I thought about titling this, “Why I stopped writing.” A fitting title, given my year-long absence from the PD family. And even though I changed course, I would still like to explain so that you, the reader, may know how I arrived at the doorstep of depression.
It began with self-doubt. A wall of it.
But then…then a friend was murdered. She was beautiful, inside and out, loved for countless reasons. The details of her passing tore at my heart.
Crisis of faith ensued. I fluctuated from grief to anger, grief to anger, and back to grief.
Then, then my soul remained silent. If intuition called, it rang quietly, and I strained to hear. The cliché, “everything went wrong,” became my life, and I sank into a deep depression, as I experienced my career, relationship, and living situation stall. I forgot how it felt to feel good.
I stopped writing, I stopped leaving my house.
Everything came to a stop when I realized I needed to pull myself up by the bootstraps. I focused my attention on starting, again. Starting to feel good, again. Starting to find beauty, again. Starting to find joy and laughter, again.
That’s how it began, my “starting again.”
Over the next half-year, I succeeded in pulling myself up. I found joy and peace, again. I found beauty, again. And I also found many new ways to start, again, on things that had fallen apart. It started small, but every moment of relief was celebrated. And, eventually, the good feelings outweighed the not-so-good, and I knew the hardest was behind me.
I feel better now than I have in many years, and I have that challenging period to thank for it. It forced me to reflect on hope lost and work earnestly to regain it. And I did, along with an expansion, unlike anything, of what–and who–I want to be. 🙂
You can start, again, too, no matter your situation. From wherever you are, you can get to a better place. It will take time, and it will take focus and effort, but it begins with a single step: committing to starting, again.
I used the following tenets to pull myself up, and I hope they will help you, too. They shouldn’t be read as “step 1, step 2, etc.” but rather as tools for your journey to be used repeatedly, throughout.
–Self-forgiveness: Starting again can carry with it a sense of guilt. “I failed,” you may think. But you didn’t. Your journey isn’t over. You can’t fail if you get up and start again. And that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re getting up, learning from the experience, brushing off the dust, and starting again. You did not fail. You just took a detour :).
–Self-compassion: Part of the guilt may come from others’ reactions to you. But their reactions cannot be the foundation of your self-worth. Be kind to yourself. Know that to get to the point where you have to start again, it means you just went through something big. You just re-birthed yourself. Take that in. Know your worth, and let others’ reactions come second to that.
–Start Small: Being kind to yourself means, in an action sense, starting small and celebrating every victory. Doing so helps minimize overwhelm and speeds up the process of your recovery. It also makes it easier to get started. Even five minutes of intentional action can make a difference, especially if it sticks and you commit to it regularly. Suddenly, 15 minutes of action seems doable.
–Notice the Positive: If part of your “starting again” has to do with someone else, notice as much as you can of their positive aspects. If you have to dig back to the beginning of your interactions with them, do it. Again, here, start small but remain committed. The same applies if you’re starting again with an inanimate, like a job. Clean up your relationship to it by making mental (or literal) lists of its positives. It may seem impossible at first, but commitment to the positive helps build your relationship with it.
–Understand Momentum: Imagine a commercial plane traveling hundreds of MPH that needs to head in the opposite direction. Sudden deceleration would cause havoc, if not death. The plane would have to gradually slow down, turn, and then accelerate. You are that plane. Change takes time–an obvious fact that we forget. Be compassionate towards yourself as you switch gears, slow down, and head in a new direction. And if the momentum is so strong that you require many restarts, with many “starting small’s,” so be it. It’s all OK, and it’s all worth it.
–Reinforce Often: Since the journey will take time, reinforce what you’re building. Encourage yourself. Find others who will encourage you. Monitor and celebrate all victories and improvements. Be kind to yourself. Add reminders to your calendar to stay the course. Write encouraging sticky notes, and put them on your mirror. Organize your room to make it physically easier to fulfill a desired recurring task or action. Buy yourself a stuffed animal friend you can hug at night. Listen to your gut when it says, “I need X” and take action, however small.
–Seek Help: Please, please seek help. Even in the form of books, or blogs, or late night chats with strangers on the internet. If you have friends or family or counselors you trust, even better. You don’t have to go through this alone, and having a buddy makes the journey easier.
Good luck, peaceful dumplings. You have many friends and many fans rooting for your success, including me.
Charge ahead, knowing you are loved, peaceful dumpling.
Also by Amparo: The Best Lesson I Had on Healing Relationships
Related: 13 Books to Read When You Need a Female Hero
How Yoga Helped Me Battle Depression
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Photo: Vyacheslav Beda via Unsplash; Michael Hull via Unsplash