Life is so hard. How can we be anything but kind?” – Jack Kornfield
I made a big, very public, embarrassing work mistake recently, and I felt like hiding out. Instead, this mistake became an opportunity to open up and share what had really been going on with my friend, and to talk openly about my struggles with chronic depression. (You can read more about my challenges with depression here, and how I was able to soften some of the guilt and self blame I felt around my struggles.)
Every life brings some rain, and this can include struggles with mental illness, like depression or anxiety. How do we even begin to befriend these challenges? How do we find peace when we’re hurting?
And what if this means coming to terms with what we can’t change – even something as frustrating and dark as depression? What if it means accepting our very humanity, our very vulnerability, our very struggles?
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
If you’ve felt shame for struggling with depression, or you’ve felt like your humanity is something to eradicate, you may enjoy this podcast about questioning all the shoulds in our lives that we think “should” be different – and therefore, what we should be able to control or fix. And what if releasing this need for control, and releasing these shoulds, places us into the hands of the very healing process itself?
Hi Karly. Finally. I see you as a real person. That is really equal to me. Thank you for this blog. I can so relate. I have spent the last 6 years in this quest to heal my bipolar and alcoholism and drug addiction and now sugar addiction. I sat in a mtg last Thursday and cried. That I feel that I am bad and beat myself up because if I had enough faith. If I was good enough or if I practiced AA enough or I prayed enough or I had enough faith that I would be better. The pain that I cannot change the way I am and that I must be bad or doing something wrong is so much greater than the pain of my bipolar or sugar addiction alone.
Thank you for being real and sharing. It helps to know that I am not crazy. When I started reading your book I realized that I need to identify who I am and what I need and to embrace that this is who I am. That God made me this way and he loves me this way.
I have been working on identifying who I am. Not who I think I should be or who I think others want me to be but who am I. I have spent my whole life trying to be what others want me to be so that after 46 years I really do not know who I am. Your Overcoming Sugar Addiction has allowed me to work on figuring out who I am. And as a result of reading your book last night, last night and today are the first times ever in my entire 46 years that I can remember just saying I am …. and I am okay. I do not have to be anything else.
So something good has come out of your mistake. Thank you.
Karly, thank you for speaking so honestly. I tend to isolate and keep quiet when I’m not doing well and you have taught me that when we share our struggles we help those who are also struggling.
You reminded me also to not judge. As you said, we are all just trying to do the best we can with what we have available to us.
I, like Carol, have spent most of my life pleasing everyone else, not forming my own opinions, being a chameleon and never really developing a sense of who I am. Through this process I’m finally coming to feel that I’m just great the way I am. At the mature age of 58 I am finally figuring out who I am inside and outside and I’m finally accepting who I am.
By sharing your mistake, Karly, you have taught me to watch my judgments, to share all of me, and accept not only myself, but others. There was a higher good to be served through your mistake.
I can totally relate to everything you said and feel as if I am on a very similar journey. Sometimes I visualize myself sitting on a bench and me scooting over to make room for my anxious thoughts and feelings instead of trying to push them off the bench (which is what I've done for over 16 yrs….telling myself "I CAN NOT feel this way…) and that "making room for" helps me to stop fighting myself and my natural tendencies and that acceptance helps me to just let it be. I CAN make room for all the parts of me. The happy, light, giggly me….the focused, serious me and yes the anxious, worried me. Thank you for sharing ALL of you…..you have made a tremendous difference in my life and I'm so thankful for your courage, compassion and generosity. Your friend, Kathleen
Karly, I really hope your read this because I've been trying to get in touch with you. Long story short, ever since the forum password changed and then it may have stopped for a while (??), I've had trouble getting back on.
Anyway, I too had to "surrender" and go on an antidepressant a few years ago and I can relate to EVERYTHING you just wrote!!!
I will be praying for you!!
I've missed you! Colleen 🙂
Thank you for your deep honest sharing. I've experienced everything you speak about to the color of the pill I take every day. You have helped me so much accept my sensitivity, which has a component of anxiety. I used to beat myself up and "should" all over myself; but I'm moving past that. The acceptance has lead to the care, the same care you refer to as the cure.
