Empowering Discussions

D.I.Y. Therapy: The Story of My Depression

This is my depression story, my Persephone’s journey from a cold winter to a spring rebirth.

Depression was my best friend for what felt like a lifetime. It became as attached to me as my legs and arms. I feared we would always be together and I didn’t want anyone to know. In public I tried my best to be cheerful, but inside I felt tortured. While it felt good to share the positives and ‘wear a smile’, I was exhausted at the effort.  Being depressed was as bad as having a cold. I felt it in my entire body and it hurt. Out of love and frustration, ignorance and impatience, I was told to, either ‘Snap out of it.’ or ‘Don’t worry, it’s not THAT bad.’ As a teenager, I quickly learned that depression carried a stigma of being ‘a downer’ or ‘a loser’. I didn’t want to carry that weight publicly so I hid behind smiles, lies and my bedroom door. As an adult I hid behind alcohol, parties and retail therapy.

For almost 17 years my life was a roller-coaster of extreme highs and paralyzing lows. During the lows, I would find myself curled up in the fetal position shaking and crying with the ugliest thoughts circling in my head. These thoughts grew bigger and bigger. I was convincing myself that I would never be happy, that I was damaged, a loser, unworthy, stupid, and on and on. My crying fits would last for hours and subside into a physical melancholy that settled in my body. My feelings would stay like this for days or weeks. I would call in sick, quit jobs, cancel plans with friends and try to heal myself with shopping or drinking. Eventually I would feel good and then great and then fantastic as I reached an excited, giddy high place. It was so much fun until the next time something happened that helped my pain resurface. Since I wasn’t recognizing the roots of my pain this ‘something’ was usually nothing short of being stuck in traffic or a large bill I couldn’t pay. But the sadness never completely left. I could always vaguely feel it in my solar plexus.

As a young child I have a dim recollection of being happy. But mostly I recall the unwanted feelings. I remember feeling sad every year when my family moved. I went to 12 schools before finishing high school so I was constantly losing friends I had just bonded with. At many of the schools I was bullied and I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. In the 8th grade an older and much bigger girl decided she was going to kill me. The incident was so violent that I was immediately pulled from that school. I was terrified of my schoolmates at every school after that and stayed this way until almost the end of high school when I couldn’t take anymore. Eventually I stood up for myself. I clearly remember that last time a bully pushed me because I stood up and challenged him until he backed away. Standing up to the bully was liberating. In a way I had grown stronger, but I was still dealing with other emotional problems and would be for many more years.

When I was 14 life threw me an unexpected loss when a close friend who was like an older brother died by suicide. I had no clue how to process the grief. I remember turning inward and wondering if there was really any hope for anything. I would fantasize about killing myself almost every day. I was too scared to try. What I wanted was simple oblivion, to no longer exist and have all my pain disappear with my body and thoughts.

I credit the love of my family and friends to the main reason I never attempted suicide and why I eventually chose to seek help. I truly lucked out in this regard. Even though I knew they loved me I still felt as if my problems were too disgusting to share with anyone. I couldn’t stand the idea of looking weak and the possibility of losing their love. Through all the healing I still don’t know how I never felt as if I could reach out to those closest to me. That’s the debilitating power of depression. Once you are lost in the dark it’s hard to find a light.

While depression and I became friends because of trauma, we stayed friends because I never understood that we could stop being friends. I was told that my father dealt with depression and alcoholism, so I just assumed this was my burden to carry as well. Instead of living for the present, I lived in the past. Those childhood years before the trauma seemed much more happy and fun. After living so many years not understanding that I needed to seek help I reached backward to live in the past. Reliving those good memories gave me snippets of happiness and allowed me to keep going, but also denied me the opportunity to heal and grow. Living in the past denied what was good in the present and closed off my view from what the future could hold.

What pushed me into my deepest depression and also pushed me up to my tipping point was a culmination of three major things. I was once again grieving when one of my closest friends unexpectedly died. I broke my ankle and spent hours and days alone in isolation at home. I was working two low paying jobs; one at a retail store and the other at a resource center for victims of violence. All together these three parts of my life eventually pushed me to dark hopeless place. Over the next 10 months my life became a nightmare of fear and loss. Since breaking my ankle I had lost my retail job and was only working part time. Every day I went to work with a sadness of feeling that at the age of 30 my life was going nowhere and I would be forever unhappy. After my ankle healed I would walk across highway overpasses and fantasize about jumping off, crying the whole way home. Deep inside some part of me bubbled up telling me I had to make a change immediately or I was not going to make it.

