I have not been okay, but, like, I’m okay.

c/w suicidal ideations, alcohol/drug use, grief/loss

Hello, my loves. It has been a minute, hasn’t it? My instinct is to apologize for the long, procrastinated post; however, I am working on apologizing less for me just being me. Therefore, I am not sorry, but I would like to provide you with an explanation of my recent absence. I realize that writing a personal blog about my journey with mental health is both apparent when there is a post and when there is not a post.

Over the last month or so I hit a low… again. This time was different because I didn’t really see it coming. I was riding a high for so long, that even though I knew I would hit a downward slope again, I was hoping that just maybe I was wrong. Just maybe with my therapy and medication and stable partner I could just be “normal”, whatever that is. In my head “normal” is being able to live everyday without this overwhelming pain of the past and fear of the future grabbing ahold of you at different times in your life. I suppose after 2020 though, nobody is truly normal. Everyone I have talked to has struggled with their mental health is some way, shape, or form. Is this the new normal then? AM I NORMAL? I could never.

Anyways… While I used to think that my lows bloomed out of random acts of the universe, I now understand the many triggers that send me into a downward spiral. These last few weeks it was a culmination of so many things. The change in weather, in sunlight, election anxiety, work stress, the ins and outs of a new relationship, the coping skills from my eating disorder that I still lean into, the upcoming anniversary of the loss of a dear friend (re: Alex Wolf), the lack of continued contact to so many loved ones, the never ending news of millions upon millions of deaths from a virus that has been mishandled, the nightmares of people that have hurt me that wake me up in the middle of the night, my upcoming 30th birthday… need I go on? It wasn’t out of nowhere these feelings formed. My depression and how it responds to all of these life stressors is valid. Life is hard, having a mental illness is hard, writing this blog post is hard.

In fact, my roommate just walked into the room and said “are you crying? Is writing that hard?” And I just came to the realization that part of the reason I haven’t written anything in over a month is because I knew it was going to bring up a lot of feelings in me. These feelings are honestly a bit overwhelming. They sometimes show up as tears, or debilitation, or over activeness, or cold sores, or all of the above; it’s all a fine line. I must say this most recent slump has been much more manageable than my past experiences. I’ve only though about dying once, and it was so fleeting I wondered if it even counted- that is a major improvement for me. Hip hip hurray!

As I prepare to enter my 30th year of life, I can’t help but look back at the last 30 years and reflect on all the different ways my life has twisted and turned. Did I think I would ever be able to say I barely think of dying? When I was little, did I ever imagine the life that I am living right now? Not even a little bit. If my life had turned out the way I dreamed of as a kid, I would be famous, married, and have many adopted children, and probably live somewhere else like London or Australia. If my life had turned out the way I dreamed of when I was a teenager, I wouldn’t exist. And if my life had turned out the way I dreamed of as a young college student, I would be lawyer with a drinking problem.

Through these reflective moments, I am also reminded of how my depression has transformed over the years. How my low days are primarily a lack of motivation and much less suicidal ideations. How I am able to recognize it and provide myself with comfort instead of searching for it from strangers on the internet. The way that I reach out to those who truly love me, instead of pulling away from everyone that I love. Even just the way that I know that I am loved instead of feeling like the world would prefer that I not be here. I spent the last month in a depressive state and it didn’t scare me. I listened to the things that I needed in moments that felt the hardest and stopped shaming myself into feeling that it was wrong. It is hard enough being depressed and then also have my brain reprimand me for the way I was dealing with that depression.

I frequently ask my patients what their coping skills are and 9 times out of 10 they slink down into their chair and they begin to mumble that they smoke weed, or drink alcohol, or watch hours upon hours of TV. I try to reposition their mind set, the shame that lives within their slouched backs and mumbled tones. We are, at the core, humans trying to survive. Is drinking wine because I am sad the healthiest coping skill? Nah. Does it make me feel good in the moment, you can bet your bottom dollar. And I tell my clients just that. We do these things because we want to feel better and we shouldn’t shame ourselves into feeling bad for that. We can recognize that these are not long term solutions and that without getting real care and proper help these coping skills could create more harm than good; we can also recognize that sometimes getting stoned feels good. There is no healing when shame is masking all that we do, no matter what we are trying to heal from.

