It’s World Mental Health Day, so I considered why it’s still as important as ever to talk about mental health [TW: Mental illness, suicidal ideation]
Do you remember the strength of your teenage feelings?
Do you remember the way they reverberated along your spine, one thousand volts of pure emotion strong enough to take your breath away?
My teenage self was convinced their intensity might split me in two. My small frame was an insubstantial casing, threatening to crack and fail at any moment. Some days I felt the buzz of electricity in my throat and in between my fingertips, and I wondered how I might remain alive.
My feelings were a force outside of my control, changing like the tide. I would crest on a euphoric wave and then my shipwreck heart would crash and ruin.
Each twenty-four hour period was either the best or worst of days. No high was ever comparable and no low was so commonplace as to be empathised with by any other person. I met the words, “I understand” with disdain. I couldn’t comprehend how anybody else might experience the same pain, excruciating as it was, or have the capacity for such strong emotions. I dragged my feelings on my back wherever I went, and I nailed myself to them.
I am a big fan of the motto, ‘do one thing every day that scares you’, because what is life if you’re not low-key terrified at least some of the time? There are few greater highs than the adrenaline rush that comes right after you achieve something you thought only moments before might make you vomit with fear. I try to meander outside of my comfort zone in at least some small way as often as possible. Case in point: today, I got a lunchtime Brazilian from perhaps the most thorough waxing technician ever to grace this earth. There’s no discomfort quite like leaning on all fours whilst a perfect stranger smears hot wax around your bum, let alone when she gets up in your business with the tweezers – but I digress. Not all of my comfort zone-abandoning pursuits involve hair removal. Interviews, solo travel, dreaded confrontation… I’ve done a multitude of terrifying things with varying degrees of aplomb. So when I saw an opportunity to try Speed Mate-ing last week – an event with a decent potential for fear – I was sold.
Last week saw another Valentine’s Day come and pass in its predictable flurry of chocolates and roses and heart-shaped miscellany. Despite my usual enthusiasm for any possible celebratory day (I went hard on the pancakes), it’s not an event for which I make a great deal of effort. A nice dinner and a fancy pudding to accompany my chosen Netflix original will do just fine, thanks. But this year, Valentine’s Day was made particularly salient by the excellent pieces on love, be it romantic or platonic or familial, which filled my feeds and inbox. I’ve adored reading so many experiences and thoughts on a topic I feel is particularly dear, especially those with a focus beyond the bounds of romance.
Almost two years ago, my parents sold my childhood home and moved to the North. They had a few reasons for doing so: a need for a home cheaper to run than our draughty hundred year-old terrace, improving accessibility for my dad after his spinal surgery and, though they denied it for some time, being closer to their only daughter.
I started a new job recently. It was supposed to be perfect; I had envisaged a radical transformation of my working week in which I leapt bright-eyed and enthusiastic into each day. The new gig eliminated all of the things I had hated about my last job – the slow pace, the rigid hierarchy, the frustrating lack of progression – and I felt primed to allow the waves of relief crash over me as I finally 9-5’ed my way to contentment.
Not so fast, sweetie.
I have been working my way up to this point now for years – quite literally. Two years ago, I purchased a domain name, taught myself to stumble through WordPress, and carefully crafted an ‘About’ page that (I hoped) struck the desired balance between ‘serious writer’ and ‘girl you’d chat shit with over some hard liquor’, whatever that’s supposed to be. I wrote and painstakingly edited my first post. I even created Twitter and Instagram accounts, intended to stand hand-in-hand with my blog. I envisaged some sort of ‘brand’ (I am unashamedly wanky), curated just-so to portray exactly the things I selected and nothing more. And then? Then, dear reader, I erased the lot.