I was lucky to be able to take a holiday recently – not everyone is able to afford either the time or the money but on this occasion I could, and I did. It was a much needed break. It felt like the longest time since I’d taken the sort of holiday which is a real rest; a nothing much to do and nowhere much to be sort of holiday. Usually, if I’m away from home, I feel compelled to do worthy things like visit museums and architectural sites, but not this time.
Mood swings and sadness should not be part of a holiday. One feels that they should be put in a box and labelled “deal with this some other time because I’m on holiday now”.
But sadly, they still show up, those old mood swings. Or should I say they still showed up and down, despite the lovely views, the sunny weather and nice relaxing time we were having. My appetite diminished to zero just when we were surrounded by lovely healthy fish and feast style food.
Eating nice food is usually part of a holiday. I find restaurants very difficult – it’s a first world problem I know – but I simply can’t face the amount of food they tend to offer. A restaurant’s idea of a main course is my idea of a week’s food. Then the waiters look crestfallen when you don’t finish their food and ask anxiously what was wrong with it which makes me feel guilty because there wasn’t anything wrong with the food I try to explain, it’s just me.
It’s hard to do nothing in this modern world. We are confronted 24 hours a day by a million images of the things some advertiser feels we should be doing (ie buying) or achieving (ie buying). However many yoga classes we go to or deep breathing exercises we do, however much we like to feel ourselves immune, it is almost impossible not to be affected by some of those images and ideas. From being bombarded by all the supposed things we should be doing, the ways we should supposedly be looking, and the supposed things we should be achieving it’s easy to feel not good enough in some way. Throw in a few health, work, money and relationship worries which most of us suffer from in some shape or form and hey presto!
After that it’s a short step from to anxiety and depression. Although of course not everyone succumbs but stress affects people in different ways. No, not everyone succumbs to depression and that can add to the problem, it can feel like another failure. We should be stronger, wiser, get over ourselves more, think of others less fortunate, pull ourselves together! Although I have no medical knowledge I believe that there are a number of factors which cause pre-disposition to depression and perhaps even bipolar but because these are not looked for in health checks, it is unsurprising that they are not found. Once the disease is present, it’s a firefight.
I wonder how much depression is caused by or started by poor self image? In my own case I am convinced this is part of the problem. Low self esteem and low self confidence. I suppose the second follows on from the first. I know I should have a positive self image and this would certainly help in some ways but thinking I’m great is not something that has ever come easily to me – I’m afraid ageing hasn’t improved that!
Also I have to remember that if I had been diagnosed with a blood disorder (I haven’t) no-one would suggest that I should pull myself together. I apologise if I’ve said this before – which I have on this blog somewhere – but I do feel strongly that there is still a long long way to go before recognition of mental illness gets the same attention from within health services as does recognition of the physical illness from which people suffer. The difficulty comes when those two things are treated as entirely separate. They are not and never can be. It is all part of the same organism – the same being – the same person.
Everyone has their own mission. Everyone has their own unique individuality and talents to create value on our beautiful blue planet. The trick is to remember it, and keep remembering it even on days when our internal barometer is pointing to storms. Perhaps especially on those days.
You are all amazing. Take a holiday now and again. Try and eat some delicious food. Nibble fruit. Find a book, curl up. Believe.