Hey, hey, hey! Welcome to Souls Undressed. This is episode 008 + I'm your host, Tori Rankovich. Today, we are diving into the topic of depression + I am very excited to dive into this because I've chosen to go about this episode in a different way or in a similar way that I have to past episodes, but in a different light + to a deeper extent.
I do want to say before we get any further, just as I've said in past episodes, I am not a mental health professional. I can only ever speak to you from the experience of myself + from the experiences of others who have submitted their thoughts to me with the understanding that I am going to be talking about them in this episode or in future episodes. I believe that they, as well as I, have done so to create some conversations about the ways that everyday people are feeling so that listeners can really
A. know they are not alone
B. get a better understanding for a fuller picture of what depression is than they may have previously had
+ understand that there is a community of a whole variety of walks of life who deal with the fallout, deal with the after effects, the complete emotional turmoil sometimes that comes with mental health struggles, depression, anxiety, things of those sorts.
Today's episode is going to dive into depression specifically + like I had started to say at the beginning, I went about creating this episode a bit differently. I knew I wanted to do some group research because because depression is so different from person to person. It manifests itself differently, it looks different from household to household, human to human + in my opinion, it is a spectrum disorder, it is a spectrum feeling + experience. Even if you have never heard it referred to as that, that's what it is in my experience + what I have seen + dealt with in my own personal life. I say that because not only do my experiences + the intensity of my experiences range and differ from other people that I know, it also differs + ranges from myself, from bout to bout of different depressive episodes or feelings. They range in intensity depending on what's going on in my life, they range in intensity depending on how well I am taking care of myself, what my workload looks like, what my personal life looks like whether it be with family, with friends, etc. It just looks so different all the time. That was one of the reasons that drove me towards wanting to create this episode is I think that there are so many times that peoples' struggles are overlooked by themselves + by others because they think that their struggles are "lesser than" other people that they know or they are less deserving of care, time, space, love, or treatment than other people that they know because their depression manifests itself differently, whether it be physically or mentally + emotionally.
Because the variety of emotions + physical feelings + manifestations of depression or those depressive bouts, I've decided to share what it looks like + feels like for me + then also, like I said, those of people who have submitted their own experiences on Instagram. I will make sure that you know when I am sharing my own experiences + when I'm sharing the experiences of others. The way I have written my notes + also at the end of everyone else's' experiences I have also included some more ways that I feel those lows or those feelings of sadness or emptiness or longing for any sort of feeling at all.
Before we dive into today's quote, I have to give a major shoutout to my transcriber + podcast assistant, Maggie for introducing me to the author of the poetry that I will be referencing. I believe it is all of the poetry I will be referencing today because this woman, Hannah Blum is complete magic. I hope that you'll find her on Instagram. I will make sure that she is tagged in the quote when I share it. Without further ado, Hannah's poem called, My Child in Me.
"When I feel lost, I visit myself as a child.
I say to her, sweet soul, you are pure, you are kind, just born with a different mind.
Do not be sad, this mind does not make you bad.
It gives you power.
It's from this place that you'll bloom like a flower.
Storms will come your way, but it will all be okay and one day you'll see that broken is where you'll finally be free.
Sweet soul, you are never alone and I will tell you a secret.
It is in lost, you find a home." - Hannah Blum
This quote in particular resonates so hard with me because I remember growing up + just having so many feelings. I remember sitting in my bedroom, by myself because I was so overwhelmed emotionally. I would just sit there, with my legs curled up to me, arms wrapped around them, resting my chin on my knees or resting my cheeks on my knees + just being so overwhelmed with the amount of emotion that I had + the amount of feeling in my chest that I had + I could always tell that I felt more + experienced more feelings at a deeper level than a lot of people my age + sometimes I even noticed I was feeling those things deeper than humans older than me. I think as a kid is just kind of shocking at first because you think adults just have it figured out all the time, but I love the way that Hannah addresses her younger self here + the way it really acknowledges the fact that when we have those feelings of depression, we have those inward, deep, sad emotions, often times there is an inner voice + especially after hearing it from my therapist, it is hard not to think of that voice as your inner child, who is just voicing your needs + vocalizing what it is that you're missing or what you're lacking or what you could really benefit from partaking in or experiencing or doing for yourself.
Another quote by Hannah,
"The person you believe you should be is no where as beautiful as the person you are."
Then, these are the words that Hannah wrote below her poetry + these hit me just as hard as her poem, so I wanted to share those, too.
"My moment of peace came when I stopped running toward the person I believed I was supposed to be. The one without a mental illness. The one who is completely put together + fixed + started my journey to the person that I was always meant to be, me. The best you, is always the present you, regardless of your circumstances, regardless of if you're high or low, you have pockets full or dry, the best you is reading this line. This is the truth about broken."
