Khalil Gibran and Healing

Khalil GibranOut of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. —- Khalil Gibran

I have always resonated with Khalil Gibran’s words. This quote helps me get through the darkest days that I have while I continue to heal and forgive.

Most days I am happy; I have learned to forgive those who have harmed me, whether physically or emotionally.  By forgiving them I do not condone their actions, but I allow it to not affect me as much.  I have found it is impossible to hate or be angry with someone you have forgiven. Forgiveness allows the light of happiness to enter your soul.

Just because I am mostly happy, this doesn’t mean the wounds are not there, and that my soul is not pock-marked with scars like the moon is.  I’ve weathered too many emotional meteor showers for my soul’s skin to be smooth and glossy. But like the moon, I reflect the light of the healing. There is the dark side of my moon, the side very few people see when they look at my smiling face. That is a big reason why I started writing this blog — to share the dark side so others could realize that even someone who seemingly ‘has it all’….a great marriage, owns a business, owns a home, has lots of friends —- can be silently struggling behind the smiling face and big smile.

Going into nature helps me heal. www.HealingJourneyBlog.com

Going into nature helps me heal. www.HealingJourneyBlog.com

I seem to write best at 3 to 4 AM. Perhaps my ego is still sleeping and the words can flow out of me faster and easier than when I sit down at an appointed time to write.

I write because I must.  I write to be a witness to life.  I write to help you with your journey.  I am always hopeful that my words help you overcome your own struggles, give you courage to explore the dark places, allow you to cry, to grieve, to mend.

You are stronger than you think you are.  Your soul may be seared with scars as the amazing Khalil Gibran says.

Much like these Pioneer Trail ruts are still here, my scars will always be there. But as with this field, beauty can cover the scars

Much like these Pioneer Trail ruts that were created over 100 years ago are still here, my scars will always be there. But as with this field, beauty can cover the scars

I will never be a woman who was not emotionally and physically abused by both her mother and her father.  I will never be someone who had a happy childhood. I will never be a child who wasn’t afraid and did her best to be good, fit in, and be invisible.  The things that happened to me are a part of my history and will always taint my perspective. But I have learned to remove some of the filters my family placed upon my vision and see life as the wondrous and beautiful thing it is.

I have been reading a book by Cheryl Richardson The Unmistakable Touch of Grace. Just as I am writing this I realize that Grace is what led me to Khalil Gibran. I was given a wedding planning book and in the suggestions for vows was a passage from Khalil Gibran’s book The Prophet on marriage. I immediately read The Prophet and was profoundly affected by this book.  Khalil Gibran’s words have always helped me. Now it’s Your Turn! Tell me how Khalil Gibran’s words resonate with you.

Depression or A Yellow Pill Day

Today was a yellow pill day.  Before I opened my eyes I knew I was already on edge.  These days are triggered by hormonal changes and by fluctuations in my serotonin level. 

My depression is normally controlled by my daily Wellbutrin, but there are days like today where the monster inside my head is rattling the bars of her cage.  I’ve blogged about this before http://www.healingjourneyblog.com/2014/04/20/lost-day/. An event doesn’t trigger it.  I just wake up and my depression is roaring in anger.

Some days I’m not aware of my unusual depression until something pisses me off.  It could be something as simple as a can opener not working or Ernie innocently teasing me.  I can feel the rage bubble up and burst through my emotional fences and I feel hot tears threatening.  My throat closes and my heart races.  I tremble.

Stupid little inconsequential things throw me into an emotional whirlwind worthy of the cartoon Tasmanian Devil.  I hate myself on days like this. My depression takes over my personality and I am not fit for human consumption.  I lose the entire day waiting for the rage to pass.  I can feel the anger trembling through my body, coursing through my veins.

I frighten my dogs and irritate Ernie on these depression breakthrough days.  The only thing to do is quarantine myself and wait for the day to pass.  The extra yellow pill I have been given, Clonazepam, smooths the frayed edges enough that I can be at home alone safely and let the day pass.

