In October, I started reevaluating my life.
I had Graduated over a year ago and my life had changed so dramatically since. I was living in a house with my partner, playing ‘families’ together. I was 23 years old working girl, a far cry from the irresponsible party girl I used to be.
On a Friday night you would probably find me folding laundry, or cooking dinner instead of pre-drinking whilst getting glammed up getting ready for another night out.
On the weekends, I’d spend my time, planning for the week ahead, meetings, paperwork, dinner, household responsibilities.
If 16-19 year old me, met 23 year old me, then we’d probably not get along, in fact the younger me would have hated who I had become which is sad because I achieved a lot between those years…but sometimes it’s hard to remember that.
In October this year, I had what people call a ‘relapse’ the realisation of how severe my anxiety had gotten, hit me hard and as a result, I spun deeper into depression.
I had so many dark dark days, for no apparent reason. I’d spent the good part of a year, from Graduating, till my relapse, falling into the depths of depression as I became a person I didn’t recognise.
Yes, I had become more responsible, but I also lost a lot of my qualities that made me, me.
I became very unhappy.
I put so much pressure on myself to become this mature new woman that I believed I had to become now that I was no longer a student. I piled on responsibilities for myself, and sometimes I forgot what it meant to be 23 years old.
I was living a life that felt like I had no right to, and tried so hard to be worthy of it, and I just wish someone had told me to slow down.
If you’ve read one of these blog posts of mine, you’ll know how intense I am as a person, I always have been… but back then I was so carefree that even though I was intense, I had so many ways to release my pent up emotion and so it all balanced itself out. But nowadays I’m so afraid to be less than anything in anyones eyes, I’m afraid to make a wrong move, I feel like I have too much to loose.
In October, all these pressures and disappointment and battles with myself were really piling up, and I knew I had to do something about it, so I decided to commit to blogging Monday – Friday for 6 months.
When I was a teenager, writing was my main outlet, I loved to write fiction, and very hesitantly dabbled in writing about myself, but found it left me feeling too vulnerable so I stopped… but this time around, I decided to write my blogs about my own experiences as a way of being able to share the ups and downs I was feeling. I’d lost touch with so many people I no longer felt like I had anyone I could talk to… so I decided to talk to you instead…whoever the you might be, I just knew that I could say anything and you would read, make your own judgements, but I wouldn’t have to see your face as I admitted my inner most secrets that I was so afraid to share with anyone…
What I didn’t count on was my stability plummeting, I didn’t realise adding even more commitments, even if in the past it served as my release, to push me just a little further, till my inevitable relapse would happen.
I was good at writing my blogs Monday-Friday, my work commitments increased and I was getting home later and later, but it was okay because my 4 hour commute to and from work was a good time to begin, or edit my blogs. I enjoyed writing but my insecurities and lack of self belief became heightened by my constant fear of rejection and alienation for what I was writing, even if I stand by my words and tell you that this is my truth and it isn’t going to please everybody.
I became so unhappy in October-November that it became difficult to even keep in contact with my family, which until that point was my lifeline to normality. You’re probably thinking, what was making you so unhappy? Well, I guess it was growing up… I grew up overnight and became a completely unrecognisable person, though there were good points about growing up, the bad points were so depressing. I had no social life because work was my life. I was disconnected from my family who lived hours away from me, my relationship was suffering so badly because of my depression and the only family I had near me didn’t want me to be around and resented my presence. I was basically alone, in the capital city of England.
Everyday I would go into work with and plaster a smile on my face all the while I’d get home and cry myself to sleep. I’d put this fake voice to anyone I spoke to and they were so easily fooled…maybe…or maybe they just didn’t care enough to notice or acknowledge it.
Over time it grew easy to just push aside how I was feeling during the day, but then I would go to sleep and be plagued with nightmares of everything that bothered me. So I pushed myself harder at work, I wrote plans for more blogs I was going to write, I busied myself but my social and personal life suffered, and I just ignored it like I had done with all my emotions and stresses, I carried on going because, I just couldn’t stand the thought of being a fuck up again.
Then I cracked.
I had gotten into a good pattern of writing my articles and even keeping in contact with other bloggers. I loved the writers high… I loved feeling productive at work, but still I felt so so sad.
One day I wrote a blog post, just a random one I had been thinking about, like most of my blogs they’re just a flow of thoughts put together in one long personal essay for you. After I had written a blog I was particularly proud of, I got a message on Facebook (of all places) by someone I thought was my friend. Everyone who knows me knows how I don’t lack confidence in myself, so the fact that I’m openly sharing these thoughts and feelings with complete strangers is out of character for me… but I wanted to be brave… I wanted to try and find some kind of happiness in this difficult world.
So this message from my ‘friend’ confronted me about how I had written a blog about her… granted I used a conversation that we had as part of an example in my blog, but at no point did I provide any information that could lead anybody to know it was to do with her, not even our close friends would know, but she like me, is overly paranoid. I was hurt by her accusatory message, I was hurt at her lack of support, I was hurt by the way she assumed my blog was even about her, and instead of confronting me in person, she chose to send me a message on Facebook, as if our years of friendship meant nothing and I was just another cyber friend she was having an argument with. Whilst I understood her frustration, I was annoyed by the fact that her insecurity and self centred behaviour was once again affecting me. After everything we had been through together, she was using me as an emotional punching bag once again.
