SG102 - Depression doesn’t look like me, does it?

Depression - it’s a heavy word and an even heavier feeling. I should know because it’s something I’ve been navigating on and off for the last twenty months.

I remember writing my first blog about it in Jan 2018 - SG014 Find someone to help you paddle. I described it as the ‘funk’, I didn’t know why I was feeling so sad and why that feeling had crept up on me but I recognised I needed help and thankfully for me, my family leaned in.

Over the last year since leaving my corporate job and starting my own business, the uncertainty of this new uncharted territory sent my brain into fight, flight or freeze mode. Last Sept to Dec were particularly challenging months with high levels of anxiety and depression but thankfully a trip home to England last Christmas connected me again to those that loved me. Those that helped me see more clearly when I couldn’t for myself, I knew it was bad when I walked into a supermarket and had to walk out because I found it too overwhelming to have to make a decision on what to purchase - my brain was over loaded with stress.

I’m writing this blog today because I wanted to share that I’ve been fighting the good fight with mental illness, I thought I’d beat it but I haven’t. Not just yet anyway. Last week I found myself in tears a number of times for no apparent reason and felt incredibly sad. There were days where I woke up telling myself a story that I hated my life, this is not true but it was how I felt - I couldn't shake it and it frustrated me.

It frustrated me because I’ve been doing a lot of inner work, leaning into my H.E.A.R.T. framework, meditating, being mindful, doing walks in nature, spending quality time with friends, exercising, eating healthier (not quite healthy but healthier), getting the right sleep, drinking water, seeing a psychologist etc but I still felt down.

Whilst this may sound silly, I told myself more stories - “it must be something to do with the moon cycles and the energy pulls affecting my mood” or that “it’s natural I feel stressed because I’m building a business and it’s not easy” - of course both of these are feasible (yes the moon can have an impact!) but neither were the reason.

The truth is I’ve been functioning whilst being depressed and the ongoing stress of building a business, whilst living across the other side of the world from my family and my oldest friends and doing life as an independent empowered woman (without the handsome man or my family and oldest friends nearby to give me a solid hug at the end of each long day and tell me it’s going to be okay) is taking its’ toll.

I’ve never missed work or spent a day in bed under the covers, I engage with people and work hard, coaching clients and facilitating workshops - last week I did three live webinar interviews with C-Suite leaders, I laughed and carried myself like a regular ‘mentally well’ human being. I caught up with friends, had dinners, read books and functioned well at least it seemed that way to the outside world and perhaps to myself too.

But the truth is my depression has been insidious, gradual and sly - giving me the impression it had gone (I never understood why it came in the first place) but in reality it’s sitting there appearing in my thoughts, under the surface influencing my outlook of my world and continuing to have me believe that I must be doing something wrong not to be able to shake the thoughts that don’t serve me.

I’ve found myself standing at the pedestrian crossing and having a random thought about the bus hitting me, I’ve spent moments questioning what’s the point and why am I here?, I’ve felt tired even after having a full nights sleep, I’ve felt like there is a grey cloud over my head even when the sky is blue, I smile and laugh but have forgotten the feeling of deep contentment and joy, I find myself forgetting things and then beating myself up for my mind not being as sharp as it once used to be. I’ve forgotten how to truly relax because I’ve hard wired a pathway that says I must work harder each day to serve my goal of helping others reveal their power to make change happen.

I’m aware that I need to fill my own cup and only let others drinks from the overflow so that I never go empty - it’s what I teach my clients but my own brain seems to have other ideas and that’s why I know it’s not me - because when I know better I work on doing better.

I sought help this weekend and today I made a decision to take medication to help me strengthen my mind against this insidious illness. Most people don’t write about this stuff when they are in it, usually they wait until they’ve got a success story to share but when I started this blog, long before I started my business I vowed I’d always share the lessons I was learning as I was learning them. It’s confronting and it’s not easy to speak so openly but it’s necessary.

My business ‘Heart of Human’ is about empowering wellness, wisdom and wealth and it starts with taking off masks and being real. If I can’t do that myself then I can’t expect anyone else to do it - I hope in sharing what’s going on for me, you’ll know it’s safe for you to take off your mask too.

I know medication is only part of the journey to re-strengthen my mind and combat this illness so yesterday (1st Sept) I also joined a beautiful group of women to focus on self love - posting daily on instagram to share the journey. Today I danced and laughed and recorded myself being silly - most people on insta will see it and think I’m super happy and that my life is wonderful.

My life is wonderful but it doesn’t mean it’s easy and that I don’t have my challenges - it’s actually really hard a lot of the time.

But I’m not giving up on my mission to help others, so I’ll lean further and further into my heart - Hope, Energy, Action, Resilience and Trust and start with honouring the need to help myself.