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Archive for June, 2017

I was talking to a friend yesterday and told him that I had just wrapped up a two day spree of being in a super pouty mood.  He remarked that he didn’t think I was the kind of person who got pouty.  And I don’t think he’s alone in his assumption.  I am really good at hiding it.  For one, I tend to retreat when I’m not feeling great; and also, I have jobs that kind of force me to be ‘on.’  But in the name of this blog and the vow to honesty in which it was established, I want to open up a little about the pouty moods of mine.  But let’s call a spade a spade here….I want to open up about my depression.

It’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember.  The cliché black cloud that sneaks in and follows me around has been in my weather pattern since high school at least.  In those years, I’ve learned how to tame it a little.  I’ve learned that going for a good run will help me outrun some demons.  When I discovered yoga, I started learning how to shift my thoughts around a little more productively.  And I’ve learned that if I can force myself out of the house to be with friends, then the ‘fake it til you make it’ method works pretty nicely.  And I write.

But there’s always that period of time at the height of the depression where going for a run, doing yoga, seeing friends and writing all just seem like too much.  It’s the little gremlins in my head feeding off the black hole of my mood and they don’t want to go anywhere.  They are happier on the couch.  Because then they can convince me that I am worthless and that this mood is all my fault and then and then and then and then.  The thoughts swirl up and then get sucked down a drain, leaving me feeling depleted and just wanting to sleep a little longer.

The duration of these bouts and the frequency have shifted and ebbed over the years.  But it was beginning to become clear to me that, although I had all the tools in my toolbox, something bigger was going on.  My doctor offered to prescribe some medicine to help with my moods and I tried one that didn’t have any effect on me at all and then another one that effected me way too much.  Now, I had been used to maintaining ‘my crazy’ but how I felt on this second medicine was a whole other level.  I stopped taking it and knew that I never wanted to feel like that again.   It was then that I started looking into going to a psychiatrist.

It was a pretty great decision.  Not only was this guy super easy to talk to but he seemed to be able to understand what we were dealing with right away.   I told him in my first appointment that I was there because I knew that it was possible to feel better than I felt, and I wanted to be able to access that place.  He knew that I practiced self care and mindfulness and agreed that the right medicine might finally help me get past the boundary in which I was just getting in my own way.  It was then that he introduced me to GeneSight, a DNA test done with a simple cheek swab that will come back telling you what medications might work best for your specific body chemistry.  Lo and behold, when my test came back, not only did they confirm what I had already suspected—that something in my very makeup was slightly off making me prone to depression; but the results also showed what medicines would not work with my body chemistry.  And there in a bright red ‘will have negative reaction’ column was the very drug that I had such a bad experience with.  Science is pretty cool.

So anyhoo, over the past few months I have been on a low dose of a medicine that showed up in a ‘green is good’ category and I can say without a doubt that it is helping.  Overall, I am feeling more hopeful, happy and capable than I have in a long time.  That is, until a couple of days ago.

It started with an injury.  There I was, first at ‘bat’ in my adult league kickball game and after I kicked I ran to first base and something in my quadriceps kind of just snapped.  Now, lucky for all of us adults that really are too old to be playing kickball, there is a team called The Bonecrushers that consists of primarily orthopedic surgeons.  So after I was carried off the field, one of them examined me, told me that the tendon was still attached and that I just had a partial tear of the muscle.  “Rest and ice!” he yelled over his shoulder as he ran back to the field.  Also, my mood that weekend was being invaded by an ex who had just happened to get in touch out of the blue.  Now, I had just done a burning ceremony to burn and let go of one asshole and another asshole just drops back into the picture.  (Warning: things like this usually happen after burning ceremonies….it’s like the universe is making sure you’re good on your promise.)

That evening, I blocked and deleted bachelor #2 (the technological solution to a burning ceremony) and then went to bed early in hopes of a brand new day in the morning.  However, I set my alarm wrong and that resulted in me sleeping entirely too long.  I awoke with a couple of very vivid dreams still in my head.  In the first, I had met a very charming, handsome and rich man who flew me to Finland.  I had thought I had finally found a partner, someone who was willing to love me completely.  But then he told me he was gay.  Oh well.  And in the second dream, I was in some kind of jury room and I was pleading my case.  I was trying to convince a room full of people that what I was doing with my life was worthy.  So there it was in two dreams, my biggest fear of not being able to find love and my biggest insecurity of not being worthy.

So much for the brand new day.  I walked around dizzy and out of sorts.  Fortunately for me, my pout fest coincided with the release of the new season of Orange is the New Black so I stayed in bed or on the couch for the whole day and well into the next.  And then I had to leave the house because I had an appointment, as it happens, with my psychiatrist.  I went into his office and when he asked me how I was doing, a torrent of now what sounded like whines came out of my mouth—“I hurt myself so I can’t exercise like I want to and I had bad dreams and boys are terrible and then and then and then.”

