Baby are you down, down, down (down, down)?
So goes the 2009 pop smash hit by Jay Sean (I obviously use the term "smash hit" very loosely here).
Well J-Dog…. Firstly, thanks for reaching out and actually, yes I am.
And not only am I down, I am not happy about it because FFS weren’t we done with this??
I suffered from depression throughout most of my teenage years + twenties. I am sure many of you reading this have your own experiences with the Black Dog and hopefully, experiences of recovery. Through NLP/Hypnosis based coaching I pretty much swung 180 degrees and after being trained in it to coach people myself you could say I have a LOT of tools in my belt <insert joke about bulk tools> to work through whatever pops up in my life. I have been lucky enough since to have very rarely felt anything nearly similar to what I did when I had depression, but over the past month I have. I have really struggled not only with feeling down, but the feelings on top that I had "failed" in being recovered.
SO. This week’s messages are about being "done" or on a pretty steady “I got this” road to recovery when you're suddenly shaken by your brain holding it’s little Mike Myers pinkie finger up to it’s mouth and laughing in your face Dr Evil style, “Muahaha you don’t fucking have this”.
WELL. I bet you (*puts pinkie up to mouth*) ONE TRILLION DOLLARS you that you DO HAVE IT.
I apologise at this point to those of you that were lured by the blog title, thinking “get it gurl” the dating game must have delivered Boxy some sweet below-the-belt tongue action and I am here for it. However after far too many What’s on for the weekend/How’s your week going's I am taking a brief hiatus from dating. The good news is that I already know "Troy, 34, from Paddington" is overly competitive about everything and the way to his heart is bacon / <insert literally any other food type>.
This is actually not a bad segue because fictitious Troy, 34…if we’re talking competition I think I’d kick your ass for the least fucks given this week (in ALL the ways, obviously also pun intended). How’s my week going? Many days I went to sleep on the couch after work then slept there in my clothes cos I was too tired to move. I booked exercise classes and cancelled almost all of them. What’s on for the weekend? Working out ways to cancel any plans or feeling like a shitty human as I do the bare minimum to respond to my friends and family who contact me (and feeling guilty about that too). You can see also why any cooking of bacon/assorted other food prep for the illustrious honour of delving into your heart might also be a stretch.
These things are reminiscent of what my life used to be like for many years and I am sure anyone reading who has suffered from depression will relate. I realise however, what has made the struggle infinitely harder is that layered on top is a veritable trifle of shit feelings that aren’t the actual reason I feel down, they are about how I feel I have regressed. I fear going back to that place and not being able to control it, I feel like a fraud because at one point I coached people in how to change their lives, I feel ashamed for feeling down because I have a beautiful life and there’s no reason to be back here. I feel angry at myself for not somehow catching this before it got bad, angry because I should somehow be better than this by now. And of course I worry about who is going to cook Troy’s bacon.
The interesting thing about the extra layers (as you can see above) is that it’s often easier to name those feelings and in doing that, finding a way to get a new perspective in order to let them go. So why not start there and lessen your burden so the mountain doesn’t feel quite so high to climb over (you know, so you can eventually get to Woolies, purchase those middle rashers and get your frypan on the stove for Troy).
GO BACK TO WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY.
We all have things in life that spark joy – a person, an experience, a view, a sound, a rasher of bacon. I know this is a tricky one because part of feeling depressed is that things you used to find joy in become joyless, I get that. But make a choice to push yourself towards whatever it normally is, with the positive intention that it’ll bring you up for a moment, far enough out of the brain fog to see the top layers of your shit trifle and feel positive and strong enough to myth-bust the shit out of them and let them go.
So I'd like to thank Xavier Rudd at this point, IN CASE YOU MISSED THE SPAM ON MY INSTA I saw him live last week - he is so phenomenally talented and makes beautiful music, it was this moment of joy that made me want to write this post (despite the horrific realisation he had chopped off his man-bun).
Now, I’m talking REAL joy, not “joy” like when mid-dinner (and as an avid crowd hater/avoider) your friend suggests that you should actually not go to see Vivid Festival (along with 2 million other people) as planned, but should go browse sex shops in Kings Cross. Upon arrival you are privy to overhearing a phonecall between the owner and his gal-pal in the Cenny Coast, snippets of which include “Yeah bebe are you going to let him put it in your butt? Anal is very “in” right now”. After which he hangs up the phone and reiterates his point about anal to us, so luckily we too are also across what is currently “in” sexually….and what joy there is to be found in the news that it’s someone’s dick in your rear entrance.
Apparently so. What a joyous occasion. Try in the Central Coast for added pleasure.
I digress as usual. REAL joy.....
