Breaking The Silent Darkness

As most of you know, I am very open about my anxiety and depression. I don’t feel a need to hide the fact that I am on medication nor that I have days when the darkness is so thick I feel like I am going to suffocate. Yet, with all that said, I still struggle to tell certain people. Especially employers and co-workers.

I have major anxiety. Sometimes its so crippling I cant even leave the house. Yes, its much better controlled now. I have been in regular therapy since 2009 to teach myself new ways to think and break recycled thoughts; and medication have made it much easier to deal…but it doesn’t completely take it away. The thing that is hard for people to understand is that I do not always have a trigger. Sometimes, I just wake up feeling anxious—like the floor is going to fall out from underneath me. But I do have triggers.

635910017101254627-2001905247_Anxiety Girl

And one of those triggers is driving. I hate driving. I didn’t get my license until I was 21 because I hate the idea of getting in a car and driving. To this day I still struggle to drive on highways. I avoid it as much as I can. That coupled with social anxiety makes it worse. My dog helps with that…he is a good icebreaker. But I cant take my dog everywhere. So the idea of driving to a place I do not know AND seeing people I do not know…causes a panic attacks like an erupting volcano!

Hearing myself think these thoughts I often think I must sound like the most pathetic creature on the face of the earth. I am 34 and afraid to drive? I am 34 and cant even leave the town I live in? I had to, tell my boss this after she asked me to drive two and half hours to a town in a state that I just moved in. I was panicked. I told her I couldn’t because, truthfully, we have one car and I pick up my partner from work…..so a 5 hour drive plus time at the other office would make it impossible to circumnavigate schedules. But, I really wanted to  tell her the immediate truth….I have anxiety—and driving alone for 5 hours to a place I don’t even know—that triggered anxiety which triggered panic attacks. That weekend I tried really hard to tell myself how irrational I was being…But my brain didn’t care what I thought–it was on a loop of fight or flight. I even tried to get up enough courage to drive 45 minutes to a neighboring town that I have been before—and I started to go but then I got a wave of panic and had to turn around. Its paralyzing. Anxiety is paralyzing. Naturally this triggered even more “oh my Gods what if’s….” and my brain got my body so worked up I couldn’t leave the house the rest of the day.

2015-03-09-1425859224-5087651-NBuQoYuv

Finally I decided I needed to be truthful with my boss. She knew about my depression…and some of my anxiety…but not all of it. So I wrote her an email and explained what I feel, what my anxiety is like…and how I feel stupid I felt even having to admit these things. I was horrified of what the response maybe. I thought for sure, I was going to get in trouble–that she would think it was just an excuse or a cop out.

But no. It was the complete opposite. She completely understood. And even admitted that she has anxiety issues! I felt a huge weight come off me! It felt good! And I wasn’t judged….(so take that brain!). I had a new found respect for my boss after that to. She understood what I was going through….and that made a huge difference!

Sometimes, with depression, anxiety, or anything other mental illness…..you are so afraid that you will be judged by others–or that they will think you are just making up excuses. But in truth, despite how scary or nerve wracking–its best to lay out the cards. Tell it like it is and regardless, always hold your head up. Sometimes when you think you are alone—you really are not!

The Dark Side of the Light Keepers

Living with depression is not easy. I mean, no chronic illness is easy to live with; but depression doesn’t always show “physical” symptoms. So when you tell someone you have an illness, they are looking for obvious symptoms. It’s not always easy for me to tell people when I am feeling depressed. I have been masking it most of my life, its what I have become used to. I mean, sure, I will tell someone “hey if I seem quite or off its because I am going through a bad bout of depression,” and they either get or they don’t. I have gotten so good at crying in the bathroom at work, or pretending my contacts are bothering me when people ask me if I am ok because my eyes are puffy and red from secretly crying. I have become so good at telling people I am not feeling good when I get asked to hang out because telling people that my brain has decided to crap out on me is easier.

I have been fortunate enough that my last two employers understood what was going on and allowed me time off when I just…well…when I just couldn’t. When I felt that getting out of bed wasn’t worth it. When all I wanted to do was sit in my pj’s on the couch and cry my eyes out for no goddamned reason.

But it still doesn’t make having depression easier. I have become really good at hiding the darkness within my light on a daily basis. I have depression all the time, but some days…or weeks…its worse than others. But I try, damned hard, to push the light through. Its hard for people to understand….that there is a dark side to the light keepers.

