Now this post may seem a bit random at first, but I felt compelled to write it after walking home from work this afternoon. I just find it fascinating the things that can make you feel better when you’ve been feeling low, and the good vibes that suddenly start flowing through you. Now I understand I am at the risk of sounding a bit new-age and hippyish (‘Right on, man!’), but please bear with me as I describe my sudden epiphany today…
So I’ve been feeling a little depressed and/or stressed out as of late. It comes and goes, but when its at its worst I just feel awful, like a rock that just wants to lie there and not do anything or deal with anybody at all. I’ve tried various meditation techniques to try and help myself, and also have been reading the rather fabulous book Frazzled by Ruby Wax – who once upon a time was someone I absolutely couldn’t stand and found rather irritating, but I have to take my hat off for her for the good work she has done around mental health awareness. It’s no mean feat to write a book attempting to help those afflicted by stress and depression and yet be a humourous read at the same time, but she certainly manages it effortlessly.
It’s been a great help to me and calmed the rather erratic pressure cooker that is my brain somewhat. I’ve always been a mildly anxious person but lately all my worries feel like they’ve been dialled up to 11 – whether I’m writing enough, whether I’m being sociable enough, whether my friends and/or family really like me or not, whether I’m relaxing enough, whether I’m making enough time for myself, whether some random thing I said a week ago made me sound stupid or not, etc. Stupid, silly things. But it’s only after I have a near-enough meltdown about one of these that I realise just how ridiculous I’m being. It’s an extremely vicious cycle, and one I’m still trying to fully break free from.
So, cut to today at work. During a free moment I was sitting having a coffee and listening to the radio, when a familar song came on. I knew it, but couldn’t for the life of me remember who it was by. Of course, in this (debatedly) wonderful age we live in, I was able to whi out my smartphone and ‘Shazam’ it. And it turned out it was ‘Sit Down’ by James. As it turned out, I already had another of theirs on my phone, ‘Born of Frustration’, which I had obtained via the Shazam method as well at some undetermined point of time. The reason the songs were familar to me was because my Dad had been a fan of them, and I’d heard them many a time on the tape player on many a car ride in my childhood. So that already made me think of simpler, more innocent times. Noticing the link to buy their ‘Best Of’ album that both of these tracks were included on, I bit the bullet and thought ‘Why not’ – it was only £6.99 after all!
So when I left work to walk home (a half-hour walk- I really should get around to learning to drive one of these days), I found it was raining quite hard out there. Cursing myself for not thinking to bring my umbrella, I still got my headphones out (as I generally do walking to and from work) and stuck the album on as that journey’s musical accompaniment. And as I did, other tracks suddenly lit a spark in my memory as well, such as ‘She’s a Star’ and ‘Tomorrow’. It was a nice little escape to nostalgia after a long day. The lyrics of the latter particularly struck a chord with me and were a nice reassuring balm for my wittering, worrying old brain – ‘Gotta keep faith that your path will change/Gotta keep faith that your love will change tomorrow’ – a mantra that kept me (literally) pushing through the rain and on my way. I didn’t even mind the rain – I let myself feel every drop, basking in it, smiling to myself – it’s quite possible that I made myself look rather strange to anyone passing by – but I didn’t particuarly care. I suddenly had a fresh outlook on everything, maybe things aren’t so bad after all, things can only get better from here, who cares that it’s raining etc. I was feeling something after being somewhat on autopilot for what felt like the longest time. And it was through the combination of music and rain, of all things. I almost had to stop myself from just standing there dancing and singing in it.
And I think it’s a very real danger for all of us – even if you aren’t feeling stressed, depressed, or both – it’s all too easy to fall into this ‘autopilot’ and find yourself not enjoying or appreciating anything – it’s a requirement, in my eyes, to let yourself go every now and then. Listen to that old song that you haven’t heard in years. Stop a minute to look at the scenery around you. Walk a different way for once. In fact, I’m tempted to apply it to my writing – just stop thinking about it so much and see what words came out, as I have rather ended up doing with this post, to be completely honest.
I’ll be sure to let you know how I progress with the ‘sorting myself out’ thing. Maybe recently turning 30 is part of what’s causing these feelings (surely I’m too young to have a mid-life crisis already?) But today was a turning point for me, when I really wasn’t expecting it. You know what? I think it’ll all work out okay in the end. It almost always does.
With love and best wishes
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