Blog, Mental Health, Self Discovery

Caring Enough

This is a weird thing to try and write about. I think I’ve deleted this sentence about 8 times, trying to put into words this odd feeling that’s niggling at me recently. It’s getting to that time in my ‘time off real work’ where I’m starting to get itchy feet. I feel, if not that I want to go back into the world of work, then that I need to start doing more.

I definitely feel a lot better and not-as-depressed as I was this time last year, and I can feel the seeds of movement sprouting along with the changing season. I’ve been walking. I’ve spent a few months making jewellery. I’ve even been doing my piano practice (shocker). So, it’s time to do some more things that I enjoy. And that’s where I’m coming unstuck.

This is going to sound stupid. But I’m having trouble finding things I actually like doing enough to start doing them.

That sounds so twattish.

It’s so hard to explain. What hobbies do I have? Well, nothing, really. I potter in the garden, because it’s something to do. I read a little, but not a lot. I mess about making things, but only in fits and starts. I play piano because I always have. That’s it.

What defines me? What do I care about?

And that’s the million dollar question. What do I care about? And more to the point, how do I find myself caring enough to actually do something?

I wrote so much more to this post, but it just sounded wrong – it wasn’t what I wanted to say. It ended up more like a huge pity-party. I am genuinely curious as to why I am feeling this way – where did all my convictions go?

Possibly it’s because I feel jaded about the state of the world now and my head is telling me nothing matters anyway. Maybe I’ve read too many apocalyptic books recently. Maybe I can never live up to social media. Maybe I’m just really, really boring. Maybe I’m still lost.

And so I ask a little favour, if you’re so inclined. Please leave a comment with your hobbies, interests, something you’re passionate about. I’d love to know why, what drives you, what you get from it. Maybe you’re vegan, for the planet, for the animals. Maybe you exercise to feel the endorphin rush. Maybe you lose yourself in art. Maybe you are part of a community group, a political party, a dance troupe, a yarn-bombing group. What classes do you enjoy, what would you say are your interests, how do you explore these?

I’ll try and get some more thoughts on this sometime in the future – for now I think I need a healthy dose of inspiration 🙂



16 thoughts on “Caring Enough

  1. Wow, I’m anxious to see what other folks leave in the comment section. I’m in a similar state to yours. My children are in their early 30s. They were my passion and focus for so many years and I’ve struggled with defining myself since they flew the nest. I’ve worked outside of the home but finally retired due to some health issues. I’ve picked up hobbies that I was passionate about for a while until the passion faded. I’m currently in a “no man’s land” where I find little that sparks my interest. Oddly enough, my youngest ( who is about your age) and I had a conversation about this just yesterday. He too finds himself in “no man’s land” right now. Both of us deal with depression but this somehow feels more like….boredom?….than depression. It will be helpful to hear what others have to say.

    1. I was forced to rethink my life when the onset of perimenopause brought me my 4th burnout of my life. I gave up working 5 years ago as I realised I needed to do less so that I could enjoy life. Once HRT kicked in and stabilised my symptoms enough for me to function I started looking for more things to do.

      I am content with my life, pottering about the house, and garden and making sure we have lovely tasty food every night. I do not feel any need for goals and aspirations, however I do need time for me and tend to be a bit of a butterfly with hobbies doing things when the mood takes me.

      I love making things & do a lot of crochet. I read in the garden a lot when the weather is fine (& that includes sitting out in my down jacket if necessary). I go to a monthly book club.

      I have joined a choir – it took me quite a while to find one that felt right for me, but I’m so glad I joined (It was quite scary the first time as it as 30+yrs since I had last sung in a choir, but not scary at all once I was there).

      I have joined NWR (National Women’s Register) to get to know more people in my local area. It’s like a less formal version of WI – we meet in people’s houses for monthly coffee mornings & evening meetings. The evening meetings usually have a theme or subject to focus on, and the coffee mornings are just for chatting.

      I have done lots of free online university courses with Future Learn. They are usually about 3hrs a week for 3 weeks & cover a really diverse range of subjects. I also did a 6 week free course in the park to increase my cycling confidence, which was great fun.

      I was recently talking to someone who was trying to reduce his time on social media by using Duolingo to learn Italian. I thought it sounded like a good idea, so used it to revise the French I learned at school. It was addictive, so I then revised German. I am now learning danish. It’s a really difficult language, but fascinating to see the connections with english & German, and I’m loving it.

      Wow – that’s ended up quite long. Hope it gives you food for thought.

      1. Lots of food for thought, thank you so much 🙂
        I’ve been doing a Futurelearn course with GROW Observatory for the last few weeks which is really good – will definitely look for more afterwards. I’ve used Duolingo before, you’ve inspired me to pick it up again, especially as a way to cut down on social media, that’s a great idea!

