Migraines and Depression

ErinMy Art, Video3 Comments

Migraines are affecting my depression this month but life is still full of surprises.I really haven’t felt like myself lately. I cope with headaches pretty much every day, but this month they’ve been steamrolling my life. My doctor has officially upgraded their name to “migraines” after I called an ambulance a few weeks ago in the middle of the night. I even moved back to my parents’ for a week and it made me feel like I’ve been sliding backwards in my depression recovery.

This winter coming on is scaring me because last winter was so harsh. I’m panicking about my life, my goals, money, everything under the sun as the last two months of my twenties count down at a rapid pace.

Life, however, no matter how much I’m sure I have it figured out, is full of surprises. I made some amazing discoveries at my parents’ house and filmed my reaction to show you.

It’s taken me a few days to feel brave enough to share this video. Why? Well, I feel like I look awful in it due to sleepy puffiness, messy hair, and dark circles under my eyes.

But seriously, since when have I tried to be perfect on this blog? This blog is all about imperfection! It’s about being real. This is how I look when I’ve just gotten out of bed and made an inspirational discovery.

I want to be a real person to you, daisies and bruises, light and dark, hope and hopelessness. So hello, I’m here.

Artwork close-ups to come!

(While I appreciate your suggestions for migraine relief, I want to keep this blog focused on mental well-being and therefore won’t be replying to further migraine questions/discussion.)

ErinMigraines and Depression

30 Things About Me That Have Nothing to do With my Depression

ErinDay-to-Day Life38 Comments

Sometimes I feel like depression is all that I am but it's not trueAfter writing my last post a few days ago, I cried a bit, fixed my hair, had a nap and then some dinner. Then I felt a lot better.

That post was all bruises. I need to write some daisies! Here are 30 things about me that have nothing to do with my depression, because as much as it feels like depression consumes my entire life, it isn’t all that I am.

1. I have four tattoos: a typewriter with flowers coming out of it; a birdcage with light bursting out of it like the bird just disappeared; an embroidered heart that says “found” in it; and Little Red Riding Hood with a wolf mask on top of her head. I want to eventually cover all my self-injury scars with tattoos.

2. I love lip balm. I probably put it on 50 times per day.

3. I sometimes wave at dogs and then realize that they don’t really know what I’m doing.

4. My favourite scent is the smell of campfire.

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Erin30 Things About Me That Have Nothing to do With my Depression

The Full Weight of Depression

ErinThe Big Picture22 Comments

Full Weight of DepressionTo someone who doesn’t know what depression is like, I think of those heavy vests they put on you when you get an x-ray. It’s a weight that blankets your whole body that you have to wear everywhere you go, all the time.

Depression can feel like it should be there. Like you deserve the weight you carry. It lets you see the reality of how cruel and heartless the whole world is. It’s like gravity or an undertow. It is a powerful force that can feel impossible to fight because it is so strong.

I’ve lived with depression for almost fifteen years, and although I know a lot about the disease, I still feel like it’s my fault that I have it. I think this is because recovery from depression often rests on the individual. For example, we know that exercise, eating the right foods, taking medication, and going to therapy can help you feel better from depression.

Other people, therapists and doctors and supportive friends, can help you with these things, but they can’t do them for you. No one can make you eat your vegetables, make you go jogging, force the words out of your mouth in therapy.

Most people don’t understand how hard it is to live with depression. Even the people who know me best get offended or frustrated or confused when I struggle, because I’m not as engaged with their life as the average person. I can’t hang out, I can’t “just get a job” or enjoy myself at the movies.

Sometimes people are surprised when I talk about having depression because they see me as capable and confident. They just can’t imagine why I’d feel so bad. It’s stupid, isn’t it, to feel sorry for yourself all the time? How counterproductive!

On top of it all I feel guilty for being such a buzz kill when I’m depressed. Writing a blog about depression is not what I want to do with my life. I never wanted this. No one ever wants this.

Depression is so complicated. It infiltrates every moment and everything in your life. I can’t explain it better than that. I wish I could, but depression is holding me back from even my writing.

