Every day is an opportunity for change

There’s a real heaviness in the air lately. A lot of things seem to be going wrong. Life is more unpredictable than ever. The Mercury retrograde is working it’s magic, whether you happen to believe in all that stuff or not.

 

Something huge I have learned is that you can always turn your misery into opportunity. Imagine you could relieve yourself of some of the things that haunt you and keep you up at night? That you could let go of some of the negativity and guilt in your life? Purge the toxicity and start afresh?

Now is the perfect time to try to heal negative relationships and repair damage. If there are things you feel guilty about, now is the time to reach out and try to make amends. It does not mean that you will be forgiven or that the other person will react well, or that you were even in the wrong. But it means that you are freeing yourself and others of negativity. This is what holds us back and makes us doubt ourselves. Be brave, and reach out. It might seem stupid or pointless, it might not go down as you had hoped, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. I’ve started to use my negative experience to understand others. And when I have been treated poorly, instead of holding resentment I try to remember those who I have treated poorly and take this opportunity to apologise.

You have nothing to lose. Maybe you will finally give someone the closure they need and have been waiting for. Or maybe they will be pleasantly surprised and you will realise that much of the guilt you have carried has been unwarranted. Either way, most people will not react badly to an apology. And better still, you will walk away feeling lighter.

It’s also a good time to make some decisions regarding your own happiness. What makes you happy and what no longer serves you?

Keep safe during this confusing and emotional time. You are not alone and there is always someone watching over you. You are loved and if you need guidance, you may only ask for it. Trust in yourself and the universe and believe that positive thoughts will manifest positive outcomes.

 

Lots of love ❤❤❤

A Perfect Illusion

Correct me if I’m wrong, but almost everyone seems to suffer from some form of anxiety or stress these days. In fact there seems to be an epidemic of mental illness and suffering.

Why is this? Yes there’s the usual stresses; economic stress, overworking, unemployment, personal or family tragedies. These are not new issues. But theres something different now. There have been a few extra things added to the mix. Social anxiety isn’t just affected by your personal interactions. It can also be dictated by your online interactions. The strive for perfection has been upgraded. The standards have become higher and more unrealistic.  It is a thousand times harder to disconnect and live in the moment. Everything you need is on your phone. Stop using your phone for a few days, and somebody will probably file a missing persons report. Deactivating your social media will be seen as a serious sign of distress, and often is. The masters is the new bachelors degree. Want to work a menial job? Hope you have three years experience and a completely irrelevant PHD.

Everyone looks so polished and perfect. Social status is a legitimate character reference. Want to work for us? You must have x amount of followers on Facebook. MADNESS. Your ability to influence people or carry out work effectively is judged by how active and popular you are on social media. Surely everyone knows that ones image on social media is entirely controlled and carefully constructed in an unrealistic way, simply to garner positive attention? Have you ever sat beside someone as they compose a Facebook status, wracked with anxiety and desperation?  Have you ever been on a night out in your local, and everywhere you look there are people taking millions of selfies in a desperate bid to look like they are having fun, instead of actually having fun?

Is anything sacred anymore? Wouldn’t it be nice to run into someone you hadn’t seen in a while and actually be surprised by their new haircut or job or pregnancy? Because the “obligatory” pictures or status hadn’t been posted to inform everyone of this news?

I may sound old and bitter, but I am in fact 24, which puts me bang in the middle of the current young adult generation, who are mainly responsible for all of this. And I was a part of it for a good while. Until I became more and more disheartened with what the world was turning into.

Is there such thing as empathy anymore? People don’t seem to reach out as much. You can have 700 friends on social media and yet feel incredibly alone. Most of what you will see is other people showing off their own lives. Where is the connectivity that we claim is such a vital part of social media? Mark Zuckerberg claims that every country has the right to connectivity, and he is right, but I sincerely doubt that his intentions were entirely humanitarian.

Snapchat started off as a fun way of communicating, but I’m sure we all have had those people in our feeds who like to document their entire day, mundanities and all, for the world to see, in the style of a pseudo celebrity. I’m not trying to offend individuals. I’m simply trying to open peoples eyes to the fact that technology and social media have completely taken over our lives.

How many times have you been at a concert only to look around and see everyones phones in the air, filming? They are not in the moment, watching the concert with their eyes. They are watching it through the lenses of their phones, making sure that everyone at home knows exactly how much fun they are having. These days, “the fear of missing out”, affectionately referred to as “FOMO”, can actually be considered a real source of stress and sadness. You are not seeing an honest view of others lives. It is like a “best bits” montage.

However, anyone who has a twitter, or indeed a Facebook will know that people will openly talk about their mental issues as long as they can do it in a way that is amusing and witty. Or allows them to put down others, while still appearing to be a victim.

I think its brilliant that people have more of an understanding or their own mental health, and are more honest about the issues they face, but I can’t help get this sinking feeling that this is being used and abused as an excuse for all kinds of negative behaviour. If you have a message to spread and wish to inspire or uplift others, using your own personal experience, go ahead, but this doesn’t seem to be the case a lot of the time. Many people seem to use their anxiety as a crutch, or to lash out at others or compose long-winded essays which portray them as a victim but condemn others. This can be the case with many social media “activists”. Surely attacking others and pointing the finger is not an effective way to get your point across? If you really do strive for understanding, you must have empathy and a well-rounded perspective, and be willing to understand both sides and attempt to bridge the gap, instead of further instigating the divide. But that’s just my opinion. The problem is that everyone has the public platform to say and do as they please. You don’t have to earn it. Online, we can all be Gandhi.

When your message becomes more about how others see you, and boosting your personal image, it is time to step away from the cause. Trust me. That may sound harsh, but those who crave attention the most, are often those who can’t handle the criticism that you will inevitably open yourself up to. This is why it is important to do these things with a real passion in your heart. The human ego is a fragile thing.

