My treatment plan

Okay folks, sit down, get a drink, this is going to be a long one.  I haven’t written about my journey through/with/of depression in awhile so I thought I’d give everyone an update. Now, this is MY story, MY life, so before you read it and get to the end and scoff, feeling like you could never do this…remember that everyone is different.  This isn’t a judgement on people. This is my attempt to help others see that there is hope. So here we go for a journey into my demented mind….


I’ve had maybe one relapse of depression in two years.  


Just one.


What set me on this course of treatment that I gave myself was a couple TedTalks that I watched that discussed neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.  Well, my thoughts on this were that depression is an injury. Attachment disorders are an injury. I was off the meds by then because I was so frustrated with them trying to add more when one wouldn’t work.  “Oh, Viibryd makes you jittery? Here, have some Klonopin. Your mood is everywhere? Here, take some Topamax”. While I still had enough original thought I completely weaned myself off the meds. I was starting to lose who I was.  I was on the path to become an automaton. I value my individuality entirely too much to let that happen.


This is the moment I started becoming self aware.


Self awareness is one of the biggest keys to my treatment.  It can also be called the “common denominator effect” (I just coined that.  Don’t steal it.). Basically I made myself look at every single bad thing that had happened in my life and what was the common denominator? Oh, that was me.  Yes, I’ve been mentally abused, cheated on, mentally abused again, had attachments violently ripped away that left me adrift, and had people be truly horrific to me.  Why did all this happen?


I let it.  I put myself in situations where it could happen.  I did not have the presence of mind to recognize sociopaths. I ran at red flags like they were a dare waving in the wind.  I had no boundaries in which to protect myself from attachment.


I did this to myself.


So instead of demeaning myself for these behaviors and instead of dwelling on them…I forgave myself.  I realized that I had to take responsibility for my actions. Along with that I had to fix it. I had to fix whatever it was in me that thought I deserved poor treatment.  


I had to start loving myself.  I had to be able to look in the mirror and not cringe.  Not because of my looks but because I saw fear in my eyes.  Fear of being hurt. Fear of being alone. Fear of change. Fear of myself.  And I had to stop hitting the self destruct button.  Happiness and contentment scares the daylights out of me.  I had to breathe and be okay with it.  That one is still hard for me to deal with honestly.  I might touch the button but I never press it.


Self Awareness was my first step to recovery.  I looked myself in the eye and said, “you have to change or you are going to die”.  Maybe not even a physical death but I was completely losing trust in myself. I was losing my core values.  I was letting other people’s integrity become my own. I refused to let that happen.


Well, in those TedTalks and others they speak of how we can literally change paths in our brains with just thoughts.  I decided to try visualization. It wasn’t an immediate fix. It took awhile to get it to be effective but it does work for me.


One of my biggest areas I needed to improve was how attached I got to people and how their problems started affecting my life.  I have always seen relationships with people as threads that bind you together. Some are a single thread and others are so strong that they become ropes, ya dig?  Anyway, I started imagining different colored threads for people. I pictured the threads connecting me to that person. I took a deep breath and I used my mental scissors to cut the cord.  Now this might sound easy and trite.


It wasn’t.  I argued with myself about some cords.  Being an extremely empathetic person, it is hard for me to deal with feeling “alone”.  I did it though. At first, it was just a simple exercise. After time though it quieted the anxiety.  I was okay without being “attached” to someone all the time. My brain recognized that fact after awhile.  The other person was okay AND their life was their life. They didn’t have to be tied to me to survive.


Well, this visualization exercise turned out pretty good so I moved on to others.  When negative self talk was happening I pictured a stop sign and redirected my thoughts. Sometimes I had to picture a brick wall.  This started paying off in huge amounts. Guess what? You don’t enter crappy relationships if you have self respect and self worth.  I no longer based my worth on who liked me.


The greatest hurdle to cross was the depression.  My visualization for it had to be a bit more elaborate.  I picture my soul as a pale gold orb…about the size of a basketball.  I hold it in my hands and I clean it. I wipe the soot of depression off my soul.  Sometimes I have to scrub but it gets off there eventually. I take deep breaths as I do this and I let all other thoughts go away.  If anxiety is an issue I think of the golden orb being covered with bright red parasitical blobs. Anxiety is harsher than depression, it will dig in and not want to let the racing thoughts go.  I pry these off and clean the stains. Sometimes, I can have depression and anxiety still based on hormones. My normal visualizations weren’t working. I came up with hormones make your blood run hot.  So now I picture getting an injection of something cooling. I visualize the needle going into my skin and releasing coolness (if you’ve ever had an IV just picture that feeling when they inject the saline in).  This really worked great for me.


