Diaries of An Unrebelled Heart

Mental Health & Lifestyle Blog

I am not sure where to begin.  I haven’t written in a while because I just didn’t know what to say or how to say what I wanted to say.  This year has been a roller coaster of events happening to me and around me and in all of it I have stood my ground.  From getting laid off to having emergency hernia surgery, I have been weathering this storm without a mental breakdown and most importantly without giving up the way I use to.  By that I mean something would happen and I would fall victim to the event, get depressed and have either a mini breakdown over it, or a big one such as last year when I checked myself into the hospital because I just could not handle life.

The thing is, I have been listening and hearing this my entire life, but I guess the light never went on, but for the first time I truly believe you can either fall victim to an event or circumstance or you can learn from it…. truly grow from it.  Grow from it, like turn the event into something good, make a different choice the next time you find yourself in the same situation.

I think so many times we get use to a way of thinking and it’s hard to accept that maybe our thought pattern can change.  I believe it is possible for us to convince ourselves that we are depressed, even if we no longer are actually depressed.  We get a certain level of attention when we are depressed, and I wonder sometimes if we get dependent on the level of attention.  I am also cautious to say I feel better.  I don’t want to jinx anything.

About 5 months ago I got laid off.  Something like that would have been a hard pill for me to swallow but I decided to put in God’s hands.  To not worry about it until I really have to worry about it.  I did everything I could on my end.  I applied actively for jobs, I went to interviews even when I knew I didn’t love the opportunity, but I wanted to practice my interviewing skills.  Within less than a month of getting laid off I found a job.  It isn’t perfect, and it comes with its challenges, but I am getting the experience I was looking for to advance my career.

I have been taking the same perspective with my depression.  I am leaving it with God.  I have asked and prayed for healing, but in the mean time I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is that I can do to change things.  Really change things.  If I keep telling myself I am tired, I am depressed, things never work out for me, that will be exactly what takes over my thoughts, control my thoughts and I will be depressed.

I don’t want the rest of my life to be full of negative thoughts, hospitals, depression and feelings of hopelessness.  I want to look back on my life and remember the beauty of living a full life of gratitude and joy of being surrounded by the people who loved me and whom I loved.  Most of all I want my daughter to remember me as a joy in her life.

The other big challenge I have been struggling with is the loss of friendships.  I’ve lost some friends this year.  I never thought how hard this would hit me and how bothered I would be by it.  They were the kind of friends I thought Dave and I would be friends with for the rest of our lives.  But one thing I realized is that everyone has their own journey to walk.  Everyone makes decisions based on their point of view.  For the longest time I would think it was my fault, I need to fix it, if only we can talk about it, but the thing is we did talk about it and even talking about it didn’t make things right.  Then there’s the thought of thinking you know someone, but you really don’t.  I started to doubt all the other relationship in my life.  Are all my relationships just fake and is it only a matter of time before they too fall apart over the trivial things in life.  Well after all the pondering, the incredible sadness I have felt, the hurt, here is where I have landed and where I will let it lie.  What if these friendships were as true and incredible as I thought they were, maybe it wasn’t all a lie?  What if the years, the moments, the memories were real and for whatever reason it just ended?  It ended for reasons I cannot explain because I cannot control other’s choices, or the way they interpret situations or their needs, it ended because everyone is on their own journey in life, and events effects everyone differently. But I can hold on to the fact that my friendships were true, and we shared some really incredible moments.  And that is worth remembering every relationship for the good it brought into my life.

That being said I have also come to my own truth, that I cannot stand still in life and ponder over what is, why it is happening, why people behave the way they do, but I can control me and only me!  And I do truly believe that the way you treat other people has a huge effect on how they will in return treat you.  The true quality of a relationship lies in the respect you have for others, respecting them for who they are, respecting them for the life choices they have decided to make and respecting them for who they decide to be.  You cannot change who people are, but you can decide who you let into your life and who you don’t.  Forgiveness is huge, not just for the relationship but for yourself.  Forgive people, everyone makes mistakes and stop holding on to these damn grudges you’re holding onto so tightly.  It will destroy you from in inside out.  I am tired of it, I cannot be angry anymore, I have too much value in my life to hold on to, to enjoy everyday and not to miss out on the experiences and memories you can make instead of being angry. To enjoy the new relationships you build.

