The colour blue is calming, often reminding us of places we’ve been that make us feel still and at ease. Whether facing the sea, looking up at the sky or maybe sitting in a painted room, it soothes the soul instantly. There’s a darker side to the coolness of blue however, an aloofness that doesn’t have to be seen. We can feel the sharp, crisp sting of this calming hue, all the while mistaking it for tranquility. You see I love the colour blue, I just hate to feel it as deeply as I do. Before I launch into this topic, I will give you a bit of background into this dilemma of mine. I have endured depression for five years now, probably around the same time I realised I had a problem with food. I say endured and not suffered, because above all else have tried to do my best to dust myself off and try again (shout out to my bbG Aaliyah). After many doctors visits, a few pill rotations and many unfinished motivational books, I’ve realised a few things.
- Your location will NOT fix the ‘problem’
I discovered this last year when I went traveling for six months in South America and Europe. Everything was dandy when I was backpacking and not sitting still, but as soon as I settled into one place (Greece specifically) and found myself alone, that familiar feeling kicked in. On one hand it was predicament I had dreamed of for so long, and had even written about many times over. Before I left I kept saying ‘I can’t wait to get out of this place,’ and although I denied thinking this trip would make me a new person, I secretly hoped it would. My Mum loves to point out that I had my chance and that it couldn’t have been what I truly wanted if I couldn’t make it work. This point I find really unnerving because someone who faces depression will also face anxiety about the decisions they make, and then the onslaught of chronic disastisfaction that comes along side with it. So no Mum and other parents out there, I am not part of a generational problem, I’m just trying to figure stuff out.
But back to my point, if you can be depressed in somewhere as inspiring and magical as Athens, you can be depressed anywhere. Even though it was an expensive lesson to learn, I’m truly glad I did. That is not to say that living overseas is off the table for me, not should travel be for anyone that has this issue, it’s just about getting to the bottom of things before you leave a secure environment.
2. Don’t lump yourself into a category, find out what’s actually wrong with YOU
Man oh man is the internet both a blessing and a curse. In the space of a few minutes you can go from thinking you have a light tingle in one of your arms, to suddenly believing you might possibly die from a weird disease you have never heard of. The same can go for mental illness, and it’s amazing that after skimming a short checklist on a random website, you have summed up what should be more of a complex issue. It really bothers me that some GP’s will diagnose you from the result of a quick questionnaire and write up a prescription on the spot. Just like a PT will give you a program specifically for your ability and well being, the same process needs to be in place for diagnosing depression. Everyone has a different history, genetically speaking, and also in terms of what they have experienced throughout their life. Personally, for me depression came after I realised I had an eating disorder, but after many years I have come to find recently that it’s linked primarily to my menstrual cycle. It’s something that I haven’t confirmed but could definitely be a game changer once I do the proper research. So PLEASE PLEASE, treat yourself like the amazing individual that you are, and get the right diagnosis.
3. There is no such thing as a QUICK fix
It’s happened so many times that I’m not even embarrassed to admit the amount of crap I have bought online in an attempt to make myself feel better in the interim. From juice cleanses, fitness guides and meditation albums, there is no shortage of products out there marketed to people that feel shitty and would like not to feel that way quite quickly. As I mentioned before, the complexity of mental illness is so vast that there is no way you are going to be able to find a solution that transforms you overnight. It’s something I have to constantly tell myself, but this whole thing really is a process and one you have to endure. Without the long-ass road, as painful as it often is, you don’t have the foresight that recovery brings. That kind of perspective is so invaluable so you can see the ups and downs and truly find what works for you. My close friends often remind me how far I’ve come which is exactly what I need to hear as someone who is especially critical of themselves. I can’t stress how vital patience is, and how necessary it is to find a method that will help you get through it. That’s the other thing, for some of us it is a temporary period in our lives, and for others it’s an ongoing issue. I unfortunately seem to be part of the latter, but if anything it makes me more determined to learn more and not let it waste anymore of my precious time trippin’ about it.
4. Just DO you and forget the expectations
It has been relayed to me countless times over, that the whole world isn’t thinking so deeply about me or worried about what my next move will be. But hey, I’m a Leo and a deeply sensitive person, and so my thinking isn’t so much rooted in self-awareness but more in a lack of self-confidence. My entire life I have cared about what everyone thought of me, about how I was perceived and how I appeared outwardly. To this day, the two things I HATE more than anything, are walking through a big crowd of people and being asking ‘what my plans are.’ Both of those things to me, are rooted in expectation or how you present yourself in the present and also in the future. I honestly don’t like to have regrets, but a lot of my anxiety today stems from instances I wish had been different in the past. I think about the choices that I’ve made and compare the route I’ve taken to the path of others. alongside that, I think about the past and lose confidence in the direction of my future in fear that I won’t be able to make things happen this time around. You know what though, the world is a busy place and people have shit to do. So yes they may think of you, perhaps judge you in those precious minutes, but then they will proceed to live their life. Considering the bulk of your time is in your hands and not theirs, why not make that count and simply JUST DO YOU. You will find yourself to be so much happier once you remove that layer of expectation.
5. Don’t TRY and make anyone understand
Depression can be so debilitating for many reasons, and have a profound effect on relationships, even with the people that are the closest to you. First you have your family, which if you’re lucky like I am, will never stop trying to help even if you yell at them and have crazy mood swings from time to time. The burden of a mental illness is a huge one to bear emotionally for a family, and it sucks because you don’t even mean to be so destructive. It’s not a nice thing to admit, but depression can make you a very self-centered person, and you lose that sense of empathy you have as a human being. You can go from organising all of these plans one week, to the next not even wanting to leave the house and becoming the world’s biggest hermit. Once again if you’re lucky like I am you will have friends that will support you through these low times, but you just need to communicate what you’re feeling (as hard as it will be). Of course this can be very tiring for them, and you can’t blame anyone from losing patience but a sign of true friend will be someone who sticks around and asks ‘But seriously, are you ok?’.
Relationships are tricky and what I’m coming to realise is it’s an area that I’m going to struggle with indefinitely. I can’t tell you the amount of potentially good guys I’ve ruined things with because of my lack of self-love. And to be honest, I don’t really buy into the ‘love yourself before you love others’ spiel, but it does help. I do know that I need someone strong who will be willing enough to support me when I’m not shining my brightest. And those people are rare, because so often we fall for the idea of someone and not the person themselves. I’m not afraid to present myself as the whole package, depression and all, and if a man isn’t accepting of that then I will gladly spend more time alone.
That’s it for the moment, and damn right there will be more. What I’m finding the longer I spend away from writing, is how soothing it is to me and how much I want to help people out there who feel as flawed as I often do. I hope you find what you need and if you haven’t yet, please continue your search. I can’t promise you a ‘cure’, but whatever you come across I’m sure it will make this journey very worthwhile.