The Beginning

(a repsonse piece to my poem The End, see below)

They say that heartbreak is one of the worst things a person can experience, one of the most painful, I wonder if the people who say that have ever lost a best friend?  It’s a pretty common concept to come across, that the loss of a close friend is as bad as heartbreak, if not worse.  2019 was the year I felt that truth.

The moment you feel them slip between your fingers, the misunderstandings that leads you to drift apart makes your heart ache as you realise you are powerless to stop it. Even if you tried to make things go back to the way they were, they can’t. Not now.  People change, relationships change, but it doesn’t make it any less painful.  It’s a hard feeling to describe, because it’s akin to loss and grief, unless you’ve felt it you can’t know it, it’s not just mental it’s physical.  It’s the bottomless pit in your stomach, the lump in your throat, the tightness in your chest. The constant discomfort that reminds you you’re missing something, or someone.  Although that person may still be here, they’re not here for you, not anymore. 

It’s the unanswered questions that tear at you, running around in circles in your mind, chasing away sleep, making you relive painful memories shrouded in fog because you tried to shut it out, to deny it happened.  The how could you’s and the why’s?  The sheer agony of knowing that one day a person you were closest to in the whole world changed their perception of you so much, they stopped caring about your problems.  The moment they became so wrapped up in themselves they no longer saw you, the real you, the you you hid from everyone else for too long. The moment they decided that you weren’t close enough to resolve it, that you weren’t worth it. 

Worth. That’s what it truly comes down to.  The feeling that you weren’t enough for someone you wholeheartedly cared about, that you loved like family.  The knowledge that if you aren’t enough for them who are you enough for? If you failed them, then who else could want you?

It’s a deep feeling, it rips right through you and leaves you winded.  It’s hurt, wrapped up in agony wrapped up in anger, wrapped up in confusion, wrapped up in self-hatred and doubt.

It’s human.

To lose two good friends in the space of a couple of months made me feel like I was drowning, like everything I had accomplished, everything I had gotten through had been for nothing, because what was the point if there was no one to share the happiness with?  The point was I learnt a lot about people, and about myself.  I learnt that, although friends help you so much through all the shit we have to deal with in life, ultimately, it’s myself I have to rely on, to believe in.  I learnt that self-love was the thing that was going to make me strong. 

Even more so, I learnt that the friends I had been looking for, for what’s felt like my whole life, were right in front of me the whole time, and it took losing the people I thought I needed to see the ones that really cared about me.  The friends that would always fight for me, and me for them too.

It wasn’t the end at all, it was the beginning.

Liv.

A world without buildings

Imagine a world without buildings

A world where the grass is always green

A world where we don’t have to hide

Don’t feel the need to die

A world that isn’t about death

But life.

Imagine a world without buildings

A world without institutions

Without power

A world that isn’t about war

But peace.

A parallel universe we will never reach

Because extinction looms, doomed

to drown in our man-made creation

of buildings.  

By Liv.

(I wrote this sat in a cafe, sat in a seat by a floor to ceiling window staring out at the bright sunny day, with clear blue skies. Despite the pleasantness of the day, all I could think about was what a shame it was I couldn’t see the beauty of the world itself, because my view was so blocked by huge, grey, ugly buildings. So, my inspiration for humanities penchant of ruining the natural world inspired this poem)

2019 – it’s not an easy world

What a year 2019 was.  So many ups and downs, I learnt so much about people in that year.  I feel like the whole time I was on a long journey to finding the one thing I’ve always felt like I was missing.  A place I truly belonged. 

I went from thinking I’d found it early on in the year, to feeling like I’d lost it and the many low days that followed led to self-deprecating thoughts of being a failure, of being someone that wasn’t good enough or interesting enough for anyone.  Landing me right back where I’d started, in a place where I was beginning to accept that I would always be alone, that the only person I could really rely on was myself. But, like we all have to, I kept going, because when it comes to life, there really shouldn’t be any other option.

I built relationships back up again, refusing to give in to the temptation that it was perhaps oh so much easier to just embrace being alone.  I knew I could never be happy that way, I needed to keep trying until I found the people that got me, that could love me for who I am, baggage and all. 

In so many ways 2019 was the best year of my life, but also one of the most difficult.  I had achieved everything intellectually that at that point I wanted to.  I knew anything in the academic arena I could have done if I had gone for it, I had enough confidence in myself to know that when I was determined I could do it.  It wasn’t educationally that I felt inadequate.  It was in myself I didn’t feel enough.  I didn’t know who I was anymore, I had a complicated relationship with my Mum which neither of us wanted to revisit for fear it would make our relationship even worse, unsalvageable, and I felt like I didn’t have many close friendships that would look past the cracks and see that despite my mental struggles I wasn’t weak, I just needed a friend. 

