Depression is not always the stereotype of the sad and down person. Depression can be smiling, going on trips, playing with children, laughing with friends as the person seeks to get a glimpse of happiness again. As a person seeks to escape the deep and murky darkness of their inner turmoil. Happiness is fleeting, a phenomenon that we are always seeking. It is much easier to grasp sadness than it is happiness. But depression is more than an attempt to hold on to the happiness that comes in episodes. Depression is a serious mental illness that there is a lot of verbal attention given to but not enough action in the medical or mental health fields. Depression is a mental illness and a serious medical illness. With that knowledge, why is the onus placed only on mental health professionals to provide care for the individual suffering from depression?
It would be beneficial for the individual with this medical illness to have a team of medical professionals working together with mental health professionals. For example, those with cancer have a team of providers to support them not an individual doctor. This could be part of the reason why those with depression and other serious mental health illnesses feel so isolated. When you are diagnosed with a serious medical illness, there are already providers in place that come up with a treatment plan unless you have a rare illness. With depression, many people become disillusioned because they are working either with a therapist alone or a psychiatrist alone or with no one.
If you are on medication, your psychiatrist and your primary care physician should be in communication, there should be a neuropsychologist and a therapist. Then the support system should be involved. However, this is not possible for many people to have a support system which is where group therapy or support groups may be beneficial. The mental health field is hodgepodge with providers working in isolation. A therapist alone can only do so much. Medication can only do so much. That is even if people are okay with taking medication. Many people are fine taking medication for what they consider serious medical illnesses but balk at the idea of taking medication for depression which is a serious medical illness that is chronic and can be terminal.
Those with depression understand that happiness is an episodic phenomenon and it is increasingly difficult for them to envision getting a glimpse of that phenomenon. Not enough resources and research go into mental health. The medical field also has a lack of respect for the mental health field when in fact, both are intertwined. Ideally, there would be a team of professionals working with one person just like cancer treatment. We need to become better at understanding that depression is not just “in their head”, that it is medical. It deserves the same care and attention as a serious medical illness. Maybe just then, there will be more episodes of happiness and less depressive episodes.
When I chose the title for this post, there was a song in my head. If you can guess the song, you get internet brownie points. For obvious reasons, this post is about love. Obvious in the sense that if you live in the United States of America you are aware that February 14th is the oft celebrated, oft loathed Valentine’s Day. This is a day that can be great for some and not so great for others. We are inundated in the media and in stores with heart balloons, flowers, candy, cards, movies, emails from restaurants and hotels about special events. It is very hard to avoid.
This post will not give you the answer to what is love. Love is deeply personal and impersonal. One can love spiders, while another can love cockatiels. One can love another person and not love themself. Having a sense of self-worth is just as important as seeing the worth in others. It is cliche boarding the self-love train but even though something is cliche, it does not take away it is importance. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the over emphasis of this day, do your best to remove yourself from it such as minimizing time on social media, read a book, play your favorite video game, or watch a show or your favorite movie. If you don’t feel overwhelmed and you like or even love this day, get yourself some balloons, some flowers. This day of love, what are you doing to show love to yourself?
When you think of turtles, what is the first word that comes to your mind? Is it majestic? Long-lived? Adaptable? There is a high probability that it was probably the word “slow”. That word does not generally come with positive connotations. Except, turtles are not always slow, they have been clocked to swim as fast as “35 km/h (22mph) such as the leatherback sea turtle which is the fastest turtle in the world. Just because they have the capacity to move this quickly, does not mean that they have to at all times. This is something that we can take from turtles, slowing down. One of the constant statements that came out of the pandemic was that people need to slow down. As we roll into a new year, it may be helpful to take this to heart. Slowing down does not mean not spending time with your friends and loved ones. It means listening to your mind and body when it says that you are tired or feeling unwell, that you need just a little break. Reminding yourself that you don’t have to do that thing, go to that outing, answer that call. It can mean understanding and being aware of your own capacity and limits. Sure, you can be on the go all the time but your battery will drain whether it is in a day or 10 years and when it drains, it will drop you hard. So put into place preventative measures. There is the refrain to do all the things all at once but what you see on social media, mainstream media, what others tell you that they do, not all of it is true and there are many things hidden under the surface.
