Recovering from depression

Reflections
on connecting to your True Happy Self

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By Carole Turcato

My best friend and sister


Surfacing from many years of struggle, Life is finally starting to look brighter again. Here are some of the things I learned along my journey. Hope you enjoy & find some inspiration.  

 

  • Start with Small Steps :

Create tiny, minuscule goals. If you try to do too much, or expect a lot from yourself, you could get discouraged and end up doing nothing. So anything you can do, is an achievement. Think of it that way. Getting started is the hardest part. Once you get into action, your capacities and endurance will naturally build up over time.

Seriously, start ridiculously small: One pushup a day, one minute of meditation, write one sentence, take one big breath of fresh air, you get the picture!

Be proud of yourself for your achievements, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Be gentle and non-judgmental with yourself, take a moment to give thanks and feel gratitude for what you just did.

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The wound is where the light enters you

- Rumi

 

  • Multiply your Outreach Initiatives :

There are many people who can help you in the process of get back on your feet and feeling better: therapists, doctors, life coaches, priests, or ‘mystical’ workers. There really is a vast choice. Of course everything comes at a cost, but if you’re stuck in a rut, I would definitely recommend spending your money on your wellbeing rather than on material acquisitions.

Sometimes the problem can be quite simple, that’s why it’s a good idea to see a doctor, perhaps your fatigue is due to a lack of magnesium or something as simple as that.

I have seen several psychotherapists. Many types of approaches exist, so do your research before choosing one. Find one you feel good with and can connect to. If you can’t establish a proper relationship with your therapist and think they are useless, then they probably are (at least to you) and there is no point in continuing with them.

I also consulted all sorts of people and I can say some are better than others (and there some phonies out there too) so if you can go on someone’s recommendation it’s usually better. They each brought me their own insights and I found it beneficial to have input from a variety of sources.

If you are really broke, there is also free help out there. Some therapists or healers who are just starting out are looking for people to practice on. Ask, perhaps they can give you a discount, or if not, maybe they can at least point you in a direction where you could get low cost or free help.

NB: No matter the social or spiritual status of the person you are getting advice or help from, please trust your own judgment and intuition. If it feels wrong to you, then it probably is.

 

  • Connect with Nature and Animals :

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Animal healing

Wisdom in the eyes of kitty

Taking a walk in nature, connecting with plants, or being with an animal are underrated activities in too many people’s books. Nature is very grounding (go bare foot if possible), and even if your mind is not enjoying that walk through the forest, you can bet your soul is J. Dipping in natural pools of water such as rivers, lakes or the ocean is also very cleansing energetically and emotionally. Touch the water with that intention and feel your worries wash away.

Animals are a lot of work, therefore people who own them are usually very happy to get some help! I used to walk my neighbors dogs (I was shy to ask, but when I saw how delighted he was, I wondered why I’d been so hesitant). Animal shelters are usually open to receiving help too. Or you can take care of someone else’s animal while they are on vacation (could even get paid for that!).

 

  • Acceptance :

Emotions:
In this day and age we are often led to believe that we should be happy, efficient and at the top of our game all the time. However this is not realistic. Just observe nature: the ebb and flow of waves, different seasons, hibernation and blooming.  

It’s absolutely normal to have highs and lows, one must learn to accept, and possibly even appreciate, these fluctuations in our moods and energy. So many of us go through great efforts to avoid this all costs: by drinking alcohol, taking pills, compulsive behaviors and various addictions – all in the name of avoiding that moment of discomfort.  Learn to accept and embrace these feelings.

Counter-intuitively, the more you “welcome” the emotions that are causing you unease, the quicker they dissipate. By fearing, fighting and fleeting them, they tend to gain greater momentum and return to haunt you with even more power. Just remember, the only constant in this Universe is change, so this bad moment too, shall pass.

NB: There is a difference between welcoming & accepting your feelings and dwelling in them for too long. If you have already taken the time to explore your feelings, yet the story keeps coming back in your mind over and over – at a certain point you have to put a stop to it. Take the conscious decision to say “No”, I have already felt and thought about this way too many times, I don’t need to go over this in my mind yet another time. As my Quantum therapist put it:
“It’s OK to be sad, but don’t become the sad person”.