        I had a big burnout a few years ago, since then tried to push and carry on, which led to the second one last year. Since then I’ve stopped, and given up work too – I think coming to terms with the fact that this is an OK thing to do is my problem at the moment, just letting it be, being ‘here’ instead of worrying where I think I ‘should be’…

    2. Thank you for commenting – Yes, I agree, the feeling is more like a boredom than ‘depression’ – exactly…
      I find I tend to pick things up for a while, then yes, the feeling fades. Just recently there is nothing I seem to want to pick up. Defining self is something I need to work on, but the ‘how’ is the problem… keeping on trying!

      1. My son came over a couple of days ago and told me that he had just ordered some tools for boat building….but is stuck on choosing a plan, lol! I’m thinking he has it narrowed down to two plans at this point. He’ll rope me in on making the sails which will help to get me off of my duff. I cleaned out my closet a few days ago and that helped to motivate me to do some mending which then motivated me to finish two afghans that I’d left hanging for a few months. We recently started a family music night so I’ve found myself singing a lot more lately. And I stumbled over a lovely calligraphy set on clearance while looking for something my husband needed to finish up the plane he’s building. I’m going to play with that for a bit. Small steps. ?

  2. I think it is part of the process of coming out of the other side of being ill. I seem to remember being preoccupied with just fighting away that malevolent tide for about a year, and as it gradually started to behave itself, there was this nagging sense of ‘what the f@@@ am I supposed to do now I’m feeling better?’

    I think the whole question probably needs reframing away from doing… just be, and see where life floats you off to – sorry if this sounds a load of trite bollocks, but that mental ‘letting go’ process of stopping striving to do stuff did seem to help me.

    Anyway, hobbies – walking, running & meditating for me, so I’m going to be boring and suggest those!

    I like walking, then after I had been walking for a while, I started running again (stopped in my 20’s). I especially enjoy combining the 2 and running over hills. I love going to fell races, finishing near the back, but enjoying the companionship, chatter and cakes.

    So as you seem to be into your walking, maybe expand your focus a little? Every footpath in a 5 mile radius of home? Every hill in the Lake District?!

    Maybe take the meditating a bit further? Try a retreat?

    And your writing is absolutely great – really perceptive on mental health stuff, so write more!

    But mainly just be and see where you end up.

    1. Thank you Robin 🙂

      It’s the comparison that’s getting me – the ‘then’ and the ‘now’. And I know I’m doing it, it just takes over sometimes…
      Walking is great, outside helps a lot. Plan is to walk a lot more!

  3. Hi, I’ve experienced similar feelings to those mentioned above. I’m nearing 60 with grown children. Ten years ago I suffered a massive break down and had to stop work (PTSD). My job and my role as a mother were major components in what I thought was my identity. There was a long time where I could do little more than rend the house and do lots of reflection. After a while I started walking, and then I joined a yoga group where the teacher was a swami. Swami G taught me how to let go and accept myself as I am without worrying about what others might think, “should” or failure. Yoga teaches flexibility, to sit with discomfort and accepting things as they are (amongst other things).
    I went back to uni to do a 2nd post graduate degree and to challenge myself to focus on intrinsic values and do something without caring about the results. It was a tough 2 years but I learned so much, particularly by getting out of my comfort zone. My results led to a Vice Chancellor’s award. I thought about doing a Masters Degree but decided it would demand too much time and I couldn’t see myself using it to return to work. Instead, I decided to challenge my belief that I was incapable of learning a language. Ever since visiting Italy in my 40’s for my brother’s wedding, Italy has captured my heart. I enrolled in classes at my local University of the 3rd Age and have been learning ever since. I now study 3 classes a week, one with a private tutor. My knowledge and interest in Italy have become a real passion that has also infected my husband. Two years ago, we spent 5 weeks traveling around small cities and villages in Italy, and visited Sicily. I was able to communicate and connect with locals (the best part of the experience) and we slept on the sofa-beds of local people through Airbnb. We watch Italian films, read biographies about Italy and have calendars with daily pictures of Italy.
    I am also following an interest in minimalism. I find it challenging to declutter my thoughts, my use of technology and my possessions. Listening to The Minimalists, I have learned that minimalism can lead to having space to cut through to what’s important to be your best you. They have written an essay on passion and how you don’t have to have a crazy passion like the one I described above. The way through is to do the things that are important in your life and work with passion. I believe it is really important, especially when you are older and retired, to feel you are contributing and to have purpose in your life (they also speak about this). Minimalism has helped me feel I can make a difference to many of the things troubling me about the world. Spreading the word about the benefits of this way of living also contributes to positive changes. I believe you are also contributing by contributing your situation so honestly through this blog. Give yourself the time and space to feel, do what you do with intention and mindfully, reflect and listen to the yearnings of your heart (meditate?), and when you feel ready, step out of your comfort zone because that is where the growth and magic happens.

