I realised, the other day, that I would not be able to write another thing until I had written about The Bleakness. And I want to write other things. Badly.
Depression runs, intermittently, through my family. In some of us, it manifests as a response. In others, it is embedded in our makeup. I think it’s fair to say that each and every one has been touched, in some way, by it. For myself, my relationship with depression has been ever complicated, reaching far back into my teens, when my grandmother was stolen from me and I ignored and denied the yawning cavern of loss it opened in my soul. I didn’t know what to call it, then. I do now, but still don’t call it that.
I call it The Bleakness. This characterises the experience as I feel it: a slow, grey coldness unfurling through my bones and sinews and nerve-endings till it paints the world in muted neutrals, leaving me going through the motions with none of the responses and ripple-effects you associate with movement of any kind. It is movement in isolation, happening far away from the rich colour of the world, in a stagnant, empty wasteland where I have been imprisoned by my own body and mind. My only companion? Tears. And even those abandoned me when it got too hard.
I am constantly surprised and delighted at the tangible impact of self-care — in my case, little but abiding actions that contribute, mainly, to a Life Lived Less Anxiously, with benefits that cascade through the rest of my experience. Particularly in the last year, wading through the swamp of rebuilding your life from scratch in a place you’ve never been to and don’t know at all. This will not be a recitation of my routine (which is undefined and abstract, at best) as that strays too closely to the realm of recommendation, something self-care is too individualised and unique for. Instead, these are notes from a world where I happily and mostly consistently support myself, a trend that peaked when I ensured I would never forget my keys inside my flat ever again. It’s a little bit a pat on the back, and a lot an ode to the unsung heroes keeping me from coming apart at the seams.
“Mama, why does the mantis watch me?”
“Mhmm. Lots of times”
“Remember, the mantis is one of the many forms our Creator takes, so He can keep watch over us all”
“No, not like that.”
“How then, baba?”
“Sometimes, in the morning, when I’m going to—“
“Sit still, Ana! Or your hair will be uneven.”
“In the mornings, when I go greet the sun like you told me and I’m walking to the hill just behind the old tree, then all the mantises come out and they look at me.”
“All of them?”
Cindy van Wyk is a writer and lifestyle blogger from Windhoek, Namibia. She launched her blog in Feburary 2016 and has been sharing her thoughts, journeys and loves with the internet at large since then. When designing her logo and layout, I aimed to create something that encapsulated both the boldness and delicacy that infuses Cindy’s work, and what she puts out into the world — the balance and contrast and, at the end of the day, the multitudes that exist within any woman and the way she occupies her space.
A FEW WORDS FROM CINDY —
“Working with Dan on my blog’s revamp was an incredible experience – she was professional, friendly and helpful every step of the way. From the mood board she created for my brand to my logo, her eye is impeccable and she worked so well with my vision. I don’t think I’ll be able to work with anyone else again, her work is truly amazing.”
sugaryoblivion.com | @sugaryoblivion
For my thirtieth birthday, I got unemployment, several metric fuck tons of snow, and chilblains.
I am most upset about the chilblains, which I have never had before but now, since ageing into this new decade, have apparently become susceptible to. For the uninitiated, chilblains are what happens when you muck around in the icy white stuff for too long, the feeling goes out of your toes for several hours and then promptly returns, with profound aches and itchiness that will linger for a week or so. While being an affliction that affects any old body with no sense of real self-preservation, chilblains sounds like something that happens to old people only. I’m still in shock.
I’ve tried, not extensively but certainly enough, to buy into the ‘big three oh’ mood. There’s something I like about the mix of anxiety and elation that surrounds this particular birthday, something unstoppably human about our response to this stage of ageing. However, given the irreverence with which I have approached other birthday milestones (I hit the town on my own for my eighteenth, with no memory as to why or how that happened), it comes as no surprise that turning thirty has left me ambivalent, at worst, and introspective, at best.