The Battle With Depression

So this is something I’ve been dealing with most of my life. I don’t know if it’s a chemical thing or a personality thing or what. When I read Eat, Pray, Love, and Elizabeth Gilbert mentions that her therapist said that she would battling depression on and off for most of her life because she has a tendency towards it, I was like “Yes, that’s literally what I felt like I’ve been doing”.

The American Psychiatric Association provides the following definition for depression:

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

The funny thing for me is that there usually isn’t a huge cause for it. I’ll be wandering around just doing what I need to be doing and suddenly, I will realize that I’m just not feeling like myself anymore. It’s not like some big event always causes it (although that has happened as well). It almost feels like a bunch of little things that stack on top of each other and when I look up, I’m under the weight of all of that stack. I end up feeling like no one gets it. I end up resenting people for not understanding how I feel. I end up feeling like I’m a hole that I will never get out of.

I remember feeling that way when I was younger but I didn’t realize what it was. I’m really good at continuing to put one foot in front of the other so I would just keep doing whatever I was supposed to be doing (school, work, etc.). I think when I finally visited a therapist for when I had it really bad is when I learned to recognize it for what it was.

It comes and goes. I’m in the middle of trying to pull myself out of it right now. The best thing about recognizing it and beating it is that once you do it one time, you know you can do it again. It is tiring. It is overwhelming. But it is possible. I’ll continue to put one foot in front of the other and find love and happiness where I can. I’ll find help where I can because I know that it’s not possible to do this entirely by myself either.

The American Psychiatric Association also says that:

Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.

So if that’s you, please know you aren’t alone. There are a lot of us out there and we work hard at finding contentment and happiness. It’s not an easy battle but it’s one that is worth it. So get help, talk about it, do whatever you need to do to fight it. Because I promise that not being depressed really does feel good.

How Can I Become That Girl Who Has Everything?

Sometimes, I go through this thing where I want things to change but honestly, I don’t want to do any work to change them. Then, occasionally, motivation comes along and I manage to actually work on making the changes to help me achieve my goals. But, seriously, does it ever just seem like some people have it easier than others?

I know that everyone has a story we don’t know about. Everyone has “stuff”. It’s not necessarily the same as ours but it is there and it is valid. But still, it seems like things just fall into some people’s laps. You know that guy/girl. That one who has everything. That one who hasn’t really had a day of trouble or stress. That one who seems to have gotten everything handed to them and all the obstacles are usually more of a formality.

It doesn’t quite feel fair. Some people seem to have the looks, the intelligence, the talent, the personality. Why do I feel like I was shorted out on one or more of those things?

So what do we do? How can we make our life better? Happier? Perfect?

I don’t know for sure but I’m guessing that even almost all of those people had to work to get to where they are at. So that’s what we have to do. Work at it. If you’ve seen some of my recent posts about post-childbirth, I do talk about how I’ve been dealing with a lot of changes in my life and finding myself again has been work. I have been trying to put in my time though.

Life isn’t fair. And it’s not going to just hand you everything you want. You also have to find a way to appreciate the things that you do have. It’s so easy to see what you’re missing but, sometimes, you have so much that another person might really want in their life. Somehow, we have to learn to value these little things that do make things good for us.

Something my sister-in-law once said to me that stays with me all the time is “You are exactly where you are supposed to be”. It helps to ground me and make sure that I remember to live in the moment. Then, I don’t keep trying to watch what other people are doing and I only enjoy what I’m doing instead.

Life can be hard for most of us. It involves a lot of change that sometimes is expected, sometimes unexpected. We can only keep trying to improve ourselves and find our own happiness wherever we can. Once I start doing that, I might start seeing myself as that girl who has everything.

What Is Too Much When It Comes To Parenting?

Parenting has become such a big thing. I am constantly trying to schedule activities for my baby daily so that she’s stimulated and doesn’t become bored. At the same time, I keep wondering if this was the case 30 years ago. Did parents back then constantly entertain us? Or were we left to our own devices? Sometimes, I wonder if we’re doing too much.

I keep trying to figure out if all of this makes sense. I met someone recently that has flash cards with pictures and words for their 7 month old. It seemed a little overdone to me but considering my baby has recently started getting bored with the same old stuff, I wonder now if it’s something that we need to be doing to keep our children entertained. Did our parents do this?

Do we need to let our children kind of figure out how to entertain themselves? Or should we be planning every minute of their day? Is it bad if I let my child sit in her crib and babble to herself? I know I need time to just be on my own so would she need the same thing? Or should I be doing something with her as soon as she wakes up? What are the lines and boundaries? What is too little and what is too much?

I remember when I was a kid, I did play a lot with my siblings or by myself. I didn’t constantly have someone trying to entertain me. We used our imagination and created things. Now, I don’t know if this was the case when I was just a baby. I want my kid to learn how to use her imagination and be able to play on her own. I want her to have patience and be independent.

In a time where so much is done with the focus on our kids, what exactly is the best thing to do for them?

Social Anxiety

The idea of walking into a room full of strangers and having to talk to them scares the crap out of me. I’m assuming it’s because they might not like me. There are people who can go anywhere and will walk out with a room full of friends. I have one friend who I have gone out with in the past and she will know everyone in the place by the time she leaves. I know someone else that somehow manages to get to know everyone and has no trouble (at least that I can see) talking to anyone at anytime.

