Disarm you with a Smile or A Story of Depression and Red Lipstick

Every new year brings with it an opportunity for reflection and perspective.  2015, 2016, 2017, and now 2018 have proven to be quite challenging for me.  2015 and 2016 I was going through my divorce and I was in a certifiable depression that took quite a while to pull myself out of.

2017 was a year of many changes, but I was in a good spot emotionally and managed to keep my depression at bay.  2018 was a year of highs and lows, as most of them are, but I found myself caught in a funk once again, and it took a while to get rid of it.

If you suffer from depression, you know managing it, at times, can be a daily task.  I’m no professional, but I have found different things that have worked for me through the years.  I have ultimately learned it’s okay to take a short visit to the depths of despair {they’re called feelings,} I just need to have the proper tools to pull myself out of it so I don’t build a house there.

Over the years, the tools have included therapy, writing, self help books, travel, friends, gratitude, or something as simple as getting outside.  This year, I added reiki, and I’m trying to focus on myself – things and people that make me happy.  I have also rediscovered this trick I used in college.

I went to college to work in hotels because I was going to travel the world.  When I barely passed my Hotel Administration 101 class and hated nearly every minute of it, I knew I was in a pickle.  I had saved all my money, moved by myself across state lines, and planned my life based on the premise that I was going to be Connie Selleca from Hotel.

Now what was I going to do?  I decided since I put in all the effort, I was going to stay where I was regardless of what major I ended up choosing.  Now, I just needed a new major.

Disarm You with a Smile
Me graduating from college with a BA in Communication Studies, and wearing red lipstick 

I was always a good writer, so I started thinking about careers linked to writing that had nothing to do with being an English major, because I was smart enough to know, I wasn’t smart enough.  And I would’ve been bored out of my mind.  Public relations kept popping up, so I started with a Communications 101 class on Internal Communication.

I loved this class.  Each one was like a therapy session, and things got very personal.  We had one rule – what happens in class, stays in class.  Emotionally and mentally, this was one of the worst times in my life, and Communications 101 couldn’t have come at a better time.  I was struggling with immense guilt over my relationship with my dad and the fact that the opportunity to mend it was gone forever.  But, when I heard what some of my classmates were going through, what I was going through didn’t feel so bad.  We were all grieving something.

One of our big projects was to put together a collage on the outside of a shoe box.  Each of the five sides was to contain photos that represented different aspects of our personalities; the aspects we show in public.  We did our boxes and presented them to the class.  Easy, because what we present on the outside is always a version of our best selves.

Then the teacher said, “Okay, now you have to do the inside of the box.”  Wait, what?  Now we had to do a collage based on the five aspects of our personalities we don’t show the whole world.  Ironically, the day I had to do my internal box presentation fell on the one-year anniversary of my dad’s death.  Things got messy.

When I gave my presentation, one of the photos I used was a tube of red lipstick.  When I feel depressed, I said, I put on red lipstick and it kind of makes everything feel better.  It makes it feel better because wearing red lipstick is bold and empowering, and it makes you feel prettier for some reason.  And when you feel pretty, you have a good day.

In my most recent reiki session, I got the same message regarding color from a few different sources, as in wear more colorful clothing.  Black, navy blue and gray are the extent of my wardrobe, so it was suggested I continue to add color in other areas.  Like, nailpolish.  Or hey, maybe lip color.

A few weeks after my presentation, my teacher came to class wearing red lipstick.  She asked who recommended it and I raised my hand.  “It works,” she said.  Her dad was in the hospital and she was feeling drained, so that morning, she put on red lipstick and it made her feel better.

It does work.  You should try it.  And if you don’t like it, try other things, but it’s important to find the tricks that work for you.

Cheers to a funk-free 2019!


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