Blogger, Essay, Life, Mental Health

A year on solid ground

It has been two years since my breakdown. Last July I sat down and wrote an article called ‘A year of mud,’ in which I described with brutal honesty the struggle, exhaustion, and constant muddiness of living immediately post-breakdown. It was a cathartic and necessary piece of writing for me, I was proud of it. Now, dear reader, I am two years and four days post breakdown. And I want to tell you a little about how I got out of sinking, consuming mud, and onto stable ground.

A few days ago I really didn’t feel the need to say anything about my life 2 years on. I finally feel like that chapter of my life has closed, and this better version of myself – the one that learned how to let herself move on, to grief, heal and have bad days, well she has finally stood up. And honestly, she deserves to be heard.

When I was depressed, I lived minute to minute because that’s all I felt I had. I threw together a string of what I’d call ‘little victories.’ They were the tiny things I’d be able to do- starting as simply as brushing my teeth, getting washed, eventually building up to going back to work, sorting my shit out, starting a business etc. This didn’t happen overnight and let me tell you I am far from a beacon of mentally healthy light. But for what I have overcome and what I have achieved in the past 2 years, I’m a pretty frigging good example of ‘it can get better,’ if I may say.

Last year to get me through my tough spot, I took up writing again. Best thing I ever did in all honesty, I always loved to write but the depression swallowed whole the part of my personality that had any interest/confidence/energy to even try to put pen to paper. I got back into poetry, I can’t tell you how it came about that I just decided to push myself and try, I guess I needed a release, something other than the void of work, the emptiness of the depression, and the painful glance in the mirror reflection that I honestly couldn’t stomach.

The next hard part was sharing that poetry, writing my first blog post, building a name/site for those words and so on. This snowballed into a site called my rabid wonderland, which eventually streamlined into my rabid wonder, which hey, hi, hello, IS me, or at least the embodiment of my work, and therefore, me. It is literally my heart, mind, fears, talents, doubts, breaks and bursts of joy. I was always shit with names and cool branding even when I studied it in college, but this felt right. From the moment I started, it felt like I was letting the air back into my lungs.

I can’t say the cure to all depression is art. I can’t say shit really, I am only writing this to tell you how my recovery has went. I have made things my entire life, not always well mind, but I’ve always worked with my hands and tried to make beautiful things. That’s the point really; that the mental illness comes in like a cloud over your talents and drops this acidic rain that burns every dream and goal down. Until all there is, is that rain. That mind melting, burning rain that builds into a flood and washes away every trace of you that ever made YOU. If you’re going through that, I am truly sorry. I know I can’t begin to comprehend how your depression/ illness affects you. I won’t offer misguided advice or bullshit you that over time it gets better, all I know is that for me it took time, patience, and a string of little victories.

My medication has been a monumental help to me in my recovery – changing from citalopram to mirtazapine was the best thing I could have ever done, increasing my anxiety med propanol equally so. These medications help, it doesn’t take it all away but it can help regain a sense of control and routine, which for me personally was a huge step forward in my recovery.

By all means, I am not trying to say I’m some super chill, constantly happy gal with no problems or mental health concerns, oh boy definitely not. But I can deal with things better, when shit goes wrong I am in a position that I can fix it, or at least ask for help. If I’m having a bad day, I let myself have a bad day because I know it’s literally not possible to keep going up and never come down. I also know when to push myself and when to relax, because sometimes I need my ass kicked into doing some work and other days I accept that I need the break. A word I constantly repeat to myself is balance, because some days you’ll kick ass, other days you’ll have your own ass kicked, and that’s ok. That’s the nature of it all.

“Light. Darkness. A balance.”

“It’s so much bigger.”

But enough with the Last Jedi quotes. I just mean of all my little mantras to myself, the balance one is probably the most important. I also say to myself constantly “Don’t look back when you’re moving forward.” Because my brain tends to slip back into old patterns of ‘hey remember when this person did this to you and you just sat there and took it LOL?” and “You couldn’t even finish uni or travel or blah blah blah.” When I say don’t look back, that encompasses a large range of fuck ups I made, trauma I suffered, heartaches I didn’t heal from, and so much more. You can’t look at someone else and think ‘oh shit that’s where I should be’ because you are your own person. With scars, mistakes and a past that not everyone else has had to endure.

I got into the habit of looking at what I have rather than all I desire for my life. Which sounds so wanky I know, but it really is a healthier mindset than constantly putting yourself down for not being where you want to be by this point in your life. You have time, and it doesn’t need to be perfect.

I’m currently working on building my brand My Rabid Wonder, continuing to create beautiful things, sell those things, and make the girl that wanted to die two years ago proud to be alive.

Love, patience, little victories,

L.

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Poetry, Song

King III

Round we go love
Guess we’re spinning again
I tried to tell you
We were never just friends

Because I’ll leave you
With despair in your eyes
And I warned you
That I’d cut straight like a knife

So now you’re cryin’
Since I told you shit straight
Kicked your ass to the curb
And slammed the front gate

My King is a taker
You take all as you please
Honey I told you
I’ll take you down on your knees

Because yeah you hurt me
Made me your lock with no key
But I don’t need me a king
To feel free.

Blogger, Essay, Mental Health

My Rabid Etsy

I did it. I reached a point in my recovery in which I rediscovered my general “Fuck it” attitude. I lost that, the spark that lets you do things on a whim just because you want to. That bravery you need to try something new, or break out of the safety bubble you put yourself in when life gets hard and routine is all you can cope with.

After months of preparation and planning, I launched my Etsy shop. Might not be a big deal to many, but to me this marks a positive change in my life. I feel validated, my art is valid, and my very existence is valid. People give a shit, it turns out. My Rabid Wonder is my brand, my personality, my craft and I guess you could say my very soul. It is sewn into me, representing my struggle and growth in the tapestry of my life. I brought My Rabid Wonder to life in 2017, when I had made the first step in the journey I still walk today, by starting this blog, sharing my poetry and photography, and talking regularly about my mental health. It has been a year of little victories, every month bringing me closer to the best version of myself.

All my life, I loved to make things. Pretty, weird, scary, unusual things. I grew up shopping in charity shops and that thrifty lifestyle stayed with me in both my day-to-day life, and my creative life. I restore things, upcycle them, paint them, and now, I get to sell them. I was depressed, uninspired and fairly miserable for a long time, the thrifting stopped as the depression began. The creative spark dulled in the consuming smoke of mental illness. And that smoke? The thing that ate me up inside? Yeah that’s still there. She won’t go away because she is a part of me. Sometimes I even feel like there is only her, and no me. But I’m growing, and I am learning how to break her down. Most days I win.

2018 so far has been a period of building confidence and strength, to get to a point of saying to myself “You can and you will.” That attitude has helped. I have never attempted to sell anything I have made before now. I’ve always come from the perspective of “I am grateful you like this product, you can have it. Thank you for liking something I made!” While that sentiment remains true, it does not a successful artist make. I see that now, and I have the confidence to now say “Hey, I am really glad you like my art, I’m selling it if you are interested.” Which is a lot healthier, both for my heart and my bank account.

My Rabid Wonder launched on Etsy on the 7thMay, and within the first 10 days I have had 10 sales. I was nervous as hell, hovering over the button that would make the site live, the button that would make it real. I had to leave my phone and go for a walk to get the nerves to settle. I came back to my first sale and some lovely comments, gradually the nerves left.

You can visit my shop here: etsy.com/shop/myrabidwonder

I currently have 26 listings, also happy to take custom orders. Please feel free to get in touch. More items beyond canvas will be coming to the shop over the summer period.

Love, light,

L.