I wish I had that ability. I moved recently and while I am still in touch with my friends, I do have make new ones that are geographically closer. I haven’t had to make new friends in years. A lot of the people I have become friends with in the last few years I have met through other friends or through doing activities. I find that much easier than having to make friends without any type of familiarity in the process.

How many of us go through this social anxiety? I’d like to think it’s normal to feel this way. So how do those other people do it? How are they able to just talk to anyone? I honestly have to psych myself up when I know I’m meeting a group of new people for the first time. I have to convince myself that they will like me for me and that the worst that can happen is that I don’t talk to them again. I’m in my early thirties so I really should be over the idea that everyone has to like me.

I wonder where this fear comes from. Is it based on doubts of ourselves? Am I just not sure who I am? Is something else? I was never very popular. I always had my group of friends but I was definitely a nerd. I do feel as though I was judged while growing up for not being “cool”. Maybe this tag has remained with me as I’ve grown up and regardless of what I have done in my life, I will always feel like I’m not quite accepted for who I am.

I also wonder if the people who make it look so easy to just blend into a group also feel the social anxiety. Is it something that everyone go through whenever they step into a new situation? Or are there just people who are completely at ease no matter who they are talking to or any new place they go?

What is the secret to get rid of the social anxiety?

A New Mom Reclaiming Her Life

We all talk about how you shouldn’t lose yourself when you get into a new relationship. We work so hard to maintain our individuality while merging into a relationship so that we still feel independent but can enjoy the aspects of spending time with a partner as well.

Well, what happens when you have a baby? As a new mom, I found myself really losing who I was.

Even before I had the baby, I didn’t recognize myself. I define my self worth by what I do (and if I really do it well). I had been working for the last 8-9 years and I had been dancing for a really long time and finding peace and happiness in that. But, as soon as I was a few weeks pregnant, I left my job due to the distances I was driving and I wasn’t allowed to do any other physical activity other than walk due to doctor’s orders. It was really hard for me. I still did see my friends but a lot of the activities I used to do were limited.

After I had the baby, there was obviously the time I needed to heal and get used to having a baby around. So that’s all I was doing for the first few months. But it was hard. You give yourself so entirely to this little human being. All of a sudden, the only label you have is mom. All of the other things you were disappear. At least, that is how I felt.

I’ve never been able to function in a one dimensional sense. Even though I worked in one profession, I was involved in so many other activities that really helped my life be well-rounded. So this was really a difficult way for me to live. There are women who fit so easily into the mother role and make themselves so well-rounded within that role. I’ve seen moms who plan activity after activity for them and their babies and it sounds amazing. I wish I could do that. But, after a recent breakdown, I realize that it’s not me. I need certain things in my life for me to feel like myself. And feeling like myself is the best thing I could do for my child.

I felt guilty wanting to be back in the workforce or wanting time to myself. I still haven’t gotten up the courage to have a girls night out without my baby. I want her to be with me at all times. But I have taken steps to reclaim who I was. I joined a gym and get an hour workout in a day which has done wonders to my self-esteem. I am looking to find other moms to hang out with. I have a found a new dance class that I’m really excited about. I also have taken steps to see if I can find a job that fits a schedule that would allow me to be home for my child whenever I want.

As much as I really wish I could do the stay at home mom thing with great joy, I know it’s not me. I need to find the things that help me feel like me so that I can really show my baby my best self, the person that I’m proud of, the person I want her to be proud of.

Independent Career Woman vs. Stay At Home Mom

This is a topic that I never thought I would have to consider since I grew up believing I’d always be working. I grew up in a household where both of my parents worked and I spent a lot of time in day care. I actually believe a lot of my independence came from this so I had no problems believing that I would go a similar route and be a full-time working mom when I came to that point in my life.

Life doesn’t always work out the way you imagine it to. Because I was already pregnant when I left my job and that job was over 45 miles away in LA traffic, it seemed to be the best decision not to look for another job through the pregnancy. And, obviously, I’d stay home with the baby for a while since we didn’t have a need for me to go back to work right away.

And while this was the best decision for me and my family, it was a hard one for me. I have always been the type of person who did multiple things at once. I worked at my day job while being involved in a lot of activities. All of a sudden, I was limited by my own body during the pregnancy. I couldn’t maintain my level of physical activity. Even when we went out socially, I’d get tired a lot. I would have to be careful with what I was doing and where I was going.

Now, let me get one thing straight. Everything I had to do or not do in order to get my beautiful baby, I do not regret. She will always be totally worth it. But this is an emotional time with a lot of change for anyone and I wanted to share what I was feeling (and still sometimes feel).

I’m still going through figuring out who I am now. I’m not the same independent woman I was 3 years ago. I’m now a mom whose primary job is to take care of my child. Until I decide to go back to work (if I choose to do so), my life is about raising my baby. I have to figure out how to reconcile the person I was to the person I am now. It’s difficult. How do you go from being someone who participates in all of these activities to someone who only possibly might be able to do it again some day but not at the moment? You can never go back to being the person you were.

Somehow, a new person has to emerge that combines both the independent woman with the stay at the home mom. And, somehow, I have to learn to become that person.