Your body is like a house. Our house needs to be looked after or things will start to break down. The paint starts to flake. The carpet becomes threadbare. Eventually the roof may start to leak and we’ll get wet and cold. If we don’t tend to our homes they can become damp and musty. Instead of nurturing us and keeping us safe and snug they can begin to make us sick.
I am by no means a domestic goddess but I do what I must to keep my home healthy and inviting for me and my family. I do a little bit each day to ensure that things don’t get out of hand. I air out the whole house by cracking a window upstairs and down and letting Mother Nature send a breath throughout.
These things take time. But it’s time we somehow manage to find. As women (and women with families) we always seem to make time for housework. We fold the washing for our family so that they are kept warm. We cook for them then clean the dishes. We wipe the benches and retrieve old bits of food from the kitchen floor and the beneath couch cushions. Even those of us that are not housework superheroes (raising my hand!) still take time to do simple things to make us feel happy in our surroundings. Perhaps we fluff our couch cushions, recharge our crystals or smudge our house with sage. We may not enjoy doing these things but we do them. House work is a necessary evil and an inevitability of life.
Much like our home, our body needs work too. We may spend over an hour doing simple house hold chores each day, but struggle to spend even an hour doing something that nurtures our body, mind or soul. We may spend a fortune on cleaning supplies, bed linen, or new curtains, but struggle to spare the cash to go to the doctor for a pap smear, go to a yoga class or buy a new (much needed) bra.
The thing is our body is a house. Our very own house. But unlike a house, we only get one body to live in for the rest of our lives. We don’t have the choice to up sticks and move when it gets run down. All we can hope to do is fix it with medications that may do more harm than good. Doesn’t make sense to put in the hard work before we get to that stage?
Society has a big part to play. As soon as I became a mother it was as if I served my children and my house. I had to keep my kids alive and also attempt to conquer the ever expanding mountain of washing. It was as if I had officially signed up for the housework Olympics and a gold medal was to be awarded to whomever could manage to have children and a clean house.
Even my closest friends were not exempt from these beliefs. Even My BFF (who means only goodness) told me that my dirty windows were probably what was stressing me out. I’d wager it had more to do with the fact I had two children under three who neither slept, ate, nor let me leave their side. I share this not shame anyone, but just to show how deeply ingrained in us it is that women (and mothers) should keep an immaculate house and not doing so means we are failing in some way. Why is there this ancient belief that to win at womaning we must cook and clean and raise perfect children?
Why doesn’t society care whether women and mothers are looking after themselves? Their bodies? Their minds? What if instead of telling mothers they need to scrub the floor we told them they needed to meditate, do some yoga or go for a walk. But you can’t do that with a young child about. I hear you say. Well, guess what. It’s damn near impossible to clean with a young child about too.
Do me a favour. Right now. Calculate how many hours you spend cleaning each week. I want you to aim to spend the same amount of hours per week looking after you. Go for a walk. Meditate. Paint your toe nails. Can’t afford that may hours on just yourself? Why not? Aren’t you worth it? Isn’t your mental, spiritual, physical health worth that time? If so, consider cutting your cleaning time in half. Donate half your cleaning time to self-care time.
But cleaning is important! Yes. Cleaning is important. It’s one of those jobs we don’t want to do but because of that it almost makes it even more rewarding when we tackle it. When we get into the spare room and clean out the closet. When we scrub out the oven or clean out the fridge. Well guess what; exercise is not often something we want to do either. But it is something we must do. Why is that any different from house work? Because it’s just for you? Because doing things just for you is selfish? I beg to differ. If you don’t put yourself first you won’t have the strength to be really present for anyone else.
The Pineal Gland – The Actual Third Eye Inside your Brain
When I was 14, and inspired by Gwen Stefani, I bleached my hair blond, applied bright red lipstick, and wore a bindi on my forehead. Now days that would be considered cultural appropriation but back then it was simply considered fashion.
In Hinduism, the bindi is worn to identify a married woman. It also represents bindu; the point at which creation begins, and the centre of the mandala, which symbolises the universe. The bindi, worn in the centre of the forehead, just above the brow line, also represents anja, the third eye chakra, A.K.A the pineal gland.
For years I knew about the third eye. Or I thought I did. I simply thought the third eye was about attaining a heightened level of spiritual awareness; a higher state of consciousness. I wasn’t wrong, but what I didn’t know was that the third eye is actually a real eye, inside the brain, known as the pineal gland.
What is the Pineal Gland?
The pineal gland is located in the centre of the brain inside the epithalamus, nestled in the groove where the two sides of the thalamus meet. It is bumpy, lined with ridges, resembling a pinecone – hence the name.
The pineal gland’s function is to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. Through the optic nerve, light is transmitted into the pineal gland stimulating the production of melatonin. This process helps us establish our circadian rhythms; becoming tired at night and alert during the day.
