I’ve been composing this for a while now, and the reason is that I have had to recompose myself a few times during the process. I make no secret that I often feel out of sync with society, sometimes I find myself trying to see things from so many perspectives that I lose my own and then I become so confused that I can’t even articulate the swirling mass of heaving, writhing and suffocating feelings that I am experiencing. Recently I told my best friend that I was sad, actually no, let’s call it what it is – experiencing depression – and this is rare for me because I come from a ‘stiff upper lip’ upbringing; you know that whole British Keep Calm and Carry On thing!
The crazy thing is this, I have no reasons to be depressed. I have a really healthy relationship, I have three dogs that I adore and adore me, I’m successful at work – okay, I don’t make it to the gym as often as I would like but that’s a conscious decision, there’s nothing actually stopping me from going. All in all, materially, I’m good.
So I sat down and I thought about it, for a long time now I have been starting and ending my days in a way that has been grossly unhealthy for me; I have not been taking care of my mental health – that sounds super dramatic and more than a little bit hyper cliché but it’s the truth. Since my best friend broke up with his boyfriend I have been there for him because that’s what friends do; my friend is sad so I need to be there to provide succour and offer guidance where I can. I abandoned myself though, I neglected my own emotional bank.
Unfortunately, there have been no boundaries and I have effectively become an unintentional emotional equivalent of a punching bag and it has culminated in me feeling worthless, useless and isolated. Think about it this way, I have been quasi-chained to whatsapp often for hours on end (because my friend has abandonment issues and I promised I would always be there for him) but my days would begin with messages, often very negative and emotionally charged and then they would end the same way when I would eventually go to bed. For 6 weeks at least, and this included 11 days whilst I was in California, my brain didn’t defragment. It has made me realise that there it is essential to establish what our capacity is for absorption , which is inevitable no matter what we say or what our intentions are.
Something my friend said to me really triggered me, “Jai why did you follow me into the rabbit hole”, it’s important to note that there was a huge heated debate throughout this – a lot of it really not very nice at all. I wont go into detail because the ‘friend code’ is incredibly important to me and there are some things that we just don’t ever repeat.
I have to be clear on this, this triggering was not intentional on anyone’s part and I am incredibly fortunate that my boyfriend José is as supportive as he is, it was only during my discussing this piece of writing with José that he let me know how difficult it has been for him to watch me be so upset and not allow myself the time to balance myself – he knows how emotional I am and that I struggle with finding the line between compassion and empath. I am a person that feels everything deeply.
Why did I go down that rabbit hole though? I mean, I write about emotions and behaviours and I am usually so practical in my approach to healthy human interaction. Then in the midst of things my friend said something else to me… in anger he said, “you don’t like me as a person, unless I’m damaged”. I mean that’s absolutely not true – even when I want to strangle this guy with my bare hands I still love him – but it did get me thinking about who we are as society and how it has become more commonplace than ever to ‘wait for the other shoe to drop’… It seems that the self saboteur reigns supreme at the moment, it’s like an emotional cancer that is poisoning us all and in our efforts to prevent ourselves from hurt we put up barriers, of look for obstacles – the trouble with barriers is that they work both ways, they don’t just keep out the hurt, they keep out the hope too. Like the treatment for actual Cancer, Chemo is not able to separate the good cells from the bad, it’s an indiscriminate killer.
Whilst I’m writing this, it also strikes me, what if we are in a bad place when we put up those barriers, not only does it keep out the hope but does it also keep the bad stuff that created the barrier cooped up inside us festering like a bulbous sore that never bursts?
Coming back to my friend (yes we’re as strong friends as we ever were) we managed to really dissect things the next day and talk things through and actually whilst I would NEVER recommend having such a powerful fallout with a friend I will say that like any good storm, it clears the air.
I am a strong believer in lots of things but two things seem particularly relevant here:
- We think things into reality, whether we like it or not. Fact.
- The onslaught of ‘motivational’ quotes posted on Social Media are usually anything but.
Before all of Social Media comes for me I would like to say why I have such a strong view in number 2. Those quotes are usually universal themes that we call all tap in to, you know, Get Money, Get Love, Find Happiness, Travel, Live Your Dream and the absolute king of ridiculous ‘quotes’ that is not going anywhere any time soon… Live, Laugh, Love. Think about it, we all want those things, even I will admit that I want to Live (you know, being alive is kind of a big deal to me), I want to Laugh (I find something to make me laugh every day, no matter what happens) and of course Love is something that we are all on a quest to have. The trouble is, where is the HOW?
It’s like seeing someone drowning and standing by the side of the water screaming, “Learn how to swim”.
I talk a lot about Mindfulness, Kindness etc. and I do believe in them but we have to be really careful. If things are really shitty and we are in a jam of any kind. A motivational quote can bolstering, a kind of battle cry for you to get up and take charge of the situation. But if a soldier is going to battle, there’s no point going there with a placard declaring “I’m coming to fight” if he’s not equipped to do so. So here’s what I’ve been doing, maybe this could offer some guidance for others experiencing similar things:
- I made a promise that I would be honest with myself
- Sat and backtracked my emotions to thoughts and wrote them down (example: I wrote tired in the middle of a page and around it wrote all of the things that were attributing to my tiredness)
- When I was done I highlighted all of the things I could do something about, or felt I could in any case
- I then went ahead and dealt with them (example: I was spending way too long on my phone and it was making me super tired, so I set an earlier time for sleep mode and turned off my ‘last seen’ on whatsapp)
- Stay away from BLAME – blame is a breeding ground for problems and NOT a solution. Blame is the motivational quote of activities – (Example: It’s YOUR fault the milk is spilt. Okay, we’ve established that but the milk is still spilt)
- I took it one thing at a time and I didn’t at any point berate myself.
Thankfully, I am now feeling like an improved version of my old self a month on from this (yes that’s how long it has taken me to write this post and get over this hill). We live in a capitalistic society that is marred with a myriad of issues, remember that your energy is yours alone, protect it – my parting thought is this: protection is not a synonym for barrier; which is exactly why we all have issues with The Cheeto President of the USA and his Mexico Border Wall – barriers don’t work, action does.