One thing I’m really enjoying and acknowledging by living here is the fact that day by day, it’s feeling like home. It’s been nearly two weeks and I feel like I’ve been here a lifetime.
I know where the supermarkets are to buy cold coffee and I know where the really cool places are to buy hot coffee – and where I’ve been wasting 1.20 euros a day on “tastes worse than Instant Nescafé” coffee.
I know which parts of the river to lie by to read and which parts I shouldn’t venture to unless I wanted Crack – and I’m not sure they’d be happy to lend me any.
I’m learning that the maze of interconnecting streets are easy and incredibly peaceful to get lost in – and I’m starting to know how to get lost and find my way back home.
I know that Salmorejo tastes the same as Gazpacho but the difference is that it is made with BREAD and will cause me to double over in pain. I’m also learning that Gazpacho is the tastiest thing you can drink from a carton – and having a litre of it will make your pee red.
I know that the friends I’ve made so far:
Nancy (outside a broken ATM) on my first day who I spent an incredible three days with,
Georgia (who I met for a second before being transferred Spanish classes),
Georgia and Alice (my original class buddies), and
Tiné (who came up to me reading on steps asking for scissors)
.. are going to be in my life for an extremely long time whether they like it or not, and that having had them here as close friends has felt natural, easy and comforting.
I also know that this time, less than three months ago, I was having an entirely different experience in Sevilla. I cannot even begin to describe to you that every time I walk past a certain cafe here, next to Las Setas, I’m reminded of it being the first place I walked to when I came here in June – and I’m pretty sure I was crying on the table outside.
To cut an incredibly long story short, I’d booked a short few days to Lisbon and Sevilla for the start of summer. Usually, like the excited jet setter I am, I’d be looking forward to it, but about a month before, I’d sunken into this horrible depression that I couldn’t see myself getting out of – and I didn’t want to go on holiday AT all.
But wouldn’t it make you feel better? Some person who didn’t quite understand what I was feeling asked.
Well no, I felt like replying, because I quite liked the fact that hiding in bed all day, avoiding people, was the life I now wanted to lead. It’s an easy life you see, you stare at the inside of your hand under the duvet in silence, wondering what the point of anything was. You don’t need to make conversation, eat, drink, shower, board a plane, make decisions, take any responsibility for your life.. and you can fixate on the fact that if you DO leave your bed, there’s not really much to look forward to. Why? Because everything I had ever loved – my ex boyfriend, my Grandad, my dad as a well, healthy human being – had gone. The life of a smelly woman in a duvet was the life for me and I was incredibly unhappily happy to keep doing it.
So then, after a few interventions, I belligerently went on anti depressants and they instantly started to help the fog lift. For one, I showered – and believe me I needed to shower. I also started to ever so slightly look forward to a break for a little bit.
So I got to Lisbon, and I made solid friends with Lil – an awesome Aussie girl in my dorm and two fab American girlies – Jess and Olivia – and we became a tight little crew. (Sorry guys, if you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure I haven’t told you lot this story in my time with you so hey 👋).
I spent the next few days feeling secure, going to fiestas in streets and speaking to South American couples who told us about their love for one another. For those few days, my depression was very much hidden in a blur of colour, Sangria and new experiences. Don’t forget, it had been only 2 weeks since I’d started the anti depressants but when I got to Sevilla, I was once again alone with my thoughts.
In Sevilla, I walked the streets and got to a hostel that at first felt bare and empty. I had spent the last few days in a city and I wasn’t used to these streets that looked lifeless and boring. I was tired because I’d woken up at 4am for my flight in Lisbon from a dream where I was hugging my Grandad – naturally I didn’t want to get up because it turns out my dream Grandad was actually a pillow I was hugging tightly and crying into.
I aimlessly walked around, and returned to the hostel where I met some fantastic people for drinks – solid friends I would meet again, but once again, in the following few days I started to feel lonely and sad. I spent the last 48 hours relaxing by an expensive hotel pool, not wanting to sight see and trying to get my thoughts together – trying to understand why although I’d met such great people, I’d still felt like Sevilla was not the place I wanted it to be.
So I came home. And you know what? Due to the fact that the anti depressants let me have some real breathing headspace, I was aware that maybe it was the state of mind I was in that wasn’t allowing myself to acknowledge the beauty and the peacefulness of Sevilla. I was so caught up wanting to either be by myself in a place grey and black like my thoughts or ELSE in a packed city where the busier and the louder it was, the less I had to take a minute to accept that I was depressed, that I was ignoring the fact that maybe the place I needed WAS Sevilla. Maybe I needed to get back to my creative roots of learning languages, writing, singing, interacting with new, interesting people in a completely different culture to remind myself that life is NOT just constricted to what you know as your routine.
Sevilla, September 2018 :
Raw, organic, beautiful, safe surroundings where the pace of life is slow, relaxed and allows you to sit with your thoughts, accepting and thinking about what they might mean. I would hope (although realistically it may not happen) that although even now, in sunny Spain, I get waves of hopelessness or despair (try not sleeping for three days because of bad dreams) I will never get myself to a place where I feel so helpless and life feels so bleak ever again. But if I do? That’s OKAY. Because I’ve been there before, I survived it and I’ll survive it again.
Depression with its best friend Anxiety are the worst but they’re shades. They’re sunglasses. They’re the best damn Raybans you’ll ever buy. They shower you in darkness and you walk around blind, seeing nothing in front of you. But they’re not real – the feeling is real but they’re not. When you’re ready, and ever so slowly you can start to push the shades up and let the colour in – and I’ve got to hand it to you Sevilla, the colours I’m seeing are magnificent.