There are anonymous sites in which people you know can ask you questions. Some people naively think people will use the site to reveal their secret crush. And I’m sure they often do. But what about the risk of bullying? Why is it that those who seek public approval and validation the most, are the ones who are the most vulnerable to criticism? I am deeply worried for a lot of people, because of this. Why let others define you?? They don’t know the real you.

We can worry about people or wonder how they are, but how many of us actually take a chance and reach out? We let our own anxiety and fear of what others will think, get in the way of what is really important. Trust your gut and hold onto your integrity. You owe it to yourself.

I’m scared. Terrified. I don’t want to lose people I love to this crazy world we live in. Life is hard enough! All these beautiful, beautiful souls stuck in this invisible prison.

I hope that anyone who is reading this and feels affected, knows that this comes from a place of love and understanding. My aim is not to make anyone feel about bad themselves, but to realise that you are special, no matter how high you rank on the social ladder, or how insignificant you feel. It’s funny how easy it would be for me to make it appear as though my life is perfect. Meanwhile I sit at home, agonising over jobs, over not being skilled enough and feeling as though everything is going wrong. The more society progresses, the more we can feel left behind. It’s hard to keep up.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, and whatever kind of day you’re having, I hope you can take some time out of your day to be in the moment, to go for a nice walk and look around you. Or to spend time with a loved one. We often think we don’t have time to do this. But the secret is, we can make the time, and it will make all the difference to your day. Sometimes we need to just take a step back and breathe and re-evaluate our purpose. And I’m not talking this big life purpose. Just being. I often suffer from dissociation and existential crisis and I find reconnecting to the universe is the best way to lift me out of this.

I’m sending you all love. As terribly cliche and cheesy as this sounds, the more you learn to love yourself, the less you will care what others think. I used to roll my eyes at affirmations and when people told me to look inward or spend time with nature, but it worked for me. Stop fighting for affection and love and acceptance, and find it within yourself. You deserve it and you are worthy.

Tis the Season to be Jolly……..

It’s that festive time of year again. The time of year that fills people like me with dread. Many people will frown upon my disdain of these kind of occasions or think that I am mean-spirited or a “Grinch”, but that’s not really the case.  I love giving gifts and catching up with people. But sometimes Christmas and the New Year can be very difficult. These are times when you are expected to feel joyous and content. It can seem unnatural. When you don’t feel that way it almost makes your sadness magnified because it is in stark contrast to how you are expected to feel and behave. Maybe I am just a difficult person. I don’t like organised fun or anything that feels contrived or forced. I don’t enjoy the expectation that comes with it or anything that feels like a pretence. Perhaps because of that old façade of perfection and “What will the neighbours think?” mentality that I have always hated. It was such a strong theme growing up in a small town. That said, anything showy or overly coordinated makes me uncomfortable. I don’t enjoy songs that come with dance routines or any kind of forced group interactions such as icebreakers. I’m more of a freestyle kind of person.

Christmas and New Years in particular can often bother me because of the massive unrealistic expectations that are built up over such a long period of time. The “Christmas Spirit” is not always something that you are going to feel. People are often disappointed when they don’t “get into the spirit”. Christmas in particular is very commercial and over the top. While I love giving gifts and the food and the lights and the atmosphere, in reality, being stuck at home with your family can be very boring and can be a time when lots of arguments arise. It’s not always ideal. And growing up I wasn’t spoiled by any means, so I guess I never expected as much as other kids. To many people their “happiness” is a direct result of the gifts they receive. You will see posts on social media of people flaunting their new expensive gifts. Usually an expensive brand and whatever is the current trend. What is more important to me is the meaning behind things. And the atmosphere. All I would really like is to have a peaceful time, which often does not happen. I find it funny sometimes how a lot of people will only admit the reality of how boring their Christmas was when you tell them about yours. Everything is for show. What about the real meaning of Christmas? Of celebrating life and love and giving and sacrifice? I am not a religious person, but I am spiritual. To have such an extended celebratory holiday that is all about materialism and consumerism seems a bit daft to me. All the glitter and parties and run ins with people from the past who will ask you “So, what are you doing with your life these days”, though really they have no interest.

Why cant we show love and be thoughtful towards people all year round? I feel that there’s a reason that Christmas is more magical for children.

Everything is more magical for children. Children know how to use their imagination and spirits to make things wonderful. We have become accustomed to relying on physical and material things. There is pressure to project an image of happiness that sometimes we just don’t feel. And that is ok. Those of us who don’t come from particularly close families know the struggle of the harsh reality that sometimes Christmas is the shittiest day of the year. And that’s perfectly fine. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling irritated. Frankly one day is enough. Things don’t have to be perfect. I guess I found Christmas particularly underwhelming this year because I have gone through a lot of change. I have distanced myself from a lot of people in my life and taken time to focus on myself. I’ve had some painful realisations and losses, as I’m sure we all have. And I did feel that one or two special people were missing from my life. Occasions like Christmas, New Years and Valentines Day can be hard when you feel like your life is lacking love. I wish that people took more time to reach out to each other and show some love. Platonic or otherwise. Kind gestures are important. You have to show people that you care. I feel that these days, with the avid use of social media, people have become more self-absorbed. Social media is no longer used to contact people or stay in touch. It is used as a form of self-promotion and exhibitionism. You don’t see the same level of connection and support these days, I feel. It feels like so many only log on to show off their own lives, rather than to connect with others. I feel that if I reconnected with social media, it would not make much difference it my life. The constant reminder that everyone is just a message away and yet nobody reached out would only cause more loneliness I feel. Solidarity is a beautiful thing to see, and I’m not saying that I do not see beautiful moments of this. I just wish there was more and that I felt more genuine love and empathy from people, and not just when it serves their public image. There is something awfully lonely about today’s world.

