I had an interesting discussion with one of my mentors recently. I told him I have been really sad lately and unable to move past the fact that for over 4 years I am still in the same place, still healing from more back surgeries, still disabled and not able to fully care for myself. I see my friends, family members, people from my past doing amazing things with their life and I’m still here.
He said to me:
"You say you are sad but are you actually depressed?"
"Whats the difference?"
He said the difference between being sad and being depressed is when you are sad you let the emotions out, cry, scream, and truly grieve but then you move on.
Being depressed means you are stuck.
It means your soul, your subconscious, the inner you is on strike. Your brain refuses to deal with the real problem and you just shut down; eat, drink, throw yourself into other people's problems, watch marathons on Netflix, anything that allows you to dis-attach from the reality that you are running from.
He went on to say Have you ever really allowed yourself to be sad? Have you ever given yourself time to grieve the things, people, and activities that you can no longer do, see, or participate in? Or do you just shove it down, carry on, and hope that some day you will get better and just go back to the “way things use to be”?
It took me a few minutes to process the question. Am I holding on to this pain? What would letting it go look like? How do I even do that?
I felt like he was telling me that nothing was ever going to be the same again, that I couldn't go back, that I may not ever be the "same" and that’s not what I wanted to hear. I want to go back, be healthy, and live my life!
But the more we spoke the more I realized that he might be right. I am just waiting for things to miraculously change and go back to the good old times, which in reality no longer exist. Not because good times can’t be had in the future, but more so because we can’t recreate the past no matter how hard we try.
I took a step back from my own view and observed that I do just shove things down and put on my tough girl face. I mean I can’t be sad about these things when there are so many other people worse off, or less fortunate than I am, and I am not going to be like this forever?!? Right? Right? (insert desperate voice here).
Maybe I am depressed.
I realized that I am stuck and the only person that is going to pull me out of this is me.
This set off a chain reaction of realizations:
· No matter how much I want to “go back” it will never be the same as it was.
· No matter how much I compare myself to others it will never change my circumstance.
· No matter how much pain and loneliness I experience it will never go away if I keep shoving it down and not allowing the emotions to process in the way they need to.
We all have pain and sadness but we can’t allow our pride to push the feelings down so much that we do not give them their proper time to be expressed. Our modern day brains tell us “get over it! Move on! You don’t have time to be sad!” but this only pushes us deeper into the hole of depression and staying “stuck”.
Take the time today to look your problem in the face. Allow yourself to truly feel the emotions, and allow them to happen so you can grieve.
Cry, scream, punch a pillow. LET IT OUT!
During this special time make sure to:
· Give yourself lots of extra attention, self care, and self love. Eat really well, go to bed early, take long baths. Show your body lots of love to nurture it through the process.
· Avoid alcohol, drugs, or anything that will make you further detach from the emotions you are processing. You need to feel the raw emotions fully with a clear mind and clear heart. It may be painful to be present but once you train yourself to do this, the process of moving on becomes quicker and life is felt on a much deeper level.
· Do NOT make any major decisions like moving, changing jobs, ending/starting relationships. Your judgement may be cloudy when you are processing heavy emotions so go slow and stay focused on you.
· Journal your emotions. Have some inner dialogue about why this is really bothering you, what is going well in your life, and how you want to move forward.
· Talk to someone outside of your circle. While it is important to share your feelings with the ones you love, make sure that you can share your feelings in a safe place with someone who doesn’t have any emotional connection to the outcome. A mentor, a health coach, a therapist are all great options. Then when you are feeling more balanced about the situation then you can share with others on a deeper level. Just let everyone know you need some “you” time and that should be respected and honored.
· I like to write down all the things involved with what is plaguing me on a piece of paper and then when I address each issues I light it on fire (outside of course in a safe place) and watch it burn. With every amber falling a piece of your pain is burning away with it. Its a very prophetic exercise that I encourage you to try.
If you are finding that no matter what you do the waves of grief are so strong that you can not overcome them alone, please find a grief counselor to work on these emotions with in a safe environment. This is a sign of true bravery to reach out for help when the problems are too large to handle on our own. Never feel guilty for needing help.
The longer we hold to pain, the more it becomes us. Feel the feelings and then let them go. Your heart will be light, your head will be strong, and you body will thank you.