HOLLY

This is scary, but I think it’s important to share. Not important like achieving your KPIs or being on time for an appointment or paying a parking fine – important like a matter of life and death. Ok that sounds dramatic but I do believe sharing and talking could save lives. I want to tell you about how my life has been sculpted by my erratic mental health in a hope that you can learn from it and that it is freeing and comforting in some capacity.

Although I’m quite embarrassed of people I know reading this and by what people might think…for every 20 people who think I’m a freak there will be 1 who is in a dark place who will make the brave call to talk to someone and to know they are not on their own.

There is the whole nature vs nurture convo – are you born with these feelings, maybe inherited/runs in your family, or do you experience things in your life time that impacts your ability to function in a “normal” manner. I think I am subject to a little bit of both. Without boring you with the detail it’s safe to say from a very young age and regardless of situation, I have experienced frequent periods of darkness and self-destruction and have been evidently “different” from the majority of people I know. I have tried to verbalise these feelings to many people at my low points and its pretty bloody hard to describe. What normally followed were responses like “snap out of it” and “think happy thoughts” which only make you loathe yourself more for not being able too. It’s a strange and isolating experience.

Day to day I experience varying levels of chaos and volatility in my mental stability. I have been able to identify trigger points which helps me to prepare and plan for these times. I have been and still will be quite reclusive as a result as these feelings, clearly the overstimulation and energy it takes to fight some of these lulls in my mood and to be able to hold down a job and ensure my life doesn’t fall to pieces can mean I crash at times. I miss important events, pike on commitments when I feel like I cannot push through much to the annoyance and disappointment of friends. Sometimes I can’t answer the phone or stomach talking to people, even people I love.

Relationships have been strained and or lost, family life can tough, friends don’t hang around long, work can present other challenging interactions. Safe to say on face value this imbalance/condition/disease (we don’t clearly define depression today) is a pest. I’m not writing this to moan I actually wanted to tell you about some pretty spectacular flip sides to the darkness. Turns out my desperation to shift the constant ache has driven me to strive aggressively to make change and survive. Come to think of it I’ve managed to achieve some pretty cool things… like travelling to countries I had only dreamed of visiting, relocating to the other side of the world, developing an aggressive focus on career. I’ve sat through hours of therapy which has enabled an advanced understanding of others and empathy. I have a commitment to routine and well-being. I have found creative outlets through singing, music and nature, achieving things I never thought I would have achieved as an 11-year-old too sad to get through school.

I have turned to incredible organisations like Lifeline in the past. I have opened up to people that have shown immense compassion and shared in return. I enjoy regular exercise and mindfulness and meditation which helps make this more manageable. I don’t abuse drugs or alcohol and strive to keep balanced. Day to day I see improvements and then in a flash I can feel like I’ve taken 20 steps back. Good job I have built a support network of loving understanding people who get that I am different and love me for it, their patience and love helps me take those baby steps forward again.

Take your own steps forward and feel the relief and comradery of sharing what you are going through. Try to look at your own darkness as a blessing as it makes you who you are. Who wants to be fucking “normal” anyway how boring. Acceptance is key and I work every day on loving the weird skin I am in. Wear your heart on your sleeve – I know I do.