I've had more depressive thoughts in the past five days than in the past five years. But I'm just over a week away from leaving a mindfulness based recovery centre for people with depression, anxiety, burnout, addiction and relationship issues, where I've been volunteering, so how come?
When I arrived, I had nearly 30 years of coping mechanisms under my belt, finely tuned over the years to sustain a happy disposition and genuine enjoyment of life. My strategies were tailor made, bespoke to me, and they worked just fine. With one minor side effect: my body wasn't coping.
So, on a quest for better physical health, I resolved to reconnect with my body and my deeper 'self', absorbing while I was here as much information for self-development as possible, and you know what I found?
Oodles and oodles and oodles of pain.
So, I've spent the best part of four months unpicking my life, my personality, what I 'know' and how I think, and trying to absorb new mindful ways to manage whatever out of life's toolbox of suffering will fly at me next and in fact I don't feel any better equipped; I feel weakened, worried and considerably worse about myself.
I walked in here at the start of March, already looking at things differently, coming to similar conclusions as Evans Prater and Noelle Hancock in their respective pieces for Elite Daily and Cosmopolitan, having handed in my notice at work and let my flat out to friends, feeling empowered and excited; such a strength of mind I had that I felt I could lift weights with it.
My body, by contrast, was weak and battling recurrent infections, my asthma was a problem every time the seasons changed and I'd suffer bronchitis at least twice a year. But in fairness, I had been very stressed. Working in a high profile international business communications consultancy in the City, managing client accounts for a very small team of two and a half people in the niche consumer offering, I was work hard play hard; I pushed myself to the limit and then beyond it. I was worn out.
So I was ready to slow down, be kind to myself, relinquish responsibility. I was not ready to relearn how to be.
There's a reason why you hit rock bottom before you claw your way back up and on to better things; there has to be no doubt in your mind that this is the correct way out, that the old way wasn't working, that you absolutely had to - HAD to - change.
The past few days has presented me with more tailor made challenges than I am ready to cope with using my brand-new-out-the-box 'this is how we do recovery' tips and tricks. I need my old coping strategies, like denial and avoidance; they were bloody good.
So right now, I'm doubting Thomas. Was this really such a good idea after all? Working on myself, trying to be a more complete me, body and mind together, united? It's putting all the hurt right in front of my face and forcing me to look at it, to engage with it, to love it even. I know what the 'experts' would say, but honestly I find myself asking, 'HOW is that a good thing?!?' Maybe I was just further from rock bottom than I thought.