This is a post I wrote a while ago which I shared on my personal Facebook page. I would really like to share it again because the content means so very much to me.
This week is Mental Health Week, so I thought I would share this. Although I am usually quite open about my personal mental health battle, I know that this is not the case for many people who struggle. It can be extremely frightening to open up about something with such a negative stigma surrounding it. There is still so much to learn when it comes to mental health and mental illness, but I find that every story shared is a step forward in the journey of defeating the stigma.
When I first noticed the symptoms of depression & anxiety creeping into my life I had no idea what to do. It was my first year living away from my family and friends and I didn’t feel that I had made any particularly strong relationships in Sydney. Being ‘alone’ with depression is a terrifying experience. I put quotation marks around the word alone because I felt alone even though I didn’t have to be. I pushed people away because I was afraid of social situations. I wasn’t the bubbly, fun and outgoing person I had always been, and I was constantly anxious about having to be around people. I didn’t even want to get out of bed in the morning, the anxiety was that paralysing. I had become a very different version of myself.
The first person I’d chosen to share my struggles with, after months of keeping it bottled up, was my best friend. She’d had experience with depression herself, which I will never forgive the world for giving her, but for me it meant not only did I have someone who loved me unconditionally, but also someone who knew firsthand exactly what to say when I needed it the most. There is nothing that upsets me more than thinking of how she had to go through the early dark days without me being able to properly understand, but knowing that she would be able to be there for me was a godsend. The first time I told her I was worried that I had developed depression she sent me this passage:
‘This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guys shouts up, “Hey you! Can you help me out?”. The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down the hole, and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, “Father! I’m down in this hole, can you help me out?” The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole, and moves on. Then a friend walks by, “Hey, Joe, it’s me! Can you help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.” The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.”‘
(You can see why she’s my best friend. What a keeper. When she sent me the photo I cried happy tears because I knew if I was lucky enough to have a best friend like her nothing in my world could really be so bad. I love you Hanna.)
In hindsight there are actually a lot of wonderful people who would’ve sat with me and had a chat – I just had to speak up. But depression clouds your judgement in a way I can’t explain. Depression will lie to you and tell you that the people around you don’t care and that you will just be a burden on them. Please – PLEASE – don’t let it lie to you. Please know that I will always be here for you. I don’t care who you are or how well we know each other. If you need me, I will always be there to jump into the hole with you.
“I wish you knew how normal your feelings are, and how universal your struggle is. You are so not alone. You couldn’t be alone if you tried.”
Depression is a flaw in chemistry, not in character.
Depression is nothing to be ashamed of.
I love to write. I have always loved to write. I clearly remember being ten years old and having three blogs going at once, using my free time at the end of technology class to update them. What I wrote about? I have no idea! Regardless, I really wish I could remember how to get to them as I’m positive that there would be pages and pages of cringe-worthy material for me to read.
I am still a serial blogger ten years later. For some reason I can’t explain I am obsessed with the feeling of a brand new site – blank and ready for me to spill my mind. This site has kept me motivated for nearly a whole year! That is the longest I’ve ever stuck to one blog, purely because my tastes change along with my life – and those changes can be very rapid. I usually spend a lot of time formatting and creating my websites to be and look just right. This means that when I get bored of them I don’t want to wipe what I’ve worked so hard to create, so I just start again. Maybe the difference here, on Runaway Katie is that I have not put my blood, sweat and tears into this theme (well, not too much at least). This is a generic theme with a couple of customisations. Maybe that is what is keeping me interested? Maybe not… Anyway, I digress.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted. So this post is a hello from me. To say welcome and thank you for coming. If you are a person who is spending time in their day to read what I have to say, I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart. Having the ability to constantly share my own opinions and innermost thoughts is a luxury that I do not take for granted. So thank you, and thank you again, for being a part of my mind.
“Do not pity the dead.
Pity those who respond “I don’t read” to the question “what’s your favourite book?”,
for they have never truly lived.”
I didn’t end up having a very good sleep last night. I heard someone outside shooing something (or someone) away from their car and after that I was paranoid someone was breaking into my car, or I don’t know… under my bed! So I didn’t sleep well at all. I left the motel just after 10am and started driving to Mackay. I noticed signs for the Capricorn Caves, and I’d read amazing things about them on Trip Advisor, so I decided last minute to stop in and check it out.
I got there 20 minutes before their next guided tour and it was only $30 for an hour so I decided to go for it. I am SO glad that I did. That tour took over the Big Banana as my favourite thing I’ve done so far on this trip! The caves were stunning and the tour guide was so informative and fun. Their main attraction is their Cathedral Cave which has been decked out as a church with a choir stand and candles and a stage. They hold weddings in it, and it is seriously on my list now! (As a possible wedding destination for the future.) I fell in love with it. The tour guide said that there are also underground operas held in the Cathedral Cave, thanks to the near perfect acoustics. The man who assessed the acoustics in the Sydney Opera House also assessed the cave and he said that the Opera House is one side of perfect and the Cathedral Cave is the other – so right in between would be perfect acoustics. How amazing is that!?
After leaving the caves I drove to Sarina, 30 minutes away from my motel in Mackay. I hadn’t eaten so I couldn’t wait any longer! I got myself a Subway and then finished the drive to my motel. This place looks and feels like a 5 star resort! I am so glad I decided to book a motel here instead of sleep on my cousin’s couch – even though I was super grateful for the offer I thought it’d be better for me to have a proper sleep.
After I checked in my cousin Felicity met me with her three oldest kids to have dinner in the motel’s fancy restaurant. It was so nice to catch up with her and get to see her kids after such a long time! I hadn’t even met either of the girls so that was really nice.
I woke up today to the realisation that I was definitely the only person in my unit last night. I could’ve done whatever I wanted, but instead I stayed in my room (mainly because the tele had shocking signal and I couldn’t watch the Origin – Go Queensland! – and also because there was nowhere to plug in my laptop which I needed to do to make last night’s post!). I checked out at about 9:30am and Jessie and I headed straight for our first stop, Bundaberg.
I had no real plans for today so I looked up things to do in Bundy. There were raving reviews about the Bundaberg Rum Distillery but the tour included two beverages at the bar as well as taste testing all the way through the tour… Thanks to being on my P Plates this didn’t sound like much fun considering I wouldn’t have been able to have any of the alcohol, so I decided to save the tour until I can enjoy the full experience.
I stopped for lunch in Bundaberg, just at a Coffee Club. They’ve redone their menu since the last time I went to one so it was nice to try something totally different. I was only there for an hour while I sat and enjoyed lunch, and then I was ready to face my biggest chunk of driving – 3 hours and 25 minutes to Rockhampton.
The drive went very quickly. It was painless and I arrived at my motel before I knew it. The longest drive of my trip is now over, and it was truly a piece of cake. My motel is nice – I have a park right out the front of my door so I can see Jessie through my window. Again I have two beds, but this time I have a table and a little sitting area as well. I really like this place.
I am about to go pamper myself and have a nice, long, luxurious shower followed by a refreshing sleep.