In last week’s article, I spoke about my recent break-up and how it threw me into a black hole. Well, as promised, here are the efforts, hobbies, and general things that helped me to regain my composure.
Combined, I’ve been able to level my emotions, look at the world more subjectively and make meaningful, rational decisions based on those views.
It should go without saying; I’m not a doctor or an expert in this field. These are my thoughts on my own situation, and as everyone is different, please seek further medical advice should you feel depression is becoming a significant aspect of your life.
Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 10pm; Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 8pm)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
Family before dishonour
The first of which is having a good network of friends and family around you. Having a shoulder to cry on makes a massive difference in dealing with tough times. I’m not talking about whacking every outburst on Facebook, because that’s not sharing, it’s attention-seeking.
Knowing that you can call someone, chat about your problems, and even if they don’t have any solutions, unloading the burden from within takes a great weight off your shoulders.
When I first shared my heartache with my parents, I wasn’t looking for an answer. I told them to try and justify why I was feeling so low at the time.
Initially telling them felt strange. I had this overwhelming sense that I’d be judged for being at fault for my ex’s infidelity.
Fortunately, my parents aren’t judgemental and offered me support in the only way they knew how – by making me a cup of tea and pretending it never happened. We’re so English it hurts.
However, the process of telling them unburdened me from carrying this dark moment around on my own. It allowed me to move forward a lot quicker than I would have done keeping it all locked inside.
Better Off Read
For those of you who follow my book reviews, you’ll already know what I’m going to say here, so apologies if you’ve heard me spout this a hundred times already. I always find comfort in reading.
Sometimes you find a book that seems to hit you at just the right time in your life.
For me, that book was Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami. You can check out my review for more on the book, but its central theme focuses on men who have either lost or never had relationships with women. At that moment in time, it was something I could relate to.
Equally, the book is a collection of short stories, so in a time when my concentration was low, it was the perfect format for me to dip in and out of.
Emotions have always been something that I look for from a good book. Regardless of whether it makes me feel joy, sadness, enthusiasm or disgust, a good book needs to make me think in some form. I think that’s why reading a terrible book is unlike watching a bad film. At least with a movie, you can sit back and laugh at it, whereas a book takes much more of your attention to read, thus breaking down the humour found in lousy writing.
Although, let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy reading those cringe-worthy sex scenes which are nominated for the bad sex award each year? Here’s an abstract from The Office of Gardens and Ponds, ‘Katsuro moaned as a bulge formed beneath the material of his kimono, a bulge that Miyuki seized, kneaded, massaged, squashed and crushed.’ – see what I mean?
Exercise is an excellent tool for increasing mood. ‘Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better.’ – HelpGuide.org
Running is something I’ve dipped in and out of over the past ten years.
In my high school days, I hated anything to do with athletics or cross-country running. These were always the classes I dreaded most. However, as I got older and began to take more pride in my health, running slowly became a part of my lifestyle.
There have been specific periods have put me off; a strained muscle, bad weather, low mood, but I’ve always returned again, even six months after my previous run.
I did this not just to stay fit and healthy, but because of the increased benefit, I feel afterwards. As the endorphins rush around my body, I can feel a heightened sense of temperament, making the day much more pleasurable. It also plays into the importance of sleep and how feeling tired at night will help you sleep easier.
Since a young age, I’ve had an interest in art. However, it was always as a purveyor rather than as a creator. Just before my break-up, I decided to fill some of my lockdown time with learning to draw.
My drawing skills were minimal at best, but the process of drawing has taught me so much. It’s something that I’ll likely put into a future post, but suffice to say, it’s both therapeutic and rewarding.
Art also teaches us to look at things from a new perspective, taking into consideration the artist’s motivations, the impact it has and the emotions it creates. I know this makes me sound like a millennial-hipster, but I can’t help myself, it just speaks to me, man.
Music is something I rediscovered while drawing.
I needed some noise to block out any background noise, which I’m incredibly sensitive too. I struggle to function in a room if there’s so much as a ticking clock, never mind next-door neighbour’s dog.
It also serves as a motivator – Less in the sense of telling me what to draw, but more in the spirit of giving me the energy to begin.
For this reason, I started listening to bands that were consigned to the digital bottom shelf of my MP3 player; artists I haven’t heard for years.
Anything with high energy and outward anger was perfect to begin with; Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Nirvana (Anything that screams angry white kid). As I became more content with my work, my tastes then adapted again towards softer, more lyrical content, a la; P.J. Harvey, Queen, and U2 (my all-time favourites).
Despite my terrible puns what I’m trying to say is this;
Overall, there’s the growth for transformation in all of us. The need to change one’s identity after a traumatic event and the need to find solace in the life we have around us – The experience we have within us.
The best way to maintain a happy and active lifestyle is by adopting a few small habits at a time and not overwhelming yourself with too much, which can have an adverse effect.
I think James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits says it best; ‘When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running.’
Be sure to subscribe to get updates on future posts including next week’s mini-series finale where I’ll be discussing the lessons I’ve learnt from this whole process, and how they’ve changed my life for the better moving forward.
See you next week.