As I mentioned earlier, the anniversary of the loss of Alex Wolf is coming up on November 20th. Grief is not linear and there is no right way to heal. Many of us this year are experiencing that feeling. I can promise you that on Friday, I will be crying and I will have wine and I will call my best friend, his sister, and we will probably cry together and that might happen every year on November 20th and there is healing in that. I’m over feeling shame. Shame for what I put in my body, shame for how I heal, shame for how I look, shame for any of it.

Alex Wolf is one of the best people I’ve had in my life and when he passed I made a promise to live life like Alex. Alex was like the antidote for feeling shame. He made the people around him feel proud to be who they were because he was proud of himself and proud of his friends. In fact, I am smiling while I write this thinking about the time I was capturing images of my friends and asking them to give me their essence. [Image posted below.] Alex ran to put on his homemade corduroy shorts and take a picture with his best friend and I’ve never seen anyone more proud, even while me, his sister, and best friend mocked the shorts.

(Pictured: Stephanie B. and Alex W.)

So, all of this is to say 1. I haven’t been okay, but, like, I’m okay, 2. I still have depression and that is very real and I am still working to heal and cope, 3. thank goodness my life has taken twists and turns 4. There is no right way to cope, 5. Let’s stop shame altogether, 6. I miss you, Alex, 7. I am still trying to live my life like Alex, 8. Best friend, call me on Friday.

A[wo]men

when i let shame take ahold of me

i let go of knowing

i am exactly

where i need to be

-reasons to get rid of shame

Stability on the Water;

Hi, Friends! I apologize if you missed me last week, because I sure missed y’all. It is funny how off my week can feel when I skip a post (or 2, or 3). Don’t get me wrong I don’t regret taking the time off. I mean if you had the opportunity to go to the beach, wouldn’t you? Especially as summer fades away into fall I figured I should take advantage of any opportunities I can get in the sun and water.

I know I’ve talked a lot about baby Sarah, mostly in the context of hardships, but baby Sarah comes soaring out in all her greatness when I am in the water. As soon as I dip my big toe in I am transported back to that little girl that felt free in the water. There is no pain there, no fear. I am weightless! And for someone that always felt like she was too big, the peace that came with such an escape was indescribable. In fact, I think I could say the water saved my life.

I spent a lot of my childhood hoping to die. Yet, I never felt that way if I was in the water. I found solace lying on my back looking up at the sky or ceiling, the water filling my ears so all that was detectable was faint sounds that didn’t translate. We had a pool in our back yard. I would float or be a mermaid or a shark or a minnow or Marco or Polo and real world problems simply didn’t exist.

This month is Suicide Prevention Month. I’ve spent a lot of my writing talking about moments in time when I felt suicidal. It is not something I am shameful about and, in all honesty, I believe those thoughts are as natural world itself. Some of us feel them stronger than others and some of us believe there is no escape. For a long while, I only believed in escape in the water. However, when my feet would touch solid ground again, I slipped right back into my reality- the reality that I didn’t want to be here.

I am not here to talk about that reality today though. Today, I want to talk about my reality of this moment. In this moment, I doing really well. Well like I could skip down the sidewalk and sing in the store. Well like my heart might burst through my chest. What has caused me to feel so well? Mostly, there is stability in my life, like real stability. I’m not sure if you recall, but that was my news years resolution this year. I have money in my savings account, my credit card balances are finally going down, I have medication that has quite literally stabilized my mood, there is a cute boy I like. And if I am being totally real with y’all.. it’s freaking me out.