I realise when you’re trying to write freely it’s impossible to please everyone, and at some point you are going to upset someone with your truth/opinion. I don’t write to hurt people, even the men I talk about. As hard as it is to believe, I don’t have a malicious intention with any of my blogs, it really is just is a way for me to express myself in a way that’s healthy and safe…or so I thought. I also realised that sometimes I don’t care about upsetting people because I can’t control how people interpret what I write, and just like this is a free world for me to write, it’s a free world for people to think what I want. The good thing to come from this cyber argument is that it’s inspired me in another blog post I’ve written, and this time it is about her, but not for her… it’s a topic that I think a lot of people can relate to, hey… if I’m going to pay the time, I may as well do the crime.
Anyway after that fiasco, I got hesitant to write again, and even though I continued, the euphoria of writing slowly faded and I started to question my complete honesty policy in my blog posts. I guess I just lost what little confidence I had because I hated the thought that I was upsetting anyone by something that I was writing… I think that’s just life though… but even so… I didn’t want to negatively impact anyone by my words… with that blog particularly I wanted to be empowering.
It didn’t matter that I had slowed down with my writing because I was getting busier by the minute.
When eventually became too much, and I had had enough of life. I found a fuck it mentality and told work that I did not want to renew my contract when it ended in January. I also decided I was going to come home every night and sleep, fuck the blog. I was going to spend my days off watching movies, fuck my social life. I was going to get through each working day and finish work and getting home to my family who actually filled me with the only joy.
I stopped writing altogether.
It was only meant to be a one week break but one week became two that became three…and so on and so forth.
Pretty soon, I was too busy wallowing in self pity and loathing that I didn’t have time to focus on much else. You see, depression and anxiety is a funny thing, it’s easy to be consumed by it all, so much so that you forget to look after yourself, so there’s very little chance to find help. You shut yourself out from everyone so no one can really know how to help you.
I’ve been living with it for a very long time that I’ve learnt how to perfect my outside smile. I’ve learnt that people are afraid of mental illness and most will skirt around the issue. When someone asks you how they are, they aren’t asking for the truth, they’re asking for the socially acceptable answer, and most don’t even want to know how you really are.
I’ve always been so afraid to admit the truth about my illness, and I find it difficult to even open up to people about it, it’s something I’m still learning about and because I’m so focused on life after getting better, I forget to deal with the ‘now’.
The week I was due to finish my final working week before my 1 month time off, I was invited to interview for the manager position for my project. I did it, I wasn’t entirely sure why, but that’s the thing with depression, you can find yourself agreeing to do most things in hopes that you will find some kind of happiness, no matter how little, all the while my anxiety was looming around me, telling me how I wasn’t capable, I couldn’t do it, it was stupid that I thought I could.
I did the interview, and you know what? I got it.
So you’d think I’d find my happiness again. Because you know, I was finally on a career ladder, everything I wanted right? Because it was further from the irresponsible fuck up I used to be right? Wrong. I just couldn’t find any spark, and though I felt relieved I didn’t get a rejection, I cried at the thought that I was going to disappoint a lot more people now that I was in a position of ‘power’.
When I got home to my parents house, I took over two weeks trying to recover from the year of stress and sadness. My Mum and Dad kept me company, my sisters and I bonded and slowly I felt my heart start to heal. I found sleeping easier and I felt a genuine smile on my face. Being able to see friends and be in a happy home felt like it was all I needed to be able to find myself again.
In a conversation with my Mum she couldn’t help notice how much I had changed. “Remember how you used to love getting dressed up and going out with your friends?” she would say. “You used to have so much fun… you used to be so confident.”
It hurt to hear her say that, all I could ask was “are you proud of me?” and that’s when it hit me… all this pressure I was putting on myself was hugely to do with the fact that I was so desperate for my parents approval and I just wanted them to be so proud of me. I was so desperate I made myself so miserable trying to be better and better, competing with only myself.
Being at home made me realise what I needed to do. Being at home made me realise what would make me happy.
And here we are now. Giving myself a time out to reflect and evaluate my life gave me the opportunity to regain a love for writing, and isn’t this what it’s all meant to be about? Having fun, being passionate and sharing my love for writing with other likeminded people?
Why do we insist on forcing ourselves to do things that don’t make us happy when already so many of us work so hard to build a better life for us and our loved ones. On the other hand, there’s too much pressure on being happy. Sometimes it’s okay to be sad and to need a time out. It’s quite refreshing to take some time to myself and just think, or not think if I want.
I’ve decided to give this Monday-Friday blog another shot, but I won’t add pressure on myself, because this is me trying to recover, me trying to maintain an enjoyment in an activity I’ve loved to do for so long.
I have so many stories to share, so many hopes and dreams and I just hope that my admission about my depression and anxiety can mean the start of my journey into recovery.
I don’t want to lie about my progress because it’s not always going to be happy, sunny, depression/anxiety free days but my time out has made me realise, that’s okay and there’s no deadline for getting better.
So if you’re still here and still interested in hearing about my messy love life and melodramatic opinions then thank you, I hope 2016 is kind to us.
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday, and you proud everyday!
Peace and Love,