At the beginning of 2020, we were all blissfully unaware of the ‘unprecedented’ times we were about to experience. But I was already having a rough start to the year. I felt so deflated and unfulfilled going into 2020. I was desperately searching for that ‘new year energy boost’ that I’ve come to rely on.
In December, Andrew and I had booked 2 weeks in Sydney to spend time with family and friends over the holiday season. I thought quality time with our loved ones would be the break I needed to feel like myself again.
However, being around my closest friends ended up heightening my emotions ten-fold. These were the people that I loved more than anything else, who had always felt like home to me. I didn’t feel comfortable or connected. I felt strange and ‘other’. Like I was outside my body. The feeling scared me a lot.
Mental illness has plagued my family for generations and I’ve lived my life trying to outrun my emotions. I’m always fearing that my feelings and thoughts will catch up to me if I stand still for too long. Up until this point, I wouldn’t have ever used the words “depressed” to describe how I felt, for fear that I was becoming another victim of The Black Dog.
I didn’t know how to tell my friends and family that I was struggling. Because on the surface, what did I have to be down about?
It started out as a just ‘flat’ feeling, then it overtook me - physically and mentally. For weeks I felt so afraid of myself. It scared me that my mind could go to such dark places and I wondered if it would ever find its way back.
One of my closest friends recognised that I was struggling and she opened a conversation with me about it in the middle of a shopping mall. I burst out into inconsolable tears.
I told her that for the first time in my life, my brain was actually considering the end of life.
Vocalising this to her, letting them out - it was such an emotionally cathartic experience. I realised that it was not something I wanted for myself.
But the fact that my mind kept going there, continued to frighten me.
She reminded me who I was beyond this internal dialogue. She helped me to face the deep feelings while staying focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I’d told her about an idea for a DIY Pottery Business that Andrew and I had been thinking about. She encouraged me to lean into that and distract myself from the festering thoughts.
A couple of weeks later, Andrew and I went to Melbourne and visited an art exhibition by KAWS called “Companionship in the Age Of Loneliness”.
We lost track of time in that exhibition. We studied every piece of art and read every description. It was the inspiration we truly needed to keep going with Crockd.
The exhibition opened with:
“The impulse to make a mark on the world around us is a fundamental part of being human; it is bound to a sense of a person’s agency in the world, the definition of being real, consequential. To shape an environment - whether physical or virtual - through marking, or to interrupt an inscrutable society’s constructs, can be a meaningful fillip to any of us, but particularly for those feeling powerless, directionless, isolated or on the outer.”
This excerpt describes the ethos of Crockd perfectly. It also explains how I was able to pull myself out of the darkness.
I’m no expert on psychology, but I am acutely aware of my own mental state and that of those around me. While growing up, I spent long periods of time around mental rehabilitation centres, visiting family members. I’ve experienced years of family therapy, school counseling and now in my adulthood, I ‘opt in’ for personal preventative therapy.
In my opinion, our mental health starts to take a downturn when we start to listen to our own unhealthy thoughts about who we are.
There are two ways that we can redefine ourselves when toxic thoughts start to grow. One way is to have open dialogue with friends and family. Having conversations that centre around positive affirmations - how much they love you, why they admire you. Affirmations are SO important. And this is why we’ve made this the very first question in our Clay Breakers.
Secondly, we can break through a negative mindset by learning something new about ourselves. We think we know who we are - our idea of ourselves is built around things like what school we went to, how well we did at school, our tertiary education choices… etc etc.
But there’s so much more to us than we realise. Have you ever tried something for the very first time and realised you actually didn’t suck at it? There’s a name for that feeling - it’s called FREEDOM. Suddenly, you’re experiencing freedom from all of the constraints placed on your identity. Freedom to realise we could be anything, if we just trust our gut and give it a shot.
Crockd wants to give you the opportunity to relish in the experience of trying something new. To allow you to become a producer, and not just a consumer. We encourage people to explore and evolve their relationships with each other. It’s no stand in for actual therapy but it’s a step in the right direction.
This year has been a mess for so many of us. We’ve been forced to spend more time in our minds, and oftentimes, that isn’t a safe place to be. Did you know that nearly 800,000 people have been lost to suicide this year already? This Thursday 10 September, is R U OK? Day. A day we hold so close to our hearts here at Crockd. It’s a day that encourages us all to reach out and ask those around us - R U OK?
In honour of R U OK? Day, all throughout September, Crockd is proud to be donating $5 from every Crockd sale, with proceeds going directly to the official R U OK? Charity. Using our Clay Breakers, we want to help you to create potentially life-saving conversations. Our team will be answering the Clay Breakers too, sharing our experiences anonymously with you all over the coming days.
We truly believe we can all come together to combat the loneliness that plagues our world today. Together, we can save lives.