Your Reality is Real

If all you did today was wake up, I am proud of you.
If you brushed your teeth for the first time in days today, I am proud of you.
If you took a shower and then crawled back into bed for the rest of the day, I am proud of you.
If you ate three meals today and were scared of each one, I am proud of you.
If you resisted urges today, I am proud of you.
If today all you did was show up to work and barely did your job, I am proud of you.
If your mind was full of worries today and you made it through the day anyways, I am proud of you.
If your day had the potential to be great but your pain got in the way, I send you love.
If memories of the past were infiltrating your mind today, I send you love and hope for closure.
If your day was foggy because you got two hours of sleep but your pushed through, I commend you.
If you cried today and didn’t know why, I feel for you and I know the frustration that comes with inexplicable emotions.
If today you had plans that you had to cancel and you feel like you let someone down, I forgive you.
If today is the worst you have ever felt, I remind you that tomorrow cannot possibly be worse.
If dark days have turned into dark weeks to dark months, I am here to tell you that there is always a possibility of light.
If the thought of living another day seems like too much, I implore you to believe that something will eventually be worth it.
If today, you felt that no one was in your corner and you felt alone, I remind you (and always will) that you are not and never will be alone.

Love Letter to Myself

Dear You,

I know that you have become a master of the “smile and nod” and at polite humility when receiving compliments. I know that you told yourself years ago you would never be good enough and that it wouldn’t matter how hard you tried but today I am here to tell you you’re wrong. I am here to tell you that compliments given to you can in fact be sincere and genuine. I am here to tell you that you are smart, that you are beautiful, that you are kind, caring, empathetic, and funny. I am here to tell you that putting things in the past is okay to do; it does not mean that you are pretending things never happened but it means that you are giving yourself the freedom to move on from them. I am here to tell you that you are wanted and that you are needed by so many people. You are loved beyond what you ever thought possible. I am here to tell you to stop selling yourself short because you never should have learned how to do it so well. I am here to tell you that the things you have been through and the things you have felt are valid. I am here to tell you that they made you this amazing, sufficient and valued person. I am here to tell you that you may not be in love with yourself yet, but you have made leaps and bounds from the girl you once were and I know that one day soon you will love yourself more than anyone else in the world. I am here to tell you that when you get to that place to embrace it and remember that not only is it okay to love yourself, but it is good. When you finally learn to fully love yourself, regardless of what others say, think or do, and regardless of your size, shape, job status or title you will realize that you never needed this letter because you had the power inside of you all along just waiting to be brought out. I am here to remind you that you are so much more than the places you have been, the mistakes you have made, and the demons you have fought. You are so much more than the sum of your past. You are who you are because of those things, but you have gone places you never thought you could, and that proves moreover just how little you are defined by your past. I am here to tell you that you are worthy of the love and kindness that you so readily give out to others. I am here to tell you to stop smiling and nodding and being politely humble, because you deserve so much more than that.

Sincerely,
You.

Caged Beauty

There is a difference
between being lonely
and being alone.

I enjoy being
alone,
but knowing that I have
people, if I need them.

Being lonely
scares me,
because it means that
if I need someone, I have no one.

I find comfort
in solitude,
in being alone.

But being without
the option of turning
to someone,
is paralyzing.

Liar, Liar

The biggest lie I 
have ever told is 
one I have lied time
and time again. I looked
you all in the eyes
and I told you not
to worry, I said “I
am okay” or “I will
be fine.” These are 
lies I have become all
too good at telling. But,
the truth is, that I was not
okay, I never knew if I
would be fine, and you
probably should have
worried about me. The
truth is, lies became easier
than honesty. The truth is, I
told these lies so often that I
stopped knowing what was a lie
and what was the truth. If I am
being completely honest,
I was rarely okay. But saying I 
was became habit, and I hoped
that if I said it enough, then maybe
one day it would be true.

Plea

Maybe tonight you
feel like giving up. 
Maybe tonight is
full of impenetrable darkness.
Maybe tonight it
seems like nothing is worth it.
Maybe tonight you
are lonely and isolated from the world. 
Maybe tonight your
dreams feel out of reach.
Maybe tonight it
all feels like too much.
Maybe tonight it
seems easy to not wake up.
Maybe tomorrow will
be better;
please wake up to find out.

Survivor

The job of  a Survivor is to outwit, 
outlast, and outplay. It is to be better 
than the rest, yet still be liked by all. 

The job of a Survivor is to thrive
in barren lands and desolate
places. It is to rise from ashes
and grow out of concrete.

The job of a Survivor is to win
at all costs. IT is more than winning
idols and challenges, it is beating the demons
living in your head. 