My 3 fur-children, from L--- LeeLee. Molly and Maggie

My 3 fur-children, from L— LeeLee. Molly and Maggie

There was a period a few years ago when my anti-depressants weren’t working and my psychiatrist turned me into a human guinea pig in his efforts to help me.  I tried every type of anti-depressant, finally setting on the yellow clonazepam for daytimes and the white Atarax for night.  I can still function and drive and talk to people on the clonazepam.  The Atarax knocks me down. It’s what I use for a sleeping pill on those nights when my ever-thinking brain refuses to shut down.

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My beloved Ernie

My anti-depressants usually do a solid job of controlling my anger and depression.  Luckily days like this don’t happen as often as they used to before I took anti-depressants. Also I have a career where I have time flexibility and can take whatever time I need to heal.

Also, I have gone through enough days like this to know that “This too shall pass.”  Like Scarlett O’Hara, I know that “Tomorrow WILL be better day.”

One kind of new beginning, one with its own risks and rewards

One kind of new beginning, one with its own risks and rewards

 

A Lost Day

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Today was a lost day. I woke up trembling; sad for no reason.  I wasn’t in control of my emotions. My brain chemical imbalance had taken over and there was no stopping the tears, anguish and feelings of helplessness and rage. My breakthrough depression had arrived and no amount of meds was going to control it.

I tried anyway, desperately macking down both my bupropion and clonazepam.  Perhaps a shower and getting ready for work would work. What could I do for distraction? Maybe endless games of spider solitaire or working on my upcoming photography exhibit. Anything to stop this galloping pain. Too late. It was already upon me. I curled into a fetal ball. Waves of sadness rushed over me. Tears oozed out of my eyes. Sadness engulfed me. I got to my extra meds too late. I would just have to ride out the storm.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cried endlessly, full of unreasoning sadness. I mentally berated myself. I am a loser. I’m too fat, too old, too stupid, too whatever. It didn’t matter— I’d never measure up. Who was I trying to kid? Everybody knows what a loser I am. This is the way my inner voice beats me up. There’s a part of me that isn’t listening. It’s the part of me that has braved this storm before, has survived the endless tempests. Deep inside myself I know that this will pass.  I just need to be strong enough to last through it. I think of curt cobain and any wine house and know the pain they were going through and how it finally engulfed them. I’m one of the fortunate ones. I’ve survived and I know from bitter experience just how this is going to go. I’m going to lose today. Today is a throw away day.

Ernie understands as well. He kisses the back of my neck…one of my vulnerable spots, and tells me he loves me and he’s sorry I’m going to go through this today. He jokes with me in an attempt to distract me and coax a smile from me with some silly story about the Dodgers. I look at him; this man who has stood beside me through some horrible times and think of how much I love him and how without him and his unconditional love I probably would not still be on this earth.

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He leaves for the office. It’s payday and my staff is waiting. I know he wishes to stay with me but he knows my agents need to be paid and I need to be alone. He trusts me not to do anything stupid. Ernie and I understand this too will pass. I spend the day trying to just get by. I don’t stop the tears. I just let them ooze out of me. I have learned that they need to fall; they carry catharsis and healing inside of them. They will be salty and slightly bitter today as they purge pain from me. I know I just need to get through today. I need to let the chemical imbalance in my brain sort itself out. I know that no amount of drugs food or alcohol will heal me.  At best I have learned to manage my depression. I’ve survived and know to just let this pain run its course. I know that it does have an end. I know too that it will come again and I will again lose a day of my life. But …more importantly … I will not lose my entire life. Just a day here and there. I accept that  as payment for the remaining days I have that are filled with joy. There are others who suffer from worse types of depression such as bi-polar or schizophrenia, I now only deal with this type of pain on occasion.  It used to consume me. This knowledge is an enormous gift.

