When the Storm Hits

So as we all know, I have depression.
Hello, my name is Natalie, and I have depression.
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Over the past 20 or so years, I have done serious work on myself and my depression.
From accepting it, understanding it, unlearning/relearning coping skills
to countless medication combinations, therapy, THE WORKS.
Along the way,
I discovered a few of my own ways to make my depression calm the heck down.

So without further ado,
here are my tips for when the depression hits:

  • Acknowledgement
    Despite the fact that “It’s fine” is my unofficial catch phrase, I have never gotten anywhere acting like I was fine when I was SO not fine. So own it, face it, say it out loud, talk to yourself in the mirror about it, write it down…something. Depression is there whether you want it to be or not, so acknowledging it is a very obvious but very important first step.
  • Redirect the Sadness
    Watching Grey’s is huge for me and my depression. Instead of wallowing in my own sad life, I wallow in theirs, and dear lord, theirs is horrific. That’s what you gotta do sometimes ok, you gotta take the sadness and throw it at something else. You take it and you throw it and you cry about it, because sometimes, you need to cry about SOMETHING that you can feel, experience and then turn off and walk away from. I cannot walk away from my depression, that jerk follows me everywhere, but I CAN walk away from season 8, episode 24. ::cue Snow Patrol:: If Grey’s doesn’t do it for you, try Beaches, Eternal Sunshine, My Girl, P.S. I Love You, Mona Lisa Smile, This is Us or just text me because I can hook you up with secondhand sadness ALL DAY LONG.
  • Take Your Meds (if applicable)
    In some of my more depressive states, the hopelessness can sometimes win and I will skip my meds. Because nothing matters right? Everything is shit, everything is doomed, and why even bother, right? WRONG take your meds. I am saying this to you, yes, but I am also screaming it to myself. TAKE YOUR MEDS.
  • Confide in Your Friends
    It is such a huge deal in your mental health journey to have support in place. Solid ground in the form of a friend. It can help so much to talk to a friend who gets it and if they get it, they can help support, motivate and love you through it. I recently had a talk with Kate about how difficult it has been for me to shower or straighten up my house, how the small things feel so huge these days, and instead of thinking I am gross or lazy, she pushed me. Lovingly, of course. She got me out of my house, she told me it was ok that I wasn’t bright and shiny, and that I was still worth a damn. After my weekend with her, I feel refreshed, loved, and deeply understood. I even showered AND cleaned my house. (see photo for proof) Friends are invaluable. (If you do not have a friend like this, email me. I will be that friend for you. We are in this together.)
  • Dance It Out
    This one may seem silly or pointless, but it can help, even if just momentarily. Everyone has that one song that when you hear it, you just have to move. Getting up and jumping around to some fun tunes can really lift the fog. It does not matter if you look silly, it does not matter if you dance badly. You gotta do it. Check out the hashtag #takefiveanddance on Instagram for some inspiration and click here for a playlist to inspire you to get your booty in motion!
  • Have a Cry
    It comes as no surprise I am sure that I advocate for crying. I am nothing if not on brand. Crying is an emotional palate cleanser. A reset button. It can be cathartic and a way to just purge your system of all the negative crap clogging it up. It isn’t always that simple, but sometimes it is and there is no shame in crying. Let it out.
  • Nuts
    NOT THAT KIND YALL GOOD GRIEF! Ok but for real, according to many sources I found on google… almonds, pecans and walnuts can really help. “Just an ounce a day can help improve both your physical and mental health. These nuts contain calcium, which can help offset hormonal imbalances in women as well as alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability and impaired memory.” AW NUTS
  • Make Lists
    I find that it helps me to have a plan, even if the plan is small, even if I don’t completely stick to it, even if it is scattered …writing things down helps put things into perspective and makes it easier for my depressed brain to manage. Keep your expectations low, cut yourself some slack, and praise yourself for the things you manage to complete. Small steps forward are still steps forward.
  • Lean Into It
    Hear me out ok? I am not promoting wallowing. Maybe I am? I don’t know but I wear glasses, so I know everything. It is ok to feel sad. Depression is not your fault, it comes out of nowhere, and sometimes, the only way out is through. Lean into the feelings, allow yourself to feel them, give them names “I feel sad, I feel hopeless, I feel unworthy.” When I do this, it can help me to realize how irrational my thoughts are. When I say my negative thoughts out loud, I can immediately counter them with logical thoughts. Sometimes saying some of the thoughts out loud can make them seem so silly. I have done this exercise before and actually ended up laughing about it, calling my brain a jerk, and just moving on. I also like to yell, “I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS NONSENSE.” Come for the cute art, stay for the incredible advice.
  • Create
    Not everyone is Picasso or Mozart or Ansel Adams or Frida Kahlo, but that does not mean you shouldn’t try! It can really help to just get the bad feelings out in some creative way, and you may even end up with something great! Journaling, doodling, painting, DIYing are all great ways to get your mind off the sadness. Check out my Pinterest board for some craft ideas.
  • Brush Your Teeth, Drink Water, Paint your Nails, Take a Nap
    Sometimes the small things seem like big things, and consequently, that can make big things seem insurmountable. Let’s take 5 minutes to do something small, something for ourselves, something that is leading us in a more positive direction and then, let’s…
  • Celebrate Small Wins
    The fact that you are trying is something to be celebrated. Existing is hard, especially when it feels like the weight of the world and all its pressures are crushing you and your mind is a minefield out for blood and no one gets it and you are sinking. Anything you do to help yourself along – big or small – should go without praise. You are doing good, you are doing something, and that is everything.