I was scared of being misunderstood, of people assuming things that weren’t true, I was scared of being treated differently, like I was fragile, when in reality I was anything but that.  I was just tired of pretending all the time. 

2019 did that for me, it sent me searching for the thing I thought was out of reach.  It gave me a place in a world I had started to doubt was even made for me.  It gave me people that wouldn’t judge, people that understood how struggling felt and wanted to stand by my side rather than try to save me like some superior heroic figure.  It gave me people I could rely on, but also people I could laugh with.  2019 gave me back my relationship with my Mum, I worked through some of my biggest fears, and had conversations that I never thought I’d have the courage to do. 

Maybe it was the right time, the right age that meant I stopped being so afraid of what would happen if I was more open, if I became ‘real.’  I was always the girl at school that had to be perfect, have perfect clothes, perfect make-up, be talking to guys, have an exciting, adventurous life.  Perfection gets tiring.  Leaving and going to university I let go of that, I became a truer version of myself, and I struggled with friendships.  Then, I found the real friends, the ones that didn’t care about perfection, I found a place where I belonged. 

So many people struggle with friendships and home life, they feel like they are completely alone in the world, like no one could ever understand them.  It’s different for everyone of course, but loneliness I can understand, I think we’d be surprised by the amount of people that can.  Unfortunately, we are often our own biggest obstacle, and we have to overcome our own fears and insecurities, figure out who we are before we can tell other people, and expect them to accept us.  It’s not an easy world, it’s a judgemental one, but if all the lonely ones were to come together and form a friendship, I have a feeling we’d outnumber those that aren’t.  So, remember that the next time you feel alone, because in thinking that, you’re not really alone at all, and someday if you keep going long enough it will change, and someone will really see you for who you are.

Liv.

(Instagram = the_olive_blog)

Is depression a symptom of society?

Everyone my age has experienced sadness, everyone in the world has experienced sadness, but when, at what point does that become depression?  I never know where the line is, if there even is one.  I’d hope for most people that’s a question they never have to ask, but I think that in our present climate that would be a naïve impression to have.  You might think me pessimistic, in fact I hope you do, because that probably means you’ve never suffered depression, but for me, I think most people have at some point in their lifetime. 

I was told once by a teacher at my secondary school, that everyone would experience depression at least once in their lifetime.  I remember being horrified that she could make such a claim in front of 15-year olds, little did I know I was on the brink of falling into that void myself. 

There has to be a reason, that we are all so discontent with lives that we should highly appreciate.  I happen to believe it is our relationship with the world around us.  Greed has the gotten the better of us, society was born to judge us, change us, alienate the real us.  When you feel like you can’t just be an unfiltered version of yourself, when you need to put on a pretence for the ‘social’ world, you lose the real you, and when you lose that part of yourself that makes up your identity, what do you become other than a blank slate for society to write on? With this brings its own problems, because society has no definition of perfection, it is riddled with contradictions and impossible standards that no one can attain in their real lives.  So where does that leave you?

It left me unfulfilled, uncertain, lost, without purpose, without passion.  I only wanted others to like me, but when you are in that position you aren’t living for yourselves but for other people, often strangers that can have no care for your true wellbeing. 

I tricked myself and everyone else into thinking that that was okay when really, I was at the lowest point of my life, and no one saw the signs, how could I have expected them to, when I didn’t even know myself well enough to see it?

The point is though, I did come to a realisation, that I didn’t want to live for other people, I wanted to have my own agenda, I wanted to be someone unique, something new, something no one else could be.  The simplest way of achieving that, was to become the person I always was under all the pretence, to become open about my feelings, about what I went through behind closed doors.  I set myself free from what I saw as the constraints of society, all the stigma, I told myself not to care about it.  That’s not an easy thing for anyone, and I have in no way achieved that completely, but although I still have bad days, and depressive ‘episodes’ I no longer feel ashamed, or feel I have to hide it. 

Liv x

https://www.instagram.com/the_olive_blog/

Polluted planet, polluted mind

POLLUTED PLANET; POLLUTED MIND

When our planet is dying
When our people are getting fatter
When suicide is a leading factor
Of death in first world countries

Do you think maybe there’s a link?
And maybe that’s our connection with the environment?

But if nature is our miracle cure,
Stop throwing rubbish on your mother’s floor.

Olivia.

Check out my instagram account below too!

“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.    

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.