What I have (and hope) to learn from hard times

I've had a pretty rough go at life so far. I have experienced enough internal turmoil and isolation for a lifetime even though I have only been around twenty-nine years. It has and continues to be awful. I have also learned a lot about myself, others, and this great-weird thing called life. I thought I'd share a few of the things I have learned and am trying/wanting to learn through this process. So here goes...

1) We underestimate ourselves big time. If you would have told me when I was twenty that I would still be dealing with intensive depression at twenty-nine with hardly any let-up, I would have told you that I wouldn't make it and that I would have killed myself by this time. But hey, lookie!--I'm still here. I often ruminate on the bad things that could happen (thanks generalized anxiety disorder) and think of how terrifying these things would be and how I couldn't cope if one of my worst fears came to be reality. The thing is though, one of my worst fears has come true (my depression still being here with vengeance), and I am still here and fighting like hell.

2) Suppressing emotions or problems long term can really fuck you up and almost always makes things worse. I don't mean holding off during your seven day beach vacation kind of suppression. I mean the years of suppression of anger, sadness, jealousy, whatever. That is what gets you. Not only do you have to deal with the emotion or issue at some later date, you also have to break the habit of keeping the emotion suppressed. I can honestly say that emotional suppression has plagued me for years. I have been in therapy for six years working intensively and almost exclusively on experiencing my anger and only now have I been able to recognize and occasionally experience it. This has not only added years of stress and frustration, it has damn near cost me my life dozens of times, as I would focus the anger on myself and end up being suicidal. So for reals: try to get the bad stuff out. Otherwise you are living with poison in your veins.

3) Don't take shit from anyone (including yourself). Seriously. Stand up for yourself! If someone is treating you badly, deal with it. Address the situation or stop spending time with the person. We take it from someone more than we fight back, especially as women I think, because we don't want to look like a bitch. Screw it, look like a bitch. In fact, be proud that some people think you are a bitch- it means you have a backbone. Also, don't be mean to yourself. I still struggle with this so much, it's not even funny. Don't say or think vile things about yourself, it is so hard to dig out of and I mean it when I say the majority of people don't deserve it.

4) Music can save your life. I have made comps of songs for years and now I make one for each month of the year. I choose songs that make me sad because usually they help put some of my feelings into words and I feel less alone. I also choose happy songs, but it varies. I have some lyrics in my head that I hold onto like harnesses when things get really bad. If music isn't your thing, immerse yourself in anything that makes you feel less alone and a little more expressed.

5) It's okay to be sad for a very very very long (or short) time. I really mean this. I thought sadness would kill me if it lasted all this time. That one day I would just drop dead from it for no other reason than that I felt it for so long. Well, it doesn't work that way.  It really is okay to struggle for years and years with something. It doesn't mean you aren't working through it, it doesn't mean you are weak or too sensitive, that you take things too seriously, or just don't know how to be carefree and happy. That's all bullshit. I really don't think people choose to live with sadness long term because they think it is fun or valuable to them in some way. Anyone who tells you to just be happy is probably really out of touch with humanity, drunk, or high.

6) Your dreams wait for you. Because of my depression, I've had to put most of my dreams on hold. All my energy is focused on living each day individually, and my only goal is really to continue those days much of the time. I do have dreams and goals, and I remember them, and make lists of how I will reach them at least once a month. The frustrating thing is no matter how many lists and plans I make, I have yet to reach any of them. The only goal I am reaching is continuing to be here so I can eventually live my dreams. To say 'only' in that sentence is a bit ridiculous as I have to stay alive because all my dreams require it. I'm learning though, and it's a hard lesson, and I hate it...but, I am learning that my dreams are waiting for me. They aren't going anywhere. They may change or be edited over time, but they are still there, perhaps far off, but they exist. It's frustrating and I often feel inadequate because almost everyone I know has reached some of their dreams by now. But going back to lesson 3 above, I can't be so hard on myself. Most people I know don't have depression or chronic illness to deal with. I am just where I need to be. I don't believe that most of the time, but I'm trying to.

7) It's ok/beneficial to be open about your struggles. Have you noticed that when you share something you are dealing with a person they often relate to your struggle in some way? Isn't life about sharing the real things rather than the new shoes we bought, gossiping about a mutual friend, or talking about the new fad diet we are following? I am a pretty honest and deep person. I really don't enjoy talking about superficial things. Don't get me wrong, it's good some of the time. But when a relationship is built only on those things it feels quite empty to me. Share with people you trust and care about. It really does help. Really. I find so many bloggers writing about something difficult in their lives and they often say in the first paragraph: "I don't want my blog to be focused on this. I don't want to share too much. I really am happy most of the time. I'm not trying to be negative." I've said all these things before too, but why do we feel the need to say things like that when all we are doing is being honest? Life isn't unicorns and jellybeans all the time. If you don't like someone's honesty, get over it. The truth is most people end up relating and being helped and encouraged in some way by your honesty. I challenge you to not put disclaimers on your honesty. To not apologize for telling the truth. To foster relationships built on experiencing all of life: both bitter and sweet, and to not hold one higher than the other.


Ok. Ok. This is a lot. Let me know your thoughts on any of these points. Is there something you would add? What are some things you are learning in your life?

xx, C


  1. You seem to have learnt a lot through your years of struggle. Many people only live for the day and never try to see the big picture and all the points you have taken up describe the big picture.

    I agree with all you have written and I want to add three small points:
    1. Choose small goals that lead to bigger goals. With every small goal you reach, you come closer to your big goals and dreams. Just getting out of bed and getting through a tough day is getting you closer to achieve your ultimate goals. I often think that dreams and goals don't need to be reached, it's the road TO them that is important because that's when you learn. Anyway, by reaching the small goals you feel achievement and with that you get a self-confidence boost and with that you have more strength to fight off the bad things in life, like depression.

    2. Always remind yourself that you can't know what the future will bring. You don't know how tomorrow will be. You have no clue if you have maybe beaten the bad patch in your life in two weeks. You can wake up tomorrow and feel so much better. And for getting to know what the future brings, you need to stay alive. Yes, it could get worse, but it could also get better. That's something that I always remind myself of. I could be a scientist in ten years, I could be handicapped, I could be a parent, I could be rich, I could be homeless. I want to know what will be in ten years and I need to stick around for that.

    3. There is no happiness. There are only happy moments. No one in the history of mankind has led a happy life with no death, sadness, anxiety or illness. Life is about the good and the bad moments. And achieving happiness is something out of reach for everyone! So I want happy moments that I can remember when I'm not doing so well. (Sure, you can lead a life with mostly happy moments but how do you appreciate the happy moments if you don't know the opposite?). So I try to create happy moments and to capture them in my memory. I have a few: My boyfriend and I sitting by the sea in the middle of the night with some beer in the middle of summer. Waking up with two cats sleeping next to me. Being at an awesome concert. Happy moments!!


    1. Hi J!

      I think these additions are great. Especially the one about small goals, I need to focus on that more especially when I feel like I'm not making progress.

      Thanks for sharing!

      xx, C

  2. You're amazing Catherine xoxo Thank you for sharing this blog with the world - and people like me whom it means so much to!

    1. Tam, you are so sweet! I wanted to let you know that your comment on my last post meant so much. It almost made me cry! It is so great to have your support and comforting words.

      xx, C

  3. To you both: I'm so sorry I wasn't following your blogs! No idea how that happened! I didn't think you had blogs for some reason. Both are followed now and I will comment to let you know I'm listening for sure!

    Love, C


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