The tipping point came a few months later when visiting with a family friend who recently self -published a book of her photography. I had no idea that you could publish a book online and this new information pointed me to a whole new world. I’ve always been an artist and love to write so I decided to create a book for tween girls on the topic of domestic violence and sexual assault. During the three months I worked on and published the book I felt healthy. My usual panic attacks and that foul melancholy at my core didn’t appear. I actually felt happy. My life had a purpose for the first time in so long. I clearly remember the day when I realized that I had not felt depressed in those three months. This was eye opening to me. I realized that as long as I followed my heart, so to speak, I could be happy. It was as if some long lost part of my brain had opened. I decided that maybe I could heal from depression. I hesitantly reached out to family and friends about feeling depressed, devoured self-help books, stopped consuming negative media and started journaling my experiences. Recording my experiences gave me a chance to heal because I was consciously recognizing my pain and this is the first step we must take to heal.

What I’ve learned is that healing from depression doesn’t happen quickly. I have been practicing self-care for a few years and each year I learn new parts of me that need extra attention. It takes time and so much self love. For me it has been about changing the way I think and see myself. That isn’t always easy.

What we think becomes our reality.

During the first two years I would think, “Well… I’m okay now, but this darkness is going to seep back into my life at any moment and I’ll be back on the floor crying wanting oblivion.” I almost slid back into depression a few years later. I was feeling quite sad and lost after the death of my parents, just months apart. I was not expecting them to both be gone so soon. What I did learn and was grateful for during this time is how grief without depression is so much easier to heal through than grieving while being depressed. That I know for sure!

It’s difficult to put a deadline on healing from mental illness as opposed to a physical issue like a broken bone. I still make mistakes. Once I could see that something was triggering me or that I was making a poor choice I thought that would be the end of that. That definitely didn’t happen. I wasn’t magically healed because I said I wanted to be. I had to turn my thoughts into action. I still have to put in the work. Sometimes I do this grudgingly, but more often with a deep knowing that I want to heal.

When we’ve been thinking one way for several years it’s hard to get out of those habits. Addiction to anything takes a conscious change in behavior. I can go cold turkey from things, but that doesn’t mean I don’t ever want to engage or use those addictions. It’s very important to remember addictions are habits and habits are difficult to change. I will always have the ability get stuck in negative thought patterns because I’ve trained my brain to do it. During times when I feel pulled in too many directions, I start overthinking and can easily grow a little unwanted thing into a mountain. Life can be very troubling so I still feel sad someday’s and seek comfort in old habits. The difference is now I rarely choose to succumb to those habits. I have created so many new positive behavior changes. I like my new behaviors because they keep me healthy. I don’t ever want to go back into my darkness again.

Ready to start your healing journey?  Try my FREE e-course:  D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Depression 

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Diy therapy book cover

 

My book, “D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Depression” is available through Amazon; available as both an e-book and a paperback.

If you’re suffering from depression I strongly encourage you to seek help. If you can’t afford a therapist find a supportive mentor, teacher or healer who can help you discover inner peace. Healing is possible IF you are open and willing to commit to a self-care plan.

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Want more creativity and play in your life? Print my FREE COLORING BOOKS!

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Find art and gifts at my boutique store, Zazzle.com/OviedoStyle

D.I.Y. Therapy, Empowering Discussions

D.I.Y. Therapy: Coping with Negative Friends and Family!

When I decided to take control of my life by healing my depression, I let go of several hard-worn habits that caused me to feel bad. Along with these habits went a few friends as well. Previously, my life was centered around instant gratification, fun and material gain without much depth. That made me feel miserable. It actually exasperated my depression because I was just focusing on short-term joys. As I began to focus more on hobbies and interests that gave me a sense of accomplishment and inner peace I deposited my old interests in the memory bank.

Well wouldn’t you know, when I changed, my friends didn’t magically change along with me. We quickly grew apart though I tried to hang on to them for longer than I needed because comfort is addicting and change is scary. A few of those friends I still keep in touch with, but we’re not as close as before because we have such different life pursuits.

