August 23, 2011

Into the highlands and a path unseen . . .

Where have we been . . . 
in the hills in a tucked amongst the trees tiny log cabin 
venturing out and exploring the wild & beautiful Scottish highlands  
discovering the sights of Drumnadrochit & Abriachan forest, 
the faerietale places of Glen Affrick and of course Loch Ness.  
 Under incredible skies, both sun tinted and stormy. 
Such feasting for our eyes, so peaceful and unspoilt.
We have walked & talked, been rested & invigorated,
felt ourselves connecting back to nature & things that matter most.
Precious and much needed time out, the why is told below. 
I noticed a recurring item on Facebook recently that intrigued me, folk posting "Depression is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign that you have been trying to be strong for too long.  Put this on your status if you know someone who has or has had depression. . .” as I read more I was moved to see so many eloquent responses on this so misunderstood subject. 

I used to think my "blues" (depression) was a huge sign of weakness, didn’t want a soul to know fearing I would be judged.  I didn’t remember the stresses in my life that had pushed me into that dark place; I should have given myself a pat on the back but no, I though “weak” and fought hard against it, making things so very much worse.  

Many years later, I have slowly learnt to stop fighting, and months can pass when I completely forget my "blueness”.  It still creeps up on me from time to time, I land with a bump and realise I forgot to be on the lookout, hadn't noticed I was pushing myself to hard, the growing lethargy, disconnection, disinterest. 

 I am learning that this “blueness” makes me who I am. When I have a patch of "hyper" it is amazing!  I overflow with inspiration, ideas & energy, my eyes are wide open, I am in a good place, the world shines.

I have learnt that when the bump happens I have to step aside, be quiet, still & small & slowly make my shape again, hence my "time out" such as the post above.  I have learnt to recognise the things that keep me afloat; walking in nature, meditation, my “5 precious things a day”, writing and re-pacing myself.  Remembering & accepting again my own boundaries, ( though this is frustrating at times for a stubborn soul like me) I always emerge finally, blinking into the sunlight , knowing that each step makes me stronger, as I re-assess & start to love life all over again.

In all its shapes & forms, depression is very real (though I have met many who would disagree), it is scary and it can be debilitating. I have written this post for all those out there who recognise this place,  we need to remember we are not alone, not insane, just a little crazy at times.  Hold your head up high and say this is me.

A bit of a serious post this, but a subject very near to my heart.  I see and hear of so many friends & family who have found themselves at some time in this place.  It affects 1 in 4 of us at some time, yet it is still so misunderstood. I am fighting the cause ;-)

ps: Whilst we were away "5 blog" passed its 3rd birthday . . . already!  Wherever does time fly to!  Thank you to all, it has truly been a wonderful, moving, unexpected journey and sharing it with such lovely folks as yourselves makes it even more precious. x x x


  1. Depression. I have dealt with it since March 11, 1981. My eight year old son was killed. I know how debilitating is. Most people think you can just "shake it" off.

    Medication helps but still doesn't take it all away. I'm like you, I can go along and be really goof for awhile, then bam. It hits.

    So happy to see this post.

  2. Hello from Australia. What a beautiful place you are in the highlands of Scotland!

    Thanks for this post. I agree, so many people have flippant reactions to depression. Maybe the people who are the most fippant are the ones who are running hardest from it, who knows. I love how you describe here what it is to embrace it and listen to what it sometimes has to say.

  3. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Thank you Ruthie for being so open about this, this goes straight to my heart.
    At times I have this "fear of living" as I call this.
    "this too will pass" is for me a way to accept and go through it.

  5. Thank you for sharing your lovely photos and such personal thoughts on depression. It very much resonates with me, as a close family member deals with it. Helen's quote of "this too shall pass" has been a rock for me and for them. And it's always true.
    ~Siobhan x

  6. Hi Ruthie, lovely photos and what a gorgeous place!

    And yes, I've been there too, and I have come to the conclusion that we humans have forgotten that, like most things in the natural world, we require our 'fallow' times as well, times of withdrawing, reflection, quietness, and 'not-doing'. Time to 'refill the well'. But we fight and fight and fight against it, keep ourselves busy, always doing, always feeling we need to be 'happy happy'...and of course, we can only go on so long like that. When I start to feel that feeling, that sinking greyness, I know it's time to stop and relax, try to take some time to look at what is winding me up and is it worth it, let things go for a bit. After all, nothing in nature can bloom constantly. As my wise Apricot tree knows, it needs to strip back to its bones, have a good rest, a dormant time of doing nothing but dreaming of the spring, before it can put on its spectacular it is just starting to do now!

