One of the first signs that I was getting better was that I could read again.
For a long time I couldn't concentrate when I read, so reading novels, no matter how familiar, was no longer pleasurable. Trying to read anything academic or 'formal' made me feel like a toddler trying to read a code combined of Hebrew, Arabic and Japanese!
So when I started to be able to concentrate again reading became a really enjoyable experience! For years I could only manage 1 or 2 books a year. When I'm on holiday I get through at least 4 a week :-)
One of the other signs was that my creativity had come back.
All my life I have been imaginative and creative. Growing up both my parents made crafts, my dad made and sold jewellery, clothes and crafts and with no tv until I was 10, crafting and being artistic was one of my main ways to keep occupied and entertained.
Even when I worked menial jobs that sucked up my energy and crushed all my creativity I'd still enjoy making birthday cards for people or customise my own jewellery.
But when I got ill everything became a drag. I had no motivation to do anything, I was completely un inspired to do or make anything and when I did get the urge to be creative I'd got at it at a million miles an hour, take all of my crafty bits out of the cupboard and spread them everywhere and get lost for hours, days without eating or sleeping properly and then suddenly my energy levels would crash and I'd be left with half finished products sitting around getting dusty and piles of stuff everywhere that I didn't have the energy to move.
A few years ago I made chutney, biscuits and fudge for xmas presents and I loved it. Last year I decided to make some Christmas cards and again really enjoyed it. This year I've been writing a lot more and I've taken up cross stitching and although I haven't yet started on my xmas cards I won't give up on my little bursts of creativity and just remember not to get too sucked into them that my health suffers!
I don't think that people truly realise that the simplest of things become like foreign objects, alien forms when you get depression. Depression is a thief and it takes from you your motivation, your connection to yourself, your ability to relate to others, to know how to conduct yourself, in a sense you forget how to be you, something that you've been doing all of your life!
The good news is that when you are done shedding that old skin and you've found stability and the right support you remember how to be yourself, you become a new version, a more genuine version of yourself, you let go of everything that no longer serves you and you learn to listen to yourself and take care of yourself better. It's like a little holiday away at some nightmarish island, or a static, silent place that just numbs you, so when you come back to yourself, you feel so grateful for the simple things, the little parts of you that you left behind. To feel that familiarity, to see that light at the end of the tunnel, it feels like coming home and you fall in love with those little treasures, those little outlets all over again.
It is these little nuggets of pleasure, these reminders of who I am and what make me tick have been little life rings, shiny nuggets of hope in amongst all the destructiveness that my illness caused.
And I plan to hold on to them and nurture them as best I can, because not only are they a great outlet and a way to express myself and they make me happy and calm, but they are little pieces of me that remind me of who I was before and who I can become.
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