Coming out

You probably clicked on this because you think I came out as gay. Not so I’m afraid, although I called it ‘coming out’ in my mind because I feel like there is nothing else that I could liken it to.

I’ve lived my entire 19, almost 20 year old life bottling everything up inside, and although that didn’t neccessarily stop me from doing all the things I ever set my heart on, it also didn’t make it easy, and ment I had a lot of low points when I felt totally alone and misunderstood. I’m a very deep thinker, and sometimes I can get lost inside my head, sometimes I wish I could stay lost in there forever, because it often feels harder to face realty than what goes on up there. I think the main thing that I struggled with, and soemtimes still do, is that I feel very different to everyone else, a bit of an outsider. I struggled with how I’ve always seemed to see the world from a very different angle than my friends, even from a young age, and it made me think perhaps there was something wrong with me, and it made me question why anyone would want to be friends with me, because I wasn’t like everyone else. I overthought every small interaction, and that led to me being insecure, and prone to depressive thoughts.

For the majority of my life I never told anyone how I felt, not even my family. Until I finally got the courage to sit my Mum down and tell her how I was really feeling. I’m going to preface this by saying that I have very loving and supportive parents, I didn’t say anything to them because I didn’t want them to feel guilty, and I was also afraid that it would be like I had somehow failed.

It is perhaps an understatement though to say that my mother was shocked, and she said some things that she probably regrets now, because she does love me and support me in everything. The one comment that sticks in my head, is she told me ‘I think you want to be depressed.’

See, it’s not always plain sailing when you tell someone you love, something shocking, sometimes they don’t know how to react, and so they react in the worst possible way, initially. Emphasis on initially, because after a long chat, my Mum began to understand where I was coming from, and immediately started to list roads we could take to help me, just like Mums do.

I don’t blame her for reacting the way she did, I know it’s confusing to hear someone tell you that there not as okay as you thought they were. She later wrote me a message to tell me that she would always be there for me, even if she didn’t fully understand, because I was her daughter, and nothing would ever change that.

I think I’m writing this entry because it’s important to know that sometimes we have to be prepared for people to misunderstand, but we have to be patient and make them listen until they do.

Although it’s scary, it’s also such a weight off my shoulders to know I have my parents there for me now, in a way they couldn’t have been before. Family is one of the most important things in my life, and I know that now more than ever.

An Adventure to Guatemala

As the title suggests my trip to Guatemala in July 2019 certainly was an adventure, and one I will never forget.  In the picture above you can see that written on our t-shirts is the slogan:

 ‘I don’t need therapy, just need to go to Guatemala.’ 

I think that nothing had ever struck me as quite so true.  Perhaps it was being in a third world country based in an area where people lived in such poverty I had never seen before, and yet they were the kindest, most welcoming and generous people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, that put into perspective the problems I myself thought I faced.  My mental battles though, seemed to fade into the distance as I found we would have such a significant positive impact on these local people, and surrounded by other volunteers that shared my viewpoint on life I finally felt that I had found somewhere I was meant to be.  This only sought to solidify my goals in becoming a humanitarian aid worker in a charity. 

I was involved in a turtle conservation project in a small community on the pacific coast in Guatemala, but it was so much more than it sounds.  Alongside everyone in the community we built a hatchery for the turtle eggs and painted educational murals in Spanish on the walls of the main building, informing people how they could help with conservation efforts.  Everyone was so eager to get involved, young and old, it was for their village, and it was their project and we felt privileged that they trusted us to take direction on it. 

It was not just the volunteering that made me fall in love with this country though, but the general beauty we were surrounded with, I have honestly never felt so free.  I was half way across the world in a country where no one knew me, totally alone, and yet I felt the opposite of lonely.  Surrounded by nature, volcanoes, mountains and the beauty of the coast, surrounded by people that like me, had given up a portion of their summer to volunteer, I found peace. 

