Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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If I could punch a hole in the darkness of depression.

You are not alone copyI had something else planned for today’s post.

Expect the unexpected and you will not be disappointed.

A woman sent me a tweet with a link to a video she created to raise awareness of eating disorders and to inspire people in their recovery journey of breaking free from ED.

Lilac Sheer uses song, animation and her own story of recovery from ED to drive home an important message — There is another path. There is help. You are not alone.

And in her note I was reminded. I am not alone.

There are no coincidences. I needed to hear Lilac’s words. I needed to see through the darkness of my fear to the light of hope always present in our human connection.

Yesterday I had a conversation with someone trapped in the darkness of depression’s cloying mass. I wanted to cry. To scream. To punch out the darkness so the light could get through to them. I wanted to run after them and pull on their arms and force them to turn around. I wanted to shout at them so they could hear me. Don’t go so deep. Don’t take that path. Look. Come this way. Here is the light. Here is love waiting to embrace you.

But I am not that powerful. I cannot punch holes into the darkness consuming another’s mind and being. I cannot make someone hear my words when darkness is blocking out all sound of Love, hope, and joy.

I can only hold space in the light of my heart so that where our space connects, it is only Love they feel between us even when it is love they most fear.

I can listen with a loving heart. Hear with loving ears. Speak with loving words.

I cannot change another’s path. I can illuminate my path to shine fiercely, brightly, lovingly. I can shine my light into the darkness so that they do not feel so all alone, so scared and small.

And I can let them know, as Lilac Sheer did for me, you are not alone in the darkness. I will stand with you. I will hold space for you. I will be with you. Fierce. Loving. Radiating with the light of hope that beyond the darkness you will feel and see and know the light entering on your next breath and the next. So that no matter how deep the darkness feels you know deeper within you, deeper than the darkness — Love is always present. Love is always with you.

I may not be able to punch holes into the darkness, but I can hold space for the light to shine through. Always.

Please take the time to watch Lilac Sheer’s amazing video animated by the very talented Natalie Biegaj.

Punch a hole into the darkness — Like it. Share it. Let those trapped in depression’s cloak of darkness or struggling to free themselves from ED’s killing embrace know, they are not alone. None of us are.


 


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She’s Back!

For an entire year, my eldest daughter wrote a blog about recovering from an eating disorder.

Alexis did more than survive. She grew. She challenged. She stretched and pushed and drilled down into her roots and dragged out the things that were not working in her psyche and brushed off the dirt and shone up her soul. As the title, How I Survived Myself, suggests, it was more than just the stories of ‘me and my eating disorder’. Alexis writes about how she got through the stories she told herself about why she was/felt the ways she did to discover there was more to her story than the story of an eating disorder and a past that wasn’t working for her anymore.

Alexis is courageous. She is relentless in her desire to live life on the other side of fear, out in the bright clear air of harmony, serenity and joy, in that place where miracles happen on every breath and wonder abounds.

She is also honest. Breathtakingly so.

She hasn’t written on her blog for awhile, so on  Monday night when she called to tell me she had written another post, I was delighted. I know the power of ‘writing it out’. I know the grace of finding yourself on the page. I know how the words let go are the ones that lead to discovering the real story of your life. The one you choose to create after you let go of the one you’ve been telling to keep yourself playing small.

She’s Back!

Alexis blog post… And We’re Back.

And…we’re back.

In showbiz, as it’s sometimes referred to, these words signify the beginning of rehearsal after a break or hiatus. At the sound of the phrase, the company’s members immediately drop all other conversation and activity, the outside world all but vanishes, and the work resumes again.

I say the words now, because it’s the only way I know how to begin.

I’ll be honest, (’cause that’s what I generally try to be here) over the course of these past few months I’ve been on a recess from myself.

I’ve let the world outside steal my thunder, rain on my parade, and pull me away from all that matters.  

I’ve allowed myself into meaningless conversations (mostly in my own head), played a victim, and thrown an epic pity party for myself because life wasn’t going as planned.

After weeks on end of sitting in the epic pile of shit I’d created (though I would have told you then I wasn’t in it of my own volition) I found myself in a precarious circumstance: Was I going to keep on getting sucked in to my make-believe stories and backwards thinking, or was I going to let go and start to live again?

Now I’m not saying that that shit I was sitting in wasn’t real. Because in the grips of a depressive episode, the hurt feels about as real as it gets.   Keep reading!…


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National Depression Screening Day

Today is National Depression Screening Day. The team at the Calgary Counselling Centre where I am working as the Interim Director of Communications has been working hard over the past few weeks to have everything ready for today’s events.

The test is live. It’s fast. Easy and anonymous. Anyone can take it. Everyone should. If only to know they are not at risk of depression. And if they are, to inform themselves so that they can do something about it.

Untreated, depression can kill. One in five Canadians will suffer a depressive episode and only 20% will seek treatment. Untreated, no matter how mild it begins, depression can deepen and in its deepening, you can sink below the ‘healthy’ state of being into that place where the only way out appears as the option no one should ever take. Suicide.

I know a lot about suicidal thinking. For much of the 4 years 9 months that I was in that relationship from hell, I wanted to die. I wanted to erase my presence from earth, erase all memory of my passing through this world from the minds of those I love. I did not want my journey to be one of pain and wanted to do everything I could to take away the pain I had caused my daughters, family, friends. And the only way I thought I could do that was to take my own life.

I am grateful today that I never did it. At the time, not doing it wasn’t through lack of ruminating on ways of doing it or imagining the release of my pain if I did. I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to. My not doing it was because I was too scared that if I did, my daughters would take it to mean I didn’t love them. And I didn’t want them to live with that belief. Because in that belief is the seed of the idea that they were to blame for my not loving them which would in cascade into the nullifying belief that they were unlovable. And that was too painful for me to conceive of. I couldn’t do it to them. I couldn’t leave them with that belief.

And so, instead, I disappeared in the hopes they would forget about me.

Isn’t life amazing?

From the deepest darkest pockets of my despair has grown this incredible life of joy and love and passion.

Taking care of our mental health is important.

And it can begin with a simple test that will give each of us a benchmark on where we’re at in our emotional well-being today.

At the Centre’s website today, Craig Lester has written a powerful blog about his journey through depression. Two years ago, he didn’t know why he was feeling so negative and despairing until he took the test last year. Now, Craig is filled with life. He has dreams and is working to make them real. And, he’s speaking out.

You can too.

Speak. Speak out. You make a difference.

Every 40 seconds, somewhere in the world someone takes their own life.

From my own experience of having been in that place where suicide felt like the only way out, I know how challenging it is to speak up FOR life. My voice had become so silent, my being present in this world so still, I did not believe I had the capacity to speak up or move from that dark tunnel of fear I inhabited.

Now I know I can. And in my speaking up I want everyone to know, no matter how dark the moment, how deep their despair, there is help. Reach for it. There are hands waiting to reach back.

Even when you feel no one will be there. Even when you tell yourself there is no point, it’s futile, no one’s listening, watching, caring. Reach out. You don’t have to speak. You don’t have to say a word. Just reach. And keep reaching. Keep moving into and through the fear all is lost. Keep reaching for the phone to call the Distress Centre. Keep reaching for the hand next to yours. Keep reaching out of yourself into the world around you.

Today is National Depression Screening Day. Please take the test and tell everyone you know about it. You could help save a life.