On Feeling Alone When Surrounded By Others

7 Aug

I think it happens when we feel isolated from ourselves. Like when we feel disconnected from our personal senses of comfort and knowledge or when our hearts/bodies/minds aren’t in line with each other.

How to prevent this feeling from happening:

  1. Journal entries
  2. Writing of any kind
  3. Exercise
  4. Art
  5. Reading memoirs of other people with similar experiences
  6. Daily meditation
  7. Cooking

How to deal with it in the moment:

  1. Meditation-style breathing
  2. Focus on one person, object, idea until you feel re-centered
  3. Think about what you can do with your physical body to make it more in tune with your heart and your surroundings – change your body position (stand up or sit down), drink water, have a healthy snack, give someone a hug, untense your shoulders, change your breathing pattern.
  4. Tell someone next to you about what you’re feeling

Peace.

Ways to handle my depression

10 Feb

I know I haven’t been blogging a lot, but I like to think that the few posts  I’ve done in recent weeks have been substantive and offer my readers something interesting and new that they perhaps have not read or considered before. I think I would rather have a few really well constructed posts than a lot of posts that I don’t think through. I use tumblr (yesmeansyes.tumblr.com) to chart my day-to-day emotions, thoughts, and growth. This blog I use more for introspection and large ideas about the world and my life. So on to the actual topic of this post…

You might notice that the title says “my depression.” That’s because I don’t believe that depression is the same for every individual. Actually, I know for a fact that depression varies significantly from person-to-person. I’d like to make it clear that I don’t claim to speak for all those affected by depression. I’d simply like to discuss the ways I’ve found to deal with my depression, after many trials and tribulations. Hopefully this information will be helpful to someone out there.

1. Eat healthy. I know that when I’m sad, I’m always tempted to eat comfort foods. You know what I’m talking about – fatty, salty, greasy foods that fill your stomach but in reality do nothing to feed your heart or soul. I’ve found that the days and weeks I get enough fruits, vegetables, protein, and calcium are the times when I feel most centered and prepared to deal with whatever mood swings my depression decides to throw my way.

2. Exercise. The absolute necessity of a good daily workout only came to my attention within the past few weeks. While I was home over my college’s five-week break, I only worked out once. That’s unhealthy for a lot of different reasons, but the reason which concerns me the most is that without exercise, I spend a lot of time feeling the lows of my depression, rather than the highs. My mood swings become more frequent and severe. I came back to school three weeks ago, and my mood (stability) has improved markedly since. I now realize this is because I go to the gym 5 to 6 times a week when I’m at school, and it helps center me, even on my lowest days.

3. Be productive. The college I attend is incredibly difficult academically and students tend to be involved in a lot of extracurriculars. Although this can sometimes be stressful, I also appreciate how it feels after I’ve completed a long day of classes, work, and meetings. I know I’m doing something good for myself (learning) that will eventually help me do good things for others (social justice and development). I really do love to learn, so school is a healthy place toward which I can direct my energies.

4. Drink in moderation. It’s no secret that college students binge drink. It’s also no secret that alcohol is a depressant. But I never used to think this was an issue for me, because I don’t typically get sad when I drink. However, I’ve come to realize that the depressant doesn’t just affect me while I’m actively drinking, but also for the hours and even days afterward. Being smart about how much I drink and paying attention to my mood before I start drinking are important steps in dealing with my depression.

5. Surround myself with people who love me. I have this nasty habit of chasing friendships with people who I believe will add something to my life. It works out sometimes. But it takes me a really long time to be okay with the situation when it doesn’t work out. Even after I realize that someone either can’t be or won’t be the friend I want or expect them to be, I continue to seek a relationship with that person. I’m trying to be more okay with the idea that sometimes friendships just don’t work out, and instead focus my energy on the friendships which do. My friends are an incredibly important defense mechanism against the down days which my depression occassionally inflicts upon me.

