Opening the Dialogue about Depression

This was going to be a relatively short blog post this week.
I’ll be honest, I’ve not been feeling it lately.

And by ‘it’ I mean blogging.

I’ve been far more preoccupied with design work and Skillshare videos.

Whenever I try to do anything other than design work I get distracted and grumpy.  Totally lacking focus.

What do I do to distract myself? I go on Facebook of course! That or watch Jurassic Park again.
Whilst I was wasting 5 min on FB I came across a post by The Travel Beans!
Who I’ve mentioned before are a lovely couple I met back in 2011 or 12 in Thailand.

They were sharing a video from another couple on Youtube, ‘A Curious Expedition Travel’ about depression and travelling, which I recommend you watch.

There has been a lot of open talk about depression lately; within my own extended family, on the news concerning attacks, on Social Media from the #Blurt campaign and through a horrific storyline on the much-loved British soap TV show Coronation Street.

 

I didn’t give it too much thought though.

Realising I hadn’t seen many of the Travel Beans videos in a while (which you should go subscribe to)!!  Turns out that one of the Travel Beans (and my favourite) Emma, has been suffering from depression! I honestly didn’t know, she just always comes across as happy! But then again a lot of my friends do… that’s one of the awful parts of mental illness, it can be so easily hidden.

It makes it hard for anyone to see that you need help. It’s difficult for you to seek help anyway! So as a society it’s great that we’re opening discussions about it.

(If you don’t know what Blurt is…)

Most people I know have been affected one way or another by it and many others live in denial or ignorance to it.  Maybe we’re at a place where we know about it but are still unsure what to do about it. Depression and anxiety are very complex illnesses indeed.

I’m not a doctor or professional and I’m not in the business of giving medical advice, but I’ll give you a quick account of the past several years and my experiences and how I’ve coped.

Bit of Background
I’ve had depressive episodes in my life, dealing with what they are now calling childhood trauma/PTSD.  I’ve thrived through CBT and the support of my friends.

Now when I say depression complex, it’s hella mega-complex. I don’t even fully understand it.

My earliest experiences with it felt almost justified, bad things happened and I had to come to terms with it. Straightforward enough.

However, several years ago after I had finished University, was saving up to go to Australia, had a wonderful apartment and a steady income, everything was fine. Then I got depression. And this was depression of a different kind. It didn’t feel like PTSD.

The doctors would put it down to stress, post-travel blues, lack of nutrients, seasonal affective disorder, anaemia etc. It could have been a combination for all I know. All I do know is that nothing felt right. I was so distant and numb. Nothing mattered, and I didn’t want to do anything, even exist.  All I remember of it now was this awful feeling of constantly being behind almost frosted glass.

To top it off I didn’t feel I could admit it (I still don’t) because I believe it will affect my future employability. But I don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t see their employees as human. That means I’ll be replaced by a robot soon anyway.

To get to my point…

Once we started to travel again I felt happier.
I am NOT saying that travel will cure depression, it’s far more complicated than that. Plus there’s nothing worse than being on public transport or on a fabulous travel trip and having a panic attack or a wave of numbness wash over you. Cos then you get the bonus of guilt. Nice. *rolls eyes*

It wasn’t just the travel that made me happier though. I spent more time with Sean which helped, my watch nurse helped, my family and friends helped, I started drawing cartoons again… MAJOR help!

The Travel Beans are currently on a year pursuing happiness, whereas last year it was all about digital nomad lifestyles.

I realized I’ve been doing this same pursuit for 3 years.

When I took note of all the things that I’d been doing that made me happier I realized that it was because they were in line with my values.  And after my nan passed away I started practising gratitude.

If you don’t know what your values are, I suggest you figure them out and start working towards them. For example, if one of the things that’s most important to you is creativity, I’m sorry but working in a bank might kill you.

The least you can do is something small every day that feeds you values.

I found that when I narrowed down my values (what was important to me) and worked towards even one of them a little bit every day, it made the world of difference. To me, happiness and balance are living in line with my values.

Top 3 Values;

Creativity/fun = sketch/paint/doodle something every day (even just 5 min).

Knowledge/Exploring = this could be anything from reading an article, doing a Skillshare class, exploring a new place, talking to someone new.

Health = yoga and the occasional Zombie Run 😉

It made the good days better and the bad days less… bad.

(Also just have music written by John Williams or Hans Zimmer in the background.)

Hope this has helped someone in some way.  It’s helped me just writing about it.

P.s I found that cartoon of The Travel Beans and spruced it up on the computer! Subscribe to them! They are lovely!

Emma-And-Alex

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