Before I left on an extended vacation (a gift of unemployment) two years ago, a wise friend gifted me the book “Steering by Starlight” by Martha Beck. This book of self-realization resonated with me immediately. So much of it is full of ideas and actions I’ve been working on and that have helped me along the way. Her encouragement to look at the stars and be our own “Stargazer”, “Mapmaker” and “Pathfinder” is fantastic. I recommend getting a copy. Along with what I knew before opening the book I’m also learning new actions to help me stay focused on my true North. In the last chapter, “Leading Your Life” she talks about the fact that just because we change doesn’t mean everyone around else will embrace the changes and in fact some may react strongly against our new self. Her advice for this stage of our growth process is “sustaining calm, fearless affection” in our relationships.

“Instead of defending ourselves by counter attacking and riling up our ego-induced anger, we should recognize that our loved ones are in fact scared of losing us and unsure how to deal with that fear. They probably aren’t purposely trying to be mean. By staying centered and choosing reassuring words we can calm their fear and lead them along with us on the journey.” Read more of Martha’s advice on her blog: http://Marthabeck.com

Ready to start your healing journey?  Try my FREE e-course:  D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Depression 


Diy therapy book cover

My book, “D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Depression” is available through Amazon; available as both an e-book and a paperback.

If you’re suffering from depression I strongly encourage you to seek help. If you can’t afford a therapist find a supportive mentor, teacher or healer who can help you discover inner peace. Healing is possible IF you are open and willing to commit to a self-care plan.


Want more creativity and play in your life? Print my FREE COLORING BOOKS!


Find art and gifts at my boutique store, Zazzle.com/OviedoStyle



Empowering Discussions

Are You Stuck In Victim Mode?

Depression is a natural reaction to life, a debilitating reaction.

I understand how being in depression for too long stops you from the ability to make decisions. I understand because I have been there and still visit once in a while. When we are depressed, we second guess, immerse ourselves in negatives and worst case scenarios. We become so tired that it’s easier to just stand still, hide under the covers, freeze time.But we have to reach out. We must seek help at some point!

Victim mode became my label because for so long it was all I knew. I began to feel entitled and my thoughts turn downward, “After all I’d been through why shouldn’t someone else save me? Why don’t others know I am depressed and give me attention? Why am I alone?”

That is where my thoughts were for all those years. Being a victim for 20 years, both at the hands of others and my own is debilitating. It’s traumatic and not easy to recover.

It’s so difficult and frightening. I understand you and I believe in you. You are powerful. You can start healing. It’s time to make a tiny change and another and another until you are in control of your mental health. Please reach out to someone!

Here is a list of resources for you to start your healing path.

  • Shakti Rising provides the support and tools for women to tap into their own wisdom, power and resiliency.- http://shaktirising.org
  • The Love Warrior Community focuses on helping people work on self-love and body acceptance at http://lovewarriorcommunity.com
  • Mental Health America – This is where I completed a free mental health first aid training,
  • http://mentalhealthamerica.net NAMI – Alliance of mental illness has a program called Peer to Peer, similar to Big Brother/Big Sister, which is a way to socialize and give support for those who are feeling isolated. – http://nami.org DBSA– Depression, Bipolar, Anxiety- http://dbsalliance.org
  • Survivors of Suicide Loss – http://SOSLSD.org
  • Nationwide Suicide Prevention Hotline , 1-800-273-8255
  • The Trevor Project – Suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth, 1-866-488-7386 or http://thetrevorhelpline.org
  • There are apps that support mental health. The My3App connects someone who is feeling suicidal with their three main support contacts –http://my3app.org
  • Don’t want to call? Use a text hotline. Text 741741 anywhere in the USA for a live trained counselor.
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Diy therapy book cover

 

My book, “D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Depression” is available through Amazon; available as both an e-book and a paperback.

If you’re suffering from depression I strongly encourage you to seek help. If you can’t afford a therapist find a supportive mentor, teacher or healer who can help you discover inner peace. Healing is possible IF you are open and willing to commit to a self-care plan.

………………………..

Want more creativity and play in your life? Print my FREE COLORING BOOKS!

………………………..

