Has your year been full of joy or pain? Probably a bit of both a different times. I’m no different in that regard. Although from August until November there’s been a lot of loss and most of it seemed to happen all at once. I lost my grandfather, 2 friends, my best friend moved away, work announced a big change to my job, I didn’t get a management role I had applied for and waited 8 weeks to hear back from and finally a technical issue caused me to clear out my bank account.
Throughout it all I felt tired, sad and constantly at the brink of tears.
I have to admit that depression is not new to me. I’ve dealt with it at least twice before and never needed to take any antidepressants, instead using journaling, talking to friends, exercise and generally looking after myself to get through. But this time felt different. While mentally I was trying to be kind to myself and do all the things that worked in the past, physically I felt out of control. Anything could make me cry, it was frustrating and exhausting and I was ready to try drugs just to regain some energy so I could tackle the rest.
There were moments when I managed to put the coaching knowledge to work. Like that one day I arrived at Manchester Airport and was sooo sick of all the people around me and just wanted them all to disappear. As I dragged my little carry-on case towards the trains I thought to myself “why are you in such a crappy mood? I don’t like this mood, let’s change it”. The only way I know to instantly lift my mood is by conjuring up things I’m grateful for. This may be the most useful tool I learned while training to be a life coach as it’s completely free of charge and can be done silently in your head without anyone knowing. So I made a mental list about things I was grateful for, like the fact that I have two working legs that could carry me through the airport, a job that allowed me to travel and pay my bills, friends at Toastmasters I would hang out with that weekend and so on. I was still tired and close to tears as was the standard but at least I felt some relief.
Another thing that kept me sane throughout that time was my music. I started going to a weekly ukulele jam session where I’d sing and play for 3-5 hours each week and actually felt energized after. So I brought a ukulele with me on that trip to the UK and when our train got stuck outside the station for an hour I just took it out and played. People around me sang along and requested songs. It was the quickest hour stuck on a train ever. When I finally left the station in Sheffield one of the guys from the carriage was waiting for me to give me a hug and thank me for turning what could have been a horrible experience into a very enjoyable one. It felt great to be appreciated like that, but the feeling didn’t last because of the overarching lack of energy.
Then my personal trainer changed everything. Simply by asking if I was taking enough vitamins. I said that I wasn’t taking any and she suggested I get myself some vitamin D. Living in Ireland I have often heard others talk about how lack of vitamin D was causing them issues but I never thought it was affecting me. If only I’d known sooner.
This isn’t supposed to be product placement, but here’s picture of what I now consider my saviour:
Four days into taking this it felt like someone had opened the curtains. The veil was lifted and I felt like myself again. Suddenly I could think straight and even though I was experiencing a nasty head cold I felt uplifted and positive about what lay ahead. If you have never experienced depression it may be hard to comprehend how much of a burden was lifted, but imagine someone had draped you into a lead filled blanket and you had to go about your day in this for two months and suddenly you could take it off. That is the best way I know to describe this feeling.
And so I come to reflect on 2017 and I think the only true way I can is by making another list of things I’m grateful for:
- my family
- my friends, no matter where on earth they live at the moment
- Ukulele Tuesdays (and my new Ukulele friends that came with it)
- my personal trainer Lisa
- my Toastmaster friends
- my job, especially my manager and colleagues
- the fact that I was able to go on a 1 week yoga retreat to Bali in May
- my first trip to Canada in August
- my coaching trainer Mark Rayner who taught me so much that helped me get through the tough times this year and basically adopted me when I visited Canada
- my mom’s new cat – Klausi
I hope you can all look back at 2017 and think of at least 3 things you are grateful for this past year.
To round it off, here’s a picture of Klausi when he was 8 weeks old.
Have a great start into 2018!