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A Missed Opportunity

I ended my Zoom Podcast interview feeling once again triumphant. This was my 10th podcast feature where I discussed my daily battle with depression and how I accidentally found a way to combat depression through exercise, meditation, self-affirmations, talk therapy and writing. I laughed during the interview and expressed myself through animated movements. Agnes the podcaster even remarked how she wished it was a video podcast so that others may also see. I felt so good about the interview—it was a way for me to allow others to learn how depression no longer has a hold on me. 

Literally, right after we ended the Zoom call, I checked my email where I saw something unsettling that killed my joy. It was the latest blog post from a blogger I subscribed to. What was so unsettling about it was the title of her blog: “A message from Willow’s family”. Oh no. I opened the email. Willow*, an author of four books and a blog all based on her experience and research on depression, had succumbed to her depression. Willow had written several blogs a month, she liked all of my blog posts, and often commented on them. I always thought she was generous to do that, so I tried to keep up with her posts and sometimes commented on them as well. 

When I read her family’s post that mentioned that she finally lost her battle with depression, I was profoundly dismayed. It hit me hard. My heart pounded as I scrolled to see other readers’ reactions. I didn’t want to believe it. 

 I suddenly felt ashamed. I felt like I had been trivializing my experience with depression by talking about what I do to overcome my daily battle with it—all without the use of medication. I have always understood that mine is a mild form of depression and that these tactics might have worked because of that. Yes, there are other depressives who need much more to overcome this debilitating disease, and I’ve always known that as well. But I somehow felt as if through my podcast interviews I was trying to convince those who suffer with depression to “just do what I do, and you’ll feel fine!” Especially with the interview I had just finished—I laughed my way through that interview, giving the podcaster and her listeners the impression that we can all just laugh at depression while using my tactics and we’ll all be fine

But that is not the case for all depressives. My heart goes out to Willow. I wished that I had interacted more with her on a personal level and not just superficially by commenting on random ideas from her posts for the sake of solidarity. And I’m not saying that connecting with her personally would have saved her life. It’s just that I now recognize a missed opportunity to connect with another soul–to this particular soul–and that opportunity will never be given to me again.

The news of Willow’s death I guess opened my eyes. She was one of my regular readers and therefore knew what I do on a daily basis to overcome depression. It was a reminder that my strategies are not for everyone and that just because I exclaim their effectiveness does not mean that fellow depressives will find them useful or even practical.

 Most importantly, I realize that my mission is not to save anyone. I started off with one simple yet scary objective: to share my truth. In doing so, my wish was to help anyone out there receptive to my message. I will continue to share my story as long as I have readers who will follow it. And to all my fellow depressives out there: may you find the peace that you are looking for in a way that does not compromise your relationships, your health, or your life. Someone out there cares for you deeply and I pray so hard that you find that that alone is worth your continued existence in this world.

*Willow is not her real name. I’ve changed her name here for her privacy. 

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Letting Myself Free

Someone I recently spoke with suggested that I was holding on to depression as a reason to keep talking about it. The point was made that my novel is about a woman who suffers with depression, I have a blog about my experiences with depression, and now I host a weekly room on the social app Clubhouse about—you guessed it—depression. 

Yes, I suppose it does seem like a lot. But here’s the thing. I was silent about it for over three decades because it haunted and shamed me. No one except my sister knew what I struggled with on a consistent basis because I was embarrassed about the melancholy that seemed to be my constant companion. I didn’t know how to explain it, nor did I understand why I suffered the way I did.  And I was in therapy for so many years before I even admitted it to anyone. Coming out on social media as a depressive was one of the scariest things I had ever done. But it also felt right. It felt necessary. For me. 

But does that really mean I’m holding onto depression? Why would anyone want to hold onto something that debilitates them? No one wants to feel the symptoms of an invisible illness that manifests itself in conditions misdiagnosed by doctors.  I’m not using my discussion of depression as a way to gain attention or more followers. I’m actually doing it because I truly feel deep down inside that it is my—for lack of a better word—calling. It feels right to me. It feels like I went through what I had to in order to share with and help others navigate an illness that is so misunderstood. 

A few people who have read my blogs and listened to the podcasts that I’ve been featured in have commented about how brave I am for sharing such personal stories about myself. But it was never bravery. It simply felt natural. We all follow our own paths. From a very young age, I knew that writing was my outlet. And when I realized that writing about what most troubled me actually gave me solace, I knew I had to share that outlet. So, am I really being brave for sharing my story or am I just being selfish in taking advantage of its therapeutic benefits?

I’m not holding onto depression. I’m laughing at it in its face. I’m making sure it knows that it no longer has its clutches inside of me. I’m fighting against the thing that had taken my freedom and my life for so many years, and I’m making sure it knows that it has not won. By keeping silent about what had plagued me would be holding onto it. No, what I’m doing is letting myself free. Make no mistake of it. I have no hold on depression in the same way that it has lost its grip on me. 

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about how you have set yourself free from the clutches of depression. I’d love to hear from you!

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How I Use Depression in my Favor

After years of edits and revisions I am so proud to announce that I’ve finally finished writing my novel!!!! YAY!! Woohoo!!!! The Box is about a high-powered African American magazine executive who struggles to understand her lifelong depression by trying to uncover the secrets her late mother left behind. The purpose for writing this book was to do my part in sharing with the world that depression is a real debilitating condition; you can’t just get over it. Dictionary.com defines depression as “a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason.”

The words that struck me in the definition were emotional dejection, withdrawal, sadness, prolonged, and objective reason. In my own words, depression is the state of feeling so sad for a long period of time for no apparent cause. This defines what my life has been like for as long as I could remember. And because I felt that there was no real reason for me to be sad, I was ashamed of discussing it with anyone in my family, including my twin sister. But when I finally did want to talk about why I felt the way I did, the words were not there because I myself could not understand what I was going through.

I felt so burdened by it that I decided to express it in a way that seemed most natural to me: writing. I have always been drawn to writing stories; so many of them lived in my mind and I always felt a natural inclination to write them down. I don’t recall exactly what finally inspired me to write about the depression that plagued me, but in 2005, I began a story about a woman who was always angry despite having a loving boyfriend and a great job where she was respected. Through the last twenty years, I was able to flesh out a story about why this woman was so angry, developing a narrative of how her emotionally traumatic childhood negatively influenced her thoughts about the world and about herself. I also created other characters in the novel who were all burdened with some form of depression as a result of their painful pasts. It’s a story of triumph and of love and of the power of the human spirit. It is my masterpiece because it was a result of my suffering.

