Posts Tagged ‘depression’

The Smile Files

In Bipolar, Dancing, Exercise, Hoopnotica, Hula-Hoops, The Smile Files on April 28, 2011 at 4:03 am

Smiling Marissa.

Left untreated bipolar is the sickness of extremes. There’s left, right or up, down and never the twain shall meet.

Try conceiving the stickiness of a scorching summer when you’re knee-deep in snow and your fingertips are so numb they feel like they’re going to fall off. It’s hard, isn’t it? The mere thought of running around in a tank top, shorts and flip-flops makes you shudder. It seems impossible that the hardened ground beneath your feet was once carpeted with grass and flowers.

That is what being depressed can feel like. When I struggle to do something as simple as brushing my teeth it seems inconceivable to me that yesterday, or last week, or last month, I was giggling with my friends in an exercise class or munching popcorn at the cinema.

So I’ve decided that the next time I feel low – and I will, I can’t pretend that it won’t happen – I’m going to be prepared. I’m going to be armed with a series of thoughts and activities that make me smile. I’m going to store away in my mind a file of happy, positive thoughts that I can cling to when I feel like shit.

Stay with me here. I’m not just being a hippy-trippy tree-hugger. And I know that I sound like the bipolar version of Julie Andrews singing My Favourite Things in The Sound of Music. But hey, Maria was on to something. When I’m facedown in my pillow thinking that I’m an insult to the human race I need something to remind me that my life isn’t that bad. Yes, I have a roof over my head, a job, a car and I am physically in good health. These are all blessings that I am thankful for. But I’m talking about the simple things, the everyday things that bring me joy – little reminders that I need to focus on when my world seems black.

That’s why I’m creating The Smile Files. It’s cheesy, I know but every couple of weeks I’m going to list something that brings me joy, something that I can pull out and appreciate when I wish I’d never been born.

It can be anything – the sound of birds singing, a beautiful sunset or dancing in my kitchen to Eighties music while singing into a wooden spoon. (Yes, I have done that many, many times.) It can be an activity, a film or a book. Whatever it is it means something to me.

These are just suggestions – a list of things that make me smile that I want to share with you. Feel free to add to it. We begin with…


Gabriella Redding, Hoopnotica CEO

Yes, those round plastic toys that we used to play with when we were kids. Within the last year I have rediscovered the joy of hula-hoops thanks to the ladies behind Hoopnotica, an exercise firm based in Venice, California where I live.

I believe in supporting my local community so every year, whenever I’m in town, I try to attend the Abbot Kinney Festival. Named after the founder of Venice, it features the arts, crafts, businesses, food and people that make up the eclectic personality of the area.

Needless to say when I saw a group of women at a stall twirling around in hula-hoops I was intrigued. They weren’t just spinning them around their waists. They were throwing them in the air, swirling them on their arms, around their shoulders, shaking them on their hips. Their movements seemed effortless and graceful. When the CEO Gabriella Redding told me that she had lost 70lbs (5st) doing it – vain cow that I am – I was sold. I bought myself an instructional Hoopnotica DVD, a hula-hoop and went on to spend hours dancing with my new black-and-pink striped toy.

Sure I’ve got sweaty, I’ve burned calories and wowed my friends with the different tricks that I’ve learned. What I didn’t expect was to have so much fun.

I challenge anyone to step inside a hula-hoop, spin it around his or her waist and not smile. It’s impossible.

Whether you can keep it up for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, can twirl it from your right hand to your left or pick it up, watch it fall down and do the whole darn thing all over again, you are going to smile.

And it becomes something more than exercise. It becomes something joyful. For me it reminds me of being a little girl again. I put my iPod on and hoop my heart out while Madonna, Mary J Blige, Biggie Smalls or The Rolling Stones play in the background.

Hoopnotica reminds me to have fun and that the simplest things can bring me joy – even if that’s a colourful plastic tube.

M x