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talking about depression by Nikki Dee

I never know how to talk about depression.

How do I write about depression? Where do I even start?

I try to be fairly open about my struggles with mental and emotional issues. I am a big believer that communication can end stigma. However, it can be really difficult to speak openly about things that some people view as a personal weakness. Due to the nature of my neuro-divergence, I have periods of depression in my life, sometimes several times a year. If ever the subject comes up, I try to laugh it off or change the subject quickly. The truth is, depression is still so misunderstood.

For the past week, I’ve been having a depressive episode. Even though I take an antidepressant mood stabilizing medication daily. Even though I had work and class and other obligations. Even though I have friends who care about me, even though I live with a partner who loves me.
Depression doesn’t care.

For five days, I was unable to do anything besides lay on the couch, drink tea, and stare at the ceiling. Every sound irritated me. I didn’t want anyone to talk to me. I didn’t want anyone to touch me.

My partner glanced at me occasionally with concern from his desk across the living room, but mostly I was home alone with the cat. I ordered in takeout, or didn’t eat. I drank three times more coffee than usual, but my energy level remained in the dirt. I couldn’t move. I didn’t care.

Homework went undone. Dishes went unwashed. Emails went unanswered. I even had to call in sick to work one day.

I felt embarrassed, disappointed in myself, and self-loathing - when I felt anything at all.
I wanted to run away - if I could find the energy to stand up and move my feet.
When I finally fell asleep at night, I was plagued with nightmares.

On Saturday, I felt proud of myself when I mustered up the energy to watch two documentaries on Netflix.

This is the side of depression that can be hard to understand.

It’s a struggle, and every day and every week are different.  All we can do is make the decisions that are best for ourselves, try not to feel guilty or bad about our depression, and just keep going. We’re not alone.

blocking negative energy by Nikki Dee

Sometimes I do one-on-one meditation sessions in my apartment. I had a conversation recently with one of my meditation students. He wanted to learn how to open his heart more, feel more connected, and view the world with love. We worked on some Metta Loving-Kindness meditations and talked about the Web-of-Life. But then the conversation shifted a bit: because when you open your heart, it feels like anything can get in there. Opening yourself up can feel not only very vulnerable, but also a bit dangerous. Being a sensitive or empathic person can be difficult sometimes, because you pick up on other people's moods, whether they are bad or good. And all of that conflicting/negative energy feels like it's rubbing off on you sometimes, making you anxious or pulling your mood down.

Someone I know mentioned that she has been working through some personal issues with her energy practitioner. And these sessions have begun to raise her vibration, clear her energy and start the healing process. However, lately for my friend things have felt sort of anxious and crazy: she doubts herself, her self-esteem is off-whack, and things seem a bit more dramatic. Her energy practitioner said that often when you work on yourself and begin to raise your vibration, there is a sort of after shock: things seem much more intense, because they are to you. You are opening yourself up. And that can feel a little scary, even though it's beneficial in the long run.

I am a highly empathic person, and and for me, it can be overwhelming and distracting when someone else's negative energy rubs off on me. As many New Yorkers can attest: it can be hard to be intuitive/sensitive in a big city like NYC because you pick up on everyone’s energy. And there are sooo many people that the energy starts to feel a little crazy and chaotic!

Thankfully, there are many ways to protect your energy. Gala Darling recommends imagining a long zipper running up your body, and "zipping" yourself up. You can visualize yourself in a protective fortress. Tess Whitehurst wears reflective jewelry and protective stones, like Onyx, and clears their energy often. The trick is to not detach yourself: stay tuned in, but protect your own energy.

I like to imagine a pure white light around me...steady as a lightsaber...that protects me and clears my path. Feel it burning through negativity and reaching through to positivity. Stay compassionate, but neutral. You and your feelings are just as important as anyone else, and staying grounded in your own awareness can make you a better helper than just acting as a rag to sop up someone else's mood.

  • Say No to toxic experiences.
  • Keep your thoughts free of fear -- fill them with love, instead.
  • Call on God, spirit guides, ancestors, radiant energy, whatever helps you stay positive. Spirit guides are fun because they are like that little buddy in video games that helps your character through problems.
  • If you know that you are going to be in an overwhelming energy situation (such as a stressful subway ride, a large crowd, or helping someone who is very emotional and upset), try meditating first to center and ground yourself. You can ground your energy, chant, and even set intentions like I am a magnet for positivity or I will keep my vibrations high and radiate good or even I am in a fortress and nothing will hurt me.
  • If you are picking up on a particular person's negative energy and you are upset because you want them to be happy, Gabby Bernstein has a great meditation to send love and light into their hearts.
  • Some people suggest a "cutting cords" meditation. But if I'm picking up on negative energy from someone I love, I envision the cord between us; then I imagine filling myself up with healing light. Then I will send white healing light from my end of the cord into theirs and imagine it filling them with love and happiness.
  • I am all about protective/magical charms. I wear mala bracelets, rose quartz and turquoise stones, amethyst druzies, and I am never without an evil eye or Nazir symbol.
  • When you get back home, try deep breathing, burning some sage, and free writing.
  • If you are a sensitive person, and especially a survivor of abuse, it can be hard not to take other people's moods personally. But that is the MOST important thing to keep in mind when protecting yourself.

