Why Its Important To Know Where You Come From

Today, most people in the West only think of “family” in terms of immediate family, cousins and close friends. In a strange way, we can only see within a limited frame. There is no beyond “grandma or grandpa.” Children are raised to only see familial relationships as those who are close by.

But we all came from somewhere beyond our parents and our parents parents. I never really much thought of my great-grandparents or great-great-grandparents until I really started to delve into the study of Shamanism. All this talk of ancestors. Who was I? Beyond the reaches of what I already knew about my family–I was just me. There was no beyond. And seeing as I am very different than most members of my family–its always been hard for me to “fit in.” Add that to having depression and I sometimes felt like an alien in another world.

With my study of Shamanism, I finally became aware that there is more to family than just what you grow up with. Your ancestors are a part of you. The blood that runs in you is the same blood that has run in your ancestors for thousands of years. You are a part of them even now. Though they maybe long gone–you still have a deep connection with them. And, you can still make them apart of who you are now and who you are becoming.

I really needed to learn my “roots.”

I am extremely close to my maternal grandmother. She is my rock and the one I have I learned the most from about what forgiveness, compassion and strong will mean. Her parents were hearty peasant stock from Belarus. Lived off the land and believed in folk magick, hard work and resiliency. The understanding that our connection to nature and the understanding of natural cycles of our world can make or break us. My grandmother and grandfather were also a survivors of the Holocaust. If you can learn and teach others about compassion and forgiveness after living through that–then there is so much you have given to the world already.

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My paternal grandmother-well….by chance I happened to find a website dedicated to her mothers family–the Spragues. I wrote the owner of the website a letter explaining who I was and he generously sent me over three hundred pages of genealogy. That to me was the most amazing thing. I learned that I come from a long line of strong women–including Anne Hutchinson–America’s first feminist (and there’s where my fiery nature comes from!). I also found out that I am related to Mary Dyer who lost her life fighting for religious freedom. And another relative who was tried three times for witchcraft and got off (I doubt I would be so lucky if the Burning Times ever came back!).

Knowing all this made me have a connection to my greater family. Now, I make offerings to them, ask their blessing and advice, and know–that while I never met nor ever will–their blood runs through mine. Knowing where you came from can make you have an even stronger relationship to the SPIRIT world. And yes, its completely possible to feel connected to your ancestors–even in our Western culture.

Shamanism is all about honoring spirit. And most of all, its about honoring your ancestors–remembering that their journey is what has started yours. You wouldn’t exist had it not been for them. And there is always someone from your family who you are most like–even if that person has long been dead.

After all, what is death if their spirit is within you?

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Mental Illness: Its Not Shameful!!!

I am writing this post because of the frequent comments I have heard about how open I am about having a depression/anxiety disorder. How I shouldnt be so open. How other people will “judge” me for posting about my battle with depression. 

Well, this is a post dedicated to all the other members of my Tribe: The schizophrenics, bi-polars, personality disorders, and other tribe members with a mental illness.

Do not be ashamed. To have someone tell you that you shouldnt talk about it–makes it sound like there is something shameful about it. Like its a deep secret that should be locked away with a bunch of skeletons in a closet. The reason why they dont want you to talk about your “illness” is because they are AFRAID to talk about. Mostly, and mainly, becuase they know jack shit about it—so its better to be ignorant and play pretend. Mental illness doesnt exist–it doesnt exist if we dont talk about it. So lets not……

Hate to break it to everyone, it does exist. Some in my tribe have it worse than others. I am fortunate to be on the lighter end of things. I have lived with depression since I was 14 (propably even before that, but I cant remember). I tried to off myself then. I felt alone. I was in a dark place. I found spirituality (thank the Gods and Goddesses as it saved my life) and saw a therapist. Then I denied everything because again—we dont discuss things like this. Then in 2010, after several serious anxiety attacks which led to multiple ER visits—-I decided that I really need to be in regular therapy. It wasnt until the end of 2011 that I was diagnosed with biological depression and anxiety disorder (oh yeah–lets throw insomnia in there to because they are all connected!). Naturally because I initially felt “ashamed” I adamantly refused to go on medication. Only crazy people go on medication. But after much talk with a man who is now my biggest supporter and a member of the Tribe, I finally decided to go on medication. Zoloft first…..then Zoloft and Wellbutrin—because going on psych meds is like playing Russian Roulet. You get a lot of blanks until you get the right bullet. Now, after several increases in Zoloft and feeling like shit, my meds again have changed and I am, aside from seeing my regular therapist for talk, I am seeing a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. 

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When people make someone with an illness feel ashamed–it makes that person feel even worse than they already do. Mental Illness is no different than any other illness—-so why be ashamed of it? There is no shame in admitting that sometimes–life is a bit darker than we want it to be.

