The Art of Living With a Depression Blog

ErinBlog Maintenance7 Comments

00migrainegirl1I need to update with what’s going on in my head even though I have no idea what to do with it all.

Ever since my videos with HealthiNation won an Emmy, the traffic to my blog has skyrocketed. It’s wonderful but man, I never intended for things to get this big! When this was just one blog out of kajillions, I felt more freedom and anonymity. And now everyone knows me as “that girl with depression.”

When I started writing here, I chose to blog about two things: Art and Depression. I felt like art had saved me from depression. I wanted to write about the balance between the two.

When HealthiNation did my videos, they touched on my art a little but they actually cut 90% of my art out of the end product because they wanted just to talk about depression.

Since then I am getting constant requests from people who want my advice on their mental health. I’ve had to take down my “hire me” page so that it’s harder for people to reach me. I’ve stopped reading comments because they are so triggering. People find my blog and barely read it and then tell me all about their suicide attempts.

I’m getting hounded via my Etsy shop; some people even find out a way to text me through gmail somehow. I can’t take it! I can’t fix anyone. I’m not a therapist, I don’t have training to counsel anyone. I have my own mental health struggles to cope with, and in the past year, physical health problems have been taking over my life on top of it all.

Although my migraines are very complicated, they’ve only been this bad (as in several ER visits a month) since the HealthiNation videos came out. I am so stressed.

This blog is mine, I own it, so I can turn things around. I don’t want to stop blogging, but I feel like it’s hard to continue with this much exposure. With so few people respecting the boundaries I set.

I’ve toyed with the idea of making this blog “The Art of Living” instead of “The Art of Living With Depression.” It’s always been about more than depression. It’s been about living life with its ups and downs. It’s about survival and hope and endurance and even fun, sometimes.

My dedicated readers know the real story of this blog. Not all of the new readers understand. I don’t know what to do.

My biggest problem at the moment is that it really hurts my head to be on the computer. I could totally handle changing this blog, editing what information about me is on here, adding a merchandise shop so that people could support me beyond paypal donations or having to leave to visit my Etsy shop. Even introducing a few appropriate advertising spots would give me a bit of an income which would totally help my stress levels and perhaps my migraines. Yet I can’t look at this screen for more than ten minutes at a time. My head hurts too much.

This is why I’ve been so quiet. I miss you so much. I miss what this blog used to be. I want to save it. I want to change it. I want to grow with it and keep connected.

I am just so overwhelmed. So this is why I’ve been quiet.

I’m trying some new migraine treatments which are supposed to help me a lot soon. Maybe that will help me enough so that I can be on the computer longer and figure this mess out.

I miss you. I miss Daisies and Bruises.

I’ll stay in touch the best I can. If I can’t continue to write as often as I would like to, I’m going to try to pick up my zinester role a bit more so that we can continue this healing journey through writing that doesn’t make my head explode. Plain paper is much easier on my eyes.

Life is so unpredictable. Wouldn’t you agree?

Thank you for sticking with me. Here’s to hoping for improvement for all of us. Give yourself a hug for me.  I’ll keep you updated.

LoveErin

 

 

ErinThe Art of Living With a Depression Blog

A SWAT Team of Butterflies to Take Your Storm Clouds Away

ErinSurvival

Swat Team ButterfliesI have so much to tell you! I feel stifled and so alone. I can’t focus and all I can write about is how much pain I’m in physically and emotionally, how tired I am, and how lost I feel. And just thinking about those things makes them worse. I am really really struggling.

It’s time to get creative. Get REALLY creative.

I’ve just decided to give myself permission to have imperfect blog posts for the rest of the month with a FREE PASS against self-judgement, worry, and negative self-talk. Any time I catch myself beating myself up with mean thoughts, I’m going to imagine a giant stop sign. Maybe it will flash bright red. Alarms will go off!  A SWAT team of tiny butterflies will come in and take my storm clouds away.

Maybe you’re having a shitty summer too. Okay, so let’s make the rest of the August less shitty together. Here’s your assignment: imagine an alarm system that will go off if you beat yourself up with mean thoughts about yourself. Borrow my butterfly SWAT team idea if you want.

Now, every time your SWAT team comes in, head on over to YouTube and search “the best of _____,” filling the blank in with your favourite movie or tv character of all time. Watch at least one video of clips extending past five minutes. I’m going to watch Adventure Time: Best of Jake the Dog. Then I’m going to watch The Best of Doug the Pug.

