Passions are so important, they are what make us the wonderful unique individuals that we are, they give us a sense of purpose, a sense of hope and reasons to stand up for ourselves and our beliefs. Sometimes the black cloud of depression can make lose track of the things we feel most passionate about and we are left feeling lost. But with a few simple steps and even when the days are at their darkest we are still able to unlock some of that inner fire burning inside us.
So what are you passionate about?
The answer to that question is as individual as you are and as human beings we are all passionate about something, often about lots and lots of different things. But I bet if I asked a room full of depression sufferers to list 10 things they are passionate about most would struggle to come up with enough answers.
But the truth is everyone has passions. Even you. And unlocking our inner passion is what helps us build up or create our own identities, it can make us feel like we have the power to achieve our goals and gives us the strength to go after them!
How do you know when you are passionate about something?
There is a tingly feeling you get deep down when something becomes more important than just another hobby to consider trying or passing idea. We particularly notice this feeling, which can be similar to that of anxiety, when a topic of conversation changes to something more controversial, your heart rate may rise, your speech may start to quicken and become louder, you seem to think faster and with greater clarity and are driven to make your point.
If you feel like you are struggling to find anything that you are passionate about at all, firstly look straight to the hard core debate subjects, sure they may be considered taboo at a dinner party but when you are alone in your own mind and think about them for a while I am sure you will find there are some surprisingly passionate opinions hidden below the surface.
Some topics to consider:
- Religion, yes or no?
- Politics, who gets your vote?
- Is rap music a good or bad influence?
- Should women serve on the front line in a war?
- What defines equality among gender, religion and race?
Now think about your answers to these questions for a while and you will find yourself feeling quite strongly about the reasons for your opinions, no doubt they will be based on environmental upbringing, influences from the media and friendships, your own race and gender and of course personal experience.
Now imagine that someone has come along and written a blog post and their views are the polar opposite of your own.
Did you feel your heart rate quicken?
Did your mind fill with 100 thoughts and questions you would like to ask or tell this person?
Congratulations, you have found your inner passion.
Argumentative or just passionate?
If we disagree on a subject I have often been known to tell my husband that I am not “yelling” at him and the truth of the matter is that I’m not actually trying to start a fight or ‘yell’, I’m just very passionate about the subject and I want him to hear everything I have to say on the matter, right now and before he can even start to offer his (assumedly incorrect) opinion!
The line between being passionate and being argumentative is a bit like the line between being assertive and aggressive. It can be quite fine. I am lucky enough to live in a country where freedom of speech is a basic human right and I have the right to passionately discuss my beliefs. But within this framework, I must also respect that other people have the same right and accept that their passionate opinions may well differ from my own.
Now as much as the odd argument can be soul cleansing, passions do not have to be fuelled only by win or lose debates. Passions can actually be very productive; some people are even lucky enough to find passion within their paid work.
Now think about what you love to do, what are you good at? Can you sing or play an instrument? Do you love to take photographs, write, scrapbook or draw? What brings you happiness and hope? Do you enjoy being of service to others?
If that seems too hard then think about the things and the people that are important to you. Do you feel pride in your home or garden? How do you feel about the achievements of your children, personalities of your pets, family and Friends?
Your passions can be inspiring to other people, they can be personal goals to work towards, or simply doing something for yourself because you just love to do it!
Hobbies can be an example of productive passions and are very important in maintaining your mental well-being. Personally I love to write all kinds of things, poems, song lyrics, articles for the local paper, blogs, my memoir and I’m currently working on a novel.
As a person with bipolar disorder I find I can use writing to escape into a fantasy world away from the clutches of my depressions or use words to poetically describe my inner most thoughts and sorrows. When I am manic I am known to spend hours at the keyboard writing all sorts of short stories, songs and random lists. Needless to say, writing is one of my hobby passions; I don’t get paid for it, but it brings me great joy.
How can use our passions to help others?
We must put our own oxygen masks on before helping other people, but when we are strong enough to share our passions it’s amazing how much we can brighten up the world around us.
I have many friends and family members who suffer from bipolar or depression but use their hobby passions to enrich their own lives as well as the lives of others.
One is a brilliant singer/songwriter and she spends time sharing her passion for music, bringing happiness to herself and others through busking and performing.
My 74 year old bipolar Aunt in the UK performs and shares her original poetry as well as volunteering her time as a phone counsellor to troubled young people.
One friend is an incredible seamstress and makes and gifts beautiful quilts to those in need.
Another finds her passion in being of service to others and she volunteers for the SES and St John Ambulance as well as raising a family and working.
Many of my amazing internet friends share their passion for mental health and well-being by writing online articles and blogs or even tweeting to help end the stigma of mental illness, and it’s working!
So there are many kinds of passions, there are the things that drive us to speak up or act, such as fighting for justice, human or animal rights, political opinions and freedoms. There are the things that we love that give us that warm glow inside such as spending time with our families, friends and pets. There are the hobbies such as cooking, crafts, tinkering with cars, playing the Xbox, writing and music.
Write a list of your 10 most passionate passions with a little sentence describing the way each one makes you feel inside. That way on the harder days you can reflect on them and regain a sense of just how strong and uplifted they can make you.
Take notice of the things you love and believe in, hold onto those things that give you that tingly feeling inside and whatever they may be, once you find them, stand up for them and unlock that inner passion!