I’d really just like to take this moment to send out love to those who are feeling down and disheartened. Just know that there is someone watching over you, and that the universe has your back, even when you feel most alone. It’s ok to be sensitive and to feel things deeply. It doesn’t make you a moody person. You can use this sensitivity is a wonderful way if you put your mind to it. I always find that no matter how alone I feel or how much of an alien I think I am, once I speak up about an issue there are always people who feel the same way, however strange it seems.

The New Year can force you to look back on your life and the past year. And for a lot of us, that is painful. But you must remember that the most painful times offer the most growth and change. Your day is coming and your are getting closer with each disappointment, provided yo take the time to learn from them and reflect. Sometimes we have to learn very hard lessons. We have to let go of people who do not facilitate our growth. We have to say goodbye to things that we wanted, but that were not meant for us.

A lot can happen in a year. We might think we are not where we were meant to be and that everything has gone wrong. But you have to realise that it was important to go through all those things. Every hardship contains a valuable lesson and contributes to our wisdom. You may feel that others are passing you out in life, but maybe they have not learned the lessons that you have learned. Until you learn these lessons, you will continue to fall, and nothing is sustainable. When you have experiences heartbreak and pain you become more selective about who, and what, you allow in your life. And this process is painful and difficult but I believe it is the path to the true self and to true happiness.

If you are dreading the New Year or its bringing up a lot of emotions, you are not the only one. And life is a continuous journey of change. There is no time limit or right time to start. You have the power to make changes to your life at any time and you don’t have to hold yourself to any unrealistic standards. My goals for the next year, and every year, every day are simply to be true to myself, to be kind to others and to continue to grow and learn in whatever way I can. I want to start strengthening my mind with daily affirmations, to keep dreaming and envisioning goals until I have the confidence to believe in them and manifest them, and to hold on to the new positive habits I have developed through the hardships I experienced. My biggest lesson I have learned is to stop people pleasing and carrying the emotions of others. Surprisingly it has made me calmer and nicer. I feel less angry at the world when I pursue my own ideals, regardless of what the crowd does or what is expected of me. And it may cause conflict and alienate me at times but it is what truly makes me happy. What makes you happy? Who makes you happy? Try to keep that in mind.

If you are reading this and identifying with this, then do not worry because it means that you are going through a similar phase of growth. No is not the time to doubt yourself or give up. Now is a time for connecting with yourself and others like you and sending some love out into the world. We all have a special purpose here on earth and figuring out what it is and following that path is what will make you truly happy. Fuck expectations.! Fuck judgments! Fuck behaving in a socially acceptable manner! Fuck this live/work/die thing/ How about live/love/learn/give.

Stay Golden ❤ ❤

 

The difference between solitude and isolation: Loneliness vs inner growth

I am a person who needs a lot of time to myself. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being around people, I really do. But I am naturally introverted and find being around large groups of people (or even just one person sometimes) for too long, a bit draining. I pour a lot of energy into people when I am around them and am very sensitive to the atmosphere in a room and the group dynamics. I find it exhausting sometimes. So after spending too long running around trying to please everyone, I can reach a stage of feeling burned out. Mainly because I seem to do things in extremes. So every now and then I need to retreat and recharge my batteries and gather my own thoughts. I become far too easily distracted, so unfortunately the only way to really focus on myself sometimes, is to remove myself for a little while.

The problem was, the whole being alone thing never really worked well for me. Because I actively disliked myself. I didn’t use the time to be productive or to do what I wanted or needed to do. Instead I let myself feel guilty and worthless for not being around for other people, or not making enough progress, and all that time was wasted torturing myself with negative thoughts and my own self-hatred. So instead of giving myself some head-space and achieving some balance in my life, this would lead to me overthinking and fueling my paranoia. The only results it ever produced were to send me further over the edge.

This time wasn’t any different, in the beginning. However, something changed. For the first time I feel like I am taking something away from my inner reflection. I now understand the difference between isolation and solitude. The difference between being alone and feeling alone. What started out as me isolating myself, due to feelings of inadequacy, has surprisingly lead to me discovering a whole new sense of independence and self-sufficiency.

No longer do I crave the understanding and support of others. No longer do I base my self- worth on how ‘useful’ I can be to others.

At first I was hiding, shutting out negative experiences, settings and emotions I did not want to deal with. I was so worried about what people thought of me and of drawing any attention to myself.

I’m not sure how exactly it happened, but somehow I have learned to be entirely content in my own company. To the point where I do not feel lonely. In fact, sometimes I have to give myself a little push to go interact with people, and not because of anxiety, but because I am learning to enjoy my time my myself. To really use it. I do not need to escape from myself quite so much.

I’m appreciating the time I have to myself. Instead of using it to mindlessly scroll through different forms of social media (although I do still manage to find way too much time to do that, despite me deactivating the majority of my accounts), I am spending time making things, gathering old photos, taking new ones, going on nature walks, reading and studying up on the things that are important to me. I had gotten to a stage where so many aspects of modern society did not appeal to me. Much of it I found practically unbearable. I get sick of small talk, and gossip and listening to people talk about things that don’t have meaning to me. The only way to tackle this and make life more bearable was to stop complaining and allowing myself to get angry and frustrated and feel lonely. And instead focus on the things that add meaning to my life and keep me sane. I got sick of being resentful and bitter. Positivity is an important thing. I would never want to spread negativity towards others just because they don’t view the world the way I do. That is not the kind of person I want to be. I have a terrible temper and can carry a lot of quiet built up rage that can be very destructive to the unfortunate person, or people who happen to be around when I reach boiling point. The only thing I can really do is work on myself. There is no point in always trying to be there for everyone if it leads to you neglecting your own needs and feeling resentful, thus sending out negativity. That is helpful to nobody, least of all yourself.

