Have you ever felt the blues? The sort of blues that creep up on you in an unassuming way until you find yourself in a spiral of gloom for no apparent reason?
The somewhat comforting news is you’re not alone.
There is a melancholic bleakness to life when the blues take hold. Moments of enjoyment dissipate from a general loss of interest, usually accompanied with a state of disconnection and descending mood. And yet with 350 million people worldwide suffering from depression there still seems to be a stigma around talking about it.
I know this firsthand.
I was afraid and even ashamed to speak about my experiences with depression. Until now. Removing the stigma around depression is the reason why I’ve decided to share my personal story about facing it, and how I’m approaching my health and wellbeing.
After dealing with the blues on and off for years without seeking intervention, I’ve taken positive steps to support myself towards living a long, happy and healthy life.
Before I began to write about my experiences with depression, I questioned how I would be perceived. Given my passion for life coaching and dedication to the profession, I’m a high achiever who is driven by helping others to succeed. I love inspiring people to maximise their personal and professional potential. I know how to navigate the negative and champion the positive.
I couldn’t ignore the fear churning inside of me. Would revealing this hurt my career? Would I be judged? Would clients still trust me? I ultimately reasoned none of these fears – while valid considerations – really mattered. They were simply that. Fears. And what’s more important? Fear itself or facing and releasing those fears through unconditional self-love?
I’ve always said fear is the precursor to courage. By taking this vital step to lovingly out myself and reveal, I am living courageously – and honestly. Perhaps it may even inspire others who are experiencing their own personal challenges to do the same.
Yield or rise?
Being a rational, optimistic and generally happy person doesn’t seem to fit with depression. The reality is depression is a complex beast that doesn’t discriminate.
For me, a combination of factors over an extended period of time had swirled into a storm and those black clouds became more frequent rather than passing moments. When the storm hit hardest I had two choices; yield or rise.
I chose to rise but first I had to admit to myself what was going on with me. I then had to be vulnerable and share that to get support. It wasn’t easy.
The irony of all this is not lost on me since in the life coaching profession, coaches are supposedly the epitome of people that are astutely living their best lives. Life coaches are meant to have their ‘shit together’. Aren’t they?
Of course that’s not always the case. Life coaches are human beings too and we deal with challenges like everyone else. While life coaches often have a higher level of motivation when it comes pushing past limiting beliefs and goal achievement, we are not immune to the pressures of modern day life.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. – https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts
It’s staggering to think that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Clearly, lots of people struggle with it. So why did I agonize over exposing my experience and how many other people have gone through or are dealing with a similar situation?
In my darkest hour, when I had to face my truth, there was a deep sense of failure and self-blame. I doubted everything I knew about myself to be true.
My ego / inner critic was having an absolute field day at my soul’s expense while I was at my lowest point. Strength, tenacity and empathy are three of my core personality traits. Yet, during those bleak moments I was unable to muster any of those characteristics to my defence – let alone love and forgiveness.
Live your truth
During my healing process, I forged a deeper respect for myself. I went on an intensive chakra cleansing journey and meditated. A lot. I decreased social media activity and simplified my life. Over time I changed my energy. I still have bleak moments but they are much less frequent and when it does occur, I handle it better, knowing it is transient, not permanent.
It’s easy to become overburdened with life, especially if we don’t take measures to support ourselves. Awareness is key but so is getting real with yourself. When you’re continually over exerting yourself, or being constrained by fear, living beyond your means or are out of balance, something’s got to give. You can’t expect harmony from chaos. You must protect your light. You are your light.
What we contribute to the world and to one another should be eclipsed by how well we take care of and love ourselves. We must surrender, protect and honour our highest self to be of service to others.
This means being present, trusting our intuition and tuning into the insights that life presents to us. Do you have reoccurring signals showing up in your life? Tune into these subtle messages to gain important insights about yourself or your life that may require attention.
I do believe the saying ‘the truth sets you free’. Once we face and live our truth, we are truly free. You are your own person and the custodian of your soul.
How well are you tuned into yourself and your own life?
Life is precious and in 2016 this message has repeatedly shown up for me. Living a long, happy and healthy life has taken on a new meaning. The concept of longevity feels meaningless if it can’t be enjoyed and therefore we must consistently nourish our heart, mind, body and soul.
Whether it’s increased movement, a balanced diet and meditation for mindfulness and stress relief, quality leisure time, companionship, appreciating Mother Nature, better sleep, more laughter, creativity and love, a less sedentary lifestyle and importantly – a deeper connection to the Divine. Tuning into your emotions, spirituality and physicality are stepping stones in the right direction.
Given we are all typically living longer lives, it’s paramount we approach longevity and mental health together in a way that promotes wellbeing. Mental health impacts life expectancy and depression is also a risk factor for dementia.
Life will always ebb and flow. The trick to handling the down times is to appreciate what you have and be truthful with yourself when times are tough. Asking for support is OK. Don’t let things get so bad there feels like no escape. There is always a way to move forward positively with life.
My aim is to encourage conversation and understanding around depression and how we can best support each other as caring human beings. If my story shines a light on what it’s like to live with depression and resonates, or stirs something within you, then please be brave and reach out for the support you deserve.
You are worthy of it. And so am I.