But enough about me and my antics,
how do you combat your depression?
Tell us below in the comments! 

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If You’re Like Me…

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You can be living and thriving, doing well, feeling great… and one intrusive thought, “I am not good enough,” comes along and levels you.

You could be out, smiling and laughing, having a great time with good friends. Someone snaps a picture of you and when you see it,  you feel so disgusted with yourself that you fake being sick and go home and cry in the shower.

You have someone in your life, a partner, who cares for you, loves you, talks you through panic attacks, brings you food when you can’t leave the house, comes over and sits with you when you are afraid, reminds you to take your medicine and sees you through everything, but you constantly try to push them away by any means necessary.

You can be laying in bed, winding down from a busy day of existing, and your mind begins to wander…what if someone drove by right now and shot in my direction? What if a bullet came through my second floor bedroom wall and hit me in the head? What if I died before I even realized what happened? It is beyond irrational, but you get so stuck on this that you have to talk yourself out of sleeping on the floor,  you know, for safety.

You toss and turn all night. Nightmares play on a continuous loop. Worms fall out of your face,  you watch yourself die, you drown, snakes are everywhere… and you wake up, unable to eat all day because of how gross and real your dreams were.

You build up the courage to ask a friend to hang out and they tell you that they are busy, which is fine. This happens again and again. Again. Then again. And it is you, they aren’t busy, they just don’t want to hang out with YOU. So you recluse and isolate and cry in your room wondering why no one wants to be your friend.

You accidentally take your medicine on an empty stomach and spend the entire day feeling queasy and like your body is stuffed with cotton balls.

You come home after a long day to an empty house and you can almost feel the loneliness in your bones.

Your therapist tells you that you are hard to diagnose because you are so self aware and introspective and functional in your life.

You cycle through wanting to have sex, but hating people. Liking people but not wanting to be touched. Not wanting to have sex, but wanting a partner. Wanting sex but not wanting a partner. Wanting to have sex, but you are traumatized. Trauma makes your sexual interests odd, and leaves you feeling like a freak. Wanting sex, so you have a lot of it with no real connection. Wanting sex, but not wanting to be touched. Not wanting sex or anyone close to you. Thinking about intimacy and how you have no idea what it really looks like. Thinking about love and how you have no idea what that looks like.

You think about hurting yourself but you realize how much effort that would require and your laziness saves the day again.

You start to look at the list of things you have to get done this day, week, month and begin to panic, feeling like you are failing more and more every second of the day.

You want to visit your family but you  have to emotionally prepare yourself for days beforehand and then emotionally care for yourself for days afterward.

You start thinking of how this is your story and in your story you will never have a mother, you will never have a father. You have no one to call when you need help or guidance or support. You have no one who calls you to check on you and make sure you are getting enough sleep.

If you are like me, you are tired… but you are here. 

You are doing and trying your best. Maybe not all day, maybe not all the time, but you are and you keep trying. You wake up,  you struggle, you show up, you drink water, you take your medicine, you go to the doctor, you hug your children,  you let the world see you cry and then… you let them see you rise.

 

 

Coexisting with a Crybaby

Criers! Noncriers! Lend me your tears.
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Ok, that pun was terrible but necessary and I am not apologizing for it.  I want to address some concerns and misconceptions I have faced often in my life as a crybaby, in hopes that it will provide some clarity for those who simply do not get us and our weepy ways.