Find art and gifts at my boutique store, Zazzle.com/OviedoStyle

D.I.Y. Therapy

D.I.Y. Therapy: Why is Regret so powerful??

Regret and remorse have been such powerful emotions in my life. These keep me stuck in the past, unable to move forward and enjoy my journey. I have an unhealthy habit of living in my head, in the past. Whether it’s something that happened a few days ago or years ago, some experiences have been difficult to release. I recently was mired in regret after allowing all the negatives of life to become more important than the positives.

One of my favorite cousins died, one of my sisters was in the hospital and a newer friend attempted suicide. This was on top of the stress I felt about more “simpler” problems. I felt sad, unloved and overwhelmed. And my reaction was all funneled directly to my closest friend. Basically I was a jerk. Of course in my head at the time this friend was at fault. I had built up every little thing they did and said into a mountain of hurt and I was the victim. I wallowed there so long that we didn’t talk for a few weeks and then I felt so much sadness at the thought of losing this friend. That’s when the pain became extra strong. “Wasn’t it bad enough to lose my cousin? How could I lose my friend too!”  I started thinking about the situation and reviewing my actions.

Suddenly the clouds cleared and I could see that this friend had not actually done anything to deserve how I treated them.

I understood that I was choosing to react to life in an unhealthy way. In a way that I had promised myself I wouldn’t do anymore. Once again I was stuck in old patterns. I went from sadness and grief from all the pain of the summer to a much more inward feeling of disappointment and shame. Looking back it was obvious to me that if I had taken the chance to communicate in the beginning none of this would have happened! In my search for healing I found a very helpful meditation video on regret that guided me through such a difficult time. It’s called “Meditation on Regret and Self Forgiveness” and is on YouTube at https://youtu.be/g0bRq_WUkKs

Here are the insights I received from the video.

  • Step One:
  • What did I feel at the time of this regretful situation? Sadness, anger and fear.
  • Was there malice or intent attached to it?  No, I wasn’t trying to be mean. I felt victimized.
  • Why am I attached to it?  Because it feels so wrong and unnecessary.
  • How can I let go of expectations? I can communicate with others instead of expecting them to somehow understand what I need or feel.
  • Step Two:
  • Is there a permanent negative impact on my life and others? – Maybe, but I don’t feel like there really is.
  • Why is the regret still with me? Because it was an awful way to act.
  • Can I remedy the situation now in the present? Yes, I can apologize and if needed make it up to my friend.
  • If not, how can I apply lessons to live consciously, accept it and move forward so I don’t repeat this regret? If they don’t want to accept my apology than I can be conscious of how I treat people now and in the future. I can stay aware of when I’m not communicating and I can improve healthy communication skills.

Luckily I was able to apologize to my friend and let go of the regret rather easily, but what if that person no longer wanted to be my friend? I’d like to believe that I would carry the remorse for a while, but eventually let go of all pain from that time in my life and be a compassionate person.

What this summer has taught me is that I really am in control of how I react to real or perceived threats. I obviously have to stay aware of my ability to not communicate and my habit of living in the past. I refuse to live in the past because regret is an easy way to avoid lessons and accountability. I want to own up to my actions.  Regret creates untrue thoughts that “the current state of emotion or situation will never change”. I’ve been alive long enough to know this isn’t true. Everything constantly changes, including me. Please remember that regret is born from knowing now what you didn’t know then. Be self-compassionate.  When you are faced with regret take it as an opportunity to reflect on whether your actions line up with your beliefs.

What do you think of this post?

Do you have regrets holding you back?

How do you heal from regret?

*Like this??? Read more D.I.Y. Therapy Posts. **

– 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 –

Have you downloaded my FREE coloring book? “Peace, Love & Weirdness” is an offbeat collection of my original illustrations and affirmations.

peace love weirdness coloring book

Grab your free copy on my Coloring Book page

D.I.Y. Therapy, Empowering Discussions

D.I.Y. Therapy: You Are Perfect, Whole, Complete

Perfect, whole, complete

You are complete! Trust yourself. You can improve upon yourself and add new skills, more compassion, more love, more knowledge, but the reality is you were born completely whole.

I sometimes forget this, getting caught up in the perception of loneliness and feelings of incompetence, but I’m never truly alone because I have my whole complete self with me. If you have a lonely, incomplete feeling in your gut this morning I hope you can heal it with positive, healthy action. I’d give you a hug if you were here.

