Hello and welcome to ocean-soul.blog.
It is Saturday afternoon in Berlin, I am sitting on my couch and listening to the Bundesliga broadcast on the radio. A tradition that dates back so many years, just like watching sports in general. Oftentimes, the family, my late Dad, Mom and Yours Truly, would gather together either in front of the radio or the TV and follow what was going on. Therefore, and because my late Dad used to be a coach (on amateur level), I basically was born a sports freak. But don’t fret, this blog won’t be yet another outlet for me to blab about that passion of mine … at least not constantly. However, it is safe to say that, just like music, my love for sports is what gets me going and gives me something to hold on to in rough times.
To be honest, I had been toying with the idea to get my own blog, as in, with a nice little URL which is actually MINE, I just couldn’t make up my damn mind what I wanted my blog to be called. In the end, I tried ocean-soul on wordpress, and ta-daaa, it wasn’t taken, yet. It’s mine now.
Why I chose this? For starters, ocean-soul is a reference to one of my favorite Metal bands, NIGHTWISH. They have this ocean-soul thing going on in several of their songs, so why not? But much more importantly, I love the ocean. I love being by the seaside and listening to the waves crashing in, feeling the salty air on my face, digging my toes into the sand … you name it. However, I am an ocean-soul living in the Big City, so I cannot be at the sea as often as I’d like to. Fortunately, my therapist mentioned a so-called “Baltic Sea Ticket” to me, which essentially is a train ticket from Berlin to anywhere at the coast of the Baltic Sea for a reasonable amount of money. Last year, I made use of one of those tickets and traveled to Warnemünde. It was just a day trip, but those hours I was spending there, all by myself (as in, I didn’t have a travel companion), made me happy. To be honest, I definitely consider going there again this year for a couple of days – again, for my birthday. I need some #VitaminSea!
I remember the moment I got off the train and could hear the seagulls already … I started smiling widely, and once I was at the beach and walked barefoot in the sand, that smile got even wider and I felt something I hadn’t been feeling in some time – freedom. As if the turmoil of the previous months had been lifted off my shoulders.
What ocean-soul IS and what it is NOT.
While I don’t know exactly yet where the journey on this blog will be taking me to, I do hope you, my dear readers, will be in for the ride. I will do my very best to blog as often as possible, but please know that sometimes, I might have nothing important to say and I truly think that quality is more important than quantity.
A big part of this here, however, will be about my ongoing battle with clincial depression and anxiety. I have been suffering from depression for many years already, so many, that I kinda lost track of them. Anxiety decided to join in some time in 2010 (I think) and while one of them alone is no fun, imagine when you have both. There are days when I am absolutely a-okay, as far as you can say someone’s “okay” when struggling with mental illnesses, on other days, the biggest accomplishment of the day is to roll out of bed and get dressed.
Living with those is also one thing especially: exhausting. Not just mentally, but also physically. Last year, I had to deal with a lot of stuff which wore me out SO much that I literally wanted to hibernate for the rest of the year. The fatigue was so bad that even things I usually enjoy (as in, going to footie games or concerts) simply got too much for me. I am not much of a people person, anyway, but with this terrible (mental) state I was in, it was sheer hell to just hop on the bus to get somewhere. It still is, to be honest.
And as if that was not enough, I also have a condition called Vocal Cord Dysfunction. At first, it mostly occurred with a nasty bronchitis, but now I also know that it pretty much happens as well when I am stressed. In short, it’s an Asthma-like condition which affects the larynx and, obviously, the vocal cords.
Best case scenario: my voice breaks and cracks and doesn’t sound like my normal voice at all.
Worst case scenario: vocal cords and larynx kind of “close up” and I feel like I am suffocating because the much needed oxygen doesn’t reach the lungs anymore.
And now imagine you have anxiety … you’re fearing for your damn life.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let me just say that this blog is about Mental Health Awareness and my life with the above listed ailments. It is NOT about throwing the biggest pity party in the history of pity parties. It is even less a cry for attention. That, attention, is one of the biggest misconceptions I’ve come across when I mentioned that I am suffering from depression. Others believe that depression or anxiety (or any mental illness) is some sort of weakness.
IT. IS. NOT.
Neither is being clinically depressed or having anxiety “just looking for attention”, nor can you “just snap out of it”. It is also “not just sad” or a “weakness”. Saying those to someone who is struggling on a daily basis with their own damn mind is, quite frankly, doing more harm than anything. As I have mentioned further up, living with one or both is extremely exhausting, and the recovery process will take time.
The LAST thing I am looking for is attention. I also don’t want pity or sympathy. What I – and probably most of us who are, due to the stigma surrounding mental health, suffering in silence, want is understanding.
Understanding that there are days when I just CAN’T do anything. Not because I don’t WANT to, but simply because I am too overwhelmed by the sheer act of living and that simple tasks (like for example going grocery shopping) can be comparable to climbing Mount Everest.
Understanding that my world isn’t always rainbows and candy, but more often than not grey and dark.
Understanding that this neuro-chemical imbalance in my brain is wreaking havoc on me. Daily.
For those of you who are out there and suffering in silence, I hope that you will find hope in my words. I hope that I can encourage you to speak out, too. Be it vocal or in written form. Because, in all those years, I have found out that writing can be therapeutic, catharic, even. Putting feelings into words often helped me, also to get an introspect into the chaos inside me. I am not saying that the skills I use to calm down or shut out the screams inside will work for everyone out there, but why not exchanging tips and tricks? You never know, maybe one day, you will look back and say, “Wow, I am glad I gave this or that a try!”
I will finish this, admittedly, long post with the saying that is way too true:
“Depression is NOT a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’ve been strong too long!”
PS: featured photo – mine; taken during my day trip