“Be mindful of what you put in your body; in your mind. We not only consume the food that we eat, but also the thoughts, images, and energy we surround ourselves with. Choose wisely.”—The Blissful Blog (Katie)
“So called ‘late-bloomers’ get a bad rap. Sometimes the people with the greatest potential often take the longest to find their path because their sensitivity is a double edged sword- it lives at the heart of their brilliance, but it also makes them more susceptible to life’s pains. Good thing we aren’t being penalized for handing in our purpose late. The soul doesn’t know a thing about deadlines.”—Jeff Brown (via thatkindofwoman)
“When sex becomes a production or performance that is when it loses its value. Be mutual. Be loud. Be clumsy. Make noises, be quiet, and make a mess. Bite, scratch, push, pull, hold, thrust. Remove pressure from the moment. Love the moment. Embrace it. Enjoy your body; enjoy your partners’ body. Produce sweat, be natural, entice your senses, give into pleasure. Bump heads, miss when you kiss, laugh when it happens. Speak words, speak with your body, speak to their soul. Touch their skin, kiss their goose bumps, and play with their hair. Scream, beg, whimper, sigh, let your toes curl, lose yourself. Chase your breath; keep the lights on, watch their eyes when they explode. Forget worrying about extra skin, sizes of parts and things that are meaningless. Save the expectations, take each second as it comes. Smear your make up, mess up your hair, rid your masculinity, and lose your ego. Detonate together, collapse together, and melt into each other.”—(via agentlemenscoup)
“From now on I hope always to educate myself as best I can. But lacking this, in future I will relaxedly turn back to my secret mind to see what it has observed when I thought I was sitting this one out. We never sit anything out. We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”—Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing (1990)
If you have a partner or are close to someone who struggles with depression, you may not always know how to show them you love them. One day they may seem fine, and the next they are sad, distant and may push you away. It is important that you know that as a person who is close to them and trusted by them, you can help your friend or partner have shorter, less severe bouts of depression. Mental illness is as real as physical illness (it is physical actually, read more about that here) and your partner needs you as much as they would need to be cared for if they had the flu.
Your relationship may seem one-sided during these times, but by helping your partner through a very difficult and painful affliction, you are strengthening your relationship and their mental health in the long term.
1. Help them keep clutter at bay.
When a person begins spiraling into depression, they may feel like they are slowing down while the world around them speeds up. The mail may end up in stacks, dishes can pile up in the sink, laundry may go undone as the depressed person begins to feel more and more overwhelmed by their daily routine and unable to keep up. By giving your partner some extra help sorting mail, washing dishes or using paper plates and keeping chaos in check in general, you’ll be giving them (and yourself) the gift of a calm environment. (I’m a fan of the minimalist movement because of this, you can read more about that here.)
2. Fix them a healthy meal.
Your partner may do one of two things when they are in a depressed state. They may eat very little, or they may overeat. In either case, they may find that driving through a fast food restaurant or ordering a pizza online is just easier than fixing a meal. Eating like this, or neglecting to eat will only degrade your partner’s health, causing her to go deeper into her depression. Help your loved one keep her body healthy, and her mind will follow. This is a great article that talks about the “Brain Diet” which can help the symptoms of depression, and this article talks about how our modern diet could contribute to the recent rise in depression. Here is a recipe for a trail mix that is quick to make and has mood-boosting properties.
3.Get them outside.
The benefits of getting outside for a depressed person are huge. And it is possibly the last thing on earth your partner will want to do. Take them to be somewhere in nature. Pack a picnic and lie in the sun, take a leisurely hike or plant a garden. Being barefoot in the dirt, or “earthing” helps ground the body and reverse the effects of living in a world of emf’s, and digging in soil can actually act as an antidepressant, as a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. Sunshine increases Vitamin D production which can help alleviate depression. My friend Elizabeth wrote an excellent post about Vitamin D and its link to depression here. For more information about other sources of Vitamin D, this is a great post as well as this.
4. Ask them to help you understand what they’re feeling.
If your partner is able to articulate what they are going through, it will help them and you better understand what you are dealing with, and may give insight into a plan of action for helping your partner. Also, feeling alone is common for a depressed person and anything that combats that feeling will help alleviate the severity and length of the depression.