Why is it freaking me out? It is a new feeling. New anythings scare the sh*t out of me. New hairstyles, new apartments, new friends, new bedding. It’s unknown and what is scarier than the unknown? My anxious brain loves to think about the unknowns. The current obsession on repeat is “do I deserve to feel this good?” feat. trauma. It’s a classic hit that I’ve heard before. Real catchy, almost like an annoying jingle. Part of it spins out of that depressed girl, that didn’t think she should be alive. The girl that believed nothing could ever feel this good.

When this greatest hit get’s played, I want to rush to turn it off. As I have learned though, that’s not the way intrusive thoughts get shut down. They get shut down by letting them in, understanding them, respecting them. I’ve mulled over the question the last few nights, trying to understand my brain a little more. I have never questioned when hurtful things happen. Without skipping a beat “I deserve this” also feat. trauma, oddly enough, shoots to the top of the list. So, why, when something good happens, does it become the opposite? Could it be that old central message I worked so hard to get rid of rearing it’s head?

DING. DING. DING. Up until this past year I always thought that I wasn’t good enough. Messages that could validate such a statement were snuggled up under the covers with me and messages that didn’t rolled off my back like water. Now, my new message is that I am good enough, but it’s a new message… and you know how I feel about new things. I know though that it is all about practice. New things don’t always stay new. I thought again about my current #1 hit and how I could get it to fit my new message.

Why do I deserve to feel this good? Because feeling good is what everyone deserves. I am not special in that. If I want my friends and family and patients and strangers to feel that way, and I hope and pray for them to feel that way, I should hope and pray the same for myself. I am a human being with a million different parts and I want to experience all of those parts. We are all worthy of such a life.

Your central message right now might be telling you that you are not worthy. I sat with that message for along time, so I know how that feels. If you are hearing that as you read this, that is totally okay. You don’t have to rush into new feelings. Perhaps though you could think of what you would want your central message to say, or what you would want your best friends central message to say. Close your eyes and think of all the words that could make that statement come true, like a vision board. Now, try to trust that new things, although scary, can be the best things that happen to us. Try taking one little step to flip this unworthy message on its head. Maybe that means brushing your teeth, or getting a therapist, or literally just breathing.

And if all of that sounds like a bunch of bullsh*t, maybe go float in some water and drown it all out. That may be all you need for now.

A[wo]men

**Also, I would be remissed not to note that suicide prevention is not just reaching out. Suicide prevention is loving/supporting the LGBTQ+ community, it’s supportive housing, it’s having enough food, it’s being able to afford medication, it’s undoing racism. It’s a million things that are systemic and need to be fixed. Need resources? Contact me.

from the tears of those before you

fill your ears with their

salt and water

float

-you’re not alone;

And as always, if you are feeling in need of support, whether that be because you are suicidal, sad, happy, want to tell me a funny joke, etc. please reach out to me on my contact page. Love you all ❤

Wishing You Well This Fat Girl Summer

Another day, another blog. I believe that is how the saying goes. It is a beautiful day in New York, which I actually find slightly annoying because I was looking forward to a rainy day writing sesh, but alas here I am. I don’t mind the blue skies either, but there is something about writing with the pitter patter of rain drops. Perhaps this is why I haven’t written a book yet. Sorry publisher, I can’t get those pages to you… it hasn’t rained in weeks. Either way, I hope you are all enjoying the weather of your choice today and if you’re not, that’s okay too.

This past week has been… interesting. I had a bout of depression that was a bit debilitating. The real kicker was the moment I realized I was depressed. I was standing in front of my kitchen sink staring at the ONE spoon I had to wash and I was sitting there just like “c’mon Sarah. It’s one spoon just wash it.” Then, I had one of those office moments where I looked into the non-existent camera and was just like “damn, it’s back.” And then the studio audience laughed and laughed and laughed. I then went through my head to find all the reasons I could be experiencing it this time and there were quite a few things on the list : I’m still mourning; I missed my anti-depressants two days in a row; I had my period; I started seeing someone new; it’s still quarantine; Trump is still president; Breonna Taylors murderers (Brett Hankison, Jon Mattingly, and Myles Cosgrove) have not been charged; I could probably keep going, but you get my point.