If you don’t have a favourite movie or tv character you can think of, search for a video of your favourite animal. Don’t stop watching videos of that animal until you feel better.

Thank you for sticking with me as I struggle and get quiet sometimes. There are some really big and exciting changes coming up for Daisies and Bruises! I just need to start feeling a little better, a little bit more like myself, and then we’re going to create some serious positive changes for ourselves.

In the meantime, small blog posts like this with creative instructions will continue! Now go watch your favourite characters and animals on YouTube! If you get in trouble at work, blame it on me! :D

I love you and never stop thinking about you and this blog, even when I’m at rock rock bottom. The good thing about rock bottom is that it leaves you nowhere to go but up!

LoveErin

ErinA SWAT Team of Butterflies to Take Your Storm Clouds Away

When Someone You Love Decides to Die from Suicide

ErinSurvival

When someone you love decides to die by suicide, you are left feeling shaken to the core. Someone in my extended family died by suicide ten days ago. I’m really really upset.

I loved this family member very very much, but I couldn’t afford the $1000 plane ticket to go to his funeral. I feel so guilty for not being physically there to pay my respects. To grieve.

And I feel so guilty because I thought I was this mental health expert. And I am…I just didn’t see this coming. I hadn’t talked to this family member in years. Not beyond Facebook message.

We’d lost touch after his wife had died. And his kids grew up, I grew up, our lives changed. Yet I thought we were part of this unspoken agreement to stay there for one another. To stay ALIVE for one another.

I realize that no matter how much I educate myself on mental health, I can’t protect anyone from their pain. And I want to. I want to save everyone.

This hurts so much. This inability to do anything to help hurts so much. This family member he took action that ended his chances for ever getting help.

I feel angry and I feel guilty. I feel nauseous. I feel love. I feel regret.

I feel this like a punch in the stomach that never stops landing. I feel shaken, like a ghost is screaming at me to DO SOMETHING and I can’t move a muscle. It’s too late. I’m too late.

I know from experience that when I’ve felt suicidal, I was not rational. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I couldn’t think straight. There was no room in my head to contemplate how my death would devastate everyone I knew. All I could think was, “I HAVE TO MAKE THIS FEELING STOP RIGHT NOW.”

Having written that last paragraph, I feel a little less guilty about not somehow being able to save this person I care so much about. As far as I know, he was trying to make his feelings stop in the only way he felt he could.

That does not mean his decision to end his life was acceptable or right. But…it happened. He died. It’s too late for any of us to help him. He made it too late.

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

I hate my life a lot of the time, but I love it enough to keep going. I feel so thankful for that.

All I can do is keep my life jacket on and remain floating. I can’t look down into the depths of the ocean. I have to look at the sky. The giant sky that is there for me to take in. It’s there for you, too.

When you can’t keep swimming, just stay afloat.

ErinWhen Someone You Love Decides to Die from Suicide

Beating Depression Through Art

ErinCraft Projects

How doing what I love, even when I'm too depressed, makes me feel 100 times better

It’s colouring time!

I always talk about starting small when you’re overwhelmed, doing something you love even if your depression has taken the fun out of it. I’ve been feeling so awful lately that I figured it was time to put some of my own advice into practice.

I decided to do the simplest art project I could think of: colouring. I found a simple design online, printed it out, and coloured it in with magic markers. I enjoyed it so much I did a second one, too!

It was really hard to make myself do this, mainly because I could think of 500 other more important things I “should” be doing with my time. I’ve been too sick to stay on top of dishes or laundry or any of those things that we actually need to do to keep our life in functioning order.

But I just can’t do those things right now. I can’t. I haven’t the mental energy or the physical energy.

Art is one thing that used to make me feel like me. So I put “feeling like me again” ahead of the dishes and laundry.

Beating Depression Through Art

 

I really pushed myself to do something I would find fun, even though it didn’t feel like fun at first. It took a week for me to find a design, print it out, find space to colour, sit down, choose markers, etc, but I still did it. AND I ENJOYED IT! So much that I did a second colouring page:

Beating Depression Through Art

 

Colouring is a really soothing activity, whether you enjoy art or not. Don’t overthink it, just pick some colours. If even that is overwhelming, use a cool colour scheme (blue, purple, green) or a warm colour scheme (red, yellow, orange), like I did.

Visit my Pinterest board called “Colour Me” to see lots of colouring pages! If you want to colour some snazzy motivational words like the ones I did, you can find the “Dream” and “Confidence” pages here.