My heart goes out to you – your honesty and vulnerability has helped me immeasurably.
Amen, sistah. After years of beating myself up for my own depression and generally not being good enough, I'm finally beginning to trust that a few things are true:
–We're never as alone as we think we are.
–We will always carry some issues with us, so relax and make friends with them. Some of my "demons" get their own room in my head that's stocked with the things that let them know I care for them, and then they don't have to shout or take over. Books, toys, a soft chair, a window seat . . .
–Sometimes fairy tales are true. Our worst flaws or mistakes can be the very things that save us. If Cinderella had gotten to the carriage on time, she wouldn't have left the shoe behind.
Please remind me of this when I lose my way. 🙂
Love and love–
I feel your pain and have walked in those same shoes. The thing with depression is that those who are prone to it have a tendency to slip back into it. I used to think that “I was going to be okay now” but have had to accept that it’s something I have to be aware of in myself and manage when it creeps in.
The thing is, along with the hypersensitivity comes a wealth of good personality traits, such as your desire to help others, and the opportunity to grow beyond what you think are your own limits. Open-mindedness and deep empathy for others can also exist. I’ve been viewing depression as a sort of blockage, and try to intuit what has brought me there, and how to find a chink in that seemingly massive wall of depression and bring it down.
I’ve been reading two books that have been helpful: Undoing Depression by Richard O’Connor, Ph.D., and another: Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way , by Nancy Liebler and Sandra Moss. Good ideas for self-treatment.
Wow Karly, Here is a hug ((((((((Karly))))))))). I posted a previous comment based on listening to your mp3 but had not yet read what you wrote.
Thank you so much for sharing. I am bipolar and it cost me my marriage, my house, muy car, lots of heirlooms I had been given and my job and almost me my children and my life. Yet I still want to believe that it really isn’t bipolar. I have this inaccurate belief that if I only eat right and exercise and have enough faith and go to enough counseling that I will be well. The whole of society feeds into it. I have two young adult children who have mental health issues yet they continue to tell me that taking medication daily is bad or wrong.
Unfortunately my medication does not always work. That makes it even harder. Also my addictions, my bipolar, my PSTD, my fibromyalgia and my sleep problems are so intertwined that it is almost impossible to understand what I need to do. The doctors themselves even point the finger at each other. And then church and other spiritual based programs that I work on a daily basis just add to the burden by telling me that if I had enough faith i would be okay, I could handle it, I would not be depressed or angry or hopeless. I am bombarded on a daily basis with messages that this is my fault and that I could do something about it if I wanted to.
Part of what makes it hard about giving up the sugar is that I know that on some level the motivation is wrong. I have this false belief that if I give up the sugar I will be cured. I know that this is not accurate. I know that giving up the sugar will help, but it will not CURE me. I will still be bipolar, I will still have sleep disorders and I will still have fibromyalgia. Knowing this discourages me from trying to care for myself. I feel like what is the point. If I won’t be cured what is the point.
I have this belief that I am flawed, that I have been handed a bad hand in life, that I am being punished. I have been unable to reach the acceptance of who and what I am and to look past the pain to the good things that I have. Hopefully working through the Sugar program will help me to accept who I am and to truly feel in my heart what I know in my head and that is that I am a precious child of God. I am beautiful and loving and caring and sensitive and I am a worthy person.
“Could you briefly share with us the main experiences you bad that led you to become a spiritual teacher?” Interview question for Eckhart Tolle who is quoted saying he dealt with depression even in childhood.
Yes. I was about twenty-nine, and had gone through years of depression and anxiety. I had even achieved some successes, like graduating with the highest mark at London University. Then an offer came for a Cambridge scholarship to do research. But the whole motivating power behind my academic success was fear and unhappiness.
It all changed one night when I woke up in the middle of the night. The fear, anxiety and heaviness of depression were becoming so intense, it was almost unbearable. And it is hard to describe that “state” where the world is felt to be so alien, just looking at a physical environment like a room. Everything was totally alien and almost hostile. I later saw a book written by Jean-Paul Sartre called Nausea. That was the state that I was in, nausea of the world. [Chuckle] And the thought came into my head, “I can’t live with myself any longer.” That thought kept repeating itself again and again.