I have one of the most bubbly, cheerful, happiest personalities. I LOVE my life. I LOVE myself. I worked hard to get to where I am…and now that I am finally here…I could not be happier. A great partner, awesome family, great job, beautiful home, a great wellness practice, my dancing, my coven…everything I have dreamed of is now a reality. But that reality includes the fact that I live with a mental illness. An illness that sometimes, despite KNOWING I am happy, makes me feel like some dark storm is enveloping me and will not  GO AWAY.

th

I AM A LIGHT KEEPER. I hold the love and bliss that the Universe has given me deep within my soul and heart. But sometimes its hard to keep the darkness at bay. People have a hard time understanding—depression makes you sad FOR NO REASON. Despite being a light keeper…..my brain likes to let the darkness in. Its like fighting a battle of good and evil on a daily basis…and sometimes the good will come and last for weeks. Other times, the darkness wins and eats the light until the light can finally get enough courage to battle again.

And its EXHAUSTING. I am constantly exhausted. In addition to the depression–the anxiety that goes along with it!? Imagine being in a grocery store and having to leave a full cart of food in the middle of the aisle because you are having a panic attack so bad you feel like your heart is going to come out of your throat! I have!!!

But through it all…I still manage to hold onto the light and push forward. This was the deck of cards I was handed and its the deck of cards I am going to play with for the rest of my life. And if I have learned anything, its that Light Keepers have a pretty good poker face when it comes to playing with depression.

The Dark Side of the Moon: When the Light Fades

There is always a light and dark side to everything in life. And for those of us with depression, the dark side tends to be the most prominent. I have battled depression most of my life, with an attempted suicide at age 14 followed by panic attacks later in life and then several shrinks. I finally found a therapist I liked and from 2009-2013 I saw her and a psychiatric Nurse Practitioner during the darkest hours. I am very open about having clinical depression because I have to be the voice for the thousands out there afraid to talk about because they are afraid of being judged. In 2014 I was doing great—so great my social worker decided that she only needed to see me on as needed basis and my NP tapered my meds. I was feeling on top of the world.

 11109263_10205794143425678_124443065777238698_n

Then, I recently, and abruptly had a life change. Within two weeks, my boyfriend and I were packed up and heading to Arizona. There we were on a Saturday night enjoying some wine and sake listening to some old school tunes in an apartment I lived in for 15 years to suddenly packing boxes on Sunday, renting a U-Haul and driving 2300 miles away from the only place I had called home. It happened so fast I had no time to comprehend what the hell just happened. The whole cliché of having the carpet pulled out from under you—is serious shit.

Here we are in Arizona and the adjustment has been difficult. We went from a major city to a new town. We know no one. Have np physical support system here and are basically fending for ourselves. I have to find a job pronto to make sure we can pay rent which means finding meaningless work to pay the bills.

And what happens but that the dark side appears. I woke up one day in tears. I was crying to the point where I couldn’t stop. My depression had returned. YES—the move was the TRIGGER—but not the reason.

People who don’t have depression don’t understand what it’s like. Imagine that you are just moving along a bright sunny day when suddenly someone throws a pitch black can’t see shit bag over your face and never ever takes it off. It’s like that. A dark cloud that just doesn’t go away. And thoughts-bad thoughts come in your mind. And YOU CAN’T HELP IT. It’s just there.

I have had so many people tell me it’s the move. To give it time. To find joy in the things around me. Believe me…I am trying. We have gone to canyons, creeks, walked, enjoyed the beauty of the place—but my lack of happiness isn’t with where I live…it’s chemically going on in my brain.

10341402_10205794146785762_8517411146470775220_n

I think that’s hardest thing about depression–people think it’s an external thing that can be “fixed”–when it’s a chemical thing that can’t be fixed just “adjusted”….and I appreciate everyone’s helping…. but depression can’t be fixed with a walk or giving my move time…if it were…I would be walking all day every day and loving every bit of Flagstaff. It’s hard for people who don’t have a clinical diagnosis to understand that depression is not always due to outside circumstances. I appreciate everyone’s kindness and offerings of advice during times like this, but want I everyone to understand that it’s not going to “fix” what’s happening inside my head. I can’t just flip a switch and “be happy”—nor can I flip a switch and decide that all the chemical mishaps in my brain will fix themselves.

Being supportive is awesome. Being able to just be there—and listen—is even more awesome.

