Every so often I go through hardcore slumps, which isn't news to you guys as I've written about them before. Slumps involving a lack of motivation, inspiration, enthusiasm and general bleh-ness with life. I often find myself struggling with all of these things on a daily basis, as I trudge through the joys of depression but approx. 3-4 times a year they hit hard. They affect everything around me but especially this, my blog, my job. And it really sucks.
One of the most irritating things about depression for me is how unexpected it can be. I could be getting along perfectly fine in all aspects of my life - college, work, relationships and so on - but then bam, one Thursday I'll wake up feeling paralysed with indifference and gloom. I'll struggle to leave my bed, I won't get dressed, I barely eat and I won't leave the house. I don't even look at my laptop because I know I won't have the physical or mental energy to engage with people in the way I want.
I'm pretty okay at the moment: I completed my second year of college successfully, my work flow is generally good, we're having some bouts of sunshine in Ireland and my days are decently busy. However, I can't help but feel the cloud of depression looming over me. I feel like depression itself is a dark, ominous balloon. Floating around and above you at all times, tripping you up here and there and always reminding you of its existence JUST in case you forget about it every so often. It makes me start to question my work, my content and my overall aim doing all of this. Yet again.
Sometimes doubting yourself is healthy - doubts make you step back and think and offer you a new insight or direction. Sometimes they're simply just a pain in the ass and can turn into a devil versus devil situation, where you're basically just bullying yourself 24/7 and your confidence diminishes.
I'm off to America next week; I've saved up for over a year to book the trip of my dreams. I was able to save because of this job and the work that I have done - it wouldn't have been possible otherwise. I felt terrified clicking 'book' on the day but I knew deep down it was necessary for me to step out of my comfort zone and to finally accomplish something I've dreamt of for so many years.
During slumps, I tend to 'eat my feelings' and buy crap I don't need in an attempt to cheer myself up. "Oh look, another pair of black jeans! But these ones have biker zips. I need them? I need them." I end up with piles of things I don't need or already have. I call these items the 'slump pile' because they're the aftermath of a FSSS (Feeling Shit Shopping Spree - I made that up. It's catchy). I end up feeling even worse then, with a bloated stomach for good measure and 47 pairs of skinny jeans.
Travel, however, is the only thing I've invested in that has successfully helped me get out of slumps and see the world yet again through rose-tinted glasses. Generally speaking, even an overnight trip to London can help me get out of feeling miserable. Maybe it's the change of scenery, the change of people or simply just a chance to get on a plane and come back as a new, refreshed person.
I couldn't be happier that my trip is coming up so soon. I feel like the embodiment of the confused John Travolta gif. I'm constantly comparing myself to other bloggers and questioning whether my readers even still find me half as interesting on a daily basis and it's getting tiring. I know I'll eventually build up confidence again and whack out some cool content but it can feel a tad disheartening in itself waiting to feel 'up' to something or anything after a slump.
I'm adoring personal writing posts at the moment; reading about peoples' travels, their love lives or how they themselves cope with pressures and mental health issues. I know I don't have the level of articulacy or flow as many out there but there is something extremely therapeutic writing like this and sharing your feelings straight-out, unfiltered to the world - to your dedicated readers especially.
I've learned over the last few months that a little transparency goes a long way. I talk openly about my struggles with mental health in the hope it encourages others to do so or that it simply makes someone realise they're not alone. I know blogging may seem like the "dream job" and in some ways it admittedly is for a 23 year old but there's also many, many cons to it: whether it be loneliness, a struggle to motivate yourself (as you're your own boss), being talked down to or chasing after your hard-earned money for months on end. It can and does get really tough, especially when you're trying to balance it with life itself and that godforsaken dark balloon floating around you.
Blogging has given me a platform to share my passions, ideas and thoughts with people worldwide. The freedom in typing that sentence itself makes me feel somewhat ignited again. Struggling with slumps and struggling with yourself can make anything in life difficult and it can make one issue seem like a million ones are hitting you at once.
Constantly reminding yourself of your achievements isn't narcissistic - it's healthy. I have a folder on my computer where I save screenshots of praises I've received from readers, peers or the media alike. I have my favourite blog shoots and brand collaborations in there, along with opportunities I've been given because of this career. I scroll through this folder whenever I'm feeling down.
I was scrolling through it today, after spending 40 minutes on Instagram telling myself how awful/ terrible/ boring my content is and I eventually just told myself to shut the hell up. I recently completed a CBT course and the one message that really stuck with me throughout it was: if you wouldn't say it to someone else, why say it to yourself? Why was I telling myself how horrific I am? What a terrible blogger I am? What exactly was I achieving by doing so?
I was scrolling through my folder, reminding myself of this and allowing myself to feel pleased and accomplished. Even writing this post itself has helped me feel an enthusiasm that has been missing for a few weeks now. I guess these posts are somewhat selfish, as they act as a form of therapy for me but I know they help you guys too, judging on the feedback I've received from previous ones. I thought why the hell not pen my current feelings down on the one thing I'm struggling with.
I know my struggle with depression won't end anytime soon but my slumps will. They come and go, they hit me like a tonne of bricks but they eventually leave. Yours will too. It's important to let yourself rest during tough times and to have a break from specific things that are really, really upsetting you or making your life difficult.
Making the effort to involve yourself in something that you know will cheer you up is key. Whether it be travelling, playing music, exercising, running around with dogs (guilty) or drawing, you do what's best for you - make the conscious effort to even attempt to climb out of your slump. You may fail over and over again but remind yourself you've gotten out of them before. Talk to someone and let them know about it, they'll no doubt help you.
I know how horrifically daunting it can be to say "Hi Mum, I'm feeling really depressed. I need to talk." but once you do, you'll quite literally feel a weight being lifted off of your shoulders. Allow yourself to have a break from things. Spend that extra day in bed. But know when it's dragging on too long and do something about it. Your mental health will only thank you for it.