Just because you didn’t pack it, doesn’t mean it didn’t come with you. I’m talking about anxiety and depression, friends. You can be on vacation, in paradise, changing your life, meeting amazing people, and these two creatures may still rear their heads. I will spend my life figuring out how to exist with and beyond anxiety and depression. I know that, but this time did surprise me.
Yes I am learning so many amazing things, but I am also learning about the state of the world; the truth. The fact that so many ecosystems are dying, the fact that the oceans and forests have been holding the state of the world together and it is reaching a breaking point. I have seen creatures stuck in plastic bags, I have seen the corals bleach (in a protected areas), I have helped pull 1000 lb.s of trash out of the water in a clean area of the sea. Yes, I have only just started learning, but we have fucked up and we aren’t doing anything about it. That’s the truth. Kinda easy to see how depression and anxiety could arise, but there it is.
Truth be told, diving seems to bring everything to the front, if you get in your head, you can ruin your dive- you will have problems staying down (when anxious, you hold air in your lungs) and blow through all your air. Today, this happened to me. I was doing a survey, got a little stressed, nervous I wasn’t doing a good job, overwhelmed and completely stuck in my head. An adorable green turtle swam by, I held it together enough to show my instructor the turtle, but still couldn’t catch my breath. I was hyperventilating, on the verge of tears, and my brain got stuck on a loop of pressuring myself to calm down- that doesn’t work underwater and it doesn’t work on land. It was so intense, I had to stop the dive. Even Suzy, my instructor and seasoned marine biologist, said these days happen. It happens to all of us, even in the spaces we dream of reaching.
In meditation, anything that arises is meant to, and you should face anything that does come up with acceptance not judgment. I am trying to do the same here. Keep the shame away. I am trying to take this as a reminder to care for myself in ways that I often forget to do. I am trying to see this as a reminder to make my own mental health a priority; to start seeing a therapist when I return. In the meantime, I am pushing myself to go outside, to meditate, to listen to music that makes me happy, to learn or try new things, to bring some movement to my body, to bring a little adventure in my day, to do something I value, to express gratitude, to allow myself to stay in and watch a movie if I want to but to also be open when a friend invites me out as it will change what I bring to my own day, I am trying to eat things that are good for me, but to also treat myself if I really need chocolate. I am encouraging myself to stay present but allowing myself to step back for some quality alone time too. I am trying to do what makes me feel good in the long-run not just momentarily satisfied. I am not going to do this perfectly, but I will be kind to myself. Everyone has their own way, their own needs, and their own formula. What works for me, may not work for you. Hell, it may not work for me always, but everyone deserves to feel kindness and love. Try to do that for yourself when you feel alone, when you can’t hear it or feel it from friends and family. You can bring so much to your own life. You deserve to bring yourself some love. I will say (as I need to remind myself too more) to be honest, with yourself and with those around you; you may want to tuck your emotions away, you may think you are protecting those around you, you may think it’s easier or faster to get over, but the truth is, you push those that love you most out, you push the shoulders you can lean on away, and you prevent yourself from caring for you. It is what it is and that’s okay. We all feel. That’s kind of the amazing side of humans, isn’t it? We are capable of profound emotion, both good and bad. It is beautiful, challenging, of course, but ultimately means you are capable of deep emotion. While you may not like the feeling of anxiety and depression, while it is difficult to sit with, it means you can grow this to deep love, compassion, care-- if you can feel one, you can feel the other. If you ask me, that is incredible. That is what fuels humanity, what allows for emotional expression - art, music, writing, any creativity-- emotions. Feel it, don’t ignore it.
This may have been a letter to myself but hey, maybe someone else needs to read the same words I do.