If it were not for the depression that I’ve experienced for so long, this masterpiece would have never come to life. By writing about it, I was able to let it go, strip its power over me and create something of which I am incredibly proud. And now I continue to use it in this very blog, understanding the cathartic power it affords me during my continued states of despair.

For those creatives out there who have suffered emotionally in a way that you are not able to articulate, consider using your creativity to express it if you have not already. There is such a powerful feeling that is born from using that which threatens to destroy you to create something beautiful. I urge you to try it! See if it helps you through your own despair.

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about how you’ve used your creative outlet to combat your depression. I’d love to hear from you!

Also, check out the conversation with my twin on YouTube! How To Use Depression in Your Favor

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Maddening Thoughts of Social Anxiety

My mother would force me to go to parties that my twin sister was invited to, even if I didn’t want to go. This happened a handful of times in my younger years, but they were poignant enough for me to remember.  Feeling resentful and feeling very uncomfortable, I would be that lone individual in the corner needing to keep to herself in the midst of the most anticipated party of the year. Most times, I never made an effort to have a good time. It was as if my misery at the party existed only to spite my mother—or even my sister.

As an introvert and someone who suffers with social anxiety, socializing with friends was always a tricky situation for me. Especially when I was single. Being there at the party itself would be a major feat for me as thoughts of getting there were always anxiety-provoking. If going to a function alone, I needed to mentally prepare myself for the social interaction by visualizing myself at the event being friendly and sociable. Sometimes, in the midst of my mental preparation, my unwelcomed companion would visit and successfully convince me that I would feel much better staying at home.

On the rare occasion that the unwelcomed companion did not overtake me, I would attend the party, making sure that I was well inebriated in order to be the social butterfly that I wished was my natural state of being. It was during those times that I no longer felt awkward and socially inept. Instead, I felt free and pleasant—spirited. It was also during those times that I made shameful decisions and dangerous choices. I think about those situations only rarely but when I do, it sickens me to think about how risky my behavior was just because I didn’t want anyone to know the truth about me: that I was a socially awkward person who didn’t know how to make real connections. Instead, I wanted to be perceived as a likable person who knew how to have fun.

Those were the situations in which I forced myself to attend social functions by myself. Alternatively, the comfort in feeling that there is safety in numbers would be enough to convince me to go to a social function with my sister, with friends, and now with my husband. Though mental preparation is still required, it helps to know that I will be there with people I trust.

Upon arriving at an event, I always needed to know where the bathrooms were just in case I needed a moment to myself at some point during the festivities. If it should happen that I was at a party where the friends I came with were not yet ready to leave but I was, something almost inexplicable happened to me. I would begin to withdraw into myself. Maddening thoughts of needing to be home right now usually overtook me. An anger would rise inside of me and it was usually directed toward the people with whom I arrived at the party. Why didn’t they understand the gravity with which I needed to be home right at that moment? Why didn’t they grasp the urgency of it? I would retreat from the crowd; perhaps focus all of my attention on my phone. I have even been known to put my head down and actually go to sleep in silent protest against being forced to remain at a gathering just because my people had the audacity to be enjoying themselves.

And when they were finally ready to go, and I was safely on my journey back to the comfort of my home, the self-hatred began. Why did you have to act like that? You made such a fool of yourself! Why do you always have to be such a party pooper? It’s like you want everyone to be just as miserable as you.

No, it was not a pleasant situation yet it went on for many years like that. My private little hell. 

Here is where I would like to offer my positive perspective about this situation, but I don’t think I have one. I don’t know if I will ever find myself in a social situation where I feel completely comfortable without a drink or two to help me relax. I attended a social gathering with fellow teachers only recently and was proud of myself for attending. I had only one drink, and I’m proud that I didn’t overdo it in hopes of alleviating my feelings of unease. But that one drink wasn’t enough to relieve me of my feelings of discomfort. I left there feeling empty because of how much I felt that I didn’t belong.

 Is this just who I am, then? Am I not meant to feel comfortable at social gatherings? Is there something other than alcohol that can help me feel like I belong? I don’t have answers to these questions—yet. But at least I know now that I can make smarter decisions when I am feeling uneasy. And maybe it’s okay that I do feel uncomfortable and awkward around other people. It happens to be who I am. I have to believe that it will simply (perhaps slowly) get easier for me in time.

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An Unwelcomed Companion

I know what it feels like to be trapped inside your own home because some invisible force has a strange and indomitable power over you. No matter how much you think you can coerce your mind to break from that power, you are always completely defeated. I don’t know exactly when my anxiety began; for as long as I can remember it has always been my companion, a rude intrusion in my life. Though unwelcomed, it has consistently kept me feeling safe. Safe from what exactly, I do not know but that is the feeling that inhabits my mind whenever anxiety keeps me trapped inside my home. Yes, I use the present tense because although this unwelcomed thing does not haunt me as much now, it does make a periodic appearance, reminding me that it has never quite left me alone.

What would I call this companion, this intruder that prevents me from leaving my home because of some irrational fear? A mild case of agoraphobia?

It was the thing that would make itself known to me each summer when being single and a teacher meant that I got the freedom to do anything and go anywhere. The pressure of having such freedom weighed heavily on me each year as people expectantly asked me what my intentions were for the summer. I always felt forced to make up interesting plans so that they wouldn’t impose their thoughts about what a well-spent summer actually is were they to be disappointed with my response. This same intruder would remind me that I didn’t need to make any plans to go anywhere because it would keep me from pursuing them anyway.

Yes, it was the summers when this thing would haunt me the most. On days I had no plans, I was completely content to stay inside either working on my novel or watching movies. My companion did not bother me on those days because it did not need to convince me to stay inside. If I had made specific plans to meet a friend, then my companion again made no appearance. It was on those days that I planned to perhaps aimlessly walk the park to get a bit of fresh air that I would find myself stalling. Perhaps making sure the kitchen was properly cleaned or playing a few games on my phone or reading chapters of a book. I would find myself doing all sorts of things that occupied my time in the home as a way to delay my stepping foot outside the door. Because once I walked out the door, that would mean that I had to actually do what I had intended to do. Don’t ask me why but that frightened me like nothing else ever did.