What I have come to conclude again is that we cannot control other people!  The only person you can control is yourself, your own reactions and how you will respond to life events and to others.  I always try to remember the most important relationship I have is the relationship I have with myself.  If I cannot respect and commit to myself, I cannot do it for anyone else.

Things that help me:

  • Believe in the power of your mind – You can convince yourself of anything! Keep telling yourself that you are not tired, you are not depressed and replacing those thoughts with positive thoughts and eventually they will become your reality.
  • You cannot control others, you can only control yourself – believing in yourself, changing your own behaviour for the positive and choosing how you respond to others is what you have full control over.
  • Just because relationships have ended, doesn’t mean it was all in vain – people come and go in your life. Choose your relationships wisely, value them each day while you have them and remember them for what they were when they end.  Treat others how you want to be treated.  Remember people will treat you the way you allow them to treat you.  You decide how you will be treated and no one else.I am not sure where to begin.

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In response to Bell Lets Talk Day I dedicate today’s piece to every individual suffering with their mental health.

Only By the Grace of God

I wake up dreading what you will bring.  Inside I feel empty.  My heart aches and the sadness is ever so present in the moment!  I try to smile and pretend it’s okay but I can’t keep the smile for long.  My mind races with thoughts I cannot stop; I want to stay in bed, fall asleep to never wake up again. I dream of the day I will no longer have to face you!  I hate what you take away from me so often!  It’s difficult to fake it, to pretend I am happy with the blessed life I’ve been given.  I want to be alone!  I will do anything not to pick up the phone, not to be in anyone’s presence.  You take away my loved ones!    In a split second waves of anxious thoughts and depression hit me like a freight train and there is nothing I can do to stop you.  You take over not only my mind but my body as well; my dislike of food gets louder and my body can’t keep up the fight.  It’s getting weaker by the day.  I don’t want to talk about it anymore, there is nothing left to say, there is nothing more to add.

NOT TODAY, by the grace of God, I decide!  You will not end this life!  This life is blessed with love and kindness.  I will accept Love and choose Love over all that you represent.  I will fight you until my very last breath.  I will keep that smile on my face and I will weather every thought with what is real and what is true.  Opposite action is my reaction.  Willingness is my power.  My strength comes from God.  I look up to Him for guidance and I choose to chase the endless possibilities to set you free!

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A new year has arrived and I am feeling hopeful! Our family went to Mexico for Christmas and it was one of the best vacations I’ve been on so far. It was great to spend time with the whole family without having any obligations. The three girls spent quality time together and had some good laughs, even Jordan, the 13 year old, which was especially great to see! Avery had some sleepovers in her big sisters’ room, which gave Dave and me some time to ourselves.

Before Christmas, I made an appointment with my psychiatrist as I was feeling so down and lost to a point where I wasn’t sure how to help myself anymore. My thought was that this must be time to seek further help. This is also the point where I would tell a friend or anyone who has reached the point of having suicidal thoughts to seek help. My appointment with the psychiatrist was, to say the least, very disappointing. Not only was he pushing my buttons deliberately, as I was telling him how I was feeling, but he made me feel even worse about myself. He made me feel guilty for seeking help and for feeling the way I was feeling as I discussed in my last two blogs before Christmas. No one makes us feel bad about ourselves; we do that all for ourselves. Since the meeting, I decided to discard that session, and instead feel empowered by my willingness to seek the help I need when I need it. I can go on forever about psychiatrists, or any medical profession for that matter, but psychiatrists are a special breed. I talk a lot about choice, but I and only I can make the choice to want to feel better, make the choice to continue on my journey to live a better life every day. I have an appointment with my psychologist this week and my hope is to discuss the rode ahead and to set some concrete goals for my mental health journey this year. My point is, don’t let anyone make you feel bad, make the choice to feel good, and you don’t need to let a doctor decide your worth or anyone else for that matter.

