Visualizing when depressed.

Photo by Markus Ewert

One of the hallmarks of depression is the inability to imagine a future. This can mean different things for different people. In a deeply depressive state, it can be a challenge to imagine how the next few hours may go, let alone the next year or five.

This, simply put, really sucks because visualization is such an incredibly powerful tool.

If you can’t see the horizon, moving forward in any real way can feel like you are sludging your way through a really dank, dark forest. Every movement feels not only difficult but pointless because… where the hell are you heading?

Because of my struggle with depression, having dreams and coming up with lofty goals to reach for hasn’t been an easy or pleasurable thing for me. Mostly, when I try to dream or imagine myself in some fabulous circumstance, I just get sad. I get sad because it’s so difficult for me to do, and I get sad because even if I do manage to conjure up something, it slips away so easily.

Instead of beating myself up about this and forcing myself to dream of grand homes and travel and fabulous adventures and an amazing career, I have resolved to do the following 2 things…

  1. Create a vision board. I do not subscribe to the Law Of Attraction version of this. I will create a vision board for the most practical of reasons: so my visions won’t be so easily forgotten, as they usually are.
  2. Focus on small-scale visualization. What are my next 5 moves? What will I do next and what comes after that? How can I move fluidly and easily from that thing to the next thing? What does Mallory one-week-from-now look like? These are the questions I’ve started asking myself each day.

I’ll post my vision board when it’s finished, and accompany it with an update on my small-scale visualization exercises.

=) Happy Holidays

Action.

My #1 problem has always been that I think too much and don’t take enough action.

I’ve got a slight obsession with listening to podcasts, reading blog posts, and watching YouTube videos about productivity & personal development. And you know what? I don’t think you would ever know it to look at me.

I have collected so much information about personal development & productivity. I could talk about it all day and if I really committed, I could surely fool someone into thinking that I was some sort of personal development guru.

Photo by britt gaiser 

Sure, I’m no slob. I’m good at my job, my bills get paid, I get by in general… but I am not productive in the ways I would like to be, especially compared to the people I watch, read, and listen to. Inaction has taken over my life.

I’ve given a lot of thought as to why this is. I’ve written many a journal entry on how it feels to be this way. I’ve ruminated on the ways I’d like to change and how I’d actually get there. Finally, I’ve told myself over and over that doing all of that is just as important as making the jump and trying something. (ANYTHING.) And news flash: it is really, really not!!!!!!

I can say that with confidence because reflecting and organizing and researching and collecting ideas is pretty much all I have done for too long a time. And I don’t have sh*t to show for it! How could I?

That is a painful [but important] realization.

I think there has always been this sense that tomorrow is the day I will act and today is the day I will prepare to act.

Enough, I say. Enough!

Showing up.

Yo.

I got married at the end of September! Leading up to the wedding, my mind was all-over-the-frigging-place. I thought that after it was over, my mind would be airy and energized and inspiration would come in droves. What happened instead was that my mind and body (nasty cold came for me) sorta shut down.

Photo by Mark Basarab

I won’t go too deep into why I think this happened. In short, I felt such an enormous sense of relief that all of the planning, worrying and excitement was over that I let myself stop everything and just turn off in a lot of ways.

The problem is that I have been having a heck of a time turning back on. It’s that whole “a body at rest tends to stay at rest” thing, I guess. Well…there has been a lot of rest. Too much.

SURE, it’s been nice as a newlywed to just nest and relax and be cozy. But after a couple months… both my husband and I realized that cozy and relaxed morphs into lazy and semi-depressing sort of easily if you’re not careful. This ain’t living!

I’ve officially launched myself out of whatever form of hibernation I let myself fall into and I’m showing up again. Not only to writing on here but to everything, dammit.

One day, my goal will be to keep myself from falling into ruts entirely. For now, though, I just want to be a superstar at bouncing back.

🙂

Journaling Through An Argument.

It sounds odd but hear me out.