I found this work of art at Shakti Rising, a wonderful organization where I’m spending a summer of service and learning. You can read my earlier blog post about this experience, https://impoweryou.org/2016/07/11/shakti-rising/.

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After the 17 years I decided the pain grafted to myself needed to be gently removed and replaced with love. I share my D.I.Y. Therapy posts in the hope that my journey can help others find self-love and create a life free of depression.  My advice is not a cure-all. I still have moments where I slip back into feelings of depression, but now I can acknowledge my emotions and their causes as a way to find my way back to peace. Read more of my journey out of depression and into balance with my D.I.Y. Therapy posts on this blog.

– – – – – – 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 – – – – –

Have you downloaded my FREE coloring book? “Peace, Love & Weirdness” is an offbeat collection of my original illustrations and affirmations.

peace love weirdness coloring book

Grab your free copy on my Coloring Book page

Empowering Discussions

D.I.Y. Therapy: I Believe In You

With a pain filled snarl you ask me why, “Why do you believe in me?

Because I’ve seen how much the path you’re on now looks so much like mine.  I spent what felt like a lifetime doubting myself. I held onto my pain and anger until a series of events collided into my life and caused me to question my long-held fears, my painful beliefs. I decided to try believing in myself the way others had told me they believed in me. Trusting their view was difficult, in fact trusting in my journey was the most challenging act I ever played. I was doubtful, timid, fearful of the bright light being just another dim bulb. At times a gasping cry was all I could give. But it was a rainy season and the seed of self-love began to sprout little green shoots of hope. I felt my roots growing stronger drinking from this love I fed myself.

Day by day it grew. I believe in myself and that is why I believe in you.

I wrote this after a painful conversation with a friend I love so dearly. She broke my heart telling me secrets that I never knew she kept. I needed to let her know how much she mattered to me.

After the 17 years I decided the pain grafted to myself needed to be gently removed and replaced with love. I share my D.I.Y. Therapy posts in the hope that my journey can help others find self-love and create a life free of depression.  My advice is not a cure-all. I still have moments where I slip back into feelings of depression, but now can acknowledge my emotions and their cause as a way to find my way back to peace.

Read more of my journey out of depression and into balance with my D.I.Y. Therapy posts on this blog.

– – – – – – 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 – – – – –

Have you downloaded my FREE coloring book? “Peace, Love & Weirdness” is an offbeat collection of my original illustrations and affirmations.

peace love weirdness coloring book

Grab your free copy on my Coloring Book page

D.I.Y. Therapy

D.I.Y. Therapy: Write a Song to Yourself

In the midst of my depression I relied on positive, upbeat music to lift my mood. There were many to choose from, but I noticed that many song lyrics are counterproductive with lyrics that reinforce negative patterns. So one day I decided to write a song for myself; to guide, remind and empower me to continue on this journey without giving up. Here it is.

Love is my heartsong, I will sing it loud and strong.

Love is my heartsong, listening to it all along.

On this journey of life, through goodness and strife,

guiding me with a loving light,

shinging bright

shining bright,

Love is MY heartsong, I will sing it loud and strong.

Forever singing as I move along.

-Leah Oviedo

Can you write a heartsong? It doesn’t have to rhyme, or be perfect. It just has to come from you, from your core.

Is writing a song for yourself too dorky? Or are you not creative enough? I know all the excuses. I’ve told myself enough excuses in three decades to recognizewhen I’m making one, but what does holding back really give us? My D.I.Y. therapy advice is to work past your fear and sing it loud, even if it’s with the doors and windows shut tight.

heart

I share my D.I.Y. Therapy posts in the hope that my journey can help others find self-love and create a life free of depression.  My advice is not a cure-all. I still have moments where I slip back into feelings of depression, but now can acknowledge my emotions and their cause as a way to find my way back to peace.

Read more of my journey out of depression and into balance with my D.I.Y. Therapy posts on this blog.

– – – – – – 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 – – – – –

Have you downloaded my FREE coloring book? “Peace, Love & Weirdness” is an offbeat collection of my original illustrations and affirmations.

peace love weirdness coloring book

Grab your free copy on my Coloring Book page