In truth though, it is in moments like these that I feel like I can be unadulteratedly me, no games, no lies, no putting on a façade.  No one knew me, so what was the need to be anything other than me?

Perhaps that was why I felt so free, and why I was so sad to leave, because we had had some amazing and some truly crazy times, because I was able to let go, to stop worrying for a change, to let loose and do things that give me adrenaline rushes and made me feel alive and young, like we’re supposed to. Like, for example, skinny dipping in the ocean with guys me had met at a beach party. 

I’m definitely not suggesting that your risk your life in any way, but it felt good to do something crazy and made me realise we (or maybe just me) worry far too much about everything, and it was incredible to do something without thinking at all.

So, I guess my advice would be, if you’re feeling trapped, or like you’re unsure as to where you fit in, then do something meaningful, go somewhere different, and figure out where you want to be.  I raised all the funds for this myself, anyone can do it. 

“Perfect”

Practicing smiles in the mirror

Memorising a charade of perfect humour

To hide the truth of your despair

That in reality you’d rather be anywhere than there

And all you really want to do

Is cry alone on the floor of the loo

Contemplating in life itself

And wondering how you’ll ever reach that shelf

Upon which you’ve placed all your hopes and dreams

That realistically could never be

Because all you’ll ever really be

Is a failure to those who see you as perfect

When you break down and realise you can’t quite work it

Because social situations make you anxious

And often you can’t even say a word

Because self-doubt takes it upon himself

To strangle the phrases from your mouth

So maybe you shouldn’t even really try

Because you know this is only going to end in a cry.


So, remember to practice that smile in the mirror

And memorise that perfect humour

So that if no one looks at you too deep

They might not think that you’re that weak

And maybe if you rehearse the conversations

It won’t seem like you talk to yourself about your anxious reservations. 

Living with Depression

Depression is different for everyone, it is a mental illness, and everybody’s minds work differently, so I’m sure that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.  For me though, my depression isn’t something that is obvious to anyone around me, such to the extent that I have managed to keep it hidden for 5 years.  It’s not like how you hear in the media, that I had a psychotic break that lead to it, or something dreadfully tragic happened to my family and triggered it.  For me, my depression didn’t surface out of any one major event, but rather it is just something that is a part of me. Depression runs in my family, and evidently, I got the gene. 

There were triggers that made it worse, that made me realise that there was something wrong, of course, but I know now that the things that happened that caused my mental breakdowns really just brought these depressive feelings to the forefront, when I think really they were always there. 

My reaction to feeling like everything was spiralling out of control, like I had no purpose in life, like I was worthless, wasn’t to ask for help, but to put a strong emphasis on how together my life was, so that my friends would think that I was more than fine, that I had a perfect little life with everything figured out.  That could not have been further from the truth.  For me though, having other people believe that about me, somehow made it easier for me to believe that too, or at least it gave me motivation to keep going, to get up in the morning and keep doing well in school so that my perfect reputation wouldn’t be ruined.   

When it’s written out like that, I guess it seems sad that so much of what happened in my school life, I only really did to convince people that I was fine and normal.  Now I want to make sure I do things because I enjoy them, rather than for any other reason.  I called it ‘survival mode’ in which the focus of my life used to be just ensuring that I created a persona that would allow me to get from waking up in the morning to going to sleep in the evening, without raising suspicion that I wasn’t okay.   My mantra used to be, ‘this day has to end.’  Not exactly a healthy or appreciative way to live your life.  It’s not really living at all. 

Not everyday was dark though, I definitely had some really good times and some really good friends too.  It was just in those low moments everything that was going on in my head made me believe that I didn’t have anything good going for me, and anything good that had happened I somehow managed to make into a negative, where I saw myself as not good enough, clever enough, pretty enough.  Maybe it seems shallow to people who can’t understand, but essentially it felt like there was a black hole in my gut and every good feeling I was capable of got sucked in and I was left with an empty void, or just such deep sadness I hardly knew where it stemmed from.  I just knew I needed it to stop but I had no idea how I was meant to just miraculously become happy again.  Back then, I didn’t know it was depression, I just thought that something had gone wrong in my brain, that maybe I was crazy, and so I shouldn’t confide in others, because I would just become a burden. 

