Info about this new blog by padhia hutton

I have just transferred all of this content over from an old website. These pics and articles date back to 2015. I hope find some treasures in here that you can use for your own journey. If you scroll past the first few pics the content is mainly articles- really great articles. If there's any specific questions you have or topics you would like me to address, please contact me through this site, DM me on IG @unfukyourself , or message me on my artist FB page: UNFUKYOURSELF
You can also find additional picture art on my tumblr: http://unfukyourself.tumblr.com/ and a full website that is very old but has some great articles specifically on depression: The Balto Bunny Project     Much luv, P

The Technology of the Heart by padhia hutton

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The Technology of the Heart

I used to think the heart was just a compass, one that caused me a lot of trouble. It was my life’s greatest disrupter- this weird internal force that would faintly whisper a deeper truth, that gave zero f*cks about logic, reality or the immediate painful cost of following its guidance to lands of greater delight. But the heart is something much greater than a subtle navigational tool telling mischievous tales in the background of life about what is possible. If you learn to allow it, it will light up with such power and brightness that it becomes a physical sensation, a state of bliss. In this state, it becomes magnetic- attracting to it, others with hearts alive and broadcasting. I met a man in the middle of nowhere, high in the jungle of Bali last year. I was completely alone and startled when I first saw him there in the rain, many miles from any civilization. But he had a radiance that set me at ease, and he somehow seemed strangely familiar. Also, TBH I didn’t really care what happened to me at that point, ending up as plant fertilizer in such a beautiful jungle almost seemed a relief from the present reality I was trying to escape. When I got closer he reached out and said: Practice everyday smiling with your heart. Every day! The smile of your heart is greater than all else. And then all the others with smiles in their hearts will find you. In that moment, in the pouring rain on the dreariest of days and more alone than I had ever been in my life, lost on the other side of the world, I realized I could actually feel his heart. I’ve spent nearly a year after that encounter, everyday practicing exactly that- feeling into that glowing electricity in my heart, detaching from thought. Allowing it to light up, cultivating the ability to open it up and allow the warm electricity to radiate. You will begin to notice a strange new sensation when you hug people. As if your heart is actually transcending its cage and reaching out to theirs and locking together for a moment, amplifying the glow. In that timeless moment, there is peace that is beyond words. It is the smile of the heart.

The heart is an engine that can power you through anything. It is a portal to an infinite inner well of resilience, renewal, strength, fortitude. No matter what circumstances you endure here on earth, it cannot be touched. You may think it has been broken or shut down or frozen or closed, but those are all stories your mind is telling you in response to something that has caused you fear. Those stories evidence themselves the more you let them run. They become the truth, but they are not the truth. The heart has times of expansion and contraction and you can cultivate either by the stories you focus on. The heart knows no fear, it is infinitely expanding and wants to love in bigger and bigger ways. It has been said that a miracle is simply a shift in the energy in any given moment. Choosing to respond from love instead of fear. When you cultivate this ability to create that energy shift within yourself and then in interactions with others, you are creating tiny twinkling miracles. You are an alchemist of life.

By sitting quietly and feeling into the dark warmth of the heart space, a deeper truth will begin to reveal itself. There is a part of you so vast and connected to things our human mind could never begin to comprehend, and there is nothing here on this tiny little limited-dimension earth that is greater than that. This is the part of you that is untouched. You may begin to sense something that at first will offend the mind to the harshest degree- nothing has actually ever happened to you. There is a part of you that belongs only to you, beyond the reach of anyone else’s actions. It is not made of anything that can be tarnished or marked or broken… It is nebulous, infinite, electrical, continually responding and reconfiguring, reshaping itself, nourishing and guiding all the parts of you that you intentionally connect to it. This might be the first glimpse you have ever had of your true self, that which exists extended far beyond the body. This is where your freedom lies.

Each heart has a subtly different frequency. I had to learn to tune into one when I was very small that was constantly shifting erratically and I had to be able to connect to it to survive. This has given me a great gift, an ability to somehow sift energetically through a person’s outer layers and find and hold space for that which is truly them. It also gives me the ability to know animals on a deeper level. I had a dog that went missing once and we were able to find each other in the dark, she was far from home and nowhere near where she was last seen, just by connecting through the heart channel, where distance does not exist.

The heart is much more than simply a compass, it is a beacon of light that sends and receives signals. It is connection. It is a refuge. It is healing. It is life. It is infinity. It is guidance. It is truth. It is technology. It is full of messages that will lead you on life’s greatest journeys only to reveal more messages and quests.