Historically, during frustrating arguments or heated disagreements I’ve done one or all of the following:

  1. Clam up. Much like a roly poly, if poked in the right way at the right time, I’ll turn inward, clam up and zip up. My brain sort of just shuts down. Not good.
  2. Gotten defensive & word-vomity. I snap into defensive mode and without thinking, start doling out comments that I may not even mean. As the words fly out of my mouth, I’ll think “where is THIS coming from?!” or “I don’t think that’s even true!” I get overwhelmed and kinda go haywire. Not good.
  3. Taken forever to bounce back. After arguments or heated exchanges, it can take a loooong time for me to process everything, want to open up again, and/or apologize. Also… not good!

I’ve made it a personal goal this last year to improve myself in this area. I’m an intelligent woman and I should be able to clearly [and calmly] state how I feel & what I think during a disagreement. I don’t want to stay silent and I do not want to say things I don’t really mean. Finally, I want to be able to open up to the other person afterward with a clear head and understanding.

Photo by Jan Kahánek

So, as is my answer to almost everything, I’ve started journaling through it all.

No, I don’t pick up my journal in the middle of an argument. I pick it up after the other party and I go to our separate corners.

My aim with this is to teach myself how to think clearly and thoroughly while feeling angry or frustrated. Also, I always strive to examine things from all sides, so asking myself the following questions allows me to do that more easily.

  • What is it that’s making you angry/frustrated at this very moment?
  • What point were you trying to make before?
  • Do you truly believe in what you were fighting for? WHY do you believe it?
  • Do you have any idea why [the other person] feels the way they feel about this? Can you think of reasons they believe what they believe?
  • Pretend you are the other person. What do you think about the way that YOU are behaving? What do you think about the things that you are saying?
  • Do you feel frustrated that their view is different than yours? Why? Is there room for both?
  • Does your anger stem from something deeper, or is it JUST about this? What else could this possibly be about?
  • How is all of this making you feel physically? Are you tensing up in any areas?
  • Do you truly feel that any of this worth getting heated over?

After I’ve answered some or all of those questions, I feel a bit calmer and my mind feels less chaotic. I have a better understanding of what it is I’m fighting for and why my emotions are so attached to it. Lastly, and sometimes most importantly, I have given myself space to see and hopefully understand the other person’s perspective.

My ultimate goal is to get to a point where I can automatically ask myself these questions internally while I’m engaged with someone. For now, this practice is teaching me a lot.

=)

Talk to somebody!!!

(Advice I need to get better at following.)

My wedding is next month. We’re planning it and paying for everything ourselves, and so there’s been lots of logistical crap to figure out and a bunch of loose ends to tie up. The stress of it all PLUS normal stressors like work and life in general caught up to me [seemingly] out of nowhere. It hit me hard, friends. It hit me hard.

On top of all of the “to-dos” and general anxieties, I also had feelings of guilt. I’d been feeling like I’ve been an inattentive daughter/friend/sis/partner because my focus has been on this one big thing. My solution, of course, was to write all of this down. This practice usually suits me fine, but it just didn’t cut it. I did not feel better. I just felt alone and chaotic.

Photo by Blake Cheek

So, one day last week, I reached a sort-of boiling point and decided to call my mom. I cried into the phone and expressed everything to her. She calmly and lovingly told me that I needed to stop feeling guilty and that the people I love understand what I’ve got on my plate at this moment in time. She told me that what I felt was perfectly normal, temporary, and that I needed to stop being so hard on myself. At the end, she even added that from her point of view, I’ve been dealing extremely well with all of this wedding-related stress. (Bless her heart.)

A journal or list can’t say that kind of stuff to me. They can’t give me that type of attention and comfort. They can’t give me that additional point of view so clearly. I needed to hear all those things from someone I trust.

I’m not sure why, time and time again, I let myself forget how important it is to share what I’m feeling with others. I’m better at it than I used to be, but it’s still a work-in-progress situation. Perhaps writing this post and having it floating out in the ether will help me to remember.

=)

BATTLING A CRUDDY THOUGHT.

I had a big written list of limiting thoughts that were preventing me from starting this blog. I worked through it, reflecting on everything, and eventually got to a place where I’d confidently crossed off all but ONE

EVENTUALLY, I WILL RUN OUT OF INTERESTING THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT!

