The Trouble With Sadness

Mental Health Awareness week has rolled round again and, whilst last year I was particularly quiet on the matter, this year I didn’t want to let it pass by without acknowledging it. So, I decided to finally finish off a piece that began life as a trusty iPhone note way back in 2017.

david-mao-7091-unsplash.jpg

A year ago I was in a really good place. Had been for a few months, and I was starting to feel quietly confident that maybe I’d managed to beat it this time. That, despite the few and far between moments of anxious thoughts or feeling a little low, I’d actually managed to – for lack of better term – ‘get better'. I’d broken up with my therapist, started a new job, met someone who I really liked and, for the first time in a long time, I felt truly happy. Mornings were just mornings. I was no longer waking up and wishing the day away. It felt great.

And then it came back.

You see, the trouble with sadness is that it doesn’t always have a reason. Sometimes it’s just there. It shows up uninvited, without warning, like an unexpected knock on the door. It doesn’t care for your plans. Have a big day ahead? Something you need to concentrate on? Plans with friends, or maybe a nice day to yourself? Sadness doesn’t care. It’s come to visit and it wants your undivided attention.

The trouble with sadness, is that it likes to linger. Especially the uninvited, unexpected, no real reason kind. You might have offered it a cup of tea – maybe a biscuit too – and indulged it for fifteen minutes, but that isn’t enough. Sadness wants to stay and chat for the afternoon and, before long, the afternoon has stretched into evening and you’re three cups of tea and a packet of biscuits down and it still isn’t getting up to leave. You can sigh all you like, look at your watch and make noises about how ‘it really is getting late now’ but… what’s that? Sadness has a sleeping bag and it’s pulling out the sofa bed.

Ok, some days it might fancy a fleeting visit. An hour or two max. But the thing is, sadness has away of making that hour or two feel like five, ten, twenty-four hours. Its visit engulfs the rest of your day and leaves you feeling vulnerable, on edge, and more than a little worse for wear.

Sometimes you won’t hear from it for a while. At first, it feels odd. Unsettling. You wonder where it’s gone, when it will be back, listening out for that all familiar knock. But then it starts to feel nice, as though a huge weight has been lifted. Everything seems brighter, more colourful, more worthwhile. Instead of waiting around for its arrival, you’re out there, living life without a second thought for sadness.

So if (or when, and unfortunately this time around it’s a when) it does come creeping back, you’re not always prepared. You’ve already blocked sadness’ number, moved house, changed the locks. But there it is, peering through the window, and it won’t stop until you let it in.

The trouble with sadness, you see, is that it’s never really gone. But it does need to learn when to leave and, this time, ,I’m not putting on the kettle.

London

557 days ago (yes, I counted) I packed up my things into boxes and moved to London. Three jobs, two homes, countless tube journeys and a LOT of brunch later, and I’m leaving.

 When I moved, back in the summer of 2017, I was very sad, very fed up, and in desperate need of some change; and London offered that. It also turned out to offer me new friendships, endless things to see and do, and the most glorious summer I’ve ever had.  

IMG_6807.JPG

At times, especially at the beginning, I felt incredibly lonely and a little bit lost in a city so big. A few months in, I wrote about trying to make a home for myself in London, and how I was struggling without the people I loved being just down the road. But, in time, I found people I loved in London too.

Online friendships, which were once made up of retweets and double taps and DMs, turned into real-life brunches and dinners and evenings spent singing along to High School Musical. Disappointing dates and evenings spent swiping were soon swapped for proper conversations, getting past date number two and, much to my surprise, falling in love.

It’s somewhat bittersweet. I get to return to the friends I spent all that time missing back in the beginning, but now I’ve gained a whole new set of people to miss.

There’s other things I’ll miss too. I think I’ll miss the anonymity. The walking down a busy street and getting lost amongst all the people. The going to Tesco in pyjamas, safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to bump into someone from work, or someone you went to school with haven’t seen in almost a decade.

I’ll miss the choice. The knowing I can get on a bus or jump on a tube and be in a totally different part of the city within 30 minutes. And, even though I might frequent the same spots over and over again, knowing the option to go somewhere different is there. If I want it.

Of course, because I’m leaving, I’m inevitably going to focus on the good things. The same way you miraculously seem to forget the bad bits when you’re going through a breakup.

I won’t miss crowded tubes, signal failures and the disdain at having to wait over four minutes for a tube. Standing in the cold, waiting for a Wimbledon train to finally arrive. Standing in the cold waiting for the number 74 bus to turn up after the aforementioned Wimbledon train never happened. Rent prices. Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon. The Central Line in thirty-degree heat mid-July. The Central Line in general.

But I owe a lot to London. The city that picked me up when I was at my lowest. It pushed me to meet new people, make new friends, start new jobs and, most importantly, learn to cook more than just toast.

So goodbye, for now. I’m sure I’ll be back soon.

2017

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve tried to write about this past year. The thing is, I have a lot of feelings about the past 365 days, but when it comes to actually putting pen to paper (no really, I like handwriting posts first) I’m suddenly lost for all words aside from “This has been the worst year so far.”

