Thursday, 27 November 2014

So the battle begins!

To be honest, the battle has already been raging for a couple of weeks.
What battle? Well.. the battle against winter depression.

Some of you in colder countries might have experience with this. It is actually quite common, and you don't even have to be depressed to begin with. Know that feeling you get in the winter, when you can't get out of bed, can't bring up the courage to drag yourself to work, to school, or anywhere? Know that feeling that you just want to stay home in your pj's all day and never leave bed? Know that feeling that when you leave for work, it's dark outside, and when you go back, it's dark again; and asking yourself where your day has been? Know that feeling that you just want to turn up the heater all the time because you can't stop feeling chilly? Know that feeling that a simple cold can knock you out for a week because your resistance is so low?

Well, if you think that sounds familiar, you might have a winter depression, just as millions of other people, myself included. 
Winter depression is, simply put, what happens if you don't see enough daylight. Daylight is vital for us, and helps our skin and our body generate a whole bunch of vitamins and also increases our serotonin levels. No daylight can lead to vitamin shortages (which can also be a cause for depression) and low serotonin levels. It can make you feel absolutely terrible. 
Today I will explain how to battle this shortage of daylight and how to conquer it!

The first and best option for battling winter depression is *drumroll* daylight!

Try to walk or simply be in the daylight for at least half an hour a day. If you're at work or at school, try to eat your lunch outside, or take a walk around the block. I know it isn't always possible to get a healthy dose of daylight every day and the light is so much less bright in the winter so I wouldn't advise this as the only solution, but it is certainly the first one to consider.

My second advice would be to take your vitamins. 
Did you know that the overwhelming majority of the people in the world don't get enough vitamins and minerals? The food nowadays is so much stuffed with unhealthy things and does not contain enough to actually make us thrive. I usually eat healthy but I have my days as well, and especially if you eat a lot of prepackaged foods it is not a bad idea to take a multivitamin every day, especially in winter, when your body (due to the shortage of sunlight) does not work as properly as it should be.

To battle a winter depression you should take at least 25 mcg vitamin D, if not more. I usually take 50 mcg myself. A good multivitamin on top of that is never a bad idea. It will help balance your resistance and keep you healthy as well as happy.

The third thing you can do to battle winter depression (this is especially a good idea when you don't have time to walk outside every day) is buy a light therapy lamp or daylight lamp. I got one from my dad last week and I can already tell that it helps. You technically only have to use it for half an hour, seven days a month but I put mine on every morning and evening and it really helps with my day rythm. It's a very easy way because you literally just have to put it on and sit next to it or in front of it. I am currently typing this blog post with my light therapy lamp next to me. If you have a desk job, you could also take it to work and just place it on your desk. 

My fourth advice, given to me by my therapist, is to 'collect your nuts'. She made a comparison to squirrels, who collect nuts in the autumn to help get them through the winter. In short: Go look for stuff, creative projects, series, movies, books, anything you like and collect it all together to help keep yourself busy during the dark days. Like superheroes? Watch a superhero movie every week or get yourself a bunch of comic books. I have a lot of creative projects lined up and am happy to look forward to, and if you keep yourself busy you will have less time for moping and sulking around. Try to do things with your friends as well! Organise parties, get-togethers and movie marathons. Pull yourself and everyone around you out of the misery!
This picture is of one of the 'anti-winterdepression' projects I'm currently working on.

My final advice is something that I figured out by myself. I light a candle every night before I go to bed and just hold it with my eyes closed while sitting on the floor for 10-15 minutes. I try to focus myself on the warmth and light that radiates from the candle - on my skin and through my eyelids. I also like to think about the vital importance of light in this world, and how it will help things grow and thrive; not only plants but animals as well, as well as you and me. If you are able to focus enough, you will feel that slowly, all the stress and the misery will lift off your shoulders and it usually calms me down well enough that I am able to get a good night's sleep.

It's a very simple meditation method but I feel that if I focus myself on what light is and what it does, it also helps me get through the dark days.

I hope this advice will help you make it through the dark days as much as it helps me. 
And remember; the shortest night of the year is already due in less than a month (21 dec), and from there on, things will only get better (and lighter!).