 What if people outside could see that about me? What if they could tell that I was a frightened loser? That I was all alone and had nothing to do? What if someone actually wanted to talk to me and have a conversation and I had nothing to offer? What if I said something stupid because I could not properly think of something smart or clever to contribute? No, no. It’s better to stay inside. That way, I would not have to deal with any embarrassing or awkward moments and I wouldn’t find myself in a situation that I could not handle.

But then the part of me who wanted me to go out and experience the day would say: Just go. What’s the big deal? People go for walks alone all the time. Just go! No one out there cares about your situation. Then the part of me that was guided by the invader would say: But I don’t have a destination. Isn’t it weird just walking the neighborhood with no destination in mind? No, no, maybe I’ll just stay home. Anyway, I wanted to work on the next chapter of my novel so I better stay inside.

Needless to say, that part of me won—the part of me that was guided by the unwelcomed invader who forced itself into my life to prevent me, for whatever reason, from having any type of memorable experiences. And I remember—I remember thinking to myself and crying: “Something’s wrong. Something is keeping me inside. I don’t understand why I can’t go outside. I don’t understand what’s keeping me here.” Yes, thoughts of hexes and voodoo spells entered my mind. I thought someone must be doing this to me because it is not normal to be afraid to go outside. It was a fear borne out of something that was a complete mystery to me. Why was this happening? Why was I experiencing this? Why was this unwelcomed companion always by my side on days when it was just me?

Sometimes, with nothing to do but a need to leave my home, I’d decide to go shopping at the mall, just as a definite plan to be somewhere. That was the thing. I tried to trick my mind into thinking that a plan was definite just so the unwelcomed intruder wouldn’t shove itself inside my brain to take up all the space that made me think I could actually leave the house. But even the mall wasn’t a good enough plan because the invader knew how much I hated to go shopping. Or did it impose that hatred onto me just so I would not leave my home?

As I mentioned, this intruder rarely makes an appearance in my life anymore. Is it because I now have a physical companion in my husband? There’s no longer any need for me to go out on my own because I divide my time between my husband and my twin sister. And I have a perfect excuse for an aimless walk when I am with my puppy Roxie. Yes, that’s what it is. Having a consistent partner and consistent things to do seems to have made the horrific invader disappear for now.

Here’s my positive perspective: This is the first time in my life where I have actually acknowledged this despicable intruder. I believe in my power of the written word: I expose my mental afflictions through my writing and thus release them onto the page (in this case, my computer screen) where they are metaphorically trapped. Yes, it will one day rear its ugly head again perhaps when I’ve let my guard down, forgetting that this is something that I’ve battled for so many years in my past. When that day does come, I pray I will remember this post. I pray that the release of this thing through my writing will give me the power to know and understand that there is nothing to fear in leaving the comfort of my home. Guarded by the knowledge and recognition of what this thing is, I believe that I finally have the proper mindset I need to face it head on and render it powerless.

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about how you have dealt with anxiety in your life. I’d love to hear from you!

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Realizing My Father’s Legacy

Repost from www.tighedtheknot.com “A Posthumous Lesson from my Father”. This post is in memory of my father, Jeveille Jean-François, as his birthday was on Tuesday, April 12.

My father was a quiet man whose tranquil disposition was unlike any other man’s I had ever known. I now know that my father was an introvert—someone who preferred to keep company with himself and was always ready to go home from a family function long before anyone else was ready to. (In that respect, I am very much like my father for I struggled with my need to seek solitude during social events long before I even knew I was an introvert.) My father also had a thoughtful and pensive way about him—always thinking about the reasons why people behaved the ways in which they did.

I was always so proud of my father. He was handsome, hilarious (our very own introverted comedian with a dry sense of humor!), a good cook and had (what I thought was) such a cool job. Dad was a New York City cab driver and it delighted me to think of all the interesting people who must have entered his cab on a consistent basis. However, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that my father had been more than just a cab driver. He had owned not one, but two medallions (permits issued by a government agency to operate a taxicab), one of which he leased out. Not only did he work for no one other than himself, but he also maintained a passive income from the medallion he leased out. My respect for the man, and the pride I felt for him being my father grew exponentially when I truly understood the significance of what that meant.

Born and raised in Haiti with minimal education, he migrated to the United States and, with very limited English, was able to find a way to earn money on his own terms. If a small, quiet man from Haiti could migrate to another country, and without mastering the language, successfully provide for his family, then, being his daughter, what can I possibly achieve for myself? Yes, of course, both my parents worked together in financial and emotional support of one another as they partnered together in raising us and sending us to very good schools. However the question still remains: with immigrant parents working so hard to elevate their situations despite their limitations as immigrants, what greatness can I accomplish for myself?

I remember one day, years after my sister and I graduated from college and we were working but not really making a whole lot of money, my father expressed to us that he felt that if someone was born– and went to school– in America, then they should be more financially abundant. I have to admit that was the only time I had ever felt insulted and offended by my father’s words. And I only felt that way because deep down inside of me, I quietly agreed with him. It wasn’t until some years after he passed away that I was able to acknowledge the power of his statement.

My father knew and understood that there were countless opportunities afforded to everyone in America. My sister and I were born, raised and educated in America, yet we were only surviving in our chosen industries and not thriving. It made me realize how important it is to look to our elders to really appreciate how much they managed to achieve in a world that did not have all of the technological opportunities we have today. But more significant is the fact that many immigrants had to leave all that they knew behind, learn a new language and culture and a new way of being while facing discrimination and being overlooked for the basic necessities we take for granted today. If my father was able to forge his way in America to leave a legacy for his children, then how dare I not strive to better myself in a greater way? If his experience has taught me anything, it is that I can and must thrive. And I will– in his honor.

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about the lessons you learned from your own family. I’d love to hear from you!

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A Lesson from Roxie

I opened my eyes one early morning and casually checked the time on my phone to see how much longer I had until my alarm was going to start playing its music. When I saw that the time read 5:55, it took me a few seconds to realize that I had overslept. Panic overwhelmed me. An hour!! I lost an hour! Roxie, our miniature schnauzer, had to be walked. How could I walk her knowing I had to leave for work in a half hour and I still had to shower and find something to wear?? I woke Dan up and he instantly jumped out of bed when I told him what time it was.

