Sunday, August 25, 2013

Going Gluten-Free - My Life Without Beer

So recently I have decided to stop ignoring the blatant facts in front of me and finally face up to something I have been avoiding for months: I am allergic to gluten. It was an incredibly difficult thing for me to finally admit to myself, because it meant that I could no longer skate around the idea of living without gluten, but now had to put that idea into full action in my own life.

Why was going gluten-free for me so horrifying a thing to think about? Well, when I had been playing around with the thought of giving it up, I realized something. If I could never eat gluten, I could never guzzle down another ice cold Alexander Keith's. I could never order another tall, frosty pint of Stella at the bar. I could never cook another batch of stir fry vegetables in my favourite beer. All my brand loyalty would have to be thrown out the window! And I am a woman who takes her favourite beers seriously. Not only that, but I could never have french fries again, or a greasy cheeseburger, or a juicy Philly Cheese Steak sub at some vendor booth at the fair. In the past year I have cut down my consumption of those sorts of things tremendously, but I still liked to indulge. And going gluten-free would mean saying goodbye to those things forever.

It was a sad thing to think about. I almost wanted to have a goodbye ceremony. Me, dressed in all black, holding a Moosehead in one hand and a Sub Venture chicken bacon wrap in the other, sobbing uncontrollably. But I never did, and now it's too late. I just want to feel better. I'm tired of having a distended abdomen and an intense reaction in my gut every time I eat gluten. I want to feel normal, like normal people who eat normal food do. There are going to be times when someone is drinking an ice cold brew beside me and I'm going to lose my resolve and drink one, but I need to cut that out as much as possible. The gluten I am unable to digest is keeping me from absorbing the vitamins and minerals from my food, and I'll never truly be healthy until I am only ingesting food my system can handle.

So what are the basic things you can't eat if you're allergic to gluten? Well, to start with, all conventional flours, including wheat, spelt, rye, barley (which includes anything malted), triticale, graham flour, kamut and etc. That would be simple enough, however these things are in SO many products, it would surprise you! Already with these we are eliminating beers, breads, candies, cakes, pies, cookies, crackers, pastas, gravies, french fries, processed luncheon meats, a lot of salad dressings, most potato chips (because of the seasoning) and a lot of different sauces. Being gluten-free means checking the label of everything you buy that is processed or made up of a bunch of ingredients, because a lot of the things added to these products contain gluten.

In other words, IT SUCKS.

But! It is really easy to use rice or quinoa flour to make your own gluten-free breads, cookies, cakes and pies, and gluten-free beer is available as well. Plus, you can eat ALL vegetables and fruits, nuts, wines and alcohol, you can use rice noodles instead of regular pasta, make your own salad dressings (which is better and more natural for you anyway!), and eat dried fruit instead of candy. In a way, it forces you to watch even more carefully what you are putting in your body, and to prepare your own items instead of buying them processed, so it's really a good thing!

I really enjoyed looking through this blog for gluten-free recipes, and a lot of them are vegan too. Check it out!

So, in short - I miss my beer, but I've got my whiskey, and oh my goodness do I miss bread, but... I'm feeling healthier, stronger, and have a way better attention span, so I'm excited to see how much better I'm going to feel once my system has been cleansed a bit.

Are you gluten-free? Let me know how it's going for you!



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Channel That Love!

When we are children, our parents tell us we can be whatever we want to be. Or at least, most of them do. But really what they should be saying is that we will be whoever we want to be and whoever we think we are. The idea you have of yourself in your mind is stronger and carries more weight than you ever could imagine, and when you project an idea about yourself it becomes truth. You make it so, if you will.

We all say terrible things about ourselves, especially when we are upset. “I’m stupid.” “No one really cares about me.” “I’m going to be alone forever.” “I’ll never find someone.” “I’m fat.” “I’m ugly.” “I’m useless.” I did this for a long time. Those horrible phrases I would repeat to myself become something of a comfort when I was depressed. I was soothed by the fact that I was just as pathetic as I had always imagined myself to be. All was right with the world.

But when you are constantly down on yourself, and constantly telling yourself you can’t do something or you aren’t worth something, you begin to believe it. Those words stay in your heart and you begin to act based on them. They are in the back of your mind, always taunting you. You lose your job and you tell yourself, “Of course you did. You were never good enough for that job, anyway. You’re just too stupid,” and it’s like a comfort. Ah, yes, I am my old self after all, incapable of doing anything right. You feel better because you recognize and know that person well - it’s reassuring in its familiarity. 

