You have to keep moving forward

I’m writing this with dirt under my nails. Metaphorical dirt, but it’s there. Crawling out of the deep hole of depression is a tough thing, but as soon as you notice the dirt under your nails, I think it’s the start of the healing.

Typically, I’m upbeat, optimistic, and have smiles to spare, but I’ve been struggling hard – harder than usual – over the past week or so. As a depressed person, I’m a fairly quick cycler, meaning I suffer my highs and lows rapidly but can be under the radar as depressed for long stretches where you’d swear nothing is wrong. My survival instincts and brave face are sharp and well-rehearsed. I’ve not managed that kind of control over the last bunch of days. I have spent a lot of time in tears, in bed, and generally helpless with crippling anxiety. I hit the bottom yesterday, recovered over this morning, and am now feeling like there is a way up.

I’m reading a book and there’s an interesting connection between yoga philosophy and the Stop Thinking, Start Living way. The past is done and any time we analyse it (which I can do TO DEATH) we make a kind of false reality in our minds. The past is done, and you need to know it, let it be the past, and move forward. Every time you revisit a negative past experience, you breathe new life into a kind of film in your mind that serves one purpose: to make you miserable. Does replaying the past ever make the outcome different? No. Does it always cause stress and pain? Yes. Let it go.

The future is also a dangerous beast to mental health. You can construct as much fiction as you want about the future, get all worked up about it, and be miserable, or you can just let it happen. I’m not saying you can’t make plans, but unhealthy obsessing, lists of what-ifs, do no good. Energy wasted, misery created.

What you can do is keep moving forward. I decided earlier today – whilst talking Pete through his own mood crash – that inside me (and inside everyone) there is an anchor that we choose to drop in the past by dwelling on it. Pull up the anchor. You have a choice and the power to do it, even when you feel trapped and helpless. Sometimes you have to wait it out awhile, till you hit bottom and start crawling out, but you can move forward.

I realise I’m mixing metaphors with my dirty nails and anchors, but nothing about depression makes sense, so let’s just go with it, ok?
Right. The important thing is that even though you may not be able to fix your brain chemistry and wiring, you can make more positive choices with your thinking. Be here now. Let the past go. Let the future happen when it happens. Be here now and keep moving forward. And be really proud of the dirt under your nails.

We clean our beach

Photo by Pete Cooper
Photo by Pete Cooper

The seed was planted in our brains a few years ago after seeing The Wrecking Season documentary on Nick Darke. Stuff from all over the world washes up on our beaches, and so after spending a few years gathering lengths of rope, pallets, net, and driftwood, the logical shift to beach cleaning litter happened.

There’s a campaign called #2minutebeachclean headed by beach advocate extraordinaire, Martin Dorey. The idea being that if everyone who visits a beach takes just two minutes to pick up some junk that doesn’t belong there, the world will be a better place. It couldn’t be easier, really.

Pete and I started doing beach cleans – rain or shine – as an excuse to get out of the house, get fresh air and lift our spirits in a depression-heavy winter. Our first two minutes lasted closer to forty, and every clean since is pretty much the same. We recycle the tough, plastic bags our wood stove fuel arrives in, head to the beach, and walk all over scanning for bits of rubbish. It’s good for our health, good for our beach, and very good for a couple of people with well-known Attention Deficit issues.

You needn’t spend forty minutes combing the beaches as we do, but next time you do visit the shore, take two minutes and put a few bits in a bin. It makes a difference. Thank you.

Asking for help is a brave thing

Hello there. I’m about to ask for your help with something. Doing this does not come naturally to me – quite the opposite. I like that I have the appearance of having my ducks in a row, can take care of myself, and all that strong individual type stuff, but the truth is, I need a little help right now. This is me being brave and asking.

I’ve put together a crowdfunder campaign to upgrade a major part of my studio: my easel. As I mention on the fundraiser, I make BIG art on BIG canvases and the easels I have are not always able to hold my work. Please help me get the right tool for my job.

I have some unique rewards for pledgers and hope that if you like the art I create, you might consider a contribution to show your support.

Thank you. x

Jen Dixon on

sharing too much since 2003