This was the view that greeted me this morning on the walk to my local shop. It is not a long walk, maybe 10 minutes total, but it gets me up and out of the house first thing which I find a massive motivation.
I decided to call a friend and see if they felt like going for a casual stroll along the coast. The reason being I have been trying hard in the past month to get out more and enjoy the city I call home; Plymouth. It is so quick and easy to complain that your town or city has nothing to do, but it is also quick and easy to forget that you need to be looking first. I have become used to the feeling that things should be falling into my lap, and because this doesn’t happen often I start to feel like there is nothing of beauty around me. Sitting at home on the sofa muttering “urgh this place is rubbish, there is nothing to do or see” has become a staple of my life.
This is changing. It has to. Without going into too much detail, I have sunk into a feeling of depression over the past year that has had a major impact on me, both physically and mentally. I am miserable to be around, never want to leave my house, and have gained a significant amount of weight. The ideas that depression plants in your head are like thorny roots that dig in and it first appears that nothing will shift them. I don’t want these thorns in my head anymore and I figured I needed to stop blaming my surroundings for these thoughts and look a little closer to home.
My goal so far this past month has been to get out each weekend and see my city in its bright summer glory. The first weekend I took it nice and slow and went to a local woods with a friend for about an hour. Wandering among the trees I felt a sense of happiness that no amount of video games or Netflix was giving me.
The following week we went on a longer walk around a local reservoir, that took about 1.5 hours. Although the route was even and flat, I found myself mildly out of breath at points, and working up a bit of a sweat. My feelings of happiness being outside where becoming tared with thoughts like “how have you let yourself become so out of shape” and “you’re sweaty, your friend is going to think you’re gross”. But thanks to some words of encouragement from my friend, I saw these thoughts for what they were. Depression desperately digging its claws into my head. You see, for people who haven’t experienced depression, it is hard to explain that your own thoughts become your own undoing. They feed on you, but this time I was going to starve them of their one source of nutrition. My thoughts. I ignored the voices and carried on. Getting breathless again, getting sweaty again, and getting tired was no longer feeding these thoughts. Instead they were fueling ME. Making me want to push harder and break through that barrier. And I did.
The next week we went for another walk, slightly shorter at around 45 minutes, but in the picturesque grounds of Saltram house. This walk takes you around the grounds of a large stately home with paths through the woods and along the estuary. This time I had no thoughts in my head other than “those dogs are having fun in the water” or “I wonder what they do with the trees that they have been felling”. I was learning week by week to ignore any negative thoughts and it was starting to have the desired effect.
Which brings me to today. Today we took ourselves around an area called Jennycliff.
Starting in a car park and following the path around the coast it was again a fairly short walk totaling about an hour (including a 10 minute wait for a coffee at a cafe along the route). The sun was out and the breeze from the sea made the world of difference to my heat levels. As mentioned in the first blog post, I am hoping to show anyone reading what someone in their mid 30s with no clear life goals or career does to try and get by in this world. So this is a bit of a detour from that topic, and depression is not the main focus of this blog, however I wanted to touch on it in this post to give you all an idea of what caused me to take the turns that my life has taken in recent months and years.
Moving forward I am going to get out every weekend and continue the walks in different areas surrounding me. This is to help with losing weight, clearing my head and generally making me feel better about my life. Hopefully you will enjoy reading this and any future posts. We all have to start somewhere, and this is my start.