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Today I Opened My Window.

Today I opened my window.

Nobody warns you when you’re diagnosed with depression, or any other mental illness, how difficult some small tasks can be. Watering the plants is draining when you don’t have the motivation to keep yourself alive. Cooking a meal is a chore you don’t have energy for when you’d rather lay in bed and starve. Going to work can seem like the end of the world some days.

You see, depression drains you. Spending all day in your own mind with only negative thoughts about yourself is exhausting. You know it’s not healthy, but you can’t stop yourself. You know people are getting tired of you, so you isolate yourself.

Then sometimes, you feel better. You’re on top of the world and you think “I can beat this. My depression isn’t bothering me.” And it’s a good day. Those days are great, but they’re numbered. You can take your medication, do your yoga, hang out with friends all you want, but some days it’s not going to work.

So today I opened my window. As difficult of a chore as it was, I opened it and let some sunlight in. I felt so guilty still. I thought, “well yesterday I went to the gym and I ate 3 whole meals! Today I only opened my window, I must be falling back.” And I felt like a failure. Today I couldn’t make myself breakfast, but I could yesterday. Today I couldn’t change out of my pajamas, but I planned a whole outfit yesterday.

Doing something is better than doing nothing. Even if it’s small, even if it’s all you can manage at the time, even if it’s a microscopic difference in your life. Because even when it’s small, you’re a small step farther than you were earlier.

When your heart has to consciously work hard to continue beating, when you have to force yourself to keep breathing air to your lungs, when you have to convince yourself to keep living, doing anything at all hurts. Anyone with depression will recognize the feeling, the feeling of heaviness in your stomach to put socks on.

Your mental illness takes over your life. Your mental illness wants to control what you can and can’t do. Your mental illness convinces you you’re worthless. Even when you’re hearing from everyone you love that you’re not, your mental illness has the last laugh, because it’s literally in your head.

Your depression doesn’t have a linear timeline. It doesn’t get better every day, like some people will tell you. Those people have never fought a battle in their own mind. Just because you had the energy for daily tasks yesterday, doesn’t mean you will today. Hell, yesterday you could’ve felt like you could win the Olympics, and today you feel like a bum on the side of the road. You can hit one extreme from another so fast it’ll give you whiplash.

On the days you can’t get out of bed, on the days you can’t escape your thoughts, on the days you took your medication and it should feel better but it doesn’t, don’t think about yesterday. Don’t think about last week. Don’t think about what you could accomplish back then because today is a different day and today is hard. Take it one day at a time, take it one hour at a time, take it 5 minutes at a time if you have to.

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My Anxiety Made Me Do It.

I remember the television playing like a blur in the background of my mind. I’m always miles away from my current reality. Two weeks after I had recovered well from Dengue a type of flu that happens in the Indian subcontinent, I was obsessively checking my cheek to feel for fever. A flushing in the cheeks indicating fever was a common symptom of Dengue.

A maddening search on Google was pointing me towards my obvious death. But why was I consumed by a disease that I had recovered from? Was the warmth in my cheeks really there?

I reached the point where I had to check my temperature using a thermometer. The uncertainty was killing me. On checking, I found that my temperature was completely normal.

Slowly my surroundings started to come into focus and I saw where I had been all this time.

In an abyss of my obsessive thoughts. This is what anxiety feels like for me.

It began after I was diagnosed with Dengue; a fairly common disease that has a recovery period of about two weeks. Not exactly a life-shattering moment.

And yet it was like an unknown avenue of my brain had come to life pushing me to constantly worry about my health even after I had physically recovered.

Constantly imagining phantom pains; I was living my life with flashes of unreasonable paranoia characterized by heart palpitations and feeling of dread in my stomach. Imagine feeling like you have a big exam coming up or that feeling before the drop on a roller coaster.

Except there was no exam. There was no roller coaster.

The solution probably seemed so easy to someone else and yet impossible to me.

Just don’t worry. The worst-case scenario that’s ticking in your mind is beyond the realm of reality.

But to me in that moment of panic, calming down seemed unimaginable.

One month after I first experienced anxiety, I walked into a therapist’s office.

I was the type of person who liked to plan for things, I had made careful notes about what I wanted to talk about. Bullet points from my overthinking mind.

It all seemed a bit a ridiculous on paper. I was a jumble of thoughts when I went there.

My mind was like a train station, I kept changing trains but somehow I just couldn’t find my way back home.