What’s really interesting about the pineal gland is that just like our eyes, it contains retinal tissue. Yes, that’s right, as in the very tissue inside our two seeing eyes. The tissue inside the pineal gland has the same rod and cone structure found inside the retina. And according to neurologist Dr David Klein: “The photoreceptors of the retina strongly resemble the cells of the pineal gland. It even has vitreous fluid in it like the eye does.”
So there you have it. Our third eye is not simply a spiritual notion nor a metaphor for higher consciousness. It’s an actual eye, inside our skulls. But what does it see?
Interestingly, the pineal also produces N,N-dimethyltryptamine, also known as DMT, the naturally occurring hallucinogen found in plants and animals. When taken recreationally DMT brings on hallucinations of passing through a spiralling portal into the afterlife or other dimensions.
The Pineal Gland and DMT Research Trials
In his book and subsequent documentary titled DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Dr Rick Strassman, undertook a government sanctioned DMT research trial, in which fellow scientists took DMT in a controlled environment in an attempt to study the hallucinogenic effects.
Half of the test patients reported entering higher realms of existence and interacting with intelligent beings of higher consciousness, described as aliens, guides or helpers. Visions like this are regularly reported by users of DMT, including those who partake in the Amazonian ayahuasca ceremonies; a tea containing high levels of DMT. These visions seem to be uniquely linked to DMT trips.
While more research still needs to be done, it’s believed that the pineal gland is the part of the brain that produces DMT. It is also theorised that just before we die, DMT is released by the pineal, which may explain the visions witnessed during near-death experiences.
The Pineal in Ancient Spiritual Text
While in modern times the true gifts of the pineal gland have been almost forgotten, through out history there were many mentions of the pineal in ancient texts and art work. The Eye of Horus bears a very strong resemblance to the pineal and ancient Buddhist statues often depict a pinecone shaped object on the head. Pinecones themselves seem to feature very heavily in many ancient artworks.
Unlocking the Pineal
Another intriguing thing about the pineal gland is that in children, the pineal is more active. During childhood we produce more melatonin; as we require it to ensure that we sleep deeply in order to grow. As we reach adolescence our production of melatonin starts to slow. This is interesting, as children are generally more connected to the spiritual realm than adults. Ever heard stories of kids “seeing things” or commenting on the colours around people’s heads? Children and babies are much more likely to see aura and spirits, but as we get older these abilities can peter out. This could in part be due to the calcification of the pineal gland.
Some children however, if taught early enough, are able to completely activate their pineal gland, allowing them to see perfectly, while blind folded. Take Nine-Year-Old Yogamaatha, of India who appears to be able to read and draw whilst blindfolded, a skill that she learnt after attending a course to unlock her third eye.
Calcification of the Pineal Gland
French philosophical writer, Georges Bataille, referred to the pineal-eye as “the blind spot in western rationality.” Bataille, who lived from 1897 – 1962, may well have been commenting on the effects modern society was having on human spiritual awareness. When the pineal gland becomes calcified, it does so due to excess amounts of environmental chemicals, such as fluoride, which is added to many municipal drinking water sources.
Fluoride accumulates in the pineal gland and overtime forms phosphate crystals, thus hardening the pineal gland. Once this hardening has occurred, the pineal produces much less melatonin. This is problematic when the calcification begins at a young age, as reduced melatonin production cues the onset of puberty, causing girls develop and an earlier age.
As well as being associated with migraines and cluster headaches, calcification of the pineal has also been shown to be more prominent in patients with Alzheimer’s.
What bothers me the most about pineal calcification, is that not only does it affect our physical health, but it could also be inhibiting our spiritual growth and awareness! Fluoride is in our New Zealand water supply. I used to approve of it as it supposedly helps prevent tooth decay (though I challenge you to find any neutral studies to support this), however reportedly Hitler added fluoride into the water supply in the concentration camps to make the prisoners more compliant.
How to De-Calcify your Pineal Gland
While we inevitably come into contact with heavy metals and free radicals every day, there are still things that we can do to de-calcify or prevent the calcification of our pineal gland.
Stop Drinking Fluoridated Water
This is a rather controversial issue, but personally I do not believe fluoride prevents tooth decay at all. But, don’t take my word for it, do your own research. Aside from dental health, there is evidence that fluoride calcifies the pineal, so the first step is to stop drinking fluoridated water.
This can be easily done if fluoride is not in your water source, but if it is there are still options. We are lucky enough to live near an aquifer, giving us access to pure natural spring water for free. We go and fill our large (BPA free) drinking containers once a week, giving us around 60 litres of spring water, filled with natural minerals and microbes.
