The sound of my compassionate letter
Today is a calm day at work, maybe simply because it’s Friday and people are getting ready for the weekend. Who wants to be serious then? I am using the time diligently (almost) and have for example taken some phone calls and been to 2 hours of supervision. I`ve had one patient, and have read a little bit, also. The chapter I`m reading right now is about giving yourself as much compassion as everyone else. This is maybe one of the most central themes in my work, and something especially hard for
traumatized people. They`re so used to focusing on others, because they had to, before. If mother was in a good mood, then maybe that day would be okay. Maybe it would even be possible to do something nice together.
Right now I feel the need for comfort, myself. It’s 5 month after my big love left me, and my heart is healing so slowly. If I try to contact him, just in case he has changed his mind, I never get anything else than more disappointment, and the knowledge that he`ll never ever be with me again, is just so hard to take in. When I hear songs reminding me of the situation, I have to turn it off, and I still haven`t seen one romantic movie after the break-up. I don`t even like to be around couples. I have no problem connecting with my patients and their pain from rejection. So now I want to try to give myself crutches, myself a chance to stand upright even when I feel nothing is right.
First of all, it’s not the first time I`ve lost somebody. Like I`ve already written in my narrative, I lost my very best friend and my first real love while still struggling to grow up. I spent years trying to come to terms with loosing my first love, and I even thought about us while I was in new relationships. If I read books about people finding each other again after a long time, I hoped that would happen to me. After some time I felt better again, and tried to move on.
I have to remind myself of the struggles I`ve had, and how I always tried to continue fighting even when I just wanted to lay down, letting nature take me back to the earth. I`ve been in the rain countless times, and I managed to crawl back into a dry house after a while. These last months have been so difficult, and I am really proud that I got through Christmas, New Year and Valentine in one piece. Valentine was even a good day, because I treated myself so nicely; Ate something good, did scrapbooking, put on music and was proud that I could enjoy myself so much. It’s the first time I spent any of those big occasions without a boyfriend, and I feel stronger. Instead of finding some random person to soothe me, I soothed myself, and I am proud of myself.
I still see his face when I close my eyes, but now I work towards mixing the good things with the bad. How I felt when he was never there, how it hurt when he thought I was demanding too much, the way he never asked about my day or how he was restless when he finally was at home. I was always trying to make him, and still he only told me I was reacting the wrong way. He told me I was overreacting when I tried to talk about how I felt, and that I made it more uncomfortable for him to be home. I did many things wrong, because I felt neglected, and that made me feel even worse and more unstable. I know I`m to blame for a lot of things, but I ALSO have to remember I always did my best.
Another thing I must remember is how hard I have worked to be a better person. I have reproached myself, cried my frustrated tears without anyone to dry them, and gone to sleep alone most nights. I`ve had a warm shower when I really need it, and been social and active. I`ve not missed one day at work, and always focus 100 % at my patients, and I have been completely honest with people around me on how I`m doing. I`ve also been honest with people who liked me more than what I could return, and felt I have been able to not let anything go too far. I`ve also had my share of rejections from some people I’ve met, who I could have liked a bit more, without feeling too bad about it. I`ve told myself I have to take the time I need, and given myself some invisible hugs when the world is grey around me. I must remember that I need this time to heal, and that I obviously deserve it. I shouldn`t feel bad for using several hours on nothing, like staying on the internet or watching some tv-show. I`m much harder on myself than with anyone else, and always keep these unreasonable standards on what I have to accomplish.
To elevate my mood and take care of my body I have started swimming and running 2-3 times a week. Even when on vacation or at home, I try to put some exercise into the program. Today I walked to work for the first time in a long time, and it felt great! I am eating healthy most of the time, but still eat dessert, chocholate or drink chai caramel when I want to. I have met people I and prioritized spending time with them. I also have to learn to not feel bad if I say no to something, because I MUST have time on my own. It`s essential that I can just be with the bad feelings, that I see I can bear it and even learn more about how to control them.
And what about who I am? I have sometimes done bad things, but that doesn`t mean that I AM bad. I have hurt people because that`s easier than being hurt myself, but it still doesn`t make me a person unworthy of love. I struggle, and instead of dragging myself down, by thinking I’m horrible, I have to see that I also do good things, every day.
It can be the small things like holding the door when I see someone coming towards me, and bigger things, like saying to my supervisor today that it`s not okay that my patient is treated bad by her mother. It can be to give my brother a hug and a heartfelt compliment, and it can be to validate someone else`s pain. I think about the environment, and don`t use my money on fancy and expensive stuff. I want to be real, and am proud that I actually can show that it`s okay to do mistakes. We all do, and we will probably do them again. Most of us don`t have energy or time enough to really work on our issues, and there are so many expectations the whole time, that we just have to fail once in a while. I can be creative, get new ideas from diverse bits of information and try to keep updated on what`s going on in the world. I also try to be open to meet new people, and to let the unknown rest where it should be: In the future that no one can see.
