Hello, My Name is Anaston…

 

…& I am not depressed. I simply experience depression. There is a difference, & here’s why.

I recently watched a video on Facebook, posted by a gentleman named “Prince Ea“, where he talks about this concept “you are not depressed“. He said that what he was about to explain would change the life of the person viewing the video, & he was actually right.

He describes the person as the sky & depression as a passing cloud. Clouds come & go, but the sky is permanent–it lasts forever. Clouds always come & go, because they are not the sky. If clouds were the sky, when they “went” the sky would too. So if I am the sky, that means that I am always here. Depression, as the cloud, is something that comes & goes, but is not always here forever. The cloud may be frequent or rather large, but the fact still remains that it always goes…and as something that is always here, I am greater than anything that comes & goes. (It’s a short video, but definitely enlightening, so I recommend that you look him up on FB and watch it!)

Prior to watching this video, I recall conversations with close friends & family about how I was depressed or feeling like I was falling back into my depression. Sometimes I would wake up in the morning on a “down day” & think to myself: “Today, I am depressed.” By starting my “down days” that way, I was affirming so much negativity & it would follow me, like a cloud, throughout the duration of my day. Over time, this pattern caused the depression I was experiencing to follow me not just through my days, but through my life. Because I claimed it I became attached to it, & for a while it was all that I was.

After watching this video I have realized how important the things I identify with are. I no longer identify with depression. I have accepted that it is something that I have experience with, but I realize that doesn’t mean it has to be my entire being. It is not my story–it is simply one of many chapters in the book. 

Everyone experiences depression differently. My experience may be very similar or dissimilar to your own, & that’s okay. I am not a spokesperson for all things depression–I am simply sharing my walk with it & the self-care practices that have helped me along the way. For me, changing my mindset has helped tremendously. Because I can separate depression from who I am, I am able to get through the “down days” better & have hope that the happier days will return. 

I am no longer ashamed that I have experienced depression, though others have tried to shame me & call me crazy. I am not, & have never been crazy. Depression does not automatically mean you are crazy. It means you are human & sometimes life is challenging for you. I challenge you to Google the word “crazy” & refrain from using it to describe people just because they experience depression.

Mental health awareness is something that is very important to me, & I am so glad that more people are starting to talk about it. Working through my challenges & learning why they occur has allowed me to love myself fully. My experiences have made be a better person, a stronger person, & I believe they were all necessary for my journey. 

Do you currently identify yourself with depression? If so, I want you to watch that video & make this the last day where you lay claim to depression. Make an effort to separate what you experience from what you are or who you are, & I know that you will see a positive change in your life. There are many ways to go about ensuring this separation, one being that you can name the depression you experience. I’ve heard it works for some people, so if you try it, let me know! You can also develop a mantra or a daily affirmation to remind yourself that you are not your depression.

P.S–It is also equally important to know what it is you are dealing with. Please do not accept a diagnosis that you are unsure of. I honestly self-diagnosed myself when I first noticed the signs of depression, but within the last month or so it became extremely important for me to be evaluated & learn exactly what I was dealing with. There are therapists that conduct assessments/evaluations, which are separate from therapy if you’re not interested in that. So I do highly suggest that you consider having an assessment done to learn what is affecting you. Once you know, it will be much easier to deal. 

 

“Remember, sadness is always temporary. This, too, shall pass.” x Anonymous

 

Wait on God.

 

On Wednesday I went to a new church, expecting to attend a Bible Study service. To my surprise when I arrived, it was actually Day 3 of Vacation Bible School. I decided to stay though, & see what the message for the night was about.

The Pastor of the church put everyone in small groups and asked each of us to discuss a time when we waited on God and blessings followed. We were supposed to think about David’s story & reflect on the similarities of his experiences to our own. I, of course, was nervous because I did not know any of the people in my group, let alone anyone at the church. Fortunately, the women I was paired with were very welcoming & social.

Two of the women in my group shared their testimonies. One told us about how she struggled figuring out her career path. The end result, after some time passed etc., was that she found her calling in counseling. She is now happy in her career and believes she is doing the work God called her to do. The other told us about her car breaking down, being without a car & having to ride the bus. She talked about saving & after some time passed being able to purchase a new one. Both stories showed how important it is to wait on God in all areas of your life.  When it was my turn, I smiled & said I didn’t have a particular situation in mind & that their stories were great to share with the other church members. I kept thinking to myself “When have I really waited on God?”  

Later that night once I got settled in at home, I began to think about why I didn’t feel like I had a testimony. I realized that I actually did have a few, & one deals with this blog.

I had a blog in high school that I maintained until my first or second year of college. It was a tumblr, so the content really wasn’t focused on one area. I honestly did not have much of a vision for it. So after I completely lost interest (& prepared to begin law school) I deleted the blog & went on my way. For the last year or so, I had been thinking about starting a blog again but was unsure how or what my niche would be. So…I waited. I spent time thinking about what my purpose would be, what content I would want to share, etc. I researched hosts and started reading other bloggers’ content. My sister, Alexandria, launched her blog, which gave me the push to finally relaunch my own. So I did, & here we are today.

