A Different Kind of Heartache

Today, my heart ached. It ached as it often does and I know always will. It ached for sisters. For women helping women. We are blessed. We are the ones more in touch with our emotions. Often more vulnerable. Often misunderstood. We are women.

I recently learnt the importance of eyes. I avoid eye contact. It turns out you really can see right through a person when you look into their eyes. The term depression eyes is accurate. The vacant stare. The hopelessness. There is nothing behind those eyes. When you recognise that in another, it feels like eyes meeting your own same expression. You relate. You ache. You cannot walk away from that. So you help. In whatever way you can. You talk. That is what I do. That is what I will always do. I will always be that safe place to fall apart. I do not judge. I listen. I feel with you. I sit with you. I put aside myself for you.

Today, I did a very me thing. Suddenly, I felt like me again doing it. I saw those eyes, that expression, that worry, that panic. I sat with it. I spoke and calmed it and read to it. I listened. I sat there being a source of what every young girl needs and I realised, this is what I do, over and over. This is my gift to this world. This is my way of saying thank you for all the lights that have appeared in my life. I have seen so many angels come and go. They inspire me. To never leave a girl alone. To talk. To support. To make her a cup of tea. To buy her chocolate. To give her my time and my attention if that is what she needs. I realise my strength and my kindness in these moments. I realise my gifts. Giving is important.

All that I need sometimes is women helping women. I need to  nurture because that way we will all grow together. I choose to pick people up. I choose to walk with them. I choose to ensure people know their importance. I am the stranger that will stop for you on the street and you can come to me, anytime you need. You can cry to me. I am the one who will always pick up the phone. I do not care about sleep or who I am with or what I am doing. I care for others. I will never change that gift. It is one of my favourite things, because it is the thing keeping me alive, after all. I have received more unasked for help than you would believe.

Begin Again

Three failed attempts and now…

Now I am supposed to carry on as

Though everything is right in the world,

When lets face it, nothing is.

So I am still hurting, still dead inside,

Still struggling and that goes unnoticed

Or what, I try again, this time just to

Get the help that I need, just for

The attention that I am never given.

I pick up the phone and never dial,

Over and over again, because how do

You say goodbye – I was never taught,

I never got a single goodbye,

So now I just leave, silently also.

I become unable to ask for the help

That I so desperately need,

Still empty inside, I think there

Are no words left in me,

Apart from the poetry, there is always

The poetry, so I am living and instead

Of dying, I will run far, far away from

Here and just, begin again.

Things That Hurt

  • Wanting that which you cannot have
  • Having a fear of intimacy
  • Loving someone
  • Finding it hard to believe someone that says nice things
  • Feeling out of place
  • Thinking it would be better if you were dead
  • Caring too much
  • When your tears at night go unnoticed, even though the other person is awake
  • People that do not understand you
  • Falling apart in the shower every day
  • Keeping the hurt to yourself out of fear
  • Feeling disappointed in yourself
  • Unanswered cries for help
  • Memories of that which you cannot get back
  • Memories that you hope will never come back but continue to haunt you
  • Not being asked how your day was
  • Knowing that there are people out there who could understand me better than anyone, that I may never meet

Anger

I am angry because I have come to realise that this is not the first time I have been depressed. I do not even think that this is the lowest I have been in my life. This just happens to be the first time that I am able to put words onto my predicament. This is the first time I can speak eloquently about triggers and warning signs, coping mechanisms and low mood.

Considering all the childhood trauma, I am surprised that no one was keeping an eye on me. No one was waiting for the day that I eventually exploded. I was exposed to far too much. Unfortunately, it is far too common in modern times that so much is overlooked. You turn 18 and suddenly you are an adult with no support system, struggling. Spending everyday just surviving. Barely managing to cope and suddenly they want you to get a job and pay bills and cook and support yourself. They never prepared us for this.

I have considered the possibility that writing causes depression, but then I see what happens when I stop. There is nothing left. Just more pain. Unexpressed.