It is everything.

<3 padhia

Becoming Storyless by padhia hutton

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For life to really unfold there comes a day when you have to embrace your story. Where everything that used to hold you hostage in a cage of paralyzing shame, you now wear proudly like a brilliantly tailored suit- a vehicle for your infinite expansion. In doing this, you will come to an understanding beyond words of beauty and perfection, and realize a purpose that comes from deep within the infinite cave of creation where all the birds and the beasts receive their intricate detailing. You will cleanse all the data points of their pain and in doing so are left only with pure gold; gold that shines in the sun and has a feeling of substance you have never known before. These are your Gifts. It will no longer matter how you got them, as the only thing that comes to exist is their value in the present.

 

And then over time, what was once the greatest freedom, will begin to feel heavy. New murky atmospheres slowly begin to pile on. You will feel more and more confined. As life is about infinite expansion,  you will know it is again time for something to shift. I used to believe people can only know you to the degree that they know your story. Share my suffering even just a little, so I can know you love me. It’s a hostage-based system of love most of us are taught at a young age. It’s a subtle jaggedness to the bond that is ultimately rooted not so much in sharing, but in a need to control the emotions of someone else and also a subtle lack of worth. Of not knowing your own infiniteness in the present. The belief that the Now of you is not enough to create a bond. Your story has been like a handle all this time and without it, there is terror that no one will be able to hold on to you. Or even want to. Because it is all you know of yourself… but it is a fraction of your existence.

 

But you will know it is time to cast aside that suit, for it no longer fits in all the right places. It doesn’t feel as good or as freeing. It begins to pinch in spots. It will always hang like a freedom flag in your repository of life, but no longer is the costume for the main act: Now. To craft a sense of your identity based on all you are in the present is the key to continuing to moving forward. Continuing to fixate on the feels of the past keeps them active, as a thin transparency that dilutes the beauty of each moment with a darker hue. It becomes a false sense of self that only creates more of the same circumstances. When you can close your eyes and feel deeply within yourself, into the space the stories have not penetrated, that is your freedom, your infinite self. The mind will panic and shout stories about who you are and why. It will demand you identify yourself using words. It’s an adjustment, losing the fixation on the psychology behind yourself, and it feels like intentionally going blind, but you will discover how much more you can actually see and with a whole new set of senses. In a silent space beyond all that static, the truth is revealed: you are not your story. There is something far greater. Where the power used to lie in owning your story, that is only a season in life, at some point the power comes from letting it fall from focus and stepping into the freedom of becoming storyless. 
It may be terrifying at first to not be loved for all that you have carried, endured, championed over, and all that you have learned to wear proudly- but instead to be loved for something with no description that could ever be captured with words, it can only be felt. But beyond that terror, there lies a garden with no horizon. And that is the feeling of Home.

May 19

Self Portrait of my 20s, street installation 2016 by padhia hutton

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Started out in life with gigantic colorful dreams. Each day, the concrete suit of my body got heavier inside the quicksand that had slowly replaced my atmosphere. Became paralyzed. The angle of the sun was wrong, the light was too sharp. Colors all turned to faded tinges of horror. Diagnosed with depression. Given a shiny colorful pill that would wind up some kind of motor to make my hollow existence want to move again. Make the colors come back out and make me want to play with my dog or some shit. Never really worked like in the commercials, but it sure did numb me enough not to notice how much better I got at lying to myself. Asked time and time again if maybe new neurological pathways had formed and maybe I could heal? Maybe I could show up in my life, the version of myself that existed in heart. One day?  Told it wasn’t about being cured. It was about coping. That’s just a pretty word for suffering. became more and more suicidal, disconnected from my body my dreams, what it means to be human, what it is to feel. Lived in a stagnant thick murky soup of pain. Built a life as an inferior being with a dirty secret. More and more pills they piled on. Slept and slept. Even when awake I slept. Missed so many years. Over a decade.  Held prisoner by shame. Told to accept I had a handicap: a mental illness. From that perspective, there is only one path,  pills and more pills. I escaped that hell, but that’s another story.