I adore that quote. I think that it really hit me where I was when I decided that this episode really needed to come to fruition. I avoided recording it when I was in my depressive, emotional low. I thought that I would just talk + talk + talk if I was speaking straight from that place of rough emotion. Without further ado, let's just dive right into episode 008 on depression.
Let's talk about depression, baby:
So, what does depression look like for me? Your host, Tori Rankovich.
I'm going to bring it back a little bit to when I really became aware of my feelings kind of diving toward that word, "depression," that we hear, but that we never know whether it applies to us or not. I think that we often doubt ourselves when we feel things that are intense or maybe steer away from the "norm". For me, I really noticed it in college. I was going through quite a few different big life changes in college, which I will kind of go into a little bit because I think it is important to recognize the different things that can trigger these "lows" or these "shifts" in our head spaces.
So, my Junior year of high school is when my brother passed away, second semester, + then the following, I dated a guy about 2 or 3 months after my brother died, who was just very toxic. He had been through a lot of emotional trauma + life trauma of his own + had never been given any help for coping with that or processing through his feelings + emotions for that, so really, we were just two broken kids trying to fill a bunch of gaps with each other. It was just a very intense relationship. It happened really, really quickly. We both dove head first against all signs that we should not. It was intense emotionally + then got mentally + emotionally abusive. There were a lot of head games. After I finally got out of that relationship, it was on + off for about a year, I wasn't going to therapy or anything yet. He, the guy, wasn't going to therapy, either. He then joined the military, which I think then completely multiplied his pain + suffering + trauma, so that was a shit-show to say the least. Right after that, I was in a head space of "band-aiding," "band-aiding," "band-aiding," for sure.
I met my now husband the following year after that, in the spring. I was enrolled at Illinois State University about an hour-ish away from where I live now + about two weeks before I left for college, my mom, my step-dad + my step-brother moved away to Florida. At the time it happened, initially, it was not something that I thought was going to really affect me, but if you have lost someone in your life, you know that the first year-three years after you lose them are usually the toughest. In your head, you go through a lot of thinking you've conquered all of these emotions + then realizing you're not shit + then thinking you're good again + then realizing you're still heartbroken. There are a lot of back-and-forth things like that.
That was just a tough year in general. Then, my mom, my step-dad + my step-brother moved away, a 13-15 hour drive away, + that was two weeks before I moved away to school, So, I went to college + I feel like college is either a really, really amazing time in life or it is a really rough time for people. I think that it can be rough for a variety of reasons, but I think honestly, in my opinion, usually if it is really rough, it's probably because there is a lot of exploration of yourself going on whether it be your mental health issues coming to the surface because you aren't around the people you've always had to "numb" or "distract" with, or whether it is weight + you don't do well with that or whether it is drinking often + falling into an addictive behavior with drinking or drugs, whether you're starting those drugs because you like partying or you're starting them to keep up with your workload.
There are so many different things that fall into place in college that weren't previously factors in your life. For me, it was being away from my support system, AKA what I distracted myself with, it was my diet changing pretty drastically + starting to see different intolerances + things like that popping up, my anxiety completely skyrocketed. I think when you have anxiety + you don't know what it is, or how to process it, or how to handle it or cope with it, it then leads to these feelings of emptiness + the deeper lows after the anxious highs. So, I think that that's kind of for me, where the depression + anxiety started setting in together. For me in college, depression looked like feeling out of place always, no matter what was going on, no matter who I was around, no matter what building I was in, whether it was classes, parties, out to eat with friends, I just always felt like I was out of place. I was sad often, which like I said, I was going through a lot of changes + going through a lot of "forced acceptance." That kind of played into it. It also looked like wanting to quit school a lot. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. When I look back, I was very unhappy. So, that's what it looked like for me in college.