So, if these things work one way, they undoubtedly work the other, as well, right? This is the realization I came to last night, sitting alone in my tiny bunkhouse. It was hot – the milder weather has made it tricky for me to gage how much heat I should use, and I had misjudged. My curtains were drawn. In my window I have a postcard that a dear friend sent to me, to which she glued a beautiful phrase that I repeat to myself every day: “She accepts the fates and furies beyond her control with unflappable composure (and a serious sense of humour)!” Since I have been saying this, I have indeed begun to face things with unflappable composure, composure I never knew I had. I sat on my bed and stared at that postcard. I repeated the words in my head a few times and began to feel strong, capable, in control of my emotions. That’s when I started to think – if this works so well, wouldn’t saying other things aloud to myself and repeating them over and over in my mind start making them come true, as well?

So I wrote down everything I wanted to be. I wrote down twenty phrases, among them:


I cut out each phrase and taped them to different areas of my bunkhouse where I would see them frequently and repeat them, either in my mind or out loud. I also taped a poem to my door that I wrote to remind myself to feel love for all living things, even when it's the most difficult.

A lot of people, when they are trying to project positive affirmations, make the mistake of saying things like, “I wish I could be better at communicating with people.” When you say wishy-washy things like this, your mind gets caught up in all the “I wish” and “I’d like to”s. It must be a positive statement. I AM EXCELLENT AT COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERS. You might feel like a fraud at first, because you’re not excellent at communicating with anyone yet. That’s okay! You’re not a fraud, because by saying this you’re going to make it so, and then it will be true. 

If you don’t believe this can work, think about it this way. Everyone knows that person, the one who is always in a terrible state and horribly depressed and in some bad way at work and broke and everyone is out to get them. The tiniest cold becomes something to whine and complain about, and every slightly negative thing that happens to them is blown to the hugest proportions. Do you ever notice that those people are always miserable? It’s because they’re projecting misery. “Everything bad always happens to me.” Well, of course it does, you’re sitting there festering in your own skin just WAITING for it to happen. Constantly repeating negative statements like that puts them in the forefront of your brain, and as soon as something bad happens, it’s just reaffirming everything you were already thinking.

We all do this – I am definitely no exception, that’s for sure – but the key is to stop yourself when you sense it starting, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that everything seems the way it does because you are perceiving it that way. Doing these positive affirmations isn’t going to stop bad things from happening to you. It’s just going to help you think of them differently, and they won’t seem so bad. Remember that wherever you are and whatever’s happening to you is exactly as it should be. So it follows that whatever situation you’re in… you’re in it for a reason. So, what’s the reason? I’ll bet you could find it, if you really wanted to. “I just got dumped. I’m so sad! But… I could see myself becoming really negative being with that person” (or bored or inactive or unhealthy or whatever) “so that must be why it didn’t work out. There must be something in store for me that I haven’t gotten to yet, and then this will all make sense.”

Sound trite? That’s okay. You don’t have to do it then. But the rest of us will, and we’ll reap the rewards.

I was talking to a friend the other day who is going through some hard times. She expressed to me that she felt like a bad person and that she didn’t like who she had become. (Just for the record, I don't believe there are "bad people", just bad decisions and hurtful actions) I told her she could be whoever she wanted to be, so if she wanted to change she should find all the things she didn’t like about herself and strive to change them, one by one. It’s a frightening task, sure, and one that’s probably going to take you the rest of your life, but what have you got to lose? In your mind, who is that person you want to be? Who is that best version of yourself? Maybe you want to be kinder to strangers. Maybe you want to be calmer, able to deal with your emotions better. Maybe you want to be more courageous. Well, what’s stopping you? Grab a sheet of paper now and plan it all out. Write down all the things you want to be. Remind yourself of all the beautiful things you already are. Don’t judge yourself, don’t be harsh. Everyone has things about themselves they don’t like and everyone has flaws – you are no different. But you can take control of these flaws and change them, and the person who will benefit the most from it is you. So, go to it. Read them out loud every day, run them through your mind continuously, make them into a mantra: I am strong, I am capable, I am beautiful, I am intelligent, I am calm, I am collected, I am kind. Be conscious of your thoughts and when you feel you are slipping, repeat them to yourself yet again. I am angry right now, but I don’t have to be. I AM CALM, I AM CALM. 