First things first, you should know that I have always been this way. that is not the case for some crybabies, but for me, I have always cried easily and often so I will be writing from my own perspective about my own experiences.

Crying comes as naturally to me as breathing; sometimes even more so. I have cried at Disney World, at work, at school, at family gatherings, on vacation, on a plane, on a softball field, in my car and in 14 states. I have cried over video games, game shows, meeting new people, missing folks, breakups, getting fired, a particularly upsetting episode of Our Gang. I have cried out of anger, extreme joy, love, hunger, hormonal surges, mental illness, through panic attacks and because I was just too sleepy.

Now that we have that in mind, let’s get to the misconceptions:

Crying is Manipulative

While I have cried a couple of times to get out of trouble, invoke a response, win an argument, etc… that is not standard, and I haven’t done that since I was a kid/teen. Non criers tend to think that I am crying in hopes of manipulating the situation or the people around them but I can absolutely attest to the opposite being true. I can’t tell you how often I have wanted to disappear when I felt the tears coming, how many times I have silently willed them away. If I could never cry in front of another human being, I would. To have such emotional self control…I can’t even fathom.

Crying is not mind game to me, it is simply a defense mechanism, an emotional expression, a soul cleanse, an involuntary response in almost any circumstance. One of the first times I just cried for seemingly no reason, I was 4 years old. I had recently moved to Illinois, hours away from my primary caregiver, Mamaw, and we went to visit her. I burst into her house like a tiny hurricane, and with me came the rain. I hugged her so big and just started crying immediately. Mamaw pulled away and asked, “Baby, what is it?!” Obviously she was worried I was hurt or something, but my tiny voice just sobbed back, “I ::gasp:: just ::gasp:: missed ::gasp:: you ::gasp:: so ::gasp:: much!” And the floodgates have been open ever since.

I still cry with that amount of sincerity. My little 4 year old self wasn’t exhibiting a flair for dramatics in hopes of getting a reaction out of the people around her, she just missed her Mamaw. 4 years ago, when I was let go from a job I really enjoyed, I cried through the entire thing. I wasn’t trying to get my boss to change her mind or feel bad about her decision, I cried because I was sad and disappointed in myself. Last night, when I was watching Grey’s Anatomy, I didn’t cry because I needed comforting from anyone (fun fact, I was alone so that debunks the entire thing) I cried because – excuse my French – THAT SHIT IS SAD!

Crying to Get Attention

This one pisses me off so much, I could cry. I literally want the opposite of attention when I cry. Attention often makes it worse, I know you agree with me. How many times have you been on the verge of tears, holding it together so well, then someone comes up with care in their voice and asks if you are ok and you just explode? Yeah, all the time? Same.

If and when I cry, I am not sending tiny signals through my tears to get attention from you. Grow up. There is also a subtopic here, that when I cry around you, that means you have to do something for me. If I cry around you, it is usually because I feel a certain comfort level has been achieved in our relationship, nothing more. If I did cry but also need something, I know how to use my words, not my emotions to get what I need. I literally started teaching my children that when they were babies, “Honey, what is wrong? Can I help? What can I do?” Standing in front of someone, bawling and expecting them to decipher that and react doesn’t work for babies and it doesn’t for crybabies. I cry because I need to, not because I need you. Do not stress yourself out thinking you have to DO something for me, you don’t. Just let me feel some stuff.

Crying is Dramatic

I am not saying that isn’t true, but isn’t that all about perspective really? For example…pets. I am not a pet person. I am barely an animal person. I like them, I don’t want them to be abused, hurt, hungry or alone but I can count on one hand how many times I have been sad over an animal. However, when I was 14, my best friend missed 2 days of school when her cat died. I still cannot understand that, it just isn’t something that makes sense to me…but that doesn’t mean she was being dramatic does it? She was feeling immeasurable pain that I couldn’t possibly understand. So the next time you think someone is crying to be dramatic, try being a little decent maybe? Just because you don’t understand it/have never experienced it/wouldn’t cry over it doesn’t make it a drama filled act. Everyone emotes in different ways to different things.

We can coexist – criers and non criers. It is possible, I have faith! Hopefully this helps you, whichever side you are on to either feel less uncomfortable by crying or more secure in your crying.

What negative things have you experienced
because of your crying?
Tell us in the comments. 

Love you guys, crying or not, love always.
xx Natalie

Shout Outs for All

We know life can be hard, and maybe it’s been tough lately, but here at The Crybaby Club, we know that one of the best ways to combat a rainy day is to lift other people out of the puddles!

