Archive for the ‘Dark days’ Category

The Pororoca lives in my memory now. In Brazil however, twice a year, the wave rolls on. Sometimes ridden by an inquisitive surfer, sometimes with no one to watch it.

Every time it builds up, it passes São Luis – the bustling town that lies near the mouth of the river.

It rumbles through the region of Maranhao where population dwindles and buildings become huts. As it approaches narrow banks and shallow water it builds up and passes by the lives of local Brazilians regardless of their problems.

It twists as the river curves and finally nears Arari, the town I used as my base for the expedition that put my problems into perspective.

You see, nature continues as we experience the events that seem to matter so much. As each full moon waxes and wanes, the lives of every person on the banks of the river wax and wane too. As I write this, the full moon tonight is the same one that greeted me in my early morning trips up river to meet the wave of my lifetime. Tonight’s full moon however greets a different me. I’ve changed. I look different. I think different. I’ve grown.

But I’ve changed because I wanted to. I could have returned to my life and struggled but as Robert Frost said, I took, “the road less travelled”.

And like Frost, it did make all the difference.

Now I don’t try to beat the world’s longest wave. In many ways I took the Pororoca home with me. I’ve made decisions since then that have allowed me to ride more waves. I moved so that I am minutes away from nature and waves and forest. I watch the ocean, the wind, the swell and yes, the tide.

I’m happy doing that. I found that the waves I dreamt of as a teenager do exist. I went to the end of the world and found that happiness is under my feet. Do I still struggle? Yes, but that is just part of being human. 40 years of wanting to do something better than before led me back to the place where I don’t feel bad about standing still.

I went from a human doing to a human being. Feels better.

Speaking to 60 men forces me to think about life advice that I will give. Firstly about my struggles but mainly what I have learnt from my struggles. That’s the point – finding the message within your dramas. Finding advice that will make a difference. Uncovering the lesson learnt from the pain.

It has made me think of the picture people have of me. (more…)

You Can’t Blame Others

Posted: March 24, 2014 in Dark days, Depression

Empathy
A friend of mine confided in me recently that he and his wife were separating.
He said that because I have been through it, he valued my opinion.
My advice to him was that all things pass and that he just needed to put one foot in front of the other.
He agreed.
I added that the well-being of his kids was of primary importance.
He agreed.
I started to feel important and that I had all the answers. I told him that in life this was probably the most difficult time and that other things would be easier in the future.
Then he rocked me with his response.

He said, “Mate your wrong, I buried my kid”

Then I remembered that his second child had passed away at a young age.
Any importance I felt suddenly evaporated. I realised that everyone is on a unique journey. A journey that belongs to us and no one else. We can take advice from others. We can learn lessons from the experience of others.
But life’s most important lessons are left up to us to work out.
In the quiet.
Yes the quiet. You see when we spend time in solitude our answers come to us. If all you hear are your problems coming back this means you have not spent enough time by yourself.

Counselling helps.
The advice of friends helps.
Research helps.

After all that…
Quiet solves.

I’m looking at the diary of the darkest period in my life.

Page after page of negative thoughts, complaints and aggression.diary

As the months have turned into years since these dark days, I look back at this time and it seems like a dream. I remember the feelings … but that is about all. They are just a memory.
A friend reached out to me recently and asked how I got through this time. You see, it’s his turn now. He is struggling.
This article is my effort to shine some light where there is none. To make sure others can follow advice that worked for me.
But when it comes down to it, my Mother gave me the best advice. “Put one foot in front of the other,” she said.
Smart lady.
Logic
Through counselling, I looked at emotions from a logical point of view. I was asked to imagine that I firstly was a lawyer fighting for my opinion. Why I was right. Then I would list the reasons why I was entitled to feel that way. Then I would be the defence lawyer arguing why my assumptions were incorrect. Why I was not entitled to feel that way.
Writing a journal.
Writing a journal of your thoughts and feelings does two things. Firstly it allows you to get intrusive thoughts off your chest and onto paper. These thoughts often happen at inappropriate times. For example, when you are trying to sleep at night. I looked back at the diary of my worst days and looked at the times I wrote many of my posts. 2, 3, 4 and 5 AM in the morning.
Putting these thoughts down on paper allowed me to go back to sleep. Even if I was only to wake up an hour later I would still write down what I was thinking. The second reason is that in the light of day, you look back at what you have written and can balance your emotions better. You realise that feelings are transitory. They rise and fall sometimes with a mind of their own. In my darkest days I seemed to only be experiencing lows. Then occasionally I would feel slightly better and record that. This helped me realise that if I could have one good period, then I could have more.
“Don’t do the things that cause you to get upset”
I remember deciding on this. I traced why I was feeling negative and realised that sometimes the cause was something I had control over. I committed, if at all possible, to stop doing things that created negativity in my life. This is a lesson I learned that helped me pull through the darkest period. But as an unexpected benefit, I still use this mantra 10 years later. My experience of depression is behind me, but I realise that it is the small things we do on a daily basis that make a massive difference in our future.
Small seemingly insignificant habits that reap a massive return years later.
So there you go. Writing a journal, logic and not doing the things that cause you to be upset. I used these three techniques to get me through a period of time that seemed to go on forever.
One more thing. A counsellor asked me at the end of that period why I had never done anything fatalistic. To end my life. My response was that I didn’t think it was in my make up. But I suppose no one who takes that final step would say it is in their make up. One thing was that I have always wanted to leave a positive legacy as a result of my life. This intent allowed me to look into the future and see something worth working towards.

In conclusion, I remember reading about a conversation between a student and a teacher. The student asked, “How will I know if I haven’t achieved my life purpose?

The teacher responded, “If you are still alive, your life mission is still in front of you”.