We don’t realize how many memories are stored in our brain; how many memories, and people in them, that are crafted, just slightly, into who we are. Joy crafts you. Of course, pain does too, but that’s almost easier for us to remember— the pain. We forget the moments of pure joy that left a mark on our heart. The laughs brought on by people we might not be close with anymore. The shoulder we were able to lean on when we needed it. The times that made you feel like you mattered to the world. We forget those things as time goes on.
Today I lost a friend I haven’t been close with in years. To be completely honest with you, it’s been so long that I don’t even remember the last time I talked to him in person. We talked via Facebook a few weeks ago about his music, but that’s just about it other than a “happy birthday” kind of message over the last few years. I spent hours laying in bed this morning thinking about my memories of him, and though tears were running down my face as I pictured him laughing, the joy I felt at those moments in time instantly came back to me. I could actually feel the joy again as if it was current. At one point, I thought back to a “first date” we went on (before we decided friendship was a better route for us because his dad wasn’t a fan of the dating life in 8th grade lol) and the memory was so clear because it was the first time I had ever felt butterflies. It was my first kiss that wasn’t a dare. I remember even getting butterflies when he held my hand in the movie theater that night. I actually, somewhere, still have the ring he gave me that night… the ring I wore for two hours before my finger turned green (ya know, we’re on a budget in 8th grade) but it meant so much to him that I wore it anyway. When we stuck to the friend zone later on, we actually loved it. I was able to come to his house now because his dad knew we weren’t dating, so we got to spend more time together. Another vivid memory that came back to me was being with him the night before he went to meet his birth mother for the first time. He was so overwhelmed, I remember feeling anxious for him and praying it went well (even though I don’t even think I believed in God then, or at least knew who He was). I remember, too, the rest of our friends feeling the same way. We loved him so much and we got so involved. The rest of the morning was flooded with more vague memories; memories of him dancing (which he loooved to do), singing and rapping lyrics to his favorite songs, and laughing… always. We were always happy and having a good time together. All of us as a group, and him and I when it was just us. Pure joy, constantly. I remember, still, pep talks he gave me about the fact that I didn’t have a dad around. I remember him telling me that I still had the world in my hands and that I was loved by many others. And this is how he spoke to everyone, all the time. Positive, loving reassurance that truly made a difference. Always, always spreading nothing but love to the people he cared about. Honestly, even people he didn’t really know. He was that kind of guy.
These feelings, though they were all eight years ago now, rushed back to me as if it had happened last night. The crazy thing is, is that I didn’t even know I had these memories stored in my mind whatsoever. Things change, people change, and life goes on. But these times craft us. They craft parts of who we are. Certain songs make me picture his face. And certain songs, smells, places, etc., remind me of other people I also haven’t talked to in years. They remind me of them because a small piece of my heart was touched by the people in these memories. Every person that’s made you feel anything at all, has contributed a little bit into the person you are, whether you consciously realize it or not.
As I said before, obviously things change, and relationships are lost over time for various reasons, but it’s important to remember these people along the way and appreciate the mark they left on your heart. And to remember, too, that you are also leaving a mark on theirs, so your time should be spent showing compassion and kindness to everyone around you, despite what circumstances may be sometimes (which is something the guy in these stories never failed to do). To anyone reading this, and reading it this far, I hope you take a minute to reflect on people that have helped craft you along the way. I’m talking as far back as you can remember; a best friend from third grade, or a coach from high school. Remember the people that covered your days in joy, and reach out to them and let them know that you appreciate it. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Tell old friends that you still cherish your memories together. Be grateful, humble, and kind. And overall, just take a moment every once in awhile to feel genuine appreciation for all those who have touched your heart and crafted parts of your soul in any way. Including people that are in your life currently. It’s so important.
Anthony, the live’s you touched will remember you forever and they will all reflect on the same things; your contagious laughter, your huge smile, your kindness and compassion for everyone, and your heart that was incredibly large and always loving. We love you, always. And I pray that you knew you were this loved before you left, and that you impacted everyone in your life as much as you did. Thank you for changing each and every one of our live’s in your own way. Rest in peace.
