fiancé, I said, “It feels like you’re constantly treading water trying to stay afloat, desperately trying every day not to sink.”
The next day I did my special workout class that usually motivates me. And I had a strange discord with my body and my mind. Mentally, I was strong – I wanted to fight, but physically my body just couldn’t get down with it.
It was so strange. Usually, when I start to get depressed, I can recognize what’s happening and use my mind to counteract it. I’ve been doing that for 8 years now with regular depression. But when it’s something like Seasonal Affective Disorder, related to an external situation having a physical effect on you, no matter what’s in your mind, your body is separate from it and you can feel powerless.
Anyways, I wanted to say all this because… there was a moment I felt to go under the radar until I felt better. Sort of sweep this under the rug. After all, how can I talk about depression when it still affects me occasionally in new and different ways. But then, that would take back that freedom – and nothing is more important to me. The freedom I gained when I published my book and was honest about ‘me’ with nothing to hide. So here it is. And as usual, like all my chapters, talks, blog posts, here are five action steps for anyone going through something similar.
- Recognize what’s happening to you. When you realize it’s caused by an outside circumstance, you don’t buy into the stuff your mind makes up. Stuff like, it’s your partner’s fault, or your bosses fault, etc etc. When you realize it’s external, though you will still feel it, it has much less power over you.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about it. I was holding it all in, trying to be super brave, not wanting Lasse (or even you) to see this ‘pathetic’ side of me. Then one night, I could not help it and I just started crying crying crying uncontrollably. Instead of looking at me like I was a lunatic, it brought Lasse and I closer and he finally felt compassion for something he will never understand. And funny enough, right after I cried I felt so much better (crying releases the hormones – which is biologically why we’ve evolved to cry). And it’s been on the up and up mend, since then. Yes, ladies, crying can be productive! But please proceed with caution lol.
- Do what works. Exercise, diet, meditation etc etc has been on overdrive. And yes still it has not completely obliterated it. But it’s kept it at a controllable and bearable level until it passes. Which it will.
- Stop thinking just do. There are times when you’re depressed when your body wants to just lay in bed and do nothing. And of course, this makes the depression worse. But when you’re depressed, it’s hard to explain, but the desire to do that is so powerful it makes sense in that moment. I knew I needed to go outside in the cold, and force myself to walk for half hour, to get Vitamin D from the sun in the morning. But every time I thought about it I couldn’t get myself to do it. Finally, I decided to just put on my coat and get to the front door and not deliberate about if I should or shouldn’t – once I got to the front door I could come back up if I wanted.That didn’t seem so bad or hard. And whenever I did get there, walking outside was easier, and the much-needed sunlight helped a lot with keeping things tolerable.
- Remember – Everything will pass – in time. When you’re depressed you can feel like you don’t remember when you were happy or if you’ll ever be happy again. It sounds silly to think of when you’re not, or if you’ve never experienced it, but the chemicals play this trick on your mind. Just keep remembering that that’s just one of those crazy types of thoughts you have when you’re depressed, and reassure yourself that “this too WILL pass.”
Finally – On my birthday – I was feeling down having been going through this for a little while, and not having any friends or family around. About 2 pm on that day I was super down. And then two things happened:
- I went through my Facebook messages and saw the sweet love notes everyone had sent me. And that love from everyone really was like medicine – it had a physiologically healing effect on me.
- A reader reached out to me at exactly the same time, sharing a really touching story about the struggle she had been going through, and the things she did based on some suggestions in the book, and how she was totally reinvigorated and excited and empowered about exploring life again. I could feel her transition from hopeless to enthusiastic. I could see her re-writing her wonderful future. And that just f@cking made my WHOLE day.
So I guess the reason I wanted to share these two things is that a lot of times, we look to our partners or our immediate family for joy when we’re down. And this can become exhausting for them – they’re people too and they do the best they can. But don’t forget to look for joy in unexpected places, then you have so much more joy to find!
Photo by @Claremarienyc
And now finally finally! I wanted to share a sort of, fun, pseudo-masochistic indulgence which sometimes makes me feel better. I play “Stuck in a Moment” by U2 super loud, and sing the song like it’s my happy self-singing it to my SAD self. Then I start kind of jamming out to giving myself a passive aggressive pep talk lol – try it – the song is super fun!
HAPPY S.A.D! Whatever that means. It seemed strangely appropriate. Lots and lots and lots of hugs.
So let’s help each other yeah yeah yeah! One and two have lots of fuu-uun! – Leave a note in the comments below if you have any questions. OR! If you have tips for dealing with S.A.D effectively, we would LOVE to hear them below! – Seriously! Don’t hesitate or over think – just write it below – now :). <3
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