So, what will your positive affirmations be? Would you share them with me, as I have shared mine with you? I would love to hear them, and all about your journey to self-discovery and mental health. My own journey has been frightfully interesting so far. I completely slipped up for a few weeks, started eating shit again, smoking cigarettes, you name it! Now I have a new sense of motivation and strength and am ready to get back to it again. The one thing I always have to remind myself of is that in no way am I perfect and in no way will I ever be, so not to treat myself like I’m supposed to be. But by constantly reminding myself that I can be whoever I set my mind to being, I feel a renewed sense of hope for this journey I’m on. 

Namaste, friends.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

On Exercise Addiction

So recently I joined a gym in town and began working out about four or five times a week. I’ve always had a general problem with laziness, and usually shortly after joining a gym I would just stop going because I didn’t feel like it anymore. Ever since I started taking my meds and taking better care of my health, however, I’ve found I have much more energy and motivation to meet my fitness goals. It’s been a few weeks now and I still thoroughly enjoy my workouts. In fact, I look forward to them, which is something completely foreign to me. I think it’s obvious that my exercise routine has been making me feel great.

But all this has brought something completely new into my life, a problem I have never had to deal with before. My problems have always stemmed from food – eating too much or too little – so having a problem when it comes to exercise is something I was not equipped to deal with. My gym visits started out being about 60 minutes long, which is perfectly acceptable, but over time they got longer and longer. Now I find myself there for at least two hours every time. I do over an hour of cardio. I’m intent upon burning at least 1000 calories. So I started to think maybe I have an addiction. I looked exercise addiction up online to get some more information, and I thought it would be beneficial to share it with you.

Exercise addiction has many symptoms.  You may think, “how can an addiction to something as healthy as working out be a bad thing?” Well, in my opinion, any sort of mental or physical dependency upon something is usually not a good thing, and exercise addiction is no exception. Addicts may feel a strong urge to exercise an excessive amount, and experience a feeling of real dread if their fitness schedule is interrupted. Oftentimes, they berate themselves if they are not able to make a workout. They begin exercising on their own to avoid attracting attention to themselves, and their relationships with friends and family suffer greatly. They may even miss work to exercise. Oftentimes, they have a goal that they wish to reach, but once they have, they create a new goal so that they can justify continuing with their obsessive need to exercise. To put it bluntly, exercising is the most important thing in their lives, and they feel unable to control themselves when it comes to how often and how long they work out.

Phew! That definitely doesn’t describe me. I am more than happy to reschedule or cancel my workout if a friend or family member would like to meet with me. Exercise is definitely not the most important thing in my life. However, I do feel like it’s very important that I looked up this information, because I was headed down a path that may very well have led to a bad addiction. It’s so important for us to remember to pace ourselves, especially when it comes to physical activity. Working out too much can lead to serious injury, and if you are not willing to pace yourself, you will never have time to heal. Remember, our main goal is health, not perfection. Burning too many calories is not healthy – it’s basically the same thing as not eating enough, and we all know how bad that is for you. You may lose weight, but you’ll be losing muscle mass and important vitamins and nutrients too, and that isn’t good for you.

If you feel like you may have a problem, be honest with yourself. Do the above symptoms describe you at all? If so, take a step back and examine your mindset while working out. Do you refuse to let yourself stop, even when you’re in pain or feel like you don’t have the energy to go on? Does everyone who was in the gym when you got there leave before you do? Do you get physical pleasure from the “workout high” we all experience, so much so that you push yourself beyond what you thought capable just to achieve a stronger sense of elation? 

If so, take a step back! Grab a friend and sit down with them. Ask them if they have noticed anything or been concerned. If exercise addiction is a real problem in your life, chances are a good friend will have noticed. They can give you some advice, but also help you to understand that your worth as a person does not come from how physically fit you are, but how healthy your relationships are, your heart, your generosity, etc. Ask yourself if you are really willing to give up those things just to achieve a better figure. I should hope not, and I think a few soft words with a good friend might help to put things into perspective.

I hope this information has been as helpful for you as it has been for me. I have enjoyed writing about this because it has helped me work a lot of things out in my mind and understand this situation a lot better. 

Remember, in order to be healthy, truly healthy, your mind must be healthy, too! 

<3 Namaste

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Recipe - Black Bean & Avocado Burrito

I hear a lot of people say that eating vegan is “bland” or “boring” or that you can’t make delicious food without meat. This is so ridiculous I felt the need to argue publicly on the behalf of all vegetarians and vegans. Plant-based protein is not only oftentimes more nutritious and more lean than animal-based protein, it’s also delicious! So here is one of my favourite vegan recipes. Try it out and see how you like it. You may just find that eating vegan is a lot easier and tastier than you thought!