Why does visualization work?  I could give you a bunch of medical jargon and such but you’re already doing so well reading this far that I won’t bore you with it.  It basically comes down to mindfulness and living in the moment. We are constantly thinking of the past, the future, and everything else in the world.  If we can lose ourselves for even a minute it helps our brain heal itself. There are numerous studies done on this subject.


Once I became self aware and was able to get through the rough times I realized something.  I was glad for the bad times. Why? Because they shaped me. Would I be the empathetic, critical thinking, creative badass that I am now without them?  I don’t have an answer for that. I just know that I am grateful for every lesson that life has taught me because it has made me someone that I am proud to be…including my faults.  


With gratitude and self awareness came another realization.  I was talking to the Dude (yes, there’s a dude, he’s pretty nifty) about a bunch of things as we do but I think it was about creativity and depression and I remember that I leaned in and told him something I had never said aloud to another person.


“The truth is, I like the darkness”.  


Yep.  There it is.  The darkness is a part of me just as the light is.  I’ll give it another term: Passion. Here is a most excellent quote by Joss Whedon about passion,


“Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.”

Without the darkness would I be able to touch people with my writing?  Without the battle with the monster would I know how to help people? The trick isn’t to get rid of the darkness.  The trick to find the balance of the passion. If you go over to either side too far you’ll be sucked back in. Everything is about balance.


Which leads to my other coping mechanism: Creative outlets.


There have been numerous studies done on the parallel ride that creativity and mental illness take, some of it linking it and some of it saying there isn’t a link (correlation does not equal causation…you’re welcome, Dude).  I’m not your Google mommy, go search for it yourself. I do know this much: If I don’t write or sing or do SOMETHING creative, the depression tries to come back (no! Bad boy! Stay down!). If I don’t get rid of pent up emotion in some way…be it sadness, frustration, happiness or the ever present rage…the darkness will tip the scale.  It’s a requirement for me.


So let’s recap.  This is my experience.  So far it has worked. Maybe it wouldn’t work for you.  Maybe it would. There is no harm in trying.


Self awareness (or the common denominator effect).


Visualization aka being in the moment


Gratitude for the lessons learned from the bad things


Accepting your darkness


Let the passion out.


Thank you for taking the time to read this.  Maybe it will help one person. Do your own research on all the things mentioned.  Maybe I’m not as crazy as I sound…


Writing prompt 

Writing prompt: Who were you? Before they broke your heart?

Why ask this question? It’s ridiculous.  I was no one, of course.  Oh, I know you expected to hear, “I was full of sunshine and roses; unicorns danced around me in ecstasy and I dreamed of nothing but my white prince and the future.”

What a horrible cliche. Really.  Aren’t we beyond that in life yet?

My heart was broken when I was born.  You see, when you’re in utero, you’re in the most secure and content place there is to be.  Oh, sure, some will say it isn’t but compared to this world?  Compared to the

He said, she said








And the worst sin of all…


Compared to these evils, what is a newborn baby?  Our hearts are broken when they take away our food, they are broken when our parents aren’t in the room, they are broken when our first friends turn from us, and they are broken when we are told not to fuss.

We are broken.

Or maybe you wanted to hear about the heartbreak of first love?  What is there to say?

I did.

He didn’t.

It was just the first of many times of having to turn with a straight back, walk casually, smiling at strangers, only to finally make it to solitude.  There I could let the agony out.  There I could feel the rejection, the abandonment, the loss, without being judged.

Or maybe the heartbreak of death….of how they were just there and now…they’re gone.  Of how you never lose the hole it creates and you try to fill it as much as possible but only the self destructive things work and they’re slowing sending you to an abyss…

Full stop.

The lesson from heartbreak that needs to be learned is a simple one:  It’s not how to avoid it.  It’s not how to build your walls and prevent it from ever happening again.  

Those things are easy.

The lesson is to remind yourself that you have survived and that you will again.

