If you used to read my blog, Backpacking Em, you’ll be no stranger to the fact that I frequently go through quieter spells where I write a lot less, or sometimes not at all. I can be in the constant flow of writing multiple times a week and then *poof!* nothing for a month or so.
For a long time I’d get frustrated at myself for this. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t just write something, anything down. It’s not that I’ve ever had a shortage of ideas. I write for myself nearly every day, pretty much anywhere I can; in my diary, on the computer, in notes in my phone, on bits of receipt paper at work, on the back of my hand… I have notebooks and pieces of paper and scrapbooks and diaries all over the show, but for some reason, blogging has always been a little more challenging.
My friend Gordon (who also has an awesome blog which you should go and check out) came to visit me this weekend and we got talking on why this is. Not surprisingly, it boils down to my anxieties of how I appear online. I’m not exactly anxious about what people think of me in terms of who I am or how I like to write. It’s more a worry about the content being “good enough” to publish. Gordon was telling me about how, until recently, he always felt like his posts needed to have some sort of big finale statement or moral conclusion in order to be shared. However, since he’s started being more honest and vulnerable about his feelings and the challenges in his life, he’s felt freer to write more regularly about whatever the hell he wants (this is a funny pun if you know what his blog is about…)
The thing is, depression isn’t all big revelations or moral epiphanies either. Most of the time it’s hard and difficult and no fun whatsoever and I don’t like the idea of my writing becoming solely highlight orientated. Which ironically, this post is veering towards as I had a realisation about all this BUT I’m an over-explainer so you’ll just have to let me off this time, OK?
OK. Let’s give this being vulnerable thing another shot.
I usually get bad at writing when I’m down. Which I have been recently. I often try my hardest to hide these feelings because of my anxieties about being annoying or overbearing or too much. I’m also naturally a pretty positive person so I don’t like to feel as though I’m getting others down, especially seeing as I’ve only just finished CBT.
However I am a human and I struggle, and there’s no shame in that, so I’m going to stop trying to sugar coat it. This is one of those times that I’m not really sure why I am getting down. It’s been happening slowly but surely for a good two to three weeks now so the other day I wrote a letter to my friend and listed my emotions:
Heavy. Boxed-in. Compressed. Unsure. Unmotivated. Bored. Frustrated. Angry. Hurt.
I wrote the letter because I’m not very good at verbalising my feelings (hence alllllll the writing). It was therapeutic. I’ve done this a few times and find that writing the individual emotions first without explanation and then going on a rant about whatever I want is really helpful, because I can’t always match up emotions and situations. Then my friend asks questions and we talk through things to help me figure out what’s what. Sometimes even just the writing helps me figure things out, although I do find that saying things out loud often makes them much more real.
Today is a bit better. I have had some rather exciting news which has definitely helped the ‘unmotivated’ and ‘unsure’ feelings. I hope it lasts. Apart from that, I have a few days off work and the parents are away on their jollies so I have some alone time to be all reflective and stuff/walk around naked and sing as loudly as I want to. Aside from that, I have some very important scrap-booking to get to, a jumper that won’t knit itself and two really interesting books to enjoy: one by Neil Bennion called Dancing Feat about a thirty-something year old guy from Wigan who travels to Colombia to learn how to dance and The Bad Birdwatcher’s Companion by Simon Barnes, which gives little profiles for Britain’s 50 most common birds. The former has me howling, partly because he writes as sarcastically as I talk and partly because I understand the struggles of an awkward Brit Abroad in Latin America, trying to keep up with the dancing technique of just about every native out there. The latter is feeding my long ignored passion for all things out-doorsy. I’d recommend both.
Not much fear facing to report as of late (except that camel ride in the Sahara last month which I will get round to writing about…) but I intend to get back to it soon. Right now I’m focusing on my basic rules to get me through the day and keep me on a relative level of togetherness, and hopefully spend time with some of my favourite people. I might even get some more writing done.
N.B. I can’t help but add for anyone else who is recovering: ups and downs are natural. They’re part of being human. Some people like us just feel them more intensely and we have to do some extra stuff to look after ourselves when the low times come around. Don’t lose hope. It does get better.