The Spade List

Written by blogger, HeartSetOnLiving

Depression is a sneaky adversary.

It can approach with stealth, attack without warning, hijack lives and steal from them.

It’s not easy to mount a defence against something that is not readily visible, and is often misunderstood, leaving those who face it feeling isolated.

Whether you think of depression as an opponent to be battled or as a grumpy companion, each of us living with it will have our approaches to coping.

The facts are that it is a debilitating illness, one that can devastate lives, even end them. For everyone experiencing depression, whether its symptoms are mild, moderate or severe, there will be consequences and losses are likely to occur.

Freedom and independence may be lost, curtailed by depression, when it becomes difficult, even impossible, to work, or socialise, or simply get out of bed. Friendships or other relationships may flounder as the rigours of the illness take their toll and it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain them, particularly if others struggle to understand depression. Motivation, energy and even desire can be devoured, meaning small pleasures, vital to wellbeing, may disappear.

I’ve endured major losses and trauma, requiring me to rebuild myself and my life from scratch. In addition to depression, I live with a number of physical health conditions which add to an already heavy emotional burden. I’ve come a very long way but obstacles remain that test my limits. Finding myself without means of financial support due to illness and the complexities of a difficult separation, I’m now at risk of becoming homeless.

I believe in grabbing life by the horns and making the most of it. For me, life is not a rehearsal, this is it! Recently I’ve withdrawn and retreated from life, so afraid to live – much as my heart screams to do so – because I fear having yet more stolen from me. Still my heart is set on living. That’s my pseudonym, here, on my personal blog and on Twitter. I chose it to reflect my desire to be true to myself and live my best life, rather than merely existing, as experiences of abuse, and illness, forced me to do. The name also reflects my commitment to suicide prevention – having been twice bereaved by suicide and attempted suicide myself a decade ago. In my current circumstances, with depression back in my life with a vengeance, I am again finding that I am experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Some time ago I thought about creating something I decide to call a ‘Spade List’, a list of ways in which I could ‘dig’ back into life.

Here are some of the things that made it onto my list:

  • Join the local Humanist choir

  • Take an art class

  • Learn to knit

  • Make time to visit galleries and museums

  • Enjoy nature

  • Beach walks

  • Borrow a doggy

  • Colour my hair purple

  • See more theatre

  • Find an opportunity for public speaking (Most people’s greatest fear, I know, but it’s my idea of a great ‘buzz’!)

The Spade List is about making my life mine. It’s about putting fun into my life and connecting with what makes me happy and offers me fulfillment - regaining some of what has been lost or stolen, discovering and creating new opportunities. The Spade List isn’t the place for things such as ‘visit the dentist,’ ‘work with a career coach’, ‘study’, or ‘work on fitness’. I have done/am doing/or will do those things. They are an integral part of rebuilding my life. I just won’t do them with a spade!

I can picture my spade, it’s stripy and colourful and jolly, because I see it as a symbol of something really positive. A rather wonderful and talented friend of a friend, Lauren Stormclouds, created this image of it for me.

Tomorrow my spade might be metallic, shiny and infinitely sturdy, perhaps fashioned from titanium, if I need to lean on it, and need its strength to help me with my digging. The point is, it’s my spade, and can take whatever form I choose. Right now, the spade analogy works for me. Perhaps you might like to visualise your spade as you think about digging back into life?

But how do I even begin to think about living – about digging into life – when right now my situation is so precarious and my depressions are at their darkest?

I’ve decided. I do it one tiny step at a time.

Early last year I taught myself to knit. I find it relaxing and mindful. After some months I no longer seemed able to find the time. Life overwhelmed me, I suffered a major bereavement and I was pushing myself so hard to keep going, keep on rebuilding.

Last month I made a start with my spade, by re-launching my own blog and now by becoming a Depression Army blogger. Writing matters so much to me and is a vital form of my self care.

In addition, my pledge to you now is that, no matter how afraid I am to dare to live, I will take time, this month, to start knitting again. I’ll share an image of my efforts on Twitter. Feel free to say hello over there and remind me of my pledge!

Whether you are struggling with depression right now, living in between episodes or recovering your life after depression, how about joining me, spade in hand, or not?

Let’s dig, folks!

I’d love to hear about your ‘spades’ or how you think you might start digging. You could comment on this post, or tweet me @heartsetonlivin.

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