Instead of berating myself for feeling different, or allowing my differences to make me feel lonely, I have learned to accept them. That’s the key thing here. Realising that it’s OK to just be you. You’re not hurting anyone by being yourself. People may not always agree with you, or your way of life, but it’s YOUR life, and it’s not up to them to decide, or to take offense.

Sometimes I find my idealism embarrassing. I find my writing embarrassing. It’s a vulnerability. But it’s one of the ways that I express myself. It’s what makes me me. And I don’t need everyone to approve of me or like me. Because I am starting to like myself. And that changed everything. I don’t need to seek that elsewhere. I don’t feel the need to overcompensate for my lack of self esteem. My insecurities still exist and bog me down, I’m just learning to deal with them without implicating others in my self-destruction.

It’s no longer about who I am, or what I look like. It’s about how I feel and what I think about and what I see in the world. I may not think I’m all that special, But the universe is so full of magic, that I would be foolish not to take the time to explore it. I owe it to the world and it’s beauty, to step back and admire it and appreciate it. I am thankful to be a part of something so beautiful, and I intend on soaking up as much of it as possible while I can.

Instead of constantly dwelling on the things that I don’t like and the things that hurt me, I’m realising how important it is to be grateful and to pay attention to the things and people who have made my world so wonderful. If you have ever just stopped and looked at the sun shining through the trees or the birds flying through the sky or felt a warm glow from the friendly smile of a stranger walking by, then you will understand the little miracles I am speaking of. They are always there. We just need to take the time to notice them. To really see, hear and feel the world around us. Being alone with the world does not have to mean feeling alone. Sometimes the moments that we cannot capture, or explain, or share with others are the most important. There is something precious and sacred about allowing yourself to be silent and still and marvel at the world around you. It is empowering somehow. We are all a part of the universe and the universe is a part of all of us. We are made of the very same atoms. It’s important to understand the connection we have with the world and one another. But first we must connect with ourselves.

We love and support you

So as you may be aware, in the summer of 2015 I had one of my giant meltdowns and spent two months in a psychiatric hospital. While there I met many people who I formed bonds with. Some of us have managed to stay in touch. I’m so thankful for the people I met there. I’ve seen so many heartbreaking and inspirational stories up close and it has made me a better and stronger person. A person who wants to fight for the happiness of those wonderful people, who made me laugh and smile during a time when I didn’t think that would be possible.

Seeing someone hit rock-bottom and then fight their way back up is truly awe-inspiring. A few months after I had left the hospital, I was out in town and I ran into a girl who I remembered from a support group. At the time she had not left her house in months due to crippling anxiety. To see her out and about was a truly victorious moment, though it might not seem like much to most people.

These seemingly small victories have been marked in my memory and give me endless inspiration. Because truly, they are not small, they are mighty and they are the stepping stones for greater achievements that will only continue to blossom.

Many of us couldn’t even imagine that we would ever get through those dark times. I have lost contact with a lot of those people but wherever they are, I hope that they are doing better and that they know they have love, support and admiration.

One of my friends  Erin, who was also in Pats with me continues to make me immensely proud. She decided to use that wonderful humour she kept us all entertained with, to start up a comedy society with an emphasis on removing the stigma from mental health. The money raised for the comedy gigs is donated to suicide prevention and mental-health charities across Ireland. I cannot even express the pride this makes me feel. And this is only the beginning.

There are so many people I could mention, that I would not even know where to start or end, and hopefully I can pay them all tribute in some way at some stage. But the main person I would like to mention at this time is a wonderful person called Mason.

In a sense we got to witness the birth of Mason, because during this time, he came out as trans. And thus, the name Mason was born. Seeing the happiness on Masons face every time someone called him by his chosen name was amazing. He started to shop in the men’s sections, got a haircut, new clothes and the smile on his face grew wider and wider.

But sadly for trans people, despite the huge relief of coming out after a life-time of suffering, the struggle doesn’t end there. The process of transitioning can be extremely challenging and slow, due to the health systems in place. Seeing someone blossom and become happier in themselves, only to see that hope slowly fade away is a sad and disheartening thing to see. That is not something I could bare to see happen, after so much progress has been made.

Trans people are some of the most vulnerable and at risk people on the planet. When you feel like you are living in the wrong body every day and every aspect of life is a struggle. Mason is still waiting to get hormones before any surgeries can be possible. Mason has been incredibly brave and positive during this time and has made so many changes to his life, each change bringing him more hope and happiness. I think it’s really important to commend the bravery and strength of trans people. There is not a lot of trans visibility in this country, but that’s not to say that there’s not a lot of trans people who are privately struggling.

So many people want all these material gifts for Christmas but for some people, all they want is happiness and to feel comfortable in their own skin. Obviously not just for Christmas, for life. But I do feel now is a good a time as any to send some love and support to Mason, and to other trans people in Ireland, and across the globe. So please if you guys could help me spread some love and positivity that would be much appreciated.

Hope is a wonderful thing, that is hard to hold onto. There is no such thing as too much love or support, so let’s spread it around and infect the universe.

Thanks for reading. Lots of love

❤❤❤❤

Obsession and Addiction…

We’ve tricked our minds into believing

Love and happiness

are fiction

And filled the empty spaces

With obsession and addiction

*above is a small extract from some of the new poetry I’ve been writing. I usually keep this on a separate page  (beautifulnightmaresimpossibledreams.wordpress.com) but there’s no harm in mixing things up a bit.

picture also by me. VERY ROUGH version of what I’m trying to achieve. Hopefully when I get actual photoshop and learn how to do things properly when I start my course is January, I can make better cleaner edits. Cannot wait to see the progress. And with every step I take and fear I face towards a better future, I know that I am not alone. And I would love to hear other people’s stories and see their journeys. Other people are the biggest source of inspiration and encouragement you will find and it’s what truly gives me faith. I’m only at the start of my journey and still have no idea what I’m doing. WINGING IT. So any suggestions/feedback/discourse would be greatly appreciated. ⭐⭐⭐

