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Big Black Hairy Gorilla



It’s been a while, since I last blogged. If I’m honest... which I always am, there’s been a lot going on. In the silence of lockdown there is something that’s screaming so loud I can barely think, let alone get it all down and make sense of it. It’s not happening to me, but it seems it is... to everyone else.

What is it? One gigantic black hairy gorilla... well this is my best friends description and I think it fits. You may also know it as the black dog, a low mood, the sunshine thief or just plain old depression. As predicted the second pandemic is a mental health crisis. An accumulative dark hole of the last years restrictions, pressure and overall expectation of ourselves in a global crisis.

How unforgiving we are of ourselves and how high are our own expectations? We wonder why our brains simply shut down when it all gets too much. Life gets numb, our ability to feel anything disappears and the stars are stolen from the sky. What’s the point, why bother, just give up.

Credit to Bruno Cavellec


For some, the overwhelming way of working ( if you can go to work), has changed over the last year and has finally broken us. For others, the events over the last 12 months have overflowed and there’s nowhere to hide. Depression can have a foot hold on your chest, the fun police in your head and a hazy outlook on the future.

Let’s be real here... standing on one leg in the lounge chanting your mantra, whilst an organic chamomile loose leaf tea steeps in an artisan glass tea pot- isn’t going to cut it! For many, the preposterous and somewhat pretentious advice is that everything will be okay when you purchase ‘lounge wear’ from Sweaty Betty, apply some ‘Flush Blush’ from Trinny London and burn an essential oil extracted from a flower of the peak of Kilimanjaro! Although that may give you an initial pick me up (as you imagine the very best version of yourself with all of these new lifestyle purchases), but dig a little deeper than the surface and you’ll see yourself lurking somewhere below wading through the sludge. Retail therapy does wear off, and we are left with looking fabulous on the outside and lost, hopeless and numb on the inside.


It won’t be okay, if you just make a lemon meringue pie either, or if you binge watch the latest Netflix spectacular! You know what, it also won’t be okay if you make lots of lists, in fact lists of lists, categorised by colour and priority. This will of course then lead to a search on Etsy or something similar for a planner... another tick to the ‘getting your life in order list’. No!


There is actually a reason why we say ‘just be’. I realise this sounds pretty impossible, I understand that you can’t just stop. I know that if you sit still for too long you will feel sad, and I know that you don’t like it. I know that you distract yourself with lists, with activities and ‘active relaxation’. Whilst taking your mind off what’s consuming you is of EXTREME RELIEF, until you deal with your demons you will never move on.


Being alone with your thoughts is scary. Especially if you don’t know who you are anymore. Perhaps you are part of a family, and your needs are met last. Perhaps you are so consumed by your own thoughts that you can’t cope with everyday life. Perhaps you’ve become so disconnected that you’ve changed and you can’t deal with it. Or maybe you’re a lockdown mummy and you just haven’t had the support you need and you’re worried that you’re not doing it right.

I actually had to google what ‘they’ call a nervous breakdown now, what’s the politically correct way of saying it? Is it burn out? Is it mental breakdown?


It’s a period of extreme mental stress. Sound familiar? It’s actually not a mental health disorder. It’s an overload of stress over a significant amount of time, it’s an overwhelming feeling that leaves you feeling unable to carry out every day activities. This can be triggered by many things such as a sudden tragedy, a major life change, burn out at work, anxiety, depression, poor sleep, abuse or financial problems. Well well well.... go figure. Pick a few of those out of the hat from the last year why don’t you !

Is it any wonder that we are losing our grip on reality? Never one to dwell, how about we look at this as life laundry? Common sense tells us that in order to move on, we’ve got to work this out. How did we get here? What are we feeling? How can we feel what we need to( hardest part). How can we move on? I can hear the rustle of paper, the lids are coming off the pens.. let’s plan this out. Let’s take charge of our life, no one is going to do this for us. We absolutely must crack on.


Nope!

Perhaps you seriously don’t have the motivation to think this way, perhaps you are spending as much time as possible sleeping? Sleeping because then you’re not thinking. Sleeping because you’re so tired, because you’re burned out and need to rest.

Yes and no.

Are you getting this yet? Although it’s advised to rest, to get motivated where you can and to be kind to yourself. Until you have dug deep, shook hands with the big black gorilla you won’t get to do the fun stuff.


How do I do this?

1- Recognising how you feel firstly it’s the most important step

2-Telling someone else how you feel- so important

3 - Make an appointment with your GP and keep it. Tell them everything

4- Follow their advice, you aren’t a doctor (unless you are, and I take that back), your research on google won’t ‘get you through’.

5- Talk therapy- you need a professional, someone that knows what they’re talking about and is neutral. You may love your friends and family, but let’s face it... they’re never going to be Switzerland.

6- Just be -Now, this is the tricky bit, you need to sit a little... in your feelings and work through them. This is where you may struggle. You’ll need quiet, and perhaps something to focus on, like a candle, a tree or leaves in the wind, something slow, natural and allows your eyes to focus and your mind to empty.

7- Then your ‘active relaxation’ can commence. Write all the lists you want, on scented paper with a multitude of colour coded categories with your favourite green pen!

8- Eat well, not in excess, comfort food serves a purpose, but if it leaves you unhealthy then time to change it up.

9- Get out. Get up, get dressed and get out. A walk everyday for at least 30 mins will maintain some structure and honestly, you’ll just feel better. It’s not rocket science.

10- Talk. Communicate how you are feeling, however try not to only talk about that. If you’re a listening ear for another person be careful. Know when it’s too much, and realise for your own well-being, sometimes you can’t be someone’s everything. Say no, enough now, and beware of toxic relationships.


Let’s get back to ‘Just being’. Below a quote from my best friend ( she’s a teacher- can you tell)?

“Just be. Just be what? There’s a certain irony to this as ‘being’ is a verb - a doing word, not a sedentary, self reflective, naval gazing noun. So when people say ‘just be’, I am left dissatisfied, waiting for the revelation . “

You aren’t the only one! This is a practice. How often have you had to practice something to become good at it? Do you just pick up how to do something immediately? The ‘people’ she is referring to is probably me. I’ve spent twenty years in wellness, relaxing people, and even I find it a struggle to ‘just be’.

There’s no simple solution to life laundry, there’s no shortcut and you do need to feel your feelings. Chances are you’ve been running away from them and they’ve just caught up.


Credit to Bruno Cavellec

Please know that it is tough right now, and if you are feeling any of the feelings I’ve mentioned here, than recognise it’s time to do something about it. Below are some links that can help you find the support you need. There is zero shame in getting better, you just need to acknowledge that you need to.

Is it time to dye the gorilla pink yet?

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/useful-contacts/


Credit to Bruno Cavellec for his artwork 🙏

brunocavellec.com




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