Eat Organic Where Possible
Pesticides contain a myriad of harmful chemicals, including fluoride, benzene and chlorine. Ideally we’d all be able to eat a diet comprised entirely of organic food. However, that is not always an affordable option. Get to know the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen, that way you’ll know which fruits and vegetables to buy organic and those of which you can buy from your regular store.
Sleep in Total Darkness
I used to get given shit by my bestie for complaining when it came to sleeping in a room without blackout curtains. I swear, unless I am in a pitchblack room I cannot fall asleep. Perhaps the pineal has something to do with this! In order for the pineal gland to produce melatonin, it requires zero light to be transmitted in through the eyes. This is also why it’s best not to look at your phone too close to bedtime, as the blue light tricks your brain (and pineal) into thinking it’s day time.
No. I am not telling you to go and stare down the sun for hours on end, permanently destroying your retina! But sun-gazing is said to help boost the function of the pineal by jump starting those circadian rhythms back into action. The method is to stare at the rising or setting sun, for a one to two seconds at a time.
Ensure you are getting enough iodine in your diet. Low levels of iodine can cause the body to hold on to chemicals like fluoride, so ensuring you are getting enough iodine will help you to pee out any fluoride you come into contact with. I like adding sea vegetables to my daily smoothie. You can’t even taste them! Honest!
While we’re on the subject of peeing out fluoride let’s talk about tamarind. Tamarind is an African tree fruit that helps the body flush out toxins through urine. If teamed with iodine just think how many toxins you’ll be wazzing out.
Last but possibly the most important is meditation. While you can physically prevent your pineal from calcifying, the true function of the pineal is spiritual. The best way to keep any part of the body from atrophying is to use it regularly. To activate the pineal during meditation simply send your awareness to the point in the middle of your forehead, just above the brow line. Imagine a glowing light emanating from this point. It may start to tingle after a while but don’t panic. Much like going for our first run in months, the muscles can feel fatigued when we first start using them again. The pineal is no different. The more you practice this the easier it will become.
I hope you enjoyed this post dear unicorns! Let me know your thoughts on Facebook or Instagram
Understanding The Ego: Are You High Level, Low Level or Somewhere in Between?
We’ve all heard the term egotistical. You know, when a person thinks they’re hot shit on toast. They waltz around the place looking down their noses at people because they are just awesome. They think they deserve just a little more than everyone else and everything they get handed must be the best. They think they’re of a better calibre of people; not simply common folk.
I find that while this trope of Egotist is by far the most commonly known, the detriments of the Ego are more frequently found in people who judge themselves harshly and believe they are less important than others.
The Voice of The Ego
The Ego can be a nasty piece of work. It is the part of our mind that judges everything we do, sizing us up, shaking its head. It is the mother of comparison; squinting its eyes to decide if we are better or worse than those around us. This can lead to outwardly judgemental thoughts like ‘Oh wow she has bad skin and she’s eating a snickers, what an idiot! I’d never do that!’ or internal judgemental thoughts like ‘Oh wow, she’s way thinner than me. Actually everyone here at this yoga class is thinner than me! Oh my god. I don’t belong here! I’m not good enough!’
The High Level Ego
The Ego can tell us we are awesome, which can make us feel great. But you’ll know it’s the Ego talking if your awesomeness is at the detriment of someone else. Your Ego will tell you you’re not just awesome but better and more worthwhile than anyone else. You deserve the best seat in the house! You deserve to be served first! This is known as a High Level Ego and it can lead you to act outwardly cruel, assuming and entitled. It’s as if the High Level Ego seeps from your pores, but really it’s much simpler than that. If you are familiar with the Law of Attraction you’ll already understand that thoughts become things. If you walk around all day with the idea that everyone is beneath you, that’s how you will make people feel; like they are worthless and minuscule. Do you really want to be that person? The person who has great self-esteem, but at the expense of everyone around her?
The High Level Ego: Feeling Awesome at the Expense of Others
I’m sure we all know that girl. You know the one who grew up beautiful and had plenty of attention from boys, she may have been a teen model or a cheerleader. There’s no denying that they’re beautiful but perhaps not as beautiful as they think they are? They either have admirers or enemies.
I too knew a girl like this. She was a good dancer and actress and she was relatively beautiful. But she saw herself as far more talented and beautiful than everyone around her. She seemed to attract a lot of admirers but every time I spoke to her I ended up feeling bad about myself. There was just something about her energy than left me feeling “less than”. Because I am highly sensitive and highly intuitive, I was picking up on her High Level Ego energy. While it may have convinced some people of her worth, it actually had the reverse effect on me. It made me feel bad about myself and not as “good” as her. And let’s face it. It’s just no fun being around people than make you feel bad about yourself.
