Preferences Not Expectations

“You cannot live with expectations because life has no obligation to fulfill your desires. You can live with an open heart, but you cannot live with expectations.” ~Osho

Preferences not expectations. This has been my mantra lately. I need to learn to have preferences over having expectations. My expectations are only letting me down. In the end, they aren’t helping me, they are only hurting.

Expectations are defined as the act or state of looking forward or anticipating or to regard as likely to happen. It’s good to have high expectations regarding certain events or people, but having consistently high expectations can leave you upset and saddened when they are unfulfilled. Rather, I have been told that it is better to have preferences because they aren’t as set in stone as expectations.

Preferences are defined as a greater liking for one alternative over another or others. Having preferences means that you are less likely to be disappointed when things don’t go the way you plan because you have no expectations for it to follow your plans. It is also good to have a solid grasp on reality. If reality is lower than we expect our lives to be, we tend to be discontent and unhappy.

I guess you could say I have high expectations for my life that have gone unfulfilled, which has led to the unhappiness I feel today. I need to let go of these expectations or at least make them more realistic so that I’m not so disappointed when my life doesn’t go as I planned. I am trying to learn that having preferences is better than having expectations because I won’t regard preferences as likely to happen as expectations. It’s one of the many changes I need to make to bring more happiness into my life.

By having preferences, I will be more in touch with reality and hopefully not as disappointed that my life has not gone as planned. I need to learn to live in the moment, being in touch with reality rather than living in the past or worrying about the future. I can’t change the past and the future will be what I make of it, and if I live in the present, I will be a better person for my future.

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Reality Expectations

Friends

When I was little, I didn’t have very many friends. I usually had the one requisite best friend and that is who I would hang out with. For some reason though, eventually this best friend would move and I would spend time in limbo before finding a new friend. This happened many times from 1st grade all the way through high school.

I was always on the fringe of any groups. Now that I’m older, I feel like I spent my childhood chasing after the other kids on the playground. I would invite girls to my birthday parties and they would attend but I wasn’t always include in outside events. As we got older, it became even more apparent to me that I didn’t belong.

My middle school years, 5th and 6th grade, I felt like even more of an outsider. In 5th grade, I became the teacher’s pet just so I could go back to my classroom instead of going out to recess. The few times I remember going to recess, I recall sitting in front of an old tree stump that was disintegrating and picking at it, watching all of the other kids. I tried joining in a couple of times but I honestly felt like I wasn’t wanted.

By high school the differences were even more pronounced. I wasn’t into fashion and I wasn’t ‘boy-crazy’. I was a musical nerd who enjoyed her classes and joined every extracurricular choral group possible. After I turned 16, I got a job but I still didn’t feel like I fit in. Looking back at pictures of myself from high school, I feel like I’m on the edges; on the outside looking in.

I’ve felt this way my entire life. I’ve often been told it’s because I’m more mature than others my age or that I ‘had an old soul’. But while that is great advice, as a kid, I just wanted to fit in. I just wanted to be part of the group; to feel wanted and involved.

Today, I don’t have many friends, but I cherish the ones I do. They are important to me because I know how much it sucks to not be  invited or to be forgotten or ignored. I want my friends to know that I appreciate that they are willing to be there for me, especially on days when my depression attempts to get the best of me. My friends are my support and for that, I thank them.

Change: A Personal Perspective

If change was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it.

This is the tagline for my future non-profit, ADAPT. I feel that change and adapt are synonymous because to make a change, you have to adapt. Whether it’s adapting your behaviors, your emotions, or your way of thinking, adapting is a part of change.

Change isn’t easy. I’ve found that it’s difficult to change behaviors and ways of thinking that have taken years to develop. I have to be mindful. I have to actively maintain new behaviors and put effort into the changes I need or want to make. Sometimes, I feel like this effort could be better spent. Why put effort into something when you’re not sure of the outcome? It might not come to anything. It could be a waste of time and energy. But if I’m going to ‘what if’ the negatives, I would benefit more from also ‘what ifing’ the positives. I consider this to be one of the changes I’m making to my life. So, what if the change does work? What if this change makes the difference in my life?

