Delimit My Life

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing" ~ Hellen Keller

Archive for the tag “mental-health”

Day 11 Empathizing with Depression

I decided to talk about depression because it continues to be a part of my life, and a friend of mine has become frustarted with her friend who is depressed. Depression isn’t easy and there really isn’t any way I can fully explain it. It’s one of the emotions that can only be experienced, and I hope you never have to.  Just snap out of it, be happy life is good, why not change how you feel, there is no reason to be depressed! I’ve heard it before, I will probably continue too, and it makes me sad. Empathy is emotional understanding and relating, but without experience one cannot fully understand depression, and thus cannot empathize with it.

Scientifically, depression is actually a super focused mind creating a narrow view of perspective. This is what leads logical people to sometimes see no available option, and therefore seem irrational.  So the mind get stuck going in cycles, thinking of something painful, and it slowly starts to ruin a person’s life. Depression can also be caused by hormonal in balances. It runs in my family so I have seen it, experienced it, and understand the damage it can cause. My first wave of depression hit when I was a freshman in high school and, over long periods of time, lasted until I was mid-way into my senior year of high school. It occurs less often now. By senior year, I had lost all of my friends and was heading downwards. I didn’t understand what I was going through so I never expect my friends too. However, it did cause rifts which eventually lead to someone walking away. Slowly I hid away from the world. The irony being that the lonelier I became the more depressed I became. It was a vicious cycle that continued until there is no one left to push away. It’s a horrible feeling.  I tell you this so that you may understand that depression is painful. It’s a vicious pain that is constantly felt and cannot be cured overnight. It takes time, patience, and friends.

I have tried my best to learn from my experience and I am continuing to learn as new hardships occur. However, I understand that a good network of friends make a huge different when someone is depressed. I have found myself without friends many times in my life, to many actually, so I can say for certain that friends are vital for recovery. My friend was joking and telling her friend how dumb and ridiculous her actions were, and she truly believed this was helping her friend. I got a little worried and tried to explain to her that she should be careful with what she says. That her friend was depressed for a reason so it shouldn’t be dismissed so easily. In the end, she said I was lecturing her which I hadn’t meant to do, and decided to stop talking to me for a few weeks. I could tell how stressed she was with the situation, and I wish I had handle the situation better.  All I ask is if your friend is depressed to listen without judgment or advice, because what they need is a listening ear. Please do not dismiss their feelings or get frustrated and push them away. You don’t know how much they need you!

A lot of people don’t realize that depression is an illness. I don’t wish it on anyone, but if they would know how it feels, I swear they would think twice before they just shrug it. ~ Jonathan Davis

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Day 4 Cold Shower Challenge

Yesterday, I wrote about the nightmares of cold showers, and I was proud of the fact that I don’t see them that way. It felt like I was conquering a fear and pushing past my limits. However, as we head towards discomfort we find the fears that truly haunt us. When I woke up this morning, I was stress out and panicking over some detail in a post that I had submitted. I slowly realized that it had all been a dream and that none of it was real. In my dream, I was reviewing a post and found that I had written “it” rather than “its”. A small error yet I was thrown into turmoil over the mistake. I feared that I would be criticized, judged, and that everyone would see my mistake. When I became this challenge, I always knew it was double sided, fearing a cold shower and public writing. I knew that writing was a deep-seated fear for me. While I can stand the discomfort of an icy shower, I don’t have as much control over my fear of writing. It is not just a five minute ordeal or something I can just accomplish. It is a constant; it follows my thoughts through night and day.

Consequently, the cold shower was always masking my fear of writing, but deep down I wanted to face this fear. I wanted to start improving my writing and myself. So as I am continuously asked the same question, why, my answer is that your fears become layers like tinted glass in front of your eyes. As you slowly remove a layer of tint your vision becomes clearer and you see the fears that were being hidden. So by learning how to remove one layer, even as simple as a cold shower, you learn how to stand up and face your deeper fears.

Interesting enough I found a solution for a cold shower, sunburns. I would not suggest it, for health reasons, but it does increase your skin temperature. The trouble with sunburns is that the water doesn’t feel cold on the skin, but when it hits another part it can feel ten times colder. In the past, a warm shower would normally make me fall into a trance or daydream. I would practically fall asleep, standing up. This is the relaxing state everyone so abundantly enjoys. On the other hand, a cold shower keeps me focused and snaps me out of that dreamy state.

