Has this ever happened to you? So many of us pretend that everything is ok when we know deep down that it isn’t. If you’re a regular subscriber/reader of my blog you might be asking yourself what the Hell does this have to do with Interior Design? Isn’t he an interior designer based in Chicago? Yes and Yes! However, I feel it’s important to get real sometimes. Are you afraid of what others think of you? We keep it masked, self medicate with booze, sleeping pills, antidepressants etc. One of the things that really bothers me today (yes, there are many) is our lack of empathy to those who have mental health issues.
I have never been diagnosed with depression, but I’m sure I have it. It has taken me years of speaking to close friends and those I trust to come to this conclusion. A few years ago I was plagued with horrible dark thoughts and wanted to end my life. I was at a holiday party talking to a designer friend. I felt we were having a very open conversation until she said to me very kindly, Ken you are depressed and need to see someone. Her words surprised me because I thought I was hiding it so beautifully. Oh how clever I thought I was, no one knows it but me! Her words shook me to the core because I thought if N__ could see this everyone else can too. So why was I ashamed to admit this to anyone let alone myself?
I’m lucky, I didn’t have to see a therapist or go on medication. I realized I had to help myself, change my life, and my attitude to save myself. I came to the conclusion that I had the power. This must sound bizarre but I’m the product of a grandfather that would tell me (imagine chubby Kenny with a crew cut) “just get up and pull yourself up by your bootstraps”. Well hell’s bells–he was an immigrant, so different from me, a kid who lost his dad at two years of age, well that’s another story for another time. How could my grandfather understand me? I already knew I was an artist and not cut out to be a farmer like him. I was nothing like him, but in this case he was right. It only took decades for this to sink in.
So let’s talk about what this blog is really about! My design practice has changed the last three years since my epiphany. Since I got into the business I have always helped my clients design wise. But this life crisis reaffirmed what I always knew deep inside. It became my mission to change my design process, to make sure I truly understood my client’s needs and issues before we ever put pen to paper. Not all of us are forthcoming right away. You don’t have to tell me EVERYTHING, but if you want to you can. I’m not a gossip, this is between us! We can unburden ourselves by opening up. It doesn’t have to be me, it can be your parents, significant other, best friend. Don’t be afraid of being vulnerable. I hope you don’t think less of me for opening up. Do you? Well if you do and want to stop reading this I get it. If you want to know more please read on.
I have several friends and clients who are going through horrible things right now. My new follower S__ recently shared her challenges with depression now that she’s a widow, she’s the reason I’m writing this. I know that I cannot change their lives, that’s in their hands sadly. Most therapists will tell you the same thing. However, I know my listening helps them. I believe we can move these dark clouds away by talking and showing compassion to each other. So what should you do if you’re feeling lost?
1. Change your life slowly. You cannot expect to remove negative thoughts or behaviors over night.
2. Forgive others who have hurt you, no matter what. Holding onto bitter feelings will make you sick eventually. Most importantly FORGIVE YOURSELF, no matter what you’ve done. This is crucial.
3. Change your surroundings if you can, sell your place, move or redecorate. Paint colors really effect our mood. A new color palette is the best way to change your life quickly for very little money.
4. Establish a schedule, keep yourself busy, join a gym or exercise/walk daily, get a dog/cat (who depends on you), help kids in crisis, tutor, volunteer at your church or temple.
5. Please do not deny yourself professional help or medication. This is nothing to be ashamed of. I do not understand why depression has such a stigma after all these years. It’s 2017 for goodness sake!
6. Be KIND to yourself, be good to you. Do one thing daily that makes your heart sing, it doesn’t have to be a big deal, but remember you deserve joy in your life.
7. Gratitude! I often think of things I am grateful for each day, the little things we take for granted are beautiful. Don’t lose sight of this. Keeping a journal or specifically a gratitude journal can help, there is so much to be grateful for. You are alive and a beautiful soul, don’t forget it!
Many of my clients are going through life changes: divorce, widowed, empty nesters, depression, their kids have issues, single/looking for a mate. Some of these issues are more challenging than others. It is my goal to help you through it all while making your environment better. Part of the healing process involves changing the environment you inhabit. I have many solutions to make your life better, you will be happier when you go to bed and it will be easier to get up in the morning. And please do me a favor, if you’re down and need help call me, I’ll listen. I firmly believe we’re all here to help each other, thank you for listening to me N__, you saved my life.