“Crumbling isn’t a sign of weakness as the rubble remains strong”.
I don’t think that any person on the planet needs to be reminded that 2020 has been and continues to be one of the most challenging years (possibly in human history, or is this dramatic?). So many parts of me have fractured this year. I have fallen into a slump. This is maybe the wrong word because it doesn’t capture the extent of my feelings towards life right now, but I am just going to assume that you’re feeling it too and you know exactly what I mean.
If you were to look at my life from the outside, you’d be correct in thinking that many, many things are truly wonderful. Healthy children, a good job, a nice home… Does anyone else feel like they’re not allowed to feel down or in a slump because they are privileged and their lives are quite great? On paper? If I sit down and compare my problems to those of the majority of South African, I am embarrassed that I am not trying harder to happy. We live in a country with extreme and abject poverty. Poverty that is unescapable and catalyses generations of hardship. And here I am, miserable because I am tired and I don’t feel as successful as my peers or I haven’t lost weight during lockdown or whatever.
I saw this tweet today that said, “just because you carry it well, doesn’t mean it’s not heavy” and I couldn’t have summed it up better if I tried. Over the past three months, life has felt quite heavy. I have had zero motivation to do my job, to parent to socialise to be online. I have felt uncreative, I have felt almost like I was stuck in a fog of extreme apathy. Simple things like cooking dinner or replying to a mail have filled me with anxiety. I feel like there is often a lot of pressure to be positive, to be a go-getter, to rise and roar with all you have and loudly declare your success and your drive and your passions and and and. But today I want to remind you that it’s ok to not feel ok. You don’t have to roar and clap and shoot glitter cannons from your anus.
I’m slowly clawing my way out of my slump and it’s tempting to use strong and powerful language that would imply I have somehow managed to beat my depression back, but the truth is, it will return. Never the less, I am going to share a few of the things that have helped me (some of them a little and some of them a lot):
1) Getting back on my medication – I should be adding “returning to therapy” to this point but I am on the hunt for a new therapist that is closer to my home than my previous therapist so if you have a recommendation for a great clinical psychologist in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, please let me know.
2) Stop being permanent with my problems – We all do this. We treat our sadness and our problems like things that will never go away. But it’s all temporary. We solve our problems, we make our way back to our joy, we live to thrive again. I have been checking myself and doing one simple thing, I add “right now” to the end of my complaint. So, “I feel miserable right now”.
3) Trust the niggle – this is an oracle card I often draw, but basically, I have made a stronger effort to trust the voice that tells me to just sleep, to eat the chocolate, to take a day to be sad. Sometimes we need to sit with our feelings a bit.
So basically, medicate (LOL), understand that your problems are not permanent, and listen to your instincts. I know that none of this rocket science and maybe you are already doing these things and seeing no difference, just give yourself time. Eventually, we will be ok. For now, we cry and feel restless and distracted and a little or a lot sad. But we feel these things with the understanding that they are not permanent.
Sending you so much love!