Life-Saving Checklist


People love stories like the one about my “coming back to life”. After being withdrawn and in a state of at least mild depression for over 5 years, I downsized my life and moved back West. I began to heal, wrote a novel-length story, and finally started to feel the full range of my emotions again. It was an uphill path, with lots of ugliness bubbling up, but also joy and ecstasy and love, so much love. Bathing in sensuality. Physical activity, kinetic energy – sheer bliss.

What’s not so sexy is the fact that life is rarely as straightforward and clean-cut. I wasn’t always in a state of depression over those years (after all I did my Coaching diploma during that time and those weekends of learning and practising were a blessing, full of insight and gentle touch of human souls). And when I came out of it all and started to grow stronger physically and get into shape again, as well as stabilising emotionally, it wasn’t all smooth sailing from there on in, either.

It began with my broken rib in August and got worse when I managed to get tendonitis in my forearms in mid September. I haven’t been able to hold, let alone swing, a sword or other weapon since – nothing heavier than a teacup, in fact. And it’s been eating away at me. I hardly worked out anymore and rarely danced. I didn’t keep in touch with newfound friends or those old friends I’d just re-connected with again. I ate crap that doesn’t do my body good, out of sheer frustration. And I noticed what was happening and tried to pull myself out, but only occasionally was I successful for a day or two.

The breakthrough came on Friday. You see, I’d known all this time that having pain in my forearms wasn’t really a reason not to dance. I also knew that my problems are in no way the end of the world. However, it’s not helpful if you already feel crap about yourself, to also feel like you are really bad at dealing with it. On Friday, I finally realised what the missing piece was: I’ve been feeling like I constantly had a slight cold for a while. I wake up every morning with a stuffy nose, I am exhausted all the time and could sleep nine hours a night (but rarely get more than seven, being in a semi-detached house with neighbours again). I feel bad and just, well, off, and have done since – wait for it – the last week of September. Co-incidence? I think not.

I can’t prove a connection, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that having a constant inflammation in my body – tendonitis – could have something to do with feeling feverish and groggy all the time. I concluded that it might be time to stop beating myself up about it and allow myself the rest I need to heal. I also resolved to finally do something about the tendonitis in a consistent fashion, so today I went to Galway and got a re-usable cold pack (frozen peas or ice cubes are nice, but not if you need an ice pack three times a day), an omega 3 supplement, and a bandage for the time when I’ll slowly start handling a sword again.

More importantly, I started crying and finally truly feeling my helpless desperation about being inactive, with its horrible similarity to the bad years. It hurts, but even that feels wonderful because I’m feeeeeeeeling! Almost instantly, all the bad food cravings and self-loathing fell away and the joy came through once again. I spent the rest of Friday dancing, and yesterday evening I went out despite not getting much sleep again, and ended up having a great time at a fundraiser dance for Haiti. I danced in my socks which felt amazing. All evening, I felt like a sponge soaking up all the wonderful human connection to real people, people who are alive and present. I had deep, funny, meaningful conversations with several people I know and others I’d just met, and hugs aplenty. When I drove home a good hour and a half after I’d meant to, all my senses were tingling, and the feeling hasn’t left me.

So, I’m back. Again. Apologies if it gets boring to read about it; I assure you, there’s nothing boring about repeatedly living it! And I thought, after experiencing how the state of being cut off can sneak up on me, that I’d put together a list of things I need to watch out for.

  • Music. I’d all but stopped listening to “high-emotion music” in the past two months, music like early Marillion (probably the most raw, ravishingly emotional music I know).
  • Emotion. If I don’t cry, or laugh until my sides hurt, for a week, it’s a warning sign. I really need to remember this one, as it’s probably the most immediately recognisable red flag.
  • Sensuality. When I stop savouring vibrant whole foods, sighing with pleasure at the softness of my silly hideous Tesco slippers, or cuddle into my bed practically moaning with delight, there’s something amiss. Yes, I really do these things, all the time, at least when all’s well with me. It’s my “normal”. As is desire and sexuality, dance and movement. A prolonged absence of any of these things, means trouble

There will always be fluctuations, of course, times when I’m more intensely joyful and in love with life and with people, and that’s why it can be hard to recognise symptoms of deeper problems. Hence the list. It’s something I can refer back to in times of need.

Exhausted. And happy.
For now, I’m deeply grateful that the veil has lifted once again. Life is so heart-wrenchingly beautiful. There are so many things I want to do and create and make happen. I floated through Galway today, getting instant radiant smiles from every last shop assistant and person I met, because I was just oozing with love. I don’t usually like big crowds, but today I purposely immersed myself, which works when I am not in any rush and not staying too long – a couple hours usually do it for me, at least on a pre-Christmas weekend day in the city!

I got the supplies to treat my tendonitis with, I bought a present for a friend who reached out to me over those difficult two months, and I bought myself a beautiful, soft black velvet tunic, just because. Then I drove home crying and laughing and singing along to “Clutching at Straws”.

Overflowing joy? Check. Explosive dancing? Check. Happy, silly, cuddly hag? Check, check, check. All’s well.

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8 thoughts on “Life-Saving Checklist

  1. Hi Sibylle, so glad to hear you’re feeling better and are on the “up” again. I know what it’s like to live with depression, it comes and goes, and when it lingers, it’s horrible. I also make sure that I feel my emotions, which means I let the tears flow when necessary, but I also embrace joyful moments and appreciate them when they come up. Sending warm healing hugs your way xx

    1. Thanks, Christiane! Emotions are a good “radar”, aren’t they? For me, they don’t get numbed completely when I’m in a depression – at least the mild form I’ve been experiencing in recent years – but they are dulled, like I feel them through a dampener. Now that I feel in my usual intensity, I know I’m back to myself.
      Hugs back! xxx

  2. It’s good to see you back in your power. A list like that is a great thing to have. By the way, I’ve found magnesium to be a good thing for making muscles and tendons heal faster. I’ve had more than my share of those problems 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! It is always a little scary to be vulnerable “in public”, but it feels wonderful to share and be understood. Big hugs back!!

  3. Ann

    Oh my dearest Hag, your blogs and emails come at just the right time! I am also going trough things at the moment. Although self-imposed since I’m prone to catastrophizing, I know I need to be kind and loving to myself and things will smooth out!
    Much love and keep on keeping on!

    1. I so hear you! I definitely made things worse for myself, but you know what, that’s human too. I believe we need to be very gentle with ourselves and not feel bad about feeling bad, on top of everything.
      Much love and big hag hugs!!

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