Please scroll past this post if reading about unhappy things is going to ruin your day. I may not enjoy Christmas, but I don’t wish to put a damper on anyone else’s joy.
With that out of the way; today is Christmas, and it’s 5:02 in the morning. I’m awake, again, because of an unfortunate and cruel twist of fate that brought me into this life as a woman. So of course, because it’s Christmas and because I’m awake, 25/12/18 is off to a bad start. And this time, it’s not just because I’m a common garden variety Grinch.
Christmas has long since become my least favourite time of the year, but this year I’m feeling especially melancholic. It’s a stupid mental health issue, you see. My brain decides that, on a day when so many people are feeling joy and happiness and closeness, it is going to screw around with some chemistry and make me sad. My brain and I are at odds with each other a lot, and today especially, she’s being a rather heinous bitch.
I feel very alone. I have family events to attend today, but right now the very thought of going anywhere or doing anything, exhausts me. I feel like I need to cry but it’s as though the ability to do so has dried up. Isn’t that just the worst thing, when you need to cry but you can’t?
I realise this is a miserable thing to say on a day like this, but I wish it was tomorrow. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the rest of the day.
I almost started this post with “the problem with anxiety and depression is…” but the truth is, there isn’t just one problem. There’s about five billion. So, let’s begin again.
When an outgoing and gregarious friend unexpectedly tells you that they’ve been to see someone about anxiety and depression, it kind of knocks you for six. It’s easy, you see, to look at someone’s outward personality and assume everything is ok. It’s easier still, to not even consider the possibility that they may not be ok, because they’re not the kind of person you readily associate with the black cloud of mental illness.
Anxiety and depression can affect anyone. In fact, statistics show show that 1 in 4 Australians will experience anxiety, whilst 1 in 6 will experience depression at some point in their lives. That’s a fucking lot of people. And, unlike a physical ailment that can be fixed with a bandaid, mental illness is not so easily remedied. It’s all consuming and bleak and confronting, and there’s no easy fix.
I’m a ‘suffer in silence’ kind of person in most aspects of my life, so I can understand why it’s easier to pretend things are ok than to tell people that you’re having a difficult time. Why it’s easier to lock the bad things behind a door and pretend it doesn’t exist than talk about it, or face the hard reality of it. And that’s why it’s never a good idea to simply assume that someone is ok.
Ask. Check in. Be there to lend a shoulder, or an ear, or to just sit in silence. Because you never know what’s going on behind closed doors.
We are once again at the last day of the year. As with all years preceding it, this day is a time for reflection and, for those that participate, resolutions. For me, 2017 was…complicated.
R E F L E C T I O N
I’m a very ‘glass half empty’ kind of person. I don’t mean to be, but it’s an inherent part of my nature and I can’t help it. So, when December 31st rolls around and I think about the year, my thoughts automatically default to the negative things that happened this year. And in 2017, believe me, there were plenty. I spent some of the most miserable months of my life living in the city, working 17 day stretches and 10 hour days, only to go ‘home’ to a living situation that was equally unsatisfactory. I slumped into a depression that affected not just me, but my relationships with those around me. And amidst all of that, I came very close to doing something I always swore to myself I wouldn’t. In June, to keep both my sanity and my health, I quit my job and moved back home.
2017 brought with it many challenges and setbacks, I won’t deny. Too many, (and a lot of them too personal) to delve into on a public platform. In recent days, I have been fighting with a feeling of loneliness that I can’t shake, whilst simultaneously longing to be living on my own and away from people. See what I mean about complicated? But despite all the negative, there were some good times too. The highlight of the year was the week I spent in Tasmania. The beautiful country, the amazing places I visited, the wonderful friends I have there, and the innate feeling that I was home, made it one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I think longingly of the day I get to go back.
In terms of sewing, I didn’t quite manage my ‘one make a month’ project. Instead, I made 11 projects, ranging from pyjama pants to a wedding dress. I think I did well, all things considered. I took on some challenges and surprised myself with how much I managed to achieve. I’ve come a long way from the early days of apron making, years ago when my sewing journey began.
All in all, I can’t say that 2017 was especially good. It had its moments, absolutely. I saw some great bands, made some new friends (and fell out with some old ones). I expanded my skills, took on new and frightening things, and went out of my comfort zone in a lot of aspects. But, nevertheless, I’m not sorry to see 2017 go.
R E S O L U T I O N S
As for resolutions, I don’t make them. What I am making, however, are plans. First, I am taking a tactical approach to sewing next year. This year I just winged it, and stitched anything that took my fancy. Next year, I am going to set myself nine projects that are different to anything I’ve made before, and I am finally going to take on the knit fabric beast. I have avoided it in the past because I’m scared of it, to be honest. Woven is so much easier. However, I know that Tilly Walnes, of Tilly and the Buttons, is bringing out a book on sewing with stretch fabric and so I am going to buy it when it comes out, and tackle the beast head on. Tilly really helped me when I first started sewing, with simple instructions and cute patterns, so I’m excited to see how I can continue to expand my skills with her second book.