So, I did what any normal depressed person would do and I binged watched Little Fires Everywhere and ate to my hearts content. As Drew Carry once said “welcome to the show where everything is made up and the points don’t matter” and sure he was talking about the game show, but I think it translates to life as well. I concocted my own little depression antidote out of thin air and it seemed to work wonders and I am awarding myself 2000 points. Oh, and getting back to my daily vitamins and anti-depressants was probably helpful as well. The nice thing about going through so many depression spells in my life is that it gets a lot easier to remember that it isn’t going to last. Imagine 16 year old me, listening to Senses Fail, feeling depressed and genuinely believing it will never go away and that music is the only thing that understands me. #emokid No wonder my life felt like a nightmare. Poor teenage brain, not fully developed, sure that things would never get better. SO glad to be through that phase. (If you are a teenager that is reading this your brain has a hard time seeing the future, but it’s there and it does get better. I am living proof.)

The thing that I hate most about my depression is those teen Sarah thoughts that creep up, specifically about my body. It is summer in the city, so more skin is showing, which means more comments about my body from total strangers, which means more comments from inner teen voice Sarah which means more work to change the narrative. The summer for fat girls can be one of both mental and physical pain. It’s hotter, so there is more chaffing. My inner thighs current have cuts that will burn later as the water washes over them in the shower. I don’t just glisten or drip a little sweat, it’s like my glands open up and become a waterfall for the whole world to see. Except, I am not a spectacle they come to see and take pictures of and use cheesy captions like “difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”. Instead I get looks from thin bodies eyes that say they are afraid I am dying, but happy they aren’t me. I also get looks from fat bodies that say I see you and you’re doing great sweetie. I like those looks. The clothes on my body become paper-towels absorbing the water.  I become hyper aware of what I wear and how I put my hair to help minimize the amount of my sweat people can see. Black shirts, hats, headbands. NOBODY CAN KNOW I AM A FAT GIRL.

Honestly, laughing out loud writing all of that. “Why?” you might ask. Well, because it is just so silly, don’t you think. Everybody knows I am a fat girl. I mean I wrote it in my bio on Instagram. I know I am a fat girl. I love my fat girl body, but then you put me in the heat and I feel like I have to shrink back down. Just another product of depression and low self-esteem mixing together like one beautiful masterpiece of pain. Today, when I noticed this was happening I closed my eyes and thanked my body for sweating. I know the sweat is trying to cool me down; how sweet my body is to care enough. The reason I did this was actually because of something I saw on the gram this past week. I can’t, for the life of me, remember where I saw it, but it said to practice wishing people well when you notice you start to get angry at them. For example, someone cuts in front of you in line and as soon as you start to get upset you say “I hope they are okay and have a good day.” It has been a real game changer for me this past week and also has helped with those little voices. Using this technique inward as well as outward is important because I get angry with myself all the time. If a stranger can get my blessing, I better be able to give it to me too. I even got to use it with a stranger just before writing this post when a man was  hollering at me “HEY LADY” loudly and repeatedly and when I didn’t say anything called me a fat a*s. I took a deep breath and said “I hope he receives goodness in his life” and added “and yes, I do have a fat a*s. Thank you for noticing.”

It’s a freeing feeling to know I am not held down by my emotions. I feel them and they are rightfully so present and they are not facts. I can be depressed and talk myself into washing a spoon even if it feels impossible; I can be angry and wish myself and others well even if it feels like I might cry; I can be happy and cut someone off in traffic because I am in a hurry. It’s all about that inner voice. How are you talking to yourself? Do you notice your feelings? Do you validate them? Do you try to work with them or against them?

I know, oh humans, do I know how hard it can be to change that inner voice. We hear time and time again that we are our own worst enemies, but what if I told you, you are your own best hero. This week maybe when you feel yourself getting angry, at yourself or others, you could try wishing them well. If your inner voice tells you, you are ugly can you then tell yourself that you hope you find happiness? If I happen to cut you off in traffic this week can you send me healing words? (In advance: Sorry if I cut you off in traffic this week.)