If you’re vegan or vegetarian, EAT. BLACK. BEANS. It’s just that simple. They are incredibly high in protein, not to mention a bunch of other vitamins and nutrients, and they taste great.


-one red onion, cut up

-one red pepper, cut up

-one green pepper, cut up

-one clove of garlic, minced

-one can of black beans, mostly drained (I like to leave a little bit of the juice)

-a bunch of mushrooms, whatever type you like best, as many as you think you will want (I prefer Portobello)

-half an avocado, cut into little pieces

-some spinach leaves

-whole wheat tortillas

-hummus (whichever type you prefer)

-extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil


Pour a little olive oil into a large frying pan or skillet. Add onion, peppers and garlic and cook on low until the peppers and onion are slightly soft. Then, add the mushrooms and cook until all vegetables are at desired tenderness, stirring often. Then, add the black beans and any spices you might like to include (I find it tastes great with just pepper, but that’s me). Once the beans have heated up, turn the stove off. Don’t cook the beans too long – you just want to warm them up, really.
Spread the spinach leaves onto your tortilla wraps and pile the mix as high as you want! Then, add the avocado and the hummus, wrap and ENJOY! You can also add a whole bunch of other things to the mix – zucchini, tomato, or cheese if you’re not a vegan. Try it a bunch of different ways and figure out how you like it best!
Easy, cheap and delicious!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Are Anti-Depressants Addictive?

It’s been a while since I have written about my depression and the experiences I have been having on my medication, and last week something happened that I feel is really worth talking about. Remember when I said that I was going to try and be as unbiased as possible when it came to telling you guys about how the meds are working for me? I’d like to exercise that in this blog entry, and talk about something that may be difficult for some people who have been on anti-depressants for a long time to face – the threat of addiction.

When I started my meds, I didn’t really think about the fact that my brain could become very accustomed, in fact – addicted, to them. I think in our society we tend to view drug addiction as something that happens with recreational drugs, or at the very least drugs that can be used to get high, not psychoactive drugs. But the reality is that your body and your mind can become accustomed to any chemical substance, and when you take away your daily dose, it can be very difficult to function without it. Although people will try to tell you differently, I don’t see how it’s possible that these drugs aren’t addictive. Everyone has a different opinion on this, however, so I’m not trying to say mine is fact. But I do believe that anti-depressants are addictive and that this addiction can pose a threat.

Last week I fell ill and so of course was very preoccupied with all of those things you tend to do while sick – sleeping, whining and more sleeping. I was so preoccupied that for two whole days I forgot to take my meds. That’s four doses. For whatever reason it just completely slipped my mind. On Friday I spent the majority of the day alone – the rest of the farm occupants were all gone to a cottage up north, and the entire vast space of the property was empty save little old me and my cat. By around 6 PM I started to feel stir-crazy, which isn’t unusual for me. I began texting friends asking them if they wanted to get together to hang out, but everyone was busy. I panicked. Suddenly, a lonely feeling spread through me like ice. It had been such a long time since I had felt it, but I recognized it immediately - it was the same way I used to feel in these sorts of situations before I started my meds. Soon I had collapsed on my bed and was weeping. I felt completely alone. I’m sure that anyone who suffers from depression knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Soon I remembered that I needed to take my meds, so I quickly popped a pill. My friend Kate talked to me and calmed me down a little, but I decided I couldn’t stay on this big farm all alone, and set out for a friend’s house to stay there for the evening while he was away (and use his claw foot tub). It took me nearly an hour of trekking through the snow and the freezing wind to get there, but I made it. By the time I got there I had already started feeling better, and soon I was back to my regular self. The medication had made it into my bloodstream, you see, and the chemicals in my brain were all where they should be again. 

That scares me! Granted, stopping any medication cold turkey like that isn’t good for you, and if I had eased myself off of them my reaction wouldn’t have been so strong. In fact, I may not have even had a reaction at all. But the idea that my body has become so used to getting its twice daily dose of anti-depressants that it simply cannot function normally when the supply is cut off is absolutely terrifying to me. What about people who have been on this medication for years? Have their brains ceased being able to fend for themselves all together? Are they like opiate addicts writhing in pain as soon as the juice is cut off, because their bodies don’t know how to produce their own endorphins anymore? The fact of the matter is, probably! If you take the time to wait it out, eventually your mind will get back to normal, but when it comes to mental health and people who suffer from debilitating depression, asking them to “wait it out” may not be the best idea! Very bad things could happen during that waiting period.

