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Depression

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Just Keep Swimming

12094798213_be4514c9da_z (1)I was feeling horrible for most of the summer.  Lots of pity partying, anxiety, and endless negative thoughts--if you are human you have probably been there. If you have lived with depression and fought overwhelming, crippling periods of darkness, then you can definitely relate. In life, I kept thinking that eventually I would arrive, that at some point through hard work and perserverence I would get to this place where success would happen because I was hard-working and because I deserved it for all my hard work and struggle and suffering and because I was a survivor, dammit. (Such a good little martyr I played).

Because I was a good person, and I loved a lot and I gave a lot and I cared a lot.  Maybe those things I knew to be true about myself seemed like the ticket to success would come to me, organically, fall in my lap.

So this summer for whatever reasons, be they situational or delusional or chemical, after many months of treading, my head went under for a while.  What seemed like a very long while, actually.  I thought I might fall apart completely, maybe lose my home, maybe end up in the hospital, maybe fail my children.

I hung out under water for a minute there--and this was dark, murky, Ohio lake water--not some perfect, clear, 20-foot visibility, white sand Hawaii water.

A year ago I had some big huge revelations, and as exciting as they were and still are--and the revelations keep coming--it seemed that because I had these seemingly monumental realizations about my life, I would soon be arriving somewhere.

To my destination.

To my purpose.

I was supposed to be getting there soon!

Instead I felt like I was sinking, drowning, failing at life.

So I gave up for a minute.  Took a look under water and got some silt in my eyes.

I said Fuck it.

It felt like forever, living in the “fuck it” moments.

Then I panicked.

Then survival instincts kicked in and I started flailing and I sent out an S.O.S. to my family and asked for help.  Which I rarely do, if ever. Because I am like a one woman island who seems to think she has to stay an island. Alone. Stranded. Forever.

Every good lifeguard knows that when a person who thinks they are drowning is flailing, they can be dangerous to try to save.  You gotta go in with a clear head and not get taken down with them.

It’s the silent ones who are actually drowning, and it happens oh, so quickly and oh, so quietly..

Like Robin Williams.  Like so many countless others who never showed a sign of any kind that they couldn’t swim and slipped away unnoticed into the abyss.

Even though I thought I might drown, my family didn’t think so.  They gave me a hand, pulled me to the surface and said--keep treading. Maybe they remembered I had been through worse, or maybe they simply knew the strength in me that I couldn’t.

So I don’t get to stop?  I don’t get a free pass, or at least a rotting log to lean on?

And my friends and family said “I love you”, and some made me dinner, and many sent me gifts, or sat next to me brainstorming, to get me through to regain my own sense of strength.

Because what I most needed was to remember my own strength.

So I begrudgingly kept going, until I wasn’t panicking anymore, and I accidentally swallowed a big, leggy, water spider.

And then my awesome friend said that transformation is a journey, not a destination.

And my head exploded.

Holy shit.

There is no arriving.

I get to let myself off the hook?!

So, there is only this huge body of water, and there are mucky parts and clear parts and parts where you swim with dolphins and parts where you swim with sharks and parts where you get stuck in the swamp tangled in long weeds?

There is no destination?

This one revelation was just the lifejacket I needed.

To give me enough buoyancy that treading water didn’t seem so hard anymore.

To give me enough hope that, maybe soon, I will start to swim again.

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Dear suffering Mamas whose burden feels too big to bear, so UNFAIR (!):

 

I want to give you hope

I want to speak to you from my deepest heart buried beneath the numbness, the horror, the despair of this wretched monster we call PPD.  I want you to know that you are not, and never will be, alone.  (I know it feels like you are because we are all silenced out here, drowning, but we are here and we need you, your voice, too.) 

You think you are being overtaken by this beast, your greatest foe, but in reality she is yours to conquer, yours to embrace, yours to overcome, and ultimately, yours to ride like the mightiest of dragons.  Maybe your dragon is pink.  Imagine her, imagine her being yours, and you the master of your own destiny, riding into your wildest dreams of health and peace, stronger, better, you.

