Wednesday, January 08, 2014
I spent a very large part of my life with depression. Not the come and go kind, but the day by day constant companion kind when the world is just a grey, foggy, aching emptiness and time crawls by from one agonizing second to the next. I had everything outwardly. Husband, family, home, my own business - but I felt lost and empty and scared on the inside as if I was at the bottom of a very deep pit.
My life did not change suddenly but very slowly over the last 50 years. I could think of very little to be grateful for at that time and did not feel 'gratitude' at all.
One of the first things that helped was realising and accepting that I did have depression and that if anything was going to change I had to face that fact and stop running away from it with alcohol, sex, food, gambling - all things which gave a fleeting but short lived release, followed
by feeling even worse if that were possible. which ensured that I had to repeat the behaviour.
I started therapy and began to write daily. It was suggested I just sit down and write anything. If I couldn't think of anything then just write that. Thoughts come into our heads all the time
and writing them down where I could see them was the first step. The most important thing is absolutely no censorship. Once I got going I discovered how much pain and rage were all bottled up inside me. I found the courage to realise I hated God if there was one and I was sure I was going to Hell for even thinking it let alone writing down.
This is one of the things, the daily and often nightly writing when I couldn't sleep that began to help change my life. I began to find out who I really was, not who I thought I was, or wanted other people to think I was. I stopped pretending to be someone I wasn't - which I found out is quite different from consciously 'acting as if' in order to work into new behaviour patterns.
There was a lot I had to work through before I even began to feel a smidgen of gratitude for anything at all.
We are never alone once we ask for help. I believe that our heartfelt desire for the answer put out there into the Universe, to God, to whatever you personally believe there is, even if you don't believe in anything at all. That desperate desire from within seems to set in motion everything we need for our own particular journey.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry - all forms of fear - are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
Sunday, December 15, 2013
I am wishing you all the blessings of peace and joy that so many of us do not find at this time of year. My first sober Christmas I spent most of the time in bed trying not to think about what everyone else was doing. All my pre AA friends were out partying and I was alone, cold on the inside as well as the outside, scared and so lonely and miserable. For me emotional recovery took a long, long time. I used to be amazed at how others seemed to be bright eyed and bushy tailed in a few weeks, or months and finally even years in the AA programme. My progress has been very slow and painful, but these days I am rejoicing for everything I have been through. I would not change what I am finding now for anything else.
Why it takes some of us so long to let go is a mystery. Perhaps I was so used to thinking that the only way to get anywhere was to fight for it, that I was just unable to surrender. The saving grace for me over those early years is that I did not pick up a drink. I so wanted to 'make things work' and be the sort of person I wanted to be rather than look at who I was and accept that and learn to live within those limits.
I wanted to be healed and travel the world telling others about the wonders and power of God. I wanted to be like those, whose names are on everyone's lips. I wanted to be special.
I discovered what others can do is of no benefit to me - or anyone else. What seems to bring peace is being who I am and finding a way through the darkness that leads to peace and freedom.
I know this is something I say many times but it is the very defects themselves (many of them that I actually thought were my good points) were the very things that were standing in my way. I wanted to be good, I wanted to be spiritual, I wanted to be worthy of God's love.
That old saying about "standing in our own light" applied to me 100% but I could not see it. I could not let go of who I wanted to be and accept who I was. And yet it was at that very point, when I reached it, that things started to improve. Being a failure in everything I held most dear was the point at which I surrendered - long after accepting I was an alcoholic, I reached the place of acceptance of who I was and became willing to let go of trying to make myself be someone else.
Learning to love and accept who I was turned out to be the beginning of learning how to love, accept and forgive. I spent so long trying to be 'good' and 'do the right thing'. I am not saying all that time was wasted because it led me to where I needed to be. I can never make myself good enough. The very best I can do is surrender to a Power Greater than myself and accept what is.
Thankfully pain and suffering finally led me to that place of surrender and forced me to let go.
I accepted and began to love and take care of the lost little me that I was.
These days I never underestimate the power of these two great companions - they can be transformed into the most priceless jewels.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Today I read a story from a friend who is not looking forward to Christmas. Her story is heart warming and personal. I have been there on so many Christmases and I understand how she feels absolutely.