I’m not a doctor, and I’m not saying that my opinion is fact or that I know everything about these meds and what they do to peoples’ brains. But the fact of the matter is that the brain can get used to any change in its chemical levels. If you eat a lot of salt for years and years and then stop, you’re going to crave salt, it’s going to drive you nearly crazy. So wouldn’t it stand to reason that if you’re pumping SSRIs into your brain for years and years that it may become accustomed to those as well? So all of this just drives the point home for me that I do NOT want these pills to be a lifelong solution. I don’t want to be dependent on any medication in order to be able to function normally.
So what do I do? I don’t want to stop taking these meds yet, because I am also using them to quit smoking, and for that you’re supposed to be on them for at least six months. So far, I’ve been on them for almost three. They have been doing wonders for my mood, and I feel lighter and happier than I have in years. It’s also been a lot easier for me to dig to the root of my issues, and I’ve been having a lot of revelations lately about the way I think and how I got to this place in my life, so I don’t regret starting them. I don’t think it would have been possible for me to do all this work if I were still trapped in a pit of depression. So in that sense, they are doing exactly the job I had wanted them to do. 

So. I’m going to continue doing the work, continue trying to find ways to cope with my depression and my negative moods without the meds. I’m going to keep trying to get to the root of my depression, and find healthy, natural ways of fighting it, like eating specific foods and developing an exercise regime. If you are on anti-depressants, I urge you to do the same! Try and think of your meds as something transitional, not permanent. Talk to someone – see if your doctor’s office has a counselor you can speak to or find out if your health plan covers psychiatric visits. Do some reading, and try and find a method of calming your mind that works well for you. You can try guided meditation, which I find works really well when I am too worked up to sleep. You can search ‘guided meditation’ on youtube and find a lot of really great videos that help make it easier. Start researching different foods and herbs that help with depression and anxiety, and develop a regular exercise routine that will get your blood pumping and the endorphins flowing three or four times a week. Find a method of dealing with your chemical imbalance aside from just popping a pill every morning. That way, at some point when you do decide to go it alone, you will be a lot better equipped to deal with what’s coming your way. And remember to take your meds! Stopping cold turkey is NOT a good idea, as I learned last week! If you do decide to go off of them talk to your doctor about the best way to ween yourself off them, and follow his or her advice.

Above all else, love yourself! Treat yourself the way you are meant to be treated - with patience, love and kindness. 


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Let go and let god, indeed!

Today I’d like to talk about something a bit out of the norm, although along the same vein, I suppose, as a few of the other things I have written about so far. When I started this blog I intended for it to be solely about my physical health, but it quickly evolved into being about my depression as well, and since then has gone off in a couple of other directions. The fact of the matter is, I am in the middle of a transformation. Of course, I guess we could all say that at any given point – we are always changing, transforming. I guess I should say – I feel like I am at the peak of a transformation, or at the very least at one of the high points, and I would like to share with all of you some of the things that have been on my mind.

Do you ever get the sense, in one incredibly defining moment, that your life is following a specific course, and that everything – everything you say or do, see hear, taste and experience – is leading you to something? That all of it is working together to bring you to exactly where you are supposed to be at this exact moment in time?

I have had many moments like this in my life. Some have made me laugh out loud with their perfection; others have been so beautiful they have made me cry. This feeling – that you are exactly where you were always supposed to be, that all the events in your life have been happening for a reason – is a wonderful thing to finally discover. It has brought me so much peace and filled me with so much love for every living thing on the planet, because it also drives home the point that we are all intertwined and connected with one another in the most beautiful and intricate way.

Oh, well – I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let me start by explaining where I was, the trajectory my life had been on for so long, and where I feel I am headed now.

For a long time, indeed for as long as I can remember, everything that happened in my life was NOT my fault. At least the way I saw it. I refused to take responsibility for any of the things that were making me miserable, and instead spent a lot of time being upset that they were making me miserable. I wallowed in my bad and sad moods and waited impatiently to be “up” again, which would inevitably happen, as my life was a constant rollercoaster of emotion. I wouldn’t say I was an unhappy person – I had too many highs and moments of joy to use that word to classify my general state of being, but I spent a lot of time being unhappy. I spent a lot of time ranting and raving about what horrible hand I was being dealt and how sorry for myself I felt. I had negative things on my mind, and so began to see only the negative in everything. I wasn’t entirely unpleasant to be around – like I said, it’s not as if there weren’t many moments during which I was happy, but I was absolutely not taking responsibility for the course of my life and the way it was all shaking out. 