The Low Level Ego
On the flip side of The High Level Ego we have The Low Level Ego. I find this type of Ego to be far more common, especially amongst women. It may present as social anxiety; a sense that whenever we go out into the world that we are undeserving of decent treatment. We feel the need to apologise for asking for a glass of water at a café or we feel bad for getting a seat on the bus when someone else may have to stand. At an event we may feel guilty for even being invited and taking up the space – because we’re not important enough to be there.
The Low Level Ego: We Are Not Worthy
When we allow the Low Level Ego to rule us, we may talk ourselves down, sell our selves short and play small. Basically, it tells us that we are less important than everyone else; our family members, our work colleagues and other people in our industries doing the same work as us. The Low Level Ego is responsible for those unfinished novels, unfulfilled dreams and great ideas we gave away. It is the spotless house and the empty heart. It is the self-care you did not practice.
The Ego and Your True Self
The Ego can offer us approval and disapproval but both of these can be detrimental. If we’re constantly seeking the approval of others or we berate ourselves when others criticise us, we’re not being our authentic selves. We’re being a version of ourselves that pleases other people or appeases our Ego.
The thing about the Ego is that often it is laced with limiting beliefs imposed on us by our parents, grandparents and even childhood teachers. For example if we’re raised to believe that it’s “bad” and “sloppy” to stay in your pyjamas all day, that could be hugely detrimental if you’re a writer like me, who loves nothing more than staying in my jammies all day writing. I see it as a day well spent. But if your Ego chants this belief in your head, you may force yourself to get up and get dressed and leave the house which actually deters you from writing. This can inevitably lead you to feel unfulfilled. Like you’re living your life for someone else.
If you were raised to value money and possessions, your Ego may force you into a career that brings you money but no joy. This essentially can deter you from living the life the Universe intended for you. Yes, it may sound “woo-woo” but this is the home of woo-woo and I firmly believe that each and every one of us has an intended life path. As Picasso said; “The meaning of live is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away.”
Whenever we let other people’s opinions and beliefs shape who we are, we’re not being our true selves. There are plenty of people in the world. Why be just like them? Be you. You only get one shot. Like ridiculously bright shades of pink? Wear the fuck out of ‘em. Love childish clothing covered in unicorns? Ditto!
The Ego and Creativity
Creatively, the Ego can really wreak havoc on your work. If you have a High Level Ego you can fall victim to thinking everything you do is a freaking masterpiece. Even when it’s not. This can cause you to do things half-assed, expecting applause, then getting angry at the world when they don’t come. It can also make receiving feedback very hard because if you’re ‘the best at everything’ then what would anyone else know? As a writer going down the publishing path you may be prone to giving up when you get your first round of rejections, because ‘if they won’t publish my work then the whole industry is just stupid!’
When it comes to the Low Level Ego, you may have trouble even getting started on your work for fear of making a mistake. This means you are less likely to even have a go or embrace the learning process. When you do make mistakes oh boy! You berate yourself for hours after the event and may even get so upset you can’t continue with the project. You may blow things so out of proportion that it’s not the work that went wrong, it’s you than is wrong. And instead of it being simply one small hurtle that you need to climb, it’s all over. You were never meant to write/paint/dance anyway!
Living with an Ego imbalance
Personally I lived with a Low Level Ego for years. My Low Level Ego not only made me feel like I didn’t belong anywhere or deserve anything good in my life, but it also made me put everything I longed for up on a pedestal. It stole my tongue when I tried to make friends with people I admired, it made me psyche myself out when I attended auditions. It even made it impossible for me to get an after-school job in a record store – because that was just so cool, way too cool for me.
Restoring Ego Balance
Now, my Ego is (normally) in balance. I neither believe myself to be better or worse than others around me. I don’t cut lines in the supermarket, nor do did I let others cut in front of me. I don’t idolise people in highly educated positions – like doctors and lawyers and people from Ivy League colleges – and let them intimidate me. I treat them as my equals. Because they are. I don’t treat watrons as my personal servants; I am polite and respectful and I am worthy of the same in return.
How to Re-balance Your Ego
The first step in re-balancing your Ego is to simply identify the Ego driven thoughts in your mind. When you hear that voice in your head telling you that you are either better or worse than those around you, stop and identify the Ego at work. Take a moment here to acknowledge how well you’ve done by identifying the Ego, congratulate yourself and immediately forgive yourself.
If you tend to take on a High Level Ego, take a moment to change those High Level thoughts. Instead of thinking negatively of the people around you, take a moment to change that energy. Mentally give them all a compliment. Wish them love.
If you are in a Low Level Ego state, in the midst of berating yourself and telling yourself you are less important than everyone in the room, take a moment to wish yourself love. Look around the room at these amazing people. Send them love too. Your paths have crossed for a reason. The universe has a plan for you. Give yourself a compliment such as “you are here because you are a professional in your field and you have gifts to offer that others value.”
