Tag Archives: encouragement

Victory (again… for now)

I posted this photo on Facebook a few days ago with the caption below, and enough people found it helpful/motivating that I thought I’d share it with you guys.

Screenshot 2016-05-06 09.24.05

I cried a little at the end of our run today. Not because it was hard, but because I realized that I had won again. A lot of you know that I went through another bad round with depression back in the fall/winter, and I’ve been fighting to get out of it using exercise, reading and taking action on self-help stuff (even the silly crap), and weekly self-therapy sessions (don’t laugh). It’s hard work, like dragging my reluctant ass up a steep and muddy slope. But as I collapse here with my running buddy/motivational canine, I feel like I’ve made it back to what passes for normal for me. I broke my reading slump. I have an amazing book coming out in less than 2 months. And I feel good.

Next challenge to add to this one: getting the headaches and brain fog sorted out. I can do this. Baby steps.

So there’s the update for people who have been following along since I started talking about pulling myself out of this pit (here and here). I’m still doing weekly question-and-answer therapy sessions with myself to dig down to the roots of things that are holding me down and trying to drag me back into the pit. Through that I’ve broken my reading slump, changed some of my beliefs, and found a bit of the balance I’m looking for in my life (still a long way to go there). I’m on week four of Couch to 5K (C25K) training, and having that challenge to look forward to/achievement under my belt in the morning/extra exercise is helping a lot with my motivation.

This doesn’t mean my depression is cured. It means that for now, I’m finding ways to change my brain chemistry and thought patterns in ways that allow me to be less anxious, less hopeless, more motivated, and on an upward spiral. Most days are still challenges. There are still triggers that can snap me back into a low mood/closed-off state, but I’m learning to identify and deal with them through changing my perceptions and reactions. (And THAT, my friends, is slow going. But I’ll get there.)

It’s hard work, and I know how fortunate I am to have the time to do it. I’ve been in a lot of different places with my mental health. I’ve been crushed under panic attacks. I’ve been depressed enough that I lacked the motivation to kill myself, but passively wished I was dead. I’ve survived times when none of that responded to medications until I was on high doses of antidepressants that turned me into an emotionless, anhedonic zombie (but hey, they helped me survive). I’ve suffered withdrawal symptoms from coming off of those drugs that were worse than the side-effects. I’ve wanted to exercise and eat better and lacked the time, energy, and resources to do either.

This post isn’t to say “LOOK WHAT I DID, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO IT TOO,” because screw that. This isn’t advice or a how-to, but an encouragement. My path to feeling better is the one that’s working for me right now, and if sharing my journey helps one person decide that it is possible to feel better, that the fight is worth fighting, or that they’re going to speak up about the shit that they’re going through and seek help, my mission will be accomplished. Maybe for you that means speaking to your doctor. Maybe it means admitting to your family that you need help to find time to get ten minutes of walking in. Maybe it means opening up to a friend who’s been there who can tell you that it can and does get better.

If you’re fighting depression (or not fighting it… I’ve been there, too) or any other mental illness, you are not alone. You are not a weirdo. You’re not defective. You are amazingly strong, and the proof of that is the fact that you’re still here. You are not your illness, and YOU are still there under it.

And if you don’t believe that right now, that’s okay, too. I believe it for you.

It’s Mental Health Week. I’m getting loud.

(As for the end of that facebook status, about the headaches and brain fog… CT scan results are in and my doctor asked to see me next week. Fingers crossed.)

*Though it is a cycle. When I took the baby step of walking for 20 minutes a day, I gained the energy to walk for 30. And my mood lifted a little. And I found motivation to make other changes.



What Gets Me Through

It’s not hard to find an inspirational quotation any time you want one. Googling “inspirational quotes” returns almost 45 million options to click through. (I probably just added another one. Oops).  Why? Because we need encouragement. We need advice. We need to know that we’re not alone, that other people have faced obstacles and returned to share their wisdom.

Are they all useful? No. Many are so vague as to be meaningless, and others are only useful at the right time. Take this one:

 “Pay no attention to what the critics say; there has never been a statue erected to a critic.”
— Jean Sibelius

OK, first of all: sick burn, Jean Sibelius. High five, right here. This is an extremely encouraging bit of advice for anyone who’s feeling like they’re being kicked around by the critics, the “haters” (does that even mean anything anymore?), the Philistines who just can’t appreciate true art, dammit.

That said, if I ignored the critics all of the time, I’d never improve. If someone told me that a character’s motivation was unclear or that I had something hanging out of my nose and I just told them to shove off and go be statue-less somewhere else, I’d be stuck with a story that was less than it could be and… well, with something hanging out of my nose. Do we really need worse consequences than that?

I collect quotes- funny ones, inspirational ones, ones that tell me to go out to kick some ass and others that tell me to let go of the things that don’t really matter. In the right context, they all help me get through the day. Today is a day that requires getting through; I had a migraine yesterday, and though the pain is gone, the stupid lingers like some kind of brain-fog. (See?) I’ve had another friend agree to critique my book, and a complete stranger waiting to do the same, and it makes me more nervous than it should.

That’s right: just anticipating criticism makes me think I’m bound for failure. I’m going to go slap my skin with wet shoelaces until it gets a bit thicker; in the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few pieces from my collection. Here’s hoping you find something to get you through the day, too.

“You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft– then you can add all the genius you like.”  —Phyllis A. Whitney

“Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang best.”  -Henry Van Dyke

“The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write” -Unknown

“But he who dare not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.” -Anne Bronte

“People say I don’t take criticism well, but I say, what the hell do they know?”      Groucho Marx

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” -Ray Bradbury

(Please feel free to add your own favourites in the comments!)

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