TBT: Get Active!


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Don’t let your mind be alone too long.

This might need a bit of explanation.
You see, for those of us who suffer from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other emotional stresses, syndromes, disorders, whatever you want to term them as – spending any significant amount of time just thinking, overthinking and worrying generally leads to bad thoughts, paranoia, and physical disorders resulting from those situations.

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People who have been depressed for long stretches of time know what this feels like. I’m not talking about hearing voices – that’s a whole other issue that requires special medically trained assistance to help combat and maintain if possible. I’m referring to the fact that for many of us, we have that negative space that we can unconsciously  dip a toe into, and if we’re not paying attention to what’s happening when it starts, or we’re unable to get out of that head-space fast enough, we are going to get quicksanded instantly. Do not pass go, do not collect any happy kitten nose boops.

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The dread that seeps in can be way too overwhelming. But there are ways to combat it. Simple ones. Seriously simple ones. Ways you’re going to say, “nah, Pix, there’s no way it can possibly help in any way!” But I’m not kidding.

Ready?

Keep busy physically. Go outside at least once a day. Okay, maybe not in -60c weather, but that’s when you need to have something else to do. PHYSICAL activity does help. Even something so “small” and minimal as brushing a cat/dog. Painting a picture, cranking up some tunes (even if you have to wear a headset because others are around you don’t want to disturb) and hide away in the bathroom for five minutes and dance your lil heart out. DO IT.

Sure, these sound like easy “doable” things, but in the throws of a bad depression, these two things can be some of the most arduous battles you need to fight to actually endure and persevere to do in a day.

When I’m depressed, I’m not sure what is harder for me to do – forcing myself to physically get up, or forcing myself to go be sociable and get out of my own headspace. Even dealing with people I did want to be around was a chore. Facebook and other social media sites aren’t dependent on my sole patronage in a day (as proven by not having internet  many days running while I was in Nevis, and it’s a pretty safe bet that Mark Z. isn’t going to go bankrupt or have to shut down his site due to non-membership in that three days, week, month, etc. – aaah, the Caribbean life!

Yes, I hear you, “Suck it up, Buttercup, you live in Paradise!” To which I reply, yes, I do live in paradise, but I’m also entitled to say I don’t like mosquito bites that itch for days or when the internet is out as long as the painful mosquito bites… it’s part of the Facts of Life. Good and bad – apparently I keep mentioning this show, and it occurs to me that I miss it a great deal. Don’t roll your eyes at me, it was a very good show in its time! Yes, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. Sarcastic little… moving on…) I will touch on some of these other points later on in further articles.

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I wish there were some magical method to ease your mind in the midst of a depressive episode. Some people don’t like the term ‘episode’, but I think it lends itself well to the “serial” kind of perspective. If you think about it, it’s easier to explain to someone the various “chapters” or “episodes” over a long period of time if you’ve been dealing with depression the same way I have throughout my life.

And I think now is as good a time as any to point out a very important and glaringly obvious fact: Being depressed isn’t FUN. It isn’t nouveau, and it definitely isn’t enjoyable in any means. Don’t people create incredible works of art, literature, and other wonderful creative endeavours whilst in the midst of a cataclysmic onslaught of despair and chaotic sadness? Yes, but it is not a common situation to go searching for such depression.

this saddens me that someone I admire is bullied by their own thoughts. I should be more protectively vigilant about my own self.

this saddens me that someone I admire is bullied by their own thoughts. I should be more protectively vigilant about my own self.

I realise now that some of you are contemplating different names, thinking that Van Gogh and Pollock “wanted” to feed off their depression. But there’s the difference. They recognised and focused their pain, channeling it, knowing how to capatalise off of the actual occurrences. Vinnie VG never made money off his pain, and yet his artwork now is utilised as the basis for many psychology courses. I had four of his paintings I had to “interpret” for my Psych 101 class alone. Why the colours he chose, the method of mini trowel stroke, the paint, the use of perspective and the way he manipulated the light were only fractions of what I was told to dissect and bring a voice to. Other students were given the same paintings to study, and we were to compare notes afterwards. Then, we were fortunate enough to have an open discussion about these paintings, and hear about others from the students given different ones to explain.