This blog has been a blessing for me already in more ways than one. I have received more positive feedback & support from my loved ones & family than I ever imagined. More people have opened up to me about their stories & battles, which solidifies that this is something I have to do. We have to start having the conversations that make us uncomfortable, educate ourselves about the things we don’t know, & accept the things society tells us we should be ashamed of. I hope that my blog gets us moving in the right direction & that I can change some of the misconceptions about self-care, depression, anxiety, etc.

Imagine if I had started my blog too soon…I may not have followed through with it or even conveyed the right messages. By doing what didn’t feel like waiting at the time, God was creating a blessing for me that I could only imagine. I was able to prepare myself & launch the blog when I was ready, not just when it seemed like a good idea. 

Notice that during my wait, I was able to prepare myself. Simply waiting is not enough. You must also be productive during your wait. Seek out God & ask Him what He wants you do to. Work on the things within yourself that you want to grow or change. Have faith in Him & be confident in your abilities. Write out a vision and set goals. Be intentional with what it is you are asking Him for, so that when He blesses you, you are as ready as you can be. 

Are you waiting on God for something?  I don’t think there is anything wrong with waiting. It is important to be patient, but you have to decide what to do while you wait. Pray and ask God for your blessing, & make sure that you are also preparing yourself for that blessing to come to fruition. Speak the blessing into existence! Claim it as yours, & God will make sure everything you deserve & more is yours for the taking. When we wait on God instead of looking for that instant gratification, I think the blessings are that much better & we appreciate them just a little bit more. 

 

 

“A (wo)man who is the master of patience is master of everything else.” -George Savile

Authentically, Anaston.

Over the last few years, I have been taking steps to live an authentic life.

Looking back on my childhood/middle school experience (& probably even some high school & college years) I tried to hide parts of myself out of fear of what others would think of me. In elementary school, I was teased because I have big lips. My head was big, I was small, and here I was with big lips to top it off. I remember my first grade teacher sat my entire class down & told them how they would all regret not having lips like mine & how people got surgery to get them (we see how that trend has progressed, right?). Even though I was young, I think that was my first introduction to the lesson: it is important to be proud of everything that relates to who you are.

So what does it mean to be authentic, exactly? Well, according to Merriam Webster, it means:

  • Real or genuine : not copied or false
  • True and accurate

Hiding parts of myself to make others feel comfortable cost me a lot, & it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college where I first began my battle with depression (I didn’t recognize that I was experiencing depression at that time, but years later I believe some of my experiences that year triggered it) that I realized just how much. The trade-off for trying to make others comfortable was that I was uncomfortable. I was insecure, anxious, & I often felt alone & misunderstood. 

Once I realized what I was doing to myself, I began taking small steps to ensure that first, I was comfortable with me; & second, that I was able to just be myself, no matter who I was around.

So here we are today–I’m 23 years old, & I am still on my “authentic journey”. I’m still figuring out the ins & outs of Anaston & still learning that its okay to be transparent about who I am. This blog is a way for me to be transparent. Those who cannot accept me or handle the things that come with me will lose out on me, & that is something that is out of my control.

As I am progressing on this authentic-self journey, I try to remind myself to focus only on me & the talents God gave me. I stay in my own lane. In a society that is full of IG models, lifestyle bloggers, & fashionistas, it’s easy to want to change things about yourself to fit in with other people. It’s also easy to get discouraged when you see other people doing things you are doing or want to do. The reality is, there will always be someone better. There will always be someone doing something similar. But what sets you apart, is you. God made one you, & anything you do will be special because of who you are. 

I’ve also learned to not let people convince me that I need to change things about myself. Although I am a flawed person, I try to not let negative opinions about my personality sway me. If there is something that I really need to work on, I know exactly Who to turn to & how to do the work. For example, most people suggest that I am too outspoken. I tend to be the person that talks about things others are too afraid to, & over time, I have realized that I have to own it. I remember sitting in chapter meetings in undergrad., being the person who would say the things no one else wanted to, & feeling like sometimes I said too much…but I later realized that I actually gained respect from my sisters because I spoke up. As long as I am respectful & cognizant of the things I say, I see being outspoken as a huge asset. If everyone is too reserved to say the things that need to be said, do you know how many people’s stories will never be told? 

So what can you do to start living your life as your authentic self? I think the first step is to “have a little talk with Jesus”. God created you to be exactly who you are & He makes no mistakes. Whatever & whoever you are came from Him, so why not turn to him first when it comes to you? Are there things about yourself that confuse you? Ask God about them. Are there things you want to change? Tell God about those, too. Once you’ve consulted Him, it will become much easier, but it takes practice every day. The next thing you can do is be honest with yourself. If you can’t be honest with your star player, then it will definitely be hard to be honest with other people. Once you’re honest, just accept who you are & be open to growing as a human being. Before you know it, you’ll be living your life as your true, authentic self.

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” -Nelson Mandela