LIFE // Strength and courage

First, I wanted to give a special thanks to my friends who have gone out of their way to extend their love during this phase in my life which has felt so incredibly dark. There are no words of gratitude for what your presence has meant to me. 

Often times when people say they are going through some form a depression, the easiest thing for those around them to do is give them space. Although some people may find that distance from others helps them process their emotions, I, on the other hand want people around me to help me feel like I'm not alone and that I can seek comfort in them just being a present force in my life. The last few posts on Instagram I’ve spoken very openly about my depression. People who suffer from depression, suffer in silence. They don’t talk about it because we have placed a public stigma on depression. People bury these emotions deeply because keeping it locked inside feels the safest. People think depression is sadness, crying, feeling dark, moody, laziness, or apathy. Depression is the constant feeling of being numb. Being numb to emotions. You wake up in the morning just to go back to bed again. Often times those who are suffering from depression can sort out the feelings and become overwhelmed with trying. It truly is a hard battle.

It’s not always about feeling sad about what you don’t have and I can’t explain what triggered this particular episode. Depression can be short-lived, pass within a couple of days others suffer from more sever cases of depression and live without treatment.

My first onset of depression happened when I was 14. I remember at that time feeling very alone, confused, and the best way I can describe my feelings was that I was different. I felt very misunderstood by my parents when I would tell them what my mind was trying to process. I grew up in a Filipino household and my parents were raised in the Philippines where mental illnesses were something you simply did not discuss. I used to cut myself to relieve the pain and hurt inside until I was 15 and attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on pain killers. My dad found me in the bathroom passed out on my own vomit and quickly rushed me to the emergency room. I remember waking up handcuffed to the bed with a tube down my throat and the taste of charcoal in my mouth used to absorb the painkillers from my stomach. This was just the beginning of a years of family therapy, anti-depressants, and coping with the the mental illness. Over the years my parents and I would attend therapy sessions twice a week, once with them and the other session was my time with my therapist. Often times during these sessions I still felt misunderstood by my parents. They had the hardest time accepting that I was depressed, overwhelmed, and sad. I remember the phrases, "Why is she sad, she has a roof over her head, family who loves her, friends. It doesn't make sense." Hearing this multiple times on multiple occasions made me feel even worse, but I understood why my parents had that point of view. They were raised in the Philippines and weren't taught that self expression or talking about emotions was okay to do. If you understand the Filipino culture you will know that a lot of their faith is based on religion, the things that often guide their day to day beliefs are driven by religion and faith. My parents love me now and loved me then I knew that growing up; they just didn't have the capacity at that time to take a step back from all that they were raised on to see something different was happening to their daughter. It wasn't a stage of adolescence, it was something out of my own control. The full story runs deeper than this and one day I know I find the courage to share it.

When I look back at some of the past experiences I've had to overcome I know I could've been a different person, I know I could've not existed had I really allowed myself to drown in my pain. But I fought hard to overcome depression time and time again. I've learned to move forward and to not dwell in the past for long periods of time because that would only allow myself to be buried by disappointment, anger, and pain. These were experiences that were meant to happen, they were there to build strength, courage, and love. These experiences are my symbol of hope and reminder that I can accomplish anything. 

“Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right using of strength.”
— Henry Ward Beecher

Joanne E

I’m a mother of two beautiful daughters and married to a man who completes me. I started my fitness journey as a way to heal my soul and launched my blog in hopes to continue to inspire and empower women to use fitness as a tool to heal depression and find their self worth. I strongly believe that each woman deserves to be in love with herself just as much as her man does. I have an obsession with reusable water bottles, I enjoy action movies, and I’m in love with burpees.