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"It's such a foreign feeling that I'm not sure how to cope with it. Ultimately, I'm scared to be happy. My depression has formed such an important part of my identity that I don't know who I am without it."
Depression is a strange thing; we have a chemical imbalance in our brain caused by some pretty unbalanced gut bacteria, supported by life traumas and events and probably most pertinent to this post - it's a part of our identity.
I've always had depression. Most people who have a mental illness will show signs of it before the age of 25 and I'm no different. I first remember feeling really empty inside at age nine. I don't remember the circumstances at the time, but given the science about the biology of depression now, it probably had nothing to do with events, but gut bacteria.
As I wrote last week, I'm in a pretty dark place. I have thought about suicide and my own death on occasion but nothing that I'm willing to take action on. But this week has been somewhat of a roller coaster. I've had these moments where I've forgotten about my misery and can almost feel the flickering of joy that's trying to escape from me.
I'm terrified of being happy. It's ironic really - to be so miserable and wanting to not feel so hopeless and helpless - yet having this simmering happiness just sitting under the surface of my heart. It's such a foreign feeling that I'm not sure how to cope with it. Ultimately, I'm scared to be happy. My depression has formed such an important part of my identity that I don't know who I am without it. I know that I'll always have a predisposition to it, yet who am I without being a miserable, melancholy, introverted person. It's like I have this other person just sitting inside me waiting to come out - a joyful, happy, contented person - but my ego just doesn't want anything to change. It is happy with the status quo, it is comfortable, it is known and it is easier to be miserable than to be happy.
My power word, or Guru word - as I learned in a workshop with Marcus and Andy from the Wellness Leadership Revolution - is JOY. The word that both terrifies and excites me. It is a word that I can feel deep within myself but I'm coveting it just for myself, I'm not willing to let anyone else see me in a state of joy. And yet, I'm excited by how I could be if I could just strip of this coat of depression and be in that state of joy. Of course, it's unrealistic to expect to be in a constant state of joy - life isn't like that - but it would be nice to try it on sometimes and put that coat of depression in the cupboard, just like a winter rug that's put away in summer.
Perhaps being in a depressed state protects me from stripping back my vulnerable heart because I'm already punishing it enough on my own. So, this week I am going to do two things to help me to tap into that joy:
1. Listen to music that makes me want to dance or makes my heart sing.
2. Allow that joy to come to the surface when the bubbling arises. It is safe for me to be happy. It is okay for me to be happy. I have permission to be happy.
I hope this helps you too.
Until next time,
©Alyssa Curtayne 2019
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