In her book Never Not a Lovely Moon, Caroline McHugh talks about the concept of Interiority. This is the balance between Superiority and Inferiority. You are nether better or worse than others. You are simply you. Interestingly, both Superiority and Inferiority require other people in order to exist. Not so with Interiority. It is the epitome of embracing your true self and moving through the world with a smile in your heart.
Don’t let your Ego rule your life. You only get one chance to be you. Own it.
I was in the car, driving to my first audition in five years, when it happened. My fingers were white, wrapped tightly around the steering wheel and sweat beaded on my upper lip. I was nervous. As usual. I always got nervous before an audition, but little did I know that this would be the last time I’d let it sabotage me.
As I fought through traffic, my inner critic began to murmur in my head, filling me with self-doubt, telling me I was too old, too fat, blah-blah-blah! I took a deep breathe, quieting the negative voices. Stopped at the lights, I caught my own gaze in the rear view mirror and without warning I said to myself “YOU ARE A GOD DAMN MAGICAL UNICORN!” As I heard the words I felt my mind calm. “You are perfect, right here, right now, as you are,” I said. “You are going to go in there and do your best. And your best will be amazing because you are a god damn magical unicorn.”
I felt a sense of peace and power come over me. I’m a unicorn, I said again. There is no one out there quite like me. I am an endangered species. I need to protect myself. Not change myself.
A Passion for Playing Pretend
I was in high school when I discovered my passion for acting. It was an accidental love affair bought about by the fact that most of the subjects I wanted to do clashed with others. I was in a position of choosing either maths or drama. Seeing as I am allergic to maths and my best friend was in that very drama class, it was a no brainer.
My next concern however became how I would hide in the backrow and never actually have to get up and do any acting. I was shy. Very shy. I was still in the midst of my gothic phase and hadn’t yet recovered from a spat of high school bulling the previous year. I was used to keeping my head down and sticking to my very tight group of friends. I hardly spoke to anyone else.
I soon learned that keeping my head down in drama class was not really an option. At the end of every class we’d do a group performance, so like it or not, I was up on that stage in front of people. But to my surprise I didn’t hate it. Not one bit.
Saved by a Coven of Witches
For the very first class we were asked to put together a short theatre piece. It could be anything at all but had to fit with the theme ceremony. While the other groups worked pieces about marriage or birth, my group created a piece about a coven of witches, joined in a circle, wearing black robes. We chanted about the living sacrifice we would offer up to the night – the sacrifice turned out to be plants not people.
As I stood there amongst my peers, my face smeared with white face paint, a large staff in my hand, something came over me. It was a tingle of adrenalin and the thrill of creating a piece of art. I was stepping out of myself for a moment. While I was on that stage I wasn’t playing the part of Lisette – the shy goth who got beat up last year – I was a witch surrounded by sisters who worshipped the earth. It felt amazing.
I’m a firm believer that when you love something you can’t help but do well at it. So not surprisingly, drama became a subject I excelled at. I got top marks for every assignment. I could not get enough of it.
The Voices of Self Doubt
After high school I went on to drama school. But I soon realised something was different. These were all people who loved acting just as much as me, but unlike my supportive class mates at high school, the tone felt much more competitive. Every time I got up in front of the group to perform, I felt 30 pairs of eyes judging me, willing me to fail. They think you’re shit, I’d tell myself. So do the tutors.You’re not good enough to be here. Try as I might to silence those negative thoughts, I could not. They just got louder and louder.
I tried to find ways of convincing myself I was good enough. I started working-out a lot and eating a lot less. Due to basic physiology I lost weight. Soon people were complimenting me, telling me I looked great. “Like a movie star!” someone said. That sounded pretty good to me, so I ate a little less and worked-out a little more.
There’s no Such Thing as Perfect
The problem was that the thinner I got the less I liked myself. It never seemed like enough. Every time I got a call from my agent about a big audition I’d start psyching myself out. Nah, you’re not thin enough for this part. They don’t want you. They want someone prettier. Someone with smaller thighs. I’d convince myself I couldn’t handle the part, that I wasn’t good enough. With all these voices in my head I’d end up so frazzled by the time I got into the audition room that I’m sure I never gave my best performance. I was too shaken to simply listen to direction and change in an instant – which, when it comes down to it is what you need to do to nail an audition.
Self-Sabotage became my life. If I had a big audition on, I’d get drunk the night before. That way I had an excuse for not doing my best. It’s because you were hungover, I’d tell myself. But you were completely wrong for the part anyway!
After performing on stage I’d judge my own performance harshly. Even though other people enjoyed watching my work, it was never good enough for me. I’d even tell myself that people were laughing at me behind my back. Eventually it all got too much and I had threw it in. I let my agent go and I got a “real job” that destroyed me from the inside out.