 

Recovery

For the first time

I’m starting to believe

In the possibility

Of recovery

 

It never comes easily

But there’s only so much

You can bleed

 

I had to make a choice

Between life or death

Happiness or misery

And I know

It will be worth it

There’s something out there

Waiting for me

 

Don’t try to drag me down

Just because

You’re used to seeing me on the ground

I picked myself back up

I’m standing tall

And I’m going to stick around

 

My destiny awaits

And for once, I’m not afraid

I’ve made my choices

And the rest is up to fate

 

I’ve spent my life

Fighting just to live

I’m ready to forget

And forgive

And though the memories may last

The girl I was is in the past

 

I’m taking responsibility

Now that I can see the wood for the trees

 

It’s all a matter of perspective

Realising what’s subjective

I took my time to be reflective

And recovery is my objective

Fighting old habits to make way for the future

The other day, while trawling mindlessly through the internet, I managed to stumble across a beautiful quote that has stuck in my mind. It was one of those meaningful quotes on a scenic backdrop, the ones that sometimes make you cringe, but other times make you feel something that you can relate to. The quote said “I am a raging sea trapped inside of a raindrop” and of course was pasted over a dreary picture featuring raindrops. I don’t know who wrote it, or where it came from, and the internet offered me no answers, but it really resonated with me. Its strange how one picture, song, movie or quote can make you feel so much and feel that you are somehow connected to the world again, and that you are not alone. As with everything, there are a million different interpretations you can take from it but it spoke to me on a deep level and really hit home, in terms of emotional expression.

We all experience emotions even though sometimes it seems as if you cannot feel at all. Personally, I often struggle with the ability to identify and express emotions. It can make me feel like I am feeling nothing at all. Almost like I am not connected to my own body, as if I don’t belong here. It’s a sense of depersonalisation. Feeling disconnected, dissociated and desensitised to your own being and the world around you. It can be frightening at times. It can make you feel less than human, robotic almost. As though you have been switched off and are operating on auto-pilot. For a long time I thought this would always be my reality. I don’t know when it started, and how, or if it ever really ends. I just know, that despite how terrified I am of strong emotions, when I experience one, it makes me feel alive, and I live for those moments. Perhaps its a defence mechanism or a result or the lives we live. I don’t know all the answers. If I did, I’m sure I would be off being an expert somewhere, and doing something useful with my life.

Sometimes we shut down our own feelings before we can have a chance to feel them, without even realising it. Maybe it is our minds way of protecting us. It can be such a difficult thing, to realise that your own emotions are valid and that it’s ok to feel them. For someone who has a lot of feelings and opinions about the world, and someone who likes to believe that I have a good understanding of people, I can quite be quite detached and distant at times. I feel shame about my own emotions a lot of the time. I enjoy being able to use them to try to understand others, but I will always feel a sense of guilt about expressing my feelings for my own benefit. I think a lot of people probably feel this way, at least to some extent.

I can be hard on others and often not very tolerant of their emotions. I get angry at people for having such strong emotions sometimes but this is most likely because I do not know how to express my own. I often don’t realise that I am repressing my emotions, I just think that they are not there. In this sense, I am much like a dormant volcano. Quiet and calm but every now and then I will erupt when you least expect it, and when I do I will destroy everything in my wake, without seeing it coming or knowing why.

This might sound very warped to some people, but I hate the idea of being selfish with my emotions. I’m so afraid that  if I place importance on my emotions that I will dismiss someone else’s. This is not to say that I’m not selfish with my emotions, of course I am. I think the strangest part, is that when you become so accustomed to being a certain way, you just don’t know anything else, it is so hard to change. It’s hard to be the person who asks for help, or cries, or expresses anger towards another person. Feelings are replaced with logic and rational thinking. Its like seeing things from an objective point of view. It’s good sometimes to step back so that you can have perspective and see things clearly. It however, it not good to completely remove yourself and your own feelings from things which affect your life. Nobody has to be more or less than what they are, and I’m trying to figure that out along the way, instead of expecting everyone else to adopt my warped way of thinking. I’m trying to find a balance between thinking and feeling. I’m trying to realise that I because I am hard on myself, I am also hard on others and sometimes expect too much from people. That you can’t tell people not to feel or ever truly connect to someone without letting them see your own vulnerability.

I have spent so much of my life being avoidant and living in denial. I find it hard to be close to people emotionally, or physically, and could never stand the idea of being dependent or reliant on anyone. Writing about all this is one thing, letting someone into my life is another thing entirely. I imagine being my friend is very difficult at times, like talking to a story (I don’t know what that means either, I couldn’t find a word ok) instead of a person. I will tell you all my thoughts and views about things, even the ones you don’t want to hear, I will tell you whats going on in my life, but I will rarely tell you how I feel about it if it affects me personally. I’m a hell of a lot better than I was a few years ago, when I’m fairly certain I was vacant from my body and mind and living in another planet entirely. In fact, I’m getting better at it every year, I’m almost where I need to be. Every small step feels like a giant leap towards a better future and a life that I don’t mind living. A life that I look forward to living. Every year, I find myself doing and saying things that I never would have imagined doing before. Being allowed to step out of my comfort zone has been challenging but the most rewarding experience. There’s still some way to go but every step away from my comfort zone is another dream lived, and I want to keep stepping forward.

I don’t think that everyone should be an open book or wear their hearts on their sleeves but I have a deep admiration for the ones that do. People  may think that they are weak for being that way, but those people are the bravest of all. Feeling exposed and vulnerable is a scary thing, but it gives me so much hope to see people express themselves and show you a bit of their soul. I’ve been so lucky to have met such wonderful, brave, loving people throughout my life, who have shown me that people can make the world a better place ,and that I won’t always have to daydream about living on another planet, but that I can take that magic with me wherever I go.

