Learning to live again

Gaudir dels moments

Illustration © Sergi Balfegó

My name is Carles and I am 36 years old. 6 months ago I was diagnosed with depression, even though I have felt a profound sadness for a long time. The problem, though, is that I do not know for how long. I guess this sadness appeared slowly, inconsistently, until it was an unwanted companion, and I do not know how, inseparable, turning into this depression.

Often one is not aware that your days turn into a tiring and boring routine, hyperactive and stressful, competitive and draining, with permanent angst and a non-stop rhythm… But, at the same time, you still genuinely believe that, like before, what you do gives meaning to life. Nevertheless, there comes a time, not knowing why, things stop having the same importance as they did before, and the passion with which you did things before starts disappearing. It is at that time your inseparable partner comes into play; in other words, the undesired sadness, lack of motivation, the despised lack of self-esteem, apathy, the loathed lonesomeness, the dangerous social phobia that follows you and tirelessly torture your thoughts everywhere, while you go on living. You want to avoid it, leave it… but cannot you do not know how, and without understanding why, you end up resentfully wishing that it does not go away.

That is when, utterly consumed both physically and mentally, and as a last resort because you cannot take any more, you build the courage to tell it out loud and defy your unwanted companion, thus destroying your submission to her. You ask for help. You start with doctors, receiving the diagnosis and medication. It is a first step, but you feel like it is insufficient to absorb and understand your problem. Although, I would like to add that the medication helps.

Then you start thinking, intuitively and without knowing for sure, that the way of associating in first person could be another interesting way of tricking that damned companion called depression. That is how, searching, I came across ActivaMent. They welcomed me and I started going to their Mutual Help Groups, participating in many of their activities… Slowly my attitude towards myself and others got better. With their mental health problems, they tried to build the road to recovery. I also felt accompanied and understood, and no longer alone. This first person activism helped me to become aware of my problem. I started to accept that, maybe, this awful companion would always be there by my side, but that I could learn to live with it, and view it as a gift that would allow me to discover other things which I thought inconceivable before. With it, I have learnt to develop my emotions, be grateful and be happy with less… I would like to tell you that I still go to ActivaMent to be accompanied and to accompany others like me, in a mutually beneficial way.

Nevertheless, I would like to say that I still felt at a loss for certain things, something essential to make me whole. In this crisis, and many hours of searching alone, I did an internal soul-searching which slowly returned me to reality. For me, overall, it has turned out OK. How did I do it?

I have used every last drop of blood in rediscovering myself, learning what things I am good at and what makes me happy. I have determined what I really would like to do and I want to concentrate all my efforts in this direction. These last months I have started writing down my thoughts and feelings. These writings, at first embryonic, has evolved into a volcano, devouring everything in its path. These writings, which at first served to pass the long hours, has served to realise that I cannot permit the present to disappear through the unconscious. I have taken the time to reflect and discover my real meaning in life. It has been both difficult and painful. I have examined my soul in the most profound way, also discovering things that I do not like.

I have discovered on my own that when one decides to concentrate only on the most important objectives, unconsciously you discard all that is not important, in order to focus what really is. I think it is fundamental to focus on our purpose, then the nature of things takes care of the rest. I am convinced that it takes all the courage in the world to stand up to this, courage which at this time is insipient and intermittent. Courage which grows as fear is eliminated, won over, doing precisely that which you fear. I also have learnt that this courage grows stronger by not feeling ashamed to do what I consider right, to decide the right thing to do and standing by it. At the same time, this introspection over the last few months has served to realise that I should not install myself in the past, nor the future; on the contrary, I must be chained to the present and concentrate myself on this only, and also enjoy the small things that day-to-day life has to offer, no matter how small they are.

In summary, I no longer feel ashamed to set small milestones, which often are not valued by a competitive society which only celebrate those who achieve great goals. I do not feel ashamed practicing simple things (like taking a walk in the countryside during sunrise to extract ideas for my writings, enjoying the smell of the moist soil as it starts raining, feeling the warmth of a cup of coffee in your hands extending up your arms and shoulders on a cold day), because it gives you self-confidence and prepares you for bigger things, to achieve your most vital goal.

That is the way I have slowly recovered happiness and self-esteem. But I cannot let my guard down, because that companion of mine, the depression, could continue to perturbate me. I will continue fighting, despite many difficulties, for my happiness and that of my close ones.

Carles Mujal

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