 Oh, and by the way, to my Tribe…..we actually are considered sacred in most indigenous cultures. In most indigenous cultures, people with mental illness are viewed as deeply spiritual people because of their ability to have access to the Other Side. People with mental illness become great healers and shamans—because you can not, after all, help someone else deal with their pain and darkness unless you can see both light and dark. We are also considered deeply creative. So next time someone calls you crazy, tell them you are actually a deep keeper of healing power and creativity. 

 And for those who think its funny to make jokes about people with mental illness—-you know using words, “crazy,” “schizo,” “bi-polar,” —even to people who dont actually have those illnesses—or making suicide jokes–like telling someone they could jump off a bridge or hang themself. Or better yet–saying things like, “get over it,” “everyone has depression,” “cheer up,” —- really!?!? Its not that easy. If it were that easy do you seriously think we would be spending hundreds of dollars a month to see shrinks and get medications that play with the chemicals in your brain????? Shit, if I could just “get over it,” —-well I cant. Its chemical. Its biological. 

To say mean things to someone with mental illness–is no different than being a racist or bigot—your are just as ignorant. Would you make fun of a cancer patient? And AIDS patient? A child with down syndrome? Mental Illness is…….. an Illness….so why not talk about it? You talk about everything else??!!

 My Tribe is full of successful, talented, creative, amazing, beautiful  and HAPPY people. Yes HAPPY. We are happy—its just our brains sometimes dont want us to be. So our brains are a little tweaked, but we didnt ASK for that–its just the deck of cards we were handed. Don’t assume we are not happy people.  We are Wounded Warriors–who wear our scars every day. We are Wounded Healers. We are Empaths. We are Creationists.

So next time someone tells me or anyone else in my Tribe, not to talk about having a mental illness, you can bet this successful talented woman with depression will say something.

I am not ashamed and no one else in my Tribe should be either. 

The Show Must Go On

I am a performer. I am a creator. I am a producer, artistic director, choreographer. And I have depression. Its not easy to be an entertainer with depression. Sometimes you need to muddle through your performance. “The show must go on,” after all. 

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Though I don’t perform as much as I used to–which really had nothing to do with my depression and more with personal reasons to shed my skin and change direction. But, I remember there were times when I could barely go on stage. My anxiety would be so high before a show and the depression was always there. I would put on my game face and muddle through it. It was not always easy. There were times when my anxiety/depression were so high that I would bail out on shows. 

But, I can tell you its possible. How? Whenever I thought about how crappy I felt–I always would think, “my dancing is making other people happy,” “my performance will mean something to someone.” So I would suck it up and do my thing–and always–always–if the audience wasn’t moved, I was. After a performance I would remember that that is why I loved to dance.

So yes, even with depression, the show must go on!

 

 

Turn The Light On

Living with depression is hard. And well, people don’t get it. I cant tell you how many times I have heard people say, “why are you depressed? you have a job, a good man, money?” Trying to explain to them that the depression is not due to “outside” things but more inside things is nearly impossible. So I don’t talk about it much to friends and family, unless I know they really truly understand.

My depression seemed to be under control. Now it feels like I am crawling up the rabbit hole once again. Its obvious my medication is no longer working. Which makes me feel more depressed-if only because my primary care provider has recommended I see a psychiatric nurse since she can no longer help me. So, cry, sleep (when my anxiety is not feeding my insomnia), eat little are pretty much my days now until I get put on something new and start all over. Of course, in public, at work, I have my happy face on. But as soon as I get in the car—I start crying. I smile through a thousand tears. I smile through unexplained sadness and pain. Its hard, knowing you have everything you could need in life, but your brain decides to make you feel sad and miserable just because. While I am a non-traditionalist wild woman, sometimes…I wish my brain would be normal. I wish I could wake up and not feel like doom and gloom. 

 

So why am I writing this post—when most of my other posts are about happiness, joy, spirituality and self love? Because the light cant always be on.

I am an intuitive empath. I have helped so many people with my gift. And I am also a healer via movement and dance. But, sometimes even my light switch gets turned off and I am left standing in the dark. And that’s not always an easy thing to accept. I know I am not a failure. And I know this illness is not my fault—–but when I feel this low, its hard to believe that I am anything else. In my heart I know this is not true–in my head its a fact. 

I think being a spiritual person with depression and anxiety is very difficult. We are truly wounded healers. We have to experience both sides–oddly enough–so we can help others. Even when I feel crappy, I like helping others. I struggle with feeling that connection to The Universe–but find when I am down its nearly impossible to see anything but the darkness.  And that hurts. 

Healers cant always have the light switch on. Sometimes our dimmers get turned down and then we switch into darkness. Temporary of course. But we cant always be “on,” despite our deepest desire to be so.