This time of year can be hard for some people, especially for people who find themselves experiencing SADD. Seasonal Affective Depression Disorder affects a lot of people! Essentially, it is when people experience depression during the winter months. Part of this is caused by the decreased Vitamin D accompanying the lack of sunlight, and sometimes also the holidays are hard for people.
2020 has already been an intense year, to say the least. And if you are finding yourself feeling depressed (or more depressed than your usual amount) during this, you’re not alone.
So what can you do about it? Especially during this time of stay-at-home orders?
Give yourself a fucking break.
Seriously. Put off for tomorrow what does not need to get done today. Let yourself have an extra 30 minutes of laying in bed. Eat what you feel like having. We are literally living through a pandemic, y’all. Our normalcy is being rearranged – and depression (seasonal or not) has a metaphysical reason for demanding rest.
Something I’ve read about briefly is ayurvedic medicine. Within this medicine is the idea of your body being closely aligned with the sun, that our bodies naturally need less sleep in the summer and more in the winter. Our eating habits change seasonally as well.
This is not me saying “depression during the winter is natural, just deal with it”. BUT I am saying that one of the healthiest things we can do is listen to our body. Give yourself the grace and give yourself the space to do your best every day, no matter what that looks like.
Sometimes my best is waking up early and doing yoga and exercising before the sun rises. Other times it’s waking up at 9:30am and eating cookies for breakfast. Life is all about balance, and it’s important that we hold space for ourselves.
So what are some winter activities to do during this time?
❄ Drive around and look at Christmas lights
❄ Make hot chocolate at home and have a game night
❄ Sit in front of a fireplace (in real life or on YouTube) and cozy up under a bunch of blankets
❄ Watch Christmas movies
❄ See if there’s any local Christmas light “events” (In New Jersey, the PNC Bank Arts Center has a drive-thru Christmas light show and they charge a small entry fee per car)
❄ Read one of your favorite chapter books from when you were a kid. (The Inkheart trilogy is my go-to)
❄ Have a movie night (Harry Potter is my go-to!)
❄ Do your favorite winter activities safely!
Remember, you are entitled to your feelings. Right now does suck. But this stork will pass. It might pass like a fucking kidney stone, but this too shall pass.
Welcome, August! 2020 is f l y i n g by, and I am here for it. This has been a year that I think no one was quite ready for, and in the midst of all the negative things that have happened – it’s actually been a quite beautiful year.
For one thing, Mother Nature has had time to heal. Countless species of animals returned to their old neighborhoods within mere weeks of less humans walking around, less carbon emissions during quarantine, etc. People have become more focused on small businesses, taking care of themselves holistically, etc. Communities have banded together in times of the COVID-19 crisis, in protest with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. There has been a lot of good that has happened this year.
However, there has also been a lot of negative things too. Division, hate, exclusion, violence, death.
So what does all of this have to do with toxic positivity?
By definition, “toxic positivity” is a phrase typically used when someone portrays themselves as happy no matter what.
I have found myself to fall into the trap of being toxically positive.
Growing up, I was raised Catholic and had to go to mass every Sunday. Church was boring most of the time, but I had to go. My father, the lovely man he is, started a game with me where I tried to come up with one good thing about being there. And it was from this practice that we eventually applied this to life in general.
Looking for the positives in less-than-stellar situations is a great tool! This has been something that has become almost second nature.
The problem lies when someone only sees the positive in any/all situations, and does not hold space for the negativity.
Real life example. You hear from a friend that their elderly and ill relative has passed away. Telling them “At least they’re not suffering anymore” is a toxic-positive thing to say. Because yeah, it’s true, they aren’t suffering anymore, but a statement like that doesn’t leave room for their grief.
Toxic positivity has been on my mind lately because it’s something I’m working on un-learning. Being taught to look for the silver lining is important but for some of us (🙋♀️), this became only holding space for the silver lining.
This is something that is super prevalent in the spiritual community. Those of us who ONLY accept #loveandlight and don’t allow for anything else, is where the issues come. Because while we should not wallow in the negative side of things, we can’t ignore it either. We cannot accept the good without the bad.
This above concept is something a lot of people forget about. I think they get so focused on positivity only because they know that what they focus on is what they’ll attract (Law of Attraction 101)…but this mindset is similar to when kids throw all their toys under their bed or in their closet when they clean their rooms. Yeah, it looks pretty, but it’s not actually clean.
A friend recently has been going through a bit of a rough patch with their depression. And I kept finding myself not knowing what to say, because my first thought was to list out every good quality about her. I was going to say every positive thing I could think of, until I realized that that actually is not as helpful as I want it to be.
