A much needed shot in the arm? Ok so I’ve a confession to make – since November 2000 I’ve been subject to that enigmatic buzzword of today, depression.
Now this post is not about me trying to get all dogmatic and make assertions about what depression actually is and how to deal with it. I’d much rather express my view in this way.
Depression to me is just a general term, a broad statement to describe a very weird, lost and painful state of mind. It’s a world that is ultimately greater than the sum of its parts. I’ll explain what I mean by that in a moment.
So what I’m going to do here is share my experience with it, and hopefully, you’ll take something from my words that may just assist you on your journey through the darkness and the mire.
First, why did I title this post ‘Design through Depression’. Well, in many ways (depending on how I choose to look at it), my depression has forced me to acquire an extensive catalog of information about what depression is, why I got depressed in the first place and what attitudes I’ve had to change in order to move on.
There is little value in me going into full details about my hardships as you have yours that are personal to you, and only you truly know how your version of depression affects your life. (that’s assuming you roll daily with the black dog or know someone who does).
Just to get a touch metaphorical, I genuinely believe the key to unlocking our soul lays at the center of the maze inside our minds, made up of our attitudes and beliefs.
Changing those attitudes and beliefs that drive depression is easy, the challenging aspect is identifying which beliefs are responsible for keeping us locked in.
For me, depression has been a double-edged sword, powerful enough to create unbearable emotional pain whilst driving me forwards to make certain changes in my life.
In simple terms, I’ve been oscillating between anger/rage and sadness/despair for 16 years whilst having fleeting moments of breaking through. However, what I can say is that I’ve learned I am not the content of my mind when shit goes down, I back off and watch it do it’s thing – a strange concept at first.
For me, physical exercise and fighting to appreciate the good things in life keep me sane and on track. Despite my best efforts, I still to this day switch off and fall into the black holes in my mind – my attitude goes to shit and I’m a nightmare to be.
That said, I’ve had this crap long enough to know it’s a passing shit storm of self-pitying, repetitive and unappreciative diatribe which bears no relation to the facts of what the great things I have and my achievements.
Since I fell into a depression I have:
Designed for Hollywood movies
Designed for high profile sports personalities
Become a dad (never thought that would happen)
Had music I’ve written, played in the some of the biggest clubs in Ibiza and on national radio
Started my own design business
Won player of the year (football)
Taken up martial arts
Won design awards
Had my art sold in Hamleys toy store London
Acted on stage
All whilst dealing with:
Coming to terms with the death of my parents during this time (lost my mother in November 2016)
Dealing with early life trauma
Having my mind ripped apart by a very incapable therapist (more on this soon!)
My brother is in intensive care as of February 2017
Fearing for the life of my daughter, in intensive care in a hospital, the same year my dad died
I digress, ahem, when I talk about parts coming together to create depression, those parts are the single components of my life experience that came together and sent me plummeting into depression, aged 26. Years of failed jobs, constant put-downs at home with fast fading dreams.
At the time I didn’t have a clue what was happening inside my mind. All I know, and you may be able to hear me on this, is that I changed in a heartbeat, I fell into a deep state of fear, with all kinds of twisted intrusive thoughts, my personality seemed to vanish and the lights went out.
My senses switched off and I became isolated from the world. I regressed back to my early years when I was subject to some very twisted treatment – the perpetrator in question killed themselves and the suggestion made to me by my doctor was that a part of me that was frozen since those days woke up and felt safe to talk.
How true that is, I couldn’t say but I’d certainly say that age 26, I was partially regressed back to my younger years.
During my initial therapy process, my parents came under severe subjection as my therapist took me on a ‘blame the parents’ journey.
Since then I’ve had to dig deep and fight relentlessly to stay on the light side of life. That part of my mind that woke up had some very pressing questions.
Gone was the guy who laughed all the time and put others first, in it’s place was someone who needed answers. Sad to say, but during my initial therapy process, my parents came under severe subjection as my therapist took me on a ‘blame the parents’ journey.
Every single aspect of their role in raising me was slaughtered, their mistakes highlighted and their achievements undermined or totally eradicated. My quirks and idiosyncrasies that defined my personality where now symptoms (in her opinion) of an abusive childhood – not good. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water!
During that process, my natural senses of ‘mum and dad were doing there best in shit circumstances and fucked up at times’ were blunted with a huge ‘if only’ hammer, slamming my mind with ideas that if they were better and up to the mark, I’d never have wasted so many years trying to impress them. Whilst that’s true, I couldn’t offset that information with the good times – those were well and truly buried.
My life was then pushed through the filter of ‘now you see why you do this, and chose to do that’. My whole life up until I was 26 was rubbished, leaving me in stewing in a pool of rage. My depression was amplified and the good stuff that we all have to balance us out was gone.
When you get someone else’s version of your past rubbed in your face whilst desperate for answers, it’s like being indoctrinated into victimhood. The inner conflict caused by that process was horrendous – the success experienced in my late 20’s and 30’s was painful at times. ‘I could have been doing this years ago if mum this and dad that’.
I believe it’s these attitudes (results of the stories I’ve bought into about my past), formed on an incomplete and bias understanding of my upbringing, are what has caused my mind to stay locked at times, as one worldview jostles with the other for dominance.
There’s also the shock factor of never having had a chance to patch up the broken relationship with my parents who sadly died whilst I was trying to figure this crap out – leaving something that was fragile, mildly fucked up and beautiful forever broken.
However, for me, life is about moving forward, limping in pain maybe, but MOVING FORWARD, looking to re-establish my previous way positive way of living but with lessons learned.
That old way of living by taking action and enjoying life. Placing experience over ‘knowledge’, people over things, and no longer overthinking in pseudo-intellectual bullshit terms.
Whatever your depression is about, I wish you every strength in working with it. Move, bob, slide, switch it up, depression loves a sitting duck, firing you with stories of ‘I told you so’.
Prove it wrong, challenge it with action and doing good to others, even when you feel like shit. Depression is a clear sign you need to change what you do – your job is to find what that is and do it! Good luck and keep going!
I’d love to hear your ideas of how you win and what strategies you’ve implemented that help you see the brighter side of life!
Drop me a comment down below and hopefully it may just give someone an insight they need to move up another step.