Getting Back on the Horse – Or Unicorn
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I decided I was ready to try again. First I got back into theatre. I loved it. I loved working with the script and playing with the other characters. I worked hard and I went easy on myself, telling myself that whatever the character became was who she was meant to be. Previously I’d got the idea that the actor shouldn’t be present at all in the character they perform. But, I now I approach it differently, working from my “self”, then building on that until it clicks.
In the car that day, on the way to my first film audition in five years, I heard those negative thoughts return, if just for a moment. In that second I remembered all of it; the years of self-doubt and self-loathing. The hours spent in the gym working out from a place of sadness, not empowerment. All that time wasted feeling not enough. Fuck that, I thought. I am done with that shit. From now on I am owning my power. From now on I will honour the awesome unicorn that I am.
We are all Unicorns!
We are all miraculous. In her 2011 Ted talk, self-help author Mel Robbins shared that according to scientists, the chances of you being born the person you are is about one in 400 trillion! Gee Whiz! So basically the person you are, the way you look, the way you think, is a one in 400 trillion miracle. You are one of a kind. A fucking mythical creature. You are a unicorn. Don’t waste your gifts.
So I guess you’re wondering, did I get the job?
Well funnily enough I did not. And I share that with no shame because what I gained was so much more valuable than a one day job for a web ad. I walked out of that audition with a spring in my step. I nailed it. I felt so good about my performance that I didn’t feel the need to beat myself up afterwards. I knew that whatever happened, I’d done my best and for once my best was good enough. The casting director told me she hoped to see me again and I got great feedback from my agent.
Sometimes enjoying the process and allowing yourself to learn from it is more important. What I learnt that day was that regardless of getting a job, not getting a job, getting published, not getting published, I am still awesome. And so are you.
What’s the Difference Between Being Bummed Out and Depressed?
When I was 20 my boyfriend broke up with me. It wasn’t a long term thing; we’d only been together for three months (!) but I was a romantic, a lover of epic proportions – though I’d never actually been in love. When Aaron pursued me, I was shocked. This cute boy, likes me? Really?
Up until this point I’d never really had a boyfriend I felt attracted to. I’d had one relationship with a boy who I soon realised I liked more as a friend. I never felt the desire to jump his bones and my heart never yearned for him. When we broke up it was unanimous. We both agreed to go our separate ways and I was sad only because it meant we probably wouldn’t hang out in a group with our friends anymore. The only pang I felt was one of: He was a nice guy, I wish I could have liked him more.
The Break-up that Bummed Me Out
So when I started dating Aaron it was different. I liked him. He was tall and handsome. He had bright green eyes, a cheeky grin and dimple in his left cheek. He made my heart flutter. On top of this he seemed to like me too. Like really like me. He’d surprise me at work – waltzing into the video store a managed – with a coffee and a pastry. Or he’d pick me up and take me out to dinner. He called me and if he missed my call he’d call me back.
That was until we slept together. As soon as things became intimate he got a bit weird. He started talking about his ex-girlfriend – she was his first love – and stopped calling as much. I know, red flag!
I didn’t read him right and instead of pulling back and giving him space I became more besotted, I wrote him poems – yes, poems. I even hid one in a seashell and snuck it into his overnight-bag for him to discover when he returned home. Like I said I was a hopeless romantic. And I was awesome. Who wouldn’t love to find a poem hidden in a seashell???
When he broke up with me over the phone late one night, I really didn’t see it coming. It hit my like a punch in the gut and I literally ran to the bathroom and threw up.
The next day at drama school I was a mess. I was a snivelling heartbroken maiden, venting my hurt to all who would listen. I couldn’t eat for days. I cried myself to sleep. I was bummed out and miserable. I was mad I’d wasted my fearless heart on him. Would I ever have the nerve to hide a poem in a seashell for someone again? But I was not depressed. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want the earth to swallow me, neither did I ponder at how other people enjoyed life. No. That black dog was yet to come.
Bummed out or Depressed?
Life can be cruel and unpredictable. It doesn’t always give us warning before it deals a nasty blow. We can be pottering through our day when suddenly we are knocked off our feet by terrible news. Sometimes, these blows can be the straw that broke the camel’s back; if we’re already fighting the slow burn of depression, it can poor petrol on the fire, igniting a full on blaze. But usually, there’s a distinct difference between being bummed out and depressed.
Being bummed out – like I was when stupid Aaron broke my heart – is a very different feeling to depression. Depression is a funny fish. It’s funny because it sneaks up on you, like an invisible cat that climbs onto your shoulder one day. You don’t notice it at first, but the cat gets fatter and fatter, until it’s practically a 250kg Bengal tiger grinding you into the dirt, growling in your ear.
A Lifelong Battle with Depression
I suffered from depression from an early age. At 10 years old, I recall a feeling of pointlessness. A bleakness about life. My parents would announce a trip to the pools and I’d smile and nod, but my heart felt heavy. What’s the point? I would think with a sigh in my heart. It’s all boring. Who even finds life fun?