    Good luck and good vibes, my sensitive, empathetic, and intuitive babes.

How to let go without feeling guilty by Nikki Dee

I would probably never be described as a "practical" babe. I am a complete optimist. But I know firsthand what it's like to face the realities of life. Financial problems and other blocks can make us feel stuck, trapped, like we're stuck to the wheel of a slow moving truck rolling down the street for miles. It can make us feel like we don't have any choice but to plod along, or to live with stress and mess. But I believe that no one should be doing things that they straight-up hate. Life is too damn short, too weird, and too magical to do things that make you feel terrible all the time. And it has always been the case, for me at least, that I find some magic RIGHT at the end of being stuck and wanting to give up.

It's okay to change your mind about something - you don't have to feel embarrassed about feeling let down

I recently quit a job that wasn't serving me. It seemed like a great job on paper, but in reality, it wasn't what I expected. I was super excited about the opportunity at first - I hyped it up, told my friends and family, almost used my new job title as a descriptor in my instagram bio...well, I lasted three and a half weeks at this job before I quit. I worried about the job market (I had a backup job but it didn't guarantee many hours, as well as my art which doesn't quite pay the bills right now.)

To be honest, being a millennial with a full-time job felt a bit like a miracle, and I felt like I should be thankful for the opportunity at all. And, I was thankful and glad for the opportunity - it just turned out not to be a good fit. I felt a little disappointed in myself for not "sticking it out" and "powering through". But actually, why would I keep doing something that wasn't working out? It's okay to change your mind about something. If leaving a job feels like the right thing to do, don't worry about what your ego is telling you, or what other people may think of you.

I pulled some cards near the new moon to ask the cards what I should do. I pulled the Two of Swords & The Sun. This told me that I had a decision to make that would affect my happiness - duh! - and that I needed to tune into my true feelings, stop pretending, and ask myself what would really make me shine.

Your priorities are your own - don't let your ego, or other people's opinions, affect your decisions for yourself. It's your life.

One of my requirements for a job right now is that it doesn't take time or energy away from me working on my art, and this job was making me so exhausted that I could barely make myself dinner at night, let alone work on creative endeavors. My point is, that sometimes you need to let go of things that aren't serving you in order to make room for things that will. This is something that I need to be reminded of a lot, apparently...because we are so conditioned to accept things as they are, because "life isn't fair" and "no one likes their job" and other sayings that make people complacent and unhappy for no reason.

If you have the ability to change something in your life that isn't working for you, I always say go for it. You will be happier in the long run, and you are clearing energetic space for the things that do need to be in your life. And now, that position is open and available for someone who might fit the job a lot better.

Clearing out the things that don't serve you creates space for things that do.

Love & Addiction: The Devil Tarot by Nikki Dee

I recently received a request for a Tarot reading through email, from a woman who had gone through a breakup. We will call her "Kay" (not her real name). The breakup happened a few months ago, and she wanted to know if the time was right to try to rekindle things. Kay asked a few questions, including what the cards had to say about her feelings towards her ex, his feelings towards the relationship, and if she should contact him. I agreed to do the reading and sat down with my cards. I pulled a few cards, looked at them, and did a tiny gasp. A few of the cards were what could be considered "negative" cards: The Devil, The Tower. Now, I don't believe that there are any "bad" cards in the Tarot - I see it more as lessons, trials, and opportunities for new beginnings. But these cards were not necessarily going to be what she wanted to hear. So I did something out of curiosity - I put the cards back in the deck, reshuffled, and pulled again.

I pulled the exact same cards. Damn. The Universe was not kidding around.

Kay's spread generally said that her ex saw the relationship as over, that he saw her as a potential for trouble and anxiety when they were involved romantically, and that they probably both needed some time to grow before she should consider trying to rekindle anything romantic with her ex. But the card that I was most interested was The Devil.

The Devil card came up in response to Kay's feelings towards her ex and their relationship, and my immediate thought was, uh-oh. She is addicted to him. Girl needs to get herself outta there for a while. The Devil card can mean addiction, obsession, and even staying in situations that are bad for you or against your will. It can relate to hopelessness, material or physical things and turning a "blind eye" to a bad situation.
My quick assessment just from this card was that their relationship was very physical and possibly relied on physical attraction, that one or both of them was a bit obsessive or protective, and that the relationship may have been strongly focused in, existing in it's own bubble. They needed some time to calm their inner spirits and be true to themselves for a while.
This may seem harsh, but the cards don't lie - and remember they were broken up and not speaking, so clearly something didn't work out between them.

What I'm trying to explain is that when you do a reading about your relationship, and The Devil card is involved, don't freak out - but definitely evaluate your situation. Have you or your partner been sweeping problems under the rug or ignoring them? Are you too obsessed with each other? Is some kind of addiction keeping you apart emotionally? Is jealousy making you or your partner overreact? It might be time to talk things out. The good thing about the Devil card is that the Lovers in the card can always take off their chains - meaning, you can always break free of your problems and move on to happiness, whether separately or together.