It makes me angry that 50% of all the victims of sexual violence will experience another event in their life. Why does no one tell us that? Why do they not prepare us? We already make our bomb shelters and shut off from the world and in doing that we may still get hurt, because there is some kind of appeal in that which you cannot have. It makes me angry that people think it is the same as sex. That people can honestly say discussions about it make them feel uncomfortable. Well what about the people who had to go through it, how do you think it makes them feel? It is not the same as sex. That sentence makes me hate. As much as I do not want to hate. As much as I think this world has too much hate. That sentence hurts.

The way people react to milk and honey tells me so much about them, their views on sexual abuse. It is not taboo. It is real. If we cannot discuss it then I want nothing to do with you. I have so much to say and I will not be silenced.

It makes me angry that type A people do not understand. I know they cannot relate. I know that there are more than two types of people in the world, but to simplify it, these are the ones I hate to talk to. These are the ones who tell me to pull it together and make a plan. The ones that tell me to do something with my life. The ones who do not understand survival. When you are simply surviving, success is unattainable.

I never know what to do with my anger. I sometimes let it go. I sometimes release it. Right now, I am hurting. When I am not angry, I am hurting, because everything seems unexplained. So where do you go from this? How do you move forward from anger?

Friendship

Did you know that we would be friends?

I have insight, I always think I have

Special powers, but I am the crazy one,

After all. I knew. I definitely knew.

I knew everyday that I thought about you

Even though I never saw or spoke to you.

It is like being drawn to a person,

Without any inkling of the reasons why.

It happens with me a lot – my empathetic

Powers are always drawing me to people.

I trust it, more than any other part of myself

Because although it may seem insane,

Sometimes, my instincts are right. Sometimes,

A person responds…maybe you never see

Them again, but maybe you do and maybe

They change you, they help you, you grow

Together, watering each other. That is what

I know. I know myself. I know empathy.

I know connections and the power of people.

I know very clearly how I feel and people

Always wonder about that – how I became so

In touch with my emotions, but I fought, hard.

I fought to not shut down, to stay with this

World and to learn everything I could,

Including how to feel. Maybe that is why I am

So emotional, so caring, so invested.

I am a drowning soul in this universe, in

Search of all the other souls that I can save,

Just as I was saved, no one else should have

To drown, especially not within themselves.

I know intelligence, I know remarkable,

I know when you think you may not

Come across something again that you

Should grab it, hold it and if it lets go,

Then you accept it, but if it works then look

At what you achieved through your never

Letting go of a person: look at a friendship.

Another Perfect Moment

I woke up, unable to believe. I was still empty. I had no excitement or anticipation. I simply had the feeling that this was not real. This could not be real. It was too easy. It must be a dream. I thought for sure that I would wake up. Or that something would definitely go wrong and I would end up crying my eyes out. I did end up crying my eyes out but for all the right reasons.

I got up, got ready, packed milk and honey, with my letter in the cover and got on the train in the pouring rain, with the hope that I would be able to feel. With a hope that I would get everything that I have been dreaming about. I wanted to enjoy it, but there was so much going wrong and so I distracted myself. I found Taiwanese vegan food and handmade jewellery and vegan ice cream and second hand books. I really treated myself, with the hope that if anything went wrong, something had already gone right. The hours went by quickly and before I knew it, we were getting on the bus.

On the bus, I felt the tears. With only thirty minutes to go, it began to feel real. It began to feel like I had made it to this moment. I had struggled for those two weeks that I thought were going to be easy. Somehow, though, somehow I managed to keep myself alive. Really, I knew how. I knew it was because of this moment. I fought in that hospital, because of this moment. I fought every time the darkness showed up, because I wanted the light. I wanted the happiness. The dread came back. The dread when the campus was empty. The dread when there was hardly anyone in the lecture theatre. Then we were reassured when they threw us out, so that she could do sound check that she was actually there. I could not do anything in these moments. It was a long wait and I could not think or speak or even cry. I just waited patiently. I waited like the child who has been told to be well-behaved so is sat quietly in the corner, whilst everything inside is screaming. I felt a hurricane of emotions. Excitement and anticipation. An anxiousness and nervousness that comes with waiting. I felt tearful and thankful that this moment has come. I am honestly overjoyed, overwhelmingly happy. That is it. That is the real emotion, the real power. Happiness. Joy. Peace. I am happy.

