Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Overcoming Depression

It's been no secret that I've been depressed the last few months. I had done everything I could think of to shift myself out of it, but nothing was working. Then, on the day of New Year's Eve, I went to get my hair done. As I was sitting with the dye on my hair, I wrote in my journal -- something I haven't done in a long long time. I write, but not the personal journal writing that had been my main self-help tool for many years.

I wrote something like this: it's the last day of the year. It's been a difficult one. I've been diagnosed with A-fib, premature atrial contractions, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism. I'm extremely irritable, I'm gaining weight, yada yada yada. Oy! No wonder I'm depressed. It's okay, Karen. Anyone would be depressed when faced with all of these health issues. Well, as soon as I gave myself permission to feel what I was feeling, it shifted.

What I realized is the more I fight what I'm feeling, telling myself I shouldn't feel that way, trying to fix it, make it better, make it go away, the more stuck I stay. Accepting whatever it is, with grace and love, is what it takes to move it out.

Once again, journal writing helped me make sense out of what was going on inside me. So my intention is to write in it twice a day. Once in the morning, to sort things through, and once at night to list all the things I'm grateful for that day. This should keep me more focused on the positives than the negatives.

It's so wonderful to have both my mental and physical energy back. Without good health, it's so much harder to do the things we love.

How about you? What tool do you use to feel healthy?



sjp said...

Focusing on the positives is always best, put yourself first, listen to music, sit in the backyard and stare at the sky, breathe deeply and find someone who makes you laugh :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You had to go back to what worked before. Sometimes we go so long not needing stuff like that and we forget about it.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Journaling is my self-help tool as well. It keeps me sane and balanced. I can see myself having this exact same experience you describe here. Okay, I HAVE had this exact same experience!

Anonymous said...

Karen I am so sorry about your depression, you see I have had it also, health issues plus the fact two of my children have cut me out of their lives......even at Christmas. I am however pleased you are on the way out of that dark tunnel. Good luck I wish you well.

Karen Walker said...

sjp, thanks. I especially love your last one.
Alex, yup, why fix what isn't broken, right?
Karen, hmmm!
writingforpleasure, thank you - I wish you well, too. You can't change what your children have chosen, but you can change how you react to it - good luck!

D.G. Hudson said...

I'd vouch for journaling when times are tough. It's always been my standby. It gets the angst out of me and onto the paper. It helped me through a trying divorce, when my life was changing and I had decisions to make. Almost as good as a therapist.

Good luck and keep writing. It's a virtual shoulder, that journal, something to lean on.

Suzanne Furness said...

So pleased you have found the journal a positive help. Depression can be such a terrible thing to deal with, all good wishes to you, Karen.

BECKY said...

Karen, I've never thought of my writing as "journaling," but it really is, I guess. Memoir writing helps my soul. I discovered some feelings I didn't realize I had and now working on the sequel, it continues! I understand about depression, too. Do whatever it takes to make you feel happy and healthy! Big hugs....and P.S. If you've begun reading my book, I hope you're enjoying it!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Karen. It's inevitable, if we live long enough, that we all get a struggle, being it physical or emotional or both. It does sound like you are managing, and I congratulate you. Yes, as you just commented on my blog, at a "certain" age, different for all of us (some are young when they're sorely tried) it does become more difficult to do all we would like to do. If my son and his wife and their two little boys can work it out, as they want to, to move to Albuquerque, I think Jen and I WILL see you as we would HAVE to manage to drive out there at least once a year to see them. My son and Jen are the two of my four children that I'm closest to. SO...do take care of yourself so hopefully we may one day see you on planet Earth!!

Tonja said...

I may have already said this here in another context. I probably say it too much....

There's a Buddhist idea that we are all floating in a series of whirlpools. When we stop fighting the whirlpool and live in the moment (even the painful ones), we are able to easily flow to the next one.

I'm glad you're feeling better.

Pearson Report said...

Dear Karen,

I often avoided writing in a journal, though year after year my darling daughter would buy me one for Christmas - this year was no exception.

Last May 17th, when I decided enough was enough with certain aspects of my mental and physical well-being (or lack thereof) I started writing on a daily basis - once in the morning to log my rising thoughts, my weight, and my objective for the day - then again at night to see where I stood.

I can't live without it now - it's my buddy system. I chuckle when I think of it because I was so resistant to the idea of writing my feeling down - god forbid it get in the wrong hands. Silly me, I live alone, whose hands will it fall into but my own.

I strive, daily, to stay present - it's the one goal I strive for and as hard as it is I am making progress.

So, dear Karen, one day at a time, one page at a time all the while smiling knowing you will get through this too. It's part of the learning.

With hugs and happy thoughts,

Karen Walker said...

D.G., that's exactly right - it gets the angst out of me and onto paper
Suzanne, thanks so much for the kind words
Becky, journalling really is quite different from memoir writing, but I'm glad your writing, whatever you call it, is helping you. And no, I haven't started your memoir yet, I'm in the middle of 3 other books, but I will!
Ann, how I would love to meet you and Jen. Something to look forward to. Be well, my dear.
Tonja, that is a beautiful concept - thank you for sharing - I don't remember seeing that before
Jenny, how I wish I could meet you in person I love what and how you write yourself. Hugs right back at you

Sharon Lippincott said...

Thank you for the reminder of the power of journaling for whatever, and of the power of naming and claiming our feelings without judging ourselves. I needed that.

Pk Hrezo said...

Like that old adage that suggests that there's no way around it, you have to go thru it. I say embrace sadness, cry your heart out, and feel it for all it's worth. Then let it go.
I heard of an idea to make a "Blessings Jar" where every time your thankful for something or happy about something, write it down and drop it in the jar. On days you're feeling bad, take out a blessing, and relish in that blessing for the rest of the day.

Karen Walker said...

Sharon, you are welcome - hope you're okay
Pk, love that idea - thanks for sharing

tclark2410@aol.com said...

Karen, honey. Have you ever read anything by Pema Chodron? She is an American Buddhist nun. She is so inspiring and real. Lots of love, Terry

Karen Walker said...

Yes, Terry, I have. And you are right - she is very real land very inspiring. Thanks.