The Other Side of This Feeling

Oh, hi. Let me tell you some shit. 

I haven't been around because I've had kind of an up and down last few months, and not for any particular reason, just the usual depression and spiraling. 

It's not always easy for me to recognize when I'm depressed. When I'm happy it feels so natural, so deep, and so lasting that I somehow forget that depression is a thing I have to deal with from time to time. It's like when I get over a wave of depression I think I've made it - I'm done, all of my emotional and mental health problems solved, permanently.

But my depression sneaks up on me, slowly, gradually, in a way that makes it difficult for me to distinguish when I'm actually unhappy or when my mental state is merely tinged with shades of gray. I fall into a trap of assigning my unhappiness to things that are outside of me - work stress, relationship stress, etc. - and spiral into dangerous thought patterns that only fuel the fires of my depression. If only this person paid more attention to me, if only I had less work on my plate, if only, if only, maybe then I would be happy, maybe then I wouldn't feel the way that I feel. 

For months I've been ignoring the deeper issue at hand, until a couple weeks ago when I had a particularly bad episode. It was crippling and extreme and unlike anything I've experienced before - I couldn't bring myself to do anything, couldn't even write, and instead lied in bed for hours, my thoughts spinning and spinning until I fell asleep, woke up still tired, and finally decided that this wasn't fucking normal and that I clearly have some shit to deal with. 

I've been better this past week. I've been meditating and making a conscious effort to be more mindful of where my thoughts go, because my depression tricks me into thinking that my life is harder and shittier than it actually is. Objectively, my life isn't shitty. The rest of this is going to be self-congratulatory, but fuck it because I've been in a hole and I need to remind myself that my life is actually great right now. 

As of this past week my job has officially been converted from a contract role to a permanent full-time one, a full 5 months sooner than I expected. I received warm, enthusiastic congratulations from colleagues in San Francisco, DC, and LA, and honestly it still blows my mind that people even know who I am at this large behemoth of a company filled with brilliant people. 

Thanks to Timehop, I was also reminded this week of how much progress I've made physically in the past 2 years. I've lost 17 lbs., escaped the pre-diabetic zone, and am the strongest and healthiest I've ever been. I'm a little embarrassed to show this before and after picture - taken exactly 2 years apart to the day - but again, fuck it, because I had to change basically my whole fucking life to get to this point, so I'm going to celebrate it. 

I also have a lot to look forward to over the next 6 months. I only have 15 more hours to complete before I'm officially a 200-HR Registered Yoga Teacher. I have trips lined up to San Francisco, Austin, Mexico City, Denver, Scottsdale, and New York. Come August, my favorite people will be flying in from all over the country to celebrate my 30th birthday in Malibu.

For me, happiness is a choice. I know that I have all of the ingredients for a full, satisfying life. I have a successful career, a wide network of people who love and support me, and hobbies that challenge and uplift me. My depression is a distraction, one that I have to actively and consciously work to overcome. 

One of the goals of yoga is to cultivate a greater awareness of your thoughts, and as my teacher often says, to let go of the ones that don't serve you - "I can't do this," "I look stupid," "I fucked up," etc. It's interesting, because when I practice yoga, I'm focused and present and fucking fearless - I've never felt incapable or doubted myself when presented with a new challenge. 

I know that the work that I have to do is to bring this same level of attention, awareness, and fearlessness into my everyday life. To catch myself when negative thoughts branch and weave in and out of my emotional center, and remind myself that I'm strong, capable, and deserving of any amount of love and success that I want.

Yoga and meditation have been profoundly helpful, and every year I feel like I get a little bit better and a little bit faster at re-centering myself when my emotional state is in flux. Here's to continuing to find more ease and balance.