1 Million Australian's suffer from depression, suicide being the biggest killer amongst young Australians. My hometown of Gunnedah has bid farewell to 3 males under 26 in the last 18 months; one was my first "boyfriend" who lived across the street from me. The guilt of knowing he was sick and I never reached out makes my tummy turn. In honour of Paul, I have made it a part of my purpose to reach out to people who are ill and encourage them to keep fighting and believing that they can get better.
This is my story on how I kicked depression's butt! I hope this helps someone today.
May 2013 (Looking at this picture I can hardly see a spark in my eyes)
In July 2011, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Finally, a name to that heavy weight in my chest that I had carried with me for as long as I can remember, an explanation as to why I felt so numb and was always reaching for my next big achievement so I can "finally feel happy." Little did I know that in the years to follow, my life would turn from an unhappy numbness to heartbreakingly devastating.
My first signs of depression come when I was 7. Having not yet discovered my need for self- expression I was an emotional creative; shaken up like a bottle of soda with the top still on. I told my Mum I didn't want to be alive.
Something must happen when you tell the universe that you want to be happy. For me, it was like a 3-year rehab of all my demons, imperfections and insecurities rising to the surface. In 2012, everything I touched turned to ash, I was fragile and helpless. I simply had run out of strength to keep dusting myself off. I could line up a million and one dominoes each engraved with a major event that led to my undoing as they all came toppling down. I pointed my finger at the ones who had "done me wrong", but the core of my problem was my own neglect.. I DIDN'T LOVE MYSELF. I would find myself sitting in the dark, in silence, nestling on a bean bag every Wednesday after seeing my Psychologist escaping with a bottle of red wine with my phone turned off. My numbness turned into bitterness, spitefulness, anger, hopelessness, drama and anyone who was left in my life was hanging on by a thread and I was holding the scissors. I wanted people to feel what I was feeling because I couldn't handle feeling it alone anymore.
I thought my depression was under control. I didn't know how to get better. I thought a few pills, counseling sessions and helplessly melting into my partners arms a crying mess at the end of the day was all apart of the healing process, but I had become a victim.
In October 2013, I hit rock bottom. It was like my worst nightmare had become a reality. I had my arms reaching out desperately to the people I loved but the distance between us kept growing further and further. Grasping for a savour my world closed in as the last person who believed in me closed the door and turned out the lights; my Mum was all I had left. I lay lost in my darkness feeling sorry for myself and trying to comprehend how I ended up here. Curled up in my bed sheets for weeks, some days I couldn't even get out. I lost 7.5kg in 2 weeks. I wanted to give up, and I thought about it a lot.
You have to come undone before you put yourself together.
You have to live a lot of storms before you learn what you can weather
You may have to take a chance and dance onunfamiliar ground
You may be broken, but you're too strong to break down.
I believe that grace finds you when you are ready to accept it. I was begging, pleading, praying (something that I had rarely done before). The day that I started reading "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise L Hay was the beginning of a new journey for me. It was like a new chapter had begun in my life. I started obsessively reading books on empowerment, self-awareness, personal growth and spirituality. I started educating myself about my illness, learning my triggers and symptoms. Understanding how easy it is to reprogram my old negative behaviours and brain patterns.
Everything started to shift. Yoga had become a regular part of my life and for an hour of my day, I could escape my reality and just "be". My daily mantra was "I love myself" and it would be on repeat in my mind all day, every day. I was so lonely I started writing a journal just to express my feelings, unknowingly becoming more aware of what my body was telling me. Writing daily and analyzing what I was going through was like having a conversation with my soul. Lost for so long, I didn't realise how quickly I was re-connecting with this spirit of my own. I started to listen to where I was being guided and suddenly a path began to appear. It was like exciting opportunities and adventures would "just happen".
May 2014, only six months after "my darkest hours", I had the opportunity to be a part of a reality TV show. Looking back I think "what stupidity" I was mentally ill and putting myself in the spotlight on National Television to be judged and criticised by Australia. I was in a hotel room in lockdown for two days completely alone before filming began. As I wrote page after page in my journal I received a message, I knew this was going to be my last test in overcoming depression. If I could get through the experience, I was going to come off my medication after filming.
That promise of commitment and encouragement had become unwavering by July 2014. I knew I was ready, so bravely I saw my GP and decided to cease my medication.
It wasn't easy. Sometimes at night, I would feel so much pain surfacing. Learning to trust, I was well aware that my emotions needed to come to the surface. I needed to feel it and cry it and release it. I started calling this process "Shedding Layers". I had been single for almost a year and reflecting on it now; I don't think I could have done this process with a partner. I learnt how to take responsibility for my emotions, not relying on someone else to console me. I taught myself that I was going to be okay, every morning after shedding layers I awoke feeling freer. My body was self-cleansing anything that no longer served me until I had nothing left to let go.
My inner child started to come out and play as I began hearing music in my ears for the first time in years. My songwriting book was alive as the pages were being turned and filled up with all my happiness.
By November 2014 after the bravest year of my life, I rolled into the driveway in my white Toyota, turned the ignition off and watched the sun set in my rear-vision mirror. It had been a long time since I had dated or was told that I was special, and all my belongings I owned fit into my 3 x 3 metre bedroom. I had nothing and no one to appreciate the gift of life with. But at that moment, I realised that I was right where God had always intended me to be. I had been stripped down of my ego, humbled to the bone and somehow after coming through the pain of it all I had never felt more gratitude in my lifetime.
I had finally found happiness.
My Favourite Book Suggestions
You Can Heal Your Life- Louise L Hay
Buddist Bootcamp- Timber Hawkeye
The Four Agreements- Don Miguel Ruiz
The Way Of A Peaceful Warrior- Dan Millman