my depression story – in a pistachio shell.

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I think this may just be my time to share. My time to let things out and to open up about what I’ve experienced. I don’t normally write blogs completely about myself but I think it’s important to share. It may be a somewhat vague overview, but I still feel like someone, somewhere just needs to hear it.

I consider myself to be a “self-growth activist”. I use these words because “recovering depressed person” just doesn’t have that great of a ring to it. No matter what I choose to call it, the facts remain the same; I am a person who’s mind has drug me through hell and back.

Like so many other people I struggled with the weirdness of my own brain for years and years. There were a few times in my early teen years that I had been put on anti-anxiety meds for my “anger issues” (prescribed by my family physician). The first time I ever saw a counselor was in 8th grade when I made my own funeral invitations for two weeks later. A teacher found them in my notebook and the school recommended a clinic in a nearby town. My poor mom’s heart was broken and when the counselor sat me down and asked me if I ever wanted to “kill myself” , to which I responded with a quick…”no”
She then continued to belittle me and tell me how selfish I was. Needless to say, we never went back.

After that awful experience I never wanted to see anything close to a therapist again. I wasn’t very good at taking my medicine, and after a couple of months of my family asking “did you take your medicine today” after I would get upset about literally anything, I stopped taking it.

Fast forward about 4 years and I started to experience some extreme mood swings. I still had that “short fuse” of my early teenage years, and I just started piling on all the woes of high school. I was bullied quite terribly, and in reaction to that I decided I would become all of the horrible things people said I was. Probably not the best idea, and even now I see that I wasn’t nearly as “awful” as everyone said I was.
I graduated with a high school diploma and a massive sense of self-loathing. Once I turned 18 I started noticing a change in, well, everything. The downs were more down, I was tired all of the time, even the things that I loved in my life (Dance) I had no energy for. I started my first ever journal (other than diaries as a kid) and my saw my family physician again, thinking she would tell me I was bipolar. She didn’t, and I was put on anti-anxiety medication again. This time, the meds made me feel extremely drugged up and disconnected. It lasted about a week, until I couldn’t handle my “ears fluttering” all day long.

I enter into my 20’s and I follow the great path of jumping from terrible relationship to terrible relationship. If they were bad for me, I’d jump right in. Though I was never one to stay faithful, I tried giving these relationships everything I had, thinking that eventually, someone would make the thoughts go away. That is how it works, right?
After a verbally abusive relationship, a failed marriage and a miscarriage, followed by another verbally abusive relationship – I was lower than I had been in a long while.

I chose the path of least resistance – alcohol, and eventually moved away from the home town that haunted my every step.

It wasn’t until moving away from everything I’ve ever known did I learn what true loneliness was. Though most of the time I had some sort of “companion”, I spent time in some not so good for me relationships (notice a pattern here?), I was homeless at one point; sleeping on people’s couches, living in people’s basements. I finally started gaining some good friends, an apartment, and a steady job – and then the overwhelming stress of paying bills and keeping said job kicked in.
Mix that in with a great love triangle and I had myself a great recipe for disaster. I started a new journal, and began sharing the things I felt. Mostly things about my god awful love life, how I was worthless and all the ways I wish I could disappear. I hated my life, I hated myself and I thought I deserved no better.
Eventually my at the time “companion” told me I needed to see someone about this, again, thinking I was bipolar. I finally caved.

My counselor told me to meditate, he told me about all the thinking/reaction patterns like projection and overgeneralization. I liked Bob, he taught me a lot, but I didn’t really know it at the time. My first Psychologist however, so bad. My first visit he put me on anti-depressants (after diagnosing me with major depressive disorder), argued with me about what “bipolar” meant and sent me on my way. On my second visit we argued again, this time about the difference between “things being fuzzy” and “blacking out” – really this happened. I almost walked out of his office, but by this time I was obsessed with being medicated and knew that I was going to need my dosage raised in order to keep “handling” this whole thing. We made amends, and off I went with a higher script.

By the time this psych got fired from the clinic I was one appointment away from taking a full dose of Effexor each day. I was assigned a new psych and was prepared to tell them how I think I need more, things were getting rough again and I was ready for the full dosage.
This new psych was in a completely different state, geographically. I talked to him via Skype, which was interesting. When I sat down and told him how I’d been feeling, he politely let me finish, and then laid the smack down upon my depressed little soul.

He explained the actual science of anti-depressant medication. He explained how addictions work, how depression actually works, and how any good psych has the goal of seeing his patients “graduate”, not depending on them for a script for the rest of their life.
I loved this man. He was the first guy to make me seem like I could do it on my own. He walked me through the process, told me how awful tapering off of meds would be, but also gave me the hope to get through it.

And I did get through it. After four weeks of brain zaps, nausea and mood swings that were seriously out of this world I was officially tapered. He let me go with a prescription for yoga and chamomile tea. I made it my life’s mission to find out how to actually manage this on my own. If a trained professional, that gets paid by people like me, can tell me that there are better ways – then I was going to find them.