Next on my list of plans is to do some research and find out where I plan to live next. As I explained to my best friend, the city didn’t work out for me so I think my next move will be coastal. But, learning from my mistakes, I will look around, visit and explore any potential homes before I barrel in head on and end up back in the City Situation. What will help, is that I plan once again to be living on my own, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am at that prospect.
The rest of my plans are sketchy at best. I refuse to say I’ll write a certain amount, or read so many books, or lose any weight or any other thing that I know I won’t stick to. I have a tendency to take on too much too soon, and get overwhelmed and end up doing none. The only other thing I want to do is take my director up on the plan we made to have her teach me the violin. Once the play is over, and we have more time, I am going to ask her to help me learn the instrument. Because honestly, it’s about time I made the effort, since my string collection remains sadly unplayed and unlearned. My final plan for 2018 is to take things slow. To try not to take on too much, and to remember to breathe. That’s not too much to ask from myself, I feel.
To you, dear readers, I simply wish to say thank you. Thank you for reading, for commenting, for sticking with me on this blogging journey. A particular thank you to two that, in the words of Anne Shirley, I feel are my kindred spirits. To Quinn, for not only your wonderful writing, but also for your lovely comments when I needed words of encouragement. And to Arbie, who has been with me since the early days, thank you for your creative mind, the adorable photos of your ferrets, and your kind words, always. I look forward to reading both of your blogs in the coming year!
Well, that’s it. Happy New Year to you all. I leave you with this comic from Sarah Andersen, which I feel sufficiently sums up my feelings about the coming year.
It gets you when you’re alone. You spend the whole day, and most of your energy, trying to keep occupied and longing for home, and bed. But then you get home, and you’re in bed, and suddenly everything that you fought so hard to keep at bay through the daylight hours comes rushing in. And by now you’re too exhausted to fight it anymore, and there’s nothing you could do about it if you did.
That’s when it gets you; when you’re at your weakest and most vulnerable. It sneaks up on you in that insidious way it has. It wraps around you, almost like a hug, if hugs were crushing and cold and made you want to never, ever wake up. And you find yourself engulfed, struggling to breathe, and part of you – most of you – wants to succumb.
It brings with it all manner of malicious things. Doubt, and not just about the big things, like whether you matter. It makes you doubt tiny insignificant little things, and makes them so much bigger than they are. Numbness, which is such an absence of feeling that it is almost a feeling itself, and it is crippling and painful and you wonder how that can be. Lassitude, and it’s not just in your body, but your mind, and it all serves to make everything so much worse.
It puts thoughts in your head, the only kind of thoughts that give you any small measure of comfort. You toy with those ideas and you find that you want it, the only thing you do want, and you want it badly. But in that cruel way you know so well, you can’t have it; you can’t get a respite because people need you. You have to be the friend, the advice giver, the confidante, the shoulder. You have the be the rock, the wall, the fucking mountain. You just want to scream at them and tell them that you’re not ok and that everything hurts, but you have to help them instead. And even if they don’t mean to, they each take their piece. What you’re left with is such a small thing, such a tiny fragment of you, that it wouldn’t really matter if that fragment were to disappear. But somehow that would make you the selfish one.
It gets you. Even when you think you’re strong, that you’ve overcome, it is always there. It will always get you.
If I had a dollar for every time that thought has crossed my mind in recent months, I would be able to quit my job and live comfortably for the rest of my life. In fact, I have thought it so many times that I don’t remember the last day I had where I didn’t think it.
I have come to the conclusion that I am either exceedingly unlucky, or someone hates me and has put a curse on me. There is simply no other explanation for my string of bad luck lately. Everything I touch seems to turn to shit. Every decision I make seems to be the wrong one. Every potentially good day I could have turns irrefutably, invariably sour. And I realise as I type, that perhaps this reads like the angsty drama of an overly emotional teenager who thinks the world is out to get her, or a cry for attention. I assure you, it is neither. This goes beyond just having a bad day. Despite my best efforts to stay positive, I find myself more unhappy now than ever.
I feel lost. I don’t know what my next move is, and in any case I’m afraid to make one because I fear the long list of negative repercussions that will inevitably follow. And there is a small voice in the back of my mind that tells me that that is exactly the wrong mindset to have. But the louder voice tells me that it doesn’t matter how positive I try to think, because I have been left disappointed every. Single. Time. So why should the near future be any different from the recent past?
