Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle – Ian MacLaren
A few months ago I wrote openly and candidly about my depression. A black fug that had enveloped me and dragged me down into the murky depths of despair, self-pity and self-loathing.
When I wrote Laying Myself Bare I did so as a means of catharsis and of being open and honest with the world. But also because I felt I was running out of options for how I could see myself getting out of the black hole I’d sunk into.
By the time I’d finished typing that blog post I already felt so much better. In my mind it felt that writing that was the sign I was scraping the bottom of the barrel; that the only way now would be upwards. Of course, life is always a rollercoaster and we are never on a straight trajectory in any direction, but the sense that this was the low point gave me strength. Was it really the low point, or had writing that blog post created its own placebo effect? I’ll never know, but either way, its role in helping me loosen the grip of the black fug was invaluable.
When I decided to post my blog onto Facebook it was a leap of faith in the face of fear. For the first time I’d really be opening myself up to the people I know, not just people who read my blog. Yet, the response was not one of mocking or derision, but one of empathy, understanding and support. I also received numerous messages from people (some I’ve known a long time, others have only come into my life more recently) sharing their own tales of similar struggles. It was extremely moving and humbling that people would respond by opening up themselves. All of the responses I got from the ‘chin up mate’ to the ‘this is my story…’ were invaluable. These helped me no-end. To know that others were feeling/have felt like this was of huge support. I was no longer alone.
Without a sense of purpose nothing has a meaning – Alfred Adler
What was the main element in helping me start to climb out of the dark abyss? Finding a purpose with structure.
Within two weeks of me writing Laying Myself Bare I had been offered a job undertaking marketing and communications for a small organisation. This was a real upturn and my confidence received a welcome boost. This was a chance to prove to the world, and myself, that the skills, knowledge and experience I’d built up in this field since I’d left university had not disappeared, but had merely been underused. Things went so well, the contract was extended.
Yet, this is the strange thing; I’ve never really been one who wants to sit in an office Mon-Fri and have always wanted a way to blur the lines between work and life – after all, we spend a huge chunk of our lives at work, so if we’re not enjoying it, life isn’t going to be much fun – but since taking on this job I have felt a renewed sense of self. A clearer picture of my role and what I want to be achieving.
This may be down to ‘social conditioning’ where society determines we should go to work to provide for the family and enjoy our weekends, but I feel it’s more about having a clear purpose. At work I have my role with its goals – I know what I’m doing and why. At home I have a clear role of parent and, now that I have weekends and a parenting day each week, the purpose of these become clear – having quality family time.
With these distinct aspects to life right now, each with their own purposes, I feel that life is a lot simpler and a lot clearer. This is helping to create mind space to think about the bigger picture – will we move back to the French Alps? How can we shape our working lives to incorporate more outdoor adventure? What will this look like?
All of these are big, serious questions, but they are also very exciting! Being in the position of wanting to think about them and seeing them as fantastic opportunities rather than weighty burdens, is a relief and is a world away from where I was three months ago.