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A post with no name

A post with no name
 

I think this is about to become the most honest post I have written or will ever write and I’m still not sure whether I want to hit ‘publish’ at the end of it but, I’ve been honest with you from the start and I don’t have any intention of stopping, so here’s a post, from one friend to another…

I wrote a post a few weeks ago called ‘breaking down and building up’ where I talked about going through a bad time in my life but that I felt I was finally coming out the other side and that things were getting better.  Well, it turned out that my mind lied to me because not only did I stop getting better, I got worse.  To put it bluntly, I crashed and burned like a Hollywood explosion.

There is a great deal of positivity online in the travel blog community, celebrating lives and inspiring others to go and chase their dreams which I love but you know what?  Sometimes things get out of your control and life is just shit.  There, I said it.  No pussy-footing around, sometimes life is just shit and there’s nothing you can do but ride it out and hope that it gets better.  It’s the sad but plain truth.  As much as we want to be able to control our own destinies and forge our life paths; sometimes circumstance just won’t let you.

A few weeks ago I announced on my Facebook page that I wouldn’t be so active online as I had some health issues and needed to take some time out; everyone was supportive and hoped I would get better soon.  What I really wanted to say, however, is that I am depressed as hell and it’s probably going to be weeks or months until I find the old me again.

You see, when you say you’re depressed, no one knows what to do or say; conversations become awkward and less frequent, people get bored of trying to make you happy and some people just think that you can simply ‘pull yourself together’.  I’d prefer to be physically ill if I’m honest, at least I would have something to show for it, even if it was just a rain cloud that followed me everywhere.  When you bump into someone in town or talk to your friends, they can’t see anything wrong with you and, I hate to say it, a lot of the time, people don’t genuinely believe you’re so ill because they can’t see anything wrong with you.  You’re not walking around on crutches or working your way through a box of tissues because of flu; everything that is sick is neatly wrapped up in your skull.  The only physical signs are likely to be that you look like crap because you’re not sleeping or eating.

I’ve been off work for a little over four weeks and I feel only slightly better than I did on my first day off.  Four WEEKS and I still feel like shit.  I can’t just ‘pull myself together’ or ‘smile my way through it’ because it doesn’t work like that and I HATE IT!  Earlier this year I was content – something which had taken me 11 years to find.  I had just returned from Africa, knew what I wanted to do with my life and life seemed bright.  Just four months later and I’m someone that I no longer recognise.  I’m angry as hell that I’m mentally ill!  After a decade of trying to find my own happiness, it disappeared in a matter of weeks.  I’m angry, upset, exhausted; you name it, I’m feeling it.  I don’t want to be ill; I WANT to be able to do the things that make me happy such as read a book or write like I used to so that I can at least try and help myself but, for whatever reason, my mind and body just won’t allow it for now.  I feel like a computer; broken and stuck on ‘sleep power mode’ unable to reboot or fully regain power.

Last Sunday I turned 26.  I should have been happy and celebrating but all I wanted to do was stay in bed all day and forget it.  I was taken out for lunch and dinner but I didn’t have ‘fun’, for me, it was just an ‘okay day’.  That’s not to say that I wasn’t grateful for my family treating me and the lovely gifts that I got, I was, but feeling how I did, I didn’t feel that I had anything to celebrate.  Friends and family sent me birthday messages all day hoping that I was being spoilt rotten and having an amazing day – how could I tell them that I wished I didn’t have to celebrate?  So I lied.  It didn’t take much.  A few ‘thanks’, some smiley faces and a couple of ‘haha’ and ‘lol’s’ online and I had most people convinced.

You see, as honest as I am being with you in this post, depression and mental health is still ‘embarrassing’.  How can I admit to friends that without my mum cooking me dinner, I probably wouldn’t eat?  Or that a trip around the supermarket for the weekly shop exhausts me?  I’m 26 years old; I should be in the prime of my life both mentally and physically and yet, here I am…needing to be looked after.

Depression is like being stuck in a bubble; you KNOW what you need to do to make yourself happy…change your circumstances, read a good book, spend time outside etc etc but you just can’t pop the bubble and it’s torture knowing that you’re stuck.  It doesn’t just affect you ‘in the now’ either; suddenly everything that you felt hopeful for – your ‘big life plans’ feel like they’re never going to happen so ‘what’s the point in trying to achieve them’?  Your whole future looks like nothing but a big hole full of black.  And when you do finally stretch that bubble a little and manage to go for a walk or sit outside and read a book?  People think that you ‘can’t be that ill after all’ – there is truly no way to please everyone.

I don’t know how long I’m going to be ill for; it could be another couple of weeks before I start to resemble the old me again or it could be months and that uncertainty is heartbreaking.  I know I won’t be like this forever but for the moment, the bad days still outweigh the good and I’m getting impatient. I miss hanging out with friends instead of cancelling on them because I have no energy and I miss my favourite food because I just don’t have the appetite to eat.  But most of all?  I just miss being me.

