Somewhere in the late noughties I was a mess. I’d finished University severely disconnected from life after a bout of what I subsequently realised was reasonably bad Pure OCD. I didn’t do as well as I had wanted in my exams, I didn’t know how life was going to go and I was depressed. I lived in a world of self hatred, pasting a smile on it and self medicating with endless nights of debauchery, drinking until I couldn’t hear my brain anymore.
I had no confidence and I didn’t know what was wrong with me or with my mind, my mortal enemy. I was so uncomfortable in my life even though it was full of such joys, it was as if I was standing in a dress bought for someone else at a formal occasion and nothing felt right.
Eventually my sense and soul joined forces in a surge of resilience against the dark corners and I realised I didn’t want to drag myself along anymore. I made a tentative decision to try and feel and notice the uncomfortable thoughts and dark days rather than be afraid of them. I also began to try to observe the small things that made me feel good for a short while or fascinated me and tried to do more of them.
Exercise was on the agenda, changing my diet, cutting back the alcohol, nature, music – all the things they talk about. But it was nurturing my curiosities, however brief, that really drew me back to where I wanted to be. I read, I researched, I joined Twitter and found an online community with such stories, I meandered around museums, I had long conversations with interesting people. I wandered everywhere and actively wondered about everything that piqued my interest.
Through small steps and smaller victories, I eventually began to find myself again.
“Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.” Penelope Ward
This is a very short story of a black period that felt and was much longer for me, but its realisation has been a saving grace in more recent periods of doubt and mental upheaval. The part of my brain that allowed me to obsess over dark, dark thoughts and ridiculous notions that would seem mad to those who have never experienced their debilitating cycle was also the part that could catch a pique of pleasurable fascination and pursue it. And those little interests began to pierce colourful holes in the monochrome feeling I was living.
“The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn't take a massive effort. Just turn your head an inch. Pause for an instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit. Is there something there for you? A piece of information?” Liz Gilbert
This is why the Curious in the title of my blog. It is my feeling that our curiosities can save us, earth us, elevate us and are such a very integral part of what makes us human. Children are naturally curious and delighted with everything they discover and we should not discourage this, but mimic them. Whoever said "Curiosity Killed the Cat" is a fool. In good times and bad it is one of the greatest joys to follow your intrigues, whatever they may be.
Nurturing our curiosity should be a daily practice, even in the darkest of times.