I am not one for new year’s resolutions but I do have goals I will focus on this year. I will be the change I want to see in myself.

  1. Improve my journey of faith – I will not put any pressure on myself to be a super Christian, but I will live my life with intention and make no more decisions counting on my own wants and needs but on God’s intentions for me. Life lived in the Lord’s presence is more balanced with less anxiety. Why should I carry all of life’s burdens on my own when God promises he will lighten my load?
  2. Make a conscious effort to spend more quality time with my family – We are so busy with kid activities and work and this requires more planning and effort in order not to take my family for granted. I have intentionally lessen Avery’s activities to spend more quality time with her at night and focus more on the sports she enjoys and to decrease my anxiety during the week. I have also planned a date night once a month with my husband. It is so easy to take our relationships for granted, but in turn it is also so easy for them to slip out of our hands and before you know it, you have grown apart. We will also continue to read the book “The High Conflict Couple” together and practice those skills.
  3. Eat healthy and work out – You cannot conquer it all and as I have mentioned we have a very busy schedule. I will continue to drink my fab4smoothy and workout twice a week to start. Things can only improve from there and I am a firm believer on setting reachable, measurable goals. I think two workouts a week are doable.
  4. Spending time with those that matter – I want to intentionally surround myself with people, friends and family, that inspire me to do better, that leave imprints of happiness and love in my heart. I will care less about others think of me, as what others think of me is none of my business and not my concern. Harder said than done, but I have been saying this out loud every time I catch myself comparing myself or worrying about what someone else thinks of me and it works!
  5. Take my career to the next level – my work is a distraction of the negative thoughts that sometimes are so prominent in my life. I am lucky enough to love what I do so I am going to make an advance in my career. Through focus, putting the search into action, and prayer this I will make an advance in my career.

My life is far from what I want it to be, but it will never be what I want it to be unless I make it happen. I WILL BE THE CHANGE I WANT TO SEE IN MY LIFE! Instead of always saying, “When this happen I will…”, or saying I want something but not really ever taking the action to accomplish it I will speak my wants as if it has already happened. I know all of this is easier said than done, but I can do it! You can do it!! The reason I know that is because I have already accomplished more than what is ahead of me and therefore I am able and capable.

Things that help me to stay positive and motivated:

  • Communication with those I love – if you are unhappy in your relationship have you told your partner? If not, why not? What is holding you back? Sometimes it feels like a mountain that cannot be climbed and it might seem easier to just give up or live with the resentment, but from my very recent experience with my husband, it has improved our relationship so much by speaking our truths. Really talking about what is bothering us and continuing to keep the communication line open. Even when I feel like being alone, smiling and giving affection (doing the opposite to what I am feeling) have changed my perspective tremendously and have opened my heart again to want to be close and to the possibility of what an exceptional relationship it can be.  Communication with my daughters also open the doors to having better relationships with them. Relationships I feel like I have let go of over the past year. I know communication make things better but so many times, it is so much easier for me to just keep quiet, whether it is to prevent an argument or a side look. I noticed that by going to a sports game or just sending a nice text with our 13 year old can make such a big difference. Because I am such an introvert it is hard to go out sometimes and it easier to not talk or not go anywhere, but the fact is the rewards of doing opposite to the emotion/feeling action is so much greater.
  • Psychologist/Counselor – I talk about this a lot but I 100% believe in it. I set a lot of goals for myself and I have good intentions to be positive, and to put into action the skills I know, but I know there will be moments where I get weak. It is so rewarding to be reminded of what these skills are and to talk about how to get back on my feet when I have a setback. Setbacks happen and they are not failures. My psychologist speaks my language and I never have to worry about saying the wrong thing or offending her, as it is not a personal relationship and is 100% objective.
  • Positive affirmations – For now my personal affirmation is to be the change I want to be in my life. To be kind, to spend more time with family, to work out, to do the things that make me happy and keep my life filled with hope and positivity. When things get hard I ask myself what is the change I can make to make the situation better.
  • Eat healthier, be active and SLEEP – over the holidays I let go of my healthy diet and exchanged it for eating whatever I wanted. Well, the outcome has been me feeling exhausted again even though I’ve had more sleep on average every night. The fact is exercising, eating healthy and getting enough sleep gives me the energy to live the life I want to live. These three things are key to me accomplishing everything I want to accomplish in my day!