Now I know what it is, it’s easier to handle, because I know not to ignore the signs of a potentially bad day.  I can do things to alleviate it, or to lift my mood.  I have a network of friends now that know the truth and I can reach out to if I need to talk.  There are other things too, like exercise that I make sure I get time to do, because it makes me feel so much better afterwards, I feel lighter, happier and like I’ve really achieved something, which helps to expel any negative thinking.  A great example of that was just today, I woke up feeling pretty low, and then my sister was very off with me and I started doubting myself and blaming myself for her low mood, but I got myself out and did a class at the gym which made me realise that it was all in my head, and allowed me to get past it so I could enjoy my day and be productive. 

Sometimes, it’s simple things like changing the way you live, that allow you to lead a much healthier life, both in mind and body.  I have to make sure I take care of myself and my mental wellbeing so that I don’t slip back into old habits which harboured that negative thinking.  I talk to people and confide in them when it gets too much, I eat healthy, I do exercise at least a few times a week, and I have this, my writing which is an outlet I greatly need sometimes.  I’ve never been happier. 

I can’t lie and say that things aren’t still difficult, and there aren’t still points where it feels like I’m getting nowhere, and it’s always going to be this hard, so what’s the point?  The point is, now I have accepted this for what it is, I won’t let it own me, I have my process to deal with it now.  We fight depression because there is a life worthy of living, and for me that is how I get from today to tomorrow, having a goal in my mind of what I want my life to look like, and I know if I ignore my depression then that’s not going to happen, so I face it straight on. 

That’s how I live with it, with the knowledge that I will beat it.   

Are we all alone at heart?

Is a part of being human, being alone at heart?

Are we all struggling with battles that no one else can see, that makes us different people on the inside?

I feel like I’m lost, and not because I don’t know what I want to do with my life, because I’m pretty certain of that, but because a lot of the time I feel so cripplingly alone it’s suffocating.

But why?

I know I’m not, I have good friends, best friends, for the first time in my entire life, I have people who care, that I can talk to.  Yet, it’s like this feeling of absolute loneliness is embedded so deep inside of me its never going to matter how many people I have telling me that they’re there for me, I’m always going to be alone inside.  It is suffocating. 

The worst part is every time I get to a point where I should reach out, talk to a friend, my mind makes up a million reasons why they wouldn’t care, why I shouldn’t bother them, why we’re not as close as I thought we were.  The voices in my head make me believe that I have no one, and I still haven’t figured out how to tell them they’re wrong.  Maybe because, it had been true for so long it’s hard to believe it’s not anymore. 

They say the hardest part is telling someone that you’re struggling.  I think the hardest part is to keep telling them.   

I think that’s why I started this blog, because talking to people about what you went through in the past seems to be something I’ve mastered, but I still struggle to let people in when it comes to the things that still get to me. 

Or is that just a part of being human, that we’re all alone at heart?

One thing we can be certain of, is that we don’t live in a society that is designed to be accepting, but that at least is something we can change.   I hope by being more open and accepting of everything and everyone we can put an end to that.

Maybe then, it will not be so difficult to figure out where it is that I, and all of us, belong.    

Where do we belong?

Have you ever felt like you belonged somewhere? Really belonged? Somewhere where the people don’t judge you, or you have no fear of being judged.  There aren’t cliques or worries of being friends with the right people.  There just people, people like you, trying to find their way in world full of monsters that aren’t exciting like the ones we find in fantasy, but are instead made from humanity themselves.  Our heroes don’t have the luxury of saving the world from an alien enemy, because in reality, the only enemy we have is ourselves, humans. We care too much about our image, about what people think of us, we tend to forget what really matters.