 

Hopefully as I continue my struggle with my depression, I will learn even more ways to keep it in check, and become more adept at recognizing when my current methods are no longer working. Until then, I’ll just keep plugging away. I hope this was helpful to some of you. I must say, it was helpful for me just to write it out.

 

Peace.

Neglect and Art

17 Jan

I’ve been neglecting my blog for my tumblr because it’s easier and much more brainless to use tumblr, and I can just reblog instead of having to post my own thoughts. But I figured I should really continue using this blog for the time being, and I’d like to do a post about art. In the last two weeks, I visited the Art Institute in Chicago and the art museum in Milwaukee. They both have wonderful collections from many time periods, movements, places in the world, types of artists, etc. I lavished in the art of old loves and discovered new work that caught my eye and/or made me think.

One thing I will say right off the bat is this: I like art that has texture. And I mean physical texture. I like paintings where the paint is so thick that you can see globs of it on the page. That’s probably why my favorite painting of all time is “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. I fell in love with it the first time I ever saw it, and I don’t see my passion for the colors, the raw emotion, the texture of that painting changing anytime soon. But that’s at MOMA in NYC, so I’d rather talk about the works of art I saw at my more local art museums.

 

Reacquainted:

1. Nighthawks – Edward Hopper

2. Cow’s Skull – Georgia O’Keefe (This one always takes my breath away. A play on death and life, different shades of white, so much depth with so little color.)

3. Bathers by a River – Henri Matisse

4. The Old Guitarist – Pablo Picasso (When I look at this painting, I can feel how he felt when he painted it. The colors and the way the man sits and the delicacy of his body. Wonderful.)

 

New loves:

1. Dancing Girl – Paul Klee

2. Houses at Chatou – Maurice de Vlaminck (The color.)

3. Chakaia Booker (An installation of her art is featured at the art museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She sculpts herself on a daily basis, using her body as a way to communicate art. The sculptures at Milwaukee’s art museum, however, are made of recycled tires. Some of them are graceful and seem to dance. Some are a bit more aggressive and powerful. And some are just fun. Overall, her art has a great impact on the viewer, and speaks for itself.)

4. Betalo Nude – Robert Henri (She is beautiful, she is natural, she is glowing.)

5. The Ascent of Ethiopia – Lois Mailou Jones (Chronicles and celebrates the development of Ethiopia and the way it has impacted African American culture. Beautiful blues and yellows. Reminds me of both night and day; speaks of the city.)

6. Ana Mendieta (Known mostly for her photographic and performance art, especially incorporating the human form. Here are some images I found particularly evocative.)

 

You’ll notice that my old loves, while no less beautiful for this, are all done by white artists, mostly men, mostly European. That’s because the art I learned about growing up was by Monet, by Van Gogh, by Picasso. I didn’t learn about artists of color or artists from other parts of the world. My newer loves feature more women, more artists of color, and the art offers commentary on more diverse subjects. I was very happy to come across so many new types of art and so many new artists, and to expand my horizons. I hope museums will continue to feature artists of color and art that pushes the boundaries.

29 Dec

I read a blurb about this idea the other day, and it’s really stuck with me and I’m not sure why I hadn’t realized it before: using “the starving kids in Africa” as a reason for why we should appreciate what we have, or eat all the food we’re given, or whatever, is incredibly disrespectful.

It reduces an entire continent to one type of person, when, in reality, the variety of people and ways of living are endless. Africa is a beautiful continent full of beautiful, strong, healthy, well-educated people. That’s not to say there aren’t significant problems in certain areas, and it would do no good to ignore those issues. But I still believe that reducing an entire continent to “those skinny brown kids” doesn’t do those people justice. The people who fight every day to succeed, whatever that means to them.

I support them in their life journeys, and believe in what they have to give this world.

Christmas

24 Dec

Consumerism, consumerism, blahblahblah, consumerism.

