If I lived in Japan I think I might break things, just so that I could take them to be mended with gold.
Like ceramics, we are fragile. We are each made unique. And during a lifetime of wear and tear, sometimes we break into a million little intricate pieces.
But there are beautiful people that come along and help us pick the pieces of ourselves up and piece us together, with golden glue. The golden glue is encouragement, is love, is appreciation, is a listening ear, an open heart, a hug.
Life is not either good or bad. It is not black and white. There is this incredible grey area of uncertainty which I have realized we all experience vividly. This is our shared human condition. Sometimes we are down for a while, and our view of the world and ourselves can break.
Depression has taught me to look for similarities of my struggles in others, and to empathize, and to hug. To ask for hugs. To hug longer, to take time to try and connect. Personally, I know that depression can be a lack of real, true, meaningful connection to others. A lack of warmth in the relationships we do have. Surface-level, suffocating, shallow interactions. We can become so starved of human fellowship, that we can begin to slowly perish into a dark and lonely existence. But becoming aware of the warning signs, we can build new habits and cultivate healthy efforts to avoid becoming isolated from rewarding connections.
I have learnt the importance of human hugs. They are vital for refreshing us, to help us feel love, for relaxing, for knowing you are safe with someone. That they are open to you. Hugs give us relaxed, loving emotions, and a hug is mutually beneficial. Hug more! In your relationships, when appropriate, discuss the importance of hugs, and state that you would appreciate more hugs. More hugs, more often! We can all benefit from more hugs.
I’ve had to find new life and create a new way of living. I’ve learnt to let go of a lot of my perfectionism. I have learnt to simplify where I can. My self-care routines, my beauty products, my clothing choices. I have adopted a mindset of minimalism. To take away the clutter that distracts me, and weighs me down. Everything has been made a little simpler, to make things easier.
I have researched the link between happiness and sustainable living and adopted more sustainable practices into my lifestyle. They make me feel like I can make a difference, no matter how small. I recycle more, and I discuss recycling with friends and family. I keep my vegetable waste for compost, I donate books to friends and libraries. I have freed myself of a lot of clutter and unnecessary physical items to make space for the new. And to make space for just being in. I find that I can easily become overwhelmed in a space that is full. Appreciating small details and focus on what’s important becomes much easier when there is elegantly less.
Depression has taught me to slow down and to appreciate my daily victories. Like hanging the washing up, and to celebrate nourishing, homemade food. To take time to appreciate the small joys. Like fresh new sheets!
Making time for things I want to do has become a priority for me. I create pockets in my days where I dedicate an amount of time to a joyful activity. Or a nap. I allow myself naps. And I am learning to not feel so regretful about letting myself rest. I can give of myself more and achieve a better quality in the things I do, if I make space and time for full rest.
Scheduling small things to look forward to, like treating myself to a latte helps me cultivate joyful rituals for easing the stresses of everyday.
Kintsugi simply means “golden joinery” and like the Japanese art of fixing broken ceramics, we learn to appreciate the healing process, and value our efforts, joining ourselves back together again with gold. And in the process of healing, which is beautiful, and very hard work, we can begin to realize that something can become enhanced and enriched by the healing of the broken. I love that notion. That something can become more beautiful, even more valuable for having been broken. That is my experience with depression.
I have begun to piece myself together again, and with each unique piece, I am reminded of the importance and value of each element of myself, which I would never had learnt to appreciate if it wasn’t for my periods of numbing depression. I have become more able to recognize and acknowledge similar suffering in others, which I would otherwise have been blinded to. My eyes have been opened – to intense pain, and intense joy. Depression can be a great teacher in lessons of slowing down and having to dig deep to find contentment in simple things, in a slower way of life, becoming kinder to yourself and therefore also learning to hold kindness for others.
My story is not one of a complete and radical new person evolving out of a bad experience, I didn’t suddenly wake up early one morning and manage to have 10 things checked off my to-do list by 10a.m. it is a daily struggle. I have light days and I have heavy days. And I have immense frustration with myself and sometimes I am caring towards myself, and gentle. And I am learning to have more gentle days, and I am trying to remind myself of all the good I have done and all the good there’s left to do. I am making a sustained effort to live slower, to take in more, to give more, to have less and to be kinder – with myself and to others. I have learnt the lesson of gratitude, and somedays I can even say I am grateful for the lessons the depression has taught me. I am a richer person for it. The golden journey of healing continues, every day. It is a daily practice in finding silver linings, and appreciating golden joinery’s.