Cominando: The Walker

I believe, truly, in cosmic intervention–even when said intervention comes in the form of disruption, chaos, deceit and selfishness. Sometimes cosmic intervention–is not kind and circumstances arise that literally force you onto the path The Universe wants you to take. But when The Universe decrees something–it is to be so. The Universe works on its own terms and has its own methods. And even though you know you are going to make a change, The Universe will make the change happen when it is supposed to happen–not when you want it  to happen. So yes, its good to make plans, but not concrete ones, because they are always apt to change.

road

One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the past few weeks is that, when you have nothing to lose–it’s often the BEST time for changes. You do not need to hit “rock bottom” or be irresponsible to have nothing to lose. But when you realize that you have exhausted yourself — spiritually, physically and mentally— that’s when you realize that you have nothing to lose.

I realized that I had nothing to lose a few months ago. I was in a job that was going nowhere, not happy  with my living situation, and was feeling spiritually fatigued. My loves and hobbies did not give me the joy that they once had. We were planning on moving in August, but then, The Universe decreed it was time for us to go now. It wasn’t a pleasant, and it left me feeling a lot of anger and hatred toward several people (something I have finally gotten over after realizing you can not change a person–or people–and that sometimes cosmic intervention comes in unpleasant forms). We decided, it was time to go.

images

I decided to literally up root myself. After living in the same place for most of my life, I decided that in order for me to reconnect with everything important to me, I needed to move forward–take a leap of faith– close my eyes–and free fall. We packed our stuff in 2 weeks, found an apartment and decided to move cross-country to Flagstaff, Arizona. As most of you know, I had a profoundly deep experience when I went to Sedona, AZ in 2014. It was the first time in my life that I was somewhere where I felt that I belonged. And so here we are….

I am starting a whole new life. Like a flower that has been uprooted, I am being replanted in a bigger space with love, life and the ability to blossom like I have never done before. I am walking a new path, in a new place, filled with new bright adventures. Reinventing myself. Cracking out of the egg. Flying out of the cocoon. I feel–free.

new

And of course it doesn’t come without fears. Fear is normal. I am starting from scratch, a whole new life. And it scares me. But of course, I know if it was not meant to be The Universe would not have delivered it right now. But it did.

Taking leaps of faith are scary. But with a leap of faith–only new beginnings can occur.

So if you have nothing to lose–I highly recommend….closing your eyes, free-falling and taking that leap. There is no backward..you can never go back. Only forward.

Wrap Yourself in Coils: You Are NOT A Healer

I have been guilty of it myself. I have let it slip in the heat of the moment. “I am a healer.”

 Well, no…I am not actually a healer—and neither is anyone else who uses that phrase. We are conduits for healing energy. Like a giant Tesla coil, we allow the forces (Universal Energy, God Energy whatever you want to call it) to flow through us for the benefits of healing. It’s a gift from The Universe. It was The Universe (or Creator if you will) that is allowing you to be the instrument of healing. Gifts are given and can easily be taken away.

 thCAV90IXX

Maybe it’s my years of practicing Earth based magick and religions. Years of working with various Deities in various forms. Truth is, what is given can be taken away. If The Universe feels you are abusing that what is granted-it can just as easily be abstracted from you.

Sadly, I have met a lot of conduits of healing energy who taught the “I am a healer” phrase—who use it as a means of projecting some form of supremacy over someone else. You are not a healer. You are merely a channel—nothing more.

The Mystical Urban Shaman

I am a bit tired of hearing about people who try the one up card. You know those people: I studied with so and so and therefore I am way better than you will ever be.

Seriously? I hear that a lot in the “healer” community. Which is a bit ironic……..Or the “teacher” who is only out there for selfish reasons- to have groupies and followers- in which breeds the seeds of negative energy which gets passed on and on and on and one………

I get that a lot with “shamans”…..So let me just empty my brain.

Just remember–the further you go–the less you know.

A shaman in essence, is one who walks between the worlds. I journey when I do my intuitive work and during a reiki session. Shamanic reiki consists of doing a shamanic journey in conjunction with the reiki. Anyone can journey—it just takes patience and time…..lots of time….And it doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to practice NATIVE AMERICAN shamanism to be a Shaman.  Work with what connects to you. Ironically, even though I am a quarter Native American—not all aspects of Native American shamanism resonate with me. I take bits of Aboriginal, African and Native American shamanism when I work. I know people who connect with Nordic Shamanism or Celtic Shamanism.

