Blogger, Essay, Life, Mental Health

What’s your origin story, hunty?

Lately I’ve been binge listening to a podcast called getting curious, from Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness. As well as being a total delight, Jonathan is also very informative, he knows the right questions to ask his guests and is brilliantly, well, curious. One particular episode with co star Bobby Berk was called “What’s your origin story?” And it got me thinking about my own. Where did I come from? What were the consequences of my life that lead me to this point? And what within me gave me the push to finally start my own business? I have learnt many a lesson in my life – and subsequently it has turned me into a private person online, someone with high walls. I had an encounter this year that made me see just how high those brick walls climb and the lengths in which anyone has to go to get over them – why is that? What is it about me that took me down this path and turned me into this version of myself? And how much of my story do I feel comfortable sharing online? Well, we’re about to find out together.

This isn’t a sob story. I don’t want to write this article to dig up unpleasant memories for myself, or pick at old scabs that took years to heal over. No, this is not that sort of blog. I’m coming at this from a introspective point of view, a badass bitch point of view. Not a victim, a survivor. Because that’s what I am, a survivor. I can’t pin point the exact point in my life I turned myself from V to S, but I know the feeling I have carried within since. I look back on my childhood and traumas and feel the sinking V factor in my gut like it happened 5 minutes ago instead of over a decade ago. But the survivor inside me looks forward, not back. On any given day at any point, my demons can creep up in my brain like a shadow that blacks out the sun and makes me stare blindly into bad memories or heartaches like I have known of nothing else. But they lie, and most days I have the strength to let the light back in.

One of my worst childhood memories was trying to tell my mother that something about me was wrong. No one liked me. I had such a hard time making friends and was an only child from a one-parent household. I wasn’t particularly bright on paper so failed all through primary school until the 11+, which did me no favours in the friend department. Wasn’t bright, wasn’t social, didn’t know how to interact with anyone. I wasn’t bright for the smart kids and while I was an outcast, I wasn’t a bully or rude or particularly spiteful, so never got in with the name-brand outcasts either – I was discarded by them all, indiscriminately.

I remember coming home from school in tears after another lonely day. I guess whatever happened made it particularly hard to hide my crippling mental state. I tried, with all the language I knew as a kid to communicate with my mother that something in me was different, and different was not good. I remember being in a state and my mother was trying to say that these kids weren’t worth the hassle, they were little shits and I didn’t need them. She told me to yell at the top of my lungs “FUCK THEM” like teaching a child to say a bad word would be cathartic in some way. The feelings never went away, I just got better at hiding them.

Fast-forward through puberty, that crippling cloud I now know has a name, hit me like a brick in the face. Depression. Anxiety. Depersonalization. Of course they called it laziness. They knew it as attitude, acting out, being a teenager. Starving myself to them was an act for attention. Staying in bed all day because I couldn’t stomach the thought of going to school was just growing pains. My panic attacks and anxiety had no name to them; that was just my way, I was a worrier, emotional, wore my heart on my sleeve. It wasn’t until 6 years ago, I was able to properly medicate for my mental health. Up until I was old enough to say no, I was given rescue remedy, which did; you guessed it – sweet fuck all. I wasn’t properly medicated for my mental health issues until I was an adult.

My mother was a broken woman. As it has been pointed out to me, through boyfriends, friends, extended family and psychiatrists, I did more mothering to my mum than she ever did to me. She thought she was, in her own way, by buying a house that would cripple her with debt, so I could live with her forever and continue to live in that house long after she died, until I died and forced a life on top of a daughter of my own. Of course she had no idea I’d grow up to be such a disappointment. I wanted a life beyond the front door. I wanted past the garden gate into a world of my own making. I’m well aware I have made far too many life choices based on how my mother would react. That stopped the day I disowned her. I promised myself only 3 years ago that I would never again bow to her or anyone else’s will. It took me until I was in my early 20s, but I had to live my own fucking life. God, if I had told myself that as a teenage girl, everything would have been done differently. I’d have moved out at 16. I’d have travelled. Went to live in England. Found my father. A million little clipped butterfly wings, cause and effect that would have made me into the person I wanted to be much sooner than this. But that kind of thinking gets us nowhere. It is what it is my friend. And once you realize you can’t control the past, you’re free to welcome the future.

My mother would become more and more emotionally abusive as I got older. It was always there, the planted seeds of doubt, the backhanded sentences, the pushing me to choices I didn’t want to make. Her getting drunk and telling me things like ‘You’re worth nothing.’ Carrying her from a heap on the bathroom floor into her bed. Staying up as a child because she went out all night and left me alone, sick with worry with school the next morning. More memorable tales include but not limited to: her using my name to commit fraud, taking loans in my credit account, driving drunk, begging her to stop drinking on my knees, stealing most of my student loans, stealing alcohol I had to hide in my room, taking advantage time and time again and expecting me to be grateful because she gave birth to me. I could type a million more different stories that shaped me into the woman I am now. But I will only say this; I am all I am, in spite of my mother. There is no harder grip than the hand of a mother on her daughter’s throat. The best gift I ever gave myself was cutting ties. I know in my heart I did everything I ever could to save her, and it still wasn’t enough. That is on her, not me.

I dropped out of studying for my degree around the same time things with my mother were at their worst. It was far too much for me, and I make no apologies for dropping out even though I know I left a wake of teachers disappointed in me. I’m not sure if my journey with higher education is over just yet, all I know is I’m not ready to go back. I had a series of little mental rough patches in this time period, all of which were leading up to a mental breakdown. I was hurting myself and wanted to die. I felt like I was living outside of my body, couldn’t recognize my reflection, couldn’t leave my flat, couldn’t do anything other than just survive through the day. I was off work for 3 months. One day at a time was quite literally second to second, then minute to minute, eventually working up the strength to get through full days. A year later I was able to lower my meds, and was finding ways to make my days worth something.

I started writing poetry again, something I always loved. Set up a blog, which turned into a brand, which turned into shop, and a huge chunk of who I am today. You can find more info on my mental recovery/ journey in articles called ‘a year of mud’ and ‘a year on solid ground.’

I’m approaching 26 years old now. I’m far from a perfect person, and I still feel like some days I have more issues than Vogue. But I am trying. Finally, after feeling less than dirt for most of my life, I know my worth. I can be kind without feeling weak, I can be proud of who I am while still working on making myself a better person. I can see a future I actually want. I can’t change my past, but I can take hold of my future.

Love, character, introspection, integrity,

L.

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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.

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.