So there it is.  My post.  1276 words of honesty that I wanted to share with you; not for sympathy but to help you realise that it’s ok to admit that things don’t always go our way and that yes, life is sometimes hard.  Don’t be hard of yourself; everyone goes through hard times, some worse than others but it is possible to come out the other side of it; trust me.  Do the things that you love to do and be kind to yourself with it.  Don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t feel like writing anything for a few days or feel bad because you just don’t feel like smiling much one day…be selfish.  Do what you have to to find your smile again and the rest will happen when it’s good and ready -

I’ll take the journey with you.

  1. Hannah06-07-12

    I so glad you decided to hit that publish button honey – your honesty is so refreshing. I also make a point of always being 100% open about my life, the good and the bad, so I understand how scary it must have been to put this post out there. You are an incredible person Toni, and I am sure your words will inspire many others to be more truthful about who they really are. I hope you find your smile again soon, it’s so beautiful xxx

  2. Oddette06-07-12

    Depression is one of things that has become abused in recent times. Most people who think they’ve gone through a bout of depression have merely been “low”. True depression never really goes away, it’s always there, like the monster in the closet waiting to jump out at you. It’s something that most everyone doesn’t understand and there is no one way to fix it.

    I’m sorry that you have to deal with this like you do, if there was anything I could do to help you I would – I hope you know that. That said, the one piece of constructive advice I can give you is to take the prescription and the referral from the doc and at the very least use the referral.

    Having that one person to talk to who is never, ever, ever going to judge you is the best thing you can do for yourself. Screw the walks, the books, the inspiring scenery and all that jazz – find that one person who will never judge you, no matter what you say, the one who will never tell you to “buck up”, who will accept your tears and your anger for what they are and not think them petty. Find that person, and while the road may be long it will eventually lead you somewhere.

  3. Jen06-07-12

    As Hannah said, I’m so glad you clicked publish! I think talking about it and acknowledging that you’ve lost control is the first step to getting it back. So many people out there suffer with depression and never speak out about it, at least if they read this they’ll know they’re not alone. I’m so proud of how brave you’ve been by writing this, and by staying so strong over the last few weeks. you might not be able to see yourself back to normal in the immediate future, but I promise you things will get better, and you’ll come out so much stronger for it. Love you girlie, keep your chin up xx

  4. Sophie06-07-12

    Thank you so much for hitting that publish button. I’ve been struggling through a similar sort of time. It is an achievement for me to be ‘present’ in a day – I’m sure that will make sense to you – and it is comforting to know that there are others out there experiencing similar things. I have not yet managed to be as honest as I would like with my friends, so I really applaud you for this post. I hope you will come out the other side of this time very soon.

  5. Kerri06-07-12

    I am so proud of you sweetie. It must of been so hard to hit that button to let people ‘in’ and see what’s really going on. If anything this is the best thing you can do. Like you say, it’s not to get sympathy from anyone (you know we all love anyway ;)..!) but it’s to show that life isn’t always as perfect as we like it to be, but more importantly I like to think f this post as a stepping for YOU. Don’t be scared of what others will think or what others might say, or be afraid of saying to you. Treat this post as a way of building yourself back up and being the beautiful smiley girl I met in Edinburgh! You even said yourself that this won’t last forever and you know that, you know your strong honey, time is the best healer for everything :) love you doll xxx

  6. Sherry06-08-12

    I just wanted to say I understand. I finally feel like I’ve bounced back from a year+ of depression, but whenever there is a bad couple of days I never know if I’m really sad/mad or if it is all in my head and I’m spiraling back down. I agree with the second response in that having a friend that you implicitly trust is the best solution – or it was for me. I am not sure I would have survived that year if it wasn’t for my friend. Hang in there chica.

  7. Elle06-08-12

    Believe me, I can totally relate. I think that many of us go through periods of our life where we feel like nothing seems to go our way and that things will never get better. I’ve found that having someone to talk to about my problems really helps me get through these times.

    Things WILL get better love, keep your chin up.

  8. Heather06-09-12

    I’m glad you shared this with us, Toni. Many people experience depression or another mental illness, and I think it’s important to talk about.

    I hope things begin to improve sooner rather than later for you *HUG*

  9. Toni06-09-12

    Hannah – Exactly, being honest through the good and bad is always essential I think but you’re right, it was still scary to post it. I know I’ll find my smile again soon…I have amazing friends like you in my life that help :)) xx

  10. Toni06-09-12

    Oddette – you’re right, there’s definitely a distinction between depression and feeling ‘low’ and that many people take advantage of it. And yes, it is very much like a monster in the closet…you’re always aware that it could jump out at any moment. My best friend is great to talk to and is always there for me; I’m not sure what I would do without her but sometimes, when I just feel like being alone, being kind to myself with a good book etc is good medicine.

