Grief: A Meditation

For a time, sometimes a long time, grief can leave you in a fog.  Memories are all you have and the pain is gut wrenching as the sobs pull the breath from your lungs until they collapse in the dead weight of your chest.  

You don’t want to, but you get up everyday and you put one foot in front of the other and you move forward, resting often, sighing heavily, straining to act.

But, you are doing this a miniscule step at a time. Every inhale and exhale is a healing force. 

Where there’s breath there is hope. Where there is hope, I will create gratitude, for where there is gratitude, I will find peace. 

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Weekend Mental Health Writings – The Healing Has Begun

weekend writings

Each weekend I am going to post a mental health writing prompt. Feel free to participate by writing your response privately in your own journal at home, or by posting your response in the comments below, or by posting on your own blog and then sharing the link to your post in the comment section. Please visit those who share their writings here as well. Here is this weekend’s prompt:

Write the phrase “The Healing has begun.” and then describe yourself as if you are farther along in a recovery or healing process than you feel you are in the present moment. Imagine how you look, feel, act, talk, and relate to others. What would you be doing that you don’t do now? How would your life be different, if at all? Visualize this future self as a definite possibility for you as you continue along your healing journey. Write as your future self and encourage your present self to keep moving forward and to not to give up because things do get better, as your future self would know.

You can also follow responses to this prompt on our Facebook page.

What’s Good About Depression?

depression

Researchers say there are some positives to having depression. I am not so sure I agree with them. Let’s take a look at what they are saying:

  • Depression makes you a better problem-solver because you need to figure out (usually with the help of a therapist) how to deal with your existing symptoms and the problems they cause in your life.

My thought on this is if we knew how to deal with our problems in the first place, many of us wouldn’t have became depressed to begin with.

  • Depression forces you to learn how to cope, again, usually with the help of a therapist or professional of some sort. Admittedly, researchers say that those who are depressed often initially choose poor coping mechanisms such as drinking.

So what I am hearing is that many of us had poor coping mechanisms which probably increased our chances of becoming depressed in the first place. I don’t see the positive in this.

  • You have better relationships because those who are depressed become better, as part of their healing process, at prioritizing what is and who is important in their lives.

Again, this suggests that before professional help, we did not have the ability to prioritize well. I know this was the case for me as I put financial security above my relationships and my own mental health which lead to a breakdown that almost cost me my life.

  • Depression can make us more compassionate to others going through hard times.

This I totally agree with, hands down! You can’t really understand what a person is going through unless you have been there yourself.

  • We are better at dealing with stress after going through the process, with a therapist, of figuring out what went wrong and how to avoid or manage future stressful times.

While this is true, again, it points to the fact that we did not deal with stress very well before the depression took over.

  • We are more realistic because we better understand what we have control over and what we don’t in life.

Again, we do now, but not before the depression took hold.

  • We can detect deception because we tend to have a more “realistic” view on life.

Realistic? How about pessimistic or cynical – those would be my choice of words.

Don’t get me wrong – I love that research is trying to say there are benefits to having depression. It is all about looking at the glass half-full, I suppose. But, if your depression is anything like mine, there wasn’t any water in the glass to begin with. What are your thoughts on this?

The Stigma of Mental Illness

“The challenge we all face is how to integrate after loss or conflict and return to a greater wholeness of self. This is accomplished through social supports, coping, and other resources. This we call the process of emotional healing…” – from People Can Recover From Mental Illness, an article by Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D. and Laurie Ahern

When it comes to mental illness what can I say that has not already been said? Not that it matters. Maybe it does. I don’t know. All I know is that I have it and so do others – others like me, who are stigmatized by the ignorance of those who don’t have it; by those who have it but don’t know it; by those who have it but act like they don’t.

How can one understand an experience if they can’t experience it first hand? I don’t believe they can. Intellectually they may be able to comprehend the phenomenon, but bodily, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, they cannot.

In my experience, except for three people in my life (one being my therapist), others do not even want to understand. It is so far beyond their comprehension that they don’t even ask questions, research, or read about mental illness. Only one other in addition to the above three shows sincere concern for my symptoms and experiences with mental illness. I am grateful that I at least have four people who care. I probably have more but they either don’t know how to show it or don’t know enough to know they should show it.

I don’t think the stigma of mental illness will ever go away outside of those who actually have it. If people could only open their minds and their hearts to see beyond the craziness, the depression, the manic behaviors, the anger, the insecurities, the social anxiety, and the disssociation – all of which most people have to some degree or another, though they’d never admit it – then maybe they would see a soul; souls who just like them are doing the best they can within the physical limitations of their bodies and minds. Maybe then they would learn how to validate rather than ignore or worse, shun or even worse, judge. Maybe then they could become allies to our healing journeys rather than obstacles.

Writing Moment by Moment #23 and #24

#23 – A beautiful person gave me permission to accept help without feeling guilty and to take extra-special care of myself because I am “going through a healing period” which I need not minimize.  A weight lifted from me in that moment.

 

#24 – I think that I finally get what “mindfulness” means versus distraction.  Here’s a fun fact:

“Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density…in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.”  ~Psychiatry Res. 2011 Jan 30;191(1):36-43. Epub  2010 Nov 10

Now, to practice it…

What moment are you grateful for today?  I had three wonderful “in the moment” moments today – the above two and a third which I posted here.

For more on “Writing Moment by Moment” click here.

Writing Moment by Moment #20

photo by Rantes

I stepped outside this morning and inhaled the clean, cold winter air – refreshment for my soul!  What moment are you grateful for today?

For more information on “Writing Moment by Moment” click here.

Writing Moment by Moment #1

Each day for the month of January, I am going to write about one small moment for which I am grateful. If possible, I will also include photos. I am calling these posts, “Writing Moment by Moment.”

The objectives for this exercise are to increase my attention to the little things in life that I normally take for granted or might not notice otherwise. Some examples include, a small bird chirping outside of my window, my dog’s lazy yawn-and-stretch routine, the way my daughter’s hair sticks up in the morning, the smells from the kitchen when my husband is cooking a yummy dinner, and the list could go on ad infintum.

Would you like to join me and record one moment that you are grateful for each day? If a daily committment seems too overwhelming, how about once a week or month? I’ll be honest with you…I will probably miss a day here and there but I am going to do the best I can. Each day I write for a moment is better than not doing it at all.

Leave a comment and let me know what moment you are grateful for today or if you prefer, post it on your blog and then come back and leave the link to your post in the comment section so I can stop by and witness you “Writing Moment by Moment.”

 

Today, I spotted my journal (see photos above and below) on top of my bedside table and in that moment, I felt extremely grateful for the role writing has played in my healing process over the years.

 

What moment are you grateful for today?