My depression causes me to think negatively and because of this, I have grown accustomed to thinking of worst case scenarios. So I’m trying to change and at least make the effort to think more positively, or at least not as negatively. Change has to be taken in steps. You can’t automatically convince yourself to think differently.

I am struggling with change. My depression is an old friend and I know exactly what to expect from it, but if I don’t change, I will never be happy. And I want to be happy; everyone deserves to be happy, don’t they? In this situation, change is the only way to achieve happiness. So I will change. I will take those steps forwards and backwards, and I will start all over again if I have to. Change isn’t easy, but it can be worth it to change bad habits and become a better person.

Discovering Yourself

To My Boyfriend

To My Boyfriend:

I’m sorry. I know that it is difficult for you to understand my depression and what it can do to me. And I love that you want to understand and that you are making an effort to see past my depression to me. I don’t know what you see in me that you insist is so amazing and great and I might never see it but I’m glad that you do.

I love that you’re uplifting even when I’m at my worst. You refuse to let me begin my destructive circular thinking and you want me to succeed. You believe in me when I can’t.

You’re a good man. You have so much going for you and I often think that you can do so much better than a mess like me, but you insist that I’m the one who is out of your league.

I can be myself around you and not worry that you’re going to walk away. I miss you when we’re not together and I look forward to every time I get to see you. I’m looking forward to see what life has in-store for us. I’m hopeful, which is saying something for me.

I’m grateful that you’re there for me when I’m down and when I’m not. You’re a wonderful person, and I hope that we can grow together. Hopefully, one day I’ll be better and my good days will outnumber the bad. Until then, all I ask is patience.

Please understand that I am fighting. I want to get better and sometimes I can’t see that light at the end of the tunnel, but you say that it’s there and I’m willing to believe you. Hopefully we can reach that light together.

Thank you for everything you’ve done so far and everything that I’m sure you’re going to do. I appreciate it more than I can say. Thank you.

A Letter to Myself

To myself:

I’ve recently realized that I’m still holding onto the expectations that I had for myself before the depression took hold. Those expectations weren’t a bad thing until I became unable to fulfill them. I’m mad and frustrated with myself for not being able to do what I was once very capable of doing. The loss of motivation, energy, and commitment has really eroded my self-esteem. I’ll admit my self-esteem regarding my physical appearance was never very high, I never struggled with it when it came to who I was and what I could do.

When my depression came along, it knocked me sideways. It completely ran me off the path I had placed ahead of myself and while I wasn’t exactly happy with the path that had been “chosen” for me, it was still a path I had planned around. I was taking a major just to have something to major in, but I didn’t like it. It was just a general degree so that at least I’d have a bachelor’s degree when it came to job searching after college; a degree I could do virtually anything with. Before the depression, I was on track to graduate a semester early with a double major, possible minor and a concentration. I was ambitious and driven, although not thriving socially in college as many people thought I would, most profoundly my parents. I was thriving in my academics.

How easily that all fell apart. I’m not sure if it was one special event that triggered it or if I was a depressive time bomb just waiting to explode; and explode I did. I stopped going to classes, I stopped eating, I stopped caring about anything. It had all fallen apart and I couldn’t seem to find the effort to care. What did it matter anymore? I wasn’t going to graduate early and I definitely wasn’t going to be graduating with a double major anymore, let alone a minor or concentration. Surprisingly, the fact that I didn’t care about everything going to pieces, didn’t surprise me. I didn’t want to be studying that major. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do after college. Sure, I had college all mapped out, but the future after that was a blur.

I have to forgive myself though. I feel like I let myself down. I’m 24 years old and I don’t have a bachelor’s degree. In fact, I’m nowhere near ready to even consider going back to school. But at least I know what I want now. At least I know what I want to major in and what I want to do with my life. My depression, despite it’s blackness and carelessness, has given me the push I needed to find my passion. And I’m planning on pursuing that passion for as long as I possibly can. I can’t and I won’t allow my depression to get in my way again.