As I got older, the depression was combined with one cup of obsessive thoughts and two cups of anxiety. After a session of overthinking I’d usually plummet into a pit of darkness, struggling to get out of bed in the morning in a way that’s more about hopelessness than tiredness.
Thankfully, in my case, depression came in waves. I would sink into it for a few weeks, feeling the burden of that cat become heavier and heavier, then I’d wake up one morning and the tiger would be gone. Poof. Of to chase pigeons.
When I felt better, it was as if the dark times had never been there. But over the years the dark times got more and more frequent, and that fat tiger became harder to shake off. For years I lived with depression, thinking it was just normal, that everyone had it or that it was my fault; a personality flaw.
Having a Breakdown
When I finally had a break down, there was no straw that broke the camel’s back in my case. No break up. No getting fired from a dream job or losing a loved one. For me it was as if I’d finally reached my quota of coping. As if I were a mason jar and my depression allotment had reached the brim and began to spill out.
One day I just snapped. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. The tiger was back but this time it wasn’t on my shoulders weighing me down, it was on my chest, compressing my lungs and I could not breathe. My palms dripped sweat and my muscles contracted. I had an acute panic attack that lasted six weeks. It took three weeks, meeting with my GP and my psychologist, to be prescribed medication. Then another three weeks for that medication to kick in. But once it did, my mind started to ease.
Implementing Boring Self Care
Once I was well enough, I started to do some soul searching with the help of my psychologist. What had caused my attack? Where did it come from? Before I lost my shit, I was sure that I was happy with my life. But it turned out I was far from it. I worked in a job that killed my soul; an office job, that neither paid well, made use of my talents, nor made me feel good about myself. It was simply what I thought I deserved so I’d forced myself to suck it up and get on with it.
But when I started to dig below the surface, I realised I’d been sick for a very long time. I’d been living with the tiger for so long that I’d started to think it was part of me. In those brief times the tiger climbed off me, he just been at my feet, waiting. I hadn’t been practicing self-care and I‘d forced myself to live without the things that make my heart sing – like writing, singing, acting, creating and moving my body.
Now, after having two kids and fighting Post Natal Depression with both of them, I have learnt to keep a pretty strict Boring Self-Care regime. I try to get as much sleep as my kids allow; eight hours being ideal. I exercise at least four days a week and do my best not to leave it more than three or I start to feel down. I eat as well as I can, listening to my body, and noticing that sugar, while good at the time, makes me feel irritable and depressed. I sing as often as I can – which is known to release oxytocin – and I write daily.
Making Sure Bummed Out Doesn’t Turn into Depression
Keeping a few simple things in check helps me. It means that when life throws me a curly one – and inevitably life does – I can cope. While I may stomp and cry and throw my toys, feeling totally bummed out, I can feel in my heart that I am not depressed. I can feel that I don’t want to die; on the contrary, I want to live and this damn roadblock (whatever it may be) is getting in the way of that!
When the blows come I give myself a pep talk. I hold myself tight and say: This is really shit, but as shit as it is, we can get through this. There is no tiger on our shoulders. Life is amazing! So let’s find a way through this challenge and get back to living!
Struggling with Depression?
If you’re not sure whether you’re bummed out or depressed but just feel generally meh all day every day, I’d say it’s time to head to your GP for a chat. There’s also a checklist here that can help.
Being a woman/mother/lover/maid/CEO, can be hard dear unicorns, but life is too short to tolerate feeling less than awesome. If you are struggling, seek help. You are worth it. You are a God Damn Magical Unicorn and you deserve to be happy.
Need Help? Please speak out:
LifeLine: 0800 543 354
Suicide Prevention Helpline: 0508 828 865
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team: 0800 745 477
Neophobia: Do You Have a Fear of Starting New Things?
Confession time: I am starting something new and I am afraid.
I’ve been wanting to start my own website for a while but something always held me back. To be more specific and little more honest, those things were self-doubt, my inner critic and a flawed belief that I am weird and no one would be interested in a website about living life as a spiritual unicorn.
The Madisons and Lady Luck: Conversations with Creative New Zealand Women
When I created The Madisons with my bestie Mariana, it was intended as a place we could write what we wanted. We’d share whatever was on our minds be it memoir or satire. But mostly it was simply light content that made people laugh.
It wasn’t long until we were contacted by creative women and women in business who were interested in working with us. So we interviewed them. As we met more and more of these awesome women we started to realise that there was a pattern emerging. All of these creative women were following their hearts. They felt called to spend their life doing this work. It was a compulsion that enviably became their life whether they had wanted it or not. Most of them created to live and lived to create. All of them felt guilty in some way for dedicating their lives to their creativity. Once we discovered this we just knew we had to write a book. Thus Lady Luck: Conversations with Creative New Zealand Women was published.