From the other side of that giant crevasse of darkness, I have a message for you: Depression is not a mental illness. It’s an operating system. One that can be dismantled and rebuilt to support your soul, instead of cause continual emotional collapse. An operating system that is installed starting very early on in life and worms its way like a virus into every aspect of your psyche. It is formed by distinct identifiable factors  which all translate to one common denominator: complex psychological trauma. Complex, meaning many layers and not so straightforward and perceivable from the surface. Trauma, meaning anything that overwhelms us emotionally to the point where we split and part of us stays frozen in suffering while part of us marches on pretending we are fine. Depression is a thin transparency of the past that overlays the present reality, that you are reacting to emotionally. It informs everything- how you feel about yourself, all of your beliefs, and how you see your place in the the world. It is the intersection of old pain and what the soul wants to experience in this lifetime. In that light, we all fall somewhere on that spectrum to varying degrees. It is part of the human experience. We are all affected by the past, that is what connects us. When you separate out a population and label them, you can never overcome the stigma- people just learn which feelings are not acceptable to show. If you want to reduce stigma, don’t separate out the population to begin with, instead focus on what connects us.
From this point of view that it is an operating system, suddenly some very faint lights come on in really dark places within. A faint roadmap appears. You begin to realize you have things to work on, places within that can heal and questions to ask yourself, and the journey of your life becomes seeking the answers. The journey becomes healing and seeking freedom.  That is what hope feels like. Tiny twinkles in suffocating darkness. That is what having something to live for feels like.
xo

Pull the Pin by padhia hutton

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Pull the pin

Forcing every shade of gray into black and white.
The pressure builds.
Millions of notes of unspoken truth that want to be sung so loud, silenced.
The pressure builds.
Invisible knots tangle tighter and tighter.
The pressure builds.
Dreams unlived- a lifetime of infinite paths never allowed to unfold.
The pressure builds.
Sore places that never receive sunlight, become triggers for future crime scenes.
The pressure builds.
The true richest hues of color toned down for acceptance.
The pressure builds.
Stifled flow, fear unchallenged- stagnation, a living death.
The pressure builds.

Anxiety, obsession, intrusive thoughts, depression… it’s all just your soul rattling against the bars and begging to be allowed to escape the cage of some false story of self. “Let me out!” it screams and never stops in countless maddening ways easily diagnosed as mental disorders.

Pull the pin.
Truth needs nothing more than to be free.

The Shift by padhia hutton

My story is a strange one, but what I have learned is that although there are an infinite number of circumstances possible in one’s story, there is a finite spectrum of human emotion. So the things that we think disconnect us from each other, actually do the opposite. They connect us in really deep and beautiful ways.

I just spent several weeks away at a PTSD treatment center, and although I still go back a few days a week and have a long way to go, I have experienced so many miracles that I want to share.

About 3 years ago, I looked at pictures from where I grew up with someone who was a trauma specialist. I’ve always struggled with anxiety, but in that moment, something happened to me. I now know it was a panic attack so severe that it was actually a dissociative seizure. I suddenly couldn’t see, got a sharp electrical pain in my head, couldn’t feel gravity, felt like I was being sucked out of my body through the back of my head with extreme force into outer space, shrunk down to nothing, lost sense of my body and completely disappeared from my own internal landscape as the images on the screen became IMAX 3D. I hid under the couch cushions for hours. From that point on, it kept happening. Every time I tried to leave the house, in small spaces like cars, anytime noises or voices were too loud, smells were too strong, I had more than a sip of caffeine. My threshold of tolerance had become basically zero.

All this time, I’ve been trying to figure out what happened in that moment. I know that it was a moment where I suddenly felt for the first time like the first person in my story. I realized I had always told and felt my story from like a third person point of view. On some level, I didn’t emotionally understand that it was me in there. In that moment I understood it was ME and I suddenly was smashed with the magnitude of what I had endured. And so that is how I explained to myself what happened in that moment.

But what I realized was that in that moment- what I thought was a moment of clarity, was actually the moment that I began subscribing to the most crippling lie of my life. While it may have been true that I was for the first time experiencing the true magnitude of the circumstances, the story doesn’t stop there. I stopped it there, and became frozen in that. I never realized the story goes on to a very important point- I SURVIVED. I am stronger and larger than anything I have faced. In fact, although feelings have told me otherwise, the truth is, nothing has ever consumed me, digested my soul, overtook me or shattered me. I AM STILL HERE. I am stronger, larger, incredible to have endured that and survived with curiosity about the world and a sense of wonder and the capacity to connect to other people, to want to do good things, to have never lost my song, given up the tiny seed I’ve been carrying to safety, looking for a place that it can grow. It’s a miracle. I am a miracle of incalculable proportions to survived all of that, deeply connected to the essence of who I was. And to go out into the world and everyday try to make my story into a tale of triumph.