This first time, I’d say my depression was a blessing in disguise. Now, I’m going to make it be the passion that drives me forward. My depression is no longer going to be allowed to hold me back. I’m going to fight it with everything I have in me and I’m going to live my dream. And I’m going to pass on hope to others suffering from this disease. It’s the only thing I can do now.

Project Immersion

Before the depression hit, I was always diving into projects head first. I would come up with crazy ideas and hair-brained schemes and I would enjoy diving into a new project. Sometimes it fizzled out or I would grow bored, but often the project would be completed and I would have immense satisfaction.

After my depression, I could barely find the motivation to eat let alone do any projects. I couldn’t even get my school work done and I often found myself quitting whatever projects I had tried to start, before they had even gotten off of the ground.

During therapy on Week 2, Day 11, I was feeling much better. In fact, here is the journal entire I made for that day:

“I feel better today and I really can’t explain why. (Which is ok because there are times when you can’t explain why you feel the way you do.) I’m looking forward to things. I’m coming up with ideas that I’m excited about and that I want to implement immediately. Sometimes I want to just dive into a project which might be part of the problem. I dive in, then feel overwhelmed, don’t know how to continue so I quit in the middle. (Not necessarily that I quit but that I become distressed & depressed and can’t complete the project because my mood drops.)”

Why do I want to dive into projects? Why do I want to immerse myself into projects? Is it because the focus is then taken away from me? That I don’t have to look at myself?

Do I lose momentum and steam? Why? Is it because the project has gotten difficult or troubling? It hit a snag so I don’t want to continue?”

I’ve discovered that part of the problem now, is that when I dive into a project, I don’t focus on myself and right now that has to be the focus. I guess you could say that the project for me to do right now is me. I’ll never get better if I don’t focus on myself. Honestly, this is probably going to be one of the hardest projects I have ever attempted and it’s going to be one for the rest of my life. I’m going to have to work at myself, at being healthy, at being ok with being Talia, for the rest of my life. And it’s not something that I can give up halfway. It’s not something that I can lose momentum and steam at because then I’ll end up back where I started and seeing as I didn’t like square one in the first place, this project is my number one priority.

I have ideas. I have dreams, but I have to take it slow and be realistic. I have to allow myself to make mistakes and to realize that I’ve gotten in over my head. There are a couple of dreams that motivate me and push me onward but I have to go slow. I have to allow myself the time so that I don’t become self-destructive again. Projects are good. Projects are healthy, as long as there are healthy boundaries and you pull yourself out of that immersion every once in a while to see the realistic world around you and stay grounded.

Stuck

Sometimes I wonder why I’m writing this blog. Is anyone even reading it? Does anyone care? Is it making a difference?

I face these questions every day while I’m trying to write. As well as these: What should I write about? Will anyone care? And I suppose, even if no one cares, I should write anyway because I know that it helps. Writing helps me deal with my depression and often, putting things down on paper helps get them out of my mind. (Hence this post.) But I’m struggling with the fact that I feel stuck. I’m not sure what to write, even though I have an entire list. I’m not sure what people would like to know.

I’m trying to remember that this blog is the first step to bigger and better things. I’m trying to remember that this blog has a goal. A goal, that if reached could make a difference to millions of people. A goal that could make a difference in the field of mental illness. But sometimes, that goal seems so far away, it might as well be impossible.

I feel stuck in my life, in my therapy and in my head. I know the theories on what I need to do to get better and I’m taking my medication, but there are just days when I feel like they aren’t making a difference. I wake up and there are days when i just wonder why. Why me? Why now? Why this? Why?? And nothing I’ve learned, nothing I’ve tried has helped me on these days. These are the days when I struggle. I struggle just to get to the next day. I struggle with my brain and trying to keep it on the right track. I just struggle and honestly, I’m very sick of struggling so hard and so often.

It’s not fun and it isn’t easy. If I had a choice I wouldn’t be this way, but I don’t have a choice. Having depression isn’t my decision to make. It was made for me by my genetics, psyche, biology and environment. I can’t just ‘get over it’ and I’m not just lazy. I have limitations because of my illness. And right now my brain is telling me that I’m not important, that my ideas aren’t important and that this blog isn’t important. And maybe it’s not but I have to keep trying and I have to keep fighting. There is only one other alternative and I don’t consider that an option.