Talking about it for the first time made it so real. I think I had convinced myself that if I never talked about it, if I never said the words out aloud, then it never happened.

I think I have an anxiety disorder.

The words hung in the space between me and my therapist in all its devastating and cathartic glory.

I always hoped I would wake one day with this certainty pulsing through me, just knowing that I would be free of my anxiety disorder. But that isn’t what healing is.

Healing is acknowledging my problem, finding my triggers and taking steps to calm myself when I come across these triggers.

It’s a work in progress, which is to say I am a work in progress but with each passing day I feel a little bit more like myself.

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Do You Know How It Feels?

I don’t know how to explain what it’s like. The definitions you hear of, the descriptions you read about… It’s not enough. It’s nowhere near enough. So what’s it like?

It’s like you can’t breathe.

You aren’t in control. But you’re fighting for it. You are fighting a long, exhausting battle that no one will ever get to see but you.

There are days when you just don’t want to move, and you don’t know why. And you don’t know what to do about it. You’re sick of shaking, you’re sick of crying, too many thoughts are racing through your mind, too many feelings, too many arguments all with yourself, all in your head. Each thought is cancelling out the last faster than you can feel, and you don’t know why you’re thinking of all these things RIGHT NOW ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

You’re sick of thinking but you don’t know how to stop.

You want to reach into your chest and just pull your goddamn heart out, or what’s left of it. Surely there’s something left of it, because it keeps beating like you’re running a race you didn’t even know you were in. Can they hear it? They’ve got to. It’s so loud, it’s too loud.

You can’t be insane, surely. But maybe you are. Your life is not a bad one. You have a job. You make money. You have a roof over your head. Your life isn’t such a bad one. So why are you still so restless? When did you become so ungrateful?

You don’t know how to talk about this. When they catch you having an off day, your voice rises. You’re not shouting. YOU SWEAR IT. You just want to be heard. But lately it doesn’t seem to be worth it anymore. Because when you get emotional, you start shaking. Not just your voice. But your whole entire body and you don’t even know what goddamn business your hands and shoulders have shaking, when they haven’t even solved the problem of whatever seems to be running lose under your skin.

So you shut up. And have the arguments in your head. And even then, you lose. And the more you retreat into yourself, the more frustrated you get.

Some days, you feel too much. Some days, you feel nothing at all. But most days, you cry. And scream. And scratch. You’re hysterical, for no reason, or for reasons you can’t seem to predict. Or understand. All in your head. All at once. And that’s scary.

But it’s nowhere near as frightening as the days when you feel nothing at all. When you just don’t give a rat’s ass about anything. When you’re staring off into space and thinking about everything and nothing at the same time. How can you feel so much one day and turn to stone the next? But at least then you don’t shake. At least you don’t cry. Is that good or bad? Don’t answer that.

You’ve tried to talk about it, but you sounded like a whiny kid even to your own ears. So you stop at the surface. And. So you stopped trying.

Don’t they see it, though? Your skin is CRAWLING. Your nails are BLEEDING. You’re scratching, and YOU JUST WANT TO GET THIS OFF. Your eyes are tired. Your bones are tired. You don’t know what’s under your skin, but you just want to cut it out of you. Can they see it? Of course not. It’s all in your head, at least the scratching and the bleeding. But the creepy crawlies that seem to live just under your epidermis? The discomfort is (almost) physical.

And that you cannot get up? That you’re failing at everything? That’s all on you. That’s all because you have so many excuses. SO MANY GODDAMN EXCUSES. Don’t feel. Just do. Your anxiety is all in your head. You just didn’t try hard enough. But you are trying, don’t they get that?! You’re TRYING. Not enough, obviously. And you will always be the one to blame.

So in the darkness, you cry. And eventually sleep finds you, even when rest does not. You’re so tired. You keep sleeping but you’re always still so tired. You keep dreaming of things that make you anxious when you wake up, but you never remember what they are.

And so you cry. And sleep. And wake up. And take a shower, brush your teeth. Draw on your eyebrows, and your lips. And there. Don’t you look decent? Like something that’s still very much alive, even though there are days when you feel dead inside. But there’s so much to live for. Right? Like a normal human being. So you smile, and you laugh, like you swallowed a bottle of sunshine. And when you break down, you keep it all on the inside. And that takes everything you have, if only they knew.

You can’t breathe.

