Life Navigating Through My Bout of Depression

jenniferlouden_blog_8.28.14

I’m interrupting this wonderful run of brilliant women talking about how they shape their lives to tell you I’m depressed.

At first I was afraid that telling you this would make you not take my course because who wants to learn from a depressed teacher?

But then I thought, “I stand for living your truer life – and that means your whole life. That means all of it, the shit and the swamp, the love and the golden sunset, the 3am staring at the ceiling and the trudging down the stairs at memory care, sobbing. True means whole, means owning it, working it, all of it.”

So here I am telling you I’m depressed. Low-grade ick, just a shallow swamp that I can get out of in a week or so. Health stuff triggers it, then I feed the “black dog” with guilt over not liking my mom, fear over my new writing project flopping, and toxic comparisons to more successful friends.

I used to feel such shame for being depressed. I used to tell myself, “Why are you depressed? You have an incredible life. You could live in Mosul or Gaza, for God’s sake, buck up.” Under that, I would think, “What kind of self-help teacher are you if you’re depressed?” Even writing that makes me want to scream. That kind of self-talk not only made my depression worse, it made me believe I needed to be somebody I’m not.

What I do now, instead, when I find myself blue?

  • I make friends with my mood. Not let it run me or rule me or send me to bed, if I can help it, but also not make it wrong. I separate the mood from myself. I am not a bad person because I’m depressed. I will talk more about this if you want on the call on September 17th.
  • I lower my standards and tell myself, “Honey, that’s enough for today. It’s going to be alright.”
  • I cling to COE’s and make clear plans for each day.
  • I also “begin again” my morning rituals of yoga and prayer (instead of meditation as meditation is not the best choice for me when I’m depressed), then breakfast and writing first thing. But I make the amount of time I do these things very small until I feel better. That way I’m steadfast but also realistic.
  • I stay away from social media except to do nice things for people – spread the word about a program, offer a dash of support, wish someone a happy birthday.
  • I re-read the section about Story in The Life Organizer (my favorite section) and listen to what I’m telling myself about my mom, my project, my friends. Listening, not trying to change anything, then gently asking, “Is this story generating the future I want?”
  • I don’t try and hide how I’m feeling from Bob like I used to because I was ashamed. He doesn’t try to fix me, he simply loves me, and that helps so, so much.
  • I move my body any way I can. No judgment for not getting to yoga; if a slow walk in the woods is what I can do, fantastic.
  • I reach out to trusted friends and do exactly what I’m doing here by saying, “I’m depressed. Nothing serious. Can you just chat for a few minutes, I need to feel connected.”

I’m a little depressed right now and I’m proud as hell to say I no longer believe the story that being depressed means I’m not living my truer life or that I’m not a really good, soulful teacher that can help you shape your truer life, too.

Thanks for listening. Thanks for being in my world. It would help me to say that I love you.

Jen

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