Writing: My Saviour and Sanctuary
During this time I was going through a process. I was in the throes of post-natal depression with my youngest son when we launched the blog and writing became my saviour and my sanctuary. At night, after a full day with two young kids, I’d sit at my computer and write something. Anything. As long as it had nothing at all to do with parenting and children. I wrote about vaginas and nipples. I wrote about poo and tunnels and pubic hair. With every sentence I typed out I felt my mind clear a little. Just enough for me to see that there really was a person underneath the all layers of baby chuck and kid slobber.
Failed English Student Cum Paid Writer
Having failed high school English, I never in my life thought I’d be able to write. But it turned out I loved writing and people loved reading what I wrote. Back in high school, I’d bomb assignments due to a failure to read the instructions and a tendency to self-sabotage by leaving things to the last minute. But at the time I wasn’t aware of any of this. I just though it meant that I sucked, that I wasn’t very smart and could never hope to be. But here I was, 15 years later, spending every spare minute writing and getting paid for it! I loved it second only to my family (and if I’m being really honest maybe sometimes a tiny bit more).
But the voices of self-doubt were still there, muttering their less-than-sweet nothings in my ears. I knew that if I wanted to do this, if I wanted to spend my life as a writer, I would need to conquer them. I’d need to embark on a journey through my inner world. I would need to go deep and get to bottom of why my self-esteem was not as it should be. I’d also need to un-learn a lot of false self-beliefs. Things like: Nothing good ever comes of anything you do, you’ll fail and people will laugh, you’ll get stuck with something and give up, or don’t bother trying if you can’t be perfect.
Damaging Self Beliefs Can Prevent us From Trying New Things
All of these beliefs can be so damaging when you’re wanting to try something new. It’s our mind’s way of protecting us from shame, embarrassment or disappointment. But as Eleanore Roosevelt said: “You gain courage and confidence from doing the things you think you cannot do.”
As I learned more and more about the self – the inner critic, self-doubt and self-sabotage – I realised just how brutal the creative process can be and how important inner strength is. I felt called to create a space where I could share my findings and offer advice for others who were striving to live their best life. I felt like The Madisons wasn’t the space for it, that something like this needed its own realm to grow and bloom and evolve! Enter Full Time Unicorn Dot Com!
Full Time Unicorn
So I got to work designing my site, making it look beautiful. I worked day and night for a week to get my head around WordPress and web hosting and all that jazz. Once it was done, I sat back and marvelled at it. And then I did nothing.
I had no idea where to begin! What do I write about? Where do I even start? I had this whole web page free to fill with my musings and I had no idea what to say. I started to panic. Did I even have anything to say in the first place? Cue imposter syndrome!
It reminds me of the lyrics to this song by The White Stripes:
Well you’re in your little room
And you’re working on something good
But if it’s really good
You’re gonna need a bigger room
And when you’re in the bigger room
You might not know what to do
You might have to think of
How you got started sitting in your little room
Remembering how I got Started
So that’s what I did. I took a step back and took a breath. Why did I want to start this site? I asked myself.
I wanted to start this site because I wanted a space to be a truthful and spiritual and as woo-woo as I pleased. I wanted to create a dedicated world of woo-woo, full of crystals and tarot and meditation and manifesting methods, as well as tricks to help others open their mind and start truly living life, doing what they love!
My Woo-Woo Shame
The truth is that for so long I’d felt a little ashamed of being a bit “woo-woo”. I felt like I needed to apologise for being me; for pulling a tarot card every morning, for keeping an altar next to my bed and honouring the moon’s cycles. I felt a like I had to laugh after I said something about astrology or attributed anything to a planetary retrograde. But you know what? Fuck that. I am woo-woo. I LOVE woo-woo!
I worship nature and light candles to manifest things into my life. I say affirmations into the mirror most days and sage and santo my house on a regular basis. I honour the god and goddess. I practice feng-shui and draw runes on my front door step. I look for signs and synchronicities ‘ever I go. My kids know not to step inside a toadstool ring because it’s just common knowledge that they’re faery traps. For goddess sakes, I steam my vagina and practice spiritual bathing! As far as woo-woo goes, I think we’ve officially crossed that bridge to Terabithia don’t you?
Confession time: I am as woo-woo as they come and you know what? I’m not sorry about it. And you shouldn’t be either. Be yourself, unabashedly. Apologise to no one. You are a fucking unicorn.
Neophobia is defined as: An abnormally persistent fear of new things. My neophobia has lessened over the years and a large part of that process came down to simply doing the things that triggered the fear. I learnt ways to work through the panic attacks. I pushed through the fear and found a way to “just do it”. The thing about having a fear of starting new things is that once you’ve actually started them, they’re not new anymore!