A glorious clear blue sky, with perfect views of the sun, the sea. Then suddenly a dark cloud appears, and another one, and a few seconds later, rain and thunderstorm.
The blue sky: my mind. The views: life, happiness, serenity. The clouds: the ‘not pleasant’ thoughts. The rain and thunderstorm: depression and anxiety.
A million of those thoughts racing in my mind. The terrifying realisation of growing older, ‘when will I do everything I want?’ What if something happens to my family?, worry how and whether I can afford a new job? braces? travelling?, worry for my current job, ‘what if I’m made redundant, or downgraded?’, worry there’s not enough time in a day to write, play my guitar, do my yoga, draw, read a book, do more volunteering, see a film, watch a play, try new things. What if I die tomorrow and I don’t get to do any of this??
My heart starts to beat faster and faster, my hands are sweating, I forget to breathe and then…
Disappointment, self-doubt, ‘maybe that’s just it, maybe I can’t do any more. Stuck in the same place for ever… ‘
And finally, the worst of it all. Numbness. Emptiness. At random, unexpected moments it feels as if I can’t shake away this, this feeling of vainness, as if my ability to feel happiness has been suddenly taken away.
January is tough for me. Christmas (which I love) is over but winter (which I don’t) is not, summer is still months away, we are all back to routine (I hate routine). It’s dark and bitterly cold which makes it harder to do things outside the house and all the reminders that another year is over are not helping.
Of course I know all this is is in my head. For me though it’s real. It’s not all the time or all together (sometimes it’s just the anxiety, or the depression) I can still have a laugh, enjoy some things but sometimes I can’t get out of this maze.
So at a time of the year that most start afresh and focus on their New Year resolutions, are doing Veganuary, Dry January, Red January, what do I do? I’m just doing January. Just things that keep my anxiety and depression from affecting my functionality. Just surviving for now.
I still have a wishlist of things I’d love to do, a bucket list (I prefer to tick off things off my bucket list rather than have resolutions) and I’m a great believer you can start something anytime of the year, for now though I just need to get through this month.
But it can’t just be me that feels that way. Actually, I know for a fact it’s not just me. I’ve spoken to friends who go through the same motions. I’ve seen posts on social media from others who are finding it hard to fight the blues.
If you, like me are struggling this January, here’s some of the things that help me, hopefully they may help you or they may help you find what works for you.
Music. Most of the day, every day. Indie, folk, rock, pop, depending on my mood. I wouldn’t survived without my Spotify playlist.
Yoga. Whatever happens I always go back to Yoga with Adriene since I discovered it back in 2017. My favourite yoga lady. Her 30 day yoga revolution is now on, every day a new video, a new session. That half an hour, 40 minutes a day is sometimes the only time I manage to keep the invasive thoughts away.
Food. Healthy, delicious food with a few unhealthy treats a week, pizza on a Friday, lunch with friends. It’s all about balance. I loved this wholefood vegan burger from cafe Thrive yesterday.
Reading. At the moment I’m reading Matt Haig’s (whose autobiographical books on anxiety and depression are humbly and beautifully honest, amazing) Notes On A Nervous Planet. Highly recommend following him on Twitter.
Friends. The show and real friends. Watching Friends never fails to make me laugh. And time with my friends. Talking to friends and family keeps me connected to the real world, otherwise detachment may overstay its welcome.
What helps you? I’d love to know what’s worked for others so we can inspire one another.
OK, off to do my yoga and have a nice cup of tea.