Colouring didn’t solve any of my adult life problems like doing chores, but it made life feel like less of a chore. Totally worth it.

LoveErin

 

 

 

P.S. If you have any spare change, I could really use some laundry money. Or, feel free to leave a note with any donation with suggestions toward self-care and personal growth:

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THANK YOU! *HUGS*

ErinBeating Depression Through Art

Pain is Present

ErinChronic Pain

Emergency Department Visit #135

Emergency Department Visit Number One Million

Migraines and depression go hand-in-hand. They often occur together, one starting the other. Migraines are also a result of severe trauma, physical or emotional or both. All of this pain I’m in with my migraines is reminding me of the immobility of depression, how stranded I felt, how abandoned by life.

I am so fed up. I am in so much pain. It’s been six months of intolerable migraines. I’m sick of talking about them, I’m sick of hearing everyone’s ideas of what I “should” do to fix them, I’m sick of them getting in the way of me living my life. I’m sick of being sick.

I have a neurologist who is helping me a lot. He’s going to help me fix these migraines for good, I know it, I just can’t wait any longer. But I have to. I have to wait. I have to stop beating myself up for being in pain. Depression is not my fault, migraines are not my fault.

And yet I’m hiding from the world. I’m not writing, I’m not on Facebook, I’m not going out. I feel like I’m in hell.

But wait. Just wait. Pain is present. Pain is now, screaming at me. It’s affecting how cohesive this post is and I hate that!! Ugh but ERIN, STOP.

Okay, I’m breathing. Listen: when your now is all that you can think about, when it hurts beyond all reasoning, it’s easy to think that your future can bring nothing but more pain and suffering. Recognize that. Recognize the screaming parts of you and let them scream. Let them scream their hearts out until you’re exhausted and can’t fight anymore. Then you can breathe.

I feel literally crazy right now. I hate this post! I hate everything! But that’s okay. It’s okay.

I have to stop comparing myself to others. Stop wishing things were different, stop fighting against the current and let myself drift. I don’t know where I’m going but I’m going somewhere.

Change is the only constant. Remember that.

I’m here. You’re here. We have today, even if it hurts.

I love you. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll try not to be so silent, even if it makes for messy writing. Thank you for being patient with me.

I just titled this post, Pain is Present. WOW. Talk about paradigm shift! Pain may be the worst present we’ll ever receive, but maybe it’s still a gift. Pain is present. Hold it. Own it. Release it.

LoveErin

ErinPain is Present

I Can’t Give Personal Mental Health Advice!

ErinBlog Maintenance

I'm Removing My Email Address to Protect Myself from Triggers4In the past few weeks I’ve received a ton of comments on my posts asking for my advice or requesting personal support through email, snail mail, or through other sources. On average I’ve been receiving these requests about four per day.

I cannot counsel you because I’m still healing my own mental health. I need you to know that I’m using all my emotional energy to focus on my own recovery. Please read this post of mine to learn more about why I can’t give you personal advice. 

I understand that this blog and videos I’ve done can make me sound like I have my life together and I’m this super high functioning mental health advocate, but in reality I’m dealing with the weight of my own depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other ailments.

I’m currently really struggling with chronic pain and I’ve temporarily abandoned my Facebook and email inbox. I am really overwhelmed and especially with my inability to work at this time, I am beyond broke. The stress from all of this is draining me completely.

Lastly, I really really love the support you’ve been showing me through my Etsy shop, but I also cannot fill custom orders at this time. This includes inquiries about ordering my crafts in bulk amounts. I can barely make it to the post office. PLEASE do not contact me via Etsy conversations to counsel you with your mental health. My Etsy shop is for sales only.

I love all of you and truly wish I could do more to help you personally, but trained mental health care workers can and will help you more than I ever could. Visit my Help Page for links to an organization or website that can help you. If you’ve tried one service and you didn’t find it helpful, try another. Keep trying! It’s worth it. You’re worth it.

LoveErin

ErinI Can’t Give Personal Mental Health Advice!

Hello, I’m Here

ErinDay-to-Day Life

I'm here, I'm writing! How are you feeling?I’m here! This feels like a miracle.

I’ve been struggling a lot to function at a bare minimum. About four days ago my Internet died at home and I’ve been too depressed to do anything about it.

But tonight, finally, I dragged myself to Tim Hortons and connected to their Wi-Fi and now I am blogging. YES!