  7. I am a depression sufferer too and it can be a very bleak place can't it? I am lucky though in that I am surrounded by people who understand and know that you can't just snap out of it. Sometimes you just have to sink inside yourself, and let yourself come out of it.

    The Highlands are so beautiful aren't they? Being out in nature helps me a lot

  8. Excellent words here Ruthie and friends. I've often battled depression. It is a dark cloud to sink into and can become a frozen cloud with me inside. Mine seems to be accompanied with stuffed anger or feelings of total helplessness at times. I too find that going for walks in nature helps me to find perspective. Prayer. Offering and receiving forgiveness unlocks a lot of chains. Wishing you all warm breezes.

  9. Seems like that old proverb 'Birds of a feather, flock together' at work here. I too have suffered from Clinical Depression over the years, and I think you are very brave Ruthie. It takes courage to put it all 'out there'. My brother and my middle daughter are both sufferers too and it makes life very much a harder slog for both of them.
    It is still thought of as a sign of weakness, not illness and as such mostly folk feel that they have to struggle on, hiding and as you mentioned 'trying to be strong for too long.' It's not just depression either as the illness I have ME/Chronic Fatigue carry's the same stigma.
    Thank you for telling us of your experience, you are right....'we need to remember we are not alone, not insane, just a little crazy at times'.
    Crazy can also mean 'to be madly enthusiastic about things!'

    Hugs to you Ruthie my friend,
    Jane x

  10. What a wonderful wilderness you've been exploring...
    Mountains, wild skies and wild birds have always been the symbols I have sought for strength when I need it - birds of prey aren't torn away and broken by the savage winds in the heights, they rise with them, master them, ride the chill blasts and become stronger through the turbulance.

    It's very brave of you to talk about depression, its a hard, hard thing to talk about when you're in it, but only in accepting it can we begin to understand it and ourselves little by little. I've always fought against it, made it a battle, so angry with myself for those feelings that I felt I had no justification for - sort of me v's the black pit, but eventually I realised I was just doing battle with myself which is ultimately self destructive.
    It troubles me now less often than it once did.

    It's very interesting to read others' comments who describe their own sense of it so vividly.I'm sure theres a lot said that many of us would find familiar, and I'm sure that shared recognition in itself helps!

  11. Stoicism is so often seen as true strength, when sometimes it is simply hiding from that need to simply STOP. Depression indeed can sometimes be the body's clear message to us. You wrote about it so beautifully. I love your blog, the pictures. It can touch a place very deep inside of me, and I am grateful for it. I didn't find your entry "dark." Simply honest. And those who recognize and listen to depression, and address it appropriately, often do find ourselves moving toward a place that offers us inspiration and a lightness of spirit.

    I'm coming out of a two year period of fighting depression, anxiety, all sorts of things. I think sometimes, when we have moved through those periods, we arrive, as artists, at some of our best work, don't you? Not IN the depression, so much as on the other side of it.

    Anyway, thanks again.

  12. I did not know that about you Ruthie, your work is always so joyous and full of creative energy. You have obviously come to terms with your condition and I am sure you will have given hope and encouragement to others. I am sending you a big hug across the blogosphere. xxx

  13. Although, I have had little experience with depression, I have had much experience with it's brother, anxiety. For years and years I silently suffered thinking something was very wrong with me, and that no one else could possibly understand such a thing. Age and experience have helped mellow me out, although I still have an uncomfortable twinge now and again, I, like you, have learned to deal with it.
    Sometimes I think creative people are more susceptible to these things, but the beauty of it is, our creativity is often the remedy, as well.

  14. I only suffered from depression once, shortly after the birth of my daughter, but it took me 3 years to realize what it was! it was only as I started to return to 'normal' (whatever that is!) that I knew what I had been going through. It is not a good place to be, and that episode has certainly made me realize what it means. My thoughts and hugs go out to anyone suffering from this illness, love to you all xxx

  15. Thank you folks each & every one, for commenting on this post, your words of understanding are a balm to my heart. I must admit I did dither so before posting it.

    Wild Magnolia - thank you so for sharing your own experience. sending you much love over the seas x x

    Sue & Kat_rn - Thank you.