From the point of this realization, things shifted. Triggers became reminders of how big I am, how strong I was. It became laughable that on some level the belief was that a strong smell or loud noise could overtake me. To actually find yourself laughing at something that used to cripple you, is a joy I wish for everyone.

I hope that when you look at your own story, look at the whole thing, keep going past the parts where you get stuck. Realize you are everything you have ever needed and everything you want to be, and allow yourself to feel the fullness of that. You just might realize that you are your own hero.

Chaos: Where Great Dreams Begin by padhia hutton

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The outward stuff is always the last to change, its a reflection of things that stem from deep below the surface. First, the seed buried under the soil must endure a long winter and begin to grow in ways undetectable to the above-ground observer. It must first submit to the pull of the sun and allow growth in that direction. It must have faith that this pull is not imagined, but is Truth. It must see itself as part of the mysterious magic, not a separate entity. It must find solace in the fact that no matter what it must endure, somehow deep within itself, it contains all of the knowledge and energy to get there. It must figure out how to circumvent any obstacles that stand in the path of its growth. The desire to live out its life soaking in the sunshine, in communion with the energy that feeds all of life, fulfilling its purpose based on the nature of what it feels in its heart- and nothing more, must outweigh all else.

Having a clear picture of this garden can be a source of sadness and emptiness in life, if you never plant the seeds that would allow it to be anything other than imaginary. Once you hold this picture as a reality instead of a delusion, your life changes entirely. You begin to get down in the dirt with your seeds so that you can understand what each one needs in order to grow. You guard them and tend to them, and the value of everything else you possess diminishes. As you place each seed carefully, and it disappears deep down into the blackness of the earth, you look at your empty hands and doubt your sanity because at that moment you are hit with the reality that you have nothing. Nothing tangible anyway. Nothing except faith… faith in something that you can only see inside your mind- often only in abstracts and broad disconnected strokes.

And because of human wiring, faith is a roller coaster ride of great peaks and depressions. At low points, you see patterns where there actually are none, you use your past failures to tell yourself that your empty hands are a sign. A sign of madness or whatever it is that you fear most about yourself. In the lows, you find you have the courage to carry on in this way- knowing that you maybe you imagined the whole thing, and your fate might actually be to die face down in the very same dirt, your existence merely fertilizer for someone else’s garden.

But at the same time, you have growing respect for yourself, filling up parts of yourself where you didn’t even realize there was a void. And you realize there are no limits to what you can feel. You are not a container of predetermined volume, but instead a soul with infinite capacity for new levels of existence. And at these high points you begin to realize that when your garden does grow it will not feel like you have imagined, because you were imagining it from a place that had no reference point for  such explosions of color and light.

Always strive for that brilliant picture. Laugh when you catch a glimpse of yourself covered in the dirt of life. Embrace the chaos.

Pain Addiction by padhia hutton

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I was lost in a state park once when I was small. I was running fast and panicking when I noticed a daffodil under my foot and then another and another. And when I looked up I had somehow found myself in a field so impossibly full of daffodils that to this day I wonder if it was real. I remember laying down and losing myself in the color and the soft sound of their delicate yellow swirling in the gray breeze. But what I remember the most is how the fact that I was lost, totally disconnected from the world, and all the events leading up to that, completely vanished. I’ve spent my life chasing that state of Home within myself regardless of external chaos.

In the never-ending pursuit of that, at some point I realized that I have an insidious addiction that I had never heard anyone talk about. I get high on lows. I feel sick just seeing that in print. I’ve never talked about it before. But I think the fact that we often don’t have words for our very human struggles keeps us suffering in silence and shame and feeling disconnected. Two of the most healing words I’ve ever known are : “Me too”. When the lights started to slowly illuminate this part of my internal stage, leaving giant scary shadows all around, I realized: I have an addiction to pain. It’s an extra slippery addiction because there is bottom,no one ever finds out, and therefore no one can ever save you.

It started early on. The feeling of being annihilated into tiny bits and watching most of myself fragment while the exposed electrical jellyfish of my core substance retreated into an insulated rabbit hole. It’s like time would stretch out and bend out of it’s usual linear march and there was no gravity or right side up, I would lose my body and form and just be free floating and spinning. A centrifuge of particulate spinning wildly around a sharp anchor point of pain. I think It’s actually a form of cutting- Emotional Cutting. Later in life I began to see more clearly this pattern of addiction, as I learned to do it to myself- setting myself up somehow to be inflicted with feelings so strongly painful they would shatter me and carry me away to what feels like another world. I was largely able to stop, because sometimes just letting yourself know you do actually have a choice in the circumstances you are creating can give you enough courage to choose a giant void of nothingness over something that will hurt. But it’s some deep old wiring and I still often catch the circuits firing up.