No, really, I love Christmas. Like, a lot lot lot lot lot. I’m not religious at all, so it’s not that kind of holiday for me. It is, however, a time to celebrate those things – no, not things…people – who mean the most to me: my family. I don’t just mean biological, although my mom and brother are at the top of my lots-of-lovin’ Christmas list. I also mean my friends who have given so much time and energy and love to my life that they have become like family to me. I really do believe that friends are the family you choose, and I know I’ve chosen wisely.

However, as the beginning of my post noted, I’m really getting sick of all the Christmas consumerism bullshit. So here’s my Christmas disclaimer: if I don’t buy you a present, it’s not because I don’t love you and it’s not because I’m not thinking about you during this special time of year. It’s because I’m sick of spending money on things that are going to sit on shelves or in drawers. I’m sick of spending money on things that are produced using slave labor and shipped thousands of miles, contributing to the pollution that is killing our planet. I’m sick of packing three bags full of stuff to bring home for winter break and still having half my wardrobe left at school.

I love my family. I love my friends. And presents are nice. Sometimes, they’re incredibly meaningful. But I don’t need them in order to enjoy Christmas. I’d much rather you sponsor my trip to Santiago, Chile next fall, or donate to one of the charities on this list.

Despite what advertisements and commercials and magazines and movies try to tell us, we don’t need stuff to make us happy. All I need is some good food, some good wine, and some good family to crack jokes and tell stories with.

I love Christmas, but I don’t love the consumerism of it. If and when I decide to have a family, we’re going to keep all of the meaning and magic and Christmas spirit that has been ingrained in me through my mom and grandparents, but we’re going to drop the consumerism. Care to join me?

Merry Christmas, and happy holidays to those who are celebrating differently around this time of year.

Peace.

13 Dec

Top 25 – Part 2

8 Dec

Second in a series of posts about my top 25 played songs on iTunes. See the first here.

7. Be Be Your Love – Rachael Yamagata

Everything’s falling, and I am included in that
Oh, how I try to be just okay
Yeah, but all I ever really wanted
Was a little piece of you

And everybody’s talking how I, can’t, can’t be your love
But I want, want, want to be your love
Want to be your love, for real

8. Better Together – Jack Johnson

There is no combination of words
I could put on the back of a postcard
And no song that I could sing,
but I can try for your heart
this is our dreams and they are made out of real things

Like a shoebox of photographs with sepia-toned loving
Love is the answer at least for most of the questions in my heart, like
Why are we here? And where do we go? And how come it’s so hard?
It’s not always easy and sometimes life can be deceiving
I’ll tell you one thing, it’s so much better when we’re together

9. I Love the Rain the Most – Joe Purdy

10. Step Up – Samantha Jade

11. Stay – Lisa Loeb

You say I only hear what I want to.
You say I talk so all the time so.
And I thought what I felt was simple,
and I thought that I don’t belong,
and now that I am leaving,
now I know that I did something wrong
’cause I missed you.
Yeah yeah, I missed you.
And you say I only hear what I want to:
I don’t listen hard,
don’t pay attention to the distance that you’re running
to anyone, anywhere.
I don’t understand if you really care,
I’m only hearing negative: no, no, no.

12. Red Right Ankle – The Decemberists

This is the story of the boys who loved you
Who love you now and loved you then
And some were sweet, some were cold and snuffed you
And some just laid around in bed.

Some had crumbled you straight to your knees
Did it cruel, did it tenderly
Some had crawled their way into your heart
To rend your ventricles apart
This is the story of the boys who loved you

13. I’d Lie – Taylor Swift

He sees everything black and white
Never let nobody see him cry
I don’t let nobody see me wishing he was mine

14. Look After You – The Fray

There now, steady love, so few come and don’t go
Will you, won’t you, be the one I always know?
When I’m losing my control, the city spins around
You’re the only one who knows, you slow it down

Oh, oh, oh
Be my baby
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
I’ll look after you