But I honestly want to know, what do you want to know about depression? What questions do you have regarding mental illness? Please message me or comment below.

Stuck

I Hate My Mind

I hate my mind. I hate the fight I have to start as soon as I wake up. I hate the frustration that builds up because of that fight. I hate the way my mind thinks. I hate the way my brain works.

Why can’t I just be normal? I’ve never really felt like I’ve ever fit in. I’ve always been the outsider; the hanger-on. I felt like I was never good enough to be involved; that everything I did and said was always somehow off; not quite right.

I’ve been told multiple times that I have an old soul, that I am an old soul. I think this is true. I don’t like partying, drinking; the normal activities of a 20-something year old. I like card games, and crafts; movies and cooking. I’d rather stay home on a Friday night and drink a bottle of wine with a friend rather than fight the crowds at an overcapacity bar.

I hate that my depression causes my brain to think in circular patterns. For example, my depression tells me I’m worthless, then maybe a friend has to cancel plans with me, so my depression tells me that it’s my fault. Maybe if I wasn’t a negative person, they would want to spend time with me. Maybe if I looked better, maybe if I was happier, maybe… My depression pounces on every small issue and compounds it until its a big weight in my mind.

I hate my mind because in many ways it is working against me. It isn’t allowing me to move forward with my life. I often feel like my depression is holding me back but at the same time, it led me to my dream and the life I would like to lead.

I hate my mind and I hate the battle, but it has given me a dream to look forward to. It has given me my motivation to win the war.

Music

I’ve always loved music. Since I was little, I was involved with music and I was learning how to play the piano by the time I was six. I remember a time, I was about 4 or 5, and I was singing along with the radio. My mom turned around, looked at me and asked how I knew the lyrics to the songs. I couldn’t really give her an answer besides saying that I’d heard the songs before.

Music can be very much a universal language. Musicians can often find the music or lyrics to describe a situation that you couldn’t otherwise find words for. I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve played a song for someone rather than trying to explain exactly how I felt. The music explained it better than I ever could.

I often use music as my inspiration. Music can make you feel a variety of emotion and as a depressive, I use it to motivate myself, to tell myself that I’m not the only one feeling this way and that I can get through it. I have a specific playlist on youtube that I can pull up at anytime when I need that inspiration and motivation. This playlist contains songs from Skillet, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace and P!nk, as well as the specifics songs ‘Dare You To Move’ by Switchfoot and ‘Demons’ by Imagine Dragons.

Find what helps you, whether it’s listening to music or painting; playing video games or watching movies. Find an outlet for what you have inside, because you do have something self-destructive inside of you. And depression’s only goal is to destroy who you are. So don’t let it.

Here is one of my favorite songs to listen to when I feel down:

http://getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/Music.pdf

“I’m Sorry”

“I’m sorry.”

It’s two of the easiest and most overused words in the English language. ‘I’m sorry’ just rolls of the tongue for anything from being late to a meeting to breaking your mother’s favorite vase.

Over the years, ‘I’m sorry’ has lost the meaning that it once had. It’s become a phrase that once full of meaning has now lost all possible meaning. When you say, ‘I’m sorry’ do you actually mean it, or are you just fulfilling a societal norm? Do you actually mean the words; are you actually apologetic when you say ‘I’m sorry’? Or are they just words; something to say to fill the void but not really meaning anything.

Why do we say ‘I’m sorry’ if we don’t really mean it? Why do we say words that we don’t actually mean? Is it because that is what society expects of us? Are we just following the social norms by saying things we don’t actually mean and won’t ever follow through with? Why have these words been reduced to just words?

So many of the things we say today have no meaning behind them. They are empty societal norms that we instinctively follow without putting any thought, or emotion behind them. But I want to mean what I say, so from now on when I say ‘I’m sorry’, I’m going to mean it. When I speak, I’m going to mean exactly what I say and I’m going to say exactly what I mean. Words should always have meaning and impact. They are an integral way for people to communicate.

‘I’m sorry’ isn’t the only phrase that has lost all meaning. There are many more. Which ones can you think of?