If you can’t because you feel overwhelmed, or that voice is too strong to change right now, or you think that sounds like hippy, dippy bullsh*t, that’s okay too. Either way I love you and I think you’re doing your best.

A[wo]men

like blades of grass

soft and hard at the same time

-growing up with a fat body

P.S. Here are some links to help in the fight for Justice for Breonna Taylor:

Change.org Petition

Stand with Bre- Grassroots Law Project

Action Network Petition

A Different Experience for a Different Person

c/w suicidal ideations, depression

Hi all. It has been a week. I’m currently writing this with chip debris sprawled onto my shirt, no pants on, and the stain of tears on my cheeks. So clearly, I have been struggling.

After my post last week, I felt a moment of relief, as I usually do after writing. Usually that relief sticks around for awhile, but this time it didn’t. I kept doing things that I thought would bring that feeling back. I ate, drank water, ran, cleaned. Anything I could think of that usually brings me back to a good place, I did. In fact, I rented a car drove 2 1/2 hours to some mountains, hiked for 5 hours, and then stayed in a hotel room before coming back. After that hike I thought to myself “this is going to do it. This will fix it all.”

I was wrong. It didn’t fix it this time. Nothing seemed to be fixing it this time. I watched videos on tapping, I did yoga, I journaled, I slept a decent amount of hours each night. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. I even had time off of work. Nothing. Without fail, I still felt empty and sad and cried for most of the days. I kept racking my brain on what else I could do to get out of this slump. What is going to bring me joy? How can I just feel better because I need to feel better.

For a very long time I avoided the idea of medication. It was one of those things where I would encourage and support anyone close to me to use it if that felt right for them, but it didn’t feel right for me. This past week I thought about why that was. There are a lot of reasons. Most important being that I tried medication when I was a teenager. The medication made me more suicidal than I had already been. I feared this same shift if I were to try it again. I also know that stigma played a major role. I advocate for others day in and day out, but I am not immune to internalized stigma. So, I tried to think what I would say to a friend who was thinking about using medication.

Right now, I feel broken. When our legs are broken we go to the doctor, we get surgery, we take medicine. Right now my heart and my head are broken. I go to my therapist and I take my vitamins, but it isn’t enough. What is wrong with taking medication to help me feel better? Nothing was coming up except for fear of my past self. However, I am not the same person I was when I was in high school. I have done a lot of growing and I am so much stronger and I thought about how this medicine could help make me even stronger.

I made the appointment with my doctor. She had a me take a quiz prior to the visit to rate my anxiety and my depression. On the depression scale I was 19, moderately severe, just bordering severe. She walked me through her thought process on what she thought would be best to prescribe me. I disclosed the full details of my experience in high school and shared my fears. I like my doctor, she listens to me. She prescribed me Wellbutrin, expressing that she would start me on the lowest dose and we would meet every three weeks while we are exploring what’s best for me. She was empathetic and kind and listened. When I was in high school, I said I was sad, and a doctor gave me SSRI’s and I didn’t even really know what I was taking. It was already a different experience. After my doctors appointment I met with my therapist.

She told me she was proud of me for taking steps and for getting support where I could. She reminded me that my fears of medication are valid, while also reminding me that I have grown up and can be more conscious of warning signs. She reflect on the fact that my support system is now stronger than ever because I’ve talked to others about starting medication and my fears. We talked a lot about that teenage girl and what things were like then vs now. I talked to that teenage part of myself after my session and told her we were going to be okay this time because we have learned a lot. I gave her a hug and we held hands for a moment.