5. Encourage them to focus on self-care.
Depressed people often stop taking care of themselves. Showering, getting haircuts, going to the doctor or dentist, it’s all just too hard, and they don’t deserve to be well taken care of anyway in their minds. This can snowball quickly into greater feelings of worthlessness since “Now I’m such a mess, no one could ever love me”. Help your loved one by being proactive. Tell them “I’m going to do the dishes, why don’t you go enjoy a bubble bath?” can give them the permission they won’t give themselves to do something normal, healthy and self-loving.
6. Hug them.
Studies show that a sincere hug that lasts longer than 20 seconds can release feel-good chemicals in the brain and elevate the mood of the giver and receiver. Depressed people often don’t want to be touched, but a sincere hug with no expectation of anything further can give your partner a lift.
7. Laugh with them.
Telling a silly joke, watching a comedy or seeing a stand up comedian will encourage your partner to laugh in spite of herself. Laughing releases endorphins and studies show can actually counteract symptoms of depression and anxiety.
8. Reassure them that you can handle their feelings.
Your partner may be feeling worthless, angry and even guilty while they are depressed. They may be afraid that they will end up alone because no one will put up with their episodes forever. Reassure them that you are in the relationship for the long haul and they won’t scare you away because they have an illness.
9. Challenge their destructive thoughts.
A depressed person’s mind can be a never-ending loop of painful, destructive thoughts. “I’m unlovable, I’m a failure, I’m ugly, I’m stupid”. Challenge these untruths with the truth. “You’re not unlovable, I love you. You aren’t a failure, here are all the things you’ve accomplished.”
10.Remind them why you love them.
Look at pictures of happy times you’ve had together. Tell them your favorite things about them. Reminisce about your relationship and all the positive things that have happened, and remind your partner that you love them and they will get through this.
“But, I also think that “self-improvement” as a dominant cultural narrative and as a product means that we’re drowning in “tips” and “lifehacks” and ways to “optimize” our shit in ways that distract and separate us from deeper engagement with the people and the world around us. And I think that the people who rule this Late Capitalism/Disaster Capitalism/Crony Capitalism/Corporatism/Rule By and For the 1%/Austerity/Eroding of Safety Nets and Public Institutions Like Schools and Roads & Shit What Helps Society Work – whatever you want to call what’s going on in the current political and economic landscape - prosper at our expense when we turn our gaze all the way inward toward what we can do to change & improve ourselves. Because if we blame struggling people solely for their own struggles, and insist that they just need to try harder in order to succeed, we don’t have to face the idea that our own successes were built on more than just our personal exceptionalism. We don’t have to engage with the fact that certain basic shared assumptions about how the world should work are unjust and unsustainable.”—Captain Awkward (via ellephanta)
“Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success… To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”—Bill Watterson (via soul-surfer)
(repeat it as many times as you need to, put it into practice). this should be the mantra of women everywhere. i was thinking about the men i allow into my life (we have so little room to make choices, but be firm in your decisions. change your mind as often as you need to), and i was feeling a little sad because one of my good friends is in a relationship and has been neglecting our friendship for a while now. but i can’t fault her. we live in a society that glamorizes love, strips it of labor and depth and substance, and makes it look easy. we’re taught to spend our entire lives looking for love, waiting for love. we’re taught since early childhood that someday your prince will come. and when we find romantic love (or what we think is romantic love) we place it above all the other loves in our lives. we aren’t taught to value the other plentiful sources of love in the same way we are taught to value “romantic love.” we are since girlhood waiting our entire lives to be consumed by love. we want to be destroyed by it, we want to d r o w n in it. we let men into the center of our lives, we let men become the center of our lives.
i have loved and will continue to love deeply, but never desperately. i am the center of my life. i will never forget that the sources of love are plentiful, that there is kinlove and womanlove and friendlove and sisterlove, that these loves are a source of sustenance. may we keep our centers to ourselves, hold our own hearts in our hands, cultivate and appreciate love in all of its glorious manifestations.