I'm. Coming. Out.
I know it has been a while since I have written about my journey with depression and mood management. Honestly, I have been hiding. Not sure I want to share how I’m really feeling with the world. Not sure I even know how I’m really feeling. Do you ever feel that way?
The Back Story:
Just to recap, in case you are just jumping in on this journey with me. In February, I decided it was time to stop taking my antidepressant. I had been on it for a year, and things in my life were going great. I had always intended to only be on the medication for a year, and when my year anniversary came around, I was ready to begin the process of weaning off my 10 mg dose of antidepressant. For more background on this see my first blog entry on this subject here.
My process for weaning was scientific and guided by my physician. It entailed a multi-step down approach. I also had prepared my body for a month prior, by bringing my alcohol intake to zero, increasing my vegetable intake, and decreasing my sugar intake. I also started introducing supplements into my diet. A standardized, food based, bioavailable multivitamin, an Omega 3 supplement, and a cocktail of super ingredients to fuel my cells and sustain proper cellular function. Additionally, I began the routine of drinking a vegan protein shake every morning to make sure that I was starting my day off with a great dose of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, and proteins.
I felt very confident in my routine and I felt ready to begin the weaning process. I started the process by lowering my dose and sustaining that lower dose for 2 weeks. Honestly. I did not feel much of a difference. After two weeks of being on the lowered dose, I lowered my dose a step further, for another two weeks. Still no change in my emotions, in my outlook or my energy. Finally, I stopped taking the lowest dose completely. I still felt great.
CRACKS IN MY ARMOR
After being completely off the medication for about 3-4 weeks, was when I started to feel small signs of emotional unrest. I was much more irritable with my family. I started to feel my inner critical voice awaken from its year long slumber and it had a lot to say.
Where before I had been incredibly confident and believed that I was in general very successful, everything was working out for my good, and that I was safe, I began to feel cracks in the facade beginning. My inner critic was steadily chipping away at the beautiful positive inner world I had been cultivating and I was starting to feel the darkness creep in.
Now this is not to say that every day was dark and dreary and that I was right back where I had started over a year ago. This was not the case. I still had good days and I still knew that I was strong and vibrant and could make amazing things happen in my life and in my business. However, I started to recognize that the lows were getting lower and highs were not feeling as elevated as they once did.
REACHING FOR MY LIFELINE
So before I began this journey of managing emotional ups and downs non-pharmaceutically, I reached out to a few trusted friends. I let them know I was planning to wean off of the antidepressant I had been taking and that I was going to need their support. I explained that there may be times when I was going to have to ask for a lifeline. I expressed the need I had for them to be anchors for me to bring me back into the reality that I had created and that I wanted to live, not the one that was being painted for me by the inner critic in my mind. I am so grateful to have a tribe that is not afraid of the messy, dark stickiness of emotional health. My tribe answered with a resounding yes right away and offered me so much encouragement. (I love you ladies! You know who you are!!)
MY SPIRITUAL VISION: A TURTLE?
I began this post with the admission that I really didn’t want to write this or share this because I’m in process. I’m in the middle of it. I have very little time to actually process how I’m feeling or what is going on. The last two weeks have been extremely hard. I’ve had a lot going on and I’ve felt the strain of being overscheduled and overextended.
Today, while lying in Savasana at end of an Iyengar yoga class with my favorite teacher, I got the image of a turtle pulling into its shell. In that moment I realized that I was that turtle. I could feel myself withdrawing. Pulling away from myself, from my husband and my son, from my business and my responsibilities. The image of this turtle perfectly encapsulated how I was feeling.
So now I have a choice. Either give in to the feeling of withdrawal and slip further and deeper into isolation, or I can go against this feeling. I can be more open, more expressive, more transparent.
By sitting down to write this post, this is my attempt at coming out of the shell, pulling out of the darkness, and inviting light into the shadows of my mind. I’m choosing to live outside of my shell today.
I have noticed that the darkness comes in waves. It seems to be cyclical. The darkest days seem to fall in the two weeks surrounding my monthly cycle. It’s like a wave that builds and builds and builds until finally I break into tears, or erupt in anger, or lock myself away and shut people out.
MY SANKALPA=(INTENTION/HEARTFELT DESIRE)
Today, I chose to stay present with the way I was feeling. To allow the waves of sadness to rise and to respond to them with tears. It was not convenient. It was not when I was alone. It was on a phone call in the middle of a sentence. It was in the middle of a full yoga class after coming up from Urdhva dhanurasana. Not convenient. Not where I would want it to happen. However, that is how it comes sometimes. Suddenly. Inconveniently. Unavoidably.
What I learned is that I could be with it, go through it, and I was still ok. I was safe and I was able to breathe through it. I found comfort in Savasana. When I came up, the sadness was still there, but something else was with me as well. My inner resource of well-being. A sense of knowing I was going to be just fine. Today is one day. Tomorrow is another. I will face each day as it comes. I will live outside of the shell of depression.