As I prepared Roxie for our walk, I started to complain about how hard it was going to be to find a parking spot before work because we were so late, but then I stopped myself. I didn’t want to hold onto such negative energy, and I was very aware of the fact that my thoughts could change my whole experience.

So I hastily strapped Roxie into her harness and then we were on our way. Or at least I was. Roxie, who was intent on staying calm to take a relaxing walk around the neighborhood as she did every morning with me, didn’t understand my urgency nor could I communicate that to her. She resisted my pulling on the leash, looked up at me, and then slowly proceeded to stroll in the direction of our usual route. I reluctantly took heed. After all, what was time to her? Time is a human-made construct to which animals are fortunate not to understand.

I looked down at her as she carefully sniffed the grass, trying to find the perfect spot to relieve herself. I took in a deep breath and felt a certain relief myself. I chose not to worry about the events that could result from my being late. Instead, I made a mental checklist of what I could remove from my morning routine to make sure Dan and I got out of the house at a reasonable time. After Roxie was done, she was more open to walking quicker than she had before and as a result, we were back home in no time. With some of my morning activities left undone, Dan and I were out the house only ten minutes later than our normal time and my initial worry about finding a parking spot was not even an issue. It was as if my decision to remain calm resulted in a number of parking spaces left available just for me.

So, here’s the lesson I learned from Roxie: whenever I feel like I am rushing to something for which I will be late, all I have to do is stop, assess my situation in order to modify it accordingly, and then keep on going in the direction of my destination. That’s it. I could have allowed my delay to keep me in panic mode and we all know that when one is panicked, it is very difficult for one to think clearly. Choosing to stress about situations over which you have no control really does not solve anything. What helps is the ability to maintain a form of control over your own feelings of the situation, thus changing the way you experience it.

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about how you have successfully dealt with a lack of time or running late. I’d love to hear from you!

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Changing Your Experience

One morning, while I was getting ready for my school day at Hofstra University, the bowl of cereal that was to be my breakfast somehow ended up on the floor. Those were the days when my bitterness and depression defined who I was, even without my awareness of it. So as soon as it happened, I stomped my feet like a child and angrily proclaimed: “Ugh! Now I’m gonna have a bad day!”

My older brother of 3 years, who stood across from me in the large kitchen stopped what he was doing and said with a serious expression: “Then change it.”

“What?” I asked, deeming him ridiculous. 

“Change it,” he repeated. “Change the way your day will turn out.”

With all the anger inside of me and an unwillingness to consider his perspective, I barked, “I can’t control what happens to me today.” 

My brother was insistent. “Yes, you can.” 

 I don’t recall how that day progressed or how it ended, but I never forgot my brother’s words. I remember thinking about that exchange for years. I genuinely didn’t understand what he meant by the idea that I could change the way my day went. To my understanding, everything that happened every day happened to me, and I had no control over that. I didn’t understand at the time that a slight mindset shift could change the way I felt about the things that happened to me daily. And once I changed the way I felt about unexpected or unwanted experiences, it would determine whether I was having a good day or not.  

Years later, my brother’s words would echo in my mind when I found myself retrieving my car after it had been towed as a result of my forgetting to place the proper placard on my dashboard that gave me permission to park in a no-parking zone. I remember feeling grateful that I had enough money in my bank account to cover the penalty cost. I was a bit disappointed that I went through that ordeal because of my negligence, but that feeling did not overpower me. I could have remembered that day as terrible because of the inconvenience of having to claim my towed car, but I was just so thankful that I had the money to actually bring my car back home! Bam! I changed my day!

The words echoed again in my mind when my husband Dan and I overslept an hour about a week ago. Now, on top of zipping through my morning routine, I had to make sure my puppy Roxie got a decent walk. I was greatly irritated. Leaving the house late meant arriving to work later, which meant fewer parking choices in a neighborhood where parking spots were extremely rare unless you got there long before work started. As I was putting the harness and leash on Roxie, Dan assured me that we didn’t need to rush because we had plenty of time before the school doors opened anyway. 

“That’s not the point,” I said. “The reason why we go in so early is to find a decent parking spot and now—” I stopped myself. I literally executed the train of thought about struggling to find a parking spot which meant I’d get to work late which meant I couldn’t prepare my lessons which meant I’d be off my game for at least three class periods, which would all equal to a very bad day. But I stopped that train of thought because in that moment I decided to change my day!

I quickly repeated an old favorite mantra: “I’m so happy and grateful that I found a great parking spot so quickly and easily.”

I took Roxie out for a quick walk, came back to continue a condensed version of my morning routine, which excluded making the bed (something had to give) and Dan and I were out the door just ten minutes later than our regular time. Not bad!

And you guys, when I got to the neighborhood with the limited parking, I saw a plethora of parking spaces available to me that I actually had my pick! 

Coincidence? Who knows? All I know is that there had been no need to complain, worry or fret about the situation. I simply changed my mindset and my whole experience shifted, helping me through a day that caused absolutely no frustrations for me.  Bam! I changed my day! Again!

There are lessons people try to teach us throughout our lives, but if we’re not ready for them, they will simply pass us by, lingering in the background of our lives before we finally open our minds to them. My brother tried to teach me a very valuable lesson that would only make sense to me years after the fact. Did I waste my days or my energy because of that? No! I had to go through my own experiences in order to learn this for myself. His words have simply reminded me that no matter what happens in the course of our day, we have the ability to change our perception of it. There really is no need to cry over spilled milk– or in my case, spilled cereal. We can always change our day, thus changing our experience.

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about how a changed mindset helped you through a difficult situation. I’d love to hear from you!

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The Necessity of Complaining

As I walked toward my car one day after work, I noticed that a flyer for a neighborhood car wash had been placed on the left side of my windshield underneath the wiper. It had rained earlier that day before the hot sun made an appearance. As a result, the flyer was stuck to my windshield, where the only way to release it would be to use water and a scraper. 

I was livid. 

I don’t remember if I was having a bad day and that’s why my reaction was so negative. But the idea of me having to exert a bit of energy to remove this thing that was inconveniently placed on my window infuriated me. 

I dialed the number of the place advertised on the flyer and when someone picked up, I voiced my complaint with a clear and disapproving tone.  The man who listened to my complaint didn’t apologize but calmly said, “Why don’t you come by, and we’ll give your car a wash, compliments on us?”