That was a year and a half ago, and here I am sharing my story, sharing what I’ve learned and hoping I can find others out there that want to do the same.
I’ve been so far down in life, I’ve had zero faith in myself, I’ve wanted to not exist – but I made it.
My life is much different now, and I’m very proud to say it. I have a steady and solid relationship, I don’t lash out about every small thing, and most importantly, I deeply and honestly care about myself.

I will of course, share more about my journey and my practice as the blog grows. But I wanted to get this out. It may not be the best piece I’ve ever written, and most might not even get through the whole thing, but I just felt a pull to share it.

And so it is.

– Kara Beth

rant. hold grudge. repeat.

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One big conversation that has popped up with boyfriend is how he chooses not to “waste his energy” on people that make him mad. To me this just seemed like such nonsense.

Back Story: I’m a bit of a spit fire. I have a short fuse and I am quick to flip my switch/lose my mind on people that tick me off. I’ve been this way since I can remember. I can go from happy and hilarious to “I’m going to kill you” within seconds.
Simply put, people set me off.
My time spent in the retail world did help with this a bit. I learned that not all people that project their anger on me are actually angry at me. In most of those situations, I didn’t have anything to do with their anger, however, I am the projectee, I get the butt end of their rage. It’s extremely hard, almost impossible for me to let a person offend me (even if they didn’t mean to) and not take it personally. Even harder, for me to not explode about it, and  stay mad/hold a grudge for the next – 8 or so years. So when boyfriend responds to all of my rants with “I wouldn’t waste the energy on it”, I of course come back with – “um hello! did you hear what I said??! That person did THIS to me!!!”

If this sounds even remotely familiar to you, stay with me.

I have been learning/researching/writing quite a bit about making a conscious choice to feel the way I want to feel. What I didn’t understand (and didn’t realize I didn’t understand), is that I’ve had this choice throughout my entire life.
(Now before you start telling me that depression/anxiety/feeling terrible is not a choice, please understand that I know this, and would never say it was. I came to a point of clarity in my recovery where I was able to make the choice to be willing to experience things differently. I became willing to learn different methods and open my mind to new possibilities. I did not get here by myself, and it was not easy. It was a mixture of a few opinions, methods and sources; much more than one single “choice”.)
Disclaimers aside – I had these opportunities, these methods and sources available to me the entire time. I just didn’t know it. Same as my ability to make conscious choices; I was never lacking the power of choice, I just had no idea it was there or how to exercise it.

Fast forward to what I learned.

I recently started reading the book “The Desire Map” by the lovely Danielle LaPorte. This book is centered around making goals in order to feel the way you want to feel, instead of making goals to achieve certain things. Interesting enough concept, I dove right in.
Somewhere during my beautiful journey of learning what my actual desired feelings are, I kept hitting on the nerve of “wasting my energy”. If I could make the decision to feel a certain way, I can also make the decision to not feel a certain way. If I can make the decision to keep my mind focused on the things I actually want, I can also make the decision to not focus on the things I don’t want. When dumb things would pop up during the day, I would notice myself just saying “I don’t want to feel this way, I really don’t want to focus on it and waste my energy.” I would feel out the emotional/physical response and just let it go. I didn’t have to run myself ragged and feel like vomiting every time a random worry popped into my mind. I didn’t have to waste my energy.

Until someone stupid opened their mouth and struck the chord of rage

Why? Why? Why?
I asked myself a million times why does this bother me so much?! They are obviously just idiots and I shouldn’t care. But I did care, and it continued to fuel the fire; and eventually, finally, it hit me. I never knew that I was subconsciously making decisions to focus on the negative situations, to react with anger, to be spiteful. To expand on that, even if I did something to offend someone else, their choice to react has nothing to do with me. It has to do with their own decisions. It’s not their fault that they do not realize they have a choice. They may not know it, and even if they do they may not have the self-control to exercise it.

Whether a person is reacting on personal interest, self-defense or even just reflex/triggers – what they do has absolutely nothing to do with me. They are either subconsciously making the decision to dance on auto-pilot, letting their fight or flight senses take over, or they are making decisions to act as they are. That reaction, has nothing to do with the recipient and everything to do with how a person processes the world around them and what they choose to focus on.

So why would I waste my energy on someone that chooses to feel awful?

I shouldn’t.
And whether they mean to or not, their choices do not affect me. They are not personal. They do not tell my #truth. All they do is surface their choices, their thoughts and their responses. Their.Their.Their. Not me. Not you.

I think you get it.
Make a choice to let yourself feel every great feeling you want. Don’t deny yourself of feeling bad, just deny yourself of focusing in on thoughts that are triggered by bad feelings. Most importantly, don’t let others’ negative choices affect you. That’s on them. Even when the situation is the most personal attack on you, it’s still their choice to react.

Choose to see it differently, choose to conserve your energy, and do it on purpose.

-Kara Beth