It’s taken me almost a year to start this project because I’m scared. Scared of being judged, afraid of failure and faced with constant thoughts of who is actually going to give a f**k about what I have to say.
Well here goes everything!
Life lessons through loss
For the past 10 years, I have been on a roller coaster of emotion due to repetitive episodes of stress-based depression caused by overwhelming life events.
In the beginning, I thought I had a handle on everything. Turns out, I did not.
I always considered myself to be a strong, resilient, happy-go-lucky person, with lots of amazing friends and great career opportunities.
Yet I went from being a successful business development manager for a top tier law firm in 2010, to being deeply depressed and never leaving my house by 2018.
This blog details what happened and what I have done in the last 2 years to recover.
I’ve had 3 major depressive episodes in my life, yet I wouldn’t consider myself depressed.
My depression is caused by overwhelming mental and physical stress caused by difficult life events, feelings of rejection and a total lack of self-care.
I consistently put others’ needs ahead of my own to the point where my body and mind are completely exhausted.
Then I look to others to fix me and feel hurt and disappointed when they can’t.
Truth is, I should have been helping myself all along.
The difference between the first two episodes and the last was I saw this one coming. Like a big dark cloud chasing me down.
I tried to fight, to convince myself this was not going to happen, but three days after marrying the man of my dreams, in the most beautiful place in the world, surrounded by my best friends…….I was overwhelmed.
From the day we flew out of the Philippines, for 12 months, I cried.
I woke up in the middle of every night with repetitive thoughts circulating in my head. Convincing myself that I was alone, that no one cared about me and I have nothing of value to offer the world.
I wasn’t looking after my poor recovering body or being kind to my mind which was trying to process 18 months of trauma and loss.
Dealing with depression
Being acutely aware that I was depressed, I knew I had to find the solution. I read books, websites and listened to podcasts which suggested yoga and daily journaling with gratitude.
Referring to a book my grandmother gave me called “Guide for the Advanced Soul”, I read its little quotes each day and worked to get out of my head.
You should always be aware that your head creates your realityGuide for the Advanced Soul, pg 56
Journal writing is the main action that helped me the most. Getting my manic thoughts out of my head and on to paper really helped to process everything.
I use my journal to talk to myself, to work through any pain and anger I feel towards others who I perceive have let me down, to find forgiveness and gratitude and to make decisions about what I want for my future.
There is no special format, just blank pages which become my innermost thoughts and always gratitude. Consciously listing 3 things to be grateful for every day really does help to change your outlook.
Even on the days when it feels like there is nothing to be grateful for, consistently pushing yourself to find something, can eventually change your point of view.
The next thing was taking care of my physical self. Self-care is not something I ever willingly give to myself.
Care and love is something I give to others and I am always the first to put my hand up to serve others, to lend an ear, a helping hand or a kind word.
Never……to myself. I will and still often do, put myself last.
The whole concept of it seems strange. Self-care. It seems selfish, self-indulgent and narcissistic. When actually it’s essential for a happy life.
In addition to a daily yoga practice, I walked outside every day, I learnt how to prepare and cook healing foods, I listened to audiobooks and constantly searched for positive influence.
We all suffer depression for different reasons and none are more or less important or serious than others. There is also no one size fits all magical cure.
All I can tell you is that if are depressed and you want to get out of it, it takes deep, hard emotional work.
You need to really look at yourself, get to know yourself, work out why you are angry or blaming others. Forgive them and yourself and constantly search for positive interactions and influences until the negative is overcome.
I am still working on overcoming my depression for good, learning about and understanding myself, taking care of my needs and discovering what I want for my life. It takes daily action and work. I know it’s possible.
Guidance from the outside
Here are some of the readily available resources that really helped me to move forward out of the deepest phase of my depression:
The Joy Plan, by Kaia Roman (audiobook). A practical 30-day guide to finding joy. I listened to the Joy Plan while I painted the bathroom (achieving chores always makes me feel better!) and I laughed and cried at many of the things she said as they matched my life completely.
One of the key takeaways I took from this book was giving my negative thoughts a name, aka the bitch in my head. My bitch is called Janice and whenever I have negative thoughts in my head, I really enjoy telling Janice to shut the hell up! This also really helped me to recognise and overcome negative thinking.
