One of the main reasons I started my blog was to start speaking about myself. I knew I needed to start externalizing who I am and how I feel.
Prior, I felt unauthentic. I felt like no one truly knew who I was. I still feel that way, but writing about my depression, my anxiety and my travels has helped me start along the path to expression and connecting with people.
When I don’t talk about my depression and anxiety, I feel like I’m hiding. I’m acting. I’m alone and isolated. But this last year is the first time I’ve talked freely about how I feel with people besides my best friends.
Amazing things have happened since – not necessarily extravagant, but small and important.
One of my bosses at the hostel calls me “Sad Girl” in reference to my blog. He always combines it with a mundane verb. For example, he’ll happen upon me cleaning, he’ll laugh and say, “Sad Girl cleans toilets.” It makes me laugh and makes me feel known. He might not know the specifics of my depression, but the fact that he jokes about it makes me feel lighter, even when I am actually sad and he’s mocking my sadness. It makes me feel accepted and hopeful that I can live among generally happy people and still feel sad without feeling like I’m too different.
Other cool things that have happened:
I wrote an article for the Inlander about traveling in spite of having depression and anxiety. I received loads of messages from people thanking me for writing the article because it encouraged them.
I did some busking in the Killarney town center and actually made money from it. There is something incredibly affirming about strumming an instrument and singing (something I find quite vulnerable) on a street corner and having people approve enough to throw you euros and give you a big smile.
I got my first tattoo.
I talk to strangers about my feelings and my past. And they share their own similar experience and struggle. We connect and help each other, if only briefly. Sometimes they are humans I wish I could keep, but the nature of travel is those 40 minutes might be the only time I see that person my whole life and I have to learn to appreciate that gift without expecting more.
I’m socializing. That’s a big deal for me. Since being in Ireland, I’ve gone out to pubs more nights in one month than I have the combined years of my life.
I begin the day and end the day with talking to people. And I hardly get jittery about it anymore. And the amount I second-guess and heavily edit everything I say has lessened. That’s an existence I’ve never known before.