Waiting to get turned on…

I had a chat with someone recently who is “waiting for inspiration.” Let me ask you this: do you sit on a couch waiting for a hard on? Because it’s kind of the same thing. 

To get inspired, you need to take action. Consider someone who is living off fast foods and is 100 kgs overweight and hasn’t exercised in two years. Will they feel inspired to exercise? No. They’re lethargic from their eating habits, because they’re malnourished, and carrying too much weight around which makes them tired. Even breathing is difficult, because they’re so unfit. Likely they are also depressed or the very least fatigued for the same reason — if you don’t get the nutrients you need, nor exercise your body, you end up depressed. It’s a medical fact.

They feel like shit, so they have another cookie. At least that gives them a temporary feel-good. Simultaneously, they loathe themselves for eating the cookie. So they want to hide away from others so they can’t see their shame. So they stay inside, having another cookie. Then they want to punish themselves for their own stupid behavior. So they have another cookie. 

This is what’s called a downward spiral — you’re caught in a negative pattern that only makes you feel worse and worse.  

It’s a bit of a catch-22 for these people. To have energy, you need to exercise, but to exercise you need energy. You will NOT be inspired to exercise. Unless, one day, you realize, you could actually have a life. All you need to do is get off the couch and get going. Or maybe you have such a fright you decide to get a life. Maybe you have a heart attack. Maybe you realize you’ll never see your kids/nieces/nephews/grandkids grow old if you don’t change. Or maybe you just realize you’ll never do anything you dreamed of while sitting on the couch, gaining weight by the hour.

We all feel uninspired by one part of our life, or another. Our finances. Our work. Our fitness level. Our eating habits. Our social life. Whatever it may be. Likely fears, unhelpful beliefs about ourselves/the world, feelings of inadequacy and a number of other things are making us feel uninspired. And sometimes we’re lucky — we have a moment of inspiration, whether fueled by fear of where we’re heading, or inspiration for where we might get to if we only get going. If we get off the couch.

I asked a friend of mine the other day what made he change his life around. He told me he almost died three times. Actually, once he did die. Went to the other side. Had a near death experience. Still, even with that, even with seeing the divine and simultaneously freaking out about dying, he told me it was hard to change. Very hard. He had to fight. But what got him through was his son’s voice. His son needed him. His son believed in him.

I’ve been depressed twice and twice I’ve had a moment when things shifted. When the road to recovery became obvious. The first time I was seventeen years old and didn’t even know what depression was. I just knew I slept a lot, I had very dark thoughts, I felt funny and I shook a lot. Like, I’d be shaking when out and about. I think my period stopped too. I didn’t know what it was. But my friends knew, spoke to one of my teachers and set an ultimatum: I had to get therapy or they’d seize to be my friends. They actually stopped speaking with me. The lot of them.

The day they told me that, I remember standing by a bus stop wondering how to break it to my father that my friends wanted me in therapy. I was ashamed. I thought mad people had therapy. I felt like I was a fuckup. Like it’s one thing to fail a dance competition, but to fail your life? I felt humiliated. I felt like a bad person. I felt all sorts of things. But I knew I’d fight. I knew I had to do something. And at that moment the sun burst through the clouds. Literally. And for the first time in months I felt something other than what I’d been feeling. Maybe it was hope. I don’t know. I just know that something shifted in that moment. I’d made a decision to get well.

Ten years later I got depressed again. I never cured the root cause of the depression in the first place. I improve my confidence and hence stepped out of the depression, but I wasn’t completely healed. When events in life led me to once again feel like I had no confidence, the depression came back. A relationship had gone tits up. My grandmother (a.k.a. the one source of unconditional love I had) had gotten senile. I’d started studying again and meeting new people I felt shy and awkward — I’d learnt to cope socially over the years, but meeting so many new people all I did was sit petrified, trying to figure out what they thought of me; too paralyzed by fear to speak. I couldn’t find my path career wise and I’d put most of my pride — most of my confidence — in my skills and talents. I was always the smart kid. The talented one. And I was what…doing fifteen weird jobs instead of making it as a world famous director; eventually going back to study out of pure desperation.

And those were the thoughts going round in my mind — I was a failure at everything.

Then I spent a day in Malibu with friends, standing on the beach, realizing I felt nothing. I was surrounded by beauty and felt fuck all. That was a feeling I had a couple of times a day/week and it scared me like crazy. I was much more scared of that feeling — of feeling like there was no meaning to life — than I was of pretty much any outside factor. In short, I was scared of myself, of my own feelings. And standing in Malibu surrounded by beauty and feeling nothing really made it hit home.

That night I sat in a hot tub under the moon praying to God/the Universe for an answer — I’d read all the books, tried everything to become successful and not a single area of my life seemed to be working. What should I do?

