Every Light has a Shadow; The Bravery of Acceptance

Healing Through Story: The Power of Accepting Our Full Selves

thewoundistheplace

Each one of us is more than one descriptor. More than woman, man, straight, gay, friend, lover, sister, brother, daughter, son, activist, artist, happy, sad, survivor, teacher, traveler

We are more than 140 characters. More than our Facebook statuses.

Have you ever felt like you were not living fully true to who you are?  That people only knew a certain side of you, perhaps because that is the side shared most, especially today via social media?

Me too. But it’s time to be brave.

Being brave is sometimes difficult. Being brave is being vulnerable. Being brave is being open and no longer hiding.

Being silent no longer feels like an option. Not speaking out feels like a disservice to so many others who may be in the same space and need to be heard and accepted and understood for All they are.

Through journeys with Story I have been blessed that so many have trusted me and shared their truth with me; their challenges and struggles, their resilience and triumphs. If others have trusted me to share their challenges, who I am NOT to share mine?

In the hopes that it may help someone else, here’s another side to my story:

Free-Hugs-little-girl-madrid-2-20111-150x150Many of you may know me through sharing joy; whether through Storytelling or Free Hugs around the world or bubbles on subways or small acts of kindness. Some have described me as slightly exuberant, and high energy on the dance floor.

This journey to joy was a very conscious choice, a progression over many years.

I took this journey as a way to cope with a very difficult beginning. I grew up in a house with a father who tried to kill himself 5 times, a mother with an often severe anxiety disorder (I continue to be her Primary Caretaker), and a brother who was alcoholic by the time he was fourteen. He is now 20+ years sober and I have HUGE respect for him.

As everyone has more than one side, I too have another side. A side I offer only an occasional glimpse of to a select few. But it’s time to reveal that side publicly and to embrace it, as difficult as that may be.

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So, here’s the truth; along with millions of others on this planet, I have Depression. I won’t say I “suffer” from because in my mind that connotes being a victim and victim feels powerless. And I don’t feel like a victim. And most of the time I don’t feel powerless. I feel like a human being. A multifaceted human being who is grateful much of the time to feel great joy, happiness, and wonder in this world. A human being who also at times feels deep sorrow. Sorrow every bit as big and deep as the joy.

There are times I’ve wished not to have the depth of feelings I have; perhaps you’ve felt like that too.  When the sadness and pain come, we wish we could shut it off. But we can’t shut it off, it is just part of who we are.

A friend asked what depression feels like. It’s different for everyone. Here’s how it is for me. I can literally feel it coming as if a power switch has been turned off. My slight exuberance lowers & energy lessens; friends have called me Energizer Bunny, but not at these times. I sleep longer hours. Sometimes situations or challenges that wouldn’t phase me leave me feeling depleted. It’s more difficult to be social, this coming from a social butterfly. And ironically it is when I need my social network the most; please reach out if you notice a friend become more quiet  or withdrawn than usual. If you want more suggestions for what you can do for a friend with depression, please let me know.

And I am learning that there is value to the darkness, to the sadness. A great gift has come from it: Compassion.

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I am aware that mental health issues still carry a stigma, which is unfortunate.

When someone says they have cancer or MS or heart disease we reach out, telling them to be brave. We remind them of their courage. We run 5Ks to raise money.

But when someone says they have depression, often the reaction continues to be, “It’s all in your head. Just be positive. Snap out of it.” Depression is every bit as real as cancer and MS and heart disease. You would never tell someone with heart disease to “snap out of it.” People who have depression deserve the same outpouring of care, concern and ongoing support.

I am not saying this because I have depression – I am saying it because I have been witness over my entire life to how others have been treated, unheard, disbelieved, and even “unfriended” because of an illness as legitimate and real as cancer.

I am sharing this piece of my story because I want to give others hope. I want others to feel like they can fully embrace who they are.

I also very much want to change the face of depression. The media often portrays mental illness only in the severest of cases. This continues the stigma. It paints a very specific picture of mental illness. Fortunately more people have come forward in the last decade and revealed their mental health status: Jane Pauley, JK Rowling, Catherine Zeta, Jim Carey, Demi Lovato, Owen Wilson, the list goes on. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/31/celebs-with-depression_n_942771.html#s344898title=Angelina_Jolie_

The reason I’ve decided to go public is because people have said to me, “you are the most joyful person I’ve ever met. How are you so joyful all the time?”

The truth is I am not joyful all the time; that would not be human. Though I will admit I do become slightly exuberant about what many consider to be very small things: a sunny day, a dragonfly in a parking lot, pink glitter sneakers. Perhaps this joy I feel so hugely is to balance the deep sadness I also feel. 

 In my own journey out of darkness, I felt that I could either be consumed by it or I could try to find a way to share joy with others. Joy that is not a mask on my pain, but truly feels – 100% honest and real. It is a way I have been able to connect deeply with others and to allow others a space to be completely themselves. It’s offered healing for myself and others.

The experience of coming out of darkness is different for each of us. Sometimes it is sitting in one’s pajamas eating ice cream straight out of the container. Or it’s putting on a pair of fairy wings and Free Hugging strangers. Or arriving at that moment when you can finally admit the fullness of who you are, like right now.

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And yes, I do have pink wings and a tutu and a Free Hugs sign.  That Free Hugs sign has saved my life. And it’s opened the door to heartfelt conversations I may have otherwise never had. It’s offered healing to others and to myself.

This is all to say: let us listen and support each other. Let us be 100% who we are with each other and know that our challenges are every bit as real and every bit as brave as anyone else’s. Together we can embrace the darkness and find the light.