Post-college, I started teaching right away + it was interesting for me to see the way that that depression kind of shifted characteristics in the ways that it looked when I started teaching. You go through this identity shift when you take on a job that works with people like that + even jobs that not only work with people, but jobs where you feel really important or needed. It kind of becomes your whole identity. It was interesting when every bit of my identity relied on how I felt as a teacher + yet, I still didn't feel like I belonged in the buildings I was in. So, what it looked like for me as a teacher, or right out of college was feeling like I was so cutout for what I was doing with my heart, but not feeling like I belonged physically within the space that I was in, regardless of if I had friends that I taught with or not, I did in each building that was in- a lot of head games with myself of, "Oh, I don't belong here." It also looked like going through one, two, three week stints feeling so run down. Where I would have constant anxiety about whether or not I was doing enough, I would constantly be overcompensating for my low energy levels, which would then only just wear me out even more, I had so much self-doubt in anything that I did, which I think was only fueled by my lack of energy because I usually was only trying to keep up, let alone being able to go above + beyond, which is very, very, highly sought after as a teacher, or sought for by administration for your teachers, it is just the way that our evaluation models work + the way that our mindset has to be in that setting. All of that over-working + over-compensating lead to constantly feeling run down when I was at home, which was really hard for me because if you're a teacher or you've worked in that setting, you understand that when you get home it is really the time that you wish you could shut it off + refuel, but also, you're a teacher, you probably understand that it is very hard to do that. I eventually chose to leave teaching for a variety of reasons, but now that I am self-employed at home, I naively went into that thinking, "I'll be my own boss," "I'll get to make my own hours," "I'll get to decide what's going on," "I'll be able to better 'control' when I am self-employed."
Now, what my depression looks like now that I work from home, it looks like taking really long breaks away from people + editing, which if you know anything about being a photographer, that's pretty much the whole job- interacting with people + editing the work that you shoot. I have noticed since processing the ways that I come out of my depressive bouts, being around people for shoots actually pulls me through that depressive spurt and brings me out on top of that, but communicating with people is something that I just do not do well with when I am feeling really low + that is something I am working on accepting + acknowledging as a weakness of my own as far as my business goes. I have been having a lot of conversations strategizing with one of my business assistants + we've been working on lots of conversations about delegating + understanding who is good at what + not feeling shame over the things that I don't do well at or that I don't consistently value when my mental health is a struggle. Honestly, being able to acknowledge that is such a huge step for me because there's been so much shame + avoidance + complete self-depletion because of my resistance to doing certain things when I am feeling down. I am very happy to be in a place where I can talk about the parts of my business that struggle when my mental health kicks in, but also being able to acknowledge as a business owner that I can still create support for that area + still be able to support my clientele + my people when I am not feeling well enough to support them personally.
It also kind of looks like near-constant guilt, sometimes. I feel like I am letting my clients down. If you've had work done by me, you know that my timelines don't always stay on track. This is something that I am not even close to mastering, so I hope when you're listening to these things, you understand that I am speaking to you from a vulnerable place. These are my downfalls. I have said this before, maybe not on the podcast, so I will say it again, but I will not touch your work when I am in a bad place. We create something very special when we shoot together, during our sessions. I have pushed myself to edit early on in my career when I was in terrible head spaces + I felt so ashamed of the work that I put out. Some clients won't notice, but others will. People book with me because they like how my photos will look, but others book with me because they can feel the heart + soul that I put into the photos that I put out. If I am in a bad place, I can't put heart + soul into your photos because I don't have heart + soul present at the surface in me. That is why my depression rocks my ass when it hits me because I am so deeply driven by my heart + soul + my energy + my happiness + my zest for the goofy ass shit in life + when I am sad, I don't have access to that part of me, it is not readily available. It definitely looks like guilt with me, as far as being a business owner goes when my depression kicks in because of not being able to serve up what I feel like my clients are worthy of.
Also, it looks like feeling unworthy. I watch other photographers who I am so inspired by, kick out work so quickly. So many photographers do sneak peaks for their clients + honestly if you're a client of mine + you're listening + you're wondering why I don't do that, I don't do sneak peaks because I can't serve you with them consistently. There are so many shoots where I come home + I am excited + my husband is busy that evening + I want to, or am feeling inspired to, edit some sneak peaks, but if I can't do that for every client, I don't want to do that for some. I don't ever want someone to feel like I value their session or what we created any less because I didn't get them sneak peaks + if you have struggles with your mental health, you know that there is a real struggle with consistency + I don't ever want to make people feel less than or valued any less by me or any less worthy of something from me because I couldn't come through + serve them up with the same things I served up other clients. That's why I personally don't do sneak peaks + that kind of leads into me having more guilt when my timelines do get set off because I know that there are people who don't have work yet from me, but I just have to trust that in following my own heart + sticking to my gut in this, I am also advocating for wider perspective + understanding of mental health + I am able to, for better or worse, represent what depression looks like in entrepreneurship + in photography. Also, I hope that in that I represent what soul looks like in the entrepreneurship + the photography realm because I refuse to serve you up anything that is not my whole soul in the work that I give you.
Enough about me. I am going to dive into what my listeners have submitted on Instagram to share what their depression looks like + how it manifests in them. My hopes are that maybe this can help you recognize depression or low, sad feelings in your low ones or maybe in yourself. I hope that it helps you create more space + hold a neutral, nonjudgemental space for the people in your lives + I hope it also just helps you feel less alone if you're someone who does struggle.