Yoga with Adriene, words cannot express how much committing to daily yoga practice has helped me and Adriene is the perfect guide. Her style of yoga is simple and easy and her quirky, caring, heartfelt ways make me smile, laugh and cry.
Her motto, Find What Feels Good, reminds me to listen to and take time for my body and mind and I’ve learnt so much about how to care for myself, plus she gives all her time and energy for free.
Here’s one of my favourites:
Sahara Rose, Highest Self podcast, Sahara Rose is an Ayurveda practitioner who provides insight into traditional Indian mind-body medicine and finding your soul’s purpose.
Learning about Ayurveda helped me to give better care to myself in a natural and healthy way. I developed a better understanding of myself and also how to create good food that helps to soothe the soul.
For me, depression happens when I don’t look after and love myself and when I give too much of my time and energy to other people. By doing things that are just for me, like yoga, healthy eating and good mind management I was able to find a path towards the light again.
If you are like me and always focused on other people and their needs, it’s really easy to lose yourself and its essential that you find something that is just for you.
Part of finding happiness, for me means finding passion. Once I had given my soul and love and attention is deserved, I needed to find purpose.
Passion and purpose is something that sets your soul on fire.
It pushes you to get up in the morning and drives you to learn and grow.
The problem is, I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I’ve studied hotel management, worked in marketing for architecture and law, built and managed a production company, executed campaigns for an international shoe brand and made a film about pygmy elephants.
I can’t decide between being production manager, an animal rescuing biological scientist and a filmmaker. I love all of these things – but none are particularly practical where I live.
In the last few years as I’ve tried to find my way, I’ve started:
- Jane Goodall’s conservation course
- Digital marketing with Google, Stevie Says Social, HubSpot & many more.
- Film production with Lights film School
- Production management, with DV Talent
- Saving elephants with Borneo Wildlife Preservation
I feel like I’m flipflopping all over the place with no real direction and this does nothing for my self-esteem.
The one thing that has stayed solid and always made me feel better is hiking and my current exploration is taking me into the mountains to complete mountain leader training.
In October, I spent 6 weeks in the UK mountains with just my dog and honestly, it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
It was challenging, stressful and I made a lot of mistakes. I also learnt a lot and fell in love with hiking to the top of very large hills.
I’m not sure if being a mountain leader is my destiny. I just know walking outside makes me feel good and I need to keep doing it if I want to be happy.
I think hiking in nature is so valuable that I have written a beginner’s guide to hiking mountains detailing my experience.
Nature for health & well-being
Current research on the management of anxiety and depression focuses on the benefit time in nature has on our emotional health and well-being.
Following my first major encounter with depression in 2011, my husband and I moved to Chamonix. Being surrounded by nature and seeing the occasional deer has definitely improved my mental health and ability to deal with stress.
I hear you saying ‘well I can’t just give up my job, my home, my lifestyle and move to the mountains’ well…….you can, if you really want to.
But you also don’t need to.
Nature and its benefits are all around us.
Even if you live in a city, sitting for 20 minutes at your local park can have a marked improvement on your mood and perhaps inspire you to head out to a National Park or beach on the weekend.
Whatever you chose to do – spending time in nature helps us to grow, develop and become more aware of ourselves and the world around us.
Let’s do it!
If you are based in the UK or France and keen to get outside, you can also contact me and arrange a hike together :).
Conscious Conservationist is where my dreams become a reality.
Its a commitment to myself to always seek the positive.
My goal is to gain confidence in the mountains and share this experience with you so that you may be inspired to do the same.
My dream is to help others, like me, who want to feel better and improve their lives, by becoming more self-aware, providing better self-care and being accountable for our actions and the impact they have on the world around us.
This is just the beginning!
Thank you for being here.
Happiness is my choice. And my responsibility. No one elses. If you are looking to other people for your happiness, you will always be disappointed.
You don’t have to offer to help everyone. If someone really desperately needs help, by all means, but otherwise, don’t interfere unless asked.
There is no replacement for the advice and help of licensed health care professionals. And I am in no way able to provide you with a cure or advice.
But if you need and ear (or an eye).
You can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m here for you!