#Weeknotes 38 (8 Oct) – Normalising conversations that make us human
I’ve been experiencing a low mood these past few days. I can’t explain it. It could be due to my pregnancy and the crazy hormones doing their thing in my body; or that at 30 weeks, my watermelon-sized belly makes it difficult to find any seating position comfortable; or it could be the London grey and gloom weather along with the increasingly shorter daylight as we approach winter. Maybe it’s a combination of the above that’s making me lose my appetite, have indigestion, sleepless nights, become easily irritated and tough to be around, have zero motivation to do anything at all while feeling overwhelmed and stressed at the same time. I’m drafting this at 2:40 am in my bed because I failed to fall asleep for the past few hours. Sigh.
Did reading that make you depressed? Ya you and me both.
This isn’t new to me. I have broke down before and experienced low moods many times. I just rarely talk about it. I don’t like to.
It’s negative and depressing and not what I want to be identified with.
Maybe it’s because I want to be seen as a confident individual who has their shi* together at all times. I don’t want to be seen as vulnerable or weak. My job requires me to instil confidence in our clients, which means spotlighting my not-so-optimum moments would just be unprofessional and likely impede my career growth. Sure experience and knowledge matter, but confidence and positivity are what win clients over. More clients equal better business.
Sadly, it’s not possible to keep our shi* together all the time. At some point, that shi* is gonna hit the fan. And then it gets real messy.
All this isn’t what I wanted to post today. But I was inspired by the conversations I’ve had recently with others sharing their reality with me.
When trying to arrange a meetup, a friend mentioned in a group chat (of people of mixed gender) that she’s currently in the middle of the process of freezing her eggs and how that would make it tricky for her to confirm her availability.
While many would consider this topic of egg freezing private and might choose not to disclose it to others (especially to males), I really admire her candidness and being the first to step up which allows others to feel comfortable talking about it.
On another occasion, when sharing her pregnancy experience with me, my friend disclosed that she had postpartum depression and was only recently discharged from therapy. She talked about her struggles soon after her baby boy as a new mom and the difficulties she experienced. These are things that are deeply personal and the fact that she was open to sharing with made me feel more connected to them, on a human to human.
Another friend also disclosed that she had depression since she was a teenager and had been taking anti-depressants since just to feel ‘normal’ or rather, the self that she can identify with. I remember feeling how brave she was in sharing that part of her with me and yet at the same time I felt real conversations like these shouldn’t require bravery. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to share these realities in a matter-of-fact way? Why not let them surface in normal conversations? Won’t that be the best way to normalise talking about hard things, things that aren’t often spoken but are so important to our identity and our human experience?
So I’m thinking, why not join them and also share some of my realities that aren’t rainbows and butterflies?
The reality is we all inevitably go through these unshiny moments in life. Where we feel helpless, scared, insecure, alone or vulnerable. But if we were ever meant to live “authentically” (buzz word of the decade), should we really be actively omitting what’s real to us simply because they might be perceived as negative, hard to hear, or depressing?
Positivity is alluring. We naturally gravitate towards people with positive personalities as they make us feel good and it’s easy to be around them. But positivity alone lacks substance. Because life isn’t like that, life is beautiful because of its complexities. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I quit Instagram. I couldn’t resonate with everyone’s visually perfect life moments. And I get it, posting what’s mundane is boring and won’t get you likes. It’s all about those likes! I’m not going to dive into my disgust around human-computer interactions that encourage behaviour that doesn’t benefit humanity often for the sake of profits.
I’m not sharing this to collect sympathy or pity but to be open about the reality as I’m experiencing it at the moment. So perhaps others reading this might be able to relate and feel at ease to do the same.
By sharing and talking about hard topics, not in a blame-y or victimised way but rather in a matter-of-fact way/ tell-it-as-it-is sort of way, we’re extending an olive branch for others to do the same. Through these conversations, we are creating a safe space to explore complex emotions and individual human experiences more which allows for a deeper understanding of our own humanity.
NBA player DeMar DeRozan tweeted “This depression get the best of me…” in 2018 and it left a big impression in the sports industry. Mental illness wasn’t openly talked about and being a celebrity figure, DeRozan’s words struck a chord with so many others who then followed his lead and spoke out about their not-so-shiny life experiences.
I admit it will still be difficult for me to share openly tough experiences that are personal to me. But I’m hoping that by starting with this post and talking about low moments in life, in baby steps, I can join the many other brave individuals who have been sharing their realities in normalising these conversations and topics that make us human.
Then perhaps one day when greeted with: “Hey how’s it going?”, and if I’m am feeling down, I can answer with “Hey thanks for asking, but I’m not doing well.“ without hesitation. And hopefully, in response, they will show an expression of understanding rather than looking awkward and desperately trying to find the nearest escape route.