I know I’m going to get through this recent awful spell of depression. I’m good at surviving. I’ve survived a thousand emotional storms before, but man, it’s still a struggle.

This post isn’t very cohesive. I’m choking on these words. I feel muted and alone. I feel so stuck. But I know how to get unstuck:

I need to move. I need to move my body as much as I can. I need to breathe the fresh air and walk and freaking just make myself leave my apartment. Yes, it’s hard and that’s okay. I can still do it.

I need to connect. Lately, absolutely everyone I know is busy, too busy to talk to me. That’s okay. I still need to talk to people. I need to make small talk with strangers, I need to write letters, I need to share my voice through my blog. Even if it feels like I’m writing to a void of empty space.

I need to keep writing. Even when I feel like sharing my writing will bring me nothing but pain in return, I still need to do it. Every time I write I feel better. It’s who I am. It’s how I am. Writing is easier than not writing. I can write my way out of anything.

I need to remember that my anxiety is not always in tune with reality. In fact, my anxiety is a big liar. It tells me that no one cares, no one likes me, that I’m only going to get hurt in this world. But those things aren’t true!

Thank you for listening. Thank you for reading. Thank you for waiting here for me during these times where I cower and feel unsure of my step. This is a blog about surviving depression: Of course I’m allowed to struggle.

So are you. You are allowed to be, just as you are. How are you feeling today? Comment if you feel safe to share your feelings. It will help you. Speak, share, keep going.

We’ll keep going together.

LoveErin

ErinHello, I’m Here

My Emmy-Winning Heart

ErinLife Events, News Stories

This blog is getting some Emmy buzz, but my heart is still how I beat depression.What cures depression? Is it fame, fortune?

This is what I know: HEART. Heart is the only thing that beats depression.

This morning I woke up to a donation to Daisies and Bruises. PayPal alerted me with a chime on my phone. Next I saw a text from Jackie at HealthiNation: our videos won an Emmy last night!

A few moments into the day and I had more fame and fortune than I had the day before. Was I smiling? Was I feeling strong, ready to be a famous tv star? Hell no.

This could be my “big break” but depression still stole the daylight for me today. I spent hours trying to shower and get dressed for the day. I put on makeup and then cried it off.  I curled up on the couch in a numb daze feeling nothing but emptiness.

Here’s where my heart broke the barrier: I was scrolling mindlessly through Instagram on my phone. I read someone’s caption about how the answers never come to them, no matter how hard they think about it. I commented saying that life brings answers, sometimes, and that I believe that things can get better.

I’m mindful that the truth I have is my story, especially when talking about depression.

I can’t tell anyone what to feel or think or what they “should” do about anything. I can only share where I’ve been and maybe my story will resonate with someone else. Maybe they’ll see some hope in reading that hope came to me. Maybe they won’t.

Usually if people don’t relate to my story, they don’t say anything. Tonight however, this person on Instagram decided to tear down my hopeful comment. Maybe this person meant to, maybe they were in the depths of despair where life is so bleak that there is only darkness. I know that place. I know it very very well.

With all of today’s numbness, I am really fucking fortunate that I was able to choose lying on the couch over self-harming in any form. Believe me, the thoughts were there.

I didn’t see any of my strength in this until someone questioned it. Until someone said, “Sometimes hope doesn’t work.”

I am a calm person, a quiet person, a person who bites her tongue so she can be polite. But here, my blog, my home, I can get angry. This rage I feel in my heart fights depression every day. This is what it says:

Don’t mess with my hope. Don’t you dare try to take my survival away from me. Believe what you want to believe about how hopeless the world is, but don’t you force that hopelessness on anyone besides yourself.

I’m dead serious about this because my life is at risk. I am fierce when it comes to survival. I will fight tooth and nail to get to a better place because I have come too far to give up now.

With depression, people often feel like they don’t matter. Like life doesn’t matter. Like no one would even care if they were to disappear off this planet.

I feel that way EVERY day and EVERY day I fight it. My life matters because I say so. Because I decided that cutting myself, trying to kill myself, starving myself, none of these things worked to fix the pain I felt. They just amplified it.

I’m fighting for me because that’s my job. That’s all I can do. And if you’ll let me, I’m going to fight for you too. If not, get out of the way.

Never ever question someone else’s fight for survival. Our life is the most precious thing we have. It’s worth fighting for.

If you’re new to Daisies and Bruises: The Art of Living With Depression, WELCOME! You’ve stumbled into the the heart of everything this blog is about. Not fame, not fortune, but heart.