I’ve reached a point in which pain is just who I am. Not forever, of course, but for now pain has made a home of me.
A good friend of mine told me the other day that they could actually feel the presence of my pain, that they could feel it across the room and they felt it the minute they saw me. I’ve been told the light inside of me is gone. Even when I have really good days, and even when I feel genuine happiness throughout the day, I lay down at night and feel the pain that’s being stored in my body. My muscles are tense, my jaw hurts because I realize I’ve been clenching it all day without noticing, and I’m exhausted when I get to bed. My body knows I’m in pain. My mind denies, it but my body knows. My soul is fighting to get out of this but the pain is just there. It won’t go away. It’s consumed me. People feel it when they talk to me. They hear it in my voice, they see it in my eyes, and they read it on my smile. It’s there, and it’s shining brighter than any feelings of joy, happiness, or love. It’s stuck here, and it’s stubbornly still.
Pain has made a home of me.
Step One: Accept that this is where I’m at, and know that it’s okay. Remind myself daily that this is something I can get out of. I will value my life again some day.
Step Two: Remove myself from the situation that’s causing me this extra pain and stress. It doesn’t matter if this situation is involving my family, friends, or even my job; get out if it’s making things worse for the time being.
Step Three: Everything else doesn’t necessarily need to be done in a certain order, but these are things that I know I need to start doing to get back on track. These are things I’ve done in the past that always pull me back: writing out my thoughts; reflecting on how I feel/why. Reading a new book, specifically a spiritual one that will remind me that I’m more than my depression (if you aren’t spiritual at all, that’s okay, hunt down a book that you think will help you. Also, I really genuinely suggest exploring your spirituality if you haven’t yet before. It helps me immensely). Making a list of things I’ve stopped doing that I need to start doing again, and a list of things I started doing that I need to spot doing. Ex: I started watching too much T.V., so I need to stop doing that, and take that time to read/write/meditate, etc. because those are things I stopped doing that I need to do again. Make this list your soul focus. Attack one change at time; don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to do it all at once and put too much pressure on yourself. Take your time. Exercise! Even if you didn’t before, start now. Even if that means just walking a couple miles a day, do it. Your body needs endorphins, and your mind needs the clarity. I know it’s hard, but it’s worth it. Go workout. If possible, change your scenery. Most people, obviously, can’t just up and move. But if you can, do it. If you can’t, just take a weekend get away. Be surrounded by new people that have no idea what’s going on, and nobody that you need to wear a mask around. See places you’ve never seen before; get outside. Breathe fresh air. Try a new hobby. Explore some new music. Eat clean, healthy, nutrient-dense meals. Your body needs it. Do something that makes you happy, even if that’s something as small as going to the park and laying in the sun. Confide in someone (whether that’s a friend, family member, or counselor, just have someone to talk to). Take a break from social media. Do a community service event to remind yourself that there are ways to give back and touch other people’s lives. Practice basic self-care: keeping your house, car, and work place orderly; having a morning/nightly routine; stretching and focusing on what your body needs, etc.
These practices got me through these thoughts I had two years ago, and for the last two years, I genuinely enjoyed my life and felt immense joy. These are the same things I’m going to go through this time around, and I’m determined this time around to stay more self-aware so it doesn’t reach this level again.
*Also, a new thing I’m going to try that was a suggestion from my amazing friend, Nathan*: making a list of things I believe make me, me (he says this will help me remember that I’m more than just my depression). It’ll remind you who you are and what you value about yourself.
Whether you battle with situational-depression, seasonal-depression, or just depression in general – know what your triggers are, be aware, and make self-care your top priority. Daily. Take time to breathe, and take time each day to take care of yourself. Don’t ignore the signs creeping in, and take the time each day to value yourself and the person you strive to be. Value your life the way that you would a best friends. Stay cautious of your thoughts and remember that your self-care is the most important thing about your life.
“Today I affirm: self-care and self-growth will remain at the top of my priority list, no matter how chaotic life may get. I will work on myself daily, because I am worth it.”