My response? “No, I just wanted to complain!”

And as soon as it came out of my mouth, I felt like such an ass! Really? I just wanted to complain? For the rest of the day, I mentally berated myself for being so childish and foolish. 

I believe it was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “Complaining about a problem without offering a solution is called whining.” In my case, I didn’t offer a solution but a solution to my grievance was presented to me; and instead of graciously accepting it, I confessed that my only goal was to complain.  I had to stop and really think about why I felt it was so necessary to complain.  What was my objective in my complaint? To make the man feel badly? 

It was my complete intention to share my anger with someone. That’s it. I didn’t think about anything else beyond that. I didn’t actually expect a solution to be offered to me.  I just wanted to talk about it in an angry way while making someone at the company feel bad. And when that someone did not feel badly but tried to correct the problem, there was no need for me to be angry anymore. I let it go. I hung up, fully realizing that my feelings of anger had transformed into feelings of shame. 

It was at that moment that I actually resolved that I would never again complain about something if I didn’t want a resolution to it. It almost seems silly and pointless to go on complaining, making yourself agitated and all worked up. For what?

I suppose complaining has its purpose in our lives. It lets us become aware of the things that cause us distress; the things that cause us displeasure. But if our goal is to feel the opposite of distress and displeasure, wouldn’t it make sense for us to unburden ourselves by trying to do what it takes to at least try to fix the things that have caused us to complain? It only makes sense, right? Yet so many of us love to complain about things that cause us grief instead of doing something about it. Maybe we feel perhaps that we have no way of changing what has caused us unhappiness. This is something I’ve already touched on before with regards to my career. There are only two options to approach a situation we find less than inspiring. Change the situation or change the way we think about it. After that, there really is nothing else to be done.

I am a work in progress. So, I know there will be times when a complaint or two will exit my mouth. But that will remind me to stop, truly think about what my goal is in my complaint and then take the necessary action to make that complaint go away.

This is my new any day resolution.

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about how your complaining has served a purpose in your life. I’d love to hear from you!

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Checking In

Lately, I find myself struggling with my writing. It goes deeper than not really knowing what I want to write about; it’s not writer’s block. I’m struggling with, instead, actually sitting down to write something. Anything.  

Writing is truthfully my one true joy; I am happiest when I write. The sometimes-challenging process of finding the precise words to put together in order to share a story and make it sound like poetry fills me with awe. Most times, this act of stringing the right words together takes quite a bit of what I find to be pleasurable effort. Other times, the words mysteriously flow right out of me, as if I somehow channeled them through some invisible source. That’s the beauty I find in writing. My only desire, really, is to sit down in front of my laptop and create. That’s all I ever want to do: to immerse myself in the fictional worlds in which I created. I want to lose myself in the lives and problems of my characters, to see how they pull themselves out of the complex mess I fashion for them. Or sometimes I long to experience that satisfaction I feel after I have finally completed a blog post. Reading it aloud to myself brings me quite a bit of pride at the fact that the words and the ideas actually came from me.

But something has been keeping me from actually sitting down to write. Some unnamable force is preventing me from making the time to do the one thing that brings me inherent joy. And when that happens, I know that it’s time I check in with myself.

I learned a long time ago that by writing the things that bring me emotional pain eventually helps to rid me of that pain. I have also learned that when it is a struggle for me to sit down and start writing, that there is something going on with me emotionally. This week, I had to have a mental check-in with myself to make sure I was doing all right. I see people every day who ask, “How are you?” And even though I know they say it as a form of “Hello”, my telling them that I’m fine is a downright lie. I’m not fine.

I probably would have never stopped to consider that I have been depressed the last few weeks if I had not been struggling with the energy to sit down and write. And while I continue to speak to my therapist weekly about my woes and confide in my cousins and sister about the things that have plagued my mind and threatened my happiness, I have to remind myself that it is okay to not be okay. It’s okay to take a few days to do what I can to get back in the right frame of mind. The important thing is that I have acknowledged it. Now I need to submerge myself in the Disney movies that make me happy, continue the meditation ritual I recently abandoned, and sit down in front of that laptop and write.

I will be okay. And until I am, it’s okay that I’m not.

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about how you handle your bouts with depression. I’d love to hear from you!

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Any Day Resolutions

The magic of the holidays has come to an end, and now we begin to contemplate what this new year will bring us. Or rather, what we will attempt to accomplish in an effort to make the new year more successful than the previous one. This is when we start to make promises to ourselves (and to others) that we will change behaviors that will later benefit us in some way. But why is it that New Year’s resolutions are so popular and, by the same token, so notorious for being broken before the first month of the year is even over?

With a new year comes new possibilities. Isn’t that what New Year’s Resolutions are all about? I think that we make resolutions based on the successes and failures of the previous year. Or perhaps based on what we observed was missing from our lives.

I was never one to make New Year’s Resolutions, yet on the day in question 6 years ago, I resolved to take my workout challenge up a notch by exercising every day as opposed to whenever I felt I had the time. I’m quite proud of the fact that I have kept that resolution until this day. It has by no means been an easy feat. There are days I procrastinate for hours before I actually get the energy to elevate my heart rate high enough to call it exercise.

There are a couple of reasons for my success. One is that I chose a resolution that was practical for me. Yes, it was a challenge. But it was a challenge that I knew for a fact I could definitely handle without detriment to anything else in my life. In other words, I set a realistic goal for myself.

Another reason for my success is that I didn’t really treat it as a New Year’s Resolution but rather as a decision that happened to be made around the time we started a new year. It was a decision that had nothing to do with welcoming in a new year; it had to do with me wanting to be a better version of myself.

Therefore, I propose that we stop trying to make New Year’s Resolutions during the first month of the year. Instead, we need to make decisions about ourselves and our futures on any day of the year when we happen to be inspired to make such decisions. By labeling it a New Year’s Resolution, psychologically we are already giving ourselves permission to break it if we so choose to, chalking it up to yet another broken New Year’s Resolution. And yes, I deliberately used the words choose to because everything we do is a choice that we must stand by. You don’t happen to break a resolution. You take certain steps and resign yourself to a certain mindset in order to break that resolution.