31_CNV00022.jpg

Except it hasn’t. Worst is unfair. Worst implies bad things have happened when, truly, a lot of very good things have happened. So, as much as my brain wants be to use the word ‘worst’, I think I’ll stick with ‘hardest’ instead.  Because 2017 has been one rather big, rather incomprehensible whirlwind of change and emotions and enough tears to fill enough Lush-fuelled bubble baths.

It’s not been all bad. In fact, a lot of good things have happened. I left a job. I moved to London, away from all of my friends and family, and managed to survive the process. I visited the south of France and Rome and Paris and did multiple trips to various locations around the UK. I started a new job. Worked on a brilliant event. Met so many fantastic new people. And finally, after almost three years of short-term contracts, got offered and started what I’m sure 15-year-old me would have deemed a ‘dream job’.

And yet I can’t process it. It’s as though I’m watching someone else’s life. As much as I’m very very aware of everything I’ve done, I can’t quite bring myself to feel it. Either that or I’m feeling too much of something I can’t quite put my finger on, and it all becomes really quite overwhelming. There’s rarely any in between and, and points, it's felt like I've lost entire months of my year from not being 100% ok and effectively shutting down. I still don't really know how to refer to it, but let's just say that the whole month of June is one big blur. 

I’d like to say I’m ending the year with some kind of closure, some kind of answer to how I’ve been feeling. I used to hate writing things that didn’t have an ending – but I suppose not everything needs an ending and maybe it’s not each post, but the entire blog that’s the story. So, for now, I’m ending the year wearing my comfiest loungewear, watching Black Mirror and with the plan to just take each day as it comes. 

Home

HOME

noun

1. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of aperson, family, or household.

2. the place in which one's domestic affections are centered.

Photo 25-11-2017, 13 00 46.jpg

I got ill this week. What started off with a scratchy throat on Sunday evening turned into a full blown coughing, sneezing, watery-eyed cold by the Tuesday, which left me feeling very sorry for myself with no one to look after me and had me questioning why I ever moved out in the first place. Yes I was sick but, even worse, I was homesick.

It wasn't just the cold - there were definitely other seemingly insignificant things that led to my homesickness. I've started hesitantly filling in my new address in online forms, I received my first proper piece of post through the door last week and, in a conversation with my Dad at the weekend, it was pointed out that I now refer to London as home. The latter was quickly rebuffed with a half joking "yes but I refer to anywhere with a bed as home."

Half joking because I do. When I board the train a couple of Fridays a month and head back to Bournemouth for the weekend, I say I'm going home. And when I get back on said train (sometimes on a Sunday evening cut short, sometimes on a painfully early Monday morning) I also say I'm going home. I call my Mum's house home and my Dad's house home and the house I've only lived in for two months and share with four other people I don't really know? That gets called home too. 

My (now permanent thank god, but more on that later) job is here, in London. A lot of my possessions are here, in London. And I spend approximately 528 hours a month (yes I did some maths) here, in London. But you see, it doesn't feel like my life it here. Not yet. Not when all of the people I love, the ones who feel like home, are all a two-hour train ride away. Which yes, could be worse. In the grand scheme of the big wide world, two hours is miniscule. Yet it doesn't feel that way when you're friends are arranging trips to the cinema via WhatsApp, and you're desperately missing the long gone Monday evening gym class with your Mum and you could really really just do with meeting up with your best friend for dinner after work. If we're doing clichés – which I'd rather not but I seem to have walked straight into one – I suppose home really is where the heart is. Or at least where the plans made via WhatsApp are happening. 

In lieu of all the bits I'm missing, I've tried to make this home here in London feel as 'home home' as possible. I've filled my bedroom with prints and more plants than I really know how to take care of, and I've got pretty good at keeping it tidy too. 

On the free weekends I do have, I'm trying to get to know London a little better. Or at least well enough to not have to open up Google Maps every time I leave the house. Last Sunday morning I took myself on a walk to Putney. Yes, I may have followed the blue dot to get myself there, but on the way back I made do without and walked back through the park and, on my walk home, I felt incredibly fortunate to live in such a lovely area. In between the there and the back, I found myself in a Waterstones café* with a cup of tea and some raspberry and coconut cake and I felt incredibly content and it almost maybe felt a little bit like home.

 

*I googled 'café' to check the correct accent direction, and it immediately offered me a selection of cafés in the Bournemouth area and, of course, I promptly burst into tears. Even my laptop doesn't know where home is. 

Things from Paris

Almost two months ago I went to Paris. Here are some photos. 

Sacré-Cœur

Sacré-Cœur

Sacré-Cœur

Sacré-Cœur

Gardens of Versailles 

Gardens of Versailles 

Gardens of Versailles

Gardens of Versailles

Gardens of Versailles

Gardens of Versailles

Château de Versailles

Château de Versailles

IMG_8530.JPG
The View From The Afternoon (Galeries Lafayette)

The View From The Afternoon (Galeries Lafayette)