Resistance is fear. But resistance is too cunning to show itself naked in this form. Why? Because if Resistance lets us see clearly that our own fear is preventing us from doing our work, we may feel shame at this. And shame may drive us to act in the face of fear. ~ Steven Pressfield

Day 3 Cold Shower Challenge

Visiting family always makes for some interesting times. They are never boring that is for sure. The catch-up period, as I call it, occurs when I have to compress my life into short blurbs which never really tell the whole story. Then after a few hours everyone is usually caught up with nothing left to say. So gradually, I brought up the topic of my cold shower challenge which went pretty much as I expected. Shock and horror! Okay it probably wasn’t that bad, but just like my friends, they thought I was crazy. Who knew that cold showers were the nightmares of men and women? It seems like most people have had an encounter with the dreaded cold shower and they see fit to never have to repeat such a torture. So for them, my challenge almost constitutes self-torture, an extreme view, but no one enjoys nightmares.

Last night, I finally got some decent sleep, wasn’t even thinking about the icy shower, so it looks like the nightmare is fading. The next morning, I turned on the cold water, jumped right in, and tried not to think about it. Of course, the water was cold initially but after about a minute it didn’t feel cold at all. I mean it was cold, but I actually started questioning how cold it actually was. I kept feeling the water with my hands and thinking well it feels cold. However, my body felt neural, even warm at times. I had to keep moving around to let the cold water freeze different areas of my body. I don’t know if the water wasn’t as cold or that some good old-fashion sleep helped me out, but I definitely didn’t find the cold shower painfully hard. Quite the opposite it felt good and refreshing.

Beforehand, while I was debating with a family member over my challenge, one quote kept popping up in my head. This quote has been plastered up on my white board for most of last year. Every time I started faltering or making excuses at college, I would repeat the quote to myself. To me, it has a powerful meaning on what truly defines every individual.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ~ Aristotle

Day 2 A 4am Cold Shower

I had a very early flight today so I had to get up at 3:30am. Not that it’s hard getting up early but in no way does the idea of taking a cold shower sound pleasant. As far as I am concerned, if you have to wake up early then you shouldn’t have to freeze to death. Still, I accepted the challenge so I will see it through, even at 4am.

The shower seemed surprisingly colder than it was the day before. My body started shivering almost immediately, and I had to really focus on breathing normally. A nice benefit, if you could call it that, because there is probably nothing better than an icy shower to shock you to life at 4am. It gives you a feeling of strength and vigor, not physical but mental, that just can’t be equaled.

I started sharing my challenge with a few friends and their reactions could easily be identified as hysterical, even borderline defensive. Basically, they couldn’t understand why I would do this in the first place. They of course love hot showers and were willing to defend this stance to their grave. To them, the idea of a cold shower is plain crazy. Although, isn’t that the whole point to do something that most people wouldn’t even consider!

I started Delimit My Life to prove to myself that the impossible is possible and to find the limits that I have placed in my life. I fully understand my friends’ opinions because people tend to fear discomfort. We grow up trying to minimizing any and all discomfort in our lives, but to what end? Slowly our lives become full of limitations and fears which gradually make us dull and complacent. Such a life shuts the door to anything that might be challenging, difficult, or even new. This challenge may seem ridiculous, even pointless, but why not? The best journeys start out by doing something ridiculous and then turn out to change your world.

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’! ~ Audrey Hepburn

Day 1 Cold Shower Challenge

Last night, I just laid in bed cycling through thoughts about tomorrow. The internet calls it monkey brain but it just means a long sleepless night to me. I was far too stressed, and a little excited, about that freezing shower. Don’t get me wrong, I have taken cold showers before, but I never actually planned on taking them. Especially for 30 days in a row. Now that I had a plan, my mind was making thousands of excuses. Dude, cold showers suck! Why are you even doing this? You love hot shower, remember how amazing and relaxing they are? You know it’s going to be freezing! Do you really want to be painfully cold? These were just some of the negative thoughts that were bouncing around in my head. It was shocking to realize just how much I feared any sort of discomfort. It’s just a short five minute shower, yet it was making me stressed out and wide awake.

Eventually, I woke up to day 1 of my challenge. The situation was feeling pretty comical as I woke up feeling bone-chilling cold. My body seemed to working right along with my brain informing me that I was already freezing so there was no need for a cold shower. I had to laugh aloud at myself! Still I was pumped up and excited to start the challenge. I set a timer on my phone for five minutes so that I would not cheat. The shower was icy, but I liked the energizing feeling. I rushed through my normal routine, shaking the whole time. Then I would occasionally peak out at my alarm. It felt like forever and I was getting used to the cold feeling. Finally, I just wanted to find out how much time I had left. I found that my alarm had already gone off and had been vibrating for about five minutes. I had forgotten to turn on the sound. Luckily, the cold shower really isn’t that bad after the initial shock.

The whole situation reminded me of a famous quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and how its meaning continues to evolve.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself ~ FDR

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