So day three of ‘working’ this blog, and I’ve kept loyal to it thus far. Honestly, I’ll be really impressed if I hit a month. I’ve always loved writing, and the fact that it took me so long to take to a blog as a means of releasing emotion is quite shocking, really. Every day I’ve been looking forward to coming back to this medium, not just to write and share my own experiences, but to read yours and hopefully understand the world a bit more.
So, depression. Anxiety. Two small words that have the capability to turn a good day into a bad one, spilled milk into a flood. Clearly there isn’t any one commonly accepted answer to deal with either burden. Therapy, medication, spirituality…everyone with a condition such as depression or anxiety has something different to help ease the pain day-to-day (if they’ve found it).
You know what the beautiful thing is, though? Once you do find that ‘thing,’ that outlet of release or calming influence, there’s nothing quite like it. In a world constantly portrayed as negative, condescending, and dark, to have that something (or in some lucky cases, multiple things) that helps you feel like your life isn’t plagued by an illness so many fail to understand, it’s nearly miraculous. For me, a guy who most certainly is one of those aforementioned people to turn spilled milk into a flood, I wouldn’t trade my source of comfort for anything. What is that source of comfort? For me, it’s nature.
No, I’m not a tree-hugger, as I’ve been so lovingly called before. I don’t live in a hut in the woods made of birch trees and pinecones, and I don’t sustain myself on nuts and whatever berries grown in the ravine I’ve built my hut next to (for protection against bears, obviously). But I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that since my depression and anxiety have manifested, never have I had a more calming moment than when I’ve been standing outside. A lot of it comes back to my spiritual beliefs, but I don’t want to get into that right now (or anytime soon, most likely) – in my experience, the only thing I’ve found more dividing than politics is religion. Don’t get me wrong, in my closest group of friends I’m considered the most ‘religious’ (even though I hate that word). I’m very clear on what I believe. At its best, common spirituality among groups of people creates a sense of unity the likes of which are rarely seen otherwise. At it’s worst, religious differences start wars, and on a more personal level, create divides between individuals. So, while getting into my spirituality would fall into the realm of relevance of this topic, I won’t really touch on it more yet for the aforementioned reasons.
Anyhoo, nature. Dirt. Ocean. Trees, sand, mountains, the less-travelled path, I love it all. I’ve seen a few posts on here about people who get so anxious in public they have to take measures to A.find some sort of mental distraction whilst out and about or B. not go out in public unless absolutely necessary. That’s one of the great things about isolation in nature for me – the squirrels in the woods or the worms in the dirt aren’t going to judge you because your social anxiety prevents you from performing as well in a public situtation as others. The leaves of the trees will still turn their beautiful autumn hues year after year regardless of how much you’re worried about what person #37 that day said to you.
Nature is my constant. People can change, relationships can fluctuate, jobs are often a means to an end, and looking to food as your source of comfort generally won’t get you anywhere good. But the earth will keep spinning no matter how many people may will for it not to. Gray, dreary clouds won’t be in the sky every day, sunshine will break through no matter how furious the storm the night before. I’m so, incredibly comforted by the presence of something so whole, so changing but at the same time so fluctuating, that you know it will be there when you step outside. The sky. The sun. Trees, dirt, flowers, wildlife, fields, rivers, mountains, it’s all still going to be there. If you imagine the wind as breath, then the planet as a whole is just as alive and feeling as all of us are. It won’t let anything but the strongest of presences destroy it – not even the swaying of the body through billions of miles of space can knock a sapling out.
For those of you gagging from the cheesiness of that last paragraph, fair enough. I didn’t make this post with the intention of saying “go outside and make snow angels and you’ll be all better.” This is just my personal example of that comfort. The one thing that draws me into a good place, out of the darker, far too influential corners of my mind that tell me I’m not enough, tell me to worry. So, dear reader, I implore you – if you haven’t already, find that comfort, that constant that lets you know everything isn’t all that bad. It’s okay. You’re okay. Music, writing, swimming…I can’t even begin to list all of the possibilities for what might make you feel good. Only you can figure that out, and you’ll only know by doing. Don’t let thinking “this takes up a lot of my day,” or “nobody will get why I do that,”stop you. Do this for you. Taking care of others is all well and good – great, even – but you matter just as much. You have an obligation to yourself to let yourself be happy.
Don’t be afraid to let me know if you want to talk – about this or anything. Who knows, your comfort could be confiding in others who know what you’re going through? Stay happy, everyone.