This is for those of us who are alone for whatever reason. For those of us who cannot be with family, or do not have a happy family experience in any case. It is for those of us who are mentally or physically disabled, challenged or abused and are too sad or afraid to tell anyone. It is for those of us who may live alone for any reason whatsoever. To those who may have loved ones who are sick or who have passed away this year, or have died any year in the past. This message is for all the others who I have not mentioned specifically, but who, for whatever reason may find this season so depressing that they feel as if they cannot go on and may even think of ending it all.
There are thousands of people in the world feeling like this at this time of year who dread turning on the TV, going shopping or anywhere at all because the message is a seeming one of happiness and it just emphasizes their own feelings of loneliness, fear, isolation or emptiness.
We are not all great at making new friends no matter what age and it is even more difficult as we grow older. We are not all extroverts to begin with and much as we might like to have friends, just do not seem able to make this happen.
I have spent many Christmases alone and dreading the six weeks when there is nothing decent on TV, because all my favourite programmes stop until the middle of February.
I have felt like the only person who ever felt this way and so miserable because "everyone else" seemed so happy and full of joy.
This in itself is such a misperception. The shops do it to sell cards and goods. The TV and Film companies do it to make money and many families who look happy on the outside are so far from that on the inside. It is often all glitter and tinsel on the outside with not so much heart on the inside.
I am not writing this to spoil the season for those of us who have very happy times at Christmas with family and friends. I am writing it for those who do not look forward to these holidays. I am also not writing from a Christian perspective - but purely from the point of view of how the season can appear to those of us who are unhappy.
I am going to share how I began to adapt to making Christmas a happier time for myself.
First I had to accept that I was alone and that I would most likely be on my own on Christmas Day itself, as well as for the whole six or eight weeks of summer holidays.
Acceptance plays a big part here, because this was the crucial step which changed the way I looked at things.
Once I accepted the fact fully, I became willing to take the next step which was how I could make this time of year less stressful and happy for myself - by myself.
The first year I did this was actually quite fun in the end. I recorded a lot of my favourite programmes and music so that I had them all to hand and could play them over the holidays, things that had nothing to do with Christmas at all. Just the things I loved. I also got books I wanted to read and puzzles I liked to do. I surrounded myself with hobbies and things of interest so that I would be absorbed. I bought all my favourite foods and used my favourite table wear and got a lovely glass to drink my sparkling water. I put flowers on the table. I began to make each day a day in which I learned how to make myself happy.
If you are not as introverted and disabled as I was at that particular time in my life there are many other ways of getting over the Seasonal blues. We can do things for those in need. We can buy or make and wrap presents for sick children, homeless children, and homeless people. We can become involved in any number of situations where we are doing things for others on Christmas Day to give them joy. Or we can focus on just making our own particular family Christmas as happy as possible for everyone else. This does bring joy along with the doing. These are things we can do even if we are feeling very depressed ourselves. I am not saying it is easy, but I am saying it can be done.
All it requires is acceptance that no one is going to make it a happy Christmas for us except ourselves, no matter how much we might wish it were so. I also began buying myself little presents each week and wrapping them at thetime of buying, so that when it came to Christmas I would have pressies to open and enjoy because I had chosen them and long since forgotten what they were.
These are things that have happened and have passed in my life. I actually now quite enjoy the season. I am often mostly alone as the family are away with other family members or on holiday and as I live alone I now enjoy making it a Christmassy place to be. I love the lights and candles and old movies etc. And I put up these things just for myself. I love candle light and fairy lights and seasonal things these days, so I enjoy it - something it never occurred to me I would be able to do if I lived alone. But it makes me happy to know that my family is happy doing what they love. I can give them things that will make them happy and I can be co-operative in what they want to do. If I look at it in this way I can also be happy in what we can share together.
If there is anything you enjoy doing, make the most of it at this time of year. I do remember Christmases when I have been so depressed there was nothing I could even think of that I wanted to do. I know this is a very real feeling - and the only thing that even remotely helped me was to just keep my mind focused on what I could do to make others happy - I did this at that time for self-preservation pure and simple and it did keep me alive long enough to find a way through the depression. Having accepted that killing myself was not an option for me - that is what opened the door to trying to give happiness to others.
Acceptance has played an enormous part in my life. It opens the door to things I would not have considered without it. Suffering seems to lead us ultimately to a cross roads -then we have a choice - I always pray for the willingness to be willing to make the best possible choice for everyone involved.
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