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I am at an impasse the last few weeks. I can’t seem to lift myself out of the depressed state I am in. There is so much to be greatful for but at the same time I am feeling as if at any moment a freight train is going to come in and ruin everything I am holding onto so tightly. I feel as if I am balancing myself on a tightrope and with a small blow of the wind it is all going to come crashing down.

As I have mentioned my husband and I had some serious conversations about our relationship in the past two weeks. We discussed what it is that we both need out of the relationship and from each other in order to be happy. Communication in our relationship is what keeps us alive and I have to say I have only Dave to thank these days for pushing me to talk. I feel numb lately, almost like I can’t feel anything towards anyone but it is through my conversations with Dave that I awake some feelings that I am still alive inside.

As promised I would give an update on the book, The High-Conflict Couple, we are reading together. We completed Chapter 2, which focuses on mindfulness. As I went through the dialectical behavioural therapy (“DBT”) the practices were easier for me to understand, but was a bit new and not so clear, I believe, for Dave. Mindfulness in DBT is the core skill that underlies all the other skill sets. If we cannot be mindful, we cannot willingly use the skills to better our state of mind and tolerate distress effectively. DBT in part expresses mindfulness practice as observing, describing and participating in a non-judgmental way. A mindfulness practice I used often when I was just learning what mindfulness was, was the “54321” mindfulness exercise. For example for five minutes, sitting still, notice 5 sounds you hear, listening without adding any judgement or feeling to it. Then observe four things you see, three things you feel, two smells you smell and one thing you can taste, without any judgement. There are various forms to this exercise. This is just one that I use. I have added a link to a “54321” mindfulness exercise at the bottom of this blog. What this is doing is teaching you how to be in the moment, to be present and for your mind not to wonder. And if your mind wonders, bring it back to what you are doing without judging yourself. If you practice mindfulness on regular bases, it can be very useful in high distress or anxious moments. You can use mindfulness to pull you out of your distress and bring you into the present moment. For couples I believe this can be very helpful as well. When we are upset with our partners, our mind races and we can be all over the place about what we should say next as a comeback, how hurt we are, getting more upset as the conversation goes on etc. When and if we are able to bring ourselves back to the present moment we are able to listen to our partner without judgement, observe the situation and describe what has happened without judgement and most likely the altercation or discussion will be much more calm and controlled.

I think this book will be so great for us. To bring us to a place where we are on the same level as far as DBT skills as well as to set some common rules when we have a discrepancy. This is where my husband is amazing. He does not need a lot of time after we’ve had an altercation to forget and move on. It is me that struggles to move on, my mind races to the most unbelievable, ridiculous places and I need a lot of time to get pass things. I cannot just flip a switch and move on. Even though Dave is able to move on faster than I am, he is also willing to sit and talk with me in order to make the process easier on me.

The one thing I hate the most about feeling depressed is the life I suck out of everyone around me, or so it feels. Sometimes I look at my little girl and her eyes look so incredibly sad, as if she is already bearing a heavy weight. I am afraid she is carrying the burden of my depression. Is she just like me waiting to see what my mood is like every morning and deciding then whether it will be a good day or not? We say our prayers every night and she always asks God to help us to be silly. I ask God now everyday too to help me be silly, even just a little bit so that she can feel the lightness in my heart.

Sometimes it is hard to let go of what is. The company I am currently working for has been taken over by another. You build relationships with people at work and it brings a sense of sadness to know that in the new year not everyone will be around. I didn’t think this change was affecting my mood but now that things are in motion and the closer we get to the new year, I feel sad for the relationships that will be lost, not forever, but in the way that I won’t see the people I have come to know so well every day.