For me I always find joy in live music; in appreciating the sound, or the talent of others (caveat: v. important not to listen to sad heartbreak/life is hard music. Don't get me wrong I fought the urge to cancel seeing Xaves with my friends the entire day so I could instead lie on the couch again, but I pushed myself because I knew it would lift me. I find the same listening to classical cello music, because I am a Classy Bitch [Also, because I used to play the cello...so really, because I am an Orchestra Nerd. Yes, I went to String Orchestra Camp... And one time, well....A cello is a whole lot bigger than a flute let me just say that.]
So you could go music, you could go nature - I know large segments of the population find joy in just being at the beach, feeling the sand all up in their vaginas / assorted other oraphus' (OK. The sea breeze in their faces / ocean water on their skin. Whatever.) You’ll know what it is for you, something simple that connects you back to a little joy and peace. Don’t let the irony of the fact that it may feel like you’re pushing a big bag of shit uphill to get out and do it, take away from the fact that it will do you good.
Recognise Your Strength. Fuck Science Instead.
Strong will never be the first feeling that pops up here, but know it is what you are.
It is easy to feel ashamed that you somehow let yourself go backwards, or weak that you can’t turn things around in the click of your fingers. Well turns out you’re a human being who’s allowed to have moments of imperfection IN ANY FORM they come, so you can stop being such a hard-ass to yourself. Please / Thankyou in advance.
Through having depression, you’ve built yourself some strongly reinforced negative neural pathways but through your recovery, in building new thought patterns you’ve developed alternative more resourceful pathways and reinforced those every time you use them – which is why you eventually feel better and continue to, most of the time. But since the old pathways still exist, its possible that our thoughts can slip down those old paths – and that’s just fucking science and part of our neurological makeup. So if it helps, rather than thinking you’re weak, you can think… FUCK SCIENCE instead. (Sorry Science)
It takes immense strength to keep pushing through, weak is the absolute last thing you are. And I know you’re thinking fuck.an.actual.duck must I do this again? / I’m so tired / Can’t Troy get his own bacon? Well yes you must, but you’ve done it before, YOU GOT THIS and quite literally, because (refer above) you already know you have the neural pathways you need to feel the way you prefer.
Don’t Let It Redefine Past Progess: Find the 50 Shades of Grey
I can be a very "black-and-white” thinker, by that I mean unless I stop to gain some awareness I often only see 2 options in a situation: in this case being I either have depression or I don’t. My brain throws a little tanty, declares us back at square one ‘with depression’ and deems my recovery one big lie. Blegh.
At the opposite end of black-and-white thinking is (Fifty) Shades of Grey thinking. Shades of Grey of course alludes to the fact there are many possibilities and options in every situation. For example give yourself more choices than (1) depression or (2) Recovery or (1) backwards and (2) forwards. This thinking takes you 50 Shades Darker pretty quickly; next minute you're experiencing the metaphorical equivalent of Anastasia Steele wearing that glittery mask with vagina balls stuck up your clacker. Except unlike Miss Steele you were 100% not a willing participant.
Given a binary choice in the mindset you’re in will likely see you select a negative label for what you’re going through and potentially redefine success you’ve have in the past. I mean, how bout this for an alternate option. Your past success, is still your success. When you’re ready, it’s just a sign you have something more to deal with and it’s an opportunity to do so. You’ve not gone backwards, nothing has been undone because: please refer to next point.
You’re Not Back to Square One. You still have ALL your Squares.
Ahhh the old, “if it quacks like a duck and has webbed feet then… it must be a duck…RIGHT? WRONG. In this case it’s not a duck ok. It’s some other kind of more highly evolved web-footed marshland creature, because you haven't regressed. You are not back at Square One.
It can be really demoralising, disempowering to think you are back in the same old shitty place after so long. So imagine your challenge exists as a spiral; the time you experienced it you were on the first rung, you might still be on the same spiral but as you’ve grown you’ve moved up and you’re actually on the top rung.
It’s the same challenge so we may feel as if we are experiencing exactly the same thing, but we are actually experiencing a more advanced version of it, in line with our advanced level of consciousness.
Please refer to visual to realise you’ve actually made epic progress and you deserve a big fuck-off congratulations because you’ve come so far from Square One / Basic duck level.
[This concept comes from an awesome modality called ‘The Spiral’ as taught by my gun trainer/coach Kylie Ryan @kylieryan.mymindcoach from @thesupercoach.society]
In Summation: You have got this more than you know. I know it's a ball-ache of a feeling and perhaps you're tired of saving yourself. But this is your life, you gotta do it... but you 100% have the strength to keep going forward and know, you have never ever really gone back. Be proud and feel strong, release any shame and use the energy you have to step into JOY.
And Troy babes, see you in Paddo soon with half a cooked-pig ready to get all up, in and around your *heart*.