Taking all this together, I`ve done a considerable amount of work, and that shows my strength. It shows that I can Survive and thrive, and when I get through this I will surely grasp the opportunities that I deserve. I will take my time, mull it over, and really feel if its right or not, when I go into a new relationship, and I will be honest anout my past and what I hope for. I want to give myself this letter, because I have felt a unhappy the last days, and I need to remind myself that what I`m trying to do is hard work. I am allowed to hope that things will turn around again. I can choose which path I choose, and no one can stop me.
Enjoy your time while waiting for the last scraps of sorrow to fade away, because there is no reason not to.
I want to ask everyone who’s reading this: How would your letter be? What is good about you? Do you give yourself enough comfort? Could you give even more? What would be really great for you, and why do you deserve it in the first place? If you don’t feel like writing a whole letter, is it possible to think about those questions? It`s far too common to forget oneself in a hectic life.
Hugs to myself and to all my readers
We are often our own worst enemies. When others do something wrong, we try to understand. We forgive them, think about the hard life they have lived. How they have always tried their best, even after tragic events. We want to hug them, make them feel better. Our empathic hearts reach out. So why can’t we be as kind to ourselves as to others?
We need to remember that failing is normal , that we can’t be too hard on ourselves. After all, sometimes we need to fail, to know how to succeed.
Noah`s Ark is one of the big blockbusters from Hollywood, there is so much advertisement that I probably will see it myself, not so much because of Hollywood, but because I`m quite curious when it comes to the story. I have never read the bible, and just know what we learnt at school (but a lot of that is forgotten already). I still don`t know what I think about religion, but I`ve realized that no matter what you believe, stories have their own power, true or not. One of the most powerful stories I`ve ever read (it still lingers in my mind) is The Woman Who Stood Naked Before Her Lover, and even if I`m still not sure why I loved it so much, I think the was the mystery and how I felt it told me something profound about life.
I think stories in the bible are popular partly because they have some of the same honesty and lessons about life in them. The story of Adam and Eve is so profoundly human, and symbolically its a piece of art people immediately respond to even if they never understood art before.
The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity. God seeks not to condemn but only to embrace. Like the fable of Adam and Eve, we see hell as a literary device. Hell is merely a metaphor for the isolated soul, which like all souls ultimately will be united in love with God” Pope Francis declared.In a speech that shocked many, the Pope claimed “All religions are true, because they are true in the hearts of all those who believe in them. What other kind of truth is there?
The reason that I wanted to write about Noah`s ark is because I saw a news channel this morning, talking about the Noah`s Ark museum in Denmark. The point is to teach people the story, without saying if it`s true or not. Some people who went there, were described as silent when they left the exhibition. “We think many are surprised, not because they suddenly believe in the story, but because they are impressed by the story and everything they didn`t know”.
I think we all need a Noah`s Ark every now and then. A place to feel safe, where we can be protected when it feels like we`re drowning. We psychologist don`t need to be afraid integrating metaphors and images from stories like these.
James Hillman, psychologist and director of studies at the Jung Institute in Zurich points out: “We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Therapy and the World’s Getting Worse”.
ike we literally might need some kind of Noah`s Ark soon, or tragedy will walk into everyone`s houses. The news of today could report that a Ebola virus has indeed been found, that is spreading without any vaccine available. I saw a documentary about the Ebola Virus: once, and it scared me so much I couldn`t watch more of it. I thought: This is really dangerous. It spread like fire, and you died fast. They have no closed the boarders of Senegal to reduce the problem. It reminds me a bit of “Inferno” by Dan Brown that I finished a month ago. Another book (Nothing to envy) I`ve read (it was recommended from a friend in United Kingdom) wrote about the state of North-Korea, and the stories I read also scared me.
This morning, the news could tell us that South and North-Korea has shot more missiles, and North-Korea has been clear on their unwillingness to cooperate. Another news item, was that FN Climate Panel had said that the changes we experience in the climate, will lead to more conflicts the next years. We have the problem with overpopulation, and the resources are dwindling. Russland is threatening Ukraine, and I`m afraid there will be less and fewer places where kindness is the norm.
Yesterday I interviewed and talked about the kindness project with several people. I went to a couchsurfer dinner with6 others (for example Kirstine Desian) and they said that it wasn`t usual for a lot of people to come, especially not if alcohol was involved. I was a bit saddened by this. Is this the only way people interact? Another new`s story focused on mental health, and even if many Danish people have psychological issues, it`s still stigma when it comes to mental health.