I felt the tug recently and saw myself lining up all the instruments to cut again. It was more than a tug. I’m actually still sitting here shaken and teetering on the edge. Enticed by the deliciousness of that old familiar annihilation- to get carried away to somewhere no one should ever know exists, and that I never chose to learn about in the first place. There is just something about seeing myself scattered into bits across the darkest night sky that I have always found secretly magnificent.

I have spent the last few years cleaning out my life of pain and sadness anytime I became aware of it. Furiously fusing together all my disconnected parts, even to the point of doing things I never could stand like yoga and restoring the long ago destroyed connective pathways between my brain and body. As I sit here, craving internal destruction, I realize how much I actually like what I have built of my disconnected pieces- this strange patchwork creature full of bizarre scars and mismatched parts collected from strange and often mis-adventures. For the first time I can ever remember, I feel a fondness for what I have built and more importantly, Mercy. And I am realizing that when you can show your own self mercy, that is true power.

10 Things I learned the hard way : Part 1 by padhia hutton

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10 Things I Learned the Hard Way: Part I

There is a painful stage that you will go through before you come out in the world as your own Self.
Before we Become, we live with the truths set forth for us by the environment we grew up in and the operating system that was installed in us. Often this framework feels so uncomfortable because it is so different than who we really are. It creates a lot of suffering including depression and anxiety. Breaking out of that skin is frightening and painful. But it’s the only way to Become.

What it feels like to be you will change many times.
There are infinite realms of existence, dimensions of emotion, ways that you will grow and heal in your lifetime. Every experience and interaction changes you in some way. You cannot have any concept of what it will feel like to be you in down the road at all, and let that bring you unlimited hope. Don’t project the current version of yourself into the future.

Life’s most beautiful lessons hurt the worst.
A big shift happens when instead of asking “why is this happening to me?” you begin to ask “why is this happening *for* me?” — in other words- OK yeah this sucks, but what is this calling me to do? When you go down the path of answering that question, that is where you find true magic in life.

You become a patchwork of what you expose yourself to.
We are amalgamations of the people we spend time with, adopting tiny bits of their beliefs and character. Over time your life will be very different if you surround yourself with people you have traits you admire and aspire to, and who amplify your subtleties.

Being broken isn’t what you think it is.
We break to grow. Being broken is not a permanent state, if you can soften towards the break and let it run it’s course, instead of fighting it or staying stuck in it, you begin to unfold in many new ways.

You will never regret the time you dared to think you were worth more.
The logical mind tells us that the quiet whisper of the heart is delusional. Never listen. Go boldly in the direction your heart is telling you. It is the true compass of your life, and it will never lead you astray.

Your body is really just a rental car.
Take the very best care of it you can, but don’t attach too much importance to it. It’s really just a vehicle for your soul to have adventures while you are on this planet.

Half the problems in life come from stuffing down your feelings.
Suppressing the way you really feel creates resentment, fatigue, anxiety, and depression- as over time the inner pressure builds and builds. It leads to living inside a life that doesn’t feel good because it is not based on what is actually going on in your mind and heart. It also prevents you from creating boundaries, which are how you feel safe. And it creates deep loneliness as people won’t know how to how to love you because they don’t really know you.

Learn self-compassion.
In order for any transformation to take place, one must first soften toward their own self. This internal inteneration is like plowing the field before seeds can grow. It allows sun and air to softly charge the soil setting the stage for growth. Through softening towards your own human self, taking yourself by the hand, holding yourself in the arms of your heart, only then can you begin to figure out what you need.

Make sure you are vibrating, not just absorbing other’s energy.
Think about yourself in relation to others energetically. Some people emit a lot of energy, positive or negative. Some people vibrate at a much lower level and instead absorb all of it from others, which is not sustainable. Show up in your life. Take up volume. Let your shine vibrate outward.

My Personal Story as Shared on MindBodyGreen by padhia hutton

For years, I suffered from terrible depression. As a teenager, I realized I needed help. I was becoming more and more dysfunctional and thoughts of dying were quickly becoming my only source of relief.

I was proud of myself for admitting I had a problem and seeking help. I thought I was embarking on a road to healing, but instead I found myself trapped in a nightmare that lasted over a decade with a dozen or so medications that didn’t work and therapists who were unequipped to deal with my deepening depression.