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In his writings, Vinnie VG even stated that the sadness would overtake him and consume him in such ways, the only recourse was to paint to try to get away from the pain itself. There was one article I had read that suggested that was where the initial idea of paint therapy came from – that one of the doctors that he went to see before he was convinced none wanted to help him – they suggested that essentially he attempt to ‘paint out the pain’ (*my term – not one used in the article) – to paint his feelings and express the emotions on the canvas. What we see in the Louvre, and other places around the wold holding his exquisitely painfully tragically beautiful artwork is what he gave us through those moments. His sadness. His depth of understanding of movement and colour and truly seeing the tones of emotion, forever stroked onto the canvas, for us to try to understand the mind of such a tortured beautiful genius, who was so utterly plagued with sadness and depression that ultimately lead to his life ending.

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I’ve purposely left out the first part until now – not being alone too long in your own head. Destructive thoughts are given root when you’re cooped up inside your own brain too long alone. The positive reinforcements of the world that bring joy and contentment and goodness aren’t around, and you’re forced to interact with the one person who is sullen and sad and doesn’t want to be near anyone. Queue Feral Felicia’s grand entrance.

You become that bad influence; the one who is telling you to do the bad things, and think the bad thoughts, and feel the bad feels. I’m a HORRIBLE anti-friend to myself when I am depressed. I wouldn’t go so far as to say enemy, but I’m not exactly a fun bestie to get frozen hot chocolates with either.

Whatever your name is for your negative side, admitting that the darkness {Feral Felicia owns the copyright to that in my head} can creep in, and starting to see the signs that it wants to take over are important. If you are cautiously aware of your triggers – the areas that allow you to get sucked into the mindset of the depressive state – you can actively avoid them and not tempt the depression to rear its ugly head.
There are a few things to keep in mind to “see” before you start to fall into a depression, so you can consciously and adequately deal with things in a rational way.

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Don’t allow yourself to become shut off from the world. This doesn’t mean disconnecting from the internet will send you into depression – I certainly hope that isn’t the case for you, but rather it means not allowing yourself to get into a position that you are without socialisation and around others on a routine basis.
Some people need to “get away” from the media bullshit for awhile. Disconnecting from facebook isn’t what I’m getting at here. I have done it myself. I mean the entire scope of things.
See, I’m talking about myself for most of this. If you’re seeing yourself in this, know I’m not saying this to shame us. I’m broadcasting it as bravely as my little hobbit pixie self can: WE ARE NOT ALONE.

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Walking away from negative interactions and bombardment of negativity is the healthy part. Staying away when you need to reach out for love and support is the hard part. When do you do it? I fail at this way too often. Thankfully, those who know me best, know when I shut down and go silent, when I do come back, they are the first arms I search for, even if only virtually (for now).

So how do I attempt to pull myself out of this funk when I am sinking in?

  • Try to find the positive in the current situation, no matter how hard it is. I know this is the one you’re most likely to stare blankly at the screen about – thinking I’m completely off my rocker on this. How do you find the positive in the rainstorm and flat tire and…and…and…? I know; I know, there’s nothing funny about losing someone you love, or being attacked or abused… I’m not talking about those horrific moments right now. I’m specifically talking about you falling into your pit of despair, when it seems like life is just going along hunky-dory.
  • Learn to laugh at things. I don’t mean become hysterically maniacal and scare small woodland creatures with your diabolical cackling. I mean laugh. Even if it is just a chuckle. Force it if you need to, but do it. For the sake of this, humour me then and imagine I’m there and I’m thinking this is funny because why would it be anything but funny?
  • You are stuck, in the rain, and have a flat tire, you’re getting soaked and splashed by passing vehicles, and no one stops to help… how is this not funny? Sure, you can look at it as the collection of horrible situations all smushed together to form a mud pie of sadness to consume and wallow in, or you can choose to look at it as “who else can get up to these kinds of crazy anecdotal incidences before 8am?” Sounds like a soggy selfie and a funny story to tell when you get to the office, dripping wet, with a smile on your face and a determined mind to see past the moment.
  • Accept it, and realise there’s nothing you can do other than persevere through the moment. Your mental attitude doesn’t have to mimic the shitty weather. It can be thunder storming, but you can find the positive in the situation, if you choose to.

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We will dive deeper into this in upcoming articles, but I want you to know, you CAN beat the darkness.

Join the discussion at Creative Journey.

Sera Hicks on Blogger
Sera Hicks
Creative Journey Leader, Intern Supervisor, Admin, Writer at Geeks and Geeklets
Geeky Hobbit-loving Whovian. Lover of chocolate, cats, and crafty things. Writer, Creative Journey Leader. It has to be better tomorrow.