I know.  It’s so f#*king hard.

I know because in 2006 I gave birth to my second child, and 8 weeks later the world was a ride I wanted to get off.  My mind wouldn’t stop churning, sleep eluded me, and though I knew love was a language I had once spoken with ease, now it was forgotten.  I drifted slowly, then suddenly, into psychosis.  I dreamed I was kidnapped, locked in a dark trunk, suffocating and screaming for my life. 

A week later that dream came true. I was catatonic, and went to the hospital for 7 days.

After all this, I remember a good friend taking me by the shoulders, on my front porch, looking in my eyes with compassion and love.  She said with gravity and rock solid conviction:  You are going to get through this and you are going to rock the world when you do.  We are going to have a party, a “Heidi-conquered-the-world-party”, and the whole world will be invited and will cheer for you.  You’ll see, you are gonna beat this and change the world.

 

I didn’t believe her.  She had no idea.  I had no hope.  How could she know that?  What did she know about this awful state of mind that robs you of your ability to feel, to love, to care, to focus, to sleep, to be kind, to be yourself

 I never forgot that moment.

 

(By the way, she was right.)

 

Don’t forget.  You are gonna beat this.  You are.

 

And when you do, I want you to climb on your pink dragon and scream to the world that you survived, and ride on, ride on, ride on!!!

 

Sending you All my ferocious love,

Heidi Howes

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How to Crush the Self-Doubt and Follow Your Bliss

 

 

Even as we go through the ups and downs of life we need to lift our noses above the water level and smell the beautiful salty air.  Life can't all be about survival or entertainment, we have to find our bliss within the quiet space of our interior voices.  I have been working to follow mine, and I was recently interviewed by the amazing Ria Sharon of the fabulous My Mommy Manual community.  When you get a chance, check it out and let me know your thoughts on that interview or share how you are following your bliss. 

In other news, The Musicians' Assistant just listed a gig at Sonicbids, a website that helps bands connect with people who book or license music. The Sonicbids online community is made up of over 210,000 emerging artists and 19,000 promoters from over 100+ countries worldwide!   I've been working on this for a while now, and I am excited for this new adventure. 

I am a big fan of the blog Postpartum Progress , "the most widely-read blog in the U.S. on depression & anxiety during pregnancy & postpartum."  Yesterday a post on the blog addressing the self-doubt that accompanies PPD really hit home for me.  Of course we all have our obstacles in this arena, but as the article points out, it can be devastatingly amplified for a mother living with PPD.  I have found this to be true for myself, and thank the stars for articles and websites like this that help those suffering in silence to find words for their pain.  Depression is widely misunderstood, and for those of us living with it, the misunderstandings and misperceptions of society as a whole (not to mention friends and family) can lead to even more isolation and inner turmoil.  Read the whole article here , it was a welcome revelation for me!  Please refer anyone you think may need it to Postpartum Progress today.

PRE-ORDER MOTHERSONGS TODAY!:

Here are some awesome ways you can pre-order the new CD, MotherSongs, get some beautiful music, and also help me fulfill this dream (crush my self-doubt and follow my bliss)! There are some other incentives as well:

You can order any of these options:

Everybody who pledges receives a download of the project when it is complete. Additional exclusives include: 1. CD -delivered to your mailbox as soon as it is manufactured $12 2. Signed CD -delivered to your mailbox as soon as I have a chance to sign them $15 3. Signed CD and new Book of Poetry to be released later this year $30 4. Your name in the credits -with a special thank you $50

5. A song about you-I will write a song just for you or someone you love $300 6. Executive producer credit -your name on the album as Executive Producer $500 7. House concert (anywhere in the world) -Your own personal concert, anywhere $1,000

Order NOW through PAYPAL: send me a "gift" through paypal to heidihowes@hotmail.com and specify what you would like to order from the list above

or

Send a Check or Money Order directly to me at 1427 Burnley Square N, Columbus, OH, 43229 and be sure to let me know what you would like.

or

Call me on the PHONE baby, and I can take your card over the phone, or we can just catch up. 715-209-0122

I have shifted the release date to May, so you can still order, and I need about $1000 more to hit my mark and finish the final touches.