“If this person leaves me; I will survive.”

“If this person dies before me; I will survive”.

I know of no other way to be but to survive.  We all do it every day.  And we’ll do it again tomorrow.




I took a picture of myself to send to a friend today and as I looked at it I was a bit ashamed.  Not from the overabundance of boobage or of how I’m wearing very little makeup but because all I could think was, “I am not that skinny”.  In the first picture, I am standing, with the camera up high and giving him an incredulous look (he’s quite ridiculous at times).  In the second picture, I am sitting down and I called it my “truth in advertising” picture.  I wasn’t sucking in my gut, pushing my chest out, or using filters.  It was all about angles.  We all do that at times, don’t we?  We use an angle to our advantage.




The angle isn’t always about looks.  It’s in the way we present ourselves to the general population.  We make ourselves look better than we feel we really are.  Note: I said FEEL.  We rarely advertise our faults, insecurities, irrational behaviors, or anything else that makes us who we really are as a person.  We want people to like us so we give them what we think will be liked.


There is no vulnerability in angles.  Angles are all edges that show no softness.  If we were to tell people, “hey, the reason that I feel this way about a certain topic is THIS”, well..they might laugh at us.  Talk or think bad about us.  They might *gasp* realize that we are human.


Every single one of us is a story in the making.  Every single one of us has good sides, bad sides, shady sides, and some sides that we don’t even want to encounter ourselves.  We mask it with angles, with clothes, with makeup, with filters, with anything that we can get our hands on.  Some of us mask ourselves with personalities and attitudes that are off putting in the hopes that no one will realize inside we’re just mush.  That we are bitten by the sharpness of the world and that we cringe on a daily basis because of the lack of respect and love for people who are just like us in that they are imperfect as well.


As a society we need to accept that everyone of us is imperfect.  That we are all just as messed up as the person who gives the angle of having it together.  It takes a single moment in your life to make that facade crash down.  How much easier it would be to put ourselves back together if we met ourselves head on instead of from an angle.


Accepting the pain of the last year

I have spent the last year stagnant.  I have simply survived the day and kept doing the same thing over and over again.  There has been very little done with passion or intention.  As I wean myself off of the antidepressants I am now having to deal with a year that was very hard.  While on the meds I didn’t even realize to what extent I was not paying attention to my life.  Now I sit here and I’m lost.  I have no goals.  I have no direction.  I am full of indecision and I despise indecision.  And yet…and yet with a grateful heart I will look into the last year…and the coming one…and ask for more to be thrown at me.


On February 6th of last year I lost one of my best friends to a brutal murder.  My chest is still so heavy when I think of it which is often.  I think of the fear in her last moments.  I think of the life that was cut short.  I think of the laughter we shared and how she would never want me to still be in mourning.  I mourn Mary Lou though, I mourn her immensely.  Grief is a funny thing that while we are trying to fit it in our heart with all the love and joy that we had with that person it sometimes starts to eclipse it.  Our love turns into rage and denial that someone can be gone from our life in an instant and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.  Death…is the only guarantee in this life.  


On February 13th my on again off again boyfriend of 9 months told me that he loved me but he “needed to figure some things out”.  This after 3 months of him sometimes living with me, playing a father role in my kids life, being unemployed, and then when he went back to work he left me and got back together with his ex wife who he always said was “his best friend but he wasn’t still in love with her”.  I have forgiven him.  I even emailed him and told him I wished him well.  My God, it still hurts.  I loved him beyond all reason.  It hurts to be taken advantage of, to be set aside, and to know that he is now married to someone else.  I have to forgive him though or I would never be able to move on.  


On November 28th my ex-husband, and the father of my youngest, died by suicide.  We had not seen him in 8 years.  8 years that he sometimes didn’t pay child support, that he never contacted her, 8 years of being so mad at him I couldn’t stand it.  8 years of missing him, and knowing that I would have taken him back even knowing that he was a habitual liar and cheater.  I never stopped loving him really.  I mourned him for 8 years and now it seems I’ll be mourning him for a bit longer.  The amount of rage I feel towards the man has grown.  He left me another mess to clean up.  He left her with the loss of hope.  No longer can she think that maybe she would see him when she got older.  He’s gone.  I still miss that man and the way he made me laugh.  


