Category Archives: Coping

Mother Earth – the name is not a coincidence

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“I’ve often thought of the forest as a living cathedral, but this might diminish what it truly is. If I have understood Koyukon teachings, the forest is not merely an expression or representation of sacredness, nor a place to invoke the sacred; the forest is sacredness itself. Nature is not merely created by God; nature is God. Whoever moves within the forest can partake directly of sacredness, experience sacredness with his entire body, breathe sacredness and contain it within himself, drink the sacred water as a living communion, bury his feet in sacredness, touch the living branch and feel the sacredness, open his eyes and witness the burning beauty of sacredness”
Richard Nelson, The Island Within

Embracing that sacred force of mother nature is the best weapon against sadness.

The road ahead

The road ahead

How to cope with sadness?

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When that dark cloud hits, it can get really hard to find shelter before the downpour. The purpose of the month is to find (and test) ways that help a depression-inclined person like myself to overcome the sadness.

What have I learned so far?

1. Find a hobby that takes you outside

I went through a period when I made postcards from scratch. It was nice, and did take my mind off things but it’s nothing in comparison with walking with my camera, searching for viewpoints that are beautiful enough to be captured.

Bird in-flight, Belfast

Bird in-flight, Belfast

2. Trick yourself into exercising

The first advice you get when you’re going through depression is to exercise. Which is all fine and dandy but how can one force oneself to exercise when some days it’s not even possible to leave the bed?

One solution is of course, going to work. There’s really not much we can do about it, if we want to eat, we need to work. And if we’re out of that effing door, we might as well walk.

Dublin, War Memorial Gardens

Dublin, War Memorial Gardens

I don’t drive so I suppose that helps me because I just get off the tram a stop earlier and walk the rest. It’s not much but it saves the money and gets me into the mindset.

The other option is to keep on the money-saving track. Instead of paying for transportation, use the free one: legs or the more enjoyable (and faster) bicycle. I don’t know about you but I personally hate wasting money if it’s not necessary and my budget is grateful for every little relief.

And as it turns out, cycling is still fun!

3. Cut out the people that make you feel bad

Even if it’s not their fault (and I acknowledge that more often than not that is the case), it’s better to let them go.

It can be hard, especially if they’re a prominent member of a community you’re part of, but it’s not impossible. What is important though is not to do it bitterly. Which is hard. But the point is, no matter whose “fault” it is, where the feelings originate from, they end up making ME sad.

Belfast murals

Belfast murals

I recently closed down one of my dedicated twitter accounts for a break because there were so many people there who make me upset or even angry. I can’t change their behaviour. I can’t avoid them so I chose the only possible option: avoid the whole community. And it really made a difference.

4. Make plans to look forward to

One of the things depression does to you is that it makes you feel like there’s no way out. Nothing will ever change, it’ll always be dark so what’s the point of it all?

It’s harder to think that way when there are already organised events coming up that make me feel happy. Like a concert. Or even better a concert with a weekend trip with like-minded people. A trip around the southern tip of Ireland. Planning a special visit to Barcelona to give my brother the birthday of a lifetime.

I think the trick is to have them spread over a period of time, not too far away. For me, it works better to have more smaller trips than less longer ones. (I know experts usually advice for the latter but they’re not the experts in me, are they?) And I’ve been blessed to be able to afford them right now so nothing’s stopping me to dream, plan, organise and go!

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Have you tried any of these yourself or what’s your favourite way of finding that shelter before the dark cloud swallows you entirely?

Etienne, the bike

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About 3 years ago we met. He was standing proud among his brothers and sisters, waiting for someone to see how special he was and to take him home. And that someone was me.

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Etienne himself

 

Yes, Etienne is a bike but since I was a kid my bikes were always more than that. They were my secret getaway to a place where I was freer, faster, stronger, more mobile. They always brought the best out of me and I tried to do the same with them.

Etienne unfortunately wasn’t so lucky. He had to endure rain and snow, cold and warm mostly without any protection, standing in the yard, waiting for me getting back to him after the first couple months of honeymoon. He had to wait 2.5 years.

But wait he did and despite of age and wear he and me had a smashing day on Sunday. We were back in the same place of companionship in no time. Look at all the fun we’ve had!

Standing by one of the many Irish murals of West Belfast

Standing by one of the many Irish murals of West Belfast

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In the Belfast City Cemetery, among old, forgotten graves

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Peeking by the bushes

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Waiting for the photoshoot to finish by the tree

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With the celtic cross

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Lighting up this sad corner of the cemetery

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Resting by the wall of the Jewish section

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Getting tired

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In the Remembrance Garden

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With Bobby Sands and co

 

 

June: Develop strategies for coping

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Another month in the journey to a happier life and this one focuses on coping techniques.

Coping, I guess, has different levels from surviving to thriving and is not only completely individual but varies from what stage we are in our lives. Writing, of course, is one of the main ones. Journalling, fiction, even non-fiction sometimes helps to work out any issues I’m facing.

But recently I’ve found a new area: visual stories.

My biggest joy in life is to observe, process and connect the dots. Words are my first love (and likely they’ll be my last) but convey thoughts through a different medium is refreshing. Photography also forces me to get out of the house, to take a deep look at the world around me and to see how beautiful it is.

Bird in-flight, Belfast

Bird in-flight, Belfast

It’s the summer in Ireland, everything’s blooming with intense colours (you wouldn’t how many shades of green there are until you really look), everyone welcomes the sun with a deep smile that knows that Irish summers don’t last long.

Stephen's Green, Dublin

Stephen’s Green, Dublin

Even these short past weeks I see how beneficial this new hobby will be: I’m taking long walks, I’m looking people in the eye and still don’t feel exposed. It’s not about me and I’m glad.

Stay tuned for more picture-related coping during the month.

Love,

Andrea