PART 2 // Anxiety & Mental Health

Saturday, June 25, 2016

“QUICK! Run away from the Creativity Graveyard before it buries you!” – PART 2 (in a series of life improving steps by Maria Savage)

Happy weekend, friends! 

The last post was pretty heavy – I get that – but it was an important stepping stone for me. Recognizing one’s own dissatisfaction and unhappiness isn’t the easiest thing to do. Having your life together is the desirable status – so admitting that, hey, I don’t at the moment, means I’ve had to choke down a whopping portion of humble pie... apparently the perfect life doesn't exist?!

I thought I would update you all on what I have done so far since my recent publishing of the ‘creativity graveyard’ that is (according to me) my life. 

Firstly, I’ve had anxiety for a while now, but it’s the first time I’ve actually made an effort to actively address the issue and nip it in the butt before it gets worse and makes life even more miserable. It’s a hard thing to describe as a lot of people can experience anxiety (and depression) differently, but for me it sometimes gets so crippling that I can’t go about my everyday life routine without negative thoughts and irrational fears ruining my plans and turning me into the opposite of myself; a nervous and distressed character. My loved ones know about it, and have obviously experienced it first hand, and I’ve had a few recommendations to try out anti-depressants and pills to help improve the situation, but for me, I would rather do anything else. I’m a talker, so I’ve booked in to regularly see someone about what has been bothering me, and I’ll definitely keep you all updated on that as well. I am a very happy, and also blessed young woman, so waking up in the morning and feeling sad, unmotivated and generally very underwhelmed with my life is worrying and nonsensical to me. 

In between appointments with the psychologist, I’ve been doing a few things that have significantly helped in reducing my stress, anxiety and general “being sad” state. You don’t have to do these things, even if you just get up and get dressed for the day that’s an awesome achievement in itself, but if you are feeling particularly strong, here’s what you could do :)
  • Are there any markets on where you live? Markets have an extremely positive and beautiful atmosphere about them. Every Wednesday in Brisbane city I head to the Farmer’s market. There are always colorful, fresh flowers; the smell of freshly baked goods and wholesome fruit and veg to appreciate. You can spend little to no money – just being in the presence of it all makes me happy. 
  • Call you Mum. Or your sister, or your brother or an aunt, or an uncle. Even better, visit home for a few days. If things are really starting to get overwhelming, cancel your weekend plans and visit your family. 
  • Fresh air. Exercise is such a weird thing for me… before doing it I HATE the thought of it, during I usually am thinking “Hey this isn’t so bad… I could get used to this!” and afterwards I ALWAYS think, ‘Wow, that was amazing!’. Even if it’s just a 20min brisk walk in the late afternoon. It’s also a beautiful bonus if you get to see a spectacular sunset. 
  • Put on a cheerful playlist and clean something. It’s productive and distracting! 
  • Write a letter to someone you care about – even print out some photos for it too. Doing something nice for someone else has amazingly powerful “warm fuzzies” feelings for you, too. 
  • (If you are religious… or even if you aren’t!) Go to mass. Going in the morning at 7am is a good time to go for me because I can usually go for a walk before or after. It’s very quiet and relaxing and can be a really positive way to start the day. 
  • Be kind… to yourself. This is the hardest thing for me to do out of all of the above. I get so frustrated with myself and the negative self-talk can be pretty horrible. Someone once said to me, “don’t say to yourself what you wouldn’t say to your best friend if she was feeling sad/depressed/ lonely”. So, be kind. Be nourishing, be gentle. It’s probably one of the most important things you can do, and I am still struggling with that. 

This is a small list of things that have been helpful to me… obviously there are a lot more, but I will add to it over time. Feel free to leave suggestions below of what helps you if you are feeling a little… flat. 

So… that’s Part 2 of ‘Life Improving methods by Maria Savage’ – even though it’s pretty self-explanatory, it can be hard to do, getting help if you are struggling with something. Mental health, especially within the younger generation, is something I am really passionate about, and I think the first step towards being actively passionate about something is addressing your own struggles with it first, and hopefully overcoming them. 

I will be back soon – thanks for reading! Part 3… hopefully that is a detailed plan of what I am hoping to do with the rest of my life… I mean, the next 6 months at least, would be a start. 

