Depression was the Crutch That Kept Me Comfortably Stuck

Every now and then the remnants of what was once a deep pile of rubble I was buried beneath will show up just to remind me that it’s there for me if I should need to seek it’s shelter once again. That if I so choose to abandon the discomfort of this lifestyle of freedom I have chosen it will happily have me crawl back under the heavy, dark boulders it bares into a world of misery.

From my early teen years until well into my 20’s I identified with being depressed. I wouldn’t even say I “had” depression because I didn’t think it was something acquired, It was just a state I was in. I remember when my oldest brother came to live with us from his Mom’s, my parents were elated thinking he could be the one to help shine some light on my darkness and bring me back to the surface. He’s an exceptionally funny guy so it’s no wonder they felt this way and perhaps in some cases it worked, but the truth was there was no digging me out. I was choosing to live there, whether I knew it or not and I had no intentions of coming out anytime soon, at anyone’s request.

At that age, I didn’t know I wanted or needed inner peace and freedom. Although a giant silver peace sign hung from my neck, and I signed every letter I wrote with “peace, love & happiness” it was more of a wish for the world outside of me than it was ever a wish for myself. I did not love how I felt but truth be told, I did not know there was any other way. I did not believe happiness was cultivated within. I thought something had to happen before happiness could occur. I thought I had to acquire something, more specifically someone, in order to feel happy.

What I wanted more than anything was to belong. I wanted to be loved and not just by my parents who were, as far as I was concerned, supposed to love me. God knows I made it hard for them and did not fully appreciate the effort it must have took sometimes to muster up their love for me over their frustration or fear.

People used to describe being around me as “walking on egg shells”. There was a double edged fear that if someone said or did the ‘wrong’ thing that I would snap, break things, throw a fit, cry or lock myself in my room and go silent. I can only imagine my parents dilemma in choosing between wanting to knock some sense into me and feeling completely helpless and at a loss with how to help their once happy go lucky, yet undoubtedly stubborn, blue eyed, baby girl.

I knew I did not want to be the person people had to walk on eggshells around, but it was hard to really care or try to remedy that when I had no idea wha I was feeling inside, why I was feeling it or how to fix it.

My heart was broken all the time. I wrote poetry, colourful letters and made collages to express myself. I had a crush on a new boy more often than a full moon cycle. I wanted to feel that fresh new excitement of possibility. I would over obsess until they found out and were scared off, or until I got bored and found someone new to make the object of my affection. I didn’t fully know it then but, I was making a pain that I didn’t even know existed and created a crutch that would hold me back more than it would help me move forward.

Throw a tumultuous, abusive, controlling teenage relationship and inevitable demise into the mix and my state of being depressed transmuted into a full on depression.

As I grew further into my 20’s I started to realize the implications of my depression. A few tragic and life altering events really shook me awake and made me get real with what was going on inside of me. This time I had to see a doctor, I had become far too familiar with the permanent effects of suicide and I became concerned for my own safety and sanity. I would never admit I was suicidal but I was scared. I did not have the traditional thoughts of “harming” myself. But more often than not I imagined that this world might be better off without me. That I could escape the lingering pain and darkness. That I could stop feeling so alone and overwhelmed in this big ol’ cruel world. I imagined it would be less “sinful” and shocking if I could make it look like an accident. Confusing and terrifying thoughts for a girl who was also a lifelong hypochondriac.

I am grateful for the counsellors who offered their guidance. And doctors who offered me options and medical intervention if I should feel I needed them and an employer who offered benefit covered mental health support that I never used but felt comfort in knowing it existed.

You see, the entire time I was depressed I never believed that it was something that couldn’t be “cured”. I knew it wasn’t clinical in the sense that it didn’t need medication. I felt trapped in my body. I felt alone in the world. I didn’t eat animals, but I didn’t eat anything good. I hated exercise, the one thing they tell you can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Going into a gym only made me fee more inadequate and out of place. I had no idea who the f*ck I was or what I wanted.