After about 12 years of trying every medication on the market, and ending up on the highest dose allowable on each before admitting they weren’t working, I had had enough of all the medications. Frustrated and exhausted, I decided to try one last psychiatrist who had been given a lot of press for being unconventional. For the first time in forever, I felt a glimmer of hope, that he would have some sort of new answer that would save me.

Instead, he diagnosed me with a rare form of bipolar where instead of swinging from high to low, and drew a sine wave which represented my life, way below the normal baseline of human experience. In that moment, all hope was vacuumed out of my soul with unbearable force.

It seemed that once again, I was being forced to conclude that believing in my own sanity was just another component of my mental illness.

At this point, I felt like I had lost all hope and had been completely abandoned by whatever higher power I still believed in and so, I decided to die. I disconnected emotionally from anyone I still held onto in my heart.

It was here, in this space of total blackness, that I found there were just two tiny details that I could not let go of.

Was the joy and tranquillity I dreamed of, that I remembered from so long ago when I was very small, all just the delusion of a sick mind? Was there really such thing as a fate to suffer so carved in permanence that there was nothing I could do to change it?

I realized that I still needed answers to these questions. There was only one thing I could see that I had not tried yet: listening to that small voice deep within that never, no matter how medicated I was, stopped trying to tell me: I am not mentally ill. There is something greater in store for me. This is not the way.

I can’t explain why detoxing off all the meds seemed like the next logical step, but at that point, that’s what I felt I needed to do.

I guess somewhere, I felt like I needed to get back to my natural state and see exactly what I was dealing with.

I could no longer tell what was my own state of depression and what aspects of what I was dealing with were side effects induced by all of these chemicals.

So, I got off of everything.

The detox off of these “nonaddictive” pills was an excruciating hell of physical symptoms: the worst nausea imaginable, chronic fatigue, full body pain to the point where I couldn’t stand anything touching my skin, migraines, vertigo, deafening ringing of the ears, brain zaps. It lasted almost a year. Even worse were the psychological side effects. It was as if my brain had lost the whatever weak ability it had to regulate itself. I full of rage, hopelessly depressed, hallucinating, anxious to the point of mania, a complete insomniac, suicidal, confused about small things and also enormous things, like my own identity.

During this time I supported myself nutritionally with supplements such as B-complex, D vitamins, Glutathione, Omega-3 fatty acids and cut out all of the gluten, sugar, chemicals and processed foods. I used acupuncture to reduce many of the physical symptoms.

And … I found a new therapist, one who had actually experienced depression herself and seemed to have a different understanding of it. She said we needed to examine the root causes of my depression, the time in my life when it formed, all of the relationships that shaped me when I was young, all the pain I had never spoken about, all of the pain that I didn’t even know I was carrying.

No one had ever asked me about any of that in all of those years of therapy. Then, she spoke of something I had never in my life before heard: the end of my treatment.

After a little over a year of seeing her regularly, I felt like I woke up inside my life. I could suddenly see how every aspect of my life was created from a depressed state, and therefore served to keep me in it. I got out of an abusive relationship, a career that I hated, a state I didn’t want to live in, and friendships that only worked as long as I was quiet and defective.

What I have come to realize is that the problem lies in the way depression is understood and the courses of treatment that stem from that understanding.

One of the most damaging moments in my journey was the first time I had the courage to reach out and seek help and was labeled mentally ill.

I spent over a decade in three different states seeking help for depression, and I have seen a broad variety of all types of health care professionals.

There is a very clear summary of how they see depression. According to these beliefs, depression is a mental illness, a nebulous disease, some type of chemical imbalance that we don’t really understand and treatment is more about managing it and learning to cope than actually “getting better.”

It’s been six years since I’ve been off of all the meds and so much has changed in that time. I have reconstructed my entire life into one that I can thrive in.

I think the greatest difference is just waking up in the morning and feeling joy over nothing except my own existence.

That is the feeling I was desperately seeking all of those years, and it brings me to tears to realize I have finally lived my way into it. What I have come to understand is that depression is a suppressed level of functioning caused by many distinctly identifiable things. If you resolve these things, the depression resolves itself. Permanently.

People who are depressed live in a thick, murky soup of confusion over their own truth, anger that has been so stuffed down they don’t even know it’s there, pain that they don’t have language for, grief that hasn’t been allowed to evolve to a healed state of acceptance and gratitude, loss that is not so straightforward, trauma that is often complicated and psychological (if not physical) and tremendous sensitivities all sealed inside a pressure cooker of the body with a hefty sprinkling of shame.

