Where should I begin… I would like to share a personal story with you, because I feel that it needs to be shared. So just to bring it out in the open, the last few years have been rough. Some of you know that I had a burnout in 2018, but what hardly anyone knows is that I’ve been suffering from depression, for a long time. Allright, there I said it…
It came in waves. I’ve had good periods, weeks, even months maybe, where I did ok, but also really bad ones. But in truth, there hasn’t been a time where I really felt great in the last few years. A feeling that for the longest time was something from the past. A vague remembrance, where you aren’t sure if it really happened or it was just simply your imagination.
I suppose that burnout was the culmination of everything that had happened in the years before, my body finally gave up. I’ve always pushed through, never a quiter, never show that your weak. ‘I can manage, tomorrow it will be better again.’ It’s obvious that you can only do that for so long and looking back, I’m glad my body decided to hit the reset button. Of course as you can imagine, the road to where I am now wasn’t easy. I had to learn to live all over again. I had therapy for the first time in my life. After the initial therapy sessions for my burnout, I had a follow up with another therapist to help me fight the demons from the past. I’ve learned about mindfulness, meditation, I’ve learned to listen to my body and my feelings. Which hasn’t been easy. I’ve always pushed them away, focusing on work, focusing on helping others, solving their problems, so I could ignore my own.
I’ve learned to set boundaries, I’ve learned to ask for help and that it’s ok to admit that you can’t do everything on your own. These things have been very hard and still are. I’m still not there yet, but it’s slowly getting better. So all in all the last two years have been a rollercoaster.
But luckily I can finally say that I feel better than ever, for the last month or so it feels like the clouds have finally lifted. To experience a clear mind again is very liberating. To finally have the strength and courage to share this intimate story with you, I’m glad I can. Mental health issues are a serious problem and I think it’s a good thing that it’s getting more out in the open. So hopefully people will call out for help sooner.
Besides therapy what really helped me is a complete change of lifestyle. I know that it’s not for everyone, but it works for me. Besides slowing down and setting more boundaries for myself I follow these practical examples. I meditate every morning to start the day with a clear mind. It doesn’t work all the time of course, but at least I’m trying.
On my days off I exercise, I’ve been going to the gym for years, but I’ve worked out a 2 hour home workout routine since the lockdown and I usually go for a run in the late afternoon. It’s actually nice to run outside again instead of the treadmill in the gym.
Another big change is my diet. In general I try to eat healthy, so I prefer freshly prepared meals, but I still do enjoy the occasional take away meal or other comfort foods.
But these next ones are the real changes where I benefit the most. I cut sugar a year ago out of my diet, so no candy or cookies. I do eat food with added sugars though, but I try to avoid it if possible. Since the beginning of this year I hardly eat any meat, only on special occasions, maybe when I’m eating out, but we can’t do that at the moment, so it’s very rare. I still like a good rendang for example. And I still eat fish.
But the biggest change, or how it will seem for most people is my sobriety. I completely quit alcohol since the beginning of this year. It started like so many of you with dry January, but I liked the benefits so much that it’s not something I would change back to. The ones that stand out, is that I sleep better and my mind feels clearer.
Physically I’m in a better shape than I ever was and because of that I also mentally feel better than I have been in a long time. Mind and body, it really is a balance.
Will it be like this forever, I don’t know. To be honest I know there is a good chance that my depression will rear its ugly head sometime in the future. It will always be lingering in the background. But at least now I have the tools to cope with it and I’ve learned to reach out for help. I hope with sharing this story, whoever is in a similar situation will find the courage to do the same. There is light at the end of the tunnel.