I don’t want my writing to be focused only on amazing trips and adventures that went according to plan, that’s not being real. Our real lives are messy, filled with moments of pure, unexpected joy and equally shitty moments that we would rather forget. Many of my greatest moments have come after dark nights, two parts alcohol shaken with one part heartbreak and swirled together in a fancy glass.
“Then let’s raise our cups and drink together, pour one heartache into another” – Tran Huyen Tran
My posts thus far have been about my awesome experience hiking the Wonderland trail and my very real fear of shitting myself #diaperlife! But life ain’t always about the good parts, and neither is my blog. Yes, I plan to share what I do on my mostly fun, and sometimes idiotic, adventures. But I also intend to be real, be myself, and share the not so fun topics of life that impact me, or dear friends, or family.
One of those real topics is about depression. I’ve suffered with bouts of depression throughout various stages in my life. I don’t say this to seek sympathy for I know I’ve led a very charmed life. But we all have shit (hopefully not running down our leg though), baggage that we’re working through. And depression doesn’t discriminate against the haves and the have not’s.
Living in Seattle during the winter probably doesn’t help, especially after moving from a place whose license plate reads…The Sunshine State! With little sun and rain set like clockwork, seasonal depression is a real thing out here in the PNW!
You might think that people who suffer from depression are weak. But I believe those who’ve been so unfortunate to feel the grip of depression are the strong ones, the strongest you might know. Why? Because they struggle every damn day, and every day they hide it. Every day they smile, comfort others, try and make those around them laugh, all the while struggling their damnedest to get out of bed and show up. Oftentimes when you see them, they are crumbling on the inside, wanting nothing more than to close themselves off from this life.
There’s a lot of debate about how to treat depression, and I won’t pretend to know the answer. But I do know that for me it starts with connection to others, and not social media connection, but real, true connection with people I know and trust to call upon. Sometimes all we need is a little kindness, a friendly smile, the feeling that someone hears us. These are not outlandish requests. This is basic human need.
Getting outside has also become my medicine. I find solace, connection, challenge, beauty, and oftentimes happiness when I’m walking in the woods. Sure there are days when I can’t let go of the frustration or anger. Just like there are days when I go to yoga and unsuccessfully try and breath my way into gratitude, which sounds something like this…”I have gratitude, no really I’m grateful, damn it I’m f’ing grateful…shit #failing at yoga”.
So what’s the point of all of this? To show the real side of me, and not just the fun bits. To show that not only is it ok but it’s imperative that we be open about what we struggle with, how we deal with it, and how we’ve stumbled along the way. To let those who silently struggle know they’re not alone. To write about what’s worked for me and hopefully inspire others to seek out healthy ways to cope when those moments of darkness come creeping in.
My mantra lately has been to lead with love, which for me means to show up and be present, speak kindly and be an advocate for others, no matter if’s it’s a little vulnerable or awkward (it’s me so it’s definitively awkward). I’ve committed to showing up, trying to be my best self to me and to those around me, to be that connection, to Stay Smiling like my boy Tee Williams!
Whatever gives you that clarity, that contentment, eases the onslaught of depressed feelings, find a way to make time for it. Find a way to fit that into your life. Otherwise you’re compromising on the most important person…which is you!
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” “- Helen Keller