Everyday thoughts on
By a human aspiring to be a cat
We all have moments when we feel small, when we feel incompetent and powerless, disillusioned with ourselves and with the world. Whether they're triggered by an action or an observation, weather changes or shifting of planets, those moments of despondency can sometimes turn into hours. Hours can stretch into a full day, then two days, then a full week, and so on. Oftentimes, the longer a "moment" lasts, the harder it can be to escape from it. The darkness weighs heavily and stifles you until the heart becomes mute.
Ideally, we want to break out of the cycle before reaching complete apathy. It is good to ask for help, to seek out a friend, a loved one, a trained professional: someone we can trust and someone who can shake us back into our own selves. Someone who can lead us to find the confidence to rise and stand on our own again. Because ultimately, our health and well-being is our own responsibility. It's like jumpstarting a car: you get the initial kick, but once the engine is on, it's up to you to do the driving. And then it's up to you to do the necessary maintenance. You want to make sure you don't need to attach jumper cables to another car every single time you need to go somewhere.
I am no doctor and no expert on clinical depression, and I realize that in severe cases of trauma and chemical imbalance you may need to "regulate" yourself by relying on external sources (drugs, therapy, etc). But I believe that all creatures go through seasonal ups and downs, and I believe that much of it can be self-managed. I think in the end it comes down to knowing yourself and to being honest with yourself. Knowing what opens up your heart, and what shuts it close. Shifting your perception away from thinking what you should feel to being aware of what you do feel and acknowledging it for what it is.
What makes things especially difficult for me is that much of my rational thinking goes out the window whenever the darkness hits. So I put my energy into preventive measures, that is, focusing on what keeps me balanced. There is a saying in Poland that goes something like this:
Within a healthy body resides a healthy spirit.
I was talking with my dad recently about my ideas for writing this post, and he pointed out to me that the Polish saying that I remember from my childhood actually comes from Latin:
Mens sana in corpore sano.
Which translates into:
Healthy mind in a healthy body.
Though the two have slightly different connotations, I find both to be very, very true. If I'm hungry, sick, tired from overworking or from a sleepless night, it is much easier for me to lose my temper, start arguments, hold on to grudges, and decide that my life is altogether meaningless. Taking care of my physical body is one of the best things I can do to take care of my mental health.
At some point, I also decided to make a sort of "emergency" cheat-list of things that I know are good for me, but I don't necessarily think of or feel like doing when the world sucks. Not everything on the list works every time, but usually something does, and it gives me enough of a push to get out of the funk. Here are some things that help me:
I'll say again: the most important thing is to be honest with yourself. Your body will often try to tell you what you need. It is good to learn to listen to it.
I have one more thought to add:
Taking care of our mental health is obviously an important thing to do for our own well being, but I think there is another great importance that's easy to overlook. How we act and how we feel affects not just us, but also everybody within our environment. Doing your best to keep healthy is simply the responsible thing to do, for yourself and for your community. Healthy individuals make up a healthy world.
I hope you find this helpful!