Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Hurray! The Romeo Project is over and I need a break

The Romeo Project changed my life.
Here we are, at the end of my ten month challenge and ten resolutions. Since the beginning of 2016 I have thrown myself into challenge after challenge, reading self-help books, taking affirmative action, and applying the tips and tricks everyone else is raging about. It wasn't always easy, but I somehow managed to come out at the other end of the tunnel relatively unscathed.

Unfortunately, I didn't fully embrace every resolution or commit to every challenge I set myself with The Romeo Project. To have dedicated myself as much as I had planned to, and wanted to, would have required the project becoming my day job. I wanted to live and breath each resolution to give it the attention it deserved, and the chance to properly make an impact on my mental health and my life.

But taking those initial first steps brought huge change into my life. If it wasn't for the first month's resolution, Be Authentic, I wouldn't have created a vision board and a life handbook; the two forces that made me take steps towards my own goals. Here I am, ten months later, and my goals I set in the first week January have been achieved. I did it. I took positive steps towards my own future happiness and gained skills, a boyfriend, a job, a future. I succeeded. So yes, I will jump at every opportunity to say The Romeo Project changed my life.

Why it's time for a break
I was reading Holly Bourne's What's a Girl Gotta Do? last week and stumbled across my exact current feelings being embodied by the character of Lottie. After committing herself to a feminist anti-sexism campaign, Lottie developed what her friends diagnosed as activism fatigue. Little did I know, it's a real thing.

Now, I'm not claiming to be the world's most committed activist by any means. Heck, if I remember to retweet a mental health article I am doing well. But ever since my mental health diagnosis and the first steps of my journey towards recovery, I have dedicated the past five years to ending the stigma around mental health. Publicly keeping the conversation around mental health going brought me from community events, to small talks, to making my blog. I felt that I needed to raise awareness of depression and anxiety themselves, of  help services, of what works for me, of what works for anyone else so that no one else ever has to feel as lost and alone as I did. Five years on, I feel fatigued.

I am tired of friends looking at me for a reaction when someone uses the words 'crazy', 'psycho' or 'mad'.

I am tired of being so offended every time people with mental illness are scapegoated as terrorists or murderers or dangerous.

I am tired of feeling helpless at every reported suicide.

I am tired of feeling conflicted between hiding my bad days from friends and family, and depicting the reality of mental illness. 

I am tired of feeling on display. I'm tired of feeling that I can't stop. I'm tired of feeling committed and tied down to a self-imposed schedule. I am tired of feeling that I can't stop, I can't step away, or someone will notice. I am tired of fearing someone will recognise me as a failure.

The Romeo Project stuck such a strict schedule on me that I felt tied down to the point that the very blog I had created was no longer mine, but the projects. As my October resolution came to an end, I realised that I had no further commitment. There was nothing left on the schedule to tie me down.

I had a window.

And now, here I am writing this post with one foot already out the window.

It's time for a breather. I'm taking a short break from my blog and any sort of projects to decide on my next steps. Mental health activism is too big a part of who I am for me to ever walk away from. But I need space, a blank diary worth of space, to decide on what form that passion will take next.

Until next time,

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