When you begin to understand this, suddenly a very faint map starts to appear. Routes to freedom appear. A logical progression of the things that must be done to heal. Ways to grow. Suddenly there is room for excitement. Empowerment. Hope. Life.

I think that everyone struggles with these things at least in small ways but had I not suffered so extremely, I might never have been forced to look so closely at them. There was a message buried deep in my depression, one that revealed itself when I finally started to listen. It was actually a calling to break myself apart, examine all the pieces, and build something entirely new.

Hatred as the Gateway to Forgiveness by padhia hutton

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Secretly I always wonder about the authenticity of happy peoples peacocking their blissful states of forgiveness… Deep down inside do they secretly have old rusty shrapnel stuck in the grooves of their soul because of something that once exploded so offensively that it became permanently embedded? Just like Secret Me who can’t seem to wrestle my inner self into submitting to let something go that just really is not OK? The argument that I am poisoning my own self makes sense, but only to my head that thinks about stuff, unfortunately the parts of me that feel things have no access to such influences like logic.

So, I started with the only thing I knew for certain: the present truth. And this is what I realized: In this holy temple of my heart which is supposed to be my pristine inner sanctum, my beautiful shiny core, a sacred space full of nothing but infinite divine love- there was actually graffiti on the walls and weeds coming through the cracks. And someone may have peed. Within the part of me that is supposed to be the most full of light, there was some straight up Ugly. Pure unfiltered hate. Yes, there was hate in my heart and I’m tired of feeling ashamed because our society only finds a select limited spectrum of human emotions acceptable, while we try to stuff the feelings that lie outside this range so far down that in many cases the pressure begins to mimic mental illness.

I even suspect I may have played a role in slow cooking the hate to it’s full savoriness, because I did not allow myself to feel the full blooms of my anger when I needed to. I denied them. And so it just sort of slow simmered in the background was never allowed to boil and then burn off.

Truth is, I have always been confused about how to force myself to feel compassion and love for someone if what I am truly feeling is hate. You can’t feel both at once. And trying to force myself to feel love and compassion instead of my honest feelings seems tantamount to using skim milk to paint a black wall . So I did the unthinkable. I decided to hate. Hate without shame. Hate to the fullest volume that it needed to resonate within me. I gave it space and let it burn for as long as it needed to, hoping that would be the way to start on the journey of turning it into something else. Before that, all I was really doing was stuffing it down and pretending it wasn’t there, exhausting myself by trying to love louder than the maddening inner screams of hate- only to one day realize… not only is it there, but it has learned how to hide in the shadows and feed itself.

It wasn’t the kind of hate that takes over your identity. It wasn’t a practice of hatred as a permanent state or a way of life. But I allowed my allow my hatred to bloom to its fullest… a hate that says, eff you. I deserved better. I was worth more. The journey into this darkness was ironically enlightening. I discovered the deeper truth- my hate was a just a thick cloak that hid a much deeper wound:

You have left me much smaller than I used to see myself. You hurt me in a way that I do not know how to heal.

And deeper still, the truth was I was a person who fit so well into those scenarios- which is perhaps the hardest part to sit with, the self-hatred.

I found a startling and profound freedom in my hate- in allowing it space, while trusting that finally being exposed to the light and fresh air of inner honesty would wear the sharp edges off of it and that over time it would become duller and duller until it just was no more. All of this time I had been so desperately trying to get to the end destination of forgiveness, that I never started on the path.

The Journey Home by padhia hutton

It is 4 am. Some nights like this I am awakened with fear by the sounds of my own footsteps inside my head, as if I have wandered down a hallway that extends too far into the darkness.

I’m fascinated by the things children do to survive their environments with their spirits intact. It’s as if we all have this precious little seed within us and we learn exactly how to bury it deep within, hoping that one day we will live our way into conditions where that seed will be safe to unfold. Creating that environment is both an internal and external process and part of it happens naturally, as I think our seeds are fated to unfold, but part of it is a lot of hard work. It’s that work that gives you back some of the self-love that you may have been stripped of at some point in your life. The harder the work, the more you end up liking, respecting and admiring yourself. If you’ve experienced extreme pain or sadness it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate how you internally quarantined it. You kept it separate from your Self. You didn’t dissolve. There are parts of you which are far larger that contain these compartments of pain and sadness. Once you begin to marvel at how you created this system of self-preservation, perhaps starting when you were very small without ever being taught, you can feel the embers of self compassion and love begin to grow a little bit more brightly as you become more curious about this mysterious seed. You can think of these compartments as actual bio hazardous waste bins within yourself that you stored so carefully separate from your seed and you can now begin to dispose of, as you step into the realization that: You are not your pain.