Situations:
Acceptance of situations are another matter. In today’s consumer world, many people are caught in the trap of always wanting more. The famous “I will be happy once I get a nicer car/job/partner/house/etc.”. Try to find happiness with where you are and what you have now. As Eckhart Tolle put it so beautifully in his book The Power of Now: “Leave the situation, change the situation or accept it. All else is madness”.

Desires:
Trying to suppress your desires is perilous. So instead, indulge in them with conscious awareness. In time, they will dissipate by themselves. For example, you really want a piece of cake that you think you shouldn’t be having. If you don’t have it, you might eat 3 pieces instead of just one a few days later. So have that piece of cake when you want it, but fully enjoy the experience while you are indulging. If you have too much, later you might feel sick – take time to appreciate this feeling too. Like that next time you see a delicious looking cake you might remember that sick feeling you had the day you ate too much of it and be more mindful of not eating excessively.

Similarly to suppressing our emotions, if we suppress our desires, they come back later with more force. By being mindful of all our experiences, we are able to make better decisions in the long run. 

No matter what, don’t beat yourself up about it (guilt is a very low vibration emotion and doesn’t advance your cause in any way). When you make a mistake, say something silly or “mess up” in any way - don’t be too hard on yourself! Be gentle and show yourself some Love and compassion. It’s really not the end of the world. Live and learn, and let it go. As the saying goes, if you want to be enlightened, you have got to “lighten up”.

I know it can sound weird for some people to be grateful for your life’s difficulties and problems, but they truly are just opportunities to overcome an obstacle and learn something about yourself in the process. So next time you are in pain, try to have a true heartfelt “Thank You” and contemplate what it’s trying to teach you.

 

  • Change Perspectives :

Blaming and pointing the finger at people or things other than yourself to justify your misery is a common vice. By taking full responsibility for your life and feelings, you are giving yourself the power to change what you don’t like. 

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In order to be fearless

You have to stand in the middle of your fear.

We often hold strong beliefs about the way the world is made and the way other people are. All of our beliefs serve some purpose, but sometimes the purpose is outdated or our convictions are inhibiting our optimal functioning.

In certain respects, looking at things from a different angle and creating new beliefs can yield great benefits. “The Work” of Katie Byron (freely available online) offers an interesting approach to deconstruct and understand some of your beliefs. For example, I used to believe that my colleague was really lazy and this infuriated me. Every time I would see her on Facebook or on the phone with her friends I would feel this wave of anger wash over me. By doing “The Work” I realized that this attitude enabled me to believe in my superiority and feel extra great about my own working capacities. With this new perspective, my beliefs shifted. I took responsibility for my feelings and attitude, and stopped blaming and comparing myself to my colleague. I was simply choosing to work hard, while my colleague chose to take a more leisurely approach. I suddenly became a lot more compassionate and less angry.

Another fun exercise to try is to challenge some of your limiting beliefs. Do something that you fear, so that you can prove to yourself it’s not as terrible as it seems. I once saw this sign that said: “Your life begins where your comfort zone ends”. How true.


  • Be Mindful of Everything You Take In :

I mean this in a very broad sense: from what food you eat, to what music you listen to, movies you watch and people you hang out with. Avoid exposing yourself to excessive violence, complaining or negativity.

It seems we are often inclined to do precisely the things that will make us feel worst, but of course this doesn’t help at all. For example, I know when I don’t feel well, I tend to crave greasy fast foods; yet when I am healthier and happier, I am naturally drawn to more nourishing and pure foods. This  can quickly become a vicious cycle, so make sure it’s working in a beneficial direction.

Customize your social media news feeds. Find groups and people who post positive messages, so that every other item that appears on your screen is an inspiring insight. I “unfollow” people who whine a lot or post too many gory stories.

Similarly, I don’t watch or read the news too frequently, it’s not that I don’t care what’s going on in the world, I absolutely do and it breaks my heart, but seeing these horrible things too often makes me depressed. Furthermore, it doesn’t do anything to advance the improvement of the world.

Avoid listening to or participating in conversations with people who are constantly gossiping, putting other people down, or complaining about everything and anything.

In general, it’s about finding that “middle road” and a balance. I’m not suggesting you should live like a hermit secluded from society and eradicate all negativity and pollution from your life (as this would be extremely difficult!). I’m simply suggesting to add some positive counterweight to all the negative vibrations we are so often confronted with.  

 

  • Embodiment, Spirituality and Sacred Rituals :

There is a good reason why one of the twelve Alcoholics Anonymous’ steps is “Believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”. There are many versions of the 12 steps, and it is interesting to note that even non-religious versions mention steps such as “We adopted a practice of meditation and one of reflection upon our place in the world…” and “spiritual awakening”.

