I haven’t drawn anything in a while, and I felt like fooling around with my drawing tablet. I made a cute, albeit cheesy positivity picture that might make some people feel better. :3
Hope everyone’s having a good week. 🙂
I don’t know if you can tell by a lot of my posts, but I’m drawn to nostalgia. As someone that thinks about the past a lot, I guess that’s to be expected. I try not to talk about it too much with other people; nostalgia’s typically something I relive on my own. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t an important part of my everyday life.
But ever since I was a teenager, people have always been sort of critical of that. People often develop the misunderstanding that I get so nostalgic because I believe the past to be some kind of golden age I’d like to return to. And while it’s true that I think about better times when I get nostalgic, I wish there was an easy way I can explain to people that I typically don’t want to go back in time. I want to keep growing as a person, I want to make new memories, and I want to experience new things.
However, I’m not perfect. I hit roadblocks. I get depressed. I get frustrated. I get lost. Nostalgia helps me deal with that. I never grew up moving every year, or had divorced parents, or anything like that. But I did — do — seem to have a recurring pattern of getting attached to people who will suddenly disappear from my life. And as someone that’s particularly sensitive to change, I don’t think I need to explain how difficult that can be to deal with.
Nostalgia acts as a kind of anchor for me. It helps me keep something familiar around when everything else in the world seems too different. You know the Perler bead art of old video games I sometimes post? Nostalgia. Making Perler bead art has been such an important aspect to helping me deal with depression this past year. It reminds me of a time when I had a better understanding about life, when I knew what made me happy and who I was, when what I had to deal with was clearly laid out in front of me and I didn’t have to second guess every action I took.
Some might argue that’s just a natural part of growing up; life is less black and white as an adult than it is as a kid. And yeah, I agree. But letting the unknown have such a strong hold on me doesn’t exactly sound like a natural part of being an adult. I mean at some point it is, and I imagine it’s something that will pop up throughout life. But constantly feeling it for years? No — that’s a sign something else is going on.
However, I won’t deny that too much nostalgia can be dangerous. That episode of Futurama where Fry starts collecting all the things from his time period and sits in his apartment all day in the dark watching reruns of old TV shows is a perfect example of how dangerous it can be. Deep down, I really do want to grow as a person, make new memories, and experience new things. But as anyone that deals with depression can tell you, there are times when it honestly feels like living in the past is the better option. You want to listen to music you used to listen to. You want to watch TV shows and movies you watched when you were younger. You want to play old video games. You want to revisit places you used to go to. It’s a natural feeling when you’re feeling depressed and nostalgic all at the same time.
And for a while, it’s comforting. It helps distract you enough so your mind doesn’t clock into overdrive and completely overwhelm you. But after a certain point it stops becoming a distraction and acts as more of an excuse to avoid moving on in life. For example, when I got depressed last year I started playing a lot of older RPGs I have strong memories attached to. I revisited a lot of them during the past year, and for a while it helped me stop thinking about my depression. But at some point I felt like I needed to keep revisiting old RPGs because without them, my mind would focus too much on negative things. I came to rely on them, and I know from previous experiences I didn’t want that. When I was ready, I put more focus into other areas of my life. And while things haven’t progressed much with me personally, I at least feel like I’m more capable at looking at my problems and not having an overwhelming desire to run away.
You’ve got to find a balance with nostalgia. Yeah, that’s a little cliche, but it’s true. Reliving old memories is great, but doing it too much can hold you back from moving forward more than you think. It’s especially dangerous for people who are prone to depression. Since both nostalgia and depression draw you back to a previous time, it’s very easy to get lost in there. It’s a necessary evil, though — at least to an extent. I think it’s very important to contemplate the past. It helps you see repeatable patterns of negative behavior you want to change. It helps you feel comfortable when the rest of the world makes you uneasy. But it’s so hard not to slip and tumble into a giant mess unless you know how to tread properly.
Sometimes, something happens to make you dread a certain time of year. Maybe a relative died in December, and now you can’t enjoy Christmas because you’re constantly reminded of her passing. You could have had a handful of crappy birthdays over the past few years, and now you don’t even want to celebrate it. The first sight of flowers blooming in the spring and the overall sensation of the warmer weather might make you recall a significantly bad breakup, and now you have to deal with the memories until the heat of summer arrives.
We’ve all got something like this that we’d like to forget about. I’ve had many over the years. Some I’ve gotten over, and some are going to take a little longer. And unfortunately, there’s probably going to be an event in the future that will make you dread another upcoming time.
Recovery is hard, we all know that. This is why it’s essential to take those steps to not letting our past conditioning make us hate present moments. Like it or not, Christmas, birthdays, and spring are going to come every year. The sooner you can let yourself enjoy them, the sooner you can move past those bad memories.
Keeping busy can help. The more you do, the better chance you’ll create new memories to overshadow the bad ones. Try adding new routines during these times. Make a point to see family or friends more regularly. Maybe have lunch or dinner with someone every week or two. Binge-watch a TV series you’ve been meaning to try out. Start a new book series. Take more walks. Take more drives. See if there are any local events you can attend. There’s a lot of ways to fill up time and distract yourself than you may think.
Of course, some memories just won’t leave you alone no matter how busy you keep yourself. If you still find your life plagued during these times, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to work on some self-help. Do some searches online for people that have had similar problems and see how they handled things (and if they’re still struggling, at least you can take comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone). There’s a chance these memories could be connected to another, bigger problem such as a depressive or anxiety disorder. Take some time to research possible reasons for why you feel the way you do. In the long run, they’ll help you understand your past more clearly and let you handle it more maturely.
Whatever you do, try not to let life pass by when these memories become too crippling. It’s really easy to dwell on things, but much more satisfying to let yourself enjoy these times when your past is trying to hold you back. Good luck! 🙂