The thing is, depression and mental illness exists. More often than not, it is happening to those closest to you, whose smiles don’t entirely reach their eyes, whose audible voice drowns out the screams dying to be heard within. The illness is so palpable that it has the ability to choke you as if it had it’s own physical hands wrapped around your delicate neck. And because it is real, the then silent screams are slowly getting louder and louder that it can no longer be contained and ignored. It shouldn’t be contained and ignored. In those times when you do catch yourself in this state, what do you do about it? Do you continue to live in a body that fights to survive with a mind that tries to, that wants to die? Or do you try even for just a little while, to try and take charge of your life and move from moment to moment from just surviving to thriving?
pinimageThat battle isn’t easy, believe us, we know… but we celebrate the women who make that bold move to give healing a try…even if it means stripping down your clothes if only to reveal a beautiful soul. Because loving yourself isn’t vanity, it is knowing that you are love and light and hatred and darkness all wrapped up in a body you call your own…and, believe us, she is beautiful.
“ I lost my mom to depression when she was 38. It was in my teenage years when I first experienced depression which unfortunately continued on and off into my adulthood and motherhood. This year, as I approached my 38th birthday (same age as my mom when she passed away), it hit me hard again. For the first time, I was blowing the candles on my birthday cake in front of my husband and my son, crying not because I was touched or because of tears of joy, but because my birthday wish was that I would sleep peacefully that night and not wake up the next day. I was really ready to go. I was just tired of being a human being. The only thing that stopped me from going the same way my mom went was my son, who is so full of light and joy. I didn’t want him to suffer the same fate as I did when my mom left when I was 4 and change his life for the worse forever. Exhausted with the world as I was, I couldn’t find it in my heart to be the reason for that light and joy in him dying. When the dark clouds started to clear up and I was finally feeling better, I decided that I wanted to mark this year not by following the path that my mom took but instead by empowering myself and making a complete U-turn. So I decided to tick doing something “crazy” off my bucket list by booking a boudoir session. I’ve read about The Boudoir Dolls and how these boudoir sessions empower women I think way back in 2012, but I never really fully understood how they empowered women nor had the guts or confidence to try it until after that last bout with depression. When you’ve been down on your knees for so long and you finally get your strength and will to stand up again, you don’t just want to stand up. You’d want to celebrate and run, jump, and dance like no one’s watching. I guess this boudoir session was me celebrating, running, jumping, and dancing like no one’s watching.”
How did your boudoir session help in coping up with your depression?
“The whole experience from finding the courage to book the boudoir session to preparing for the session and then the actual session helped me come to terms with my depression by ultimately empowering me. For someone like me who has never done anything remotely close to this in my life, doing something like this certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone many times and in many ways. I was forced to make bold decisions, to try and learn new things, to do things that I never thought I could, and to devote time and effort for my own growth as a person, despite the busy schedules of life. I regarded the boudoir session as a personal project for my own growth and empowerment. All the preparations for it not only distracted me from negative thoughts, but more so made me feel more alive. Every progress towards completing the project became like a little celebration.”
“The whole experience was memorable to me. The shoot itself surprisingly felt very light and comfortable. It honestly felt like an outing with new friends with some picture-taking. I really enjoyed being a totally different person for a day. It was a refreshing and therapeutic experience. I often get stressed with the unknown. But from something that I was scared to try, this boudoir session turned out to be one of the best decisions and one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.”
What’s your advice for people who have loved ones experiencing depression?
1. Always understand that depression is a real illness. It’s just one of those things that you’ll never get until you get it. Just because you’ve never seen, smelled, touched, tasted, or experienced something first-hand, doesn’t make it unreal,
2. Avoid being a toxic person and adding to a depressed person’s pain by judging, labelling, jumping to conclusions, or saying insensitive things that might further trigger feelings of hopelessness and push the person deeper into depression. Depression is already a formidable monster, don’t be another one.
3. Avoid saying empty statements like “Cheer up!”, “Go shopping and dress up to feel better.”, “Think positive.”, etc. To a person who wants to end it, these words are meaningless and convey the message that you do not or that no one understands what they are going through.
4. If you sincerely care about the person, take the time and effort to truly understand him/ her and what he/she is going through. Read up and research about the illness, talk to professionals and to people who have experienced depression, and arm yourself with knowledge and a real understanding of the condition before you act or talk like you know what the person is experiencing more than he/ she does.
5. Support your loved one by listening to him/her and by not giving up on him/her despite the difficulties of being around someone with depression. Pray for him/her and pray with him/her. Find ways to stay strong when they are weak, and do not allow yourself to get sucked into the blackhole of depression too.
6. Do not pressure them into feeling better right away and into seeking professional help if they are not ready for it. Doing so will only make them feel that you think there is something “wrong” with them, that you are growing impatient with them, or that they are being a burden to you. Instead, let them know that you are and will be there for them no matter how long it takes, and that you will support them if and when they are ready to seek professional help.
7. If they are up for it, take them out for long walks and expose them to the calming effect of nature. Long walks help clear the mind, and exercise produces endorphins or “happy hormones”.
8. Lastly, do not easily neglect them at the very first sign that they are already “okay”. People who have gone through depression many times often become masters at hiding their depression, and can act like they are okay or even happy (when they feel pressured to do so) when deep inside they are not. It is also common for people with depression to feel better one day only to suffer a relapse the next day. The struggle is real, so make sure that you are also truly seeing them in their real state, and not just what you want to believe.