No-one has ever had exactly the same journey as I just have. Even if I’ve traced the footsteps precisely of 100 people, through South America and New Zealand, the thoughts we each had along the way may well have had correlations and similar themes yet are unique. I find that quite amazing! But of course the same applies to our lives: we’re each unique but we all share the same needs, albeit that the details differ.
This blog was never, ever, about me wanting a pat on the head for “how well I’ve done” or showing off about the places I’ve been to. It was always just meant to be about sharing this bit of my journey in overcoming depressive thoughts, in the hope that anybody who is also suffering, whether you’re open about it or not (even in your own mind), can see that you’re not alone and you have choices about what to do about it; which voices to listen to, which assumptions to challenge, no matter what situation you’re in. I don’t think I’ve always successfully got that focus across, but I’ve just tried to be honest and give the real picture of what I’m going through, to show that your thoughts follow you everywhere and what looks amazing to some people can be a real struggle to others, and if you ever feel like that I promise you you’re far from alone. At the same time, hopefully it’s shown that even for someone who has been long-accompanied by ‘the black dog’, there can be respite from it, you can find genuine light-heartedness again, for ever-increasing spells, for much more than a fleeting moment. You can REALLY enjoy stuff again! And when you do, you’ll be indescribably glad that you tried so many different ways to find it, within yourself. You will still have days where you feel sad. But each time you have to be ready for the fight again, you’ll find it just a little bit easier than before, so you’ll keep fighting because you know the rewards will be worth it!
There are things ‘wrong’ with all of us and it’s ok, we didn’t ask for those things, they’re very human and the healthiest thing I’ve found to do is face up to them, admit them, be open about it, stop trying to pretend that we’re perfect. All I can share is my experiences. I feel I need more knowledge and wisdom to be able to write to you about what you can do. So many other people have already done that and are doing that much better than I can!
And if you claim to have never had internal critical voices demanding your attention, or anxiety, or self-doubt, then count yourself as lucky, be grateful that your experiences in life so far have kept you so free of this natural suffering. Don’t judge those who haven’t had your good fortune, but don’t pity them either, and don’t tell them what to do. Just really listen with compassion and try to gently understand. But also check up on yourself: if you’re brave enough you’ll probably find experiences you’ve had where you can empathise.
I’ve learned, reading about the mind, mindfulness, meditation, letting go of attachment and our inherent human aversion to doing that, personality or temperament types, food, medicine, questioning assumption, others’ experiences… I’ve given all of this my time and attention, and I’ve also given my time, attention and love to the many people I’ve met who have opened up to me about their experiences with this too. I’ve found it all to be so worthwhile, satisfying and fun!
Now I’m off to challenge myself again in another totally different environment. The relaxed nature of New Zealand has given me chances to learn about myself in different ways than South America did, but for the next month I’m ready for yet more external influences, unforeseen lessons, authentic smiles and treasured people!