This has been a hard post to write. I’ve been wrestling around with how to approach it for the past two weeks because, on one hand, I think it’s important to talk about the reasons why I choose this lifestyle because slow and simple living is the foundation for everything else I write and share here. On the other hand, it’s impossible to discuss my reasons without getting personal, and while I’ve never had a problem opening up about myself in the past, I have, over time, realized the value of discretion. So I’m hoping I can strike a good balance that remains authentic and succinct without compromising my boundaries.
To start, here is some relevant information about me: I suffer from depression and anxiety. I am an HSP and an introvert. I have difficulty with things like making eye contact or articulating thoughts in large groups and new spaces, not because I’m shy, but because I’m trying to cope with and filter through a barrage of invisible stimuli. And although I do a pretty good job with managing my depression and anxiety on a day-to-day basis, I find myself dipping low sometimes. Whenever that happens, I have to drop what I’m doing and prioritize me-time to get myself back to a healthier state of mind.
This list of issues so easily summarized in one single paragraph has taken me 32 years to grasp, and along the path toward understanding has been a lot of confusion, pain, damaged or broken relationships, a shattered sense of self, and days and weeks and months of feeling out of place. It has been a long journey toward self-acceptance, which is why I feel compelled to write about it. Because even though my disabilities have often led to feelings of isolation, I know I’m not the only one who suffers from them. Not by a long shot. And once I began to understand that these things were part of me and weren’t just going to disappear, I was able to finally take measures to heal and explore new ways of living that were and are more in tune with my nature.
So, in 2010 I started a blog (with blogspot) to document my learning process with gardening, cooking and making things by hand, all of which was completely new to me at the time, yet so compelling that it felt like a calling. I didn’t have the words “simple living” in mind back when I started all of this, but the concept of it formed for me over time.
And it’s not original or new. Over the past six years, I’ve connected with a whole community of folks through social media who live simple lives for one reason or another. Some of them struggle with the same issues I do and some of them don’t, but for whatever reason, we are united in our calling, and silly as it may sound, it helps to know that we aren’t alone
Nowadays, living a slow and simple life is much more than just an experiment or a trend. I live this way and keep coming back to it because it keeps me healthy and allows me to thrive. And although I sometimes get swept up in the way life is “supposed” to look, or don’t pay attention to the red flags telling me that it’s time to slow down, I always know that my path toward balance and health is through a focus on the fundamentals. Making my living spaces calm and inspiring, eating good, whole foods that nourish me, spending time outdoors or with good friends, interacting with my daughter, working with my hands and investing time in myself.
But when you're out in daily life, among the pressures and people who are caught up in the 9-5, Keeping Up with the Joneses culture, it can be very difficult to go against the grain. It can be especially hard to protect yourself from cynicism and negativity without sticking out like a sore thumb and making yourself a target. And it can be hard to take the time for yourself to heal without pissing off your boss or offending the people you care about who don't understand your need for alone time.
In my experience, depression and introvertedness are not very well understood issues, and most people have never even heard of HSPs (highly sensitive people). The resources for those of us who suffer with such things are out there, but they are difficult to find, especially if you're afraid to admit that you are suffering with something that carries so much stigma.
I can only hope that discussing this openly, without shame and despite fear of judgment, will help someone who was in the same position I was in before I got the help I needed. That if you are feeling hopeless, there are options for you. You can be happy, you can thrive, and you can find a way of being that works for you and helps you manage your stress. Slow and simple living is the answer for me. What's the answer for you?