Friday, March 21, 2014

Riding the Waves

Trying to figure out how to speak about what’s in my head is difficult.

Many people who have suffered from depression know what it’s like to not want to scare people you love or sound like you’re looking for sympathy or just that you’re a jerk.

That’s part of why I think depressed people don’t talk about what they’re going through. There’s quite a sense of shame and stigma attached to what is inside our head. As if we are choosing to feel depressed because we aren’t trying hard enough to not be depressed.

I understand that at the moment the thoughts I’m having and the feelings I’m experiencing are transient. I’ve been through this before and as long as I monitor my own self, I will be fine. As long as I stay detached like this, where I can step back and see my depression from a somewhat healthy part of myself, I know I will be OK.

It really is like waves. If I remind myself, when the waves do not have me completely engulfed, that all I have to do is remember I know how to swim and that I will float to the surface if I don’t get scared and fight the rising water, I will rise. I will bob to the surface.

One wave at a time.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Will Dance

One of the hardest parts of being in depression's depths is when others don’t understand.

Snap out of it!

But you have so much to be thankful for!

Focus on the positive!

Your life is great!

My depression often has nothing to do with my outside circumstances.

I’ll admit I’m having a bad day today. The weight of the darkness is residing in my chest and my body physically hurts.

I woke up with a sense of gloom hanging over me, a sense of the meaninglessness of it all.

I reminded myself of all those things well-intentioned people point out—I have a beautiful family, work, a house, food, but none of that matters.

The children start the day off arguing:

Sit on my bed first, Mommy!

No, mine!

Even though we’ve worked out a schedule where I take turns of whose bed I’ll sit on first—that all falls away into whining and crying. And then the oldest joins in.

It’s not the kids and the arguing and noise that makes me depressed, but when I’m already depressed, this kind of nonsense just spirals me out of control.

Before I know it, the morning has devolved into everyone screaming and crying and my daughter wrapping her arms around me, telling me it’s going to be OK.

As I sat there on the bathroom floor, dripping wet from the shower, naked, with her arms wrapped around me, I felt so hopeless, like nothing was possible.

It was then that I realized the depression is really coming back. The euphoria of the initial off-the-meds that my system went through is wearing off. The debilitating thoughts are returning.

As I calmed down and managed to get myself dressed, I told myself there’s no way I’m going back on meds. I told myself there’s no way I’m going to traumatize my kids for life either.

I drove my kids to school. I got a soy, no water chai and returned home. I sat down at my keyboard and was able to write. This is a good thing.

And I will dance.

I have these things still today.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Monster In Me

Do I want to make friends with my monster? Or fight it to its death? Is the monster a part of me? A sick part? Or just a byproduct of my culture? Is it something to be slayed or something to be tamed?

I’ve tried so many methods of dealing with my depression over the years: ignoring it until it wasn’t possible anymore, hating myself and the world and blaming everyone and everything else, taking out its frustrations against myself through self-harm in multiple methods throughout the decades, embracing it and trying to accept it as who I am rather than as a disease, medicating myself into a fog of supposed tranquility, trying desperately day-by-day to meet its ugly face, writing about it and now—a new approach that uses a little of all these past attempts.

I’m meeting my monster every day and trying to shake it out of my system. I’m writing about what comes up every day as I deal with this monster that is depression. I’m taking a stand before its claws become so sunk in again that I can’t breathe, that I can’t move.

I am moving. I am dancing. I am sharing my struggle, my journey, with others in hopes of being a handle for others who might need to grab on. And in turn, I am hoping that when I need someone to grab onto, I will find others who understand and who will be there for me to hold onto.

But the biggest problem is that when the monster is in control, I can’t reach out. I go into hiding. I become the monster.

Is my urge toward creativity the way I make sense of who I am? If I didn’t try to understand myself, didn’t try to express this thing inside of me that wants to be released, would I then become the monster for good?

Would the monster win?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Trying to Just Dance, But All This Other Stuff Keeps Coming Up

I’ve been thinking about what made my stripping different from the dancing I’m doing now—besides the getting naked part.

I’m obviously dancing for me now rather than for pleasing a male customer, but I am sharing my dancing, which does give me an audience, albeit once-removed.

When I was a stripper, I was overtly dancing to be sexy, but because I’m an actress first and foremost, I was never (well, except when I was tired, depressed or angry) not “performing.” I didn’t just get on stage and booty shake.

I like to think I was more like a burlesque dancer, who had intention behind her performances other than just “being” sexy. I performed improvisational routines or performances. My dancing was like a narrative unfolding, not just clothes shedding.

I’ve been having a recurring thought about what it would be like to perform to what I refer to as “strip songs”—the songs I relied heavily on in the clubs. I know that sometimes I’ll be in a grocery store or Target and hear one of those songs come on and I am filled with the urge to dance, to “strip.”

And some of those songs aren’t altogether typical stripper songs either. I had mixed tapes (yes, cassettes!) that I used at some clubs. I danced to Depeche Mode, which is not the first band to pop into most people’s heads when one says Stripper Songs!

What I’m finding interesting as I dance now is that my body naturally moves in ways sometimes that might be thought of as “sexy,” even when I’m not trying to (and actually trying to NOT be sexy) and I’ve been judging myself.

I’m just trying to have fun and fight my depression. Then I hear the question, umm…since when isn’t sexy fun?

I’m not surprised by my own judgments, my own fears, my own insecurities.

I wonder what would happen if I allowed myself to feel sexy. If I allowed myself to dress to look “pretty” and wore heels. If I found Enjoy the Silence on Youtube and played it and witnessed what my body would do.

I’m not ready for that place today. I just want to remind myself to allow this day to be the best it can be.

Monday, March 17, 2014

You're Going to Hear Me Roar (I Think, I Mean, I'll Try...)

How does movement help fight depression?

My friend said it’s like this—if we keep moving, the bad thoughts can’t catch us.

Sheila running from depression
(actually from that guy in the yellow shirt who said we couldn't shoot there)
The only problem is that I can’t keep moving at all times. I can barely get myself to move at all sometimes, especially when I’m depressed.

I’ve felt some bad mojo building up the last few days; I’m hoping it’s because I didn’t take the time to do my daily dance over the weekend.

I definitely believe in a life force that moves through us; I AM a yoga teacher, after all. It makes sense that it is beneficial to get that life force flowing throughout the whole system, if only on that base a level.

Then there are all the other systems and levels that movement frees up.

The other interesting thing about movement for me is the myriad of other issues that are all tied up in it other than just depression.

I can’t dance freely and watch it play back on video without some of these other issues arising from day to day: my stripping past, my body image issues, my self-esteem and self-confidence (or lack of), the roles I play, my desire to be a performer and be seen, my desire to help others create change and a happier life.

Today, I’ll just pick a song that I know makes me feel good when I hear it and let it pump me up for my day. I will use Katy Perry’s inspiration to inspire me and keep me lifted. I will remind myself that I can roar in my own way, or that I will try, at least for another day.