While listening to this audio, I was crying right along with you.
I too, have had a horredous week this week. It has been very difficult on so many levels.
Your transparency is encouraging and I excpect that it has opened up a new level of understanding for myself and others and for that, I thank you.
My heart and spirit is so grateful to you and above all, to God for leading me here, just at the right time.
Sending love and thanks your way……
Byron Katie: Yeah. I was very suicidal, very depressed. Agoraphobic. Paranoid. Really pretty hopeless. Just obsessing the suicide. Many years. So I went to this halfway house and the women were so afraid of me that I was put in an attic that was the only way I could stay. They put me in an attic up above. And I slept on the floor in there. And one morning I was asleep on the floor and I felt this thing crawl over my foot and I looked down and it was a cockroach. I opened my eyes and [pause] what was born was not me and, the way I tell it is she rose, she walked, she apparently talked. She was delighted. It is so ecstatic to be born and not born. It sees, and sees everything, without a concept. It's amazing.
I post both of those quotes because, Karly, I think you are one of the most incredible people I've ever encountered. And frankly, it sounds to me like you are right on your way to becoming the next Eckhart Tolle or Byron Katie. 🙂
I think we can all learn and be inspired by this. Often the most unusual paths can lead to awakening. Thank you for letting the tears flow, as it allowed mine to flow right along with yours. What a joy to have friends on this oh so challenging path of growing into love.
D-A-R-K. This four letter word has become ever-so-poignant to me since Saturday’s “Fall Back”, when darkness shrouds my mornings, evenings, and presently, my mind. In fact, even that phrase, falling back, also strikes a significant chord this evening, as I sit on my couch wondering why I feel as crazy as I did 3 years ago when I joined a 12 step program to help me kick sugar. The worst part is that tonight I taught a Raw/Living Foods class and came home to study for my nutrition program I am enrolled in, and instead have made some concoction out of dates and tahini, calling it healthy, but knowing my mind and spirit are anything but healthy at the present moment. I thought I was done with these patterns. Wasn’t it just two weeks ago I felt trim, powerful, on top of things?
It was a week ago tonight my friend and I vowed we were not going to make any sweets – natural sweeteners or otherwise – until Thanksgiving. Like clockwork, my mind, body and spirit instantly cried “Mutiny! How dare she try to control us”. Since then, I’ve had a daily rendezvous with the food processor and dates. Like so many of you have thankfully shared, I am not alone in thinking that behaving my way into submission is the resolution.
As a healthy woman diagnosed with bipolar just two years ago – a year after being sugar and caffeine free and wondering why I still cycled up and down so much – I’ve witnessed my cycles and can attest to their affect on my food choices. It is a real variable in my daily experience; it is not one to be ignored, hidden, shamed-away any more than I would curse my friendliness.
I like to utilize the phrase “AND” in these moments I find myself caught between black-and-white, right-or-wrong, good-or-bad. How about being friendly AND bipolar? What about being healthy and struggling with food at times?
I called my friend this evening – the one who I’m assuming is eating raw carrots and tree-bark while I consume the world – and left her a message. I admitted I wasn’t doing well on our “goal”, that I was struggling with my food, with depression, with darkness right now, but then I told her that I was ok with this, that I know it will pass, that there is learning in where I am right now. It was the same compassion I’d offer her were she to have called to tell me the same thing. In this small digital gesture, I told my soul that I am ok, right now, right here, AND this gives me space to choose again.
What a beautiful thing to say, Kelley, about our dearest Karly. And I couldn't agree more. Karly, you are the most inspiring person I've ever encountered.
You have given us so much hope, emotional intelligence and the courage to be curious, to dig deep.
I am eternally grateful for you because of your strength.
Thank you for your courage and honesty. I have always felt the same way about taking my medication for anxiety. I hate that I take it and have felt shame for needing it, thus throwing me further into sugar and overeating. It just feeds my low self esteem without me realizing it! Hearing your story is very soothing to my spirit and a reminder that its okay to need some help in order to fully engage in my life. Thank you !
