WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY – From Travelling The World To Therapy In Lockdown

Hello guys.

I’m a day late to World Mental Health Day, but seeing as I believe every day should be focusing on our mental health, that’s fine. Currently, I’m lying on the sofa, listening to BJ aka Boris J talking about another possible lockdown. It’s already making me feel uncomfortable, but hey ho, this is the life we’re living isn’t it? I’ve just finished a workout I was too tired to complete, but I’m glad I did and I’m looking at making a tomato soup from Cookie and Kate’s wonderful book I got for my birthday. Oh, by the way, I don’t get sponsored by anyone which is great because that means I can be vulgar in describing how insanely orgasmic this tomato soup is – MMMM. 

I’m going to keep this post pretty simple, sweet and quick to the point. From the minute I came home/got stuck in England, and was told my Australian visa had gone to sh*t and I couldn’t re-enter the country, I realised I must take this time to do something extremely difficult but something I’d known for a while whilst backpacking  – and that was to go back into therapy. 

I’m not a newbie to therapy, in fact I’ve had a lot of it. I first had therapy when I was only 5 years old. I had been blabbing onto my little classmates about how my Dad had been diagnosed with MS and that my uncle had recently died of a brain tumour and APPARENTLY, that’s not how playground talk works – who knew? Once a week I visited Mrs Cohen and drew how I was feeling whilst learning how to count to ten and it’s funny but I still remember it now. When I was 14, I found myself putting on a happy face, when things weren’t so happy at home and it was exhausting. I went to the school therapist but I found I was crying more than I was talking and thought it would be easier to not bother. Rain check – don’t just walk out on therapy – BUT walk out I did. I put the world of therapy into a box and shut it tightly, persevered, grinned like a cheshire cat  and laughed until I cried whilst inside my shoe, my sock was falling down – my sock being a metaphor. I was 19 when I blurted everything out to my doctor and he referred me to The Tavistock, a specialist mental health trust. I was travelling to Ghana volunteering and The Tavistock promised me they’d add me to the waiting list for help whilst I was away – but six weeks later, when I returned, I found out they’d lost all my contact details and hadn’t any appointments that would work with my work schedule. Losing hope, I found a psychoanalyst – and I stuck with him for five years, despite feeling like I was unable to connect and he was just annoying me. I was scared, I guess, of letting go of him. My Grandad had passed, my boyfriend and I had broken up, my brother and my father were going into hospital and I was screaming inside. If I lost my analyst – despite the fact he was getting on my nerves – I would have nobody.

I guess it was the death of Robin Williams that really shook something within me. I connected to his death deeply, because I related to his seemingly, open, funny and outgoing free spirit, who was clearly putting on a greater clown face than I was and it just got too much. I think it scared me because I felt that it could be me – therapy wasn’t helping and I had nobody to turn to. So I planned a trip around the world, by myself. I wanted to see that maybe life was beautiful on the other side, because everything felt claustrophobic and depressing. I wanted to learn Spanish in Spain, and backpack South America, India, SE Asia and Australasia – solo – to prove that I COULD be by myself – and I did just that. More than anything, I wanted to be alone so I could feel pain, and heartbreak and grief authentically rather than hiding it – and I wanted to conquer my fear of being alone. I wanted to write and write, and analyse and grow from my own experiences. I did that too.

That’s how Emily’s Eyes Explore was born and I’ve been pretty blown away by the responses I’ve received. Turns out mental illness is pretty common and people hide it too. It is from backpacking that I’ve become aware of issues I need to tackle and insecurities I need to accept – because to be honest, at some point, I would like to feel free of demons – or at least lighter from them. I think it’s when you’re alone that you get to know yourself the most authentically -and that can be hard at times, but also incredibly enlightening. I know that I have hope for a future now – and I would like to be able to speak about life without anger or regret, eventually meet and share a life with someone I feel inspired by, someone who I can hope to also inspire, and to feel totally at ease with myself – and if not? It is that belief and that hope that allows me to keep going when I look back and struggle to accept my achievements.

I found my therapist from Psychology Today – a legitimate website which also features some interesting articles if you quite fancy a read. There were a few people I liked the look of, but I based who I chose off the preliminary conversations we had.  I was scared sh*tless – I still am – but for the last nearly six months I feel almost like a different person. I’m not saying that I’ve miraculously transformed, but I think this is the rawest I’ve felt. I actually feel like an open wound (not the best feeling) because I’m now becoming aware of things I do to try and cover that up – but if you don’t open a wound, to clean it before it heals – then it won’t heal. I feel like the person who I was three months ago is a very different person to me now ,who’s sitting here, typing away like a mad person, listening to the “Break Up Theme Soundtrack” on repeat – got some nice electric guitar in there guys, bit of cheeky violin, recommend. 

As I’m becoming aware of my own insecurities and the way I deal with things, I am slowly becoming aware of other people’s – and how their own traits can trigger me. The person I am now is different to the person I was last year, or indeed six months ago or even six weeks ago. It annoys me, therefore when people talk like they know you – because even if they think they do? They don’t. Their “view” of you, is entirely dependent on your previous experiences together – and it doesn’t mean you’re the same person. To sum up, don’t judge someone- friend or enemy – based on who you thought they were, or you think they are – because really, you have no idea. 

It’s been an interesting process, especially the last two months, and I won’t lie when I say being in this weird, open, raw-as-hecky place, can be difficult. Things can hurt more than usual, but I’m slowly figuring out why that is – sometimes it’s not the situation presenting itself – it’s a host of weird crap that can go back years. For now, I’m just enjoying my life without inflicting rules on myself amidst this pandemic. I just want to go, have fun and make some funny memories and I intend to do that whilst sorting myself out. Life is too short to worry. I truly believe, in years to come, that this whole journey will have made sense. Until next time.

Em x

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