A Challenge

Good Evening Dear Reader,

For those of you who read my blog, I would like to tell you that I am in a much better place emotionally. I can tell you that I have gotten out of that depressive episode and I am finally feeling more stable. Of course the possibility of a lapse or relapse is there but as long as I utilize what’s in my mental health toolbox, I should be fine ^_^.

Now, down to the business of writing and trying to help those who may need it. During this summer I have experienced a variety of emotions, pitfalls, and obstacles of the highest order. What have I learned?

1. Loving yourself can be hard work

2. Asking for support from others is also difficult, potentially pride-sucking, and at times fruitless. It is at the same time necessary.

Now, with these two things in mind let me tell you this. I’ve found that these two most difficult paths were necessary to aid in my healing. Things that helped me personally:

-Writing notes with “I love you”, “you’re awesome”, etc. around my apartment

-Having a continuous and daily Facebook chat with 2 very close friends

-Mentally “pausing” when the negative thoughts would occur. If this is difficult (and I know it is) try singing a happy song when you notice the negativity.

So, I mentioned last time that I am starting a 30 Day challenge. Tomorrow marks the beginning of it. I would like you, Dear Reader, to join. For those of you who are deep in the abyss, your challenge can be as simple as telling yourself “Even though I feel this way today, tomorrow will be better”. For those of you who are in a better place, your challenge could be going for a 10-min walk. Being outside when your feeling the symptoms does help. Even if you don’t have the energy to walk, just sit outside for a period of time.

I want to turn this 30 Day challenge into something that can help others. I want to help any of my readers who suffer from depressive episodes and I want to support you the best I can.

If you’re interested, you can join here: https://www.facebook.com/events/524420244368424/

Also, it doesn’t cost any money or anything. I love my readers and I want to help anyone who needs it. Even if it’s through something as small as this ^_^

I’ll make a separate post for my 30 Day intention a little later.

I hope that I have given you a little encouragement Dear Reader.

I think you’re awesome and I wish many positive feelings come to you when you need it most.

Sincerely,

Shannon aka DiaDora (potential pen name)

30 Days of You

Hello Dear Reader πŸ™‚

This isn’t my typical type of post so please bear with me πŸ™‚

Yes it has been awhile but I am back yet again. If you’ve been following my blog, you already know this past year has not been the greatest for me. You’ve been with me through my ups and downs. You read my posts even though they were very sparing. Some of you even sent me encouraging messages. For that, I thank you. This blog and all of you have helped me heal.

I do want to give you an update. So, I’m not on my medication anymore due to the cost. Don’t fret because I am in a much better place right now and due to my wellness toolbox, I am bouncing back much easier than before. I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve begun a new relationship, I’ve moved from my old place, I’ve graduated college, I’m practicing more self-awareness and overall I am having more peaceful moments.

Now, I won’t lie to you. It was very hard. Very Very Very hard. There were nights during the past few months where I cried my eyes out and didn’t think I was going to make it. I depended on a lot of people to support me and I became discouraged at many intervals. I’m not claiming to be magically healed nor would I insult you all by giving you a step-by-step to recovery (since it’s relative anyway).

However I will say this, I am not at a low. My lows aren’t as low as they used to be and my highs are higher than ever. I can look in the mirror at least 3x a week and smile and say “you are beautiful” and mean it. I am experiencing increased happiness and I am amble to better catch myself in negative thinking instead of ruminating.

What I want to do is to share something with you. I want to help those who have suffered like I have or who are currently suffering. Depression, although it is getting a bit more talked about, is still an illness that is underestimated. It takes lives and robs souls. What I want to do is use my time, talents, and gifts to help others.

One thing that I am doing is inviting people to my Facebook challenge “30 Days of You”. Don’t worry, it’s free. I just want to help others.

The 30 Day Challenge is 30 Days of improvement, healing, support, and growth. The idea is that each participant chooses some goal they want to accomplish and stick with it continuously throughout the 30 Days. The goal can be completely personal, so “practicing self-love techniques for 30 days” or “learning to eat healthier” or “drinking more water”.

For some of you it could even be “get out of bed” or “smile at my reflection” and that’s okay πŸ™‚

I’ve created a page called “30 Days of Fabulous” and the idea is to utilize it as a support system for the participants. So we post pictures, comment, share our stories and support one another in our endeavors. I would invite you to join the group and to join the event.

Ideally, one day I want this to become some sort of campaign or even a movement ^_^ that would be awesome. For now though, I just want to reach as many people as I can and support them to the best of my ability.