Because in this moment, I am making her struggle about me. What I want to do is make her feel better, so I’m going to say what I think she needs to hear. But who am “I” to decide what she needs? She knows what she needs. So all I should do in that instance, is hold space for her. Allow her the time to be as she is. Let her know that I am here for her, and that’s it.
And this, folks, is important. It’s important to be honest about the “why” behind our actions. It’s important to have the self-awareness, and the accountability, to question ourselves of our intent. Most times, concerning people who are unknowingly being toxically positive, it can be a reflection of their own trauma. Maybe, as a child, they were not allowed to show negative emotions. Maybe you’re saying something triggering to them and they process things by deflecting. And these scenarios are on them, but still.
In summary – everyone is doing the best they can with all things and we should not push them to feel differently than they do. And looking for the silver lining is just one of many things that can be done to process and deal with a kinda-shitty-situation
This past New Moon peaked at 1:39 pm EDT on Friday, May 22nd. As with all new moons, during this energy is the best time to reflect, create manifestations, start new projects, etc. Typically, a New Moon’s energy can be felt the day before, the day of (obviously), and the day after. So just to be sure I didn’t miss it, I had my crystals charging since Thursday morning through Saturday night, and I used my moon water soap for my showers on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Yesterday I spent some time journaling about what my life looks like in 10 years. I chose 10 years specifically because I use Rachel Hollis’s Start Today Journal and I have been feeling like I need to revamp my 10 dreams. At first they had me on fire but then the more time went on, the more I’ve been embracing my spirituality and getting to my true roots, the less those dreams felt like mine. So I journaled a lot yesterday. And my life 10 years from now as I see it today is, I think, a modest, nice life.
I’m going to spare you all the details (because 1. that isn’t the full point of this post but 2. I want to keep most of it for myself), but essentially I am married to the love of my life, my boyfriend that I’m dating now. We live on 10+ acres in a nice 3 bed 2 bath house (not fancy or extravagant), in my head I see as a barn house/log cabin style. We have two healthy happy kids, a boy and a girl. And I work from home as a writer.
The reason I set the scene like this is because I had a thought weeks ago that has been on my mind ever since, and I want to get y’alls perspective.
So I want to be a writer, and I am a spiritual/mystical person. I have a half dozen or so book ideas as of right now, but I had the thought that the book that will be most successful first is the book that I’m living right now.
So let me go through that a bit. The book ideas I have are in the YA, thriller, and personal development genres. The YA and personal development books are based on my life and the thriller book is an idea I had when I was little, so these ideas are near and dear to my heart and personal. But I have a feeling that the lessons I’m learning right now, the growth I am experiencing, is going to be the book that is the easiest to write and also the one that starts off my journey as a successful writer.
Once I sat with that thought, I honestly felt lighter. I have been feeling such a pressure to write (from myself). I feel like I cannot call myself a writer until I have written manuscripts, I cannot call myself a poet unless I am up until 4am every day writing poetry, etc.
The truth is…I write, so I’m a writer. I write (and sometimes think in) poetry, so I am a poet. In this day and age of labels for everything, sometimes it can be daunting to embrace a label for yourself. It can feel naive to call yourself something if you have a standard as to what that something should look like.
So why did I feel compelled to share this? Because only YOU know YOUR truth. All too often I see people open themselves up to validation from others or offer unsolicited advice to others. We need to understand, and remember, that people can only understand something from their own level of perception. So their “advice” may not fit what you were expecting, and that could cause discouragement. But keep the above in mind.
For example, a very good friend of mine is still in contact with her ex. I’m not a fan of this, I don’t like him for how he treated her when they were together, how he treated her during the break-up, or the few weeks after. Personally, I would have cut him off completely. But I also was not in their relationship. I don’t know him well, I met him once or twice and then through stories of when she would talk about it. But I was not there for all the good or all the bad. I have never been through a break-up in general, much less one after being with the person for 2-3 years. So how can I give her advice? I can’t, and shouldn’t. (I did multiple times, and eventually realized that I was telling her what I would do if I were her. She never asked for advice or what my opinion was, so who the fuck am I to offer it?).
Let’s try to think of advice as dick pics. No one wants it if they don’t ask – it can be hurtful, off-putting, and completely change your perception as the recipient of the thing if you didn’t ask. And if it is asked for, then it should be handled tastefully and only within the bounds of the recipient’s consent.
Maybe that’s a stretch of a comparison, but honestly I think it holds true.