I am so sick of this life. I’m sick of feeling stuck wherever I go. I’m sick of waking up every day and wanting to not wake up ever again. I’m sick of working constantly for little to no reward, in a job I don’t even have any passion for anymore. I’m sick of not having any direction, and I am dead sick of always, always being wrong. Just once, I would like to do something and have it not backfire in my face. *sigh*. I’m sorry. There’s nothing like a girl complaining online to kill your buzz. I guess the only thing I can do now (short of something that I promised I would never do) is to go home, make myself a cup of tea, and immerse myself in my writing. It’s new, this project I’ve started, but it hits close to home. And when the rest of my life seems to be falling spectacularly to pieces, I cling to creativity like a lifeline. Hopefully it will get me through this time too.
Do you ever have a run of seriously bad decision making? I’ve been having one of those for…well, pretty much this whole year. I’ve been in this cycle of feeling stuck, and making changes to try to better my situation, only to have it completely backfire and turn out worse than before. That whole thing about the grass not being greener on the other side has definitely hit home with me lately.
I have stuck around where I should have walked, and walked away from things I should have stuck with. I have completely uprooted my life for the possibility of something better, and had it be a huge disappointment. I’m no happier now than I was at the start of the year, and I think that’s what is really getting to me recently. I just turned 24 and I think I am the unhappiest I have ever been, and it is all the result of decisions I’ve made that I thought were going to improve my situation. Oh, I had grand plans. But one by one, they have failed and both my life, and the dreams I had have withered away and turned to dust. How’s that for some emo teenage regression?
I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’m having this giant existential crisis and trying to battle the ever increasing numbness that has damn near engulfed me entirely. The energy is drained out of me and what life I had has been swallowed up by the daily grind. I feel like my future isn’t even in my hands. When I’ve tried to be strong and take control of it, somehow it always fails spectacularly, and I find myself right back at the start again. It’s like driving along an endless highway, with no destination, no rest in sight, and nothing to look at but the bleak expanses of my own mundane existence.
And see the thing is, they keep telling you that if you don’t like something about your life, then you should change it. Well, I did change it, but that doesn’t seem to be working too well for me. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong?
My life is in the midst of falling spectacularly to pieces. I haven’t even been living in the city for a month, and already I’m missing home. And you know things are bad when I actually miss the town that had me feeling so stunted and stuck. I can’t work out if it’s just the adjustment period, or the bad headspace, or if it’s the combination of all the little things that have built up and turned into something so much bigger. Perhaps all of these things together attribute to this mess of mine.
It’s been a bad couple of weeks. I’ve been waking up every day to a wretched combination of existential dread, and depression, and it makes getting out of bed exponentially harder. I can’t shake it, so instead I have to go to work and feign normality and if not outright happiness, then at least some modicum of mild contentment. This week they finally got me into my new shop, which should have been awesome. But after a few days of drama, unnecessarily irate customers, the worst set up in the history of shop openings, and technical difficulties that make my job incredibly complicated and inconvenient, I can’t say it’s been a super thrilling ride thus far. The plus side is that the shop is new, I’m working on my own, and I can set it up how I like. The downside is that a franchisee if buying it in November, which means all my hard work is for the benefit of someone else. And to make matters worse, I just got out of the creepy, poorly organised shop that messes with my head and had me in tears last week, only to be told that when the franchisee takes over, they’ll put me back there six days a week. My increasingly fragile mental state might not be able to take it.
And then there’s those technical difficulties I mentioned. In addition to the troubles at work, a couple of weeks ago my laptop decided to stop cooperating. The dreaded black screen of death reared it’s ugly head, and I’m left with a laptop full of writing that I can’t access. It’s frustrating, especially for a creative person like me, who relies on being able to create to keep herself sane. My best friend/hero/emotional saviour is sending me a laptop to keep me going, so I have that to look forward to. I just have to work out a way to extract my hard drive from my poor defeated Atticus so that I can salvage my work. And if that wasn’t enough, yesterday my phone died with the same problem. With no explanation, it simply refused to turn on past a blank screen. So there goes all my photos, recordings, messages and phone numbers. I spent a larger portion of yesterday trying to set up a new phone but the inconvenience was certainly enough to make me throw my hands up in frustration.
In amongst all of this is trying to navigate the city (I’ve been lost a lot), working out how to happily live with someone else, trying to organise my one day off into some small measure of productivity and the underlying anxiety about uprooting my entire life for the possibility of something better that had, thus far, been very far from my expectation.
But despite all this, there is some light ahead. I woke up today and for the first time in two weeks, I didn’t feel like burying my head under the covers and hiding forever. The sun is out and there’s a real feel of spring in the air today. A hint of positivity peeked out from where it had been hiding and I am ready to tackle this day, and anything that comes with it. I’m hoping that this is the start of an upward curve. No pressure, Little Positivity. You just get me through today and I’ll be content.