    1. Thank you so much Rena.
      Your post made me think a lot, my whole identity was entwined with my job role for years, I kept trying to go back to similar roles because it’s ‘who I was’… When that’s taken away it’s hard to re-define self outside of that.
      I went back to uni as well, last year, to do a Master’s degree which was really hard but I loved it, so maybe, when the time is right, I’ll continue on – it’s definitely out of my comfort zone and I’m not sure I’m ready yet, but I think that’s the direction I want to gently steer myself. What you said about Yoga really interested me. Teachings I would like to explore further I think. Thank you 🙂

  4. I am in my 40s, my kids are school age. I work full time as a teacher. I have a lot going on but hobbies are important to me. Well at least having things to do that I enjoy that are my own things. So the things I do include……
    In good weather months….. biking, hiking, walking and exploring, attending community events and gardening.
    I also am learning to play guitar so I play that at home for myself. This has led to an interest in finding local live music events. I enjoy reading and journaling too but I really like going out and finding new places to explore in my area. (Don’t know if that is really a hobby but it’s how I spend time on my own).
    In the winter it is tough on me. It Lasts 6 months here in New York.
    I agree with the others to let the hobbies find you.
    My husband is always working and has very different hobby/interests than I do so I do a lot on my own. At this point I’ve decided to do the things I enjoy rather than wait on others to join me.
    Wishing you good health as you find your way.

    1. Thank you Joanna 🙂
      Your comment inspired me to list all the things I have an interest in (I’ll post it soon) so I can begin to look at things I could do that relate somehow. I find winter tough too, coming out the other side here in March it feels like it’s been winter forever… looking forward to some sunnier days 🙂

      You’re right about letting hobbies find you, I think. Not forcing it, but following interests and seeing what else develops…

  5. Brilliant post with thoughtful comments.

    I like walking, drumming, writing, gardening, meditating and reading. I’m learning Qi Gong, to supplement my exercise. I’m happy doing more of the same few activities I’ve enjoyed most of my life; writing, playing an instrument, reading and being in nature! Though it’s fun to try new things sometimes – archery and belly dancing are past highlights. Streamlining home/work/storage systems and tasks gives over more time for them, though you’ve already done that!

    I enjoy my hobbies with family/friends as much as when I do them alone. Change of environment and company can really help. Could you explore existing hobbies in different ways? Play piano or read aloud to others, do local walks to identify edible flora or write in a different cafe or library? To avoid aggravating your health, keep it to 30-45 minute sessions. If it’s a volunteer situation or a small group forms locally, there’s no issue on the occasions that health prevents your attendance. Have fun with it!

    1. Thank you Lou 🙂

      You’re spot on with the change of environment/company – I’ve hidden myself away for a year or so, so I’m finding the whole joining groups thing a bit of a barrier at the moment, but even just getting out to a coffee shop or up a hill is good – I get to see people and feel part of society! But switching things up feels like a good option to explore – thank you 🙂

  6. I recognise so much of what you write. I have periods in which I feel terrible, in my head and nothing helps. Even though I am a positive person and pretty laid back most of the time. But sometimes it just grabs me. Less often now than before. The stupid thing is that I stop doing the things that make me feel good, which makes it even worse.

    I do not really have hobbies, but there are many things I love. I have a great husband and actually pretty lovely children. Four. I love to go out for walks. Check the stars in the night. Work in the garden. Feed the birds. Journal. Have a coffee with my crazy neighbour 🙂 Read. Make great food. Write letters to my friends. Eat the food. Drink coffee. Drink wine. Or, enjoy coffee and wine, not gulp it on autopilot. And making some extra time for myself and paint my nails, put on a hair mask, wear heels and nice clothes. Because minimalism made me a bit nihilistic and everything I did seemed pointless at a moment and that was not good. It is okay to indulge every now and then and enjoy it, which is something I had to teach myself again after eleven years of being a mother of very small children.

    So actually, my life is just my hobby and I guess not all of us need to be passionate about one or two things. It is great to just enjoy life as much as you can by simply enjoying what you do and go with the flow. And minimalism makes sure I do not waste time on frustrating little things or big things that do not matter… I really liked Fiona Ferris her books, it felt a bit shallow to read but she writes about how to make your everyday life a little brighter, simply by giving it a little more attention. She is an introvert and writes that she has her ‘darker’ periods in her life too so she feels to me like a friend who tells me things I know but tend to forget 🙂

    1. Thank you Gerlinde – I recognise that feeling, that Minimalism can make everything seem pointless. It makes you question everything. Finding that sense of peace with life, realising we are all different and it’s not a rule that we have to have ‘one passion’ – I’m getting more used to that now, but it is a slow road!

      I’ll definitely look out for Fiona Ferris, thank you 🙂

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