He asked me what the jury of my dreams had decided about my worthiness.  I told him that I woke up before the decision came in……..And then he asked me how I had been feeling before the kickball incident.  I told him the truth.  I told him how I had a newfound happiness that people around me could see.  I told him that I felt like I was able to feel joy more completely.

“So do you feel like you can get over this?” he asked me.

“Of course I can,” I said.

“So maybe it’s just time to put on your big girl pants and get out of your own way.  You were doing so well and none of these things sound like game changers.”

At that point, I shit you not, with the sky just a little gray and no rain in sight, a crack of thunder so loud that it made us both jump out of our chairs and yell profanities struck right outside the building.

“Ashley, that’s God talking and he thinks I’m right,” my doctor joked.  And then he sent me on my way.

Here’s the trickiest thing about joy.  Sometimes it is really hard to accept that it’s not some dumb stroke of luck when it shows up in your life.  Especially when you have some deep seeded insecurity that perhaps you are not worthy.  And sometimes it’s even trickier to think that it’s even in the realm of possibility that this joy will last.  I’ve read that this is called “foreboding joy”, this idea of not fully being able to embrace the good things in life because you’re  already thinking of the ways in which they might end.

And that’s where the wiser me has got to rise up and take charge.  Because clearly I’m not fully healed if these worries make their way into my dream state.  But I can get out of my own way a little if I start to write the ending to these dreams.  The seemingly perfect man who turns out to be gay doesn’t mean that I’m unlovable just as the jury’s decision on my worthiness has no real bearing on what I decide to do with my life.  I can rest, ice, and compress my leg and heal myself to a place of running again.  It just takes time.  But I can get there, with all of it.  Soon I’ll be nimble enough to leap out of my own way.

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Pink Bubbles, Canoes

For a while now, I’ve been following the moon, watching the giant orb of light in the sky and letting its’ fullness remind me of release and letting the absence of that light remind me of intention and wishes.  It’s one of the more hippie dippy, yoga teacher things that I do.  But I’ve only been doing it halfway.  And then a few weeks ago, I ordered a book called Moonology that is all about working with the lunar cycles.  Side note: my order also included a book about crystals and one about how to become a woman warrior and I completely pictured Amazon painting me into a ‘weird chick’ category in their software and fully embraced all of it.  So be it.  But I still refuse to drink kombucha.

So this Moonology book is all about how to fully use the power of the moon to bring focus and fulfillment and peace to your life.  If you’re rolling your eyes right now, please be aware that the moons influence the tides and our bodies are mostly water; so….science.

Just yesterday, the full moon was in Sagittarius and so the night before, I wanted to do a little releasing/forgiveness ceremony.  I invited a few friends to come over after a concert that was being held downtown.  However, there was beer at the concert and by the time I was ready to do my ceremony, most of my attendees were no longer interested.  Oh well, fun times.  However, one friend did join me in my backyard as we drank a little red wine, burned pieces of paper into a soup pot and imagined those we were forgiving floating away in little pink bubbles.

Here’s the thing about forgiveness.  Sometimes it’s pretty tough to do.  But you have to remember that by forgiving somebody, you’re not making them right.  You’re just allowing yourself to be at peace with the whole thing.  And being at peace sounds pretty rad, right?  This Moonology book also suggests thinking about it this way: that everyone in your life who you need to forgive is your teacher.  They were put into your life so that you could evolve and learn and be the best freakin’ you possible.  But learning sucks sometimes……remember Calculus?

The other practice that’s important to do during full moons is gratitude.  Moonology suggests that this is because after releasing yourself of all the bad juju (anger, resentment, etc.) through forgiveness, you now have room to invite the good stuff (love, laughter, puppies, etc.) in via gratitude.

But I think this practice goes beyond being grateful for all that’s good in your life; and that’s the little light bulb moment that I had during my class this morning.  When you practice gratitude, you must also offer gratitude to your teachers.   That’s right, you must not only forgive those stinkers that hurt you and made you mad…..you must also thank them for doing so.

The other night, while doing my forgiveness ceremony, I had one particular person who I had difficulty imagining in a little pink bubble of loving forgiveness.  I thought that maybe I wasn’t ready to forgive them quite yet.  The hurt was too fresh, the lesson not yet figured out, the heartache too deep.  And then today, while my class was in savasana, I began to think about how I wished to thank that person.   So I came home, I got the soup pot back out and I wrote another letter.  This time I thanked the person.  I thanked them for splitting my heart wide open because wide open is exactly where I want to be.  And there’s more……but right now that’s just for me.  But I ended the letter with “I forgive you.”  And then I burned that sucker.

I read it once that resentment is like continuing to carry a big old heavy canoe on your back, when it really was only meant to get you from one shore to the other.  Forgiveness is dropping the canoe once you get to the other side.  And gratitude is jumping up and down in the shallows of the water as you gaze across at the place from which you came, and then  turning around running arms and heart wide open into brave new lands.

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