  11. Toni06-09-12

    Jen – I’ve definitely lost control haha. Thank you for being proud of me sweet; that means a lot. Things will get better, they always do eventually, I just have to ride it out and look forward to the good times returning :) So pleased you’re in my life! xx

  12. Toni06-09-12

    Sophie – I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling too. Yes, I definitely understand what you mean by being ‘present’ in a day. I hope that you can be honest with your friends…true friends can be a great source of comfort at times like these. I know that I will come out of this at some point and I look forward to it. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to email me if you need a friend x

  13. Toni06-09-12

    Kerri – thank you for your lovely words as ever sweet; they mean a lot to me. I do feel as though recognising my situation in this post helped a little. Who knows what the future will hold but I know that I’ll get better eventually…being kind to myself is harder than I thought though haha. Miss you lots!! xx

  14. Toni06-09-12

    Sherry – Sorry to hear that you’ve had over a year of it; it’s really hard work isn’t it?! It’s VERY difficult to distinguish between just ‘normal’ low days and depression days…I often struggle not knowing which is which. Glad to know you had a friend that stuck by you…it’s essential.

  15. Toni06-09-12

    Swimmy – I always think that when people say they’ve never been through a bad time in life, they’re lying their pants off! My best friend is always there for me; I couldn’t ask for anything more from her :) Glad you got through the bad times too hun.

  16. Toni06-09-12

    Heather – talking about it is one of the first steps I think :) Things will definitely improve; I know I wouldn’t be like this forever. Thank you :)

  17. Victoria06-09-12

    Hi Toni, I came across this post via Hannah’s blog as I am researching about starting my own blog. I just wanted to give you this link to my mum’s website as it may very well help you just to read the brochure – the link is on the first page http://merkabaheart.co.uk/

  18. Debbie06-10-12

    Even at your lowest depths, you’re still managing to help others get out of theirs..”do what you have to to find your smile again”. Thank you for this (it was a lightbulb moment for me). You’re stronger than you think!

    It takes one to know one; I can completely relate to this post. From experience, the only comfort I can give you is that you’re not alone in this (even when you feel that you are) and that although it’s a big cliche, it’s true – time really is the greatest healer. I also agree wholeheartedly with Oddette.

    Wishing you well in your recovery, Toni.

  19. Toni06-11-12

    Victoria – Lovely that you found me through Hannah’s blog…she’s an incredible woman! Thank you for the link to your mum’s website too…I’ll be sure to look it over and see if it helps!

  20. Toni06-11-12

    Debbie – thank you for your such kind words; they mean a lot during a time like this. Sadly I’ve been through this struggle more times that I’d like so I know it will get better eventually but this time I’m just a little too impatient to sit back and wait for it to get better :s I’m sorry to hear that you struggled too but glad to know that (hopefully) you have come out the other side :)

  21. Erik06-30-12

    Your honesty is what makes you an exceptional blogger and person. You will recognize that someday :-)

  22. Toni07-01-12

    Erik – you’re making me blush :)

  23. Julia07-03-12

    A very close member of my family has suffered with depression for years and it saddens me whenever I learn about others who experience it, usually because it tends to be the nicest and most loving people who can be affected by it. Even though they now no longer need to take medication for it, I can still see the occasions when their mood changes and they feel as though they cannot cope or don’t have the energy to do anything. However, I’ve also seen them at their best, and those moments are worth a thousand of the dark ones – so please realise that things can and will get better and that there are so many people out there who experience the same. You should never feel ashamed about what or who you are – people who love you will love you regardless. And talking about things definitely always helps.

  24. gabi klaf07-04-12

    you are so beautiful dear toni. your honesty, your ability to hug yourself and say, ‘this is so’. go you. and i know, through writing, that you were able to find light in all of that gray, through observing yourself. thanks for sharing. you were wise, even in your deepest sadness. very inspirational. thank you.

  25. Toni07-05-12

    Gabi – awww thank you SO much for your beautiful words. I really don’t know what to say, you’re making me blush :)

  26. Loz in Transit (comedy)07-10-12

    I realise why I love blogs and podcasts so much, its because it allows us to selfpublish. It allows us to access stories that are honest and heartfelt that in the past we could only hear from those closest to us. Its what I enjoy about Standup Comedy also.

    Own your story. Remember your way of thinking and feeling simply empowers your voice. It gives you empathy, allows you to assist others who might be going through the same thing. You’re a great writer with a unique perspective. Thanks.

  27. Toni07-11-12

    Julia – I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve experienced a family member with it. I often think it’s just as tough for the families to watch as it is for people going through it. You’re right though – the good days are amazing and feel great and they will increase! Thank you for your lovely sentiments :)

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