I have no idea what Feng Shui is. What I do know, is this isn't it.
I've been having a hard month for some inexplicable reason. I've had this weird unwarranted feeling of sadness for several weeks while everything is going right.
My life is literally the best it has ever been. In December I wasn't sure if I could make January's rent, and here I am, in mid February with enough money to cover March expenses. I've made 3 months worth of income with the sales of my artwork and I'm living the dream.
I'm incredibly grateful, and as I said before, everything is going right. But maybe that's an overstatement. I've been working really hard to put myself out there, line up new projects both short term and long term, and yesterday I agreed to my first solo exhibition in a public space. It's a huge step for me. Massive.
And frankly, it feels weird to type about sadness, because today, I think I started to come out of it. But I wanted to get it on paper before the moment leaves, because as I mentioned when I first started this blog, "I suffer from chronic depression". I'm working to understand my triggers and the seemingly random mental hurdles that attempt to derail me from doing and achieving what I want out of life.
Feel sad when "everything is going right" that's probably not normal. I feel like that feeling, which lasted 3 or 4 weeks, was the "first phase of depression". I'm still working to understand depression, and I think it's not as simple as you are or you aren't. I think a lot of times when people say they feel depressed, they just feel sad. I also think when you're in the early stage it's pretty easy to fall down the rabbit hole, and the sadness can quickly turn into depression, which can consume you for longer periods of time and be quite difficult to escape.
Depression is like mental quicksand.
To me, the first phase of depression is the feeling of unwarranted sadness. For me this sadness is accompanied by a coldness and irritability towards people, even loved ones. A general mess of negative feelings that don't reflect how things are become the prevailing thoughts that linger in the mind. When love and joyful moments are lived, joy and love should be felt. That's not the case in my first phase of depression.
All this isn't to say that I haven't laughed or had fun the past few weeks. It's just that those things are hollow. Like you do laugh at someone's joke, because you're supposed to, but after the spirited engagement, I felt drained of life, not lifted up by living it.
I wouldn't say this past month I was "depressed" because I had no loss of hope, no feelings of wanting to die, and no true loss of things I love. Things got harder though. Like riding my Peloton, doing the dishes, making food for myself. All those things became obstacles, where-as the month prior, they were regular parts of my daily routine.
I didn't have to think much about working out in the morning, because I wanted and had to do it. I cleaned my dishes after each meal, or soon after, and it was painless. But in the first phase of depression, the thought of performing these tasks became overwhelming. I didn't want to do them, and I thought they were too hard or too much work to do.
This was an unwarranted 180 degree shift in my way of thinking. Nothing in my life changed dramatically, no conflict or chaos induced this. I've thought repeatedly how glad I was that I decided not to drinking in 2021, because I wanted to save money, be healthy, and alcohol wouldn't improve my life, so I stripped it away.
I would have probably leaned on alcohol for "support" in the past few weeks of sadness, but instead of alcohol, I tried to comfort myself with food. That doesn't work, never has, never will. Over-eating is definitely a coping mechanism that fails to be affective, yet it's more socially acceptable than drinking or doing drugs.
The thing that gets me is I was doing all the right things. At least I thought I was. I was working out everyday, eating semi-healthy food, and keeping relatively clean.
But in the last week or two, things have started to ramp up. I have got several new projects in the works, and some of them take up a good amount of space in my small apartment. I've found that the objects in my space affect me in a powerful way.
I felt so cramped and didn't know how to navigate my space, and after a few days of feeling the bad feelings mount, I moved my coffee table to create space. I found that moving the table created physical space, but it also created mental space. I felt more open when the space was more open. I feel this way when my apartment is organized. When my apartment is messy, I feel it's incredibly hard for me to focus and it makes me feel terrible.
But keeping clean and organized is not as simple as saying, I'm going to keep my room clean.
I've only heard of Feng Shui in movies or stuff like that, and it triggers negative stereotypical Asian feelings for me. I feel like white people have made fun of this idea in popular culture, and I know little about it, so naturally, I've thought the idea of it was kind of silly.
It's like when people talk about energy and all that new agey stuff. Maybe it's just my biases, and my flaws that prevented me from listening without judging. When hippie types talk about energy flowing in and out of objects and the vibrations and oras... it all seemed super weird to me.
But my view of energy is changing, and my biases and judgement of things I don't understand need to be re-evaluated. I consider myself pretty open to new ideas, people of different cultures, etc. But I'm human, and I'm biased. We all are. We can't know everything.
I googled "Feng Shui" when starting this post because I couldn't figure out how to spell it. I clicked on an article by The Spruce and after the opening paragraph they wrote:
What Is Feng Shui?
The philosophy of feng shui is a practice of arranging the pieces in living spaces in order to create balance with the natural world. The goal is to harness energy forces and establish harmony between an individual and their environment.
Establish harmony between an individual and their environment.
Again, I know nothing of Feng Shui, and I know I said all that energy talk seemed weird to me, but it seems to me there is an idea here worth exploring. As I learn how to live and work inside an apartment, I'm finding it's a dance filled with nuance.
Creating space that works well is beautiful and challenging. But I find that the effort bears fruit that's hard to explain, but easy to feel. I want to spend more time learning about how to design interior space, to improve quality of life, productivity, and happiness by simply arranging things you already have.
I hope that in a strange way this effort helps me keep depression at bay. It's easy for someone to say, if you're sad, then do something that makes you happy. But that takes practice. Happiness seems to be the result of numerous actions and relationships woven together with intention, mindfulness, and care. I believe happiness and success are increased the more you work to improve the quality of your mental and physical spaces.