So with this in mind…the majority of the people that you meet, will continue to offer advice and their opinions even when you didn’t ask for it. And these comments will be from their level of perception, which is crafted based on their own experiences. So if Aunt Sally thinks you need to go to college to be successful and then you talk about a brand ambassador deal you were offered, Aunt Sally is going to say some hurtful things to discourage you. Aunt Sally does not mean to be nasty, but her perception of what she would do if she were you, is she would go to school to study medicine. And maybe Aunt Sally has been through some shit, and she never got to pursue her dreams of becoming a veterinarian, so to hear her 20-year-old niece “throwing her life away” is going to set her off. And while having this context does not excuse Aunt Sally, it does shed some light on her actions. You cannot change Aunt Sally or control what she says to you, and you probably aren’t able to tell her straight up “I don’t care what you think” because it’s going to start shit with your mother and grandma and the whole gang, BUT you can tell her “I respect your opinion but I still feel like this is right for me.” and then walk away. And you have the control to not hold on to whatever she says to you.
(Note: I don’t have an Aunt Sally. I was never offered a brand ambassador deal. This is just an example. However, I do have a friend who talks to her ex who I gave unsolicited advice to, so I do have an idea of what I’m talking about here).
To conclude: deep down in your gut, past the recycled expectations of others and your worries and fears and “junk” – you know what you want for your life. You know what is best for you. Take what other people say with a grain of salt, and trust yourself.
Also, consider that maybe the season you’ve living right now will make way to something amazing in the future. I have always felt that the good in life outweighs the bad, so if that doesn’t feel right for you right now, then the good stuff is still on it’s way. ☯
It’s no secret that we’ve all, collectively, have been going through something within this pandemic. We have all been affected by this time. Curfews, grocery restrictions, changed plans, stay-at-home orders, to say the least. Everyone has been grieving the loss of their normal routines in different ways. Some people are acting as Facebook News Reporter, sharing every article and “researching” every statistic. There are other people who are cleaning everything all day. Others are binge watching TV. Others are just ignoring all the rules and still having friends over. Others are complaining about not being able to go to concerts, watch sports, go out to eat dinner, etc.
Can we all agree on one thing, perhaps? That the way things were before all this started, was not working? That the way we handled our lives – was not working for us?
“I don’t know why you’d say that! I think things were just fine before”.
Really? Then why can’t you sit still? Why are you so uncomfortable with silence? What are you ignoring that you should face? What trauma have you been pushing down that you need the distraction from? Why are you so damn eager to go back to the rat race and the hustle-and-bustle and the diversions from you having a relationship with your mind?
So many of us never process our feelings. We push down our wants, our dreams, our desires, and follow a path that doesn’t feel right. We follow something that’s expected, or that doesn’t match our ideals anymore. We choose divorce over working on something that isn’t even broken. We push our kids into any and all activities to get them away from us and out of the house. We ignore our neighbors. We disregard our friends and family. We choose drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, food, video games, absolutely anything possible to numb our feelings because it’s easier to ignore it than to face it. We go through our days on autopilot and our nights numbed or altered. Now that we finally have the free time to just relax, we can’t handle it.
What are you running from?
(I’ve said this before and I’ll say it as many times as I need to. I don’t have my psychology degree (yet!). I’m not a psychologist, therapist, shaman, guru of any kind… but I research as much as I possibly can and I love to learn. And just because I may not have any accreditation does not mean I can’t still be right.)
“So what do you do? Just stare at the wall all day? I need to be DOING something”
No, I don’t stare at the wall all day, silly. I write. I journal my thoughts. I do yoga and meditate and move my body. I read. I also work from home. I pray. I research places to visit, things to do, recipes to try, etc.
But, I get that. I used to not be able to sit still for a full minute. (I’m serious, my boyfriend made me try. Multiples times, and I would fidget after 15 seconds). Because my anxiety, my learned trauma, made me feel as though if I wasn’t productive, if I wasn’t actively doing something at all times, something terrible would happen. I would be wasting time. I’d be wasting the whole day if I didn’t get every single thing done. And that’s how most of us live. Constantly on the go, “the rat race”. Chasing productivity with a blind eye to everything else. And now, things are still. We are still. We have food, shelter, technology, etc, but we’re worried about football? We’re worried about not having new seasons of TV shows?
I gotta say it. That’s bullshit. These are clearly first world problems, but we cannot think outside of ourselves to see the big picture.
Well, I can help with the big picture.
Think of Every. Single. Thing. you could possibly be grateful for. And if you think you have nothing to be grateful for, try to imagine yourself from 10 years ago. What do you have in your life now that you used to dream about? Imagine yourself at 10 years old. What lessons have you learned since then?
I have my list below. It’s not everything (that would be way too long and boring for y’all. You’re welcome), but it at least should help a little bit with gaining some perspective.
This took me not even 10 minutes. And I feel happier thinking of all the good things I have around me. Like breeds like. If you focus on the negative, negativity will surround you. If you force yourself to think of the positives, you’ll be open to seeing more good things. (This thought process is Law of Attraction 101 that has been said many times in The Secret, The Four Agreements, and most religions).
