Although I have not finished sharing my journey through depression I thought today, I would share some of the things I have learnt about myself along the way and the common thread is “stop waiting”.
A big change I had to decide on at the end of March was whether to stay at work or resign and give myself the time and space to heal. It was a big decision and a huge gamble but I decided I had to come first. Trying to work full time in a demanding job I didn’t seem to be succeeding at anymore didn’t seem like the most sensible option. I needed time to heal and reflect and understand. So I resigned. GULP. I didn’t want to wait and see if I felt better enough in a month, or wait until I had another job, or wait until something changed. I just did it – with great consideration I might add. It was not a frivolous decision- we cannot manage for very long on a single salary and as a small business owner my husbands salary is never constant. But I HAD to do it. I NEEDED to do it. So I did.
And it felt scary but right. As April trickled away as I spent large amounts of time hiding in my room sleeping (I was so very tired – physically, mentally and emotionally) or “hiding” in various shows I watched on the laptop). And as May loomed closer and I still did not at all feel up to doing much for more than a few hours, lights & noise exhausted me, my memory was dreadful – I was again reminded that I had made the right decision not to wait.
As the days went by and I tried to make sense of my depression with my psychologist I noticed small changes in my behaviour. I no longer felt the need to wait for someone to be able to meet me for coffee – I could comfortably sit alone in a coffee shop. I didn’t have to wait for the week-end to go to wine farms or explore places I hadn’t been before – I could go anytime I wanted. I began enjoying, yes enjoying, being on my own on these little adventures – whereas in the past I would have embarked on these trips apologetically and defeated, as if there was something terribly wrong with me that I was alone. Wandering alone through the Castle of Good Hope for Kamers vol Geskenke was oddly liberating and thoroughly enjoyable. Nobody stared and pointed. It was perfectly normal (sigh of relief).
I needed time away, alone and friends who have a holiday house in Paternoster offered me theirs for a few days. I had envisaged spending a few days in the rust and golden hues of the Winelands and departed with trepidation. I was worried that the small coastal town would feel cold and empty and that I could possibly end up feeling worse. My psychologist made me promise to allow myself to come home if I didn’t feel comfortable. I arrived on a late Sunday afternoon and unpacked. As dusk fell I could see the beautiful colours of the sun setting and felt calm sitting on the verandah with my diary, a glass of wine and a bite to eat. In fact I quite enjoyed it. I went to bed early and the following morning wandered in and out of all the little shops that appealed to me – lingered over the shelves, picked up everything that interested me and made a few small purchases. The afternoon was spent on the verandah with my book, wine and coffee. It was peaceful and good for my soul. I could even have stayed longer in this quiet place where nobody knew what I was hiding from.
I simply LOVE cheesecake, so I started having cheesecake every time I went somewhere new. I was – and still am – trying to watch my weight and lose a few kilo’s – but I made the decision to enjoy those slices of cheesecake now. And since I was barely eating at all between the nausea caused by the meds and my complete lack on interest in food – it seemed ok to just enjoy it now. So I did – completely and without apology. I met friends for lunch or coffee and rather than scan for the healthiest and calorie smart option I chose exactly what I felt like eating that day – and enjoyed every mouthful.
The long tunic, leggings and boots look has always appealed but I had always thought I should wait until I had lost more weight to “pull this off” without looking fat (a very common thread throughout most of my life). I took the bull by the horns and bought 2 long tunics and leggings and was so pleased with my reflection in the mirror. Another tick in the “stop waiting” box. Now I can hardly walk past a shop window without scanning for new tunics, although I still find shopping centres and malls rather exhausting.
My love of gardens and all things in it does not extend to getting my hands dirty while planting and repotting. But one Saturday afternoon Alexander & I decided to repot and pot some plants I had bought quite a few weeks before – mainly because I hadn’t bought gardening gloves and couldn’t find mine. This day they didn’t seem important and as I watched how much he was enjoying himself I dug in with relish and got my hand very very dirty. And was surprised that I really enjoyed it – the feeling of being part of the process. Another change with a positive effect.
Slowly but surely I am embracing the NOW and not waiting for the right moment or time of day. And I am learning to do my now’s for ME, alone if need be. And guess what – it feels pretty good.
As a brilliant teacher in the movie Dead Poet’s Society (if you are old enough to have seen it!) said – seize the day