I was so happy. I clung onto every moment. Nothing could take it away. Nothing could tear me down. It was beautiful and hilarious. Meaningful and so casual. I felt so lucky to be there. I knew why I was here. I knew in every word that I heard. I knew that I was alive, that I was complete. After, the show, she stamped our books, due to her broken hand and we were able to have pictures taken. I handed her my letter, the one that I have been holding onto for months, that I felt compelled to write on that sunny day. I was shaking and I could not stop the tears, I could hardly breathe. All I said was, ‘You are beautiful as well as exquisite. You are both.’ and she said you are beautiful too. I explained that I felt stifled and overwhelmed so I did not know what to say and she said that she understood and from one writer to another that sometimes it is better to write it down. She hid me from the crowds as I cried and made me laugh. It felt like a dream. The very best kind. The kind where you are so happy and nothing can take it away.

I left still clinging to these moments. To all the words. I wrote the entire train ride home. I wrote down all the truths that she had shared. I felt one thing. I felt complete. I felt as though I had achieved something. When you write to people, you post it. This, this I had been holding on to. This letter to Rupi Kaur, with no address. Then two weeks ago, I bought the tickets and I realised my moment would come. I thought that maybe I should rewrite it. It was just on a page out of my notebook, from when I was meant to be studying. I shoved it into an envelope with a poem. I held on and then just like that, I let it go and now I feel complete. That is what she taught me. It is not about the fact that I got to touch a celebrity. It is the words. The words that every survivor needs to hear. Some things they do not end you. Some things you live through and then what. We are taught to hide, we are taught to be ashamed.

That is why I say thank you for milk and honey. Thank you for being the arms that held me as I cried, quite literally this time and the words that will forever continue to soothe my soul, especially on the days when it becomes difficult to see clearly.

Brave

Sometimes I forget how brave I am,

I forget how much I do for others,

I keep smiling through the exhaustion

And it is exhausting. Pretending.

It is heartbreaking that the moments

Are so fleeting that they become

Unrecognisable. Unimaginable, even.

I keep going, keep pushing forward,

Figure that if I stay busy long enough,

It will not catch up to me, but it does.

It always does eventually. I am brave,

But I am broken, into so many more

Pieces than I even comprehended

When I began to pick them up, putting

Them all back together and realised

That I could not carry them on my own;

That I needed help. What a wonderful

Realisation. I think that is bravery.

Not faking it, after all these years and

Being strong enough to address your

Flaws and being willing to fix them.

That is me. Exhausted, but brave.

 

Birthday

I did not suffocate. Instead, I grew.

I am still growing. I am not deteriorating,

I am recovering, regaining my strength,

Taking back my mind. It is more powerful

Than you, all of you. You cannot break me.

I may never regain who I was, but who I am,

You will not take that away. So I am smiling

Because sometimes dreams do come true.

Birthdays pass as do the years and despite

Our fears, we remain intact, we are not broken.

My perfect day was spent outside and in

All the places that truly feel like home.

It was spent with those who care and whom

I care about more than they might ever realise.

It was spent celebrating life and living.

It was every breath suddenly coming so easily.

Realising that happiness is simple. Achievable.

It was songs – dancing, laughing and singing along.

It was photos that captured moments that I want to

Remember until the day comes when I will

Eventually die, but knowing that day is not today.

It was being freely me, ignoring the voices,

The thoughts, the judgements, all the hurt.

It was food, lots of food and one simple present

With one tear rolling down my face that said

I am so lucky, because I was taught that I do not

Deserve nice things, but this said to me that I do.