But one thing always remained. Love. I wanted love. I didn’t want to be told that to be loved you have to love yourself. That made me feel hopeless. I didn’t want to believe that I was the reason that love was rejecting me, in my eyes. I wanted the magic, the fairytale, the knight in shining armour, (or under armour) to love me right out of my depression. I wanted the amazing transformation story of how love saved me. But the opposite was happening, love, or what I perceived love to be, was killing me. With each man I tried to love and tried to make love me, I lost more of myself.

As I began to see where I was my own worst enemy. I started to look into ways to save myself, I knew no one was going to do it for me and I truly wanted to take my best shot at this life. There was always a soft burning desire in me to be here, to help the world, to be happy, I just had no idea how to even begin to get there. I researched alternate options and I looked at holistic therapies.

My first step was yoga. Yoga I can say with absolute certainty saved me. What is interesting is that it wasn’t the practice itself that helped me in fact that practice was intense and hard and scary and core shaking. But it was the atmosphere that enveloped me in a welcoming embrace I had yet to know in my life from anyone that wasn’t my family at least. I finally felt that as an individual I belonged somewhere and yet nowhere. I could be there, alone and know that I did not have to be anyone but myself, in my body, with my breath and my spirit. What an awakening.

The road ahead consisted of a complete diet overhaul, different forms of holistic therapy & healing, and never ending inner work to be present, rooted, and truthful in who I am, why I am here and how I choose feel every single day. The darkness started to surrender as I surrendered too and it wasn’t that there was less darkness it was that I became more light. I allowed myself to emerge from my self imposed cocoon.

As for depression, long after the symptoms wore off I used it as my crutch. The safe place I could retreat to and rely on to help me gain attention, pity, solitude, comfort and control. The card I could pull when I wanted to get my own way because I knew that for as long as I was “depressed” I could control the people and situations around me. This was not because I wanted to manipulate people but because I had lost complete control of my inner world.

I was, without understanding it, experiencing life as a sensitive who felt every little thing, every ache, every shift in the earth, every pull of the moon, every loud noise, unruly behaviour, unwelcome boundary crossing, difference in myself and the people around me.
Depression was the place I returned to so I could avoid feeling all of it. So I could avoid change. So I could not move forward into the unknown because the uncertainty was overwhelming.

But there is no growth in comfort zones, I knew I had overcome what I once perceived as being depressed. I knew that in saying it I was only pulling up a blanket over me to hide from the overwhelm of the world and inadvertently asking someone, anyone, to “deal with it” for me.

There are pains that we cling to as comfort zones. Sometimes they are never ending heartbreak by choosing the wrong partners. Sometimes it is an illness that has all but subsided and the symptoms are merely as result of consistent “sick” thoughts. Sometimes it is anxiety or depression that we get to know so well that it becomes a familiar old friend, not necessarily a good one, but comforting none the less.

Whatever it may be, aside from the very real symptoms that show up, there is hope and possibility in emerging from the darkness of the comfort zone you have retreated into and leaving behind what is no longer serving you. It takes courage and strength and usually a lot of tears and fears to get real with what the truth of your crutch is but walking forward without needing that false limb to lean on will put you on the path to inner freedom and peace that you may have never known.

I was right in believing that love would save me, but as cliche as it is it turned out that it had to be my own love and my own light that ultimately helped me rise. Once you tap into that well of love it never stops flowing, even when you aren’t sipping from it, its always there I swear.

Love to you XO
*Depression is not to be taken lightly. I personally chose my own method of treatment for what I knew I was experiencing but if you feel you may be of harm to yourself then I encourage you to immediately call your nearest helpline or visit your doctor to seek guidance**

 

The Serious Physical Side Effects of Shame

Did you know its possible that an actual emotion can cause physical symptoms in your body?

You have heard terms such as “you should be ashamed of yourself” “what a shame” and “no shame”. This word gets thrown around as a loose threat or a surprising reality and the truth is that it does more harm than it could ever do good and no one’s really stops to consider the effects.

Shame has been used for centuries to keep communities together, doing so by shaming people into conforming. Our society has kept this up and instead of bringing people together it has caused people to retreat and isolate themselves.

Everyone has felt the emotional effects of shame at one point or another: embarrassment, fear, shyness, anger, rage, anxiety, envy and anytime there is an emotional reaction to something the body will respond physically.