I hope if you’re reading this Dear Reader, you will join the event or at least share it with someone else.

Here’s the link to the 30 Days of Fabulous Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/457855387690666/

Here is the link to the 30 Days of You Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/524420244368424/

Sorry for the atypical post but I just had to say that πŸ™‚

Thank you so much Dear Reader and I hope to see some or all of you in the challenge.

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Music

Good Evening Dear Readers,

I think it’s an understatement to say that music can be soothing. Personally I’ve found that music heals, keeps the darkness at bay, and keeps me focused.

As you know, earlier this year I participated in the CBT program. Well during the program I created a booklet of all the things I had learned and took some of their worksheets with me. It’s my wellness book.

One thing that I noticed that helps with the low points is to listen to music. I don’t know what magic exists within sounds but it has been helpful. There’s always a playlist to keep me out of bed, to keep my spirits up, or to keep me pushing forward.

I wanted to share this with you because recently I’ve been going on the Depression Chat Room I shared with you a few months ago (http://www.depression-chat-rooms.org/live-depression-chatrooms/) and even though I go there for healing I end up trying to help others (which is healing in itself).

One thing that I want to share so badly is the simplicity and healing power of music. No it’s not going to solve all of your problems but at the same time, a song gives you at least 2 min to breath and think about your situation.

What not everyone knows is that there are going to be dark days and sometimes it FEELS like you are one step away from the edge or on the edge. Things move so fast in those moments and it’s hard to think. What I’ve found helpful is to put on a song. Now, bear in mind it has to be the right song for you for that moment, but a song nonetheless. Give yourself at least 2 min to breathe and think.

And for those lighter days, make a Dark Days playlist. Self-Awareness is the most powerful tool when dealing with Depression. I know the songs I need to play to keep me from going under. No it doesn’t work 100% but at least it is a tool in my toolbox.

I am actually listening to music as I write this because as time continues to pass, I am trying not to go under due to my situation. It feels like I’m bobbing on the surface (which is much better than months prior) and it seems like “Listening to music” has been my most essential tool recently so I just wanted to share that in hopes you find it helpful.

Until next time,

P.S. You are loved and you are enough πŸ™‚

Tell Me About Yourself

Good Morning Dear Reader,

I have been looking for work the last few months now and things haven’t turned out as fruitful as I would have hoped. One thing that I find challenging is when I am asked to tell my interviewer about myself. It’s not as if I haven’t been asked this question before and yet, whenever I am asked this question, I panic.

The first thing that comes to mind is: I’m Shannon, I’m 22, have MDD, and I really need a job. Obviously that’s probably the worst response ever so I stumble through, stating facts and highlighting things about myself that I have heard from others.

One thing I struggle with is coming up with highlights that not only reflect the good person that everyone else seems to see, but also are things I genuinely believe. For some reason, this is the hardest thing for me.

I don’t know if everyone struggles with that but it’s one thing I’ve been thinking about.

Fact: I am female, 22, and ethnic….beyond that I struggle to say I’m a hard worker, I am kind, and I like completing tasks (even if on a good day I believe all these things).

I don’t know if this helps, but what I have been doing is writing a list of things I would say about myself if I wasn’t me. Then going with that. For example, if I wasn’t me I would say:

“Shannon works hard at whatever job she’s given. She is eager to do her best and though she might seem like a perfectionist, she values quality in her work.”

It’s weird because even reading that, makes me feel like I’m kind of cool.

I hope this helps Dear Reader.

Sweet and Sour

Recently I’ve been looking at my life and thinking, “How did I get here and how will I ever get to where I want to be?” I don’t really have an answer but that’s okay.

As you know Dear Reader, I have been on an emotional roller coaster for the last few months. I’m sorry to say that things have not particularly balanced out yet.

To be honest Dear Reader, I want to tell you happy stories of triumph and me overcoming my obstacles and so I’m hesitant to write until that happens. At the same time, that’s one of those “unrealistic expectations” I keep hearing about so I’m going to try to do better.

You know what really grinds my gears? (lol) Having to rededicated myself to the things I want to do. I mean it would be amazing if I could have maximum motivation and just do what I set out to do.

For example, this week I rededicated myself to my healthy eating….last night I had pizza. I have mixed feelings about that because on one hand, self control is needed but at the same time, I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t beat myself up for that kind of stuff.