The word shaman is simply Siberian for–“one who sees in the dark.”

urban_shaman_by_nclaire-d464v0o

We are just idiot humans with a vision of what a Shaman should look like—A wild lone man living in a cave with no clothes, ratty hair and bones around his neck? Or a head full of feathers tossing animal bones to read……..Humans are narrow minded in the world of words, imagery and symbols.

It’s IMPOSSIBLE now, for people to find a Shamanic teacher.  And classes that offer you the idea of the instantaneous shamanic journey are rolling in money over something that takes years and practice. I was recently speaking to a client who attended a 3 day long Intro to Shamanism class. Of course they “taught” students how to journey—and explained they would be able to journey by the end of the session—and then could “graduate” to the next 3 day long $$$$ workshop. During the 3 day workshop, the teachers asked students what they saw on journeys, etc. All the students had something to say—except him. He didn’t experience anything. After the three day workshop was over and he was speaking to his other classmates, he asked them “did you actually see all those things?”—in which most of them said, “no” or “I just said I did because I didn’t want the teacher to feel bad.”

Shamanic journeying—is liken to meditation. The practitioner needs to be able to pull themselves from this “reality” into another. And like meditation, you can’t learn it in a three day workshop. To be a shamanic practitioner does not require certification. We don’t live in a society where you can study with a Shaman or are “chosen” by the Elders in your tribe. We live in a world of urban shamanism. Every human being has the ability to be a Shaman. It’s about accessing and using all of your senses including your 6th sense. By not using them, we destroy that one gift handed to us by our ancestors—the ability to be able to help others by accessing a Divine Source of Power within us. But with that takes the understanding and the knowledge that to become a shaman doesn’t mean taking a few workshops, classes, etc. I used to think that. I used the think you had to take classes, study with a group, spend a crap load of money, find a “guru”, and go on retreats. Then one day I realized, I have been preparing for where I am at this moment in my life since I was 13.

images (3)

I started my journey when I was 13. I studied Witchcraft, Gnosticism, Ceremonial Magick, Egyptian Magick, the Kabbalah, Buddhism — you name it I have studied it at some point in my life. My extensive book collection will show you—and I can point how old I was when I started!  I have also heavily studied ancient mythologies from around the planet as well as the anthropological and historical religious teachings of various tribes from around the world.  I was involved in three esoteric groups and then was in a ceremonial Magick/alternative religion group for 10 years where I got initiated and got my name “Zehara” from. Yes of course I took some classes on the way, got certificates in Metaphysical studies and herbology (even though I had long since been using herbs to make mojo bags, teas, incense) and got my reiki attunements. The nice thing about Shamanism and reiki is that you work with what suits YOU. In essence creating your own version of Shamanism and Reiki. I use almost everything I have learned in the past 20 years since I started my journey into my practice now—from casting a circle to reciting a mantra to banish negative energy. It’s like I have been blessed with a large and extensive kitchen full of ingredients to make the most magical delicious healing work.

And Shamanism is a moment by moment thing. I try explaining that to people who ask me. What was given to you by the Higher Power, which I refer to as The Universe, can just as easily be taken away. You don’t own it. You are allowed to have it to help others but it’s not yours.

I like to refer to myself as a practitioner—not a healer…Clients are the healers—I am just the middle man-the initiator. Clients heal themselves—I just give them a boost. Shamanic journeying is like day dreaming—for me anyway. I don’t like the term of “non ordinary” reality. When I journey I am in reality—I just use all my senses. I am in a different state of mind—I “see” things which exist outside the scope of what we call “normal reality.”

Think of journeying like dreaming—it’s the same thing, but you are awake. You see things in dreams that don’t make much sense, but are meant to be taken symbolically. When I see a deer during a journey-it means a few things.

  1. It’s the clients totem
  2. Deer represent gentleness—hence, perhaps the client needs to be more gentle to themselves

I guess my point here is that, anyone can be a shaman, with respect to the understanding that you realize it’s a special gift The Universe is allowing you to have—and at any moment-take it away. It also requires patience and an understanding that being able to “see in the dark” takes time.

And yes, study. Read whatever you can get your hands on. Network. Meet people. And be open minded. Our world is not the only one. There are multi universes you can access once you are able to journey. And ignore the one uppers……they have a lot of work to do.

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.