That is a slogan coined at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that made it's way to me a while ago and I find it repeats on me when depression gives me small gifts of gratitude, as it often does. I don't know if everyone is this way but I find my best healing moments are when something small happens and it surprises me with how much I am moved by it.
I pass through that moment thankful I did whatever it took to experience it and it becomes my jet-fuel.
Yesterday was a bad day. I was feeling lonely and that is an emotion I have a lot of trouble admitting to and saying out loud. I think I am able to be alone better than most people I know, I think I even need to be alone more than a lot of people, but that doesn't mean I don't travel in and out of lonely feelings from time to time. I don't think it matters who you are, lonely is hard.
I'm not sure exactly why but I haven't been to a weekly Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) meeting for three weeks, after having gone regularly for about six weeks. Yesterday was not my usual meeting night, but feeling lonely meant I went to a different meeting at a different location to just plain get out and do something.
There is something very comforting about peer support and the healing mantra of hearing other people tell their stories of conquering and struggling with the same troubles you have. The “you are not alone” saying might get tired sometimes, but in the next moment it is exactly the reminder I need to feel so much better.
Today I took another little dare and went back to somewhere I haven't been for a couple of years now. I went to the Shirley E. Greenberg Resource Centre for Women at the Royal Ottawa Hospital (ROH).
The ROH was hard for me to go to in 2010 when I was attending the Anxiety and Mood Disorders Centre following my breakdown. Occasionally, I would see a working police officer there who would greet me and I thought might have wondered why I was there in my street clothes.
Going public about my challenges with depression has certainly put a bit of hid on my concerns about running into colleagues there, but I admit that stigma still makes entering the front doors of a dedicated mental health hospital hard for me.
So today, I decided to challenge my own stigma and I bought a coffee and a piece of zucchini loaf for a little self-induced exposure therapy. I sat in the open courtyard on the second floor with the intention to just sit and observe awhile.
It didn't take me long to appreciate how the glass ceiling of the building means the space is flooded with natural light. It was nice and added to enjoying baked goods made from scratch by hospital volunteers and really good coffee. As I looked around, unhurried people were sitting together on couches and at tables just talking and laughing like people everywhere do.
As I relaxed further I noticed that butterflies - symbols of transformation - are everywhere. There are colored ones on the floors to follow and navigate you around the way colored lines in other hospitals do. They appear as a logo in ROH room name signs, they are in art hanging on the walls and are added to announcement posters. Some staff and volunteers also wear butterflies with their name tags.
I finished my coffee and went into the Women's Centre which is set up to be a lounge. I went there today for event and activity information. Once inside, I sat with two women for nearly an hour. We talked and even joked about the struggles of mental health. And for awhile, one was not bipolar and 72, the other was not addiction and 31 and I was not depression and 50; we were just women. When our visit ended and I was leaving, I realized that as much as we connected - we didn't get each others' name!
Brenda... girl!... get over yourself!