We are born feeling like we are carefully wrapped in a museum crate. Each part of us is protected and secure. We feel safe and don’t question our ability to protect ourselves. And then things happen and the crate is broken and all the comfy stuffing of the packing material falls away. We lose that feeling of Home within ourselves. We lose our faith, we turn on ourselves (lose the ability to comfort ourselves and lift ourselves up from within), and we disconnect from the natural forward flow of life. We become consumed with fear- anxiety, depression, develop lenses that only register deterioration and doom. It’s been my quest the last few years to get that feeling back- that feeling of being anchored to a solid center. Like I am not free floating at the mercy of chaos. A feeling of Home, a place where my little seed can begin to grow. It’s been a long process (fraught with strange feelings) that has involved many things, some of which I wanted to share:

-Stopped engaging in environments and relationships that deplete me or even worse, cause emotional annihilation.

-Owning that I engaged in such things on purpose. I always blamed bad luck or the infamous “god hates me” that I found my way into these scenarios- a belief which kept me powerless. I see how I crafted these scenarios because they were the only context through which I understood existence, and also they served to keep me in a bit of a dissociative state- slightly removed from life where things felt safer.

-Developing a view of the universe that feels good to me. Fills me with comfort and wonder instead of anxiety and the idea of looming evil, judgments, punishment, etc. I guess you could call this reconnecting to a “source”.

-Coming out of survival mode. There were a million ways that I was showing myself that my environment wasn’t safe. Simple things like breathing, and chewing food thoroughly, sitting on a chair as if I am settling in for a while and don’t have to flee a bomb at some point, actual moving into my living space instead of just setting up a survival camp with the bare necessities.

-Celebrating. Big things and especially tiny things. Holidays. Milestone markers in my life, personal triumphs. This can mean taking a deep breath and just being fully present with a moment of joy over a small personal triumph or something on a much grander scale. Celebration, no matter how small, is so important, it sends signals to your central nervous system that you are not in danger- it is a time of peace.

-Not building the case. We are always collecting evidence. We are wired to do so, it is how we protect ourselves. But you don’t have to build the case. Up until the last few years, my life has consisted of tremendous sadness. I find myself continually collecting evidence that life is a sad thing. I feel my happiest when I notice more supporting evidence and I say whatever, I don’t care how much sadness I see, I’m still not building that case. This has actually given me the ability to decide I want to build a different case, and intentionally look for evidence to support it. The case I have decided to build is that some mind-blowing amazing things are in store for me which will balance out all of the sadness. I look for it everyday and the electrical charge in those feelings are way stronger than the dismal feelings of collecting bits of sadness.

-Realizing my systems of suffering. I have a non-negotiable which I do my very best to live by which is: I DO NOT SUFFER. In reality, I have suffered endlessly (mostly in my own head). Years of introspection led to uncovering that “I must suffer” was the core message of my upbringing. And now, anytime I realize I am suffering I do whatever I must do to end it. This is hard, often it means speaking up when I am scared shitless of being visible. Allowing other humans to comfort me, or help me problem solve. So much suffering comes from problem solving alone, in the darkness and isolation of your own mind.

-Moving into my life. Showing up for myself. Becoming visible to myself and others. Not just the parts that will be approved of, but also: here are my shadow sides…I am dimensional. LOVE ME ANYWAY. Or don’t. Making solid decisions instead of “kind of making decisions” and letting people push me the rest of the way. Setting intentions and working towards them. Speaking up and in doing this, healing the divide between my external and internal environment.

There is a long way left to go, but it is starting to feel good in here. My little seedling is starting to unfold.

A Dose of Hope by padhia hutton

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This piece has a deeper meaning for me personally, as someone who suffered from debilitating depression for so long, “treatment” meant having my hope taken away time and time again, as I was told my life would be about coping, not being cured. Coping is just a fucking pretty word for suffering. My life began to unfold in unimaginable ways when I finally stopped listening to the the voices that kept me imprisoned by false limitations. I was finally able to define my own fate and find my way into those brighter days- Brighter days that I was told were just a delusion of a broken mind. Never let anyone take away your Hope. The brighter days are out there, my friends.