October 26, 2016

Black Dog Days

So much has happened since I last wrote in this blog. How does one even begin to sum up six years of a life lived, sometimes well, sometimes confusedly? To account for the ins and outs of nearly 2190 days that from here, where I stand today, all seem like a blur, a distant cloud floating away slowly.

I stopped writing sometime in 2011, but I really did abandon the blog and my writing self the year before; any subsequent posts were mere ceremony.

Painting of Black Dog by artist Sally Muir
The end of the blog coincided with my escaping a life in London that felt filled with struggle, unrequited (although I later found out that it was indeed requited) love, friends in crisis and an all too frail sense of self. I was a brittle autumn leaf tumbling around in the giant field that is London, and the sense of being directionless got to me in the end. It really got to me. After months of trying to pull strings to make my life come together, I jumped on the opportunity to escape it all and let go of the loose ends.

I left for another country, to work in an industry (fashion) I would otherwise never have put my foot in. What had felt like an endless uphill in London now seems like a pool of possibility in comparison to what was waiting for me in the new country. Little did I know.

The rosy tainted new life I had envisioned for myself filled with fierce independence, careless fun and financial freedom quickly proved to be none of that. A series of negative events combined with weak resilience can be an effective recipe for blue moods and hopelessness. The disappointment became palpable, and internalized, very quickly. I fell into depression, a topic that is somehow OK to talk about today, but still felt taboo then, six years ago.

What followed were nearly four years of a vacuum, where my dreams and hopes felt like they were no more, and I fell deeper and deeper into the maze that depression can be. I need not to fill you in on the details, but I look back at that period as the vacuum years, when it felt like someone had pulled the plug on the light inside of me.

A few things got me back on track, slowly but steadily: I credit Mad Men for bringing intelligence and drive back on my radar; sitting in my sofa in my depression PJ's watching Don Draper and Peggy Olsen battle their inner and outer dilemmas through an intelligent and highly emotive script reminded me that there still was a world out there where thoughts and feelings mattered. Where it was acceptable to want things, dream of a life, to own one's desire. But above all, where being human was acceptable, interesting even. It nudged me with its message of that perfection doesn't exist, that imperfection is what makes us and the world go round.

Reading, mainly self help books, was a godsend. As someone who loves books and literature, I had somehow become allergic to reading during my dark depression years; I couldn't handle the emotions evoked by the words on the page. So I stopped. Luckily, a few books found their way to me eventually, and I started hoping for a life that was different, maybe even joyful, again.

I have later come to know that I also suffered from PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, but that's something I'll save for another time.

The important thing is that I got out of it, and I later had a massive Aha-moment that made me change my life substantially. I will write about all of that.

With what felt like tiny steps at the time, I managed to take actions that forced me out of my vacuum and away from the black dog that is depression. It wasn't easy at first, but it was doable - that's what matters.

Good reading on depression

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