Monday, 10 November 2014

Happy Outfit: Aurora Borealis

This was a post that I started a while ago and never finished. A simple outfit post. I cut my hair in the meantime and it's not as blue anymore but I really like it here!

I was so happy to have found this dress for a good price. It was a limited edition and I missed out on it when it came out. This is also a dress that has a special meaning for me.

Aurora Borealis literally means 'Dawn of the North Wind'. Since the North Wind is often associated with cold, darkness, winter and depression it reminds me a bit of a light in the darkness.
Both Aurora and Boreas are gods in the pre-Christian Roman religion; Aurora is the goddess of dawn, and Boreas the god of the North Wind.

Since I associate my depression so strongly with the contrast of light and dark, visually, it reminded me of how there is always hope. I specifically wanted to have this for the winter, even though it's not warm at all, but just to remind me that even in the darkness there is light. And beautiful light too.

As I said, I cut my hair in the meantime and the hairdresser cut almost all the blue off :( it was very damaged though. I'm going to rebleach and dye it soon!

I'm wearing eyeshadows by Boozy Cosmetics and the lipstick is Serpentina by Lime Crime.


Happy Place: my home.

After the quite alarming post I did on Saturday night I am doing much better now. I received so many inbox messages and I'm so happy and flattered with them. One message was from my aunt, who promised me a few months ago to do some cleaning for me as a birthday present. I didn't feel guilty about collecting that present because she offered it before so we worked all day and now my kitchen and living room are completely clean. I still need to do the bathroom and two other rooms but the most important spaces in the house are clean and so cosy! I could not resist taking some pictures of my living room as it looks now.

Here is the infamous 'after' picture of the picture I had posted in my last post:

Looks better eh? The stuff on my table are in fact my study books that I have yet to find a place for since my bookshelves are overflowing. I've put some birthday cards and other nice stuff there as well. I still need to pin those to my kitchen cupboard but for now they look nice.

This is my couch, on which I am sitting typing this right now. I made the curtains myself; they have ladybugs on it. I have a ladybug tattoo on my foot as well that's actually inspired by these curtains. They are some kind of symbol of freedom for me.

This is my old granny TV, with built in VHS player! In the cupboard is my collection of video tapes (mostly Disney). Even though my TV is huge, heavy and not very handy at all, I love it and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

The flowers really are the finishing touch.

And what is a lovely morning like without the most delicious breakfast? Spinach salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, olive oil, flax and hemp seeds and cashews. Yum!

In the mess, I sometimes forget what a beautiful little house I have and how happy and blessed I feel to live here. I really hope I can keep it clean now, despite being away all the time and despite owning so much stuff. Forsaking household tasks is a symptom of depression. However, I think that it might be something else too. I am incredibly disorganised. I am unable to keep a diary or any kind of schedule. I have a very scattered concentration; one moment I'm literally hyperfocused, and the other I'm completely disoriented. I even paint during my lectures because it helps me stay hyperfocused, while lectures, even though I often find them very interesting, make me fall asleep. It's not that I don't want to clean my house, clean my mind or keep a schedule, I just can't do it. And it drives me crazy.

I think these problems are not only a symptom but also the source of my depression, apart from the traumas that I've had in my past and still have issues with. I think I might have undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder. I've decided to pluck up the courage and talk about it with my therapist, from whom I even kept this because I was too ashamed of it and therefore always waved away, as I did with so many of my other problems. This is yet another that I have to face as well. But I have regained confidence in myself and I really hope I can sort it out, be it with therapy or medication. This is really a huge step for me as I have always shunned any form of therapy or medication and am afraid of it. I took the step to visit a therapist at the beginning of this year, and now I'm taking another step to help try and finish off one of the deepest roots of my problems.

Thanks to everyone who read my last post and was concerned with me. I feel so happy to have so many dear people around me. Thank you!


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Pile of black shit.

This blog is all about happiness and how I try to achieve it.

I haven't been posting much. This is well.. because I am not exactly happy at this moment. And I am about to be completely honest about this as honesty is the key to acceptance and acceptance is (hopefully) the key to getting better. At least, that's what I've learned about my depression so far.
I'm not sure if it is wise to throw all my shit online. Probably not, but I'm going to do it anyway.
And remind, these thought patterns is my depression speaking.