The answer came to me: my life was my own and I could do anything. I didn’t HAVE to achieve anything. I could just be.

Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.

Paulo Coehlo

In that moment, my road to recovery begun once more. I learned to accept myself without having to do anything. The hole I’d felt inside of myself since I was a kid slowly started to disappear. I found confidence. By doing nothing.

I learned that I was my essence — my heart and soul — not my achievements.

Those were mine and my friend’s “sparks” — our moments of inspiration to turn our lives around.

I also believe you may find inspiration from faith. That if you truly believe you’ll be handed a moment of inspiration — a spark — then it will come to you. But you still have to engage your will for that to happen. You have to surrender to not knowing; to the idea that a path will be provided even if you can’t see it now. You have to believe you will find your spark. You have to pray every day. Have faith.

I also think you can change without that moment. It’s a decision. Engage your will. Sometimes outside events give you a reason — a source of inspiration — but you can just as well simply decide you’re going to do it.

So back to the story about the cookie man…

Even if you have that burst of enthusiasm, getting to a life where you’re no longer depressed and overweight takes engaging your will. You will need will to do this. That little burst of inspiration will not last forever. You will feel exhausted, not filled with enthusiasm when going for your daily run. You will feel bored by eating a salad instead of a cookie, because you won’t get a feel-good moment from the salad. (Just as when I was recovering from depression, I had to constantly work to shift my thoughts. I had many dark days and you feel like doing fuck all those days, or you simply don’t know how the hell to get through them. But I kept going. Until feeling good became more normal than feeling bad.)

That’s why acting from principle (I will do whatever it takes to live a healthy life) is a lot better than acting from feeling (I feel like shit, so I won’t move — I don’t feel like I deserve a life, so I won’t move — I am tired, I deserve a break).

That’s also why having a support network — people who show up to hold you accountable to exercise and eating healthily — is so important. Because if you don’t “feel” like moving, they’ll make sure you do so. And if they can’t make you, they’ll send you to a wellness retreat in the mountains where they’ll force you to do so. Structure has integrity — if you can’t change the structure in your life (your habits), then hire someone who will. Or put yourself in a place, such as a health retreat, where they force you to.

However, as your lifestyle improves, over time, so will your mood, your body and your inspiration. Changing your habits will lead to you becoming inspired. But it won’t happen over night. It takes time. It takes discipline. It takes some fucking will to get off that couch and decide you deserve a happy life. And you do. Deserve a happy life. We all do.  

Remember that: you are a beautiful soul. Even if you’ve lost your way in one area, or all areas of life. You can still find your way back to your heart and soul. The essence of your being. You just need will.

Think about it this way: you may need some whips and chains to take you to the strawberries and champagne. Not all pain is bad. Not all discipline is bad. So welcome the torture. It will lead to pleasure.

Do yourself a favor: if you want a hard on, go out and date someone who gives you one. Or, you know, give someone a booty call. Don’t stay on the couch waiting for it to happen. It won’t.

Inspiration comes by doing. The more you do, the more inspired you’ll become.

Yours truly, dizzy blonde. 

I get up in the evenin’
And I ain’t got nothin’ to say
I come home in the mornin’
I go to bed feelin’ the same way
I ain’t nothin’ but tired
Man, I’m just tired and bored with myself
Hey there, baby, I could use just a little help

You can’t start a fire
You can’t start a fire without a spark

Bruce Springsteen

I learned that the search for God is a Dark night, that Faith is a Dark Night. And that’s hardly a surprise really, because for us each day is a dark night. None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, and yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.

Paulo Coelho

And if you missed yesterday’s blog:

You’re a beautiful soul you know. You sparkle and glitter. You’ve got kindness and love twinkling away in your heart. Maybe you’ve fallen on the ground a couple of times. Maybe you’re still lying on the ground. Maybe you can’t get up…maybe you’re crawling. But you’re still beautiful. You have gold speckles covering your body. Divinity floating about you in a cloud. Maybe you can’t access that right now. Maybe your mind is broken. Maybe your body too. But your heart and soul are intact. They always will be. You just need to find your way back to them if your life currently isn’t true to them. If your life is not a reflection of who you truly are deep inside. Allow yourself to recognize that you are love. You are divine. You’re no less, no more, than the person next to you. Life shaped you one way or another. That’s all. Inside of you are still all the wonders of the world and some. You’re beautiful. And maybe I’m not great at telling you that, because, well, I’m more prone to kick your ass, but I still see you, you know. I see the miracle that is you. And that’s why I’m here. Not because you’re broken, but because you’re whole. Because you are a heart and a soul. All the rest is just the topping. Continue reading…

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Filed under depression, diary, emotions, Inspiration, Inspirational, Motivation

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