The happiness and hope that I get from other people is what makes me want to keep trying to be a better person and keep striving to achieve my dreams. Instead of just dreaming about things, I am starting to ask for them and I can’t believe the difference it has made. Because if you never ask, you will never know. I wish that I could give people even a fraction of the joy they have given me by being there, by simply existing and expressing themselves, their beauty, their creativity, their kindness and courage. So here’s a big shoutout to old friends, and new friends ,and strangers alike. For continuing to inspire me by being yourself and not being afraid to share parts of you with the world.

Hell and Back

A lot has happened since my previous posts (most of which you will not find here. I’ll explain this in a moment.)

When I wrote “Depression Confessions” it was a breakthrough for me. I had been up until that point, crippled by the weight of my emotions, and too afraid to talk about them. I was terrified but turns of events inspired me to suck it up and put a few things out there. I wanted to liberate myself and I hoped to liberate others. It felt like a huge relief, a release of so much pain. I had hope. I wanted to share that hope. I felt like I had suffered for so long. Little did I know, my journey had just begun. This was only the first step. It was inevitable that I would spiral downwards again. I thought I had already hit rock bottom, but there was further to go. I had admitted my problem, named it and analysed it. I had left myself exposed and vulnerable. But had I really dealt with my problems? Perhaps not. Same issues, different day. I eventually figured I couldn’t change my situation and environment as quickly as I would like and I just had to change the way I dealt with things and adopt new coping mechanisms. But that came much later. Sometimes coping just wasn’t enough.

I was surviving, just about. Emotionally and physically drained, but surviving. I let my self-worth be determined by others, the biggest mistake you can make. I had been fighting so hard but I felt like nobody was listening. When I didn’t receive the support I sought from family/friends/professionals alike, I eventually began to give up on myself too. I thought I wasn’t worth it. I wondered what was wrong with me. Why was I so exhausted all the time? Why couldn’t I hold down a job? Could I do anything useful? Did anyone really need me? What was the point?

I was at the age where I was a little to old to be living with my parents. There was a lot of pressure on me to move out and get a job. The pressure led to me taking on  work that I was not physically or emotionally prepared for. My mind and body were too exhausted, still processing recent events. I had been miserable sitting at home, unemployed, isolated, bored, useless. I was now taking on a very full-on role that involved working around the clock, little to no pay and no social life. It was residential and on a voluntary basis. Normally this job would suit me, I very much enjoyed working with the service users but it was too much and at the wrong time. I enjoyed the work but I didn’t have the energy or the motivation. I was simply escaping one situation and putting myself in an equally unsatisfactory one. My energy was drained, I started off well but eventually wasn’t able to complete tasks. I felt more useless than ever. I felt irresponsible. I knew people didn’t understand. They thought I was lazy and complacent. Sometimes I believed them. I eventually felt so useless and guilty I had to admit defeat and move back home. This didn’t go down well.

Immediately I started looking for jobs again, even though I knew I would not be capable of working. The pressure was building and building. Things were getting tense. Its hard for people to empathise with you when they just don’t understand. They see your lack of energy and difficulty getting up as laziness and your sadness as moody and dramatic. They don’t understand why you can’t just go and get a job you hate like everyone else and just do it. They think you’re being selective or you’re not really trying. I tried, I tried really hard but my efforts just weren’t paying off. When I moved home I also had to part with my beloved pet rabbit. You may laugh but this was extremely difficult for me. He was a companion during some very difficult times during my residential work placement. But alas, there was a cat at home and we couldn’t have both. It was heartbreaking for me. It had only been two weeks since I had moved back home, but I was getting more and more anxious. Jobs weren’t coming and the pressure was becoming overwhelming. How was I to get a house and a job and ease the constant tension around me.

I had gone to college but I didn’t really know what I wanted. I never felt I had the freedom to choose my own path in life. I was trapped. I felt like a failure. I had no real skills, I had never excelled at anything and I had wasted my parents time and money doing a college degree that I had no real aptitude for, or no confidence to follow up. In my mind, I was completely useless. I became over-sensitive to criticism, which is normally unlike me, but my own self-loathing had taken over. I resented everything about myself. I felt guilty that I hadn’t been around to see my friends. What was I to people? I didn’t even know if I was a good person anymore. Had I ever done anything good or useful for anyone? Was I a good friend, a good daughter, a good sister? Was I talented or smart? Did I have a purpose? In my mind, I most certainly did not. I didn’t want to exist any more. I began to think that nobody would mind if I disappeared. After all what had I done for them except make their lives more difficult. Why did I exist? What was I? Nothing.

It didn’t take long for my thoughts to spiral out of control. Its hard to explain how I got there. It was a long  tedious process but it happened all at once. I felt like my brain was on fire. My whole body felt sick. I couldn’t stand it anymore. It didn’t feel like it was just my own voice criticising me anymore. I could hear it all around me. Everyone agrees, I thought. I made the decision to take an overdose. It was the most peaceful solution I could think of and I had thought about it quite a lot. I thought it seemed less messy than the other alternatives. I wrote a long note apologising for what I had done, but mainly apologising for my existence. It wasn’t their fault, I told them. They didn’t ask for this. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t ask to be born. They would move on and forget me and everything would be ok, I promised them. It would be like I never existed. The note was one I had written a few days in advance. I had been going back and forth in my mind about whether I was going to do it or not, until something in my brain finally snapped. I wasn’t scared. I felt peaceful, I was doing the right thing I told myself. Everything was going to be ok.

