November 2, 2017
Take a chill pill…
Isn’t that a pretty saying? So many people need to take meds to regulate their hormones and keep them in their jobs, keep them from alienating everyone they love, and to help them just be able to breath when surrounded by other people. It is such a common thing that it should be considered the norm anymore. There is still such a stigma surrounding mental health. Even with the suicide rate climbing and the divorce rate skyrocketing.
I was prescribed my first antidepressants at 19, after I made plans to kill myself.Thankfully those plans were thwarted by my poor Mama. Being a person that feels everything deeply, that wants to “fix” the things that hurt those I love…this has always been a struggle for me. They throw around the word “Empath” these days like a trend, everyone thinks they are one. If as many people were that think they are, the world would be a lot more loving. It has taken me almost 40 years to learn how to interpret this gift… this gift that as often has felt like a curse.
I stopped taking meds. I don’t suggest this for everyone and I’m not sure it will be forever. I had to stop numbing it though. The pain, the fear, even the joy was faded somehow. When I did this, I was able to see that I had surrounded myself with individuals that wanted me to step in and save them. The thing is, it became incredibly clear that there was this unhealthy dynamic. The harder I fought to save them, the more I drowned. It may have even been my own fault. Someone once said that you train others how to treat you by what behavior and treatment you accept. I most certainly set it up poorly. I had to ask tough questions. Was I surrounding myself with these people so I could feel better about my life? To be a sort of Martyr? Did I want them to get better, to succeed in life?
Thankfully, after some tough self love I was able to say honestly that my motives were good. My intentions were honorable. Except with one person, and here’s the kicker…there was no getting away from her. I am that person. I allowed myself to speak such crap about what I deserve. When I struggled, I was the first one there with a glare and judgmental word. When I was bleeding and weeping, instead of showing myself grace I decided I needed to berate myself on how weak I was, how unworthy of love. As I am sure it is clear to all that know me, I would never treat another hurting person so abhorrently. This had to change. I let the wrong voices be my inner dialog. I gave power to the wrong side.
Nobody changes in a day…a week…even a year. This journey is lifelong. I have never been so thankful for that as I was when I woke up from this self mutilating fog. I learned long ago that big changes are all about the little daily actions we take to disrupt our patterns. So what am I doing?
I will just name a few this time, more will come in future posts. The first thing I did was stop myself every single time I went to say something negative about myself. No more flippant comments about the size of my stomach or how “dumb” I was to trust the wrong person. I would look in the mirror and find just ONE thing that I liked that day. Did my lipstick look nice? Were my eyes a pretty green color after I cried? Anything, even if it is about your clothes or shoes or makeup….at first. Anything that builds up your confidence in how you look. Then I started to notice the way my eyes lit up when I was thinking about someone I loved, the way my smile looked diabolical when I had a joke to tell. I started complimenting people I came into contact with. Not empty compliments for the sake of giving them, but ones that showed I saw them and they are valued. Eventually I started to notice that other people received me differently. They saw me the way I wanted to see myself.
The second thing I did was find things that made my soul dance, and do them often. Music has always been huge for me. Listening, dancing, singing, playing….all of it. My life is a series of songs, strung together by harmony and dreams ( good and bad). I picked up my guitar and tried learning songs that spoke to me. No fluff.
Being in nature, especially under the stars was another thing.I want to preface this by saying that I am terrified of the dark outside. I am blind as a bat, have no depth perception, and was raised by parents that watched a lot of unsolved mysteries. I am also terrified of water you can’t see the bottom of. But I decided I was going to step out and do something crazy for me. I went out to the lake in the pitch dark and got in the water. I swam under the stars, stars that seemed close enough to reach out and touch. I could hear the water lapping against the shore, the blood pulsating in my ears, my breath as it left my body and the deep sigh of contentment that came when I realized I am just me. Just this tiny speck in the universe, but made of stardust from these majestic glowing stars I was swimming under. Nothing I did or didn’t do in those nights swimming was going to make or break my life. I am allowed to stop, to step off the crazy train that is my life every once in awhile and just exist. The chores, the job, the parenting…they are still there in the morning. And when I am more relaxed, I am better able to tackle the bigger problems. I am a kinder person to those I love and people I come into contact with.
There are a lot of Goliath’s in this world. We can expect that the next difficulty can and probably is around the next corner.But we don’t have to let negative thoughts rule our lives. We don’t have to give away our power, our health to the stress. Every single one of us can do only so much. The rest is out of our hands. We can choose to live lives of kindness, to ourselves and others. When we are knocked down, we can choose to get back up.