Each of us has felt a bit lost and has needed guidance at some point of our lives. Finding a balance after suffering depression can take some time. Our guest writer Lotta shares her story how she made her way from surge to smoother waves.
A friend of mine recently asked if I have ever considered a career as a comedian. I laughed nervously and answered without a hesitation: no. Never. Because, my life hasn’t always been that funny.
I spent my childhood in a small countryside village surrounded by fields and forests, birds and bees. Life was pretty easy and happy until one summer evening. I’d spent the day with my best mates, cycling to a pond recklessly without helmets and coming back home to watch The Exorcist. At that time, we used to watch horror movies a lot and a quiet house offered a perfect atmosphere for that. After a while I noticed that something was seriously wrong… Half-eaten plates on the kitchen table, a phone call from my friend’s mum telling her to come home immediately. And a little later, my parents climbing up the stairs hardly being able to stand: my older sister has died in a car accident. At the age of fifteen, just half a kilometer from our home. We never finished the movie.
Days blacked out and years went by. In upper primary school, I did perfectly fine with school and three hobbies five times a week. On weekends, I partied a lot but it didn’t affect on my good grades and I never got caught from drinking as a minor or acting badly (because I never did). I escaped the knocking uncertainty and anxiety in my head being as good and harmless as I could.
Eventually, I had used all the ways to escape and felt the small town weighing me down. I had the first and only fight with my parents when I told that I can’t breathe there, I MUST move out. So, I moved. That was the first lesson on my journey finding balance: recognize the need of change and be honest with it to yourself and others.
In a new city, I created myself again. I decided not to be the girl whose family suffered a tragedy as I was known in the small town. The high school I entered in was just what I needed: it was a media-theatre oriented school where almost everyone was a bit cuckoo in a good way. Perfect. I met a bunch of new people, made life-lasting friends and did well in all, or as it seemed to others. I still didn’t get rid of feeling sad and insecure, and kept those feelings inside. For the first time, I went to visit a therapist. The reception was at an old mental hospital and the shrink was about 40-years old tense lady asking me what was wrong. Well, unfortunately the oppressive atmosphere didn’t help me to open up so I decided to quit. When I bumped into the therapist at my gym, I quit it straight away, too.
My young adult years were like sailing up and down with a brief moment of happiness and depression. Sometimes things were fine, other times they weren’t. In 2010 when my apartment was getting renovated, I was in mood for a change again. This time I sailed a little further, to Australia. The six-month journey Down Under was an eye-opening experience to me. Despite the lack of self-confidence, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and found peace under the blazing sun. There I understood how I was supposed to feel, happy and light-hearted. I realized I get the best out of myself when there’s nothing familiar to rely on, just me. It was empowering to figure out that the bravery really lie in me and becoming aware of that has taken me far. Even though I still fear failing, deep down I know I’ll survive, no matter what.
After coming back from Australia, I had two to three pretty good years. I began to study journalism and at the same time hopped in a new relationship. I felt myself good and loved. And oh boy, how it messed my head. I was so used to feeling anxious so it was hard to accept happy circumstances for a change. Negative mind led to negative results – eventually me and my boyfriend broke up and I suspended the university. Afterwards I understood that I wasn’t afraid of screwing things up but succeeding them. I believed that I wasn’t good and talented enough to earn all those wonderful things to happen to me. Besides my fragility, I was scared to show my good sides because I was too worried how others would react. Would they be jealous? What if they don’t like me? The fear was of course irrational: the loved ones will always encourage you – so should you. Receive all the love you deserve and dare to be ingenious. Let yourself be ihana.
Trust in second chances. Many of my everyday things I have accomplished by trying twice (or more). Remember the scary lady in the old looney, who didn’t feel like the perfect match? I found my “one” – kind and professional psychologist who has helped me to heal. How about defaulting the journalism education? Well, here I am, writing. Also, my current study and job were first no-go for me but after rejecting once I got to be chosen. Although I believe in intuition if something doesn’t feel quite right, it might just wait the right moment to be carried out. You’ve heard it before baby, good things take time!
Of course, the basic things have played a significant role in finding balance too. Food, exercise, good sleep. When feeling under the weather, working out has given me a peak of energy. However, there have been times when I exercised too much, ate too little and hardly slept. Sleep has always been my biggest struggle. During the quiet, dark hours one has plenty of time to think basically everything from itching toe to Milky Way. (Night owls like me know what I’m talking about!) When adding considerably many worries to this, you might end up having sleepless nights or almost sleepless years.
When I noticed that I’m sleeping well, I understood I’m getting better. Worries didn’t keep me awake as often as they used to. Me myself, a former non-yoga person, has also turned into every-evening yogi. Besides, the heavier CrossFit workouts I do, together they create a perfect combination of giving my all and calming down. The older I get, the more I appreciate rest – a work-out six times in a week isn’t a must anymore and peaceful evening with a friend often wins over a night out at buzzling bars. I’ve also become a bit ambitious with my hobby: heavy WODs are significantly easier to perform well rested, with a clear mind. Hannah gave previously a good set of advice how to reach a better sleep, I highly recommend reading it in case you haven’t yet!
Finding a balance after suffering mental troubles for a long time requires persistence. It’s like building a huge puzzle: it takes time and there’s always a piece or more missing. But if you clean up carefully, you have a great chance to find every last bit. And you never know – you might find yourself at the stand-up stage in the end.
// Lotta Mäki-Punto
Lotta Mäki-Punto is an everyday storyteller, who wants to encourage everyone to open their eyes for little daily mysteries such fallen grocery lists and a stranger in a tram. She’s a discreet CrossFit nut (but usually fails to hide it), loves huge cups of good coffee, cities by the sea, strawberries, warm summer nights and preferably all above during the same day. You can have a sneak-peek of her life via Instgram: @lmpee.