I have a very close friend and she was really struggling. She knows me better than almost anyone. My mood never changes, I never overreact, always smiling, content and excited about each day. “You’re not a normal person,” she would say. If she got upset sometimes she would take it out on me, but I was always forgiving and knew an apology was coming and most of all we both love each other and care about each other.
Through battling depression she never thought I was the right person to talk to. If you knew someone for six years and you never saw them have a down day, do you think they would be the right person to talk to about depression?
No, I don’t have my highs and I don’t have my lows anymore. I stick to my medications, which was very very hard to get right, and never miss a day. I monitor the thoughts in my brain. I have found that sitting around all day and not getting out of the house is more paralyzing than paralysis itself. I never let myself get stuck inside my head. I pick up the phone and call someone, invite someone over or just get the hell out of my apartment. Human interaction is my best therapy.
Sometimes human interaction can be too much though. While being open and honest with other people about what is going through our heads and diving into conversations where we make ourselves vulnerable is great, you still need time to recharge.
I know that drugs lead to mania and I have a highly addictive personality, but even after all of the lessons learned, I make sure I keep good people around me to keep me in check. But it isn’t just drugs that can get my mind racing and for me to start feeling manic. I have an overactive brain and an overactive lifestyle. Sometimes I try to do too much and I can’t stop myself. I’m booking speeches, doing speeches, finishing up my life coaching certification, constantly coaching other people and I sit on six different boards. On top of that it always feels like there is more to do and more to prove.
Sometimes I can feel a little manic if I leave no time to myself and the week is just over-the-top hectic. We all need time to recharge. I usually use about one day a week where I just do absolutely nothing which gives me the energy to go forth for another week. Throw on some happy music, lay under my heated blanket and maybe call my mom if I need a little company.
Usually I feel like I can handle it all and at the end of the day I feel accomplished. You can really throw anything at me and I’m ready to take it on. A couple months ago I had a person reconnect with me and say that he was starting to cut himself. No freak out on my end, I was just ready to talk him through it and now he is nearly 2 months clean. I’ve had someone try to commit suicide in my apartment. I was never going to give up on her and now after nearly 2 years the future looks very bright for her. You can honestly throw anything at me. I’ve seen it all and I’m ready for it all. I’ve also been through it all.
The conversations that I have on a regular basis really bring me back to when I was struggling. Do I remember the struggle? Of course I do. When I talk to people experiencing different issues or if they are in the same state of mind that I was once in, I just think back to how I felt and I put myself in their shoes. I think back to how I dealt with it or how I would’ve dealt with it differently. I have to constantly remind them that I understand because someone that feels like they are at the bottom may not feel like they can relate to someone who has moved passed a state of negativity to go on to only practice positivity and try to spread happiness.
I feel though that opposites do attract and that negative energy will be outweighed by positive energy. I feel throughout the process when you meet someone or talk to someone for the first time and they are in that negative mindset they come to you for answers, but never expect to move past where they are. But as they trust the process and have someone to listen to them and support them along their journey closes the gap. Along the way the positives overcome the negatives.
Six months to a year later there is a completely different person on the other side of the phone. This person is no longer a client, but a friend. In the beginning it was about what was lacking, but eventually you just start to share the good about each day. Change is possible in all of us. I think so many people are just lacking someone to talk to that has understanding, compassion and optimism for all people.
Now for that question. Do I remember the feeling? Of course I do, and I am thankful for each day of hell I had to go through to get to the state of mind that I am in today. I am either sitting in a wheelchair or it is at arms reach. What more of a reminder do you need that you’ve been through it all and the consequences of it will be with you for the rest of your life?
But the cool part about the wheelchair is that people notice it. They wonder what the story is behind it. So they ask questions. It’s the best conversation starter I could ever ask for. They see it and they know that I’ve been through a lot, but then I start talking and they see me for who I am. The chair fades away. They see someone who has been tested time and time again who is better off because of the struggle rather than struggling more because more obstacles were thrown in ther way.
I make myself very vulnerable, which in turn gets people to open up. Once people start to open up that is where the process begins. If you stay silent you will stay exactly where you are. And if you want to talk I will never turn you away.
My clients remind me of where my mind was once at. The process reminds me of where the mind can go. The wheelchair reminds me of everything I’ve been through. Those clients that turn into lifelong friends are the ones that remind me that this is the lifestyle that anyone is capable of attaining.