Mental Health My Musings Self Care


My mind has always played tricks on me.

I’m still learning the hard way that nothing and no one has the power to truly make me happy but my own self. This may seem evident to some but for me, it can be painfully hard to apply on a daily basis.

I have suffered from chronic depression since I was about sixteen. I’ve been fortunate to have an amazing childhood, loving, caring family and friends, beautiful homes across the world, I have been blessed. So how could I be depressed some may ask? 

Depression isn’t just ‘feeling sad’, it’s feeling empty yet consumed with negative thoughts, afraid even when there is no real danger, entirely alone while being surrounded. Feeling like you’re suffocating, except you’re choking yourself and you can’t seem to stop. Like there is no way out. Constantly judging yourself, feeling like you’re a total failure and your existence is meaningless regardless of all the accomplishments, love and support you may have.

No, you don’t just sit and cry for a bit, at times you actually can’t move, can’t speak, can’t eat or sleep. You’re exhausted, anxious and overwhelmed. You try different ways to cope by escaping altogether, always finding that in doing so, you lose more of yourself, allowing and participating in your own destruction.

When you sink deeper and harder, you may become ashamed of yourself, of these uncontrollable feelings. The harm you feel you are putting your body through, the absolute chaos manifesting in your own head. You are aware that your state of feeling ultimately being, cannot accurately be seen or understood, only felt within. So you live in fear as you continue to think others may perceive this illness as an exaggeration, a weakness, a cry for attention, a complete lack of self control. How dare you feel depressed when there is so much more suffering in the world you haven’t experienced? You feel like a coward, like you’ve let your loved ones down. And so it continues, the self sabotage accompanied with constant, inescapable guilt.

Matt Haig wrote in his brilliant book Reasons To Stay Alive, “You are no less or more of a man or a woman or a human for having depression than you would be for having cancer or cardiovascular disease or a car accident. So what should we do? Talk. Listen. Encourage talking. Encourage listening. Keep adding to the conversation. Stay on the lookout for those wanting to join in the conversation. Keep reiterating, again and again, that depression is not something you ‘admit to’, it is not something you have to blush about, it is a human experience. A boy-girl-man-woman-young-old-black-white-gay-straight-rich-poor experience. It is not you. It is simply something that happens to you.”

I’ve recently stopped being afraid of admitting to the world but mostly to myself, that I suffer from depression. Speaking out this year as a survivor of abuse from a past relationship, also helped me face my long history with depression. To be honest I still feel uncomfortable about it all. My aim isn’t to announce this in order to earn invisible brownie points for ‘endurance’. I was always reluctant to share because I thought this would be what people choose to remember me by. I don’t want depression to define me but I cannot deny it exists within me. The same goes with abuse, both happened to me.

I’m a human being dealing with stuff just like any other human does. However, I believe it’s important to remind myself that my feelings are indeed valid because they are part of my existence, my reality. Living in denial or in secret turmoil about my inner self battles, my fears and struggles, will only keep me further isolated. 

“Where talk exists, so does hope.” (Matt Haig) 

You may feel like I used to and think talking to others would only bother them. Or worse, that you should be able to deal with everything on your own, after all isn’t that what a strong person would do? Well please stop that now! There is power in showing your vulnerability and there are many people waiting to listen, help, support, love and care. There is immeasurable strength in having the courage to be seen and heard just as you are

I therefore encourage you to reach out, share your voice and experience with others. I turned to two extraordinary friends, whose support and guidance have changed my life. Make the ask.

Remember to be gentle, patient and kind with yourself. Read, write, learn about mental health if it helps. I trust you will be positively surprised by the response because believe me, you are not alone. Mental health has never been so important and it is never too late to take care of yours.

Sending you all love and light, M.

My Musings Self Care

Dare to Self Care

Beautiful people, I hope all is peachy your side and you’re keeping up with the never ending ‘I’m doing OK but am I really?’, emotional roller coaster this year has already put us through. 

2021 definitely started with a social media flood of self-care regimens, rituals to follow, tips and tricks to stay aligned and methods to develop a strong mindset. Truth is, no one really has the answers, we’re all learning along the way, what might work for one doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you but in the spirit of sharing, I will reveal my own findings.

During these uncertain times, I have found it important to first and foremost remember that what I’m going through is indeed, valid. It might sound simple but boy does it make a difference when you actually say it out loud, go ahead, say it, you’ll know what I mean. You see, I’m definitely guilty of comparing myself with others, especially professionally. As much as I trust and believe in my talents I do have masochist tendencies of convincing myself I’m nowhere close to where ‘I should’ be.

Bottom line, nobody has the special abilities you do, what you’re made up of, however weird it may seem to others or completely normal to some, you’ve guessed it, is only and entirely yours. So I’m making it a priority to embrace my unique inner personal cocktail, this one is especially made of me for me so why would I want a margarita instead?

Over-thinking has been an ongoing struggle since I was a teen. I cannot make a simple decision without thinking about all the pros and cons, the hows and the whys. You don’t want to go shopping with me, I’ll make you blurt out ‘just take the damn freaking pair of socks already, anything to stop this pain’. Constantly being in my head is incredibly tiring (and annoying for some) but I’ve realized the more I fight it the worse it affects me. Beating myself down doesn’t help make it go away so I’m learning to accept it’s just the way I’m wired and believe there’s beauty in that (denial perhaps you say, whatever, I’ll work on that next year). 