There is so much that we don’t know and can’t see (we only use approximately 10-12% of our brain. Albert Einstein said: “Reality is merely illusion, albeit a very persistent one”). Acknowledging this and developing a relationship with these “invisible forces” gives us a deeper meaning to life.

When we are not feeling well, we are no longer truly “inhabiting our bodies”. Our core energetic center is floating up inside our minds or somewhere else completely out of our bodies. Practices that are grounding and teach you to bring back your energy to its original core center (the navel area) are very beneficial. Personally, yoga has enormously helped me on my journey. It combines physical activity (which generally is good for you), awareness of the mind and spiritual growth. However there are so many different disciplines and techniques. Find one(s) that you enjoy.

If your problems are too much for you to carry, give some of your load to Moses, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, the Angels or who ever you want. There are so many ways to connect with the Spiritual realm, find the ones that resonate the most for you and develop a regular practice. In my opinion, one of the shortcomings of institutionalized religion is that they preach far too much for an “externalized” version of God and Spirituality. For some people, the rituals have become something they do on “autopilot”, without reflection, feeling or Love. If you are religious, try to develop a new relationship to your beliefs and God in a way that you live and feel the Divine inside of yourself and all around you.

Personally, I grew up in a non-religious environment and to this day I do not identify myself with any of them. Nonetheless I can testify that prayer absolutely does work (it’s also been scientifically demonstrated). If you want something on a very profound level, there are good chances you will get it (that’s why they say “you have to watch out what you wish for”).

I have also seen the effectiveness of some rituals such as setting intentions, forgiveness, energy clearing, and tie-cutting. There are many authors who write and explain how you can go about such rituals, however I find that doing them intuitively and according to a procedure that I invent on my own works well too.

 

Meditation is something that used to scare me. I had “block” with it for a very long time and couldn’t seem to gather the courage to try it at all. Strangely, facing ourselves and looking within is a very daunting concept to many. After some practice in group retreats and courses I saw there was nothing to be afraid of. On the contrary, it can be so relaxing!

There are many known benefits to meditating, and apparently even just a few minutes a day is enough to reap some of these benefits. I do not consider myself very advanced in the practice of meditation, and there are certainly a lot of people who could inform you on the subject better than I could. However, I did want to mention that even at a basic level you can discover some interesting things about yourself, it helps you to feel centered and you can reach a deep state of blissful relaxation! It doesn’t need to be difficult, one of my favorite ways to meditate is lying comfortably in my bed with a guided meditation (there are tons of fabulous free ones on YouTube - Joe Tracy and Lilian Eden are my top two these days).

 When you start walking down the Spiritual path, you can expect miracles, however you do have to remember that, “God is in the details”. Hollywood and science fiction have skewed our expectations of what a Divine intervention might look like. Unfortunately, Spiritual breakthroughs do not come with earthquakes, lightning bolts and fireworks in the sky.

The Divine communicates in infinitely subtle ways, so learning how to observe it’s magic takes a lot of patience, practice and perseverance. Taking time to cultivate that inner peace and quiet is important for precisely this reason. It allows you to notice these small and subtle things, which eventually, turn into bigger and more significant things. Just keep searching and believing. Progressively, observing comes with more ease, as clarity and confidence get anchored into your being.

Recognizing the Divine signature does become easier, however the answers it offers are not always the ones you desire, nor those that are the most convenient. Freewill is your birthright, you can chose to listen or not. However, ignoring the call does usually come at hefty price, sooner or later it will catch up with you. That’s why no matter how annoying I sometimes find these Divine answers, I do my utmost to follow and obey them. After all I think to myself “Who am I to contradict the Divine Will and think that I know better?” Following its guidance can be challenging but it also comes with many unexpected rewards.

 

Finally, when you do decide to take that leap of faith, that decision to change your life for the better, take a fearless giant leap – don’t hesitate and don’t change your mind halfway through the process. It might make no rational sense, others may criticize you, but if deep inside your heart you know it is the path to your higher good and to the best version of yourself -Trust that the Universe and Divine powers will be there to catch you on the other side.




 

Wishing you many Blessings,

May you find the Light within, Eternal & Unconditional Love,

Carole Jenny Turcato

Julia TurcatoComment