For me there is a lot of practice in the weeks ahead. Christmas is around the corner, I want to be the happy wife, and mom my family will want me to be.

As I have always said:  “You can’t complain unless you are willing to do something about it.”

Skills to focus on for the weeks ahead:

  1. I have made an appointment with the big guy, my psychiatrist. Don’t get me wrong I have a lot of respect for psychiatrists but they are fucking weird! I don’t like seeing him because I know when I have built up the courage to call him for an appointment, things are getting past the point of my control. My hope is that he will shed some light on some sort of resolution.
  2. Communication – to keep communicating with my husband. I have to keep talking to him even if sometimes I feel like going to bed and not talking to anyone. Keep reading our book and practicing the new skills we learn.
  3. Self-care – We are going on a little vacation and I am going to make sure I soak up every minute of it. Play with my daughter, spend some quality time with my husband, take long baths and visit with some friends.
  4. Do the opposite of what I am feeling – I am going to practice the new and old skills by putting a smile of my face when I feel down. Coming across as friendly will attract people to be kinder to you in return. Even when I don’t feel like talking it is better knowing people are happy with me because I am trying than them acting weird because I am moping around. This I guarantee! I will ask for what I need and in return validate the feeling of others.
  5. BE STILL and meditate on the word of God – I feel 100% more secure and more safe when I give my worries to Jesus. I know this needs lots of practice still but it will be my focus! Phil 4:13 “I can do all things, through God who strengthens me.”

54321 Mindfulness Exercise – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxflwM6YfYk

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WARNING:  This blog discusses suicide.  If you are triggered by suicide discussions please do not read.

For the last few weeks I have been on a bit of downward spiral. It started with me noticing that I am really irritable with my loved ones. As I mentioned in a prior blog I yelled at my little girl, which is definitely not a normal occurrence for me, but it happened twice after that, which devastated me. I don’t know how to describe it, but I have such high goals for our relationship that when this happened I felt like I was completely ruining our relationship. I know that I can be very hard on myself, but my mind would not stop racing. Just in these last 2 weeks, I’ve had thoughts that my little girl would be better off without me.

With my husband, I am feeling like I would rather not talk for fear I might say something the wrong way and we would end up in another fight, that I started, and that I would have to apologize for. I am so tired of always having to apologize! The cycle goes like this, I say something in a demeaning way, or without thinking before I speak, most of the time because I’ve been bottling up my feelings and frustrations, my husband gets frustrated, understandably, I get more on guard and we end up in a fight. So, I’ve been withdrawing myself, because I don’t actually want to argue, I just don’t want to talk at all lately. Then I feel super sad about the argument and regret what I said. The cycle just keeps repeating itself. For years I have been bottling things up inside. I want to make my husband happy and give him what he needs, but the thing is you can only keep doing that for so long. You also can’t expect someone to know how you are feeling and what you need from them without actually telling them what you need. For example, I cannot get frustrated with my husband if he is watching football but I want him to spend time with me, and I never asked him or told him that I want to spend time with him. I feel like I am failing not only my daughter but also at my role as a wife. I am feeling as if I have lost my place in our family.

In general, feel like I just want to be alone. I am tired of always having to try at life, always having to put on a face that I am happy when I am just not! My mind races with questions like why can’t happiness just come naturally to me, would I, or even my family, be better off without me. When my mind goes toward suicidal idealization, I know that I am in a dangerous spot and I need help. All of these symptoms is not hard to diagnose…DEPRESSION!! Fuck!! I hate everything about it! Seriously, I am so tired of the same old story. I have been taking meds for over ten years, I’ve done dialectical behavioural therapy (“DBT”), private therapy for over 15 years, hospitalizations and nothing has made the cycles stop. I know it never will completely stop me from going through depressive cycles but sometimes I just wish it could!

But guess what, wishing and hoping is not a strategy to lift depression!