Once I processed it all, I walked to the CVS around the corner from my house, picked up my medication, and felt accomplished. Yesterday was the best day I have had in several weeks. Just knowing I was taking a new step felt invigorating. This morning when I woke up, I took my first pill. The orange bottle with the little yellow pills stared up at me. I wondered in that moment if they chose yellow because it is attached to joy. I held it in my hand for a moment, returning back to my inner teenage self. I said it again: We are going to be okay. I swallowed that first pill this morning and afterwards I cried, hence the tear stains on my cheeks. I cried because I felt like I was in this new stage of growth where I could really see my progress. I cried because I was trying something new and new things are scary, but it’s never stopped me from anything before. I cried because I felt hopeful.

It’s been really tough for me these last few weeks, but with each breath I take it is a victory that I can’t even begin to describe. I have been in this low spot before and felt like I was never going to get out and I did. So, I know that no matter how hard it feels I will keep going. Each moment in life is leading me to the next. This sadness right now will lead to joy again, that much I do know.

I don’t expect this medicine to be a miracle drug. I don’t expect that tomorrow, or a week from now, or even a few months from now I will magically feel stable. I don’t even know if this medicine is going to be the right medicine for me. But none of this is really about the medication. This is all about the journey that I am on to healing. Each time I make a decision to choose myself, care for myself, and honor my truth is a moment of extreme healing. I spent a long time choosing others and I was the least important person in my life. I no longer feel that way. Just typing those words made me feel free. I am important and I care about myself and I will do whatever it takes to be here and thrive.

Also, if you’ve been wondering if medication is right for you, and I know that it is not right for everyone, just try to have some real conversations with yourself, with a therapist, and with your doctor. These are all vital pieces of support ensuring you’re making the best choice for yourself. I plan to update how I am feeling throughout the next few months and my journey with medication because that is part of the destigmatization process.

So, tune in next week as we continue to battle the stigma. 

A[wo]men

put down the shame,

pick up the pen.

write.

feel your pain

write.

paint the pages

write.

-more than one kind of medicine

Strength is Found in Awareness & Help

C/W suicide, depression

Hello friends, welcome to our newest time and place. If you didn’t see the memo yesterday I am officially posting my blog on Thursdays because I have just found myself extremely tired on Wednesdays, so I have been using those days to heal. Healing looks like many things right now. Resting, first and foremost, but also scheduling my therapy on that day to help process what the last 7 days had brought me. Since I didn’t write last week, I’ll catch you up on what the last 14 days brought me.

The last two weeks were filled with a lack of energy to do much of anything. I felt completely void of motivation. I cried A LOT, more so than usual- which is A LOT, A LOT for “regular” people. My shower schedule went from every day, to every three days. I still brushed my teeth every day, twice a day which is honestly the biggest win of them all. I ordered takeout food every night, most of which was fast food, and most of which could have fed two people.

It is mental health awareness month, and with that I want to make people more aware of my experience with depression. This is something that I have sprinkled throughout all of my posts, but it is rarely the star of the show. Depression was a side character to enhance the more “important” story. I quote important here because in reality discussing depression is just as important as the other parts of the story, but the thing about vulnerability in writing is that it can be easier to write the story and hope the reader can read between the lines. Today, I don’t want there to be any messages between the lines. I want to be raw about my experience. I would also like to be raw about my experience of healing and processing and the journey that my life has taken.

This last week was a reminder that healing is not linear and as much as I hope and wish that old habits have died hard, I know they are still there, lingering around. In fact, the last couple of weeks my depression has been the worst it’s been in a year. I felt numb and tired. Anytime a person asked me how I was I would respond “Oh, ya know, just tired.” There it is again, the reading between the lines, hoping that someone recognizes the fact that I’ve been tired for two weeks and that isn’t normal. Praying for someone to ask me again, “how are you really though?” There is this fear that if we say how we really are we won’t get the response that we really need. We know we need the help though, so we leave context clues and hope one day someone picks up on it. It is interesting how subtly people ask for help because of this fear. I’ve picked up on it a lot in the work that I do. If you have someone always saying they are are tired, or when asked how they are always respond with the same answer, try asking them again. I like to call this phenomenon the folly of small talk. Sometimes people really don’t want to know how we are. So, there are these automatic lines we sprawl out like a red carpet for others to feel more comfortable. I loathe small talk. It is devoid of any real meaning and I think it should be canceled. In my opinion, if you don’t want to really know how someone is, don’t ask.