When I came round I was lying on a hospital trolley. Everything was blurry. The concerned faces of my family were around me. They seemed calm one minute, teary eyed the next. They were asking me questions, their voices were like echoes.I was hallucinating and drifting in and out of conciousness, I didn’t know if any of this was real. I think it was morning but I couldn’t be too sure. Suddenly day became night and I was in a hospital ward. There were two drips in my arm and I was connected to some sort of machine. One drip was draining my blood the other was feeding me nutrients. I was a little out of it, but appalled by the drips in my arm. I tried to pull them out which lead to the machine beeping and nurses rushing over to stop me. I was hallucinating like crazy, there were colours and patterns everywhere and nothing made sense. I wasn’t sure if I was alive or if I had entered another dimension. In between staring at the floral pattens swirling around on my hands, I started to realise what had happened. I had survived.

 

You would think I would be grateful for this second chance, but you would be wrong. I yelled at the doctors and nurses, tried to escape. “Let me leave I told them, it’s OK. You won’t lose your job, it’s fine”.  I was highly paranoid. I thought I was evil and needed to be destroyed and that everyone thought so too. It was what you might call “a psychotic episode”. I can’t fully remember what happened but I know I spent the remainder of the night trying to escape, asking strange questions and telling nurses what a terrible person I was. I feel ashamed when I think about the chaos I caused and what a nightmare I was for the staff and other patients, who were clearly very frightened because they viewed me as being unstable, and I guess I was.

I wondered if my organs were failing. They had to be. How was it possible I had taken such a pathetic overdose. I asked the nurses over and over again why I was alive. Why hadn’t I died. I was supposed to die. Why hadn’t I even vomited? It made no sense. I was disgusted with myself and ashamed, for all the wrong reasons. I was embarrassed I had messed up so badly. Now everyone would know that I had tried and not succeeded and I would have to live through that and live through all the disappointment. I didn’t sleep for 48 hours which of course led to more hallucinations and psychosis. I was still out of it when I arrived at the psychiatric hospital.  I didn’t fully understand what was going on but I signed the agreement that I would stay there of my own will. Going back home and causing my family more pain was not an option. Especially considering the fact that I wasn’t planning on surviving. If all else failed, the overdose would eventually kill me I thought. My organs would slowly fail. I wasn’t me anymore. I was a shell of a person.

I stayed in the psychiatric ward for two months over the summer. Some of my friends knew where I was. Others had no idea. The first few days were strange. I was so paranoid I was hearing voices. My friends, family and acquaintances. And they were taunting me. I made a series of strange paranoid phone-calls the first night. I don’t even want to know what I saying. I was talking to the “cameras in the walls”. (There were no cameras). Clearly I was still suffering the after-affects of my overdose and lack of sleep. I was confused and I was angry. The confusion eventually faded but the anger stayed.

Over those two months I somehow managed to make some really nice friends. I met lots of interesting and inspiring people who were going through very difficult things. Everyone seemed so normal, everyone seemed OK. But we knew best of all, that things are not always how they seem. We laughed a lot, made inappropriate jokes (dark humour was a fairly prevalent things and a strong coping mechanism…and also hilarious) and relentlessly teased each other. It was all in good spirits. But we checked up on each other too. The scary thing about making friends in hospital is that there is always this fear in the back of your mind that something really bad is going to happen to one of them. An empty bed could be a good sign or a bad sign. Nothing terrible happened while I was in there so I was fortunate enough not to experience anything like that. But I still panicked when I saw an empty bed.

There were different wards. If you got really bad you were moved to the special care ward. I spent a few days in there during my first week. There were a lot of rules down there and very little responsibility for yourself. I found it comforting for a while. While I was there, I ran into one of my friends from the outside world. It was really nice to know someone in there (and obviously a bit worrying too because its not really somewhere you want to see a friend). I was shocked at first. I felt like a bit of an idiot for assuming that everyone else was OK and not considering the fact that some of my friends could be in trouble too. I had been busy having my own meltdown I hadn’t been aware what other people were going through. We became better friends while we were there and I genuinely believe that not half as many people would have talked to me if it weren’t for her. Her humour and charm and honesty got me through a lot so thank you. You know who you are ❤

To be blatantly honest I was quite a nightmare during my stay there. I was bitter and angry and sarcastic and challenging. In social situations I was awkward and twitchy and blurted out random confessions every now and then, a side affect of my new-found paranoia. I guess I over-shared a bit and was generally quite eccentric. I laughed a lot. This is quite normal for me actually for people who know me. I find most things hilarious, it can be impossible to take me seriously sometimes. Basically just an exaggerated, more awkward, socially challenged version of myself with sprinklings of paranoia and bitterness. I also had this strange need to force people to confront their demons. After all, I was confronting mine, somewhat. I was strangely numb and I simply couldn’t take life seriously. It was all a big joke to me. I was strongly encouraged to attend some groups. By strongly encouraged I mean that it was basically mandatory despite the fact that the term “voluntary participation” was thrown around quite a bit.

I gave the nurses hell. I found it extremely difficult to communicate and to word my thoughts. There were too many things flying around in my head. I was on a lot of meds and they were making me slow and confused. I eventually found out why I never vomited, ( the idea of me being so bad at overdosing was plaguing me. I found it embarrassing to have survived and to seem like a cry for help). Apparently it was too late, all the drugs were already in my system. I was amused by my supposed high tolerance of drugs but also irritated.

I behaved somewhat inappropriately in groups, collapsing into giggles during serious discussions and challenging the methods of professionals. I was probably quite offensive and unhelpful for the other group members and I feel bad about that. I simply just couldn’t take things seriously. I have a nervous giggle and a strange sense of humour. I’m also quite emotionally challenged. I have often responded to sad stories with laughter because I get uncomfortable and I’m not much of a crier. More than anything, the friends I made while in hospital really helped me so much. We would constantly laugh and joke and have open conversations and it felt really safe to be around people who understood. It was an absolute blessing and the most important thing I will take with me.