I decided to put something happy here, the retreat Ernie created for me

I decided to put something happy here, the retreat Ernie created for me

I have been asked recently if my employees know about these mental shit storms or do I hide it. Oh, they know. I will not hide this anymore. They know. They care about me anyway and text me through the day. They may not understand it but they accept it. I cannot lie about this. I need them to help protect me and they thus must know. Depression has such a horrible stigma to it. But I have faith that by showing how happy and positive I am the other days of the month they will understand that this is something out of my control. If they judge if let it be with kindness and understanding and knowledge not fear.   All photos are original and the property of the author.  Permission to use is granted if you reference www.HealingJourneyBlog.com in the photo credit.

What Depression Feels Like

Today I woke up depressed.  It’s not one of my angry-depression days, it’s one of my ennui-depression days. People talk about ” feeling depressed”, but I thought today I would talk about what it actually feels like for me, in the hope that it might help you with someone who is depressed or your own situation.

It’s not sadness, although that is a component to it.

It’s not hopelessness, although that too is a piece of the puzzle.

It’s not boredom, although in a way it sometimes feels like that.

Dejection plays a role —- I’m not worthy, I’m a nobody, I’m a failure.

Angst is part of it, a feeling of inner turmoil.

The closest I have ever come to a word that truly describes depression is Weltschmerz, which in German roughly translates to the psychological pain caused by sadness that can occur when realizing that someone’s own weaknesses are caused by the inappropriateness and cruelty of the world and (physical and social) circumstances (Thank you Wikipedia).

A “What’s the point” feeling comes over me.  I don’t want to go to my business, I don’t want to talk to people, I just don’t care about anything.  I want to curl into a little ball in my bed and cry and bemoan my life—which is actually a good life—-and think about what a pathetic loser I am. I know, those of you who have read my other work are sitting there going, Huh? But that’s what it feels like.  Utter pointlessness.  Existential angst. What is the point, what is the point, what is the point, why bother? Who cares?  Nothing is that important in the world, it doesn’t matter what I do, we are all going to die.

Now, I have done enough therapy and reading and releasing to know that this is just a chemical imbalance in my brain, that the emotions will pass, but it makes the day ahead of me difficult, to say the least.

Now, everyone can suffer from a case of the doldrums or a temporary depression brought on by life circumstances.  Divorce, job loss, death, financial bankruptcy—those things can all trigger a depressive state, but I’m not talking about that.  I’m not talking about a situational depression.  I’m talking about a chemical imbalance in the head that attacks at inopportune moments and has no basis in ‘reality’.

You can’t explain it to anyone who doesn’t suffer from it.  The closest example I can give is migraine headaches.  I was recently sitting in front of a coffee shop and a gal and her friend walked in, and one complained “I have such a horrible migraine!” as she walked rapidly by me…no sunglasses, nothing.  Now, I have suffered from migraines, and from the outside looking in, she sure as heck wasn’t suffering from a migraine.  A migraine is a debilitating headache accompanied by nausea, dizziness, a painful reaction to light and sound….you pretty much have to lie down in a dark, quiet room until it passes.  You are not walking around in broad daylight.  She probably had a wicked horrible headache, but trust me, she didn’t have a migraine.  So you can go through a depression without actually being clinically depressed.  It’s a state of being versus a state of mind.

The Mayo clinic states: More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply “snap out” of. Depression is a chronic illness that usually requires long-term treatment, like diabetes or high blood pressure. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or other treatment.

There are no words to dig you out of it, no pep talk available.  You just…have…to…get…through…it.  Period, end of story.  For those of you who love those of us who suffer this way, if we ask you to leave us alone, leave us alone (as long as we’re not suicidal).  If we want a hug, give us a hug.  If we snap at you, forgive us.  If we planned something and cancel at the last minute, give us forgiveness.

This doesn’t mean let us take advantage of you (see enabler) but give us our space and let us know you love us.  It is up to us to do the work to get through it.