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

 

L is for Love, Pt. I

Love, is a choice.

And when we choose to love someone, we are choosing to freely give another person our heart.

The question I have been asking myself lately is: “how did I have the courage to give another person my heart, but yet he did not have the courage to give me his in return?”

So if you’re wondering–yes, I recently had my heart broken. I’ve been conflicted within myself about whether or not this was a wise choice for my third post. Is it too soon? Is it too deep? Is it too personal? It may be all of those things to some of my readers, but I decided that in order for me to heal my heart’s broken pieces, I have to talk about it.

The question you’re most likely asking now is “what happened, Anaston?” For the sake of maintaining some level of privacy I will refrain from going into too much detail, & just say this…I thought I met the true love of my life, the last few months were great & I was happy, & then one day all communication ceased. No, I don’t know why. I was given no reason, no explanation. No, nothing bad happened prior to. No, there were no signs. Weird, huh? I’m still waiting for a camera crew to come out & tell me I’ve been punked. 

I know these days it sounds rather cliché to say “I thought I met the true love of my life” & you may wonder how I came to that conclusion, but I just knew. Before all of the things happened that you do when you date a person occurred, I already knew. It was a new feeling for me, & it scared me at first, but I was elated that I found (or so I thought) the person I was supposed to walk through life with.

So my initial reaction, once I got over the immense confusion & disappointment, was to blame myself. There must have been something that I did wrong. For about a week, I blamed myself & picked apart the pieces of my entire being that I thought caused this to happen. Then, I started replaying memories & conversations trying to find the signs that I obviously missed. I came up empty-handed both times, & all I was left with was a fist full of tears.

It would have been much easier for me to be an angry, bitter, black woman on an “all men are dogs” rampage. But I’m not. Even after my first heartbreak (which happened in college), I wasn’t. And even with this being my second, I still love, love. My heart is big, & when I love, I love hard. I think that’s okay. Even though this has been difficult to deal with, deep down I am thankful for the privilege & experience. I am thankful that I was given the chance to give love to another person, contribute positively to his life, & be shown that (despite the ending) good men do exist. I was given effort that matched mine, & someone who made me laugh like it was another language. It was a blessing, & I will learn from the experience.

My dating life has not been the best, honestly. But I guess the plus side is that it has never been dull. I’ve only been in two “official” relationships in my adult life, & obviously neither one has worked out in my favor. I’ve also found myself in a series of situation-ships that never quite make it to a relationship. Throughout each relationship (even the situation-ships are literal relationships) I have had to decide what I value in a partner. There are times when I have settled just to have someone. There were times when I stayed in a “relationship” way too long & allowed myself to be abused, misused, disrespected, & taken for granted. There were times when I embarrassed myself, disrespected myself, & even lashed out physically. It has taken a lot of self-reflection & prayer to get me to a place where I am okay with my “exes” & the relationships I had with them. I am not ashamed, & I have learned so much, that I believe will make me a great wife one day.

Have you ever had your heart-broken? What did you do to pick up the pieces? We all go through different kinds of heart breaks, & it is important that we put our hearts back together again. It is so easy to let the loss change you in a way that does not serve you. It is easy to become angry, bitter, resentful, but the only person you are hurting is you. You have to let it hurt for a little while & then start the healing process. Ask God to heal whats been hurt & to give you the strength to remain open. Don’t give up on love, or let the world we live in convince you that it’s not out there. It is, & it will find you. Stay the course.

“I have been hurt so bad and I still love so hard. I admire my heart for that.”  x Alex Elle

 

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