Let’s share our journey together. What has helped you accept who you are? What has helped bring you light in the darkness? What would you like to share about Your journey? Would hearing more about mine be helpful to you? Anything you want to know, ask. Anything you’d like to share, please do.

Hugs from my heart to yours,

~Kristin

 

 

 

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17 Responses to “Every Light has a Shadow; The Bravery of Acceptance”

  1. Mary 17/04/2014 at 09:20 #

    Beautifully put by a beautiful person.

  2. Pranay 17/04/2014 at 11:53 #

    That is so true. Depression can affect anyone and so many souls can be helped with this simple trick – acceptance. Acceptance of oneself and acceptance from others. I think conversations and stories like these will only help bring depression out of the ‘darkness’. Although depression is a disease like the others, it can be hugely affected by people around you. Keep spreading love and joy, Kristin!

  3. Kristin Pedemonti 17/04/2014 at 12:17 #

    Thank you Pranay, I do think it’s important for more people to come forward publicly, I believe it will help break the stereotypes and put a more “real” face to depression and mental health.

  4. Kristin Pedemonti 17/04/2014 at 12:18 #

    Thank you Mary, your sharing your own post last week helped give me courage. Thank you for sharing the powerful stories that you do. Honored to call you friend.

  5. Monty Winters 17/04/2014 at 13:37 #

    You rock and kick ass sweet lady.

    So proud of you. You make ripples with your LIFE.

    You understand what it’s all about.

    Love ya.

    Monty

  6. Kristin Pedemonti 17/04/2014 at 13:55 #

    Thank you Monty. You are doing deeply valuable work with your Coaching and your every day awesomeness. HUGS from my heart to yours.

  7. Jayel Draco 17/04/2014 at 15:18 #

    You Rock Kristin!
    You are a constant inspiration, and that does not require your constant exuberance. You’re an inspiration for the chasms you constantly cross. You make things that are obviously difficult seem as though they just flit by you. Openly coming out as someone who suffers from depression is yet another chasm that you’ve crossed, especially when you are someone who is so often thought of as a ball of sunshine wrapped in rainbows. Here’s to all the chasms you have yet to cross, and all the precious tears you have yet to shed.
    Keep Rockin. . .
    Hugs!
    ~j~

  8. Kristin Pedemonti 17/04/2014 at 16:05 #

    Jayel, thank you so much, your comment made me cry with the joy of hearing of the impact you feel my work has made. You are such a dear, kind, talented person and I am honored to call you friend. One day we will collaborate; your art needs to be seen by more people in more places on this planet. Hug from my heart to yours!

  9. Julie 17/04/2014 at 16:55 #

    Oh, Kristen, I needed to read this today. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I am on a new one and want to be more open about who I am. (((HUGS)))

  10. Storyteller Mary 17/04/2014 at 18:20 #

    Such courage, my friend, and such help you are offering to others! I am now remembering a sweet young man who left school early one Friday and did not return on Monday. There were so many, faculty and students, who would have acted to save him if we had realized his state of mind, if we had known how he was feeling. We were scheduled to read “Richard Corey” that Monday . . . I moved it to the first week of school every year after that, so we could have the conversation about reaching out to each other right away.

  11. Kristin Pedemonti 17/04/2014 at 18:32 #

    Mary, that’s so powerful. Yes, if more of us took the risk to be fully who we are publicly I believe it would help so many in dark places. Hugs to you and thank you for the support.

  12. Kristin Pedemonti 17/04/2014 at 18:33 #

    Julie, I’m so grateful this post could be of some small help to you. If there’s anything I can do to help your journey please let me know! Hugs from my heart to yours!

  13. Joseph Anthony 18/04/2014 at 15:04 #

    Beautiful, Kristin, very beautiful. Sending you the biggest hug. I honor your courage and desire to help others. I so relate to your story. While different in some ways I so identify with your overall story and with the joy being the balance to the intense sadness–the depression. This is something that I have carried for decades. And today, instead if feeling like a failure, or like I shouldn’t talk about such things, I know today, that sharing these things (when we’re ready) helps break chains, helps others heal, helps shine the light in the darkness. So thank you again for your inspiration, your joy and your tears–for being you. And if you ever want an on the house EFT session please let me know. EFT has helped me alot to transform and work with my depression. Peace and Light, Joseph

  14. Kristin Pedemonti 18/04/2014 at 17:44 #

    Thank you Joseph. Your blog has been a source of inspiration for me, your vulnerability and you willingness to be so open about so many challenges on your own journey. I would Love an on the house EFT session, it’s something I’ve wanted to explore. :)
    HUGS to you and Peace and Light,
    Kristin

  15. michael 22/04/2014 at 10:26 #

    Kristin as you well know we share our lives to help others and to help heal ourselves. I am so grateful that you popped into my life one day at Figment on Governors Island. I am so proud of the work you do and continue to do each day! The energy force is with in you and every day it becomes clearer and clearer that we can all reach the state of pure love. I’m on this mission with you as some many others are too! Power to pure love. Thank you for sharing your true self with us..love m

  16. Kristin Pedemonti 22/04/2014 at 11:02 #

    Michael, Thank you so much for your kind and powerful words. I too am so grateful we met at Figment in NYC. I have been sharing your Love Yourself project stickers worldwide on my travels as well as here at home. Your message is so important and it’s why I sent this post to you, I had a feeling it would resonate. Hugs to you, Hugs and love to us all as we continue to accept fully who we are. HUG

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