Your skin is still crawling.

Your head hurts.

Why is your whole body shaking?

Why are your thoughts still trying to outrun each other?

Do you get it now?

Have I said enough, even though none of it still seems to make any sense?

I’m SCREAMING!

Do you hear me?

Of course not. This is all in my head.

And they will never know that there are thoughts living and breathing in my skin. Maybe one day I’ll tell them. When I find the right words. More than these. And when I’m more than this. Maybe the right words haven’t been invented yet.

But I hope they will understand. Because I still don’t.

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Sorry I'm Difficult To Love.

I have been dealing with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember—there are definitely times I handle it better than others. I struggle with managing my emotions and keeping them separated, but it always becomes increasingly more difficult when someone else comes into play with my own.

I try convincing myself that I am better off alone, it’s safer for me and for those around me. No matter how little or much I share, I feel like I am a burden on those around me. I’m naturally a bit of an introvert, but the more time I spend alone lately, the more I start to spiral. I need interaction to distract me from the disruptive, dysfunctional thought processes that come up when I’m alone. I think about whether I will make it to 50, if someone could love me, or even if I should lose weight. I pick myself apart until I’m this broken shell of a human.

I am sorry to the one who loves me. I’m sorry for the many, many doctor visits, nights you are left to help pick up the pieces, and the nights I’m forced to just fall into you. I know this is probably not what you thought you were getting yourself into. I’m sorry if this ends up being too much for you and you think it wasted your time. I never meant to be a burden or to put this weight on you. It wasn’t fair of me.

Once I find love, my mind picks it apart. Coming out of an emotionally and physically abusive relationship causes you to question every single move. I’m constantly in fear that it will end because for once I’m genuinely happy. I stay up late telling myself I don’t deserve this and I should just let him go before it breaks my heart. I became so accustomed to cheating, declined calls, and stood-up dates that no matter what I do or he does, I don’t feel good enough. I’m not enough.

I do not want to live my life in fear of losing the people I care about because of this. I don’t want to overthink and break my own heart over a scenario or a past relationship, causing me to push a real love away. In the end, I want to be open to love, to the love I’m in. I want to learn that I can open up without being a burden, that it’s okay to let my walls down, but it’s understandable that they are up. I hate that it’s controlled me for so long, but I also have to remember that it is an illness and that I am not a failure because of my imperfections.

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Coping With Depression.

Sometimes when I find myself in a stable mood, I catch a glimpse of what it might be like to be “normal.” You know, the normal that doesn’t include having to fight a mental illness every moment of every day. The normal that doesn’t analyze a good mood or agonize over a bad one. The normal that would allow me to have a career without the intermittent leaves of absence due to the invisible illness of bipolar disorder. The normal that doesn’t have to work hard to get out of bed or work even harder to pry myself from the ceiling when I’m riding a hypomanic wave. At times, I crave this “normal,” but no matter what I want, dream or desire, at the end of each day, I am still afflicted with a disease that is anything but normal.

Lately, I’ve been finding myself in defense mode, making every effort to combat even the slightest indication of sadness. Because I have learned all too well when depression sets in, it takes my brain hostage and starts feeding it all kinds of lies. So, instead of dwelling on a negative thought, I focus on the numerous joys in my life. I am trying to do just that right now, but you know what? Once again, I’m finding myself falling into that inevitable black hole, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why I can’t force the transformation of negative thoughts into positive ones.

Why can’t I make all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the years work toward transforming my mood? I know and understand the benefits of cognitive behavior frontwards and backwards. All of those truths make perfect sense too! So, why can’t I put them into action? Because once my mood shifts, I am simply unable to think my way out of it. I have tried time and time again to refrain my thoughts from negative to positive, but it just doesn’t work. So, I find myself once again, battling the demon of depression. I’ve held it at bay for about a month now and don’t have any plans to give in, but it just lingers, waiting to swoop in and rock my world.

As I am navigating through the negative thoughts (since I was unable to turn them around), I started questioning my self-worth. When entering this line of thinking, my bipolar brain scrambles for something, actually anything that may evoke excitement and distract me from heading down that harrowing lane of self-loathing.