Sometimes I think it’s the very worst disease anyone can live with. Even cancer is recognized by others. Doctors can see it, target it, fight it for you. There are treatments, charities, whole entire stores you can visit to buy a wig or a special bra or wheelchair.

Depression kills people just like cancer does. Lots and lots of us. And the newspapers won’t even talk about someone’s death by suicide unless it’s a celebrity.

I’m just so frustrated and tired and just fucking done with depression. Someone take it from me please. Someone fight this for me.

The only thing I can do is try to describe it so other people will understand depression a little better. Please share this post. It’s not perfect, it’s fucking depressing, but it’s real. It’s a part of life, a giant part of it for so many of us. At least let us name it and talk about it. It might not be your problem, but I guarantee that it’s affecting someone you know, every minute of every day. It’s a vest we can’t take off, ever, and we’re drowning from it.

ErinThe Full Weight of Depression

Surviving This Ocean of Grief

ErinReader Questions9 Comments

We aren't alone in surviving the feelings of grief we struggle withLast week I told my therapist that I feel like I’m just treading water, constantly. It’s so much work to keep my head above the dark ocean beneath me. I see no sandbars I can swim to; I see no ships on the horizon that might come to save me. I just keep moving my arms and legs, and focus on breathing, surviving one more day.

Today a friend phrased a question that fit well with that metaphor. She mentioned doing what she could to stay out of the “ocean of grief.” I told her I would give her water wings for her birthday. Comfortable ones!

I also told her that I’d write her a blog post. Yet now that I’m in front of my computer screen, I don’t know what to say. Do I even have water wings?

Maybe I should have said a life jacket, so she could truly rest from the struggle to keep her head above water. I don’t even have a life jacket to keep myself afloat.

What words can I conjure to make life less of a struggle for any of us, when even I don’t know why I try so hard to keep my head above water?

All I have is my own struggle, my own journey to survival. I too tread water in a vast ocean of grief. It’s all I know.

Sometimes I start to give up. If I lose hope in my heart, I lose my strength to tread water any longer. My arms and legs relax and for a moment I slip under the surface. It feels good to let go and rest. I exhale and let myself sink.

But then, just before darkness comes, my mind wakes up, one with my body, both screaming for air. I kick and flail until I reach the surface again, taking deep gulps of the salty sea air. Oh, oh, AIR!

Without me thinking about it, my arms and legs get back into the rhythm of treading, cycling around me. My body fights to stay alive. My heart keeps beating. I keep sucking in air.

Dear Marnie, our lungs are our water wings. They fight for air even when our minds give up. They fight and fight and fight. When it gets too hard to be so alone in that ocean of grief, focus on breathing. Just breathing.

The current brought us together in an ocean larger than we can see or comprehend. Rest your head on my arm. We’ll take turns.

ErinSurviving This Ocean of Grief

I’m Struggling With My Depression

ErinDay-to-Day Life8 Comments

I'm Struggling With My Depression

Me and Oscar, my pug pal who just moved away

I’m struggling. I need to tell you what’s going on because I think writing about it will help. I’ll follow-up in the next few posts with some of the simple yet effective ways I’m self-nurturing to get through my days, things that might work for you, too.

The first (and honestly most upsetting) recent trigger for my worsened depression is that my downstairs neighbours moved out of my building. I’ll miss my friend Chelsea and her two pets, Oscar the pug and Dublin the cat. I’m someone who really values a stable home, a safe place, and some furry friends.

Chelsea paid me $100 a month to pet sit for her critters and without that extra income I’m in a complete panic. I simply can’t live on $100 less a month since I barely make ends meet as it is.

So I’ve been applying for jobs, which is awkward and discouraging for most people but utterly terrifying for me. I feel so vulnerable and the disappointments of never hearing back from places that I envisioned working for just sends my depression in a downward spiral. My self-esteem is in the toilet.

Three of my most cared about, amazing, close friends are really struggling too. One I’m losing to self-harm and drugs, one is pushing all her friends away, and the other is on the brink of suicide from intolerable emotional and physical pain. Two of those friends live in other cities and I can’t afford to go visit them. If I could, I doubt it would even help. They need more help than I can give. The other friend won’t speak to me for now.