I know this feels hard right now. But if all you are asked to do is stay home, then this isn’t difficult, this isinconvenient.
Of course, those of us with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health afflictions may be feeling this harder. And to these people, I say that you are not alone. Not only is the entire world going through the same situation, but I understand the struggle. I have had anxiety for my whole life and depression for most; I understand the sneaky, sly ways they warp your brain. Which is why it’s especially important for us to surround ourselves with positivity. To take away the strength of our mental demons and build of walls of good in our minds.
Emotions, any/all of them, are meant to be felt. So if you’re feeling depressed, then sit with that. If you’re feeling anything, sit with that feeling. Talk through it (even if to yourself, I’m talking out loud to myself all the time). Write about it. But remember that all emotions pass. Don’t hold onto the negative ones, let them pass.
So I’m going to assume that you’re in a better head space now. You’re feeling grateful, you’re feeling grounded and less stressed. What’s next?
Being a sports fan or a reality TV show fan or an anime fan or a fan of any show (or anything, really) is nothing to be faulted for. You should have interests and you’re allowed to be passionate about things that make you happy. We all should have hobbies and things that bring us joy. But, in all reality, we can live without most of the things we have in our life. We CAN live without sports. We CAN live without TV. We CAN live without Netflix, festivals, etc. Granted, it may not be as fun or as enjoyable of an experience, but life can still be done without the extras. And realizing just how little we need to live is important.
“Well if I’m not watching baseball during baseball season, then I’m not living.”
Yes you are. You are breathing, and your heart is beating. You are living.
I think an issue society faces is all we see is what is shown to us, rather than thinking for ourselves. And we tend to fall into routines and habits, which is a natural thing to do. But we usually forget to make time for being outside. For mindfully eating. For calling our parents or our kids. We forget to be intentional. Why do we do what we do? What is it even that we do? How does that make us feel?
Maybe self awareness isn’t something you’re interested in, and that’s fine. I support whatever makes you happy. (I mean if you don’t even know yourself then you can’t really be happy…)
“So you said that the way things were before wasn’t working. How do you think they should be, then?“
I think we should prioritize happiness. And love. I think that we should stop complaining about bullshit, petty crap and be grateful for another day. Be grateful you have xyz to complain about.
I’m not going to get into much about politics, but I do think we need to start prioritizing the human beings and living things on this planet. I don’t think money should be more important than health. I don’t think greed should be more prevalent than nature. I think we need to take a step back and realize that we won’t be able to argue about politics if we don’t even have a sustainable environment to live in because we took everything we could from Mother Earth.
Everyone is struggling right now. And everyone is allowed to feel sad during this time. 99% of the world’s population has never lived through, or even seen, a pandemic. It’s scary. But instead of getting angry about not being able to watch sports, check your priorities and remember why you like them. Think about the traditions, the fun, etc., and find a way to incorporate that into your life now. Play catch with your kids, watch old games on YouTube, etc.
To sum up, I kind of can’t stand what this time has brought out in people. It’s replaced common sense with stupidity, it’s replaced logic with fear, and it’s scary to see how many people cannot think for themselves. How their only thoughts are what they’ve read online, and how asinine of an idea it is to challenge what they’ve read instead of just accepting that as truth.
So accept this as your truth: I am reading this on something that is internet-enabled. I am able to access the internet. I am grateful for all the internet can show me – all the good, all the lessons, all the history and miracles and wonders of the world. I am grateful to have electricity, to be breathing, and to have <fill in the blank here>.
Challenge yourself to go past the walls you’ve built to keep everyone else out. Read books. Go for a walk. Sit out on your front step. Meditate. Write in a journal. Have some damn perspective. This is not going to last forever, and the way you handle this is going to be how you handle every obstacle you’ll face from this point out. So do you want to be negative, be scared, and complain? Or do you want to learn why you think the way you do and how you want to start thinking? Do you want to accept life as it is, or pursue more? Do you want to push yourself to the best of your ability, push yourself to reach your highest potential? Do you want to stop running from yourself and finally find some peace?
I want to thank all of the healthcare workers (EMTs, Paramedics, Nurses, Doctors, Techs, CNAs, LPNs, Transporters, etc). I want to thank the teachers. I want to thank the delivery drivers and grocery store workers and those in the food industry. I want to thank the artists and musicians and small businesses for doing things a bit differently. I want to thank all the essential workers and those of us switching things up ans do I want to let the parents know who are now home school teachers that y’all are killing it. I want to acknowledge all the sense of community we’ve been extending to one another. May we find peace during the chaos. May we find love in ourselves, and may we treat our minds as well as we treat our possessions. Wishing you all peace, love, strength, and perspective during this time.