Finding Happiness Through the Dark
This post was written by Ms. Michelle Thornton in response to my first post. If you haven’t read it yet, click the link to see how My Journey Begins!
Hey Cam! Yea, you!
YOU. ARE. BRAVE.
Being vulnerable isn’t easy. Putting yourself out there and opening up your heart to the world, is by far, one of the scariest things we, as humans can do. I bet you didn’t know this but you just began your healing process to battle out of your depression. Celebrate that! You made an effort to be heard. You took a risk. That is step one on my “Finding Happiness” list, which you will read more about later in this post.
Do know what humans fear the most? Is it death? Nope. Guess again. Public speaking? Yup, Public speaking you heard me right. Holy Toledo! We fear speaking out loud and being judged more than we fear death. WHY THE HECK IS THAT? How can the thought of public embarrassment be worse than death? It just doesn’t make sense.
Hi, my name is Michelle Thornton and I am a teacher at Cam’s school. She asked me to be a guest blogger and I was honored to share my passion for this topic. I have to admit, I am not “just” a teacher. I have a bigger purpose and maybe that is why Cam asked me to be a guest blogger. I want to change the world. Hefty task right? I disagree. I believe we can begin changing the world with the next human we come in contact with. It’s a simple concept. This leads directly into my teaching philosophy or my teaching goal for each day; I try to leave my students feeling better than when I found. I try to nudge them to dig deep in order to find their inner happiness and to be good people. They all have this beautiful light inside of them but they can’t see it. I also want to teach them to see it in others as well.
My gift is my vision. I am able to see through the dark. I can see things others can’t. I see their light and it is my responsibility to give them the tools to break out of the darkness. Their light has been turned off for some reason, maybe it’s from a case of bullying, harassment, physical abuse or maybe they were born into the darkness with a terrible upbringing. In that case, they don’t even understand what light is. It is my job to show them. Too many kids are suffering in silence. They feel alone. They feel neglected. All they want is to be heard. My purpose is to listen.
Each and every one of us has a gift. I am not just talking about students, we all do as humans. When we are depressed we lose sight of that gift or purpose. These gifts are like jewels buried deep within us and if we don’t turn the light on, we will never find them.
I discovered this because I, too, have suffered from depression. I know the depths of the valleys, we as humans can go. I unfortunately, have experienced one of life’s most tragic losses. It is so taboo that there isn’t even a name for it. I lost my daughter 7 years ago. Gulp! Yup, I said it. She was just about 2 months old. I had to watch her take her last breath. I had to watch her body fail her. NO parent should ever have to bury their child. How are we supposed to pick up the pieces after that? How do we learn to live in this new normal, aka nightmare? My world got DARK. My purpose was gone, stripped away in a blink of an eye. But I am here now. I survived. But how? How did I get out of the darkness? How did I learn to turn my light back on?
We can all learn. We are all capable of doing the unthinkable. We are not stuck. We can battle out by opening up, sharing, listening to each other and being vulnerable. I am living proof that no matter what dark place you are in, there is a reason for it. You are being stretched, you are growing, you have been planted so deep in the darkness because one day you will sprout up and be the most beautiful flower. You will show the world your growth and your story. Trust me, depression is REAL. Trust me, it is NOT forever. You will feel like you are trapped, you can’t breathe and there is no way out.
LISTEN UP! I am about to offer you some really yummy thirst quenching, life-saving “water” to help you survive & grow through this darkness.
DRINK IT UP…
Step 1: BE HEARD- speak! You must speak up and tell someone that you are depressed or having depressed thoughts. In my opinion, EVERY human should be assigned a therapist at the start of their lifetime. It’s almost like a buddy system. Everyone gets one and they will ALWAYS be there through the highs and lows. We all have pain and sometimes it’s hard to ask a friend or family member, who is already suffering, to turn off their pain to listen to ours. That is why having a therapist is key. If you don’t have access to a therapist, talk to a teacher, guidance counselor, friend or whoever you feel safe with. JUST SPEAK UP!
Step 2: MOVE YOUR BODY- motion releases emotion. When we move our body through exercise we release emotions. When depression strikes, it is usually because our bodies have blockages. We are HOLDING onto past traumas. We need to move for those emotions to break up and pour out of us. Our bodies will eventually break down and die if we hold onto these toxic feelings. Try moving your body every single day. It does not have to be an intense workout. I guarantee, after you finish a walk around the block, a bike ride, a run or a yoga session, you will feel a little lighter and more motivated to move onto another daily task that you might not have had the energy to do, prior to your workout. “Movement Causes Momentum” JUST DO IT!
Step 3: DITCH THE SUGAR- processed/sugary foods is your depression’s best friend. Every time you eat a food that comes in a processed bag or a box you are fueling your depression to last another 24 hrs. You are giving it life. You have to start switching out your meals for WHOLE REAL FOOD, that comes from the earth. Think about it, veggies and fruits do not come packaged in a freezer box or bag. They are fresh. They are GIFTS from the earth. Receive them and eat them every day. Watch how your depression lifts with every bite. You will start to feel better just KNOWING that you are making choices at each meal that are setting you up for future happiness, while simultaneously helping you stomp your depression into the ground for good.
Step 4: IDENTIFY THE ROOT- Once you have found a safe place to be heard. Now it’s time to do some digging. I often say to my students, if you could hit “print” on all of your thoughts throughout the day, what would that printout look like? Would 90% of it be self-hate and criticism? What percent would be filled with social media comparison? Once you identify this then you can begin to take steps to change that internal dialogue. IT TAKES WORK but anyone that is desperate to get out of the darkness is usually willing to dig a little deeper if there is a sign a relief ahead.
Step 5: SELF LOVE- It is simple, it is simple, it is simple…start each day with GRATITUDE. In order to learn to love and accept yourself you MUST learn how to be grateful. If you can train your brain to turn 90% of your internal dialogue into gratitude, for everything you encounter throughout your day, then you will find self-love. It is almost impossible for someone to just start liking their body or loving how they think, when they truly don’t. You must flip the script in your head. You have to change the lens from which you see the world and yourself. Begin to see your legs as these amazing things that allow you to walk from one place to another without pain and without help from another person. Not everyone has that. You have to begin to see how your heart just beats without any assistance. It is a gift so you must BE GRATEFUL for it. It takes work but if you want it bad enough you will practice until you’ve mastered it. I like to call it “emotional fitness”. It takes daily practice.
HOW TO PRACTICE: Journaling is a great way to practice ALL of these steps. Writing will allow you to see and feel your words as they pour onto the page. You start to see your highs and lows. You document your workouts and become so proud of yourself. You make your gratitude lists and begin to see how awesome your thoughts are. You become grateful for how you think. Wait, did I just say you start to see how awesome your thoughts are? Yup, I did. That’s right. So, does that mean you might actually be starting to LIKE YOURSELF? Whoa…what an awesome concept! The minute that starts happening is when that sunshine starts peeking through the dirt. You are growing closer to the surface. You are almost there. You’re starting to see the light. Keep watering yourself and allowing others to water you. WE CANNOT DO THIS ALONE. Speak up, keep moving, fuel well, ground yourself by knowing where you came from, write, flip the script, SEE YOUR INNER BEAUTY(first) and get excited because the world is about to see the strongest, most beautiful living & breathing being you could ever possibly be…LET’S GROW TOGETHER OUT OF THE DARK & INTO OUR HAPPINESS!
You got this!