Is there a Tarot card you want to learn more about? Let me know in the comments for a future edition of Tarot Diary.

The Wheel of Fortune Tarot by Nikki Dee

The world keeps spinning 'round, every day, no matter what. In this crazy world today, I really wanted to take some time this morning to talk to you about  a card that is really important to me: The Wheel of Fortune.

The Wheel of Fortune describes luck, change, personal vision, and movement. But it also describes Life itself. It is the card of the Universe. It represents the Wheel, the Cycles, the Waves, the Circle of Life.  Things are always changing, always moving in a cycle. The Wheel of Fortune can be a fantastic card to pull in any spread, but it also gives us great inspiration and understanding.

At any given point, we can only see a small piece of our lives: this moment, right now, from where we are standing. Inside our own heads. But the Wheel of Fortune is the bigger picture, and it’s the whole thing. It can remind us to honor this small present part of our lives as just a tiny, important piece of the bigger picture of ourselves, our lives, and how we fit into the world as a whole.

At any given moment, you can feel where you are on the wheel. You might feel like you’re at the bottom, under the wheel, being crushed by the weight of the world. And oh, yeah, you better believe I’ve felt that, too. But you have also had moment where you are at the top of the world, feeling amazing, shining your light out into the Universe and receiving it in return. And sometimes, you might feel like you’re just holding on for dear life, just being taken along for the ride. I know what it’s like to feel like you have no control over anything, like life is dragging you through the roller coaster track blindfolded. But we all ride the waves, and life will always come back up. In this way, pulling the Wheel of Fortune can mean that your luck is about to change.

We can be inspired by the Wheel to remember that when things seem horrible, that there is a bigger picture, and that the wheel will turn again. Back up, look for patterns and connections, grab the reins, and feel for your purpose. It’s all that we can do.

Supporting cards: The Chariot, The World.

Working from home as an extrovert by Nikki Dee

What's your Meyers-Briggs Personality Type? Mine is ENFP - which stands for Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. In other words, I am a sensitive Extrovert who loves being out and about in the world, around people. Does this sound like you, too? I know quite a few bloggers and small business owners who hate to feel isolated, alone - they get their energy from others!

Creating your own business and working for yourself can be a strange dichotomy of networking and loneliness. Working for yourself, telecommuting, or working as a free agent with no ties can seem like a chaotic, unstructured mess - especially for extroverts, who like to work with other people. So how can you work from home as an extrovert, without feeling like you're going crazy? Here are some of my tips for keeping your sanity and making the situation work for you:

1. Find a co-working space - or at the very least, an excellent coffee shop with a good wi-fi signal! Sometimes, just feeling the energy of having other people around you can be a big help. And, there's the chance that you might meet new people, have the chance to network or strike up a conversation with a stranger.

2. Connect online with other bloggers, small business owners, and work-from-home-ers! There are plenty of Facebook groups and Google Hangouts for people working in your field, whatever it may be. Make some new friends the new-fashioned way...online! And chat them up over Facebook whenever you need advice, opinions, or a quick human connection. ;)

3. Make your home office beautiful. Whether it is your kitchen table, a corner of your bedroom, or a studio space dedicated to your work, make sure it reflects you! Keep plants and flowers around and take good care of them; hang inspiration, art, and positive quotes; keep the area clear of clutter; and make sure everything you need is within reach.

4. Bring the outdoors in. Open your windows and curtains, soak up the sunshine and breeze, and make sure your getting some Vitamin D.

5. Take the time to get yourself ready for the day. When you wake up, keep a morning routine. Make yourself coffee, get showered and dressed nice, do your hair. I know that when I'm wearing pajamas, haven't eaten anything, and haven't brushed my teeth, I feel way more sluggish and unmotivated! Keeping a routine and getting yourself spruced up can make you feel more confident, alert, and productive.

6. Take frequent breaks to go outside. I recommend once every 2 hours - take a short walk, grab a cup of tea from a shop, have lunch with a friend. Getting out into the world is the best source of inspiration anyway!

7. Set your workday's hours. You can start and end whenever you want, but try to make it the same time every day. Don't work more than 8 hours in a day if you can help it! Keeping a work-life balance is very important, so keeping your workday separate from your home life, even when they can seem like the same thing, can be really helpful. If you start working at 10am and end at 6pm every day, set an alarm and make sure you stick to those hours. And try not to work on the weekends!

8. Make after-work plans. Grab drinks with a friend, go see a gallery opening, volunteer, or see a concert. Just because you work from home doesn't mean you can't be an active and social member of your community.

9. Join a trade organization, meet up group, or similar organization in your area. Some good ones are: Creative Mornings, Wake & Shake, Crafting Outlaws, The Blogcademy, etc.

10. Listen to yourself. If you need a break, some human interaction, or decide the working from home actually isn't for you, listen to your own needs and make the change you need.