The job of a Survivor is to soldier
on through unimaginable
circumstances. It is not giving up
and refusing to hear that the tribe
has spoken. 

The job of a Survivor is to not allow
anyone to extinguish your flame;
not even yourself. 

The D Word

I want to talk about depression. 

I was first told I had depression when I was around the age of sixteen; this was not news to me. By the age of sixteen I was (thankfully) about two years free of self harm but I would be lying if I said that my life had gotten significantly easier. I was living with my mind being in a constant overdrive of feelings. I was experiencing these intense emotions that I just could not understand. I have memories of crying fora seemingly endless amount of time and having no idea what was making me so upset. When my family doctor listened to things I was telling her and them presented me with depression, I was not surprised, but I was scared. I didn’t tell my parents she had said this to me. I didn’t think I could. I was scared that it wouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone: friends, family, teachers, or coaches. I was worried that people would think I just wanted attention, or that they would think I was just weak.

That was six years ago. I wish I could say that things have gotten better for me; sometimes it really feels like they have and at other times I feel like I’m worse off than when I started.

Depression, at its core, is a chemical imbalance of the brain. It has been proven that depending on the levels of certain chemicals your brain produces can have a huge effect on someone’s likelihood to develop depression. Now this is not to say that there are not other factors that play into someone developing depression; there are likely going to be emotional factors, environmental factors, certain circumstances or perhaps even genetics. All of this to say- having depression does not make someone weak. I (now) personally think it’s quite the opposite.

Within the past twelve months, my depression has unfortunately been extremely present in my life and I’ve encountered some stuff that just bothers me. Considering depression affects over 5% of the Canadian population aged fifteen and older, I thought I’d share these things in hopes that someone takes them to heart and avoids some potentially awkward interactions.

  1. Just because I live with depression does not mean that I do not have other feelings. What I mean by this is that let’s say I (a person living with depression) get hurt or offended by something, it does not mean in any way that it is because of my depression. Now for a drastic comparison take someone with a cold/sore throat and let’s say someone punches them in the throat and says that it only hurt because they have a cold? Does that make sense? No. So if you do or say something to me and I get hurt or offended and I try and explain that to you, please do not say that it’s “just your depression acting up.” What I interpret that as is someone saying to me that my feelings are not actually valid and that were I not a person living with depression, the thing that someone did to offend me wouldn’t matter.
  2. Depression is not all that I am. I get that people like to talk to me about my mental health, in fact I love being open about it and doing my part to create conversation surrounding mental health. However, I like it to be remembered that there is so much more to me than just my diagnosis. I’m a social service worker, a daughter, a sister, a proud cat mama, a writer, a fiancé, a graduate and so many other things. So next time you’re telling me a story about someone else you may have met who also lives with depression and refer to them as “someone like you,” please just take a beat, and reconsider your wording.
  3. Please stop suggesting ways for me to feel better. Look I appreciate it when people try to help me. But the amount of times I have had people tell me that exercise is going to magically cure my depression is so frustrating. I have an academic and professional background in social work, I’ve read the studies and understand them. I know that physical activity can sometimes be a huge help for people living with depression. But what I also know is that when I am at my lowest points of depression, I have little to no energy and the last thing on my mind is exercising. The thing that is hard for people to grasp is just how debilitating depression can be and that a lot of the suggested remedies are the very things that depression makes it hard for me to do. If you know someone living with depression and they come to you for advice, that’s one thing. But giving unsolicited advice is ridiculous. Unless you’re a doctor of some sort, if I haven’t asked for it, maybe I don’t want your advice.
  4. Understand that taking medication is acceptable. I’m sure you’ve all seen that picture on Facebook- a split screen image where the top has a picture of a gorgeous forest and says “This is an antidepressant” and the bottom image is of some pills and says “This is shit.” I have so many issues with this image that it would take me countless pages to describe. Depression is so much more than just being sad, for me it is sometimes the inability to get out of bed, the inability to properly take care of myself in so many ways. Getting out into a forest would do nothing for me when I am in those states. Medication helps with what depression is at its core- a chemical imbalance. Please do not belittle someone for taking medication for an illness; you wouldn’t say that to someone receiving treatment for a physical illness and this is no different. Someone taking medication is trying to get better and trying to recover and it is a hard enough road without those kinds of comments. (See image below for reference.)Anti

All this being said, remember that depression does not look the same in everyone. If you want to be the best possible friend/loved one/partner/supporter etc., to someone living with depression, the best thing to do is to ask them what they need from you and really listen. Understand that sometimes they may not know what they need because navigating a chemically imbalanced brain is hard and that’s okay. Be an open ear for them and do your best to be what they need; they’ll thank you for it one day.