I can’t say the exact moment that things changed for me. It was not as if there was some clap of thunder and intense moment of enlightenment and from that time on I walked around whistling and saw sunshine and rainbows everywhere I went. But I got fed up with myself. I started seeing my relationships with people beginning to deteriorate because of my negativity. I started fighting with people I never fought with. It seemed as if no one understood what I was trying to say! It was then that I realized that it wasn’t that they didn’t understand what I was unhappy about, but that I didn’t understand that I was creating this unhappiness for myself.

Suddenly I realized that every “bad” thing that had happened to me in the recent past, every change of direction that I had interpreted as negative, had been leading me to this exact moment. It all became so clear to me. I saw it laid out in front of me, and I laughed out loud at the beauty and simplicity of it. I was filled with such an overwhelming sense of joy! So much love flooded my heart. Not love for one specific person or place or thing – love for everything and everyone. I saw how closely knit we all are, how we are all strung together tightly, and it made me so happy! That bird flies up and sits on that tree branch, and as a result that leaf falls off its branch and begins to travel in the wind. I take a deep breath and exhale, which causes the leaf to move in the other direction and begin a completely different path – one that brings it to another bird who picks it up and uses it in its nest. So simple, and yet… so beautiful! We truly are all connected. We are not alone – rather, we are all the same, and everything we do or say influences the path of others. This is a freeing realization! It was as if a giant weight had been removed from my shoulders. 

The point of my speaking to you about all of this is to explain what happened next. I began waking up every morning filled with a sense of excitement about the day to come and what it would bring me. I tried my best to always see things in a positive light, and while sometimes it was very difficult and took a lot of concentration, I was, for the most part, successful. Soon, more wonderful things happened, which only made me feel lighter and happier. It has become like the most beautiful cycle – I think positively, positive things happen to me, which makes me feel even more positive. It may seem silly for me to say that thinking positively brings about positive things – maybe that’s not it at all, in fact. Maybe it’s just that you begin to see things in a different light, and instead of seeing the negative, you see the wonderful things about them instead. 

Now, I have tools I use to keep my happy energy flowing. When I worry, I recite a Dalai Lama quote I read somewhere that always stuck with me, “If you have fear of some pain or suffering, first think if there is something you can do about it. If there is, you have no reason to worry. If there isn’t, you have no reason to worry.” Or something like that. Basically, if you can do something about it, then do it, and stop worrying. If you can’t, well, there’s no sense in worrying then, is there? It’s only a waste of energy, and fills you with a lot of negativity. Much better to just relax and see where all this takes you. When I am filled with anxiety, thinking like this almost always calms me down. If something happens that formerly would have plunged me into a pit of depression and moroseness, I take deep breaths, I tell myself it is what it is, there is nothing I can do about it. I remind myself of all the other “horrible” things that have happened to me that have actually turned out to be wonderful in the end. “It is what it is”, this is a useful phrase to recite to yourself. When things happen to you, there is rarely anything you can do to change them. And like the Dalai Lama said, if there is, go do them! If there isn’t, well, then you have a choice: you can wallow in self-pity and anger, or you can decide to just let that go, and fill yourself with positive energy instead.

A lesson that has been truly difficult for me to learn, and one that I am still deeply immersed in, is the fact that how you react to things or people and how they make you feel is entirely up to you. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” She was so right! And on the same vein, no one thing or person can make you feel anything, really, without your consent. You have the power to decide how you are going to react to things, no one else does. If you think clearly before making this decision every time, if you decide to react as positively as possible (even if it takes some time and some deep breaths, which for me it usually does), you may find your life following a very different path than the one it was before. We all struggle, there are always going to be things we’re going to get upset about, but we can reduce the number. We are the only ones who can truly change the way we think about things. So what’s stopping us?

I don’t want to make this too long, but I could go on for days about the beauty of this realization and what it has done for me. I still have such a long way to go in my journey of self-discovery, and so many more lessons to learn to help me get through my depression on my own, but I feel as if this may have been the most important one. But then again, how would I know? There are so many more I haven’t even imagined headed my way! I’m excited to see what my life will bring and what wonderful things I will learn about myself and, therefore, about everything and everyone.