Depression looks like: sleeping all the time, having no sex drive, eating too much or not at all, crying a lot, overeating, feeling like there's no will or energy to exist, feeling empty + dark, again, not eating, not going outside, working constantly around the clock to avoid engaging. Depression looks like + sounds like silence becoming overwhelmingly loud. It looks like sitting on my bed for hours thinking of what I should be doing, but feeling cemented down. It looks like + sounds like always thinking, "I don't want to be here," no matter where I am. It looks like + feels like feeling exhaustion often paired with anxiety because of whatever it is that I am not doing. Avoidance of responsibilities. Letting texts + DM's build up. Social isolation because you just can't find any words to say to anyone. Emotional eating. For me, my emotional eating is often something sweet, followed by something salty. It looks like days flying by because I feel stuck + the only thing I can remember thinking about by the end of the day, besides how empty I feel, was what I want to eat.
I share these things with you because there's a lot of things in here listed more than once. Some of these things listed are things that I said, but a lot of them aren't. A lot of these things I read + I was like, "Oh shit, that's something that applies to me, too." There are other things that I don't experience + I know that there are things in this list that others experience. I also want to touch on why I think that empaths, specifically + people who have experienced trauma in the past, whatever trauma it might be or look like, I think they experience depression really deep, even without being clinically diagnosed because: feelings. So many feelings. With the abundance of feelings that empaths + people who've experienced deep trauma + hardships already feel, the sad emotional thoughts hit just so hard as the crest of your other emotions are breaking. It is super hard to grab onto those happy feelings when small moments trigger sad ones. I think when you have triggers that are more prevalent, it is obviously easier to be triggered into remembering those sad feelings more easily, right?
I want to, before moving on to the, "How Can I Help?" segment, talk on how I try to move myself through this, through my emotional, my deeply sad bouts of depression. For me, the most consistent help tip that I have found is choosing a reset day. This was unintentional for me, or maybe intentionally provoked by my therapist, I never know with her ways... but we chose a rest day for me from my work flow. I chose Monday for obvious reasons because I think that people are so used to Mondays sucking that they just settle into that. So,I chose a rest day to remove all expectations from me. Anytime on a Monday that I feel my brain thinking, "Oh, I should be doing this..." I am not allowed to do it. This day is for me to just complete reset + recharge + recenter with myself. I try to focus on stretching, I try to focus on meditating. I always focus particularly on Mondays to keep my journal nearby so that if thoughts come to mind, I can just write them down. If I am staying on top of it, I will read on Mondays, but I am not doing very well with that. I do lots of podcast listening on Mondays + cleaning my space, which in the beginning I thought I was supposed to avoid, but I realize it has made me feel even more refreshed + just "zenned" out to the max when I've had those rest days + I can end those with a clean space. I usually try to ground myself in some company + if I can't do that physically, I will turn on those podcasts + that helps my brain move + process. I also, outside of rest days, I try to help my support systems better understand myself + my triggers + my emotions. I do this by sharing my feelings, regardless of if those feelings feel good. Regardless of if they look good. I feel like the better my support system can understand what I am going through, the better they can both recognize when I am slipping + the better they can support me.
So, I would love to dive into some additional resources, which I am also going to mix in with our, "How Can I Help?" segment.
How Can I Help:
First, I want you to consider looking into a therapist. If you're listening as someone who knows someone in your life who deals with deep depression, I don't want you to go looking for a therapist for them, I want you to be very careful about how you recommend this to them, but maybe the next time that person opens up to you about their feelings, first hold space with them + for them, nonjudgemental space, don't go right into giving them your own recommendations. I want you to first go into just listening, sitting with them, letting them know that they're seen, that they're heard + that you're there for them, especially if they know what it is that they need. If that person doesn't know what they need, this is your opportunity to recommend maybe looking into some therapists in the area, maybe reaching out to other people in your life who struggle with mental health problems or different issues that maybe are similar to their struggles who can recommend therapists that they like.
If someone doesn't want to recommend their therapist to you, please don't be upset. Sometimes people get weird with therapists + they just want them for themselves. Try your best to be understanding of that. Also, if you or someone you know, has found a therapist + they are not someone that they totally love or feel safe with or comfortable with, commit to switching again + again until the fit feels just right. Seriously. This is not something that you should just settle on or give in on. Finding the right therapist should feel like dating. I want them to feel comfortable. I want them to feel easy to talk to. You are not going to get your moneys-worth + your times-worth + your trusts-worth out of a therapist if you don't feel safe, comfortable + confident talking to them.