Some people turn to cigarettes, food, alcohol or drugs when the ins and outs of daily living throws them off kilter. My go-to for any inkling of distress is shopping. The thrill of a purchase spikes my adrenaline like nothing else. But, just as I’ve been told, once the high gained from the purchase of the new ring, lip gloss, handbag, etc. wears off, I’m right back where I started. This time I even found a new car to buy as a distraction! I mean, if the purchase is big enough, my dark mood would certainly lift, right? Well, in reality, not so much. I may be enjoying a smoother ride and have more cargo space, but I’m still carrying the same tepid thoughts as before.

So, if I can’t alter my mood by changing my thoughts, what can I do? Instead of giving in and stopping my life in its tracks, I can keep moving. I can continue to work my shifts at the gift store in the mall. I can go ahead and take those 30 minute walks in the evening. I can reach out to my friends for support and set up outings. I can continue to attend support group meetings.

None of these things may affect my mood, but by maintaining my daily routine, I am taking action and forging through. By accomplishing the everyday tasks, I will feel good about myself for persevering. I can relish in the positive behavior, even as the negative mood is hovering, relentlessly.

And, each of these minute activities are actually building blocks of progress. Individually, they may be baby steps, but their big picture value is tremendous. I may be stuck with the dark mood at this point, but I’m not going to sit around and bask in the middle of it. I will stay connected and participate in the land of the living. I will continue putting one foot in front of the other until that one day when my mood does make the switch. And, that glorious mood shift, which is well worth waiting for, won’t even cost me a dime…

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God Give Me Strength.

Whenever someone new walks into my life, they all think one thing: that I could be declared to be the happiest woman in the world.

People assume that I have absolutely no worries on my mind and that I fall asleep and wake up with a smile on my face.

However, the truth is far from that. In fact, I’ve had my share of misfortunes up till now just like the next person.

Life hasn’t been treating me as kindly as everyone might think. I’ve had more downs than ups and I’ve cried more than I have laughed.

My heart has been broken more than once, I’ve dealt with some devastating losses, and I had to find a way to rise from the ashes numerous times.

There were times when I felt hopeless and helpless; moments when I felt like I’d hit rock bottom and moments when I was surrounded by darkness.

Nevertheless, do you know what helped me? Faith. That is actually the thing that kept me alive all this time.

The only thing that helped me see the right path even when I felt like I was trapped in a tunnel, that didn’t allow me to give up and which gave me optimism in the toughest of times.

You see, no matter how far I have fallen, I have always known that God was on my side.

And He was the one who kept me going, no matter what; the one who gave me a hand when I needed it and who pushed me forward in all of my battles.

God was always there to give me the strength I didn’t even know I possessed. To tell me that I can make it and to show me how powerful I actually am.

Through thick and thin, He was there to give me optimism and hope. There to teach me the importance of believing in myself and to assure me that I will manage to overcome every obstacle I encounter.

God was there to give me comfort and reassurance when I needed them the most. To show me everything I was capable of and to help me move forward.

He was there to give me a push every time I thought of giving up, to turn my open wounds into scars, and to remind me never to lose faith in Him or in myself.

I won’t lie to you—there were times when it appeared that He was treating me without mercy. Times when He was testing and challenging me.

However, every time God closed one door for me, he opened a few more. Every time I thought I had reached my spiritual end, He gave me something to be grateful for.

Every time He didn’t answer my prayers, He replaced it with something even better.

Every time He removed some people from my life, He was sending me a sign that they didn’t deserve to be there in the first place.

So, now I realize that it was all for my own good. Even the losses, the ungranted wishes and the tears had a purpose.

They were there to teach me a lesson and to clear my path. Most importantly—there to show me how strong a woman I actually am.

They were there to teach me that I can’t be broken so easily. To help me understand how to heal my broken heart and how to glue myself back together, without anyone’s assistance.

So, no, I’m not happy every single moment of my existence. I’m not always content with everything going on around me, nor do I consider my life to be perfect.

However, I am at ease. I’m peaceful because I know that even when something bad happens, things will find a way of sorting themselves out.

I am optimistic because my faith is guiding me.

Because I know that God will never give me more than I can handle and most importantly—because I know He will never leave me to fight my battles on my own.

I’m calm because now I’m finally aware of my inner strength and moreover; because I’m thankful for all of my blessings.

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Being A Strong Woman.

Are you okay with someone telling you what to do? Are you okay with someone being in charge of your life?

Since when do people have the idea they can change someone’s life and direct them on a path THEY think is the best? Or, more importantly, since when do women listen to that shit?

Honey, do whatever the hell makes you happy!

