Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Bottom of the Well

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What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a well? Water? That is it a source of clean, fresh water that can be life-saving to many people and communities around the world? That it is old fashioned? Or maybe, since it is not something that is used much anymore in our culture, you don’t think about it at all.

I do think about a well often, but unfortunately not in a positive way. I have often used the image of a well, particularly the bottom of the well, as a way to describe my depression.

When I think of the bottom of a well, the images that come to mind are a dark, damp, confined space. A well can be quite dangerous because depending of the depth of the water in it, a person could drown in a well. It can be a place of gasping for breath, struggling to stay above water, struggling to stay alive.

The bottom of a well would also be unbelievably lonely. A small space, deep down in the earth, where someone could be without anyone knowing. There is no way out, and no one to hear your cries.

Depression is like this. It’s dark, scary, and confining. And you are constantly fighting for your life, gasping for breath, feeling as though you are drowning.

And it is incredibly lonely. It’s an unimaginable loneliness because your brain tricks you into thinking that no one cares about you, and more importantly, that no one can understand what you are going through. The isolation that depression forces on you is suffocating.

And that is why anyone who deals with depression must fight against the isolation and the loneliness.

It’s the main reason I started this blog a year and a half ago. I wanted to help others who struggle as I have, (and continue to) with depression feel less alone. I wanted others to know that someone out there gets it, that I understand.

And I also wanted to help others find ways in fighting that loneliness.

When you’re depressed, your instinct is to isolate, but it is the worst thing you can do. I know this because doctors and counsellors have told me. I also know this from experience.

So, when I feel my depression coming, or when I am in the middle of a dark time, I fight my own instinct and find ways to feel less alone.

I text a friend and ask for prayer.

I meet someone for coffee or dinner.

I participate in something social even when it is the last thing I want to do.

I make an appointment with my counsellor.

I call someone I can trust if I feel up to talking.

I spend more time at work where I am surrounded by people.

I write on this blog.

All of these things help me climb the walls of that well. All of these things make me feel less alone. And suddenly things start to get better.

I always allow myself to feel or do what I need to do. If I feel like crying, I let myself cry. If I need sleep, I let myself sleep. If I want junk food, I eat junk food.

But the one thing I don’t allow for myself in times of depression is isolation. It may be what I want in the moment, but I know it is not what I need.

I know I cannot climb out of that well alone.

And I encourage anyone who may be reading this who is feeling like they are drowning at the bottom of well to do the same. Don’t go into isolation. Call someone, text someone, go outside, write in a journal, or get out of the house, no matter how much you don’t want to.

If you do, things will get a little better, and you’ll find a way to start climbing out of that well.

And take moment to look up. Chances are there is a hand reaching down to help you climb.

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Brave

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Brave is defined as feeling or showing no fear; having courage; putting one’s self in a possibly dangerous situation.

Lately I’ve heard the word brave come up in the news and seen it in social media to describe Caitlyn Jenner. For those who have been living under a rock and are not aware, Caitlyn Jenner used to be Bruce Jenner before transitioning into the woman she is now.

Caitlyn has been at the forefront of all news, tabloids and social media since she was revealed on the cover of Vogue. Some are praising her and offering support. Others are judging and putting her down.

And whether or not you agree with or understand her choice, I believe brave is a fantastic way to describe her. What she did took courage, knowing that she would face judgement, ridicule and cruelty from many, but choosing to do it anyway in order to be true to herself.

People stop and take notice when someone makes a brave choice like Caitlyn Jenner. They are quick to acknowledge the courage of firefighters, soldiers and police officers. And I agree that they all should be admired and called brave for what they do.

But there are also so many every day acts of bravery that go unnoticed. You don’t have to save someone from a burning building to be brave.

So, what does it look like to be brave in daily life?

For a kid starting at a new school, showing up that first day is brave.

For someone who has anxiety, simply leaving their home is brave.

For someone with depression, getting out of bed takes courage.

For a teenager who stands up for the kid getting bullied, that is brave.

For a woman giving her phone number to the man she likes, that is brave.

For the man quitting a job he doesn’t like to follow his dreams of starting is own business, that is brave.

For the abused woman who packs up her kids and leaves her home for good, that takes courage.

For the university student who refuses the joint that everyone else smokes, that is brave.

For the man that drinks too much, putting down the bottle is brave.

For the couple going to marriage counselling, that is an act of bravery.

For the 3 year old who goes down the big slide for the first time, that takes courage.

We are surrounded by acts of bravery every day. They should inspire us, motivate us and move us. Yet we often fail to see them or acknowledge them, whether it is ourselves or someone else who has been brave.

If you asked the people in your life if they thought of themselves as brave, what would they say?

I bet most would say no. Because they’ve never saved a life or gone to war or captured a serial murderer. Because they’ve never swam in shark infested waters, or run into a burning building to get someone out, or stepped in when a friend was being beaten by bullies.

They don’t view themselves as brave or courageous.

What they don’t realize is that every time they do something that scares them, even just a little, they are being brave.

Whether it’s driving on the highway, or killing a spider, or going on a roller coaster, or asking someone out, or trying snowboarding, or swimming in the ocean, or going to a counsellor, or starting a new job.

If it is something you fear, but you are doing it anyway, then you are brave.

And we all do things that scare us or make us nervous.

Therefore we are all brave.

My depression makes me anxious all the time, and as a result, there are a lot of things I fear. But I refuse to miss out on life because of fear and anxiety.

Even though there are days when getting out of bed or leaving the house scares me, I can’t let that fear hold me back. It may take me a little longer to do those things, but I do it.

Fear will not stop me.

It doesn’t have to stop you either.

I am brave. Every day, I am brave.

You are too. Embrace your courage. Take hold of it and move forward with it.

Be brave.