I propose maybe a daily re-dedication to one’s self. I think it’s easier to take my life one day at a time. What I mean is, I’m kind of a perfectionist and I want to have my whole week/month/year/life planned out. Again “unrealistic expectations” so I think that maybe if I just set daily goals for myself it’d be better.

I started reading “The Gifts of Imperfection” (Brene Brown) again. I had only read three chapters and stopped (felt like a failure) but I just forgave myself and started up again. One thing that I really like is something she says on page 1: “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.”

Every time I see this I smile πŸ™‚ I smile because I realized during the CBT program one of my underlying issues is that I don’t feel like I’m enough. I never really have and to even think that I’m enough brings tears to my eyes. So I like that affirmation (It’s going on the motivation wall)

Another thing that’s happened recently is that I’ve lost a lot of my life security. A few months ago, I had an awesome relationship, my finances were getting back on track, I didn’t have to worry about a place to live or work..

Now I’m single, dollars away from my credit limits, about to lose the place I live and can’t work at my main job after August 31st.

I’ll be honest. I am so proud of myself because a few months ago, I would have been a hot mess. Don’t get me wrong, there have been many tears and pity parties but I am stronger and I have had the energy to get out of bed everyday. I’m telling you this because due to all the self work I had done in the months I’ve been posting Dear Reader, I’ve gained strength and have a higher capacity for misfortune I suppose.

One thing I read was by Joyce Meyer “Hope is the anchor of the soul” and I love that too. Even though I feel as if things have crumbled I haven’t given up hope at all.

I have forgiven my ex and myself for our relationship and have started dating and growing as a woman.
My finances aren’t that great because I am not good at managing them but I’m staying on top of my bills πŸ™‚
I’ve been looking for jobs everyday and have gotten a few odd jobs and I’m looking for a new place to live.

It’s funny because too be honest, I find myself finding a lot more peace now then I did in the past.

Things have been difficult and I haven’t been using my tools very often BUT I keep trying and I think that’s worth something. πŸ™‚

The only thing I can say Dear Reader is don’t give up. Even if you FEEL like there’s no options or that you’re at the end of the rope doesn’t make it TRUTH. I say that because sometimes when we are so caught up in our muddled situations, we can’t see any possibilities. We have to try really really hard to take a step back and see what’s possible.

Other than that, I hope you have an amazing day Dear Reader πŸ™‚

Ups and Downs

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. There’s been a lot of major things that happened in the last few months Here’s a summary

January:
Started and completed the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Program
Started new medication. I am happy to say that it was a good decision and I’m feeling much better.
Traveled to Chicago for a leadership conference (more later)

February:
Continued healing and self love

March:
Deep sense of appreciation for my life

April:
Lots of loss: finances, transportation, relationships, etc.
Dip in mood

For the past few days I’ve feel a little cracked. Luckily, due to my self-work the past few months, I am not shattered. I’ve been doing some deep thinking about what I want out of life and who I am.

I don’t know what is coming next, but I’ve been trying to work on myself and put it in my God’s hands.

I honestly have a lot of fears about the immediate future…but in my heart of hearts I believe things will be okay.

Self work is going to be my main focus. Even though my heart is filled with pain and sadness right now, I know that I have a good life. I’ve made meaningful connections and have an amazing support system. I’m no longer afraid to ask for help and I’ve gained self-confidence.

Recovery

Good Evening Dear Reader,

It has been awhile since I last posted. I am happy to say that I am recovering from the depressive episode that I had a few months ago.

If you’ve been following my journey, you already know that I started medication in November. In January, I started a Cognitive Behavioral Program and tomorrow is my last day.

During the program I’ve learned many helpful things and I feel more prepared to handle the lows. This post is a testament to my recovery,

What I’ve learned through the program:
1. I don’t have to be perfect and hold myself to such high standards.
2. I can strive for progress, not perfection.
3, Small steps are better than no steps at all.
4. I am good as I am right now, and I will appreciate all that I do.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m at 100% because I am not. I’m more at 70% but at least I am functioning. A few months ago, I was at 10%. So I did make progress and I’m proud of that.

I am learning to be more gentle with myself. Loving myself is essential to recovery and I try to do small things to be kind to myself: like watch an episode of anime, read an article etc.

I’ve also decided that as a writer, I want to use my writing as an avenue to help people who suffer from this illness as well as inform those with misconceptions about depression.

Although the perfectionist in me wants to go out and try conquering the world, I know that I need to lighten my load and take better care of myself. I mean, I do feel like I am back to the functioning range but at the same time, I think I need to be careful right now.

