Music is the soundtrack to our lives. It may not make life any easier, but the right song can help lift your mood. The right song can take you back to the right time or place, remind you of a specific person, or help you sing your way through a bad day.
To make me smile, music needs to have a good beat. I have never been a fan of slow ballads, as I find them a little boring. I prefer something that I can tap my feet to, have a dance, or sing along to. The good thing, is that is there are so many different types of music. Something for every taste. The world would be boring if everybody liked the same thing.
I hate trying to find the words that convey what is going on in my head. What to say when people tell me they are happy that I have ‘beaten depression’, because I have laughed at a couple jokes.
Firstly, I’ll never blame the other person. They are being honest, they say what they feel will help. It may make sense to them, to show they are happy for progress made. It’s meant to be nice, so I try to take it at face level.
Secondly, is recognising that depression doesn’t go away, simply because you can have a laugh with some friends. Similarly, you can still suffer from anxiety, even when you speak towards a group. I have experience problems, with my mental health, for most of my life. And yet, I struggle in finding a way to explain it to people, to let them know what is going on. Nothing I think up seems to be adequate.
I seem to be able to explain ‘bits’. Like, why I may be feeling a particular way on a particular day. But, the overall way my mind seems to twist things, is a much more difficult concept to grasp for myself, let alone trying to help someone else understand.
For years, I plodded on. I suffered with depression and anxiety, but tried to plod on. I didn’t know what else to do. It’s only fairly recently that I was recommended to try to figure out why I am the way I am. Actually recognise the behaviours, rather than simply ignore them. A lot of the time it’s like aiming to climb a mountain, but walking into a brick wall every time you try.
I am trying to focus on learning more about my depression and anxiety. Because if I can understand it, myself, maybe I can explain it better. Maybe.
It is important, that in this world that doesn’t seem to stop, that you take time for yourself. Time away from your computer. Time away from work. Time away from the routine that can grate on your nerves. It feels, since lockdown happened last year, that everything feels so much more intense. People are angry, as normality appears to be keeping socially distant from us. Folk are very intolerant to views that are not their own, and as a result, give out underserved abuse.
So, I had 2 weeks booked off work. A holiday which was supposed to be spent in Cyprus, with my family. But, was cancelled, like everything else, due to Coronavirus. I kept the time off booked, because I still needed to use those holidays. So, I didn’t plan anything. I was worried, as when my brain senses no plans, it seems to go into over drive, and my mental health is atrocious.
My main focus was to just relax. Take joy in watching tv, or going for a walk. Not to have a reason for anything. Previously, I would say I wanted to read so many books, create a certain number of artworks, and lose so much weight. This has ended up with my going back to work more stressed, than I was before. Which kind of defies the point of being off work in the first place.
So, I worked hard at doing nothing. I ordered too many take aways, drank too much alcohol, and got up around noon. It was good. Maybe not the healthiest for my body, but for the first time in a long time, my mind was able to recharge. For the first time, in a long time, I feel light. I feel so super relaxed. And ready to go back to work, tomorrow.
That’s nothing. Sometimes I forget to do basic things like clean up after myself and basic hygiene.
I forget because I sit and stair at a wall. As if the seams of the wallpaper are going to give me the answers to life. Which would maybe be true if there was conscious thought involved. There isn’t.
A glance at my phone, can tell me that time has passed, sometimes hours. But when I think, it’s like someone has an eraser and just rubbed out what was there.
It’s frustrating, because I can’t rationalise what happens. And that causes my anxiety to spike. Causes me to worry that I’ve done something stupid.
Luckily, I am normally alone when this happens. Staring at my tv, although the screen is blank. I am also sitting, which is also good. It seems to be when my mind is not busy. It’s like it switches off.
It is annoying. I really don’t know how to make sense of how my mind works.
Because half the time, I don’t think my mind works at all.
I have lived in the same area, since I was a child. I have been told that I need to ‘move somewhere else’. As if you can only experience life, if you have paid stupidly high rent for a teeny flat in a city. I will scoff at that, but at the same time, seeing friends buy houses, get married, and have kids, makes me sad. I work hard, but I stay with my parents, in my 30s. It’s very depressing. I have worked constantly since I was 16, and have tried previously tried college. I have struggled with my mental health, but ignored it for many years. And these feelings, of seeing friends ‘do more’, made me feel worse. I look at my life and see that I have wasted my time. Wasted a life. And that’s where depression takes hold. That if my life was worthy, I’d be in a different place.
Sometimes, I need to get away from these thoughts. And I do this by getting out the house, going for a drive, or for a walk. The good thing, about living where I do, is that there are so many good places to explore. I live on the Fife Coast, just across from Edinburgh, and I can easily get to the sea, or to the countryside. I can find peace, in walks on my own. With nothing but my own thoughts, where I can try and get my broken mind in some kind of order.
The thing is. Sometimes my over nostalgic brain would see any changes that have happened, and feel sad about them. Which, if you live in the town you grew up in, happens quite a lot. Walking down a set of stairs, can make you feel quite sad. Today, for example, I went into the town’s public park, somewhere where I went with my parents as a child, and friends as I got older, but hadn’t been in so long. And it changed. Not really for the better.
The park felt a little unloved. Paint peeling off benches, broken slabs, empty planting areas, it seems a little neglected. Which maybe rings a little too true to me, in the metaphorical sense. It was peaceful, which is what I needed, but that was it. I am like that, functional, but not really making any marks.
Sometimes, usually after a few deep breathes, you can see things you have forgotten. The things that you haven’t noticed for years, or maybe haven’t seen before. The things you look at ‘through new eyes’, that look completely different.
I started thinking today, that age seems to make a person more cynical. It begins to get harder to see past the negative stuff, because that’s what you’ve come to expect. So, maybe we need to remind ourselves to keep a part of a childish outlook. See things in a hopeful way, and look past the bad bits to see something positive. But that is hard.
I have been an active user on the internet since my school days. Back when MySpace was huge and every person has a GeoCities page with sparkly letters everywhere. I used forums to share my life with people I never met. It felt like a safe space, a place where I could be the kind of person I wanted to be. I never knew anyone interested in alternative music, or that were questioning their sexuality, so the internet helped me find people I could connect with.
Recently, social media has become king. Where MySpace was a thing for young people and a new way for them to connect with bands. Facebook has become a site for everyone, where parents, babies and pets all have pages. Where algorithms decide what people see, and people share everything as fact. And when you become overwhelmed by your own life, seeing the most ridiculous nonsense being shared, just to start arguments, sometimes it’s best to switch off.
Which is what I have been doing.
I have been reading a lot. I have had a massive too-read pile for a long time, I am good at buying books. And to put down my phone, and get lost in the pages of a book, has been very therapeutic. I have got books in both audible and on my kindle, that are still part-way done, but I have been struggling to focus on them. My brain gets anxious, especially when a device like my phone is concerned. I have found that physically holding a book, and feeling how far I am going, actually helps. I get a joy out of physical books that I don’t get out of ebooks. And at the moment, it has been great to focus on something that is separate from the internet connected everything else.
I have a target of reading 30 books this year, and I am on number 15. I am at the stage where I am reading a book a week, and it has helped me immensely. I am splitting books into what I will keep post-lockdown, and what I will take to the charity shop when they start accepting things again. I need to de-clutter my life, so this is a good way of working my through the waist high pile of books I have in my room. I would like to share reviews on here, but I am not the most articulate. Because I try to review every book I read. I do write them over on my Goodreads so that you can look there, if interested. If I get a little more articulate, I may also post reviews here. But I don’t know if that is interesting though.