Having close friends suffer when you too are struggling with depression, is nothing short of hell. I am doing all that I can to support them regardless, but I know it’s not enough.

Lastly, in the past week and a half, I swear, my anemia symptoms are taking over my life again. I have no energy at all, can’t stop sleeping, feel weak and cold and grouchy. It turns my depression several shades darker.

Right now, my income relies on my creativity. I need to make more zines and buttons so that I can sell them in my Etsy shop and in the real world. I have to push my work, market it, share it, and keep creating more. So those are my short-term goals to survive the oncoming cold weather and the other stressors I’m dealing with.

Art is one of my main tools in coping with my depression, but on the flip-side, depression makes it hard to create art. Lack of inspiration, energy, and drive has a real cost. When my art is completed, I have to sell it, and sometimes there are no buyers. And then, without necessities, I don’t perform well.

Writing this blog helps me a lot, so I’m determined to keep writing to help me and in turn, help you. It would be ridiculous to stop writing about depression when I’m in the thick of it.

Here’s to never giving up! And to being real about what you’re dealing with. If we aren’t honest about our struggles and what we need, our friends don’t know that we need help.

You can support me through reading my writing, sharing it with your friends, and shopping in my Etsy shop! Or simply hit the donate button on my blog sidebar.

Comments on my posts really help me too! Let’s get through this together. :)

ErinI’m Struggling With My Depression

I Survived High School With Depression

ErinThe Big Picture5 Comments

High school is hard when you have depression but you can survive it because I didI’m sure I don’t need to remind you that school is starting soon for a lot of you. Surviving depression is almost as hard as surviving high school, and doing both at once requires what can feel like superhuman strength.

With your upcoming school days in mind,  I went through a box of photos at my parents’ house last week, as promised. Holy crap, though.

As I flipped through embarrassing photo after embarrassing photo, I thought to myself, “Why on Earth did I say I’d post these pictures on the Internet!?”

Fear ripped at my insides and I suddenly had the urge to burn the pictures I’d found in my parents’ backyard fire pit. I could delete that post where I’d made my promise…right?

Then I realized that DUH, this is why I wanted to post these pictures. Because everyone’s teen years are awkward. No one likes how they look. My teen years were real and they sucked but I survived them. I need to honour my past by giving it the respect it deserves.

So, in addition to honouring my past self, I’m posting these pictures to also emphasize that

a) I was once a teenager and

b) I wasn’t perfect.

Also, one of you commented asking to see some of my art from then, too. So, here goes.

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ErinI Survived High School With Depression

Why Do We Quit the Things We Love When We’re Depressed?

ErinReader Questions12 Comments

Why Do We Quit the Things We Love When We're Depressed?I love it when you, my awesome readers, email me with topic suggestions for my blog posts. This week a reader asked me to write about how hard depression has made it for her to play volleyball, something she normally loves to do.

One of the main symptoms of depression is losing interest in the things we once loved, so this is something probably everyone who has depression can relate to. Why does depression make it hard for us to enjoy the things we love most? Why do we feel like quitting our favourite activities?

Everyone’s experience with depression is unique, so I can’t answer that question definitively, but I can tell you about the reasons I withdrew from the activities I loved when I became really depressed. Maybe some of these examples apply to you too.Read More

ErinWhy Do We Quit the Things We Love When We’re Depressed?

O Captain, My Captain: Robin Williams

ErinNews Stories7 Comments

When Philip Seymour Hoffman died a few months ago, I decided not to blog about it. I didn’t want to be another person on the Internet squawking about this loss of someone I felt like I knew but never did know. And you know where I’m going now: Robin Williams.

Fuck, fuck, fuck. Honest to God, I’d known about Robin Williams’s mental health issues for years but really really looked up to him as someone who had learned to live despite his illnesses. To work with them, instead of against them. But he did, he survived for 63 years. His death doesn’t erase that.

The intensity in which Robin entered each of his thousands of roles (often his characters had several voices or personalities) proved that he felt life as strongly as you can. The darkness of Robin’s roles, you could feel he knew them inside out.