I had a miscarriage a few weeks ago. It was not planned and it was not really wanted as I have more on my head right now and am not done yet with my education, I am far too busy and not financially stable. After two weeks of freaking out whether I was pregnant or not, I started bleeding and lost a tiny little lump of cells. Or, as it grew in my mind, a dead child.

A close family member of mine that I care almost more about than anything in the world is very very sick and apart from me growing to want this child (and doubting about it like hell) I really wanted them to enjoy it too. I am also really struggling with their illness personally and having a hard time dealing with it. For which I feel guilty, for who is the one to actually be sick?

My best friend had a beautiful little baby a few days ago. It was a difficult pregnancy and an even more difficult delivery. I have been with her most of the few hours I had off this week, as I currently work 4 days a week and have lectures 5 days a week. I am so in love with the little boy and I am so incredibly happy everything worked out fine but looking at him also makes me remember the own insignificant lump of cells that I have just lost. For which I feel guilty, because my friend has suffered so much more than me during her pregnancy and delivery and deserves uncomplicated joy more than anyone else.

I'm not looking forward at all to the winter. I feel it in my body already, the lack of light and warmth and the darkness that comes with it. I feel like I have been keeping myself so busy lately as to ignore myself and to ignore dealing with my own problems or being able to ask anyone for help about it. I have been working a lot and spending almost all of my time off trying to be there for my loved ones that I forget about me. I don't want to talk about me. I don't want to annoy my loved ones with my troubles. I don't want to face my troubles as I am scared of them. I'm constantly lying to myself.

In fact, I am running away from me. I don't dare to invite people to my house because it is a reflection of my mind and a constant reminder that I'm not doing well. I even avoid going to my own house because it reminds me too of how bad I am doing and how I can't cope. It looks like this and I don't even want to start about what it smells like:

I honestly don't even know where to start cleaning up my shit, both in my head and in my house. I don't know how either. I am surrounded with dirt that I am so desperately trying to get away from. I feel guilty about everything and I feel guilty about feeling guilty because well, it's just me. Tiny insignificant me, with insignificant problems while everyone around me has so much worse stuff to deal with. I feel guilty about this post because I don't want to expose this part of myself. I don't want people to see this.

I don't want to ask for help. I don't want people helping with my shit because it's stupid. It's stupid that I can't even clean my house, or keep it clean. It's stupid for me to feel this. My problems are stupid. My head is stupid. My limitations are stupid. My attempts at trying to lead a life are stupid. I am stupid. I am stupid for trying to run away from it instead of facing it with my head raised. I feel guilty trying to ask people close to me for help because I don't want to burden them with my problems that are already too overwhelming for me while they have so much to deal with themselves and I am already trying to be there for them. I want to be able to raise my head, spend a week to completely clean my house, be able to clean my head and be happy but I can't. I am holding myself in a grip that I can't seem to get out of. And every time that I try to do something about it it feels like I am mopping the floor with the water tap open (that is a dutch phrase that translates quite well how I feel).

And this is what I have been feeling since well.. I can't remember when it started to be honest. I am so tired. I am so, so tired. I can't even cope with my own head, how am I supposed to cope with my life? I can't keep on blocking all of my feelings but if I let everything go it will be a bottomless pit of blackness and filthy rotting mess that I frantically try to hide from everyone.
 But on the other hand I do want people to reach out to me. To say: 'Jopie, I see you are struggling with yourself. I wanna give you a hug. I won't say anything. I won't judge. And then let me guide you into cleaning up your problems inside and out. Let's get to business now!'
And truth is, by saying this I already know how hard it is to accept any help, especially after posting this. Why? Because I feel guilty. I don't want to burden people with my problems because they are mine and not someone else's. I don't want to pour my pile of shit onto others.

This above post hopefully describes what depression feels like. I hope you understand my crazy negative thought spirals. If you have a loved one going through a depression I hope you can understand them a little bit better. Again, I am not asking for help even though deep down I know I need it.

And this will probably be my only post going into detail about this. It's a filthy and rotten part of me that I detest and don't like to expose. However, there cannot be light without darkness, and this too, as horrible as it feels and as much as I'm trying to hide it, is a part of me.