I suggest we make Any Day Resolutions. Any Day Resolutions can be made during any day of the year and are intentional and realistic decisions made with the sole purpose of improving our health and financial situations, realizing our social, personal and professional goals and most importantly, improving our mindsets in an effort to become better versions of ourselves. I think that this is a very positive way of moving forward in the direction of where we want to be in our futures. And there will never be a reason to fear breaking the resolution by taking actions that might put us in the opposite direction of our goals. Just start over. One misstep does not translate into surrendering our goals. It’s simply an opportunity to reassess our resolution and plan a different course towards our destination. And again, this can be done during any time of the year, just as the term Any Day Resolution suggests!!

So, here’s a New Year’s wish for you: Start thinking about your goals for a New You, not just a new year.

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A Different Kind of Motherhood

It wasn’t that I had always wanted children; it was that I always expected to have them. And in my early forties, when that expectation was no longer a possibility, it broke my heart, leaving me feeling ashamed that my body could not do what it had been preparing me for since I was twelve years old. If you know me at all, you know that I am not afraid to tell my story—the reason why I waited so long to start thinking about having a child and the reason why I will never have a child. As willing as I am in sharing my story, a kind of reticence comes over me when, after learning that I do not have children, people say things like “Oh, you’re lucky.” Or “Well, you’re still young.” I don’t share my story with them at that moment because it’s too much to explain in response to their dismissive comments.

But I am proud of the fact that I can marvel at babies and children without feeling the sting of not being able to produce my own. I’m proud because it had once consumed me. In my admiration of the little people, I used to experience a quiet jealousy of the women who bore them- women who were called mothers, a title I was afraid would never be carried by me. Yes, the ache, the pain, the agony were all there. Sometimes, I still feel it deep inside me as something that gently haunts me, reminding me of the circumstances that have led to my current situation.

And yet, my current situation is something with which I am so happy. My husband Dan and I decided to make our union complete when we agreed to get a puppy. Our little black and white miniature schnauzer who answers to the name of Roxie came home with us last year on December 12. So as I reflect on our first year together as a family, I am forced to think about my perspective on life as a caretaker to a small being who can very much be compared to a child who will never grow up. My journey to motherhood does not include a baby, but it does include a puppy who has taught me that early morning walks in 30 degree weather can be quite exhilarating. This puppy has shown this workaholic what it’s like to give up a day of work to rush her to the animal hospital when an infection swells her eyes shut. This puppy has shown me the fun I can have in chasing her around the apartment in an attempt to get her harness on before an evening walk. This little puppy has shown her love when she rests her little body against mine, moving with me if I decide to change my position.

I had not always wanted to have a puppy. But now that we have Roxie, I can’t imagine our lives without her—our little baby. This reminds me of a quote I recently came upon by Roger Caras: “Dogs are not our whole life but they make our lives whole.” Taking care of Roxie this past year has been an absolute privilege. And I find myself thankful for what lead me here to regard my little baby with so much pride and so much love. Every pain I felt, every tear I shed, and all the shame I carried because I could not have children all prepared me to welcome Roxie into making my life whole. So, yes, I am thankful for my past because without my previous heartbreak, I would have never appreciated the joys of a different kind of motherhood—being the proud mama of a fur baby. 💖

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about how a fur baby has made your life whole. I’d love to hear from you!

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Toxic Positivity?

I recently attended a virtual professional development meeting, at which I heard something that has profoundly stayed with me. The guest speaker for the meeting, licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Jaime Zuckerman talked about different ways in which we can handle stress and deal with the effects that the pandemic has had on us. She spoke briefly about something called toxic positivity, and it struck such a cord with me that I immediately dismissed it as an absurdity. How can keeping a positive perspective on negative situations be toxic?

Well, according to Dr. Zuckerman, “Toxic Positivity  is a societal assumption that, regardless of a person’s emotional pain or stressful life situation, they should always think happy thoughts. It’s an avoidant strategy we use to push away negative thoughts and feelings because we don’t want to feel bad, even if these thoughts and feelings are appropriate to the experience.” The idea is that by avoiding those bad feelings and not working through them, those feelings eventually grow larger, forcing someone into a deeper state of depression than they would have experienced had they allowed themselves to deal with the hardship.

Hearing it explained made complete and total sense to me. And it truly stayed with me because being positive is all I preach these days. I feel it has been a very important part of my successfully handling depression on a daily basis. Those who have read my first few blog posts on this website know how I flood my mind with messages of encouragement. In fact, the tag line for my blog Cathy’s Cross is “A Depressive’s Positive Perspective”. Have I been wrong in embracing my philosophy of optimism these past few years? Have I really been denying myself feelings that I should have allowed in order to properly heal?

What is more disturbing to me is the fact that I have pushed my toxic philosophy of optimism onto my own students. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I always ask my students about the best part of their day. Without even realizing it, I was automatically shutting down those students who just wanted to share something unfavorable. “This is a positive-only classroom!” I would enthusiastically say. Never had I understood before that I was actually denying those students who needed to open up about something that was perhaps even slightly bothering them. We all know that sometimes talking something out will make us feel better, even if the situation does not get resolved. In my effort to get my students to think happily, I prevented some of them from feeling that satisfaction of simply sharing, and thus feeling better.

Well, this past week, I put my realization into action and discovered something amazing. Upon asking about the students’ best part of their day, some expressed their day was terrible. I responded, “Well let’s talk about it!” And when they shared the thing that made their day terrible, other students chimed in and explained how they were dealing with the same issues, validating their feelings. They were able to express themselves, affirm and support one another. Transitioning to our lesson was made easier because they had been allowed to release that which distressed them.

So as I continue to understand toxic positivity, I will continue to be hopeful despite the things that cause me grief while working on mindfully experiencing the feelings that are appropriate for that particular situation. I will be very careful about whether I am indeed avoiding any feelings that I need to work through in an attempt to truly arrive in a genuinely happy place and not a place of feigned happiness in the hopes of finally achieving some contentment. I am grateful for chance experiences such as the one mentioned in my first paragraph that offer me more insight into finding new ways to help overcome depression. I hope that you have found this helpful too.

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about your experience with toxic positivity. I’d love to hear from you!

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I Will Not Be Silenced

I understand and accept that by making certain aspects of my life public on social media and within my blog, I subject myself to those people who feel it necessary to mock, belittle and insult me. Yes for the most part, my posts usually elicit kindness and praise from those who are sincerely touched by my message. 