Wow. I'm so touched by all of your generous responses to my post, as well as your own vulnerability in sharing your challenges with depression, anxiety, or just life itself! (We are all in this together….)
I feel much less alone in reading your words, and am reminded of one of my all time quotes: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to one another." – Mother Theresa
Thank you for helping me feel like I belong. Much love, Karly
Wow Karly, Listened to your podcast last night and tears streamed down my face thru the entire thing. I have battled depression and anxiety also and often wonder if those two are not related to the sensitivity piece as well. In this culture especially it is easy to not want to acknowledge this part of ourselves when it is still so taboo in many ways. I still know poeple that will not take meds and will only pay cash to see someone so there is no record. So sad.
I remember while listening to you thinking how I see you as this stong amazing woman and I honestly don’t know how you can possibly do all that you do and raise a family too. You are always so here for all of us it is no wonder you slept and slept! I so related to you speaking to feeling broken around not being able to do as much or handle as much as others. I have always beat myself up because I cannot do what others do. I see them working and doing activities after work etc and being involved in all these things and honestly when I was working It was all I could do to get dinner and make my lunch for the next day. We are just wired differently and that is not BAD. Thanks again for sharing your vulnerability with us, you are so brave.
Karly – I’m sorry I’m so late in commenting on this, but I thought this was a truly beautiful post. I am so glad you could find it in yourself to feel compassion towards your anxiety and depression. You talk about wanting to be perfect, but honestly Karly, the thing that draws me to you (and has for years) is your willingness to admit your faults. I rarely see the kind of honesty that you display here anywhere else on the internet – and that is one of the things I love most about you, because I see a lot of myself in your words. The struggle, the frustration, the ability to rise up and look your problems in the face – those are the things that make me feel okay about myself. I don’t want you to be perfect – if you were perfect, I wouldn’t be able to learn from you. 🙂
Another thing that struck me was when you said you were exhausted. I have learned that I can NOT function well on less than 7 hours of sleep. I like to get 7-8 hours per night. My husband is one of those who can go on 5 or 6 hours of sleep and be just fine. If I get 6 or less hours of sleep for more than one or two nights, I turn in to Super Cranky Bitch. It took me awhile to accept that, but now that I have, it’s made things easier. So I try to make sure that I shut down for the night at a decent hour and whatever doesn’t get done waits until morning (or the next afternoon!). Getting enough sleep is ESSENTIAL for my healing, and probably for yours too.
You are awesome Karly, and I appreciate your journey. I really do. 🙂
Karly, that was amazing. There was nothing you said which did not completely resonate with me. I too have suffered anxiety and depression all my adult life, and now I’m battling with the pain of bereavement following the sudden and traumatic death of my mother before my eyes.
I’ve tried so hard to follow the sugar programme, but somehow you never seemed real to me and I couldn’t get out of my head the fact that you were some beautiful shiny all-American girl who just had life all worked out. I accepted that you had issues with food, but the fact that your binge food was raisins made me feel that you were somehow ‘better’ than me with my chocolate, and that your program would only work for ‘good’ people like you.
Anyway, I’ve seen now that you’re real. You’re still amazing, but maybe that means I’m amazing too. I too will need to take my antidepressants for a long time, maybe all my life, but I will stop listening to the people in my life who take that as a sign that I am therefore broken and need fixing. I’m also definitely a highly sensitive person, but I listen too much to people who say I’m neurotic, or a worry wart, or whatever else the unkind label might be. Last week the gastric band surgeon who fitted my gastric band – which has left me 20 pounds heavier then when I started – said that I obviously can’t deal with stress in my life and he also implied that this was all my own fault. Judgement, condemnation and pain.
I’m so grateful to you for your openness, because now I can really hear you when you speak to us about what we need to do.
Thank you so much. I’ve a long journey ahead of me but at least I’m on the right road at last.
Thank you for your honesty, compassion and support. I learned so much in reading your comment. For one thing, I'm learning how important it is to be honest and open…how we all relax in the face of such openness.
You will laugh when you realize why raisins were my all time favorite binge food: because I can fool myself into believing that they're not sugar when I'm eating them, since they're "natural."
