It really does feel like my life has exploded in the last few days. I feel really low. I want the landscape flattened, everything levelled down to zero, so I can see what materials are in my inventory and choose to rebuild intentionally.
I feel a bit like I’ve been following the path of least resistance for a while now – many months, maybe even years.
I’ve realised how susceptible I am to influence by others. Even when I think I’m being independent, I can unconsciously take on board the attitudes, beliefs and desires of others. Sometimes I get a tiny gut feeling when I do this… I can just feel that something’s not right.
At the funfair, the best way to locate a critical fault is to stop everything, send all the customers home, and take some time to thoroughly inspect every ride.
No fairground deaths today, please.
As the gaudy lights cease flashing and the overly loud pop music grinds to a halt, the peace and quiet can be savoured. A gentle, cleansing fog wafts in.
Yesterday I had a strong urge to delete this entire blog. That’s a clear sign I’m depressed – my mental health is not in a good place. But thankfully I also remembered that in the past whenever I’ve deleted my blogs, I’ve later regretted it.
So, rather than destroying everything, I want to just take a pause.
That’s why I set this blog to private yesterday. It was a compromise for myself.
I was feeling embarrassed about some of my blog posts. I remembered the criticism some ex-friends delivered a while ago. I started to think badly of myself – a loser who’s out of control, who changes his mind every 5 seconds, who has no consistency, who can’t see the madness and the flaws in what he’s trying to create.
I’ve taken a mental health break from work for a week or two. Thankfully my employer hasn’t objected.
In the past when I’ve reached crisis point, I’ve fled to stay with my Dad for a few days. His house is a bastion of unconditional love. It’s a peaceful sanctuary. But I’ve also realised that running away from my problems doesn’t really help… the problems are still there waiting for me when I return.
The Physical Side
I’ve learned from experience that certain physical activities are a big component of my mental health. And I’ve let them slide badly in the last week.
I know that exercise, sleep and food are the golden triangle of my mental health.
But recently my sleep has been way out of routine, I’ve been eating way too much sugar, and I’m barely exercising outside of dog walks.
It’s tempting to stop there and say, “Well that’s it then, we’ve found the smoking gun. Case closed.”
And it’s true that if I immediately addressed these physical components, I’d undoubtedly see an improvement in my mental health.
So starting today I’m going to attempt a 3-day fast to kickstart my body into ketosis. This will dramatically drop my insulin levels and reduce inflammation in my body, which is a contributor to depression. I’m going to get my sleep schedule back on track – no more late nights. And I’m going to do some gentle yoga in addition to walking the dogs… you’re not really supposed to exercise intensely while fasting.
I think the fact I’ve let slip all 3 of these physical factors is indicative of deeper underlying issues, which are well worth investigating.
I seem to have lost my sense of purpose and direction.
A few days ago I’d decided that as long as I live each day in accordance to certain spiritual principles, that was enough – the principles themselves provided sufficient purpose for my life.
And yet, strangely, I still felt hollow. I found it extremely difficult to apply the spiritual principles without some sort of larger goal in mind.
Coming Up with a Plan
Really I need to sit down with my wife, talk honestly and try to figure some stuff out.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
Questions for Depressed People
Dr Jordan Peterson has a set of standard questions he asks patients who come to him with depression. Think of these as the foundations on which your life rests. You want as many of these in place as possible.
Do you have a job?
Yes, but I find very little meaning or purpose in it. I need something more. I need a meaningful goal to work towards. For now, I’m taking a break from work. But it’s important that I don’t quit outright… even if it’s not my ideal job, I need the structure.
Are you going to bed and getting up at the same time each day?
No, my sleep patterns are totally shot. I’ve been staying up too late, sleeping in too late and having extra naps in the day. I need to get back into a regular sleep routine.
Do you have any friends?
I’m lucky, I have a handful of good friends who understand mental health, depression etc. Thank you to AT, HD (MB!), RE and TB – you guys rock. Oh and not forgetting my Dad and my ever-patient wife!
Do you have an intimate relationship?
Again, I’m lucky. I have a kind and caring wife.
Do you have additional health problems?
I’m overweight, but luckily I have no major health issues besides mental health.
Do you have a drug or alcohol problem?
Yes, though tomorrow I’ll have been clean for 90 days. I feel like I’ve got it under control now… mostly.
Negotiate with Yourself
You can’t be a tyrant to yourself. It doesn’t work – it’s not sustainable.
Instead, negotiate with yourself. Ask yourself what you could do that you’re willing to do.
Well, I think that getting my food, sleep and exercise back on track – that’s a good start.
And negotiating with my wife about the other issues in my life, that will help too.
Somehow, just thinking about a plan of action like this… I can start to feel a little better already… I guess it’s that “working towards a worthwhile goal” thing.
And even if I can’t find a meaningful job or life purpose right now, I can get the foundations right.
Getting my mental health back on track – that has to be the first priority.
Wish me luck!