But every once in a while, I’ll receive a message from someone whose intention it is to hurt me with their cruel and malicious words. And being human, I find myself succumbing to that, allowing those words to actually affect me. 

Well, this happened quite recently where I was attacked by someone through many messages on my blog site.  I have to admit that at first, I was enraged. Not knowing at the time how to block this person and with curiosity being my weakness, I read those messages. I grew angrier with each one, allowing vulgar words to escape my mouth as I complained about the audacity this person had to even say such things to and about me. Admittedly, I allowed the hostile words to sink into my thoughts and get comfortable there. It consumed me for a time, upsetting me and even eliciting tears. What did I ever do to be the recipient of such aversion from someone who had never even met me?

But after sharing this incident with my therapist, she asked me: “Why are you so angry when it’s clear this person is not mentally well?” That made so much sense. This person wrote that no one cared about me and that I should fade away and get the mental help that I needed. It’s clear that if someone were to take the time to write all of that—and so much more—to me without any provocation from me other than me publishing my blog posts, then this person was the one who needed to seek mental help, not me. In fact, it’s clear that it was never even about me. And I should never have allowed their words to affect me so much. 

This reminds me of a quote I’ve heard several times before: “People’s opinions of you are none of your business.” Let people think ill of me if they wish. It has nothing to do with me but with however way they are dealing with their own depression monsters.  No matter how much good we try to put out there in the world, there will always be someone trying to bring us down for it.  The best we can do is put it out there anyway with the purest of intentions. All I know is that I’m speaking my truth and if someone does not like it, they do not have to read my words. This person can waste their time bullying me all they want about blog posts they have the option to ignore. One thing is absolutely clear: I am taking back my power and no longer allowing this individual to upset me. I will not be silenced

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about how you have taken back your power after being bullied or harassed. I’d love to hear from you!

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Honoring My Body

One of the many things that I take pride in is the fact that I make time to take care of myself by exercising on a daily basis and drinking a lot of water. And since I had more time to myself this past summer, I was doing at least an extra half hour of exercises to continue to lose the weight I wanted and to maintain it. On top of that, I had been walking my puppy Roxie every morning for about forty minutes since the last week of June, and taking her out on shorter walks throughout the day. Then, in an effort to control the symptoms associated with endometriosis, I changed my diet by adding key inflammatory ingredients into my food and eating certain foods and pairings that help with reducing and preventing inflammation. I have also been very successful with intermittent fasting since the first week of January this year.

Consequently, my body has started to reflect the changes I’ve made to my diet and my exercise. My chest, shoulders and arms are more muscular and my legs are more toned. I’ve even managed to lose the last stubborn five pounds that kept me from achieving my goal weight. One change that hasn’t been as significant, however, is in my mid-section and it’s driving me crazy. Now let me be clear: There has been quite a change in the size of my stomach and I am so happy about that, (My twin had to remind me that “little changes should never be discounted”.) but it is still not where I want it to be. I can easily attribute my swollen stomach to endo belly, a term used to describe the swelling and bloating that many sufferers of endometriosis experience. Or I can blame it on the three grape-sized fibroids my GYN found in my uterus after an ultrasound a few years ago.

Even though I am very aware of how my afflictions can expand my stomach, I’m still so disappointed when I see how much it protrudes when I’m wearing a slimming outfit. It doesn’t look like the stomach of a person who exercises frequently and has taken measures in her diet to be healthier. I find myself obsessing over it on a regular basis. Wearing loose clothing has helped me hide this insecurity and I do avoid taking full-body pictures. It has become a source of stress and bitterness for me. It doesn’t help that my twin sister is a fitness enthusiast and that her lean body reveals that. Each time I am next to her, I compare my round belly to her toned stomach and it makes me feel ashamed. And I know my feeling this way is ridiculous because there is nothing to feel ashamed about; yet my emotions and mind speak very different languages.

One morning, I happened to introduce a new guided meditation into my regular morning routine that I found on YouTube. The voice guiding the meditation reminded me to feel grateful for my body. “You consider how it keeps you alive even when you are not even conscious of it. Your body breathes for you, digests food for you. What else does it do for you? Take a moment to think about the way your body serves you.” As I heard these words, a flood of emotions ran over me. I wanted to cry.

It occurred to me that I was being unfair to my body and unfair to myself. I ask my body to do so much with my strength and cardio exercises on a daily basis. And it has always performed at its best during those times. My body has helped me get through a number of conditions, like endometriosis and a collapsed lung (not to mention COVID!). And here, I’ve been obsessing over a pot belly.

Because of that particular meditation that morning, feelings of gratitude overpowered me. I was thankful for the breath in my body, the strength of my lungs and the overall functions of all of the complex systems that operate within my body. It does not serve me to condemn my body for looking a certain way despite what I consistently put it through. I’ve often quoted one of my favorite exercise trainers by saying “Honor your body.” When I use this quote, I am usually referring to diet and exercise. This quote now has an added meaning for me: Never speak ill of the body that serves you. Be kind to your body; be grateful for it.

I end this post with an awareness that even though I was reminded of this constructive way of thinking during my morning meditation, I know it will not take just this one time for me to stop feeling negatively about my belly. However, each time that I do look at my belly, I will be forced to remind myself of the meditation that has opened my eyes as well as the written testament to myself within this blog post. I will think about honoring my body.

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about how you have dealt with disappointment with the way your body looks! I’d love to hear from you!

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Changing Our Thoughts

Our thoughts are truly powerful. They dictate what we do and how we feel. One of the most powerful lessons regarding positive thoughts that I could have learned through experience is summed up in this quote by Mary Engelbreit: “If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” Changing the way we think about something that we don’t like can be hard—but it is not impossible.

I was absolutely miserable teaching at a particular struggling high school in Queens. There was an incredible amount of pressure on the teachers from the administration to do what was needed to ensure that students passed. Despite how hard we worked, observation reports were always filled with things we did wrong and maybe about two things that seemed effective. Most of the time, it felt like we were being blamed for students who chose not to show up to class or for students who simply did not care. In addition to all of this, I had to deal with– on a consistent basis– students who ignored me, cursed me out or found other ways to disrespect me as a person of authority.

