"It is in difficult times that the great times ahead are dreamt and built, brick by brick, with maturity and the hope that comes from wise action."
For all those who know me, know that I am generally a happy, bubbly and positive person. However, this wasn't always the case. For a long time, I was mentally and emotionally unwell, and did a good job of masking this from a lot of people. I put on a 'face' to society: smiled at all the right things, laughed at all the right jokes and did everything that was expected of me and had many people fooled about the inner battle that was waging within my heart, soul and mind.
I guess it started a long time ago, probably when my parents separated and even before that, but the emotions really hit me when I moved out of home. This was three years ago, in February 2012. I moved out without a stable income and had only $500 or so in my bank account. My friend and her family kindly let me live with them until I found my feet, which I guess I did quickly enough. Within a month, I had 4 jobs and was working close to 7 days a week and within another 4 months, I moved into my first leased space.
Looking back, I can see how the years have built me up every-time I was pushed down. But at the time, I really struggled and not many people saw this. A lot of the change happened behind closed doors when I was completely on my own with absolutely no one to turn to, except myself and God. As an avid reader and writer, I have always turned to the written word for either consolation, guidance, support or expression: it didn't matter if these were someone else's words, or my own. At this particular time, I turned to words for healing. So during these years, every time I felt really down and had no one to turn to but needed to speak to someone and verbalise everything that clouded my vision, I picked up the pen and quite literally, wrote myself out of the state and emotion I was in. After years, all those musings and reflections turned into a book and somehow the writing healed me and made me better. In essence, I physically wrote myself out of depression.
At the time I was writing the book, I had no idea that one day I would be publishing it, let alone starting a publishing company and living the dream I had ever since I was little. During those years, there were many days that I could not plan for more than one week at a time or foresee life more than one day at a time. The one thing that kept me going was my faith. I believed, with every ounce of my being that somehow tomorrow was going to get better, that tomorrow a miracle would happen. I hated weekends and always looked forward to Mondays - Mondays were the hope I had that this week would be better and that something would change and life would improve.
Eventually today became the tomorrow I believed in. Eventually, retrospectively, everything started to make sense and I could see how those years helped me become who I am today, pruning and preparing me for a journey that I didn't even think or know I was capable of taking. I am now publishing this book with the hope that it inspires and empowers anyone and everyone who is going through difficulties: if I could get through it all, then they can too.
My other intention with this book and the blog is to start a conversation about mental health. I have lost count how many times I opened up to people about my book and that lead to the other person opening up to me about their own issues, be it depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, being on anti-depressants or something else. This really puzzled me: "Why don't people talk about this unless they are given permission to talk about it?"
The inspiration also comes from a friend who took her life in 2010. Arina was a bright, charming, intelligent, peaceful and lovely 21 year old girl who had her whole life ahead of her. In her short life she accomplished much, but then she became unwell and was extremely depressed. When her psychologist put her anti-depressants she became even worse. Tragically, she decided to take her own life and leave the Earthly one behind.
Having had suicidal thoughts myself, the news of Arina's death shook me to the core. It shook everyone because no one expected it from such a happy and giving soul and because very, very, very few people knew that she wasn't well. Though sometimes ending one's life feels like the easier choice, it is never easier on everyone you leave behind. And this is exactly why more and more of us need to start talking about our minds before waiting for someone to give us the permission do so.
And if you feel like you need permission, here it is.
I'm giving it to you.