I hope that the reader feel helpless after reading this, because some do. They think: The world is in a bad state and there is nothing we can do. But is that true? I was surprised by the kindness I met when walking around in Copenhagen, and when I interviewed random people. We feel good when we do good, and many found it easier to remember things they had done to others than kindness other`s had showed them. In other words: We do like to give, and our memories stores those experiences more readily than getting something from. 10 points to altruism if you ask me.
We are already many in the kindness group, who have committed ourselves to reflect on and do small things for others.
One lecturer told us: If we`d helped only one person with mental health issues, to get better, we`d already paid for our studies. That is encourgaing, and shows the potential of kindness and helping others
its the… little things by MaxiKohan
Remember pay it forward? It might go slow in the start, but if everyone started to do one kind act in a month, what could that lead to? How many turn off the lights when earth hour comes?I`ve made a podcast, and if someone would like to join in, you`re very welcome. My dream is to pay people for doing interviews and writing about kindness, and I am not so far away from reaching that goal.
It can feel like the world is going under, and that Noah`s Ark can`t save us anymore, buy is there any harm in trying? I have seen so many people, ready to drown, that start to swim and find paradise on the other side.
The podcast: Acts of kindness
Red shoes with holes in. She threads carefully through deep snow, getting colder and colder. She just has a thin jacket that does little to keep the cold wind at bay. Shuddering she walks on, as fast as she can. She can see a house in front of her, with warm inviting lights. But she doesn’t know if they will let her in, and she doesn’t know if she even wants to be there. She looks up, as if the answers can be found among the falling snowflakes. Is there a God, and will he protect her? Will she encounter a person that gives her a warm hug or a person with clenched fists, ready to strike. She only knows that she barely escaped from a nightmare where freezing was a luxury. She barely survived. One fearful step after another. She gets closer, but some part of her want to turn around and run away. Some part of her, want to lie down and never wake up. The white snow would make a beautiful grave, she would be an ice princess. But she takes another step forward, snow slowly filling her shoes and numbing her. Now she is physicality numb as well as psycholgi cally. Slowly she reaches the house. The snowflakes muffle the silent sounds of her numb, beating heart. She knows she’s afraid of what will be behind that door, but puts a wall between anxiety and her so she doesn’t have to feel it. With hands blue from the cold, she knocks.
Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?
We all have principles, but having them is not the same as being able to live by them. Mine is being tolerant and trying to understand the people around me. In my work, I get the chance to do this every day. That also mean that I have to understand acts that people might think of as wrong. It can be the unfaithful wife, or an abusive father. Some ways of living is harder to understand than others. It is easy to feel empathy towards those who have been wronged, but I find it often important to understand why someone inflict pain on others. Why is this necessary? Because circumstances can make all of us walk on a path we rather not walk down. Let’s take some of the people who hurt others in war. They might experience nightmares, and feel so much shame over what they did. Many regret, and if you understand and not judge what they did, it is easier to forgive themselves and thereby moving on. Many change their way and live productive lives where they start helping others. We have to remember that. Most sex offenders want to change, and the best way to do so is starting a new life. Their motivation to do so, might be stronger than for most people and that meant they can be a resource in society. By forgiving themselves, they are in a better position to use their energy on living a life that reflects their values. Because we all have values, and being freed from what you did ‘wrong’ frees energy that went into shame and regret. So that is why my values is to be tolerant. By understanding what can be hard to understand I can be the mirror that makes my patients see that there is hope. There is always hope.
Some people are courageous. They struggle every day to get out of bed, and find it hard to take another breath. Living is agony, and still they do. Some even find the strength to write about it, and inspire others in the process. Danny Baker from Australia, is one of them. I am impressed and sad at the same time. Sad because he has lived with one of the deadliest health problems, but impressed that he has managed to get through it at the same time as he has chosen to give hope to others with depression. I have included one of his personal posts, and do also recommend the book “I will not kill myself, Olivia”
Depression is a Liar. It IS possible to recover and be happy again – even if you don’t believe it right now
Posted by Danny in Recovery From Depression on January 7, 2015
One of the cruelest traits of clinical depression is that it can often make you feel as if there’s no way out. It can convince you that your despair is eternal, and destined to oppress you for the rest of your days. And it’s when you’re in that horrifically black place, staring down the barrel of what you truly believe can only be a lifetime of wretched agony, that your thoughts turn to suicide.
In that moment, it seems as if it’s the only way out.
I’m so glad I didn’t kill myself
Unfortunately, I know that place well. I’ve been to that place where all hope is lost, where death seems to be the only salvation. Below is an excerpt from my memoir where I write about what that was like. It was April 2010, and at the time I was a 21-year-old university student and aspiring author.