I complained to my sister, my therapist, my boyfriend (now husband) and I complained to and with other teachers. Each day, I arrived at work with a knot in my stomach. Just being there sucked all of the energy out of me; there was no drive left within me to do the things I once enjoyed outside of work. The dismal neutral colors of the walls mocked me into feeling that there was absolutely no way out of the building. My jealousy of the teachers there who thrived rendered me unable to ask them for help and advice. No, that environment was not ideal for me. Unfortunately, my resume only attracted two schools out of the many I sent it to, but neither one of them amounted to anything beyond an initial interview. 

 I don’t recall how it happened. Perhaps it was during one of my morning meditations or maybe I just luckily came upon the above quote by Mary Engelbreit. But one day, I decided to stop focusing on my troubles at work. Instead, I made the conscious decision to focus on what I liked about working at that school. I liked the fact that it was less than a 15 minute commute. I enjoyed interacting with the students who were pleasant and wanted to learn. I appreciated the friends that I had made in my fellow teachers. I still had to deal with the same difficulties as before; those issues did not go away. But slowly, gradually, those things ceased to irritate me.

And then what happened next was like a miracle. Later that very school year in 2017, the school’s administration decided to restructure its staff, mandating that if teachers wanted to remain at the school, they had to reapply for their positions. I saw this as a sign that I could finally move on from the school that had been my first home as a teacher. I decided to opt out of the reapplication process and became what is known as an ATR (Absent Teacher Reserve). That meant that if I had not found a position with another school before the start of the next school year, I would be placed in a school where I would be expected to perform the duties that school would need me to do.

The school I was placed in was heaven compared to what I had come from. The students were all respectful, the fellow teachers were kind, and the administration was diplomatic and friendly. I had never been prouder of a decision than I was at that time. By the end of that school year, the principal gave me a glowing review, though she admitted that she did not have enough in her budget to hire me. I still walked away feeling incredibly optimistic about my skills as a teacher.

Yet once again, I did not land a position at any school when the next school year started. As a result, I was placed in an all-girl middle and high school—a school I had applied to back in 2008 when I first became a teacher! Again, I experienced respectful students who wanted to learn, fellow teachers who were gracious to me and treated me as if I was a regular part of their staff, and an administration that seemed to see my worth from the beginning. The kids loved me as much as I loved them and it was such a pleasure to interact with them on a daily basis.  I didn’t realize it could have been better than the first school in which I was placed!

I am proud to say that I am still teaching at this school. I told the students one day how lucky I felt that I was placed there. But was it really luck?  Mary Engelbreit said “If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” I didn’t see a way out of my situation at my first school so I decided to change the way I thought about being at that school. Once I did that, I started having positive feelings about my students and about the situation as a whole. Those positive feelings, I believe, are what gave me courage to take that chance to move on when the opportunity made itself present. It was that chance that lead me to my current school—filled with students who continuously remind me why I became a teacher in the first place. What a powerful lesson.

Does this resonate with you? Please leave a comment about how your change in thinking helped you through a difficult situation. I’d love to hear from you!

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A Depressive’s Introduction

Many people who meet me would never guess that I, a New York City public school English teacher for fifteen years, am an introvert who suffers with depression. This is a fact I only admit to when the occasion calls for it. Lately, I find myself speaking more and more about the ugly little monster that is my depression because it is something I use as the basis of the novel I am currently working on. And I have to admit that reflecting on how I have managed to continually combat this condition has truly inspired me!

For as long as I can remember, a certain type of darkness has always enveloped me. As a child and teenager, I was constantly filled with negativity, an overwhelming bitterness, and intense feelings of loneliness and hatred. I felt like there was no one in the world who understood me because I didn’t even understand myself. I hated myself for the way I was: the need to always be isolated; the dread and fear I had before attending social functions alone; and the anger I felt in unavoidable social situations. I didn’t believe in my worth as a person and suffered with extremely low self-esteem. I was quiet, reserved, angry and lonely. Oftentimes I would break into tears of hopelessness with no provocation from anyone or anything. My twin sister, feeling powerless in her need to try to help me, stopped suggesting that I see a therapist and simply looked one up for me. As a result, I did see a therapist for some time and he prescribed the antidepressant Lexapro, which gave me some relief until my situation changed and I could no longer afford either one.

It wasn’t until 2015, after I followed through with my New Year’s Resolution to exercise on a daily basis that I saw an improvement in my overall mood. But the underlying depression was still there and it prevented me from going out to meet people; it kept me from enjoying my life. Years later, I again sought another therapist when it was clear to me that depression was ruling my life. I continue to see this same therapist on a weekly basis. Unlike the first time I was in therapy, I now use my sessions to truly understand the causes of my depression and work on the tools my therapist gives me to help me overcome it and to deal with situations that may be a trigger for me. Also unlike the first time, my current therapist has never suggested I take antidepressants, nor do I feel the need for them. Instead, with the inspiration of my twin, I started listening to motivational speakers and teachers like Wayne Dyer and Abraham Hicks and Les Brown, inundating myself with words of positivity and empowerment.

It is an understatement to say that I had a powerful mindset change because of everything I was doing to stand against depression. My daily exercise, my weekly talk therapy sessions, and my own avalanche of positive videos on YouTube provided me with the treatment I needed to help me through my depression. Years later, I would include meditation and positive affirmations to my daily routine. As a result, I worked hard to maintain a growth mindset, and I let it spill into the classroom as I taught. It made me feel good to hear how students responded to my signature question: What was the best part of your day?

I found that I started to feel better, I laughed more, and I enjoyed my time at social functions. Now, I may not suffer with depression to the degree that others might, but I am still so proud of myself that, with the support of my sister and others around me, I consistently take action against something I once felt I had no control over. This is to let all of you who may be suffering with depression know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I know how hopeless it may seem but life does not have to be so terrible. Take it one step at a time. Yes, I still suffer with this terrible monster but now I have so many more good days than bad.

Why this Blog?

I want to be able to help people who are in a place of despair with words and ideas that have helped me gain a positive mindset about the different experiences I have encountered. Here, I will be discussing ideas, quotes and popular expressions that have resonated with me, helping me to keep a positive perspective on life despite feeling depressed.

I hope you will find my upcoming posts enlightening and useful. I hope they will help you in a small way to overcome the depression that may have a hold on your life. It’s time to break out of the darkness. Will you step into the light with me? Allow me to help you get there. I am no expert at overcoming depression but I am an expert on what helps me get through my darkest days. With this new blogging platform, I invite you to join me. Let’s battle this monster together.

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