If you’re looking for a recap of what you saw in the HealthiNation True Champions videos, check out this post. Visit my Etsy shop to buy yourself some zines. Buy some for a friend!

And if you haven’t seen the Emmy-winning videos on HealthiNation, what are you waiting for?! Go watch them. And come back here because this is where the story continues.

LoveErin

 

 

 

P.S. Keep track of me everywhere, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.

If you’re a millionaire who wants to fund this blog/my life (or you just have a few pennies to throw into my hat), you can simply donate to my PayPal and make me extremely grateful to you forever:

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ErinMy Emmy-Winning Heart

I Hate My Life and I Love My Life

ErinDay-to-Day Life

The more we let ourselves feel, the faster we can process our feelings and move to a more comfortable and happier place. I want to be real, don't you?Raise your hand if your life is going as planned.

Anyone?

If I’ve learned anything from having depression, writing this blog, from living all thirty years of my life so far, it’s that things don’t go as planned. Life is screwed up! It’s unpredictable for all of us.

I think half of our suffering comes from our expectations that things were supposed to be better than this. And when things are pretty shitty, we just don’t know what to do, because it feels wrong and bad to complain.

Fuck that. I mean, seriously, complaining is allowed. Suffering is allowed. Every feeling you are feeling right now is allowed.

I am not happy today. I’m in a lot of pain and I feel grouchy. I hate my life today. In a few hours I’ll probably love my life and then go back to hating it and then go back to loving it.

I don’t want to hide my feelings. When we hide our feelings we hide our existence and when we hide our existence we aren’t living. And we all deserve to live.

Give yourself permission. Stop beating yourself up for being unhappy. Scream and yell and swear and stomp around. It’s okay!

The more we let ourselves feel, the faster we can process our feelings and move to a more comfortable and happier place. Nothing is stagnant. Change is coming. Remember what Toni Morrison says: “If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it.”

I love you and miss you. My migraines ARE going to get better and I have so much kick-ass stuff planned for upcoming posts. Thanks for sticking with me.

*HUGS*

LoveErin

ErinI Hate My Life and I Love My Life

Change Takes Practice (P.S. I’m Rich)

ErinBlog Maintenance, Daisies

WTFHoly blog posts, Erin! What is happening?!

Exactly what happens on a real life, real person blog: Emotion. Real life. Daisies and Bruises.

On Monday I posted asking for help from you. Two days later, I am full to the brim with negative self-talk that emotion spills onto my blog: GUILT.

So this morning I posted, “Nevermind, I shouldn’t have been so selfish. I’m sorry!”

Lady, make up your mind!!

But this is real. This is my life. I’m changing and here’s what I forgot this morning: Change takes practice.

It’s really uncomfortable at first because we aren’t used to it. The other day I said that with some money I would buy new running shoes. Yes, they sound great to me and I really want them, but the first day I wear them they may feel different because they are different.

I will have to break them in.

Change takes getting used to.

We tend to make up our minds to change our lives for the better and hurray! Life is going to be good now because we’ve decided to CHANGE. All those bad days, well, they’ll never happen again because we believe in miracles!

The next day though, those miracles from the night before feel a little flimsy.  We don’t feel so sure of ourselves. So we fall into the habit of beating ourselves up because we’re so used to it.

The power lies in recognizing our resistance. Catching ourselves falling into old habits. And being realistic. Nothing truly real in this life changes overnight.

Looking back on my two posts this week, I’m going to give myself some bonus points for not deleting Help is Hope: Support this Blog. I had two whole days of letting myself feel vulnerable before I tried to apologize with Creating My Financial Cocoon Safely.

I’m going to let myself exist with both the positive post and the negative post, because they reflect the high and low points of this crazy thing we call living.

And to get my pride back, just a little more?

Here’s a picture of me being happy. Like really really happy. It didn’t last for long but dammit, it was there. Look, I captured happiness!

IFoundHappiness

My sister took this two months ago. I asked her to. It was the middle of the night, I had a bad headache, it was fucking fifty degrees below zero, but I’d braved the cold to be with Alison. As I bundled up to trek the few blocks back to my apartment, I looked in her mirror I realized that I looked exactly like my dog.

Have I ever told you how rich I truly am?

Just look what I have.

And in creating the pic at the top for this post, I realized that Digby and I are exactly heart shaped. Now I get to go make a locket! Beat that!

Love Erin

ErinChange Takes Practice (P.S. I’m Rich)