Photo by Brandi Redd

This thought burrowed into my mind and set up freaking camp. It felt like a bad commercial jingle that got stuck in my head, just looping and looping (I’ve heard this phenomenon referred to as an “ear worm,” which is the perfect name for it). No matter what I did, no matter how many ideas for posts I came up with, I couldn’t shake it.

My head was really being messed with.

I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to stop thinking about blogging and writing for a while. During that time, if a blog post idea popped into my head, I’d bat it away. That seems counter productive, but I wanted to make sure that I got enough distance from it all so that I could break the obnoxious loop.

RESUME BLOG WORK” day rolled around (because yes, I had made an official entry in my calendar). I sat with my journal and thought about the 2 weeks that had passed. I thought about the conversations I had, the things I’d learned, the movies I watched, the walks I took with my boyfriend, and so on and so forth.

A warm and fuzzy realization suddenly settled into my being. It wasn’t so much one specific thought, but a group of thoughts all coming to the same [warm, fuzzy] conclusion. I wrote them down as they surfaced. 

  • Infinite.
  • There’s an enormous number of things for me to experience.
  • My mind/awareness is a deep well that grows deeper every day as I experience and learn more.
  • I once read that your creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets.
  • I encompass too much. I can’t run out of things to write about.
Photo by Harli Marten

I knew all I needed to know. There are SOOO MANY things to write about and more importantly, SOOO MANY ways to write about those things.

I was relieved. I’d kicked that sucker to the curb.

Sometimes, a thought is just a thought. It enters the mind for NO specific reason, and may have absolutely nothing to do with what you know to be true. I think in this case, it was like my mind’s last ditch effort to keep me from doing something new. Whatever the reason was, I didn’t have to listen.

I will be honest, sometimes it feels as though that thought is still kinda hanging out in the periphery of my mind, waiting to strike when I find myself in a low moment… but now I know how to smash it.

=)

6 Pleasant Things

I think it’s important to have clarity on what makes you feel good, no matter how small. Not only does it make you more grateful for those things, but it makes it easier to create opportunities to experience/do/have them more.

(1) First cup of coffee in the morning – Having mine as I write this and that is why it’s first on the list. I love the word coffee, I love making it, I love watching the half & half swirl around in my cup and create the dark camel color I aim for, I love the smell of it brewing. I even love audibly saying to myself “time for some coffee!” before I make it… and that sounds cheesy, but I do it because I find it allows me to truly appreciate the goodness that’s about to occur. Then there are those first few sips. PURE [CAFFEINATED] JOY.

(2) Having a deep, meaningful conversation with someone – When I speak with someone, whether they’re a loved one or a new acquaintance, and we’re connecting on every level and they’re giving me so much to think about… that just gets me so buzzed. I love it. I crave it. [Sidenote: I hate small talk. Let’s talk about your work problems or something instead.]

Photo by Clay Banks

(3) Sitting down after I’ve cleaned – The hours of work have been put in, there is no dust anywhere, the air is clear and it smells nice [because most likely, I will have just lit a candle], and everything is exactly where it should be. Sitting down in that sparkling clean environment and admiring my work… if only I could properly convey the feeling of contentment this brings me.

(4) Realizing that I’ve improved or changed in some small way – It often takes time to realize how far I’ve come or the way in which I’ve changed. I absolutely love that moment when it occurs to me and a warm feeling of pride kind of spreads out inside my chest (that’s how it feels – is that weird?). I set out to improve myself or change in some way, and I’ve done just that. It’s wonderful.

(5) Making lists – (…as I make a list.) Getting to-dos or thoughts or feelings down onto paper is so gratifying and it genuinely makes me feel good. Additionally, it is just frigging helpful. [It’s kind of my solution to everything. If someone comes to me talking about how they feel overwhelmed or scared or can’t decide on something, I almost always ask if they’ve made a list.]

(6) My head FINALLY hitting the pillow – It’s been a day, my eyes are closing on their own, and my body is slowly shutting down. The moment my head finally makes contact with that soft, splendid pillow… oh man. I ALWAYS make it a point to take a split second and be thankful for it when it happens.

=)