It said that good things do come, that tears are not

Always bad. I shared a silent moment with the sky

As the sun went down, saying thank you for the

Twenty-one years of my life. Thank you that

My heart is still adventurously beating.

Thank you that I do not know anything but

Happiness, gratitude and peace in this moment.

Thank you to all the forces that keep me going

And that I am still living, because it was not easy

To get here, but I am here, standing now in a place

Where the future actually seems imaginable.

Thank you to all the people I saw on this day.

Let them know how special they are, how loved

They are, because I want them all to know.

No one should ever go without knowing.

These people are what make me: for that I love them.

I am eternally grateful for my perfect day.

For happiness. For simplicity. For honesty.

I am grateful for a twenty-first birthday.

 

Still Smiling

I have to write right now, because this happiness cannot be contained. Sometimes I wonder how I get so lucky. Sometimes I really believe I do not deserve nice things. I think I am paying for sins that I do not remember. Then I remember, everyone is a sinner. Everyone deserves another chance. So I stop. I breathe. I start again. This time, it is good. This time it will be good. I will get up and I will smile. I will keep myself together. I will hold on. I will never stop trying. I am deserving of goodness too.

I cannot stop smiling. I cannot stop smiling about how I managed to ask for help and once again, got more than I could possibly have asked for. I cannot stop smiling for my sister. She is my support. She is my real life (close enough to touch) inspiration. She is my late night calls and reading through my work. She is my place to crash and always checking in.

I am smiling because I love my academic mentor. She is easy to relate to, so kind and caring. She is understanding of everything. She is a good cheerleader. I met my counsellor today. We talked for ages about Ruby Wax and I showed her milk and honey. We talked about women and sexual violence and mental illnesses. We talked about connecting with people and when you just know. I know that anyone who knows Ruby Wax and is open to Rupi Kaur (my far-off inspirations), will know me. She said thank you to me for showing her the book and for sharing insights with her. I love that. The idea that nothing is one-sided. I love the discussions that you have and the impact of every little thing. I love people who understand depression and mindfulness and all the small things that make me. After all, they are not small. They are huge and meaningful.

I am smiling because I love my friends. I love that they are there to listen. They are willing to learn. I love that I can be explained so easily and I am becoming more willing to explain to those who are open to understanding. I love that people go to find out more and my sister is an example of excellent family support. I love the friends that ask what do you need instead of is there anything I can do. Most of the time, you cannot do much. You cannot bring back the dead or undo the past. You cannot change the way my mind works. On the bad days, I need to be told to eat and told to go outside, because these things make me feel better and I do not always remember that until asked. Pressure on people to accommodate you when they are suffering is not helpful. People will come to you when they need you, so be what they need. Be a listener, be a cheerleader, but do not be an added  pressure.

I am smiling because I have books. Lots of books. The thing about starting a new book is the simple logic I have from depression which is: that I cannot die until I finish the book. I have to find out what happens, how it ends. That is what Sylvia Plath taught me. Read, always read. Read and you have something to hold on to. You have hundreds of short-term solutions and with that comes one big solution. You can hold on for a very long time, because there are endless amounts of books for just one lifetime.

I am smiling because it is simple. Happiness is simple. Surviving is simple. Soon, I will be thriving. For now, I know that I have big jumpers and cups of tea and long walks and poetry and sunsets and these things will not go anywhere. I know that I get to smile when I find the right quote for my mood that fits in with the picture in front of me. I have handwritten letters, which I could probably string together across miles. I have that glorious symbol of friendship that keeps my vultures at bay. I have excessive amounts of food and laughing so hard it hurts. I have being outside and feeling the sun on your face. I have happy tears and deep conversations and pure honesty. I have the simple things. I have a life. I have something to hold onto. What more is there to ask for than that?

So I will smile. I will let the monsters see me smiling. There is strength here. There is love here. There is the joy that you wanted to knock out of me. I am stronger than all of it. I will smile for me, even if it none of them see it, I will carry on smiling. There is so much goodness. So remember: never to let the bitterness steal your sweetness.