Okay, I am getting a little bit off topic, let’s circle back to my depression. Spending most of my life with, I’ve gotten good at hiding it from others and having my automatic answers lined up. My experience with depression has been a long and winding road, escalated by trauma. I have wished to be dead on countless occasions. Again, no reading between the lines. I would pray and cry and beg to go to sleep and not wake up. I recently read online somewhere (I wish I could remember where so I could give them credit) which said suicidal ideations are often the hope of getting rid of your current life for a new one. Meaning, people don’t necessarily want to die, they just want the life as they know it to be different. I wanted my life as I knew it to be different. The older I get the more my depression ebbs and flows, and the less I want a different life. I can go a long time without feeling any of it’s lingering effects and then one day I am triggered by something and it sets off this downward feeling. A feeling that is both slow and fast at the same time. I’ve done a lot of work around this and working through triggers. My recovery time is actually much quicker nowadays. Something I am proud of.

Working through depression though, is a battle. If you have watched Game of Thrones, you can recall the scene where Jon Snow is being trampled to death during the ‘Battle of the Bastards’. For those of you that haven’t seen it, he’s literally under a pile of humans all stepping on him, as he is gasping for air. While watching it you’re like “Oh yeah, he’s definitely going to die” and then somehow, against all odds, he comes out. Yeah, that is how I would describe battling depression. In fact, it’s a great title for the battle of depression as well. Those bastard voices in my head trying to keep me down and I have to come back ten times harder. It’s a muscle though and I know that the more I keep coming out of it and fighting back the easier and easier it gets. I think an example may help to get a better idea. I’ll walk you through a day of my worst depression this week. I’d also like to note that this experience is vastly more doable than what my depression looked like when I was younger. I have done a lot of work.

My alarm goes off, although I’ve only been partially asleep because my body can’t seem to shut all the way down. The sound of the alarm is not jarring, it is just irritation. I calculate how much longer I can stay in my bed, how much longer can I push the time? If I skip showering.. again.. I can lay here for another 20 minutes. In those 20 minutes I am not resting. I am thinking through a million different thoughts. ‘I wonder what today will bring? Why can’t I just get out of bed, it’s not like I’m actually sleeping right now? You are so lazy. I wish I didn’t wake up today. I wish, I wish, I wish..’ I finally role out of bed. I go into the bathroom where I convince myself that brushing my teeth is necessary. As I brush my teeth I look in the mirror and stare at the bags under my eyes. ‘Why do you look the way you do? Maybe because you didn’t wash your face again last night?’ I then talk myself into washing my face. I go the kitchen to get breakfast. All I want is junk food. I eat left over, cold pizza. I take my vitamins, hoping that they are the magic pill to make this feeling go away. I realize I only have 10 minutes to leave the house and then I rush around picking out an outfit, looking in the mirror at my hair realizing there is no time to fix it and leave. I bike or walk to work, knowing that it is good for me to get the exercise. That this will help with how I am feeling. It actually does. I get to work, where I know I have to have space for others trauma, so I leave mine at the door. Before I enter I remind myself that my pain is not important right now, this space is for them. Once in that space, I feel a little break. I hold space for other people, and my pain feels lighter, but by the the end of the day I am exhausted. I now I have my pain on top of there’s and I don’t know where to put it. I bike or walk home, again knowing that this is the most helpful thing I’ve done all day for myself. I get home and want to turn it all off. I turn on TV and watch something that I know will numb my thoughts. I order take out. Most likely shake shack for the 4th time this week. I eat the food in front of my screen. I eat it so fast that I barely remember what it tasted like. I feel full to the point that it hurts. I stare at the screen wondering why I just ate so much. The pain is so familiar and it makes me feel good, in the worst kind of way. I try to stay on my screen for as long as I can, so I can avoid hearing what I know I am thinking. I know those negative thoughts are swirling in there- you’re horrible. you’re disgusting. you’re unloveable. I finally make it to my bed where I spend another 30 minutes on my phone, trying to avoid the moment the noise all stops and I have to hear those thoughts. I finally turn the phone off and count down from 100. This helps me fall asleep and avoids the noise further. Finally I am asleep, but not really.