It’s hard to find a place in the world when your species is destroying it, when it seems humanity itself is no longer fit to be here.  I hate the greed that our species seems to harbour, the pointless jobs that only serve human needs, not the needs of the world.  Or shouldn’t they be the same thing?  I think a lot of people feel that way, but we tend to give in to society, to peer pressure. 

There are many religions in this world, but why do so few worship mother nature?  It is only by her grace that we keep living, and you can’t deny it.  Whether you believe in religion or in science if we continue to destroy her, climate change will strike back, and then there will be no one left to feel out of place and depressed in a world we have made sick. 

There are few moments in this life when I have felt completely alive, all nerves awake and feeling, and all of these have been when in connection with the beauty of nature.  A stunning sunrise, a meadow, a forest alive with colour and sounds, proof that we have not destroyed everything beautiful quite yet. 

I think it’s no wonder mental health illnesses are on the rise when we have polluted our planet to the point we consume microplastics without noticing and our seas are sick with the same poison.  How can we claim to belong anywhere, when our own planet, the only home we all share, is rejecting us because our self-obsessed greed is leading to the extinction of innocent animals that we share this Earth with.  Should we be surprised that we feel alone?

We have to take responsibility and make it right, create a world where we all belong, humans and nature alike, because if we don’t, climate change will make it right for us, and there will no place for humanity in that world.

I Don’t Want to Pretend

From year 10 to year 12 at school I didn’t feel much of anything.  Towards the end of year 10 and the start of year 11 I had lost a number of people to various different illnesses, and every day from then on, wasn’t about living or enjoying life, it was just about getting to the end of that day.  The only thing that made me get out of bed in the morning was the promise that this day had to end, and then I could get back into my bed. 

It was a time when I hated being alone because that was when I became trapped inside a mind that was plagued with horrible thoughts that I couldn’t get away from.  Yet, at the same time I wanted nothing more than to be alone because being around people meant I had to pretend to be something I didn’t even know how to feel anymore, happy. 

So, I isolated myself, from my family, my friends.  I held everyone at an arms-length because having strong relationships with people would mean that they might notice that something was wrong, and I didn’t want people to think that I was weak.  Everyday was like a game, remember to smile, laugh, be happy.  I don’t think I even realised I was doing it half the time, I became somebody I thought everybody else wanted me to be, I got good grades, I was nice to everyone, I didn’t have my own opinion because I seriously doubted anyone would care.  I was like an empty vessel that waited for other people to show me how to be, because honestly?  The last thing I wanted to do, was think, make decisions and risk losing anything.  

I was clever, and a compulsive liar.  I fooled everyone, people only saw what I wanted them to see, if I was imperfect in any way, it was because I wanted to be, to seem normal.  I thought that would make me happy, until I realised I had never been more alone.

I hadn’t lost myself, but I had locked her away into a part of my mind I reserved only for myself, so that I could become someone else.

I was so repressed, so unfulfilled that as the numbness faded away I was overtaken by anger at the world, at society, for holding me back.  I wanted to scream at everything for making me feel like I couldn’t just be me, but that wouldn’t help.

So, I did something I couldn’t take back, I decided to screw the universe for making me feel so small in so many ways, and I started to open up about some of the issues I have faced, and my journey in overcoming them.  I became the person I really am, and sometimes that’s hard, because it’s natural instinct for me to want to hide away and pretend that I’m fine.  But, I have some of the best friends that I have ever had, because I have opened up to them, and although I still have points when I think it would be easier to just pretend, I know I’m happier now, and I don’t want to lose that. 

This is it for me, I know that in my heart I am going to defeat this depression because I know who I am now, I’m able to embrace that, accept that, and move forward. 

I never want to go back to the days when, ‘this day has to end’ was my mantra.

  Now, I try to live every day to it’s fullest, and that doesn’t always work out, but that’s okay, because I’ll get there, I know I will.