August is a time for plotting; for buying new stationery, school uniform, equipment for the year ahead. It’s a time of dreaming and scheming, mentally preparing for the step up into the next year, and thinking about the kind of person I want to be.
This year, it will be ten years since I left school. But September still makes me think of new year and fresh starts, so much more than January. A new school year brings with it a new timetable and new routine. It’s a chance to drop some bad habits and pick up new ones. There is an air of excitement as the weather turns cooler. We have to put our tights and socks back on and get down to business.
Although my recovery from severe anxiety and depression has since plateaued, in the first few weeks following diagnosis I was surprised at how much better I felt so quickly.
A number of things had changed during this time:
- I had spoken to the doctor about how I was feeling, and entered the system of seeking treatment.
- I had written about how I had been feeling, and had a lot of conversations with people on and offline about mental health.
- I took on more responsibility at work and got a pay rise.
- The gym re-opened and I developed a regular exercise habit.
- I overhauled my diet: less carbs, more protein (including shakes and supplements after working out), less alcohol, and started taking daily vitamins.
- These last two resulted in visible changes to my body, with people telling me I felt more toned (I can also feel my abs move when I walk, and so have taken to keeping my palms pressed to my core).
Basically, I started doing stuff and I started seeing results of what I was doing. It reminded me that one of the most powerful things you can do to improve your happiness is to feel in control of your own life.
Granted, in the midst of depression this can be difficult. But even things like choosing to and being able to cycle somewhere (previously I had been to anxious to get on my bike) made me feel powerful. Small wins towards my goals, like making it to the gym for ten minutes or turning down a second biscuit at work, built up momentum and I was gradually more able to feel in control of the bigger things.
Once I had decided that control was a key to happiness, I started noticing it everywhere.
I’ve not been feeling up for writing this week, and as hard as I try I can’t craft a proper post with any kind of lesson. I know that writing can help me come unstuck, and that getting words on a page can start to fuel my creativity. But I’m stuck in a catch 22, where I need to write for inspiration but I need inspiration before I start to write.
Does anyone else get this?
Thinking that anything would be better than staring at a blinking cursor on a screen, I started to just write out how I feel. Aha, a blog post. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever written, but it’s where I am right now. And I’m going to be kind to myself, and let that be enough.
So here’s a list of what’s in my head this week; my frustrations and my dreams.
If you feel like you’ve read this before, it’s because it originally featured on my old blog. I’m gradually moving my most popular and commented on posts over to this site.
So here’s a story about a time when my car didn’t start.
Recently I spoke a bit on twitter about how I was going to stop blogging because I didn’t think having a blog added value to my life, and how the pressure of having to think of something to write was making me anxious.