One of our number one missions here is to do just that… support, lift and love one another. As a woman, I have been told my entire life that other women specifically are my competition. This is such a lie, and we need to make sure that our future generations are not told the same BS. Community over competition, always.

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Lovely artwork by the amazing lovies over at The Coven Girl Gang

It’s so important for us to recognize and celebrate other women and humans in our lives who are doing the things. Whether it’s through starting a small business, running a 5K or just getting out of bed in the morning- because let’s be honest, some days that is the bravest thing we do. Let’s take a moment to celebrate an important folks in our life.

Let’s lift each other up!
Who inspires you? Who do you admire?
What makes them so incredible?
Tell us in the comments!!!

Heart Eyes – Nat’s Current Favs

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Currently crushing on all of these things, so let’s go through them because it is fun to window shop, right?

  1. I am very into wide leg jeans right now, and these babies from Bando are just too cute to handle. Some cheaper options here, here and here!
  2. I have so many pairs of sandals, but if I could I would have more. It is a sickness. These are definitely at the top of  my list, but  if you don’t have $100 for a pair of shoes ::raises both hands:: there are cuter ones for less $$ here and here.
  3. Ok, so I have been using this DIY  for years. I have naturally wavy + oily hair. Not an ideal combo, but this sea salt spray helps keep my waves in line without weighing them down with gunk. I highly recommend it, especially in the hot, humid summers of Memphis, Tennessee.
  4. This band, this album, on repeat until the end of time (or until I find a new obsession to sing along to in the car)
  5. I admit, I haven’t read this book yet, but I did read the one that came before it and it is amazing. It is an adult version of the “choose your own ending” style books I loved as a kid and I literally had NO idea what to expect. One ending I was an artist living in Paris with my trans lover who overdosed on pills and another time I was a zoologist who died from being ripped apart by a very horny gorilla. Seriously, you need this book.
  6. Ever since I watched the 1997 film “Lolita” and fell in love with Dominique Swain’s red toes, I have consistently had red toes. Red toes all the time, here is my favorite.
  7. Such a lovely way to end the list, this adorable shirt. Have a nice day!

Book Bag

By: Kaitlyn Luckow

As a former English teacher, it’s no surprise that I love reading. I wanted to bring in some of my favorite reads onto this blog, so I compiled a list of books I have read that I think would be perfect for you crybabies for a variety of reasons:

SHRILL
BY LINDY WEST

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I just finished reading this book and I adored it. I loved what Lindy had to say about body image, abortion, internet trolls, her writing and her marriage. It was raw, real: humorous when it needed to be and heartwarming when it needed to be. Although I didn’t agree with everything West said in this book (you always need to approach memoirs with an air of caution), I do think she’s a powerful voice in feminism today.

 

ALL THE SINGLE LADIES
BY REBECCA TRAISTER

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This is one of the best and most well-researched pieces of journalism I’ve read in a while. I must admit that this book may not be for everyone (it can be dense), it’s groundbreaking in it’s research about how society views single women, how that is changing and how it needs to continue to change. Traister looks at all sides of the issues and provides a variety of viewpoints to make for a really well-rounded and eye-opening read.

 

 

MILK & HONEY
BY RUPI KAUR

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I can’t say enough good things about this book. If you haven’t heard of this yet or read it yet, do your heart a favor and pick yourself up a copy. If I had the money, I would buy one for everyone in my life because everyone needs to read Kaur’s poetry. She touches on womanhood, abuse, healing, and empowerment in a beautiful way. It’s poetry that isn’t intimidating or pretentious and it invites you in to emotionally experience the words with it.

 

ELEANOR & PARK
BY RAINBOW ROWELL

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If you want a cutesy, but heartbreaking romance that’s going to make you feel all the feels, then you need to read this YA novel by Rainbow Rowell (or really any of Rowell’s books). Her writing is gorgeous and her characters are ones that you just want to adopt and gather up into a giant hug.

 

 

STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST
BY AUSTIN KLEON

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Sadly, there has been a large rise amongst artists and large corporations of art being blatantly stolen from makers. A lot of us either know someone this has happened to or have experienced it first hand. It’s heartbreaking, discouraging and painful. This book can help that. This book is a great little nugget of inspiration, touching on the idea that as artists, we are stealing ideas and inpspiration from different artists all the time. However, there is a difference than being inspired by someone and copying them.

 

 

Do you have any book recs? Leave them in the comment below!