There are some things I want to share with you Dear Reader. Especially if you suffer from depression. There are 5 steps to recovery.

1. Hope
Always have hope that things will get better. Even on those days when you feel like everything is in turmoil, keep a little hope in your heart.

2. Connection
Connecting with others definitely has kept me from withdrawing/isolating. When I have my lows, I tend to withdraw from everyone (including my loved ones) so to help with that, I schedule social connection time. I call my mom on a daily basis (even for just 5 min), I watch anime with a friend weekly, and I try to have lunch with at least 1 friend each week. This has helped so much.

3. Empowerment
I know that I am searching for things that empower me. I feel empowered when I write (hence the blog) or draw. I try to find empowerment in the little things as well (doing the dishes or making it out of bed more).

4. Self-Responsibility
If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know that I am a firm believer in doing all that I can to help heal. I was very reluctant to try medication. At the end of the day though, I asked myself “What can I personally do to help me heal?” and “Am I doing all that is necessary to help my recovery?” These questions pushed me towards the medicine, COG program, and self love. I thought I was powerless in this. I felt and believed that depression made me powerless, but that’s not true. There are many things I can do to help heal. I can be nice to myself, I can go to therapy, I can take my meds, etc. I have more power than I feel I do.

5. A Meaningful Life
To be honest, I wasn’t quite clear on this one. In my opinion, this means do things that are meaningful to you. What has meaning for me? I know that writing is very meaningful to me, so I try to do it more often. I know that music is meaningful to me, so I listen to it daily. Things like that.

Sorry for such a long post. I hope anyone finds even a piece of this useful. Don’t get me wrong, I am not claiming at all to be cured of depression. Rather, I am saying I have made progress, and fighting off the episodes is a lot easier since I’ve gained skills to help me manage.

I hope you find this helpful Dear Reader and I hope you have a pleasant evening.

Perfectionist

Hello Dear Reader,

I’ve always known that I’m a perfectionist. I like to make things as close to perfect as I can. I try to keep up with a strict schedule and have a strict moral system. Well today in Cog-Therapy, that I really do believe that if I tried hard enough I could be perfect.

Now, I’m not an idiot. Logically, I know that it’s impossible to be perfect. I understand that. At the same time, my heart believes that if I worked harder, I could attain perfection. If I wasn’t depressed, I believe I could be a perfect daughter, girlfriend, sister, and friend. Under the right conditions, I could be perfect.

Again, logically, I realize that this is what they call a “distorted thought”…and it’s hard for me to admit that.

I just think to myself “Well why can’t I be perfect? If there’s a will-there’s a way. If you worked harder you can do anything.”

So, after I said that in the group, my homework is to define what “Perfect Me” looks like. Well, I wrote down a fraction of it and it was about two pages. It’s really hard to separate my head and my heart. I look at the list and think “No one can do this” but at the same time feel “If I work hard enough-I can do all these things”. Β It’s really confusing and I want to work on it.

From what I understand, depression stems from a variety of distorted core beliefs. So if one of my core beliefs is “I’m worthless” (this feels true to me) then that can lead to feeling depressed. I’m supposed to work on challenging those types of beliefs. One thing that I notice is that I have high expectations for myself.

I expect to be able to push through my depression and conquer the world while writing about it and somehow saving lives as a doctor.

Even in writing that sentence I’m thinking “well why the hell not?”…

This is going to prove difficult.

If you have depression, maybe you can relate. If not, this is not to say that this is everyone’s experience. We each have our own hangups and have different underlying issues. One of mine happens to be these unrealistic expectations I have.

For some of you, you may question how I can believe I can be perfect. Well, I’m asking myself the same thing. I don’t know why I believe I can be perfect but it feels so true to me. I feel like I can be perfect if I tried.

Anyway, living a life where you strive for something that’s apparently impossible is draining. I’m so frustrated with myself because I’m not living up to my impossible standards. I’m not giving up though. I realize if I can lower the bar for myself, maybe I’ll get better. It’s just convincing myself that is hard.

Enough about that. In terms of gratitude and being positive:

1. I went to the gym today. I am grateful to my friend Kim for going with me.

2.I made it to work on time. I am grateful to Adan the bus driver for getting me there safely and timely.

3.I learned something about myself and was vulnerable today. I am grateful to my therapists Colleen and Charles for making me address my issues.