It also helps to find a therapist who is comfortable making themselves available in minor emergencies, whether that be panic attacks or when you feel yourself building up to those types of settings or emotions, if you can find someone who makes themselves available when you're not in session, that can be really beneficial.
For women, if you are someone who is dealing with depressive lows + you're not really sure why, or they are kind of like a more recent onset, I encourage you to track your cycle so that you can prepare each month for the natural rises + falls of your hormone levels. I have noticed that for me personally, I am more likely to fall into a really high anxiety, worried depressive feeling before my cycle + at the very end, I fall into a very run-down, very low motivation very low energy depressive low because of my levels being depleted + my body needing to refuel itself + taking time to heal + rebuild. Your skin, hair, everything regenerates so often that you just have to give yourself time + space when your body is asking for it. It usually asks for it by slowing down + making you feel like shit. Just know if you already feel like shit, the regeneration is probably happening + you should hold space for yourself, drink lots of water, give yourself rest + hold space.
Moving on from that, I also suggest taking time to process the thoughts that are coming through internally, whether those are just the intuitive little voices in your head or the thoughts you have right before bed or when you first wake up, I encourage you to write those down if it helps them stick or process them. Sitting with your thoughts that are already coming from within are going to be the quickest way for you to understand what it is that you need. I was talking at the beginning of the episode about a quote involving your inner-child + how you can look at that voice of "I should go get a drink, I really could use a snack right now, I am hungry," just the little voices that pop in + help you think about what you're wanting or desiring right now, if you sit with those things that journal those thoughts, that could really help you process what it is that can help you move through those feelings at the time. It seems crazy, but try it. I encourage you to try it. You might be surprised how much journaling those thoughts can help.
Another thing, whether you are the person dealing with the depressive thoughts + feelings or you're someone loving that person, go outside, go for a walk, go sit on your front step, whether you bring a book or you just sit down, go sit outside + just take in nature. You would be so amazed at how interesting + or how peaceful Mother Earth + nature + this life existence is while we're so busy surviving + going through the motions. Go sit outside, especially if it is sitting on the ground + just ground yourself in the fact that we are so lucky to exist in such a beautiful space, even when our hearts + our heads + our minds + our bodies + our souls feel like chaos.
I also encourage you to listen to some upbeat music, turn on a self-care podcast or an educational podcast. Maybe it is just a funny, easy to listen to podcast, but do something to uplift your mood. I am going to end with this: when you're run down + you're in a rut + you're just not sure how to move yourself forward, you have to change your current, Just like a batteries energy flow, you have to disrupt the current, change it up + recenter yourself. You have to be the person that chooses to change something in your day-to-day in whatever it is that is going on, whatever it is you've got flowing through ya, whatever bad juju, sad feelings, negative feelings, I want you to do something to make a change up + switch up that energy. Listen to music, call a friend, get outside, sit + touch your husband, your wife, your girlfriend, your best friend, hold hands, run through the park, run through the rain, change it up. Jolt your energy into something else that isn't what you're currently processing when you're feeling empty. Then, come reflect with me about it. You're always welcome to shoot me a DM like, "Heck yeah girl! I feel you on that. Let's hit each other up for some accountability next time we're feeling like this, I am so down." I am so thankful to have this space that I can just talk with you guys + really dive into these feelings that I know that so many of us are processing + just so unsure of how to feel or what to do about. Like I said at the beginning, I am not a mental health professional + I have invested in them + they are amazing + I strongly encourage you to do that for yourself, but most importantly, go back + listen through this episode, grab a notebook + jot some stuff down. Take some tools with you from this episode + from your experiences that you are currently going through + just let your own heart + soul be the guide. Listen to what it is that your mind + body are saying to you + do something to hold space + give care.
You are so beautiful, you are so worthy, you are so much enough that it is stupid. You have it in you to create feelings of worthiness. You just have to consciously take control + shift your energy around, slosh it around, shake it up + roll the dice + try again. If it doesn't work, call a girlfriend, call a boyfriend, call yo mama, call yo daddy, call yo siblings + try the fuck again, because you can do it. We can all do it. I'm here, I am thankful that you're here,I value the fact that you're here. I love you, I hope you enjoyed + benefitted from this episode. If you did, please let me know in a review if you're listening on Apple Podcasts. Let me know in my DM's on Instagram or on the Facebook page at Souls Undressed Podcast Community, Souls Undressed Podcast on Instagram, thank you, thank you, thank you to infinity + beyond + back for being here + sharing this time, space + energy with me. I love you so much. I am sending so many warm healing vibes your way. Until next week.
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