I was born in 1985. Robin shaped my childhood. I grew up quoting Mrs. Doubtfire as if “she” were part of my whole family.

Around the anniversary of my friend’s suicide, a few weeks ago, I rewatched Dead Poet’s Society. I needed something that joined both my pain at the giant losses of life with the spectacular intensity of my love for literature, because literature is sometimes all that keeps me going.

Comedy works too, for coping with life, but not always. Not as well as it should.

And on that note, I’ll stop squawking. I’m just going to stand on my desk.

“O Captain, My Captain.”

ErinO Captain, My Captain: Robin Williams

Me in My Teen Years

ErinLife Events1 Comment

Send me requests about my teen years and I'll post about it this monthWe’re about to hit the mid-mark of August and I know school is suddenly on everyone’s minds again. So, I was thinking of posting about what I was like as a teenager over the next few weeks. Because I have not always been as confident as I appear on this blog. No way.

I hated myself in high school for not fitting in. I hated myself for having depression. I hated everyone around me for appearing so stupidly happy.

High school is kind of the worst, so if you’re heading back there this fall, I am thinking of you. I want to show you that it is possible to survive this weird time in your life because I survived I never thought I would.

Later this week I’ll be headed to my parents’ house so I can access a bunch of old photos that I can scan and upload for my posts! I might even post some art and music from those years. Tell me what you want to see!

So comment here or send me a quick email if you have specific requests around my teen years and I’ll do the best to find pics and stories to post about. And as always, if there’s anything mental-health related that you would like me to blog about, you can let me know about that too. :)

My email: daisiesnbruises@gmail.com

Twitter: @daisiesnbruises

Etsy shop: Scissorkix

There’s more to life than school, but school is a big part of your life for a while. You don’t have to get through it alone!

ErinMe in My Teen Years

Suicide: A Follow Up to Yesterday’s Post

ErinSurvival1 Comment

By talking about suicide we can help others who are struggling. I want to follow up on yesterday’s post, Suicide Brings No Relief to Anyone, because I wrote it with a lot of emotion. Even twelve years after my friend Darlene’s suicide, I still feel angry, scared, guilty, and perplexed by her choice to end her life.

I also want to acknowledge that when someone is suicidal, they most often aren’t thinking about how much their death will hurt others. Before each of my suicide attempts, I felt like my emotions were screaming at me. I felt so hopeless I could not stand it. I felt so afraid that I literally couldn’t reach out to a friend for help. I really did think the world would be better off without me because I didn’t matter at all.

I felt like a drowning person surrounded by mirrors. Each second my thoughts screamed SAVE ME I felt my reflection staring back at me. There were no lifeboats in sight, only my own frightened eyes.

What breaks my heart the most about Darlene’s suicide is that she had attempted suicide many times before. She had reached out for help in the past, but found that help inadequate. She needed more help than she could find.

Each of my suicide attempts almost killed me; I have been blessed with second, third, and fourth chances at life. So many chances, actually, that I can’t put a number on them. I want to use this current “extra” chance at life to bridge life and death together. I can speak up and Darlene can’t. I want to speak for both of us.

Whenever I post about suicide, I feel like Harry Potter saying the name, “Voldemort.” In those books, everyone around Harry calls Voldemort “he who should not be named” or “The Dark Lord” or some other euphemism. By saying the word “suicide” I’m naming something that many many people do not want to hear, but not naming the issue won’t make it go away. Leaving an issue in the dark helps no one. We live in a day and age where communication is easier and faster than any other time in history. We talk about cancer, despite the pain associated with it. Suicide shouldn’t be different.

Remember that suicide is complex and everyone’s struggle is unique. If you think a friend might be struggling, do not hesitate to ask them if they think about suicide. You won’t put the idea in their head! The idea is already there. By bringing up the topic of suicide, you give permission to your friend to talk about their thoughts.

No matter how alone you feel, it is not too late for help to come, I promise you. You need to stay alive to get that help. Please do.

Visit my Help page for resources to help you or a loved one who is experiencing suicidal feelings.

ErinSuicide: A Follow Up to Yesterday’s Post