Marie Humbert by Amoako Boafo, 2021.

Self care is embracing who you are, flaws and all but it’s also cutting the crap and being honest with what isn’t working, however hard it is to admit. It’s important to understand you can’t care for something if you haven’t identified what is in need of care in the first place (duh). As I’ve said it in the past, I think self care is an ongoing, life long endeavor and journey, not a destination. The importance is in staying the course and actively dealing with whatever state you find yourself in or what comes your way. Easier said than done you might say but acknowledging when or what makes you feel uncomfortable is in itself transformational.

This active transformation has brought a few pivotal changes for me, some were pleasant surprises and some were frankly long overdue. What worked for me was finding a new routine that was (drum roll) achievable. My secret wish has always been to be an overachiever but sadly, I’ve made peace with the fact that the only things I manage to overachieve are eating cheese and drinking wine. My to-do lists were always unrealistic and I constantly felt bad when I ended up not sticking to them, even though I set myself up for failure from the beginning. During the pandemic, time slowed down and I stopped feeling like I was constantly running after something. This helped me stay relatively still with my thoughts and pay close attention when my anxiety kicked in. Habits that were more toxic than I thought (or allowed myself to) were definitely brought to light. 

The first thing I did is filter my contacts, my social media accounts, unfollowed people or businesses that brought about negative thoughts, unrealistic goals and overall shitty moral values. Whoever stayed silent or chose not to address the BLM protests were also unfollowed. I do want to stress that it is not with any anger or resentment that I chose to distance myself from anyone in particular. Our ethics are just not in sync and frankly I’ve gotten to the point where I’m too tired to surround myself with people who just ‘don’t get it’ or worse, are not interested to. Go with peace, I wish you well, hasta la vista from me. 

I then did something I never thought I would, well at least just not yet, I quit drinking! Ok that last sentence was a little misleading. People who know me, know my love affair with wine is deep, my longest, most loyal relationship yet, the only ‘marriage’ I truly believe in. Although I’ve never had serious problems with alcohol (insert your own definition of ‘serious’), the first weeks of 2020 lock downs had me drinking wine everyday, yes, every single day. It doesn’t matter whether it was just a glass, the real problem was doing this daily and a frequent habit suddenly turning into the early onsets of an addiction.

Presently, I only drink during the weekends (sometimes allowing myself a cheeky one) and funny enough I drink much less now as I get quite tipsy pretty fast (who would’ve thought). The results are quite pleasant, I have more control over my emotions, I feel less depressed and irritable. I’ve stopped crying over every little negative thing (like forgetting to buy wine), I’ve managed to put on my big girl shoes and handle it. The cherry on top of the cake is it provides me with something to look forward to at the end of the week, which frankly is comforting in a time when your days are in exact repetition.

I have prioritized skin and hair care. The money spent on going out to one too many unnecessary parties or treating myself to a fabulous dress (OK that still feels absolutely amazing) have been replaced with researching and investing in yummy, all-natural, clean products for my skin and hair. Some are a little expensive, no doubt, especially if you go organic but if you have a little extra cash to spend, nothing beats putting it towards your actual well being. It may sound corny but when you can actually see and feel the results, an awakening begins.

For us freelancers, it’s been hard to make any money at all this past year but I decided if anything, I would invest in self care. Healthy skin care products push you into ‘well being rituals’, even if it’s making yourself beautiful for the party you’re going to have by yourself, in your own bed. Before I knew it, I indulged in as many ‘me times’ I could, a bath, a mask or treating my hair, yes, I’ve grown (tear). I also decided to go completely natural with my hair, something I’ve wanted to do for a while but again, never made the time to. I used to perm my hair twice a year so I won’t have to fuss about it but now that I spend actual time with my hair, deep conditioning, oiling, braiding, wrapping, a new kind of appreciation has grown and I find myself falling more in love with the real me.

If you are a sensitive over-thinker like myself, you recognize the power of books. Reading is incomparable, mind blowing, enriching and deeply satisfying. It is the only way for me to stop thinking and allow myself to be transported. I made the decision to read a minimum of two books per month which is a very realistic target and has proven to be extremely effective. Since I’ve made a rule not to use my phone for at least an hour after waking up (it works wonders), I’ve allocated that time for my reading instead. I’ve read nine books since January, setting the bar to an achievable amount made me surpass it, you might be reading this thinking it’s a tad lame but little Marie loves it (do you bubu).

So there you go pretty ones, no magic secrets or tricks, just plain old traditional pats on the back to remind yourself you’re awesome. Setting the alarm for 8.30am because you know 6am to meditate is just not going to happen. Blocking out all that toxic social media energy (especially in the mornings) because ain’t nobody got time for that. Scheduling the ‘All by Myself’ wine o’clock cries for the weekends because sleeping without any guilt creeping in tastes as good as Gorgonzola. Taking five whole minutes to apply that little jewel of a cream on your face because if you can’t feel yourself, who will? And last but not least, beating that fear and deciding your feelings are valid enough to write an entire post about them (without comparing your writing to Toni Morrison’s, that’s just unnecessary and bat shit crazy, get a grip of yourself woman).

I bid you farewell darlings and remember to just unapologetically do YOU.

Love and light,