Take a chance to slow down and like a turtle, use your capacity to move quickly when necessary. Identify what is important, prioritize what is important, and let the rest float by. Move with intention and mindfulness.
As 2022 comes to a close, it is a great time to reflect and to celebrate. The reflection part is easy to do, the celebration may be more challenging especially if it has been a difficult year. And for many, it has been an extremely difficult year. When you reflect you think about what was the most important lesson you learned this year? When you celebrate, you can account for any new skills that you learned. If you did not learn any new skills, what did you learn about yourself? Did you live by your core values? If so, how did you live by them? Celebrate getting back up if you fell down a few times this year. Celebrate any healthy action you took to improve your well-being even if it meant making some tough decisions. What did you let go of this year? What will you no longer let get in the way of your success? What were the most useful resources you had this year that you can take into 2023?
Celebrate the letting go. Take with you in 2023 what energized you. Lift your hands up, close your eyes, smile, and release all that has mentally held you back. Dance.
Here at Sunny Wellness of Honey, I would like to wish you a very Happy and Healthy New Year!
Deep dark clouds roll through the sky except no one can see them but you. The sun is shining brightly outside of your mind, everyone seems to be so happy and enjoying the bright sun while you feel trapped in the darkness of your mind. The feeling of being alone increases even if you are surrounded by a lot of people. Their joy feels like a burden to you. How do they find joy so easily? This thought jumps in your head.
It really does not matter regarding the answer to that thought. You don’t know their life as they don’t know yours. Dark clouds do pass by, not by force, not by strength of character, not by wishing or dreams. They simply pass.
How often are you quiet? How often do you just sit with yourself and allow yourself to think and feel? Do you find that you do something else to distract your own quiet? What would happen if you only allowed the silence to be uninterrupted? It can be scary to sit in stillness, to sit in quiet, even for just two minutes. We spend so much time thinking about what we need to be doing or what we want to be doing rather than just being. Interestingly, silence in many places such as cities is not a true concept. However, this can be taken advantage of like a white noise or even brown noise.
We live in a world where it seems everyone and everything is moving quickly. This can lead us to feel that we do not have time to savor quiet focus. It is popular to be busy and seemingly unpopular to not always be involved in some activity. There is a cultural belief that one must always be productive. That leads to the question, what exactly is productivity? What does it mean to be productive? It’s important to have a clear idea of what it means for you to be productive.
Take some time and consider that being quiet and still might actually be a form of productivity. How do you practice being quiet?
When this blog was first started, the intention was to a create a space away from social media such as Instagram to share how yoga and mental wellness can work together. However, life was not considered as a huge unexpected situation arose: COVID-19. One could assume that this would have afforded more time to write. It did not. Like so many others, life had other plans. COVID-19 caused changes; good and bad. For almost a year, my whole family was home together. This drew us closer but that was not the case for everyone.
COVID-19 led to further alienation between people. As there were those who lost loved ones due to COVID, there were other losses that were not accounted for outside of death. Friendships were ended, romantic relationships collapsed, people started paying closer attention to who and what they allowed into their lives whether out of obligation or desire to hold on to an ideal. For example, adult children began reevaluating their ties with their parents and other family members. There were many quitting jobs and examining their career choices. The start of realizing that choices exist.
With choices, it is important to be intentional with them as choices do not come without consequences. The reexamination of blood family ties can cause a lot of hurt. The change in career or quitting of a job can cause financial disruption. Moving mindfully and understanding your intentions can hopefully lead to choices one can live with in equanimity.