This past year was a year of many doctor’s appointments and the diagnosis of Celiac Disease and possibly Rheumatoid Arthritis.  My health has gone downhill quite a bit and I’m so very tired all the time.  I just want rest.  Physical, spiritual, and emotional rest.


I don’t write all these things to show “oh look.  I had a really shitty year!  Feel sorry for me!”  or, “oh yea? You think you have it bad? Look what happened to me!”.  I write this because I will be grateful for the things that rip my heart out.  If I had not lost these people, if I had not gone through this pain, would I be who I am?  Stretching back through all the years when you think of all the sorrow, joy, struggle, triumphs, and sometimes the vast expanse of nothing-all of these things made you who you are.  I could hate them and hate who I have become.  The past few weeks I’ve been struggling to find the words and to find the emotion that I am feeling.  I am feeling stagnant.  Restless.  Uncomfortable. These are feelings of future growth.


If I didn’t have depression would I have the compassion for others that I do now?  If I didn’t have physical pain would I have the empathy for suffering that I have acquired?  If I hadn’t lost loves and lost loved ones to death, would I have a heart that gives more than it ever takes in?  


Most importantly, if I had not had this life would I be able to write effectively and reach so many people so that they don’t feel alone?


Feeling grateful and blessed to have felt this grief, loneliness, helpless, and rejection is what I was meant to learn.  I spent most of the year in a stupor, having no clear idea of what I was doing.  I still don’t really know but I am learning and I am growing.  Pain is about growing.  You learn from it.  Sometimes you just learn that you are tough enough to withstand the pain.  Sometimes you learn that you have to accept it and not wish it away.  Pain will always be here while we’re alive.  It’s what we do with it that matters.
Even as I am being battered by the storms of life, ridiculed, forgotten, maimed, judged, and deceived- I will lift my face to the sky and ask for more. It is not my place to be comfortable but to comfort. It is not my place to be accepted but to accept. Storms bring renewal after the damage and they reveal the truth by blowing away that which isn’t solid. Give me the storm that I will know the strength of my roots and the beauty of a life that was tested.

Falling off the wagon

I fell off the wagon.  I’ve smoked for the last 27 hours.  I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to deny that it happened.  In fact, I’m surprised I’ve lasted this long with the amount of stress I’ve been under as well as how much pain I’ve been in.  For a few reasons, though, falling off the wagon has been a GOOD thing.


If I hadn’t fallen off the wagon I never would have realized how much better I feel when I don’t smoke.  I know that seems silly but when you first quit all you can think about is the loss.  Giving up an addiction (at least for me) is like losing a piece of myself.  I don’t know if I’m going to be the same person, I don’t know if I’m going to think the same, I’ve spent the majority of my life as a smoker.  It’s a scary thing to take something away that has habitually been there.  The thing is, I am always me.  Take me down to the bare minimum of vices, and I am still me.  A bitchier, more tired, more emotional me, but in essence still me.


If I hadn’t fallen off the wagon I wouldn’t have realized how much I hate smoking.  I hate taking the time to go outside and smoke.  I hate smelling like it.  I hate that I feel a burning in my throat.  I hate having to take regular breaks to go smoke.  I hate dependency.  On anything.


Tomorrow I will start again as a non-smoker and I’ll have learned my lesson on it (hopefully).  I don’t feel ashamed or like a failure.  I feel like a student and that I learned a lesson.  


Snippet from Whiskey Bent

This is a story that lives in my head.  I haven’t worked on it lately but I’m getting there.  Background: Whiskey Malone grew up poor in a small town in Missouri called Blue Lake.  Her father was nowhere to be found and her mother died when she was twelve.  Whiskey came back to the town after college to run a bar on the lake.  That’s all I’m telling you for now! Happy reading!


“Well, if it ain’t my favorite shot,” rumbled a southern drawl that would have made Rhett Butler jealous.


I looked up and smiled.  Two of my favorite out of towners were standing at the bar smiling at me like I was the first woman they had ever seen…and they liked what they saw.  Therein lied the secret to Jared and Jasper’s likability, they loved women and they oozed charisma.  Neither of them were more than moderately attractive, both standing about five feet ten inches and built like brick walls: strong arms, barrel chests, sturdy legs, but their eyes are what saved them from being looked over.  A clear, perfect, ice blue that conveyed exactly what they would do to you with a single word of affirmation and a quiet place.  The eyes were exceptional but there was just something about the Tully boys that made you feel like you could tell them your deepest, darkest secrets and they would hold you in their arms and make love to you…or rough you up.  In short, they would do whatever it took to make you satisfied.  


