I have suffered and continue to suffer with... depression. I'm in a much better place than I was, however, there is by no means a "cure" for depression. What has been made abundantly clear to me, is that this doesn't discriminate against anybody, including those in positions of power and wealth. It also can creep up at you out of nowhere, and can be for a number of reasons such as our environment, relationships or societal pressures - it could even stem from childhood trauma that's laid dormant until a random trigger. The reasons behind each individuals path into depression is wholly unique, often deep-rooted and often complicated. It requires an insane amount of self-reflection, and a huge amount of personal responsibility to initiate change and move away from. If you've ever hidden something, or felt you've had to hide something for fear of judgement, then you'll know what I mean when i say my mental health and depression is something I have squashed to the greatest of my ability, for a number of years now, I felt shame and ashamed, and i'll try and explain why below.
Over the past 5-6 or so years, I've done a lot of research, a lot of work on myself, a bunch of reading, and a tonne of reflecting. I've studied behaviour, I've studied self-development, I've studied depression, spirituality, consciousness, mindfulness, addiction, relationships, triggers, trauma, efficacy, politics, conspiracies, basically anything that pulls into question our greater purposes in life. What it is to be a human, what it is we want to get out of life, and why we get unhappy, why we have mental health issues, how society has an impact on that, and what we can do about it. I've reflected on the fear I have over speaking out on these subjects, the fear I have of being authentic (myself) on social media platforms, the fear of retribution for thoughts or opinions i have, the fear of perceived judgement or condemning reactions. I've reflected and studied how behaviour(including addiction) and lifestyles can contribute to mental health issues. How we justify our actions by cheating ourselves. How we use things like alcohol, drugs or even food to cloud over our very real issues.
And yet despite all of my studying, and all of my reflecting, I still fall short of my expectations. I still fall short of my own goals and aspirations, and I continue to let myself down, as well as others. I know what I *should* be doing, I know what's bad and what's good, and yet the little voice in my head tricks me down a path i know i shouldn't be down... and that's when I (we) experience guilt.
My depression started for a number of reasons, a nasty concoction of fearing judgement/comparing myself to others, complicated relationships, addiction, guilt, lack of purpose/structure/discipline, societal pressures and more. I shan't bore you with the details, because over time I've dealt with, and continue to deal with them. The primary benefactor to my depression now is the pieces laid around me where I've let my life (ish)fall apart, and the shame surrounding my inability to have dealt with it over the years, the shame surrounding my many failed attempts, often bolstering my shame with broken promises. So a major part of my depression now is that. Ashamed that I wasn't strong. Ashamed with my lack of consistency. Ashamed that my feminine energy and traits outweigh my masculine ones. Ashamed at my inability to "fit" into the world. Ashamed that i have let people down, time and time again. Ashamed to face my parents. Ashamed that I thought i had figured it out, and then realising i hadn't. Ashamed to face the guilt and people of whom i'd previously told i'd figured it out too. Ashamed of myself, and ashamed to admit to the world my struggles and reality.
So I've spent a lot of my more recent years pretty unhappy, despite figuring a lot out, I made some great changes and improved many areas of my life so was utterly confused that something still felt like it was missing, and that would send me spiralling back down. I was living in the land of the yo-yo, peaking in and out of depression, each time sure that i'd nailed it this time round.
Sometimes people will suggest to you their opinion of what the right way of doing things is, or say "just do this, or just do that", and most of the time it is heart-felt with the best of intentions, but unfortunately, when you've suffered with depression and addiction, then you'll know, no matter what anybody suggests, the only person who can clamber themselves out of the hole and initiate change, is ourselves (me). What works for others, won't work for everybody, and it was when I was reflecting on the uniqueness of our individual journey's that it hit me, I had an overwhelming desire to help people within the mental health arena, by sharing my journey and what I've learnt, and understanding and accepting my own talents in listening, empathising and understanding others (self-worth). My dilemma has been, how can i justifiably and with any authority help people in this domain, when i couldn't even help myself and lead by example? I am the walking talking definition of somebody who can dish out advice, often to the benefit of the individual, but who has issue with holding myself accountable for that very same advice. Why?
So why am I posting this? What does this all mean?
You know when you have a post ready to go, but your umm'ing and ahh'ing over hitting that post button? That epitomises me. I am consumed by worrying what people might think i'm up to, what i'm trying to achieve, who the hell I think I am (the very nature of behavioural change can be preachy-ish). And of course, likely, it's all in my head, nobody cares what i'm up to, they have their own lives to get on with.
But my admission of this is also me stepping up to my depression. Have you heard people say the first thing you need to do is talk to somebody about it? They're right, and I did that 2 or so years ago with my Dad/Mum. From then inwards, the battle becomes easier, you read something here, you speak to somebody there, and slowly but surely, you figure out what's going on, and you make steps (littered with missteps, by the by) to improve... i'm at a place now where I feel ready to go the next stage.. ready to breakout, but i couldn't just start posting about stuff to do with behavioural change, mental health or depression, without any precursor or context as to why. That is why this post is important for me internally. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, it's a building block for things to come. I can see over the years where I've attempted to integrate back into society, share things on fb/insta/twitter, only to fall back into the comfort of my mediocrity and depression. The reality is I enjoy sharing things on social media, whether it's silly soup photos and angles, or sometimes more serious things. I enjoy talking about all things to do with health, wellness, society (with a more-than-healthy-pinch of conspiracies, can't lie), behaviour and improving our lives, and I want to explore and talk on those subjects and more.
So, this post serves as my get-out-of-jail-free card, it's my Segway into authenticity, it's my accountability partner and fear-eliminator. It is me accepting who I am, and telling you as much, and expressing my vulnerability. It is an announcement that I will no longer fall victim to my fears, and an extension of that is that you don't have to either.
In time, I've no idea where this might lead, but there is no denying that we have had an incline in mental health issues over the years, and with the current climate it could lend itself to a plethora more, and in unprecedented times, we're going to have unprecedented issues. As they say, an idle brain is the devils workshop, I know this first hand. I'm starting a website / blog with my Dad (and potentially one other). The Oglebox. It'll be blog postings and videos, discussing and conversing on the subjects I eluded to at the top (behaviour, self-development, depression, spirituality, consciousness, mindfulness, addiction, relationships, triggers, trauma, efficacy, politics, conspiracies and more) of this post, with mine and my Dad's insight into as much, but hopefully some guests and/or featured blog posts too.
This letter, like it says at the top, is to myself, and in it's own way, it serves as a means of stripping back the blanket publicly, even though it matters not if you read it, the only thing I've got to ensure is that i hit that elusive "post" button, and continue to do so.