When your RAWR goes silent, Part 1

A slight rustling in the grass as just a few blades shift, sounding like the wind. Without noise, without fanfare, it slithers into your midst unbeknownst to you. Slowly it winds around you, surrounding you with the cloak of normalcy. Then it starts to squeeze. With growing force, it closes in on your world, it’s grip starts to tighten. It’s presence clouds your mind and darkens your heart. Slowly, like a constant leaking drip, it leaches your passion and motivation. It smothers your love. It fills your perspective with tears and hisses at positive thoughts. Slowly strangling your happiness, the snake of depression takes over your life, squeezing out the ‘real’ you. Quietly, depression strangles your RAWR into silence.
freeimage-5276288
Depression is a complicated and fickle creature. Moving into your consciousness with the stealth of a snake, depression can quickly devour and consume a seemingly healthy, happy person. What makes it harder to catch and eradicate is that depression can come at you from many directions.

Part 1: The physical snake : Lack of sunshine

Depression from lack of sun
My first bout with depression was the year my family moved to Fairbanks, Alaska. I was 7 and had spent my entire life in sunny states when the military called us to the great white North. We arrived in the summer during the long days when the sun barely drops below the horizon. With amazing speed, the sun disappeared, plunging us into perpetual darkness. It wasn’t long before my little self felt the effects of no sun. My emotional stability turned into quicksand. I slept more than usual. I also learned the bad habit of emotional eating to feel better. At the time, the technology wasn’t there to support Vitamin D deficiencies and what is now known as SAD. Recognizing the changes in all of us, my mom would diligently fill up spray bottles (yes, mine was magenta) with food colored water, bundle us up and send us outside to art up the yard until it got dark.

(Tip: do not fill spray water bottles with yellow water. You’ll wonder forever which was the kids vs. the dog.)

Life without the sun is no joke. There are people on this earth who can tolerate it better, but only with the right diet and genetics. However, we all need sunshine to hit our eyeballs every day. The sun is a key component to the music of our DNA and controls many metabolic functions, including queing in our serotonin and melatonin. Without those cues to our system, our body won’t function properly. We’ll feel “off”, more tired, more hungry, more irritable. That’s the start. Too long without enough sunshine and we break down.

Sunshine on Guemes Island
There are many therapies designed to help combat those effects and employed with great force in the darker regions of the world. Happy lights, tanning beds, vitamin D supplements, gyms and more are available to combat the lack of sunshine. One simple therapy shared by Deborah Burnett is to have a bright, blue kitchen that you spend time in every morning between 9-11am. The key here is the light bulbs should have a higher Kelvin temperature range and so their light is bluer/ whiter. Cool White is often a key to the higher spectrum.

My other favorite anti-dote is one my mom knew instinctively: exercise. Exercise releases serotonin, endorphins and other “feel good” hormones. When done at the right time of day (before 3pm), exercise can reduce the impact of depression. Breaking a sweat helps to release all of your internal “piss and vinegar” as Raul likes to say, not only boosting your body but also your mind.

If you recognize yourself in any of the above, we encourage you to speak with a health professional. There are many resources out there to help you cope with and overcome depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder and Vitamin D deficiencies exist and there are tools out there to help you. Keep trying them until one clicks for you.

RAWR & ❤

Advertisements

Grief: the silent RAWR

Grief. Loss. I am not a fan of those words for so many reasons, but they hold weight over us in a way that few other words are capable of.

Grief we feel, loss is what we almost had or had once upon a time. Beyond the letters themselves, there are few other words that can adequately describe to another human being what grief feels like. Wanting someone to understand grief without experiencing a loss is, in my humble opinion, darn near impossible. What is also striking is that the loss or reasons for grief can vary dramatically from person to person but the depth of pain, hurt and fear knows no bounds.

Whether you’ve lost a friend, a grandparent, a parent, a spouse, a child, a fur-baby or any other being or maybe even a job or the dream of a future, it hurts. It hurts a lot. It feels like your heart has literally been shattered into pieces, left in broken tatters. You wonder how you haven’t died from a broken heart…yet. You wish you could go with them just so the pain will stop. You wish you could turn back time to when that future was possible. Each breath hurts. Each smile takes pain to crack. Some days you wonder how you will ever carry on.

I say carry on because moving on is not possible. You will never forget, not for a day, rarely for a moment. Moving on, getting over it, letting it go, growing up, all of those mean words imply forgetting. You can’t forget. Forgetting is not an option. Carrying on is. When you carry on, you carefully and compassionately pick up the pieces of your broken heart (oftentimes with help) and with a brave face, move into the next present moment. You carry your loss with you, in your heart. The scars on your heart make you stronger. If you allow it, the cracks in your heart let love sweep in and out like the ocean waves.

Frozen tear on leaf

Grief hits your insides like waves, sometimes a large wave tumbles over you when you least expect it. Sometimes you brace for impact only to find the wave barely crossing your toes. To lessen the waves of grief, there are things you can do. There are tools to help you find and pick up those broken heart pieces.

When faced with a wall of grief and a shattered heart, it is time to mourn. Mourning is the work you do to process the grief. Mourning takes many outward forms: crying, writing, crafting, talking, sharing and so many more. Mourning is what saves us.

You will mourn not only the past and the present but also the future. Honoring the future you thought you had by acknowledging the present you’ve been given requires a strength that feels impossible to summon at times, but is absolutely possible.

If any of the above strikes a chord with your heart, I encourage you with all of mine and all of my RAWR to find a HEALTHY outlet for your grief. Many people turn to destructive behaviors which will only cause more pain and suffering. It takes strength to talk to a friend, go for a walk, cry, smile, write, sing, play, work, create, and mourn.

Just when you think you can’t go on, you can’t possibly be strong enough to [insert mourning activity here], that is the moment to think of your loss. Feel the love you had for that person or dream. It is in that love that you will find the strength to carry on.

Marie and Rauls lucky 5 leaf clover

searching for clovers of hope

I carry on. I am a survivor of grief. I mourn. I mourn on a daily basis. This post is my mourning. This post, and so many other moments of mourning are what saved me. What moments of mourning have or will save you?

*this post was originally published on A Day at A Time

**this post is dedicated to Indy and George. ❤

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.