You are loved. You are valued. You are worthy. Count your blessings. Be grateful. Life is precious, and so are you.
I remember a time in my life when I would have been angered by statements like these. I thought that no one understood me and that no one could relate. During those dark days, I suffered from a deep depression, and I didn’t know how to let love in. I didn’t believe people when they told me nice things, and I hated myself. My mind was like a looping record… repeating self deprecating thoughts over and over again. I think back to those days and all that’s happened in between. What changed? Why was I one of the “lucky ones” who successfully disengaged the looping track?
Yesterday, a friend’s daughter took her own life. She was just a kid… This friend is a beautiful human being. I’ve always known her to have a smile on her face and to be surrounded by family and friends. She’s a loving mother, and my heart hurts for her in this moment. How does one recover from the loss of a child to suicide? I am sending love and praying for her healing.
How do we show up in the world and communicate so people get that they matter? How do we reach people where they are and make a difference in their lives? I don’t have the answers, but I keep coming back to compassion, gratitude and love. We must stop placing blame on ourselves and others. We must BE the change that we wish to see in the world. We must also forgive… forgiving one’s self is sometimes the hardest thing to do, and it’s necessary.
When I think back to my own struggle with depression and feelings of suicide, what stopped me was the fact that I didn’t want to hurt my family and friends. The reminder of my cousin’s suicide and how it affected our family is what I kept going back to. I thought that I had to live with the sadness and deal with it on my own because I was too ashamed to tell anyone about it. I was angry with myself for being depressed. I thought that I was a bad person because I couldn’t control my feelings, and I should know better… especially after what happened with Brad. I even thought that there was some universal mistake… that it was supposed to have been me, not him.
I spent years like this, and I eventually hit rock bottom… I was dragged to a psychiatrist by my mom and sister and put on medication, after a drunk driving incident that could have taken lives (including my own), and I was responsible for it. This was my wake up call.
In the years that followed, I changed my diet and embarked on a spiritual, holistic healing path. I went off of the prescription medication, and during that time, hoop dancing entered my life. I escaped from negative internal chatter with flow. It was a mental release and the most powerful healing tool for me. I began to practice meditation, and I incorporated positive daily affirmations into my life. I surrounded myself with uplifting people, and my entire world changed. It didn’t happen overnight. It was a process that took time, discipline and effort.
I don’t worry about having a breakdown with depression anymore. I haven’t had one in six years. This is what healing looks like for me. There are many different paths to healing, and I believe that people must access their own internal wisdom to discover what’s best for them.
We can search for reasons and answers. Or we can be present and show love. We can’t see into the minds of others, but we can be responsible for our own behaviors, actions and words.
Make eye contact and smile at a stranger. Pay it forward. Show random acts of kindness. Help your neighbor. Let someone know how much they mean to you. Appreciate each day. FORGIVE. Know that every breath is a gift. Be vulnerable. Find a passion and pursue it. Start a gratitude journal and write down 5 things you are grateful for every day. GIVE. LOVE. LIVE.
I love you, and I’m grateful that you are here. You are a blessing and a gift.