Tuesday, 12 July 2016


A lesson in regret

Today is my birthday. And I have been dreading it.
One more number towards old age. I need to start thinking about my pension plan. What have I even done with my life? How many years longer am I fertile?

Sure, I’m nearly in my mid-twenties!

Yes, I kid you not. These were my thoughts as I turned 24.
Me at 23 years and 363 days old.

24 and what do I have to show for it? As I look back on the last few years all I see is my mental illness.
The year I tried to take my life.
The year I was diagnosed.
The year my self-harm escalated.
The year I hated Christmas.
The year I found peace.

Sometimes my mental illness is all I see.

Did I waste my youth being mentally ill? 

After my diagnosis with depression I aged rather quickly. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I felt that I had no control over my own life. I felt responsible for everyone else’s lives. I felt close to death. Those are not feelings you can recover from.
I worried too much. It aged me drastically.

But maybe I was never very good at being young in the first place.

I was never young and carefree.
How I dressed, spoke, looked, acted, how others would perceived me, required meticulous planning – down the smallest, most minute detail. I would rehearse what to say. How to answer questions. Things that come so naturally for others. Attending a social event gave me painful knots in my stomach. More often than not, I would cancel with the flimsy excuse of feeling ill. I mean, I did feel ill – but it wasn’t physical.

I preferred nights in by the fire rather than in a night club. Most of my college days were not spent in a night-club. I preferred the quiet refuge of my bedroom; or in later years, the busy hustle of student welfare events. I graduated college at 21, post-grad and all. It was a stark bump back down to earth to find that any tiny glimpses of a social life I had had were no longer there. I sat in with a book. I aged while immersed in the lives I read about.

Part of me feels I wasted my youth. I spent so much time mentally exhausted I didn’t make the most of nights out, parties, alcohol, friends, adventures, travelling.

I found myself pausing this year and thinking “Shit. I have a lot of lost time to make up for.

And you know what? I'm okay with that. I am okay with only knowing who my friends are over the past few years. I am okay with travelling in my mid-twenties. I am okay not enjoying nightclubs.

Because while my youth was shaped by my mental illness, it wasn't only in a negative way. I found my passion through my struggle with depression. I learned the power of advocacy and speaking out.

Looking back on the past 24 years reminds me that I have to find acceptance with my past, my youth, my mental illness.
I cannot blame my depression and anxiety for denying me the pleasures of youth. I must accept them as a part of me.

Maybe that can finally be achieved at 24.

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