Practicing mindfulness is truly that, a practice. Being aware of your present moment. Aware of your interactions with yourself and with others. Many times, we are not aware of our impact on others or what others notice. It had not crossed my mind that my son was aware of my business, let alone the name. Until he mentioned I should create an inventory for Sunny Wellness of Honey. In his mind, he thinks my business is selling items because he knows I interact with clients on a daily basis. He is also aware that I am self-employed and I was unsure he noticed the difference from when I worked corporate. What that did was remind me of how I have been remiss in my posts because who really reads blogs anymore? It also helped me remember that we don’t live in a vacuum, the little ones are watching and learning.
Will I post more frequently, cannot promise that. One thing is clear, I need to be more intentional with my site and business. The last two years have been one of huge change, most unexpected. Personally and for many others. With this change has come a shift in perspective. A more laser focus on what is important, what truly matters. As I watch my son grow, I am becoming more cognizant of his mental awareness and what that means for our interactions. I am aware that out of all my titles, there is one that I prize the most, and that is the title of “mom”.
What makes a good life? Is it having a lot of money? Having everything your heart desires? Traveling the world? What is good living? These are questions that I have and the self-help gurus, even psychology professionals would tell you that only the individual can answer those questions. I can understand that but it’s hard to tell the person who has limited financial means or severe mental illness to find that one thing they’re grateful for, one thing that made you happy today.
For those who seem open, I tend to send free resources to things that they might find interest, in hopes to provide support. This worked for me when a friend sent me information about My Vinyasa Practice and their offer of free yoga teacher training during the height of the pandemic. I wanted yoga teacher training and as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, yoga teacher training and even yoga classes at a studio can be cost-prohibitive. Therefore, when I received the information, I was very excited for the opportunity. Especially as a mother, wife, and full-time employee; I needed teacher training that was flexible and accessible. I believe yoga should be accessible to anyone who wants to practice and the training is well. This provides more people the ability to find something just for them or something they could use to help others. Yoga has provided a glimpse into what good living means and I want to hold on to it.
When a person sees no way out of their situation, when they feel like they’re on the brink of despair, in a hole they fear they cannot get out of, these catchall statements lack pith. They are at best unhelpful, at worst harmful. So if you are the helping type, how do you help? Let the person know that you’re there. That you’re willing to listen. To have a good life seems almost mythical especially in our current world. Or has it always been mythical but we are blinded by youth or the stories our parents tell us? Or is our understanding of what a good life is unclear, muddied by life, an illusion placed on to us by others? For me, I am taking it one step at a time. Earlier this week, my husband happily declared “I changed the sheets and cooked! I have accomplished two things today, that is good!” And for some reason, that rung a bell for me, maybe the good life finding that one thing in your day. That if nothing else happened or you felt you did nothing, there was the one thing that you did.
It took a while but I’ve returned. How have you fared this past year since the pandemic changed our lives last March? If I go by the big picture, it’s been a challenge and we’re still here. Still gainfully employed and still have a home. There have been some losses. One loss related to yoga is that of Lesley Fightmaster. Lesley passed away in November 2020. Her family has not informed us of the cause so cannot say if it were related to COVID-19. It was unexpected for her family and for her online students.
I’ve never met Lesley personally but I considered her my yoga teacher. I practiced almost daily with her on Youtube, I joined MyYogaPal, I joined her Patreon. She did live chats, was warm, communicative. It was my hope to go to one of her retreats to finally meet her in person. It’s amazing that she was able to make connections with people she’d never met online. And we got what felt like her authentic self. It did not hit me how much of her loss affected me until I realized I haven’t practiced with her since her passing. Not only that, my practice has become sporadic. Lesley was an absolutely amazing yoga teacher. She made yoga accessible and was able to express warmth, focus, and groundedness through the screen.
“Yoga is not about the pose” is what she always said in practice. A reminder that yoga is breath and spirituality. Aspects that many online yoga teachers seem to forget with the focus on making yoga a workout or acrobatics. I always felt challenged yet peaceful after a practice. It’s still hard to believe we’ll never get more classes from her. Thank you, Lesley, for your gracious spirit and wonderful classes. God bless you and your family. Rest well.
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