P.S: Big shout out to my little sister who so wonderfully took these photos for me today! A real patient operator she is, I am the *pickiest* when it comes to angles, lighting and composition… 

Dig Your Way out of the Creativity Graveyard (…don’t leave anymore flowers there, please!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

“QUICK! Run away from the Creativity Graveyard before it buries you!” – PART 1 (in a series of life improving steps by Maria Savage)

So... me, and 19.  
You know how much that above line killed me to write? I can just hear myself saying “Ahh! No! It’s “19 and I”, but the above just sounds better. Screw you, English. Oh, and the two exams I should be studying for next week. Instead, I’m sitting here writing about something that has nothing to do with what I am studying at uni.

And that is EXACTLY the problem.

I touched based on this issue about a month ago when I last sat down and wrote for Avenue Maria. Simply put, I’ve hit an absolute plateau in my life and I have no idea how to get myself out and keep on running. I just know that I need to, SOON, or else I’ll lose my mind. I don’t feel successful, I rarely feel inspired and the only thing that keeps me going (creative-wise) is the fact that I still see beautiful things everywhere and can take photos of them. My Instagram feed seems to be the only reminder that I’m still Maria – I still love what I can do. And that’s all I want to do.

I’m studying writing and communication at uni, and aside from a *few* positive things, I kinda hate it. I hate the fact that all I seem to do is read about grammar and punctuation, and forms of non-verbal and verbal communication. You know what that stuff is to me, and my brain? DRY. BORING. Limiting.

It’s limiting because I want to make things, I want to create, I want to feel, and I want to do. I want to pour my heart and soul into creating beautiful things, and content! You wanna know why? Because I’m really fucking good at it. I’m really good at designing things, and making things look nice, and appreciating beauty. Content, for this blog, has been so terribly neglected in the last 18 months.
Moving to Brisbane and doing all these new things was one of the best things I have ever done for myself, but now that I am here and I’m more than settled in, I feel like I’m not achieving anything. It just feels so wrong that I’m not pounding the pavement with artwork under my left arm, a steaming coffee in my hand, and the latest issue of Frankie in my handbag. It feels wrong that all I ever seem to be able to write about is THIS STUFF. The fact that I miss the way life used to be when I was smashing out high school assessment, as well as running a really successful blog that landed me in magazines and gave me the opportunity to work with wonderful brands that I genuinely cared about. 

I feel like a broken record. You know what I should be writing about? How-to this, and how-to that. And how to make your life wonderful, and exciting, and how to follow your dreams! But I can’t write an accurate, honest article like that unless I’ve tried and tested and learnt from experience.

So here we are. This is Step 1. Hey guys, I’m not loving where my life is going at the moment and I want to change it. I’m going to change it. I don’t know how I am going to go about doing that, but I’m going to make lists, drink lots of coffee, read lot of magazines and talk to people until I figure out what the hell I should do.

Please tell me I’m not the only 19-year-old out there that feels this way? I mean, I already know the answer to that question, because there are 7.4 billion people in the world, so there would, statistically, be lots of others, but I still feel pretty alone on this one.

I have been blogging for six years, and in that time, my knowledge of social media, photography and the writing industry has developed in a completely unique, self-taught way. I got a head start before uni. I started blogging for the first time when I was 12. I learnt the basics of html coding when I was 13. I taught myself how to use photoshop when I was 14, I was featured in magazines when I was 15, and I started working with big companies before even being a legal adult. This isn’t stuff that I am boasting about; my point is that I skipped the basics, and now I’m at uni and being treated like everything is NEW, when actually, Professor, I’ve been working on this sort of stuff for seven years of my life. It’s not new to me, it’s a concept I may not have a degree in, but I bloody well feel like I should because of the real-life experience I’ve had. Instead of being challenged, and excited about the content I am currently learning, I’m bored. I’m paying six grand a semester to be bored out of my mind. That’s not the kind of lifestyle I signed up for, and I need to change it now.

I have always pictured myself as being a successful woman that glows outwardly from confidence, success and an impeccable water intake. And I still am that woman, I know I am her, she’s just buried underneath pages of communication theory that dates back to the 80s, and a student debt that means nothing.
If you got this far, thanks for reading. You’re a legend, and feel free to leave a comment below with advice or personal experience.

Image sources:
“Girl Running with Wet Canvas”, 1930, Norman Rockwell
Carrie Bradshaw collage via Elle