This is what a day with really bad depression felt like recently. Each step is hard and it is something that I mentally need to tell my body to physically do, otherwise it would just stay in that state, in my bed, not moving. I usually give myself a day, when I am feeling that way. I call it my depression day. It’s like a staycation for pain. I recognize that I’ve pushed my body far and it needs a break for a moment. I just kind of melt into my feelings and give it some space. I then spend the following 24-48 hours pushing back hard. Every negative thought has an equal and opposite reaction. This last spell though was a bit longer than 24-48 hours of pushing back. I think because there is just so much going on at once. Like COVID, depression, dating, trauma, drama is a lot for one girl to handle. But I still pushed back and I finally feel like I am finding a clearing. BLESSED.

What really helped me find the clearing though is therapy. I reached out to my therapist, who I hadn’t talked to in awhile, because for awhile I was doing really well. The second I realized this time felt a little different though I sent that email. I knew I needed support and I knew, as much as I love my friends and family, I needed a different type of support. The moment she came onto the screen I burst into tears. Not because I was sad, but because I knew there was space for me to just be. It was tears of relief, of all this pressure being lifted off. We talked for the full hour. I honestly could’ve talked to her for two hours. She reminded me of my strength and my ability to reach out when I need help. I had forgotten to recognize this as a strength. She helped my brain process in a way that felt like all the static was clearing and I could get a good image. She reminded me of different ways I can help myself, ways I didn’t even think about.

The most interesting part of our session was when we discussed my work. We were discussing how I should hold space for myself between patients. When talking about what I could do I said I have a meditation app and I could listen to that between each person. She looked at me with a puzzled face and said “Sarah, that really won’t help you. When you are experiencing trauma, even vicarious trauma, you are being heightened. You are disconnecting from you body. Meditation will only make you go higher. In those moments you need to remind yourself of where you are. You need to be in that room wholly.” She said “the best antidote for trauma is embodiment.” I was shooketh. All this time I’ve been told that meditation is basically the end all be all and here is my therapist being like ‘nah, that is not what you need.’ She talked about literally tapping my body to remind myself that it is here on earth, in that chair, in that place. So, for the last 24 hours, anytime I could feel myself leaving the room, I began to tap. My face. My chest. My legs. Tap. Tap. Tap. It brought me back every. damn. time. Brilliant and simple. My favorite kind of healing technique.

The thing with healing through, and depression, and mental health is that our stories all look different. Yet, we all have pain, we all have mental health, we all have feelings and we are all constantly trying to heal. The reason there is a month dedicated to awareness is because there continues to be this stigma that nobody else experiences these things and if you do experience this you are “not normal”. I have to argue the exact opposite. I can’t think of one person in my life that hasn’t experienced pain or that couldn’t benefit from therapy. We go to the doctor when we break our leg, but when we feel pain, when our hearts shatter into a million pieces, we think we have to heal it on our own. This is cultural. There are people trained in healing broken hearts. I beg, urge, and plead with you to help me break the stigma. Tell people that you hurt too, just like every normal human being, and that there is ZERO shame in seeking support in that. Isolation creates and perpetuates negative self-talk and feelings of depression. Culturally, we think we are being strong by not getting help, but in reality we are actually harming ourselves in ways we don’t even know. The reality is that being strong means we know we can ask for help and then doing just that.

Today, be strong- reach out for help and tell your story.

A[wo]men

P.s. Not sure where to start? May I suggest right here.

tap. tap. tap.

you are here 

in this space.

you are breathing

in this space.

you are living 

in this space.

you are

in this space.

-grounding