    Helen - the finding of kindred spirits is a must. So glad to hear of your Glastonbury experience! A magical & healing place that.

    Siobhan - It is good to have the words to give us strength in times of need. x

    Dear Christina, I love your words, your little apricot tree is very wise. Im just coming out of hibernation now i think x Why is it that we push ourselves, I so need to connect back to nature more & remember its lessons. x

    Jae Fae, the highlands are so beautiful, being in nature is a great soother & a healer too.

    Richard - i recognise too the feelings you describe, I am so fortunate that my Mr O is such a kind, gentle & patient man. Receiving the warm breezes & they are working wonders ;-)

    Thank you Jane, not really, just bloomin determined & Mr O says stubborn too. Sending you a huge hug too x x

    Carrie, "they rise with them, master them, ride the chill blasts and become stronger through the turbulance." thank you for these words to give a soul hope & strength. x x

    Jeanette - I do so agree, I emerge the other side feeling almost new & often feel my eyes are newly opened, then the creativity kicks in again & its a wonderfulfeeling.

    Valerie - its the up side of the down I guess ;-) thank you x

    Jeri - How often the two go hand in hand, I know "anxiety" the rogue that it is, its probably how I got to this in the first place. I do strongly believe that our creativity is the remedy. x

    Dear Poppy thank you.

    Wishing you all a day full of smiles as you have filled mine. ruthie x x

  16. Oh wow Ruthie, I found myself nodding throughout your very well written post. In fact it felt like I could have written the same, word for word. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself and know, that I fully understand xxx

  17. Hi there, I jumped over from Selma's blog, she has you featured as a fave of the week and I've got to say I LOVE the pics! I'm a huge Diane Gabaldon fan and your pics mirror what she describes in her outlander novels.

    As for the depression, it really hit home and I can surely relate as I had some issues with it myself.

    I like your style of writing and will be back. Hopefully to see more great pics! :)

  18. Beautifully written. I can definitely relate. I go through periods where I just need to go in the cave and be gentle with myself while I refill the well and regain my energy and spirits.

    Happy Blog Birthday to 5 precious things! It's very inspiring and great for my "inner artist." Thank you.

  19. Anonymous10/9/11 06:53

    Mmmm, a truly magical place to rest, relax and heal. I sense that we experience depression when we get ourselves wrapped up in emotions tied to things outside of ourselves. This is why a getaway such as you took here can be so healing, because it allows us to come back to our center, ourselves.

    I find my "blue" moments come less and less when I find my true center. Of course, I loose this from time to time, but as I practice being in my center I find that I loose it less and less. It sounds as if you have found those things that bring you joy and peace, and help to keep you from this blue place.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful part of yourself, and the wonderful place that you went to visit for healing!

  20. How true your words are Ruthie; they resonate so much in my mind. It can take years to discover that the stresses in life have been too harsh to you sometimes. We are brought up often to have a stiff upper lip, well especially in the UK. Thank goodness more people are talking about it now. Perhaps it will become more accepted and less of a stigma. We must just make the most of the good times. Your blog is a real inspiration thanks for sharing Best Wishes Tricia x

  21. 4roomsandthemoon.wordpress.com8/10/11 03:41

    Just wanted to say thank you for your very eloquentpost on depression! I never thought of it the way you present it - I am so much more than this thing called depression!

  22. First of all, BEAUTIFUL pictures. If I ever win the lottery, I'm heading over to Scotland and Ireland. I've always wanted to go, and my ancestors were from Tralee, Ireland.

    Second of all, great post! I, too, keep my blues to myself. I hear other people's blues so much that I just keep mine to myself. If I ever do let go of these emotions, I just blog about it only to delete it later. (And if not that, I tend to just work through it all via my dreams).


  23. This is the first post I have read on your blog. And what a touching one it is! And such beautiful responses from your dear friends.... On another note, I see you have a photograph at Drumnadrochit! Amazingly, I was there only a few months ago whilst on holiday from my home in Australia - my husband's crofting ancestors lived in Drumnadrochit for many generations before migrating to Australia in the 1870s. Whilst there (and as you know, there are only about 6 houses) we spoke to a man out walking his dog and he turned out to be the descendant of my hubby's ancestor's neighbour (confused?), they looked so alike they could have been father and son! Anyway ...nice to meet you. Looking forward to exploring your blog! :)


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