Friends and family from the outside came to visit me. They wrote me beautiful letters and brought me gifts. I felt guilty and ashamed because I felt I deserved to be punished, yet here they were. I never expected so many visitors. I had been worried about letting everyone down, I didn’t think I would have anyone left. But I had regular visitors who were absolutely amazing. I don’t think I would be here if if weren’t for them. Myself and my outside friend who was also in hospital had communal visits. Its only now I realise how completely blessed I was.

When it was time to go, I didn’t want to leave. Not because I liked it there or enjoyed the strict routines, or my many clashes with everyone who tried to help me. But because I was terrified of the outside world. I didn’t know how to be a person anymore. While in there I had developed some awkward habits and my anxiety has increased ten-fold. I didn’t know how to hold myself or communicate with people or walk like a normal human. I did this weird awkward walk thing and had become increasingly self concious partly due to my weight loss and the fact that I deeply uncomfortable with my inner and outer self.  By the time I was leaving I was completely free of meds. This for me was a great achievement because before I was admitted I had been on 100mg of serotonin every day for over a year. However I was completely terrified. I had had some experiences of the outside world while in hospital. When I behaved myself (or pretended to, in an attempt to seem really stable) sometimes I got to go home for the weekend.

I remember my first night out when I went home. I dragged a lovely friend with me for moral support. It was an intensely awkward experience. I thought that everyone knew, that they were all judging me and thought that I was a bad person. There were friends who had tried to meet up with me and people whom I hadn’t told about my new residence. “Yeah I’m just at home at the moment looking for jobs”, I lied. I got increasingly drunk as the night went on and confessions were starting to pour out.  I woke up full of disgust and self-loathing after my antics.

After I returned to the hospital I got a lovely text from someone I had seen that night asking to meet up. I didn’t respond because I didn’t want to explain my situation and I didn’t see a future for me outside of hospital. There were many texts and messaged I didn’t respond to. I didn’t know how.  During my stay in the hospital I decided that it would be a good idea to destroy all evidence of my existence so people wouldn’t have to remember me. This happened quite early on. I deleted all my social media accounts. The most painful thing I deleted was my blog. I managed to recover one or two posts but that was a real sign that I had lost all hope. I had somehow come to the conclusion that I was a deranged, delusional person who could not be trusted. Everything I had written was probably damaging to other people and my mindset would only lead people down the merry road to hell. I thought that my endless optimism was pathetic and naive and that I was giving people false hope. Maybe the world I dreamed of did not exist. Furthermore, maybe I was the one with the problem. Maybe everyone was happy with the way the world was and the culture and norms of our current generation. Maybe I was the only person who wanted to change things. I was defective and had to be destroyed. Honestly writing this now it sounds hilarious, like some kind of satire but it was how I felt at the time.

I had successfully shut myself off from people and isolated myself and now I was to return to the real world. It was a scary thought. It took me a long time to adjust. I leaned heavily on friends and family. I was needy and clingy and emotionally manipulative. I wanted to know that I was supported. I wanted somebody, anybody to show me unconditional love. My family were probably crippled with the weight of my reliance to be honest. I couldn’t face leaving the house on my own or using public transport. I got out at the end of August. It was probably October before I started to feel somewhat human again.

I felt ready to be useful again. I was still somewhat numb, I was not overly affected by anything. But I felt stronger. Stronger than ever before. Everything was just water off a ducks back. Nothing could hurt me now. I started to apply for jobs, I was attending interviews. This was a huge achievement for me, considering how I had felt not so long ago. The mere idea of me being capable if doing such things was mind-blowing.

I eventually got a Christmas job.I was shocked and very proud of myself. Doesn’t seem like a big deal but to me it was. I had started to go to the doctor again and discovered that I was gluten intolerant. (I know, it actually exists, its not just a hipster fad). Changing my diet helped me regain so much energy. Honestly, I feel like such an idiot for not doing it sooner, but I love bread and pastries and hate restricting myself. I stopped being exhausted all the time and I wasn’t in constant physical pain. I felt somewhat useful. I was still something of a robot but I was getting there. I wasn’t overly friendly or responsive. I didn’t feel much. Its only now that I have way too much free time on my hands that I’m starting to really feel again. And I feel it all.

The same day I got the phonecall about that job, a few hours later I got a phonecall that a friend has passed away. He was a dear friend, someone who I adored and viewed as an utterly magical person. I was heartbroken. I was deeply disappointed and annoyed with myself for distancing myself from everybody. How often had I thought about reaching out to my friends and how much I missed them. I hadn’t been in touch, I hadn’t been on social media. I had been busy being a hermit. I had wasted months shutting myself off from people and months in hospital when I could have been spending time with my friends. Now I would miss him forever. All my photos of him, all our conversations and memories gone. I hadn’t saved a thing. I was too busy getting rid of the evidence of my own existence. I never thought I would need those memories so much. I never thought I would be saying goodbye to someone else.

It’s a terrible thing that while you are wishing your life away, somebody else can have theirs taken from them unexpectedly. I know how happy he was in my last moments and that will always comfort me.  While I was wasting my life away being miserable I missed a lot of things. From now on I want to be there. I want to be present. I want to be there for all the people who have been there for me through my worst and best times. I want to be there for weddings, funerals, birthdays, graduations, heart-breaks. I want to be there for the good, the bad and the ugly. I don’t want to miss a single thing.

When we go through difficult things it makes the good things even more of a cause of celebration. For the first time in months I see everything as the miracle it really is. The unconditional support and love of my friends and family and the brave and inspirational people around me. The fearless, fabulous friends who have come into my life. And the ones who couldn’t stay. When I think about the incredible people who I have met, I’m not sure how one person could be so lucky.

Today I celebrate life. I celebrate the love and support of friends and family. I celebrate the little things and the big things. I celebrate getting up out of bed in the mornings and getting out of the house and seeing the world. I celebrate knowing that I am never alone and knowing that there is so much more to experience and learn.

 

Stay Golden,

Every single one of you ❤