How Depression Forced me to Re-evaluate How I Express Myself with the World

Spending time in Nature is a big help for depression. In Japan doctors prescribe “forest bathing” for physical, mental, and emotional health – known as Shinrin-yoku

It’s been one hell of an emotional rollercoaster for all of us, but definitely for me the past six months and hence the radio silence. I’m working on being better at expressing myself and posting more frequently. As such, subsequent posts will go into more detail about my depression, but give some context, in October 2021, I finally realized I’ve been living with depression for a couple of years. Depression has given me some beautiful gifts – one of which sparked a meaningful journey of self-discovery.

Part of that journey reconnected me with my purpose of expressing myself freely, without reservation or fear of “what others may say.” That’s not to say I’m absolving myself of responsibility to be intentional with my words or ignore how my words are received. As Retired Navy SEAL Rep. Dan Crenshaw says, “Try not to offend others – try even harder not to be offended.”

I’ve been struggling with this, but I believe intention is everything. My intention is about building community and getting people to think differently about how we feel about ourselves and how that impacts the world. To believe in our power to build community.

Honestly? I’m tired of constantly seeing division (especially being based in the USA now) and what irks me in most cases: the very thing people accuse others of is behavior they themselves demonstrate.

Seeing that has helped me constantly question my own shortcomings and blind spots. Do I treat others with the same respect I’m asking for? I’m doing my best, but I’m learning that being conscious of something tends to result in deeper thinking around what I say and do.

Ask – And Be Given An Opportunity to Practice

I’ll never forget this quote I read as a teenager:

When you pray to God and ask for patience, He doesn’t just give you patience – He gives you opportunities to practice patience.

I wish I knew the author to credit them.

We live in unprecedented times with extreme levels of stress. Stress doesn’t build character – it reveals it. Social media is a pressure cooker, and almost like a wild horse: it’s unpredictable and a little scary (can even harm us if we are not careful), but with patience and a willingness to understand, it has untold opportunities for us.

It’s the same old story of what we focus on is what we create. If you dispute that, give me a call – I have an entire year climbing a mountain with the sole purpose of building community around what we can do to prove it. I was only surrounded by incredible human beings that year.

My shortcomings have been a lack of confidence in my beliefs. Without faith in my own voice, I’ve relied on others to tell me how many words I should write, when to post, how frequently to post, and every other metric under the sun.

In December, it took an intense vision quest in Kaapsehoop to realize there’s nothing more powerful than speaking my truth in service of building community. The reality is it’s not the time of the message, but the message itself that’s important. I learned that when I posted for the first time on Facebook this past Saturday, sharing Rudy Van Dieman’s story of climbing Table Mountain every day in 2022 for his community in Mitchells Plain. Usually I would’ve tried to post at the “best” time and yet – it’s currently got a record 43 shares.

Coming to terms with realizing the power behind speaking my truth and being safe to do so, is obliterating my depression. My depression was caused by my inability to speak freely and feel comfortable telling you things like I’m very spiritual. I’m a round peg, and I’ve been adjusting my message to a square world – and the more I did that, the deeper I fell into depression. No more.

What can YOU take from this?

Start thinking about what inner desires you suppress and feel apprehensive about sharing with the world. Ever since I was a little boy, I felt different and unable to express how or why I felt different, and I became angry. So much so my parents bought me a punching bag to unleash the anger inside. Considering they were parenting in the ’80s without Google’s help – a phenomenal bit of intuitive parenting. Perhaps one of their most significant accomplishments in guiding me to become the man I am today.

I’ve been inactive, not just here, but on social media too. Purely because I’ve felt inept and devoid of anything worthwhile to say. Which fueled the depression in an out-of-control negative spiral. It’s as if I placed a ridiculous weight on my shoulders that I must become a sage to be of value, saying something new or coming up with revolutionary ideas to save mankind.

But we don’t need revolutionary ideas – we need people to stop living in fear and act in ways that respect themselves, others, and our beautiful planet. So simple – but oh not so easy. We’re all on a journey of exploration to understand how complex life is and embrace the sacredness of life.

Spirituality isn’t about being right – it’s about moving past the container of our mind to discover our soul’s potential in service to others.

There’s an excellent chance one of you may unsubscribe while reading this. But there’s also a good chance I might get an extra 2 subscribers by becoming more forthright. Perhaps 1,000. But that’s not important.

The point is, writing has nothing to do with how many subscribers I have – that’s just my ego demanding validation. The real value lies in living my truth and no longer suffocating my souls’ voice, which means I’d rather have 1 meaningful connection that creates change than 1 million shares and views. Case in point; what Rudy is currently doing for his community.

Where to from here?

As a South African living in the USA now, it’s abundantly clear what a phenomenal country South Africa is for one reason: The People.

Don’t believe me? Feel free to confirm with Jerry, President: North America, South Africa Tourism.

The number one reason tourists tick for enjoying their visit to South Africa is the people. 

One of my plan with this platform and my voice are to learn more about and share South Africa’s rich stories of our resilience. THAT we have in abundance and need to start recognizing in each other and ourselves.

As a quick example, did you know that Professor Mashudu Tshifularo and his team at the University of Pretoria performed the world’s first middle-ear surgery using 3D technology?

It’s easy to complain about what’s wrong. Heck, I even throw my hands up now and again – but I always have this little voice saying, “Yeah? So what are you going to do about it?”

Take action. Become a problem solver and figure it out – whatever it takes.

I believe we’ve been stripped of the belief in what we can achieve when we work together. We don’t need corporations or governments for tremendous change to occur. Imagine each person on earth deciding to never harm another person. A small commitment with untold worldwide repercussions.

Sooooooo – 2022 is shaping up to become one helluva ride. The question is: are you going to get into the driver’s seat? Or sit in the back?