We see this with heartache, you can literally feel the tightening in your chest, there is also scientific evidence that an emotional heartbreak can cause damage to the strings in the heart.
We see this with stress – the symptoms are endless really but stomach aches, tense muscles, headaches, crying etc.

Shame is one of those emotions that comes up when you believe that there is something wrong with you. It is different from guilt in that guilt is the belief you have done something wrong, something for which there is usually a remedy or amends for. Shame is deep seated. It is literally a strike against the soul.

Shame is believing that who you are is not enough, broken, damaged, no good, wrong, sinful.

The thing about shame is that, it comes from thinking a belief that is untrue. Either by a standard set by society, your family or yourself through observation and interpretation.

Awareness is the first step in starting to release shame. Noticing when you feel the effects of shame and digging deeper into recognizing where this comes from. A lot of the shame that is felt comes from childhood, it may have been a big event or one thing someone said or did to you. Either way it is important to notice it and then allow yourself to release it.

Physiologically your body will respond to the emotion of shame and in turn you will experience immediate symptoms such as:
Nausea
Chest tightness
Lethargy
Shrinking yourself smaller
Flushing skin
Diverting eye contact

But moreover the long term effects of shame run deeper and can be felt even when you are not consciously aware of feeling shame.

Shame creates a stress response and stress creates a cortisol release. If you are a highly sensitive person, you are already likely in fight or flight mode more often than not which means you are Heading into if not already, an adrenaline deficit. Being ashamed of who you are because you are “different” from the majority of the population adds to the stress you already feel as a sensitive. It can be a viscous cycle if it is not managed.

Digestive issues abound in someone who is living behind a veil of shame.
Inflammation & infection is higher in bodies that are subjected to constant shame.

As every emotion has a physical counterpart the effects of shame are felt in the pancreas and duodenum. These are the parts of your body that are crucial to digestion and elimination. When shame is felt in the body, these organs want to expel. They want to work to get rid of what feels “disgusting” <- the root of shame. Holding the emotion of shame in your body can cause further damage to these organs.

Shame can lay a heavy beating on your immune system , digestive system and overall your ability and will to thrive in this world.

Spiritually and energetically your solar plexus is the area that is also affected by shame. The solar plexus area is the power centre for self esteem and self worth. It only makes sense that this would be out of balance if shame were living in your body.

Releasing shame takes time. It takes time to recognize it, then it takes time to gently work it out of your body and your mindset. It didn’t happen overnight, you have been living with it for years, so it is going to take some time to undo the doing. But it is possible.

Compassion, forgiveness and love are important tools to use when moving from a place of shame into being your true self, unapologetically. Talking with someone who understands, listens, has empathy and can help you learn to love yourself will help you greatly.

Deep inside you know who you are and at your very core you know that who you are is enough. But believing in standards set by a society that is just following the crowd, has you stuck in a mindset that you are not enough.

Listen, the people who have led you to feel shame are no different than you. They are just trying to get it right too. But the truth is there is no “right way”. Sure it is important to have dignity for yourself and be respectful, loving and kind towards other as well as yourself. But you do not have to conform to a way of thinking just because most people think or feel that way.

You are allowed to be you. You are allowed to set your own beliefs, your own rules and most importantly, your own boundaries.

Whether you want to enjoy margaritas on a Wednesday, eat breakfast for dinner and dessert first, whether you want to have sex every day with someone new, or no sex at all, whether you want to join a nudist colony and hug trees or crunch numbers on wall street, whether you cry a lot or laugh uncontrollably or both at the same time because you feel everything so damn much, whether you weigh too much or not enough. All of it is okay. Who you are at your core was created by something bigger than this life itself and not one other person who was created by the same amount of cells and energy has any right to judge you and the way you were created.

Who you are is OK. Learning to love and accept yourself can take time, but it can also save your life.

If you are ready to release your shame, own who you are and ultimately heal your body, mind and soul then let’s chat about working together. I use nutrition, mindset work, energy clearing and healing as well as movement/exercise to completely transform your health. Info@janinefournier.com

 

Love yourself shamelessly XO