The days dragged along. This was the worst I’d ever felt. Period. There was no relief from the ceaseless dread. I could barely function. Paying attention in class was almost impossible. Studying was too overwhelming. I’d fallen absurdly behind. I hadn’t touched my book [that I was writing] in days. I’d quit my [part-time] job at the law firm, too – needed all my free time to try and catch up on uni. But there was never enough time. I was constantly exhausted. Drained of life. Depression sucked at my soul. My spirit withered. My goal for the day got broken down even further: “just survive the next six hours,” I’d tell myself, “the next four hours. Hold off killing yourself until then.” [At which point I’d tell myself the same thing over again.]
I’d previously thought I’d get better. I’d always thought it true that hope and depression were bitter rivals until one inevitably defeated the other, and I’d always thought that hope would win out in the end. But for the first time in my life, I was void of hope. I honestly believed that being depressed was just the way I was, and that being depressed was just the way I’d be, for the rest of my life. And because I was so convinced that I’d never get better, there seemed no point in fighting my illness. Instead of willing myself to “hang in there” because I believed that my suffering was temporary and that everything would be better one day, I comforted myself with the knowledge that human beings are not immortal. That I would die, one day. One special, glorious day. Then I could spend the rest of eternity moulding in a grave, free from pain. You might be wondering why I didn’t just kill myself if I wholeheartedly believed that my future consisted of nothing more than excruciating misery. Well, first of all, I still was not a quitter. But more importantly, I didn’t want to hurt the people that loved me.
“It’s not fair to commit suicide and ruin their lives,” I thought. “So I have to hold on. No matter how much it hurts me I have to hold on.”
Hence why I drew comfort from the thought that one day I’d die and finally be free.
When you’re that depressed, that insanely and utterly depressed that you genuinely believe you’ll suffer that acutely for the rest of your days, life seems to lack all purpose.
“After all,” I remember thinking, “what’s the point in working, fighting, striving for a better life if I’m sentenced to one of chronic anguish and despair? There is no better life. There is no life outside of pain. So what’s the point in doing anything but waiting until death finally arrives on my doorstep and whisks me away to the Promised Land?”
I was still studying, and I still planned on finishing my novel and trying to get it published, but it was more out of force of habit than anything else. My passion had been drained. My zest for life asphyxiated. I was like a ghost, just drifting through the ghastly days.
“Shit! What’s wrong, mate?” an old friend once said when I ran into him at uni. “Perk up, brother!”
I was shocked. One of the most well-known attributes of depression is that it is entirely possible – and very common – to suffer horrifically without anybody knowing. But somehow without realising it, I’d crossed the line from a place where I was able to put on a front and fool people into thinking I wasn’t depressed to a place where I was so sick that it was obvious to people I hadn’t even seen for a year. When I got home I looked in the bathroom mirror, and realised that I was staring back at a man whose eyes were exhausted slits, whose whole face shrieked of agonising misery. I was staring back at a man whose spirit had been broken, whose soul had been destroyed. I was staring back at a man who, for all intents and purposes, was already dead.
As you can see, I was so convinced that I’d never get better. I was 100% sure of it. But after a while, one of the multiple medications I’d tried started to work. I started benefiting immensely from therapy. I committed myself to eating well, sleeping well and exercising frequently. And over time, I began to recover. Towards the end of that year and throughout 2011, I also made a number of positive lifestyle changes, and by early 2012, I’d kicked my depression for good. Ever since then, I’ve been feeling great.
And I’m hardly the only person who’s recovered from depression. I’m just one of thousands – 10s of thousands – probably millions.
Depression is a maestro at suffocated your hope, but countless people have proved that Depression is a liar. It IS possible to recover and be happy again – even if you don’t believe it right now.
If you enjoyed reading this post, you’d probably also like my memoir Depression Is A Liar: It IS possible to recover and be happy again – even if you don’t believe it right now. Recounting my struggle and eventual triumph over depression, I wrote it so that sufferers of the illness could realise that they’re not alone – that there are other people out there who have been through the same excruciating misery, and who have made it through to the other side. I also wrote it so that I could impart the lessons I learned on the long, rocky, winding road that eventually led to recovery – so that people could learn from my mistakes as well as my victories – particularly with regards to relationships; substance abuse; choosing a fulfilling career path; being a perfectionist; seeking professional help; and perhaps most importantly, having a healthy and positive attitude towards depression that enables recovery. Lastly, I wrote it to give sufferers hope, and to show them that no matter how much they’re struggling, that recovery is always, always possible.
Grab your copy here.*
*When you purchase a copy of my memoir, you’ll also be invited to join the Depression Is Not Destiny Private Facebook Support Group. Additionally, I will donate 10% of my royalties from the book to my charity, The Depression Is Not Destiny Foundation, which helps people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it to crowdfund the cost of their therapy.