Things that help me:

  1. Therapy – seeing my therapist is probably one of my greatest tools. According to my therapist there are some new skills available as part of DBT. As I understand it, you put on a smile (opposite action to the emotion you feel) and lift your eyebrows just a bit. I know this sounds so silly! I have been practicing this at home and the results have been tremendous. When I feel depressed and down my facial expression shows it. Of course, when someone walks around with a resting bitch face who wants to talk to them? Since I’ve been practicing this skill in the last week, both my daughter and my husband approaches me differently. It actually makes me feel happier and my daughter approaches me more and probably feel like I am more approachable because I look happier. My husband’s facial expression and reaction towards me when he walks in the house is also a complete 180. He has also told me he feels like he can approach me when I look happier. This is not about hiding my feelings and just putting on a happy face for others. Smiling and lifting your eyebrow just a touch makes me actually feel happier and the more positive interactions I have with my family the better I feel. Try it!
  2. Communication – Last night, and over the weekend, my husband and I have been having really intimate conversations about what is happening for both of us in our relationship. It takes a toll on the person living with someone suffering from depression. To be around someone who, for months at a time, don’t feel like talking, feel depressed and push you away, is definitely something I know I would have a hard time coping with. For me to open up to my husband is sometimes one of the hardest things to do because I don’t want him to worry or add more of a burden, but it does give him some insight as to why I am responding a certain way and sometimes even pushing him away. He get’s paranoid and feel insecure sometimes too, like all individuals do, and communicating with your partner, and even your child, in an appropriate method of course, do help them dealing with their feelings. Even for me, opening up to my husband and sharing thoughts I’ve been bottling up and been too afraid to share is like lifting a weight of my shoulders. I truly have an amazing husband who goes above and beyond to help me cope with my struggles of depression and anxiety. I believe with all my heart God sent him on my path to make life just a little easier.My husband and I are also working through a book called “The High Conflict Couple.” The book uses DBT skills to control emotions that flare up in relationships. It describes how each person acts and reacts differently based on his or her personality type, and how to understand each other better in order to prevent destructive arguments. It discusses ways to manage problems with negotiation, instead of conflict and to find acceptance and closeness with your partner.
  3. Self-care – These are little things I do for myself to feel better it truly does wonders. On my way to and from work, I listen to this podcast called Forever35. My car rides home is about 2 hours of my day that I have to myself and these two ladies make me laugh, they have great self-care suggestions and I feel like I am in conversation with some great friends, and best of all I don’t have to talk back. Asking my husband on weekends for a couple of hours to do something for myself, whether it is running an errand or writing on my blog, it gives me time to rejuvenate my soul. My FabFour smoothie as discussed in my Stop Complaining blog makes my body feel great which in turn makes me feel great.
  4. Connecting with God – I have been spending time with God again. I try to spend some time before bed reading my Bible and talking with God. I truly feel like my anxiety dissipates. God says in Phillipians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Spirituality is not for everyone, but if it is for you, I encourage you to reach out to God. For the longest time I haven’t spent time with Him as I was afraid He might not want me anymore, but the thing is He loves me no matter what. The love of God surpasses all understanding and we as human beings will never truly understand how far His love for us stretches. I write down the things that worries me, I pray for guidance, and He never seizes to surprise me. Somehow, it all gets resolved.
  5. Checking the Facts – This is also a DBT skill.  When I think my daughter or my husband would be better off without me I remind myself of these facts:
    • My husband has told me so many times how devastated he would be
    • My therapist reminded me of the statistics of kids that will develop a mental illness because of a parent committing suicide and even commit suicide themselves.
    • Would I want my family to suffer like I am?  NO!
    • Have any of my family member ever stated that they would rather not want me in their life?  NO!!!!!

Dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts are not easy for the depressed individual but it is also not easy for the individuals living with you. It is always up to you if and how you are going to deal with it. Using skills, finding a therapist and opening up to the ones you love are important. If you feel like you need help or you know someone who needs help, please contact your local doctor, the resources listed to the right of this page, or call 911.  And most important know that you are never alone!

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