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Black Dog Days Will Pass

In collaboration with WHO to mark World Mental Health Day, writer and illustrator Matthew Johnstone tells the story of overcoming the “black dog of depression”.

How many of you have seen The Black Dog?
How many of you had kept it as a pet in your own home?
How many of you still take a walk with it everyday?

I do.

I’ve struggled with the black dog my entire life.

As a child, I wasn’t the most “ordinary” girl. The other girls wanted to play with Barbie dolls and go shopping, I wanted to climb trees and go exploring. The things that made me happiest or made me feel accomplished (attempting to climb a tree and actually reaching the top) were of no value to my parents. In fact, they would yell and be disappointed at my lack of lady-like mannerisms. That’s when the puppy appeared.

As a pre-teen, I was overweight. Acne and extra belly fat is a bad combination at any age… But at 10 it’s all too horrific. The puppy grew a little more.

As an adolescent, my everyday routine could be condensed into one word: Struggling.

I was at that age where I was able to assimilate all my thoughts and emotions, I was able to give them words and meanings. I was so tortured now that I think of it. I would bathe myself in hurt everyday. Everything would weigh me down. Not living up to expectations, not being pretty, not being smart enough, not being creative, gutsy, not knowing what I wanted to do, not taking risks. I missed out on a lot of my life because of fear. And then I hated myself for it. Plus, I was dealing with some serious self-denial about my sexuality. Plus, I had developed an eating disorder. To say the least, I was pretty suicidal in college.

That is why it humbles me down to my bones everyday to remember where I came from and to know that I’ve gotten to a beautiful place I like to call “This”. My present. My moment. To remember my limiting beliefs, my lack of self confidence, of self esteem, of emotion. You can read my “Confession” in my previous post Pain, My Mentor to know what I’m talking about. I’ve had to overcome a series of painful events in order to break free. But I’ve learned that’s how life works, isn’t it? The harder we fall, the higher we fly. 

Today, however, one of my long standing monsters is “Discipline”. Self-control has never been my forte. That’s why I can never stick to a schedule or a diet or a routine. That’s why I’ve been scrambling to find the time to meditate for weeks, that’s why I’ve been begging myself to sit down and write during the night because… I have no order. I have no discipline. I know what my problem is and what I need to do in order to improve on it… but some days I fall short. Very short. Luckily, I’ve learned the art of forgiving oneself so it keeps me afloat and I know that each day is a day for me to try again.

I’m nowhere near perfect, but I’m a person that gets up and tries everyday to be better and that is good enough for me.

I know a lot of people are out there right now struggling. It hurts me to know that some are battling with no light at the end of the tunnel. I wish I could tell me that dark days don’t last forever, that the sun always shines. I wish I could tell them that they’re innocent and they’ve done no wrong, that it’s ok to just be down at times. I wish I could shine some light into their lives.

Please share this if you or someone you know is suffering from depression. Help shine the light and know for a fact that sadness doesn’t last. Before you know it…

Unconditionally…

Oh no, did I get too close?
Oh, did I almost see
What’s really on the inside?
All your insecurities
All the dirty laundry
Never made me blink one time

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally

 

This AWESOME song by Katy Perry takes a deep look into what it means to really and truly love someone without conditions.

How many of us can say we have a true love, a pure love, an unconditional love? Do you have someone in your life that you love like this?

It could be your mother, your daughter, your spouse, your best friend, your neighbor…yourself.

Can you say that you love this person with no expectations, without prejudice?

Unconditional means “without conditions”. The general example used to describe the word is: Unconditional Surrender.

I found this odd. It seems that we tend to associate the ‘unconditional’ with pain and suffering. During War Times, an opponent would use unconditional surrender as a way to put psychological pressure on a weaker adversary.

So what is unconditional love all about… and does it even exist?

Modern day society has a different outlook on love than our ancestors. Love these days is a choice and romantic love, in most cases, is seen as a hindrance. To love, by expression, is to create a set of conditions in which to love.

We choose our life partners based on convenience. If we have the same political views, want to settle down in the same neighborhood, want the same amount of kids, agree to let each other pursue our careers, etc.

So, with that in mind, does unconditional love have a space to grow and blossom? I find a lot of modern day relationships to be a kind of contractual agreement between two parties. It’s all about comfort and convenience. Is that really love?

Putting relationships aside, let’s think about unconditional love on a greater scale. What if you could apply unconditional love to every aspect in your life?

To your job, to your boss, to the traffic on your way to work, to the waitress having a bad day and taking it out on you, to the homeless man on the corner asking for a dollar, to your children, to yourself…

Do you see the difference?

It all boils down to the same thing over and over again.

Fear.

We are afraid to be exposed. To be seen. For everything we are as well as everything we’re not. We are scared. We are so scared and it’s killing us my friend…

I’d like you to do an exercise with me. We cannot project unconditional love until we have found that same love in ourselves. How many of you can say you love yourselves unconditionally?

Well… let’s get there. I have 3 steps that helped me and maybe they could help you too:

  1. Look at yourself in the mirror and say your affirmations out loud. Whatever your truth is, say it out loud to yourself. Internalize it, own up to it.
  2. Forgive yourself. Stop criticizing yourself. Stop scrutinizing your mistakes. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or haven’t done in the past. Each day we are born anew.
  3. Give more love. The more you give of yourself, the more you will get back. It’s just the Law of the Universe.

And lastly…

Stare your fear in the face and walk right past it…

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Eleanor

Do It Anyway…

“People are often unreasonable, illogical,
and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

 

If you are kind, People may accuse you
of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

 

If you are successful, you will win some
false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

 

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

 

What you spend years building, someone
could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

 

If you find serenity and happiness,
they  may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

 

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

 

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

 

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.”

 

                                                                                  – Mother Teresa

 

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