Love, Love, LOVE to all of you,

Heidi

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The Dreaming Guard

There's a bad-ass full moon, it's the middle of the night, and I am ready to let go the dreaming guard.

All week I have been putting off opening my Mondo Beyondo list because I wanted to do it by myself, when I could sip tea at my altar and meditate and when it felt like the "right time".

Truth is, I am scared as hell to open it.

See all this year I have been striving to trust in the power of dreams to show me the way in life, because I am f-ing lost. Nighttime dreams, recurring dreams, nightmares, dream stories, meditative dreams, daydreams -- and now the big life dreams that we are exploring in Mondo Beyond class, the dreams about who I am and how I can best serve in the world with my own uniqueness, and most importantly to me right now, how I can feed my family.

I used to take dreaming for granted. I used to assume my dreams would come true and know that I could make it so, or that they would fall into my lap without much apparent effort on my part.

Yet, as life has turned into *LIFE* and I miraculously learned/earned the experience and gift of deep suffering, some parts of my dreaming spirit have been caged. Caged by poverty, depression, and the ensuing isolation those two things have brought into my experience. Caged by the thoughts that there is not enough of what I need to make my dreams come true.

When you lack resources, when your mind is ill and can't see beyond darkness, it is that much harder to believe in dreams.

But this story has been told many times before. And I don't (am trying not to) buy it.

Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. . . I may be poor right now, but I am not poor in spirit. Spirit is my mojo and I've got that waking me up in the middle of the night to read this list (my wildest and most mundane dreams all in one): insert abra cadabra

Mondo Beyondo 2010:

Live in Italy for a year and sing Learn Italian Have peace, Happiness, and Joy in my Heart Help people heal Write Books Make the Movie Be more psychic Write a poem every day Build an ashram or retreat center Build a music/writing studio Own a gorgeous and spacious home Beat depression for good Lose 50 pounds Run a marathon Get my yoga instructor certification Visit Swamiji in Nepal Find true joy Be a great mom Make enough money to GIVE LOTS Visit my friends in Germany Have my music featured in Roliing Stone Get a book publishing deal write songs every day Be my own hero Have a 3rd child (this one was written very small at the very end, as if uttered in a very small voice)

The dreaming guard has been let go and I have to remind myself: Be vulnerable, be brave, be flexible, be open, be trusting.

What are your wildest dreams? Do you have a mondo beyondo?

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When Depression Leaves

"Wow, you sound like a completely diferent person today!", says my best friend, Randall , on the phone with me this morning.  It's true, I have emerged with hope again.  The thing with feathers.  I feel renewed. 

"What do you think changed?", he asked.

Um, the medication is working.

For this I am eternally grateful and, today, elated.

If only Sylvia and Virginia had had this tool!

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When Depression Strikes

Out of nowhere it can come in and make my life a mess.   A few weeks ago I noticed the tell tale signs of stress turning into something a little darker.  The scariest thing is, it always comes on so suddenly.  Monday I am fine, going about my business like everything is normal, scheduling this and that, working, playing with the kids -- and then Tuesday morning about 11:30 just as I am about to get off the phone I start sobbing and I can't stop.  There is always a part of my brain sitting on the sidelines watching, standing up going "What the F*%&!"  It's incredulous, like it's witnessing really foul play in an otherwise fair game.  So it doesn't seem to make any sense.  I can understand that PPD got me after the birth of my daughter, but now she turns 3 in a month, and I know my doctor says that at this point we are no longer dealing with PPD, now we are officially dealing with acute clinical depression which probably is never going away.

Never going away?

And I also just learned that apparently people are known to grow an intolerance to their medication, which seems to have recently happened to me, and therefore I am currently (as in right this minute) undergoing the painful process of changing medications, which to me feels like the official end of life as I know it because I keep losing everything and I can't seem to keep anything straight.  Yes, I feel like I have lost my mind, and the worst part of that is the continual berating voice that keeps telling me what a freaking loser I am. 

Oh, joy.

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