LIVING TO LIVE: RETHINKING WORK & IDLENESS.

Author:Kaye, Mark Anthony
 
FREE EXCERPT

In the summer of 2014, following the completion of a bachelor's degree in history and then a traumatic and exhausting stint working for the British Labour party in Birmingham, I moved to London. I moved with the optimistic and romanticized notion of launching a career in politics. Perhaps more importantly, I moved with the intention of exploring and redefining my sense of self.

London offered a plethora of opportunities to consummate this desire and I was, for a short time, filled with a childlike enthusiasm and curiosity for life. I rented a small but extremely cosy studio flat in the attic of an old Georgian house with my partner, which we filled with books and secondhand furniture. For a long time we lacked a table and so we ate breakfast in bed before heading into the heart of Westminster--my partner in her new role as a political consultant and I into the Houses of Parliament, as a senior staff member for a newly elected MP.

It was an extremely exiting point in our lives; we were finally earning a decent wage after years of minimum wage jobs, living in one of the most diverse and busiest cities in the world, surrounded by culture, friends and seemingly limitless opportunities. Unfortunately, this period of elation was all too brief. Sixteen months after moving to London I found myself inextricably dissatisfied, confused, and ultimately anxious and depressed. I began to look around me to ascertain why this was. I started to question people that I knew and people that I met about their state of mind. Were they content? Were they happy? It soon became clear that many of my peers experienced significant swathes of anxiety and low moods that moved in ebbs and flows beneath the surface of their everyday lives.

Unfortunately, the feelings of depression and anxiety I was experiencing began to spiral and leak into every aspect of my life. Spurred on by a series of painful and emotionally exhausting events and exacerbated by my lack of understanding of what was happening to me, depression spread and tainted every facet of my mind until I was consumed by it entirely. Now, over two years later, I still battle with depression and anxiety on a daily basis. Nonetheless, I am no longer debilitated by my mental health problems as I once was, and I feel I'm slowly transitioning into a period of strength and balance, supported through the use of daily mental health management techniques.

This transition necessitated a considerable amount of work on my behalf. I had to rearrange my perspectives and thought patterns. I underwent a sincere exploration and analysis of the potential sources of my depression and anxieties. I restructured my lifestyle and quotidian behaviors, rejuvenated the way I experienced my lived environment, and undertook extensive exercise--providing my body with a boost of positive chemicals that stabilized my moods. I still utilize these mental health management techniques or mechanisms daily, in one way or another.

Something I found of particularly potent utility was writing and conversing about the issues of mental health. I contend that this is one of the most important mechanisms for those afflicted with mental health difficulties. Often, thoughts and emotions that go unarticulated become distorted and heightened. They take on a life of their own, mutating beyond rational understanding, veiled by their proximity to your consciousness, intertwined as they are into the very fabric of thought. However, a thought or feeling written down...

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