Luckily all they had to do to make me smile was to show up and drink.


I moved out from behind the bar and was engulfed in a massive hug from Jasper.  After he had squeezed my ass and winked at me he passed me on to Jared who did the same but one upped his brother by pulling my hair out of the clip holding it off my neck.  My red hair tumbled down my back in waves and the brothers sighed.


Jasper said apologetically, “we’ve been waiting all year to see the fire ignited”.


I laughed, grabbing my clip back from Jared, and put my hair back up.  “What can I get you boys? A beer? Some shots?”


Jasper answered, “we’re heading out on the water early; we’ll take some shots, sweetheart”.  I grabbed their brand in bottles, twisted the tops off and handed them to the boys.  “I’ll start a tab and there are a couple beauties from Colorado hanging out in the back corner.  If I were y’all I’d stake a claim before the rest of the crowd gets here. I’m sure they would like to meet some Georgia boys” I winked at the brothers and sent them on their way; two boys who would never grow up until forced…or tied up.  


I sighed and turned towards the grill to see if there were any orders up.  I loved Jared and Jasper dearly but they opened up a hole in my heart that I normally filled with work.  The one downside to their amazing personalities…they made you want something.  Sometimes you weren’t even sure what it was but you wanted.  The boys would be in their cabin for the next two weeks, fishing by day, romancing the girls by night, but I knew they would show up for an off night at my cabin.  Just three friends around a fire pit, enjoying companionship.  It was the most…and the best…thing I could hope for in my life.

Can’t we rest?

There are layers upon layers that swirl around, not stopping because of other pathways, but making new ones or going through the existing ones.  I try to follow one path only to end up on another one and then another only to find out that I have been going in a circle all this time. Defeated, dejected, and somewhat perplexed, I look around trying to find the right path.  The one that will lead me to the clarity I had not minutes before.  By now there are so many intersections, pathways, interruptions, responsibilities, other thoughts that I want to pursue that I am so lost it hurts to breathe.  My chest heaving, I look around for a guide, a signpost even, that will direct me to where I go.  Everyone sees my confusion and starts telling me the path that they took to get where they wanted to be or they tell me to look above.  I look above and the Almighty smiles tenderly at me and tells me that He has given me the directions I just have to find them.  Disgruntled, I keep searching but by now the exhaustion has come and it has decided that what I need is sleep. Sleep will help me figure it out.  


I try to sleep.  I lay my head down, say my prayers, and try to go to that quiet place where I can rest.  There is no rest though.  There are more thoughts and directions I feel I should be taking as well as the dreams.  Dear Lord, the dreams.  The dreams that seem so real, and he feels so real, but he’s not, and he never was and he is gone.  I wake up, always, at 3:30 am.  I have yet to figure out what is so important about that time.  I try and sleep for a few more hours.  I wake up, exhausted.  Wanting nothing more than to rest but I have many miles to walk through the day.  Always seeking out what I can’t find.  If I could just find it, that place that I seek, where there is rest, compassion, solace, clarity, and softness then I could be content.  The world is so dark, and hard, and negative, and striving, and grasping at me.  It’s this monster that is always telling me I am not good enough, never going to get enough done, that my kids are better off without me, that everyone is against me, their laughter and jeers follow me everywhere, and I can’t get off this merry-go-round that is my life.  


I see glimmers of hope sometimes but then reality comes in and takes it away.  My hands, my poor, bleeding, swollen, hurting, helping hands are battered beyond belief at what has become of them.  Where I would love nothing more than to help people I am left attempting to help myself.  There are some days that I can’t even keep myself together let alone others.  Those are the hardest days.  The days in which I want to do so many things but I can’t.  I can’t get up and do the dishes, or vacuum, or even put on makeup.  My mind is so exhausted that my body collapses.  My kids are there needing me, needing me to be okay, needing me to support them, and there are times I just can’t.  


And so starts the circle again, trying to find the way back, trying to find the light, trying to follow the cues that I’m given, and I just want rest.  Is that so bad?  Can’t we all just rest?