I realize I have work to do, but I do feel hopeful. I mean, I’m blogging again and I’m taking better care of my physical body. I think that it’ll be helpful to me if I try to do one thing at at time. So, even though I have 5 books that I’m trying to read at once, it’ll be okay if I cycle through them.

Last time I talked about G.R.A.P.E.S. and I actually do want to adopt it into my life. So for tomorrow I’m going to:

G: Watch a mindfulness video

R: Journal

A: Send my sister a letter

P: Read a non self-help book

E: Go to gym with Kim

S:Β Go to Herbalife Opportunity Meeting

 

Well, sorry for all the blabbing. I hope you have a very good evening Dear Reader πŸ™‚

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Hello Dear Reader,

It’s been a little while, and I have much to share. First, I’ll start with some positives of the past few weeks.

1. I began a CBT program to step-up my healing from depression.

2. I created a network of people who will be my mental health support team.

3. I’ve spent less days in bed.

In the last post, I mentioned that I’ve started taking medicine and it seems to be a good decision thus far. I’ve noticed recently thatΒ  I’ve had an increase in overall energy. I’m able to get out of bed more often. In addition to that, my therapist Caroline suggested a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program-which I began last week-to help me learn necessary skills to manage my depression.

So far it’s been challenging but in a good way. I’m starting to learn that there isn’t a ‘quick-fix’ to depression and in fact you have to put in work. The work is challenging because in order to learn to manage depression, I have to explore some very painful parts of myself. I’ve felt a little down the last two days because I’ve been working on these painful things. I’m trying not to avoid it though, because in avoiding my deeper problems, I make my depression worse. I’m still hopeful that going through this program will help me so I will do whatever it takes to heal.

One thing that I’ve learned and that might be helpful is using G.R.A.P.E.S. each day (or at least I try to). For those of you who might not know what it is, G.R.A.P.E.S. is a tool used to practice healthy behaviors. You’re supposed to plan out the activities you want to do and it’s supposed to help you feel better in the long run. Apparently, people who aren’t depressed do these things so regularly in their day-to-day lives that they don’t have to think about them. People like myself, however, have to work on them.

Gentle with self: Do something that is kind and gentle for yourself. Meditate, read a book, etc.

Relaxation: Something relaxing for you. Take a hot bath, read a book, watch a funny video.

Accomplishment: What do you need to accomplish? It can be as small as ‘get out of bed’ or as big as ‘pick up friend from airport’.

Pleasure: What is pleasurable to you? (Writing my blog is pleasurable to me)

Exercise: Get up and move. Even if it is to check your mail, or walk your dog. Movement is good for the body.

Social: How will you be social today? Have coffee with a friend, call a family member, have a snack with your kind. Connection is important to recovery.

I don’t know if anyone really reads this, but it’s therapeutic for me to write it. If anyone does read, I hope it’s helpful to you.

Well, I will post soon Dear Reader and I hope you have a pleasant evening πŸ™‚

The New Me

Good Morning Dear Reader,

Happy New Year πŸ™‚

I’ve personally always loved New Years because it’s the time of the year where I feel the most hope.

I don’t know about you, but I always make a resolution list. It makes me feel happy knowing I can improve myself πŸ™‚

Here’s my list:

1. Put God first
2. Read my Bible
3. Get closer to my family
4. Get closer to my boyfriend’a family
5. Reach Goal Weight: 135 lbs
6. Exercise more often
7. Heal from depression
8. Eat Better
9. Cure Acne
10. Read 24 books
11. Be more organized
12. Do kind things daily
13. Love myself

Now I know this list is pretty ambitious but I will try my best and try to be more forgiving if I don’t accomplish everything.

Something else that’s new is that I began a Cognitive Therapy Program today and I am hopeful it will give me a boost to getting better.

Of course I am not sure it it’ll help, but taking the medicine has giving me a little bit more drive and I’m willing to work hard to learn new skills to cope.

One thing I’m trying is putting up little posted notes around my dorm that say things like “you are beautiful”. I’m also putting up some of my goals in places where I can see them.

I hope it helps me. It’s worth a shot.

Things I’m grateful for this week:

1. I went wonderful conference and have learned so many things about the nonprofit field.

2. The snow was really beautiful and I’m happy to have seen it.

3. I had wonderful conversations with people at the conference.

4. I started my cognitive therapy program today and I felt hopeful.

I hope everyone is doing well and I’ll post again soon πŸ™‚

Maria O' Mai

Freelance Writer

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