You are a woman who has been through ups and downs. You’ve seen hell and you’ve tasted happiness.

Still, you stand tall with an uncorrupted heart and neverending hope. Still, you stand filled with love, all fierce and mature.

No one – listen to me… NO ONE has the right to change who you are. NO ONE has the right to tell you what to do!

Taking advice from someone is a two-way street. Unfortunately, most of us find ourselves becoming targets of jealousy and false pretenses.

It’s not uncommon to get stabbed in the back by the person you thought you could trust.

Advice coming from those people – the ones who pretend to be your friends – is toxic and dangerous.

On the other hand, advice from someone who sincerely cares for you is a blessing.

Sadly, no one knows for sure when a piece of toxic advice is disguised as a warm and loving one, and when it’s the other way around.

Having said this, I guess my point is: The only person you can trust is yourself. A strong woman knows that.

A strong woman knows she can only trust her own intuition and her own actions. She knows her judgment is, in the end, the most reliable one.

Some may interpret it as being stubborn, but the truth is, a strong woman knows what she wants, therefore, she does whatever the hell she wants.

A strong woman wants to…

Be undefinable by society. She doesn’t want to be a stereotype – a beautiful, classy, and extremely feminine woman who is supposed to do girly stuff and act according to what society thinks is acceptable.

No, a strong woman – a woman who wants to be whatever the hell she wants – will watch football on Sundays and drink beer with the guys.

She will even get shit-faced drunk in a bar refusing to go home. And none of these things will look ridiculous on her; no one will judge her.

The reason for that is more than simple. She is super confident and she will never force herself to do something she doesn’t feel comfortable doing. And that’s visible from the outside.

Be nothing less than completely honest. There is no place for mind games in her life. She thinks playing around is a complete waste of time – and her time is far too precious to waste.

Whether in a friendship or in a relationship, she will always tell you the truth and never be ashamed of it.

A woman like her does whatever the hell she wants BECAUSE she can.

Hearing the truth from her can feel like a cold shower, but that cold shower is responsible for bringing you back to reality where problems are waiting to be solved. Thank her for shaking you up!

Be nothing less than completely honest with herself too. If she’s hurting, she’ll find the strength to accept it and, more importantly, get over it in time.

She is woman enough to confess what’s going on in her head and what she’s feeling.

She isn’t concerned with appearing silly or crazy. The secret to her sanity and healthy spirit is honesty and embracing what she feels.

Only mature and strong women are ready to make that move.

Be independent. And she is. She doesn’t need anyone really. She doesn’t need your love that badly that it will make her reach the border of the “Land of the Desperate.”

On the contrary, she will accept your move, and then… Then she will make her own.

You won’t see it coming. She’ll surprise you with the last thing you thought she’d do.

In these situations, walking away from the person she loves and being broken for a while is far more acceptable than spending the rest of her life like a fool, played and controlled.

Fight her own battles. She won’t let you push her around. She won’t let you bully her. Conflict isn’t a strange concept to her.

She doesn’t like it, but she doesn’t avoid it either. If the situation asks for it, she will fight for what she wants no matter the consequences.

She’s no doormat and, trust me, she’ll never let you take your frustrations out on her.

She has boundaries, and no one has the right to cross them. Anyone who dared, was punished for it.

Be in a relationship for the sake of it. She isn’t in it only for the sex. She doesn’t need a casual relationship with you because she can find casual wherever she goes.

A one-time thing is not that complicated to come across. On the other hand, a meaningful relationship is.

A real relationship doesn’t revolve around sex. It’s definitely a part of it, but it is not a priority.

Anyone who thinks differently doesn’t stand a chance in the presence of a woman like this. She’s on a completely different level of consciousness.

Be responsible for her own mistakes. A person like her will never throw someone else under the bus.

If she’s wrong, she will come clean without thinking twice about it. Once again, maturity leaves its footprint.

When it comes to relationships, she’ll own up to her part of screwing up, but also want the same from you.

Sadly, sometimes these women have bigger balls when it comes to admitting mistakes than some men.

The point is, she wants to solve the problem and owning up to it is the only way a problem can be fixed.

In the end…

A strong woman is a woman who’ll walk away when she isn’t happy. A strong woman is a woman who won’t take BS from anyone, under any cost.

A strong woman will do whatever the hell she wants. Why? Because A STRONG WOMAN CAN.