Eating ice cream or chocolate would force me to admit, "Yes, I'm eating sugar." Yes, I'm bingeing. With raisins I can pretend that I'm not stuffing my face with food….even though I may eat an entire can, several thousand calories of raisins!
So eating raisins for me is called denial! I hope that makes you smile.
Much love, Karly
What a wonderfully warm and heart enhancing tale of courage and growth- growth of human kindness to you!! Your journey is a gift that only pain can teach; unfortunately in this world pain is a frequent companion.
When we let it teach and not hinder or destroy, then we rebuild our world one step at a time and take away pain's sting. It is not failure or a character flaw to hurt or to want the pain to stop. It is only human. And kindness and compassion are the remedies for us and our broken world.
Sending you love.
Karly, I just found this site. I have gained almost 10 pounds in 15 days and feel awful. I have known that sugar , caffiene and chocolate cause me serious depression for several years, yet I think I also saw myself as faulty because of this and that somehow eating these things was saying , "I'm OK now". I never saw my binges like that until I listened to your audio blog. I was crying along with you as well… I feel like you expressed exactly how it is…the craziness of the cycle of self critical , depression, binge, self condemnation, depression, binge etc…Only to move in to some 'program' that will fix me once and for all.I know you understand and even though we are strangers, I feel connected to you because you have walked in my shoes.Thank you so much for being so transparent and vulnerable. I will revisit your site. I pray for freedom and healing for all of us-Susie
This was a powerful audio for me. Life changing. I think the most important moment was when your voice cracked and I could hear you crying and felt compassion, then realized I was trying to hold back my own tears … and then I stopped holding them back and cried along with you. The reality of what you were speaking about and how dead-on that matched my own thoughts really woke me up. I’ve gotten completely lost in running from myself and in judging myself. I remember very clearly the reason why. One of the most significant moments in my life was when I was 13 years old, my mother had abruptly left the family and filed for divorce from my father, she took my brother with her but left me with dad. My mother had been very emotionally abusive to me, she honestly didn’t like me and to this day does not like me. She was overly and lavishly loving to my brother but he suffered from it because it wasn’t authentic and he hurt that she didnt love me and he loved me very much. My father was a broken angry man but a good man who loved me wholeheartedly. One day Dad caught me crying out on the front sidewalk (I don’t remember why I was crying)and said to me, ‘Stop that crying, that’s ridiculous, people will think you are crazy.’ I felt a momentary zing of anger, then I gave in, told myself to knock it off so that I would not be crazy, then from that moment on I felt anxiety every time I was about to cry that maybe that was a sign that I was crazy. I want to reclaim that vulnerable sensitive lonely young teenaged girl. She is me. An entire chunk of my actual self, with memories, history, smiles and wonder, had been cut off from me along with the hurt, anger and deep sadness and feelings of rejection, in that moment and every moment going forward 33 more years. I honestly know that is the part of me which has been waiting this whole time to be allowed to live and be cared for. So. Thank you for sharing and showing your heart, your hurt, vulnerability and tears. Gave me the strength to learn to claim my own.
Karly, I just stumbled accidentally onto your website a couple of days ago, as I was searching for ideas to help me with my addiction to sugar. I felt immediately dawn to you after just a little bit of reading, because of your professed gentle approach to healing. I am in my early 40’s and am going through some big changes in my life. I have been seeking answers and guidance and desiring change in so many areas, and am taking steps in a variety of ways to help me on my journey. I feel like I just hit the jackpot as I listened to this podcast of yours, about making peace with our imperfections. Like others, I so appreciate your courage in baring your soul so bravely, that others may be blessed because of it. Clearly, many have been; you can just add me to the list. I also wanted to tell you that just listening to your voice as you speak with such genuine feeling is like a balm to my soul. You have such a tender, soothing sound in everything you say, that I can’t help but want to hear everything that comes out of your mouth. Then, when you add in the meaningful truth of which you speak…I just want you to know that I am grateful to you. Thank you. I hope you are continuing to navigate your journey through this life with the peace and grace you’ve shared with us all. With sincerity, Shannon Mattson