It was only last year, as a 23 year old, that I noticed my coping mechanisms were not healthy nor was I okay. I was pushing potential partnerships away because “I just didn’t like them enough” (I was scared as fuck of liking them too much), I was spending many nights laying in bed crying, and I was just well past done. This was all over the span of the last ten goddamn years.
I look back at my life and it’s clouded with a sadness; I don’t have many memories where it’s simply all sunshine and rainbows. And up until last year I was just claiming that I was just too emotional; it was just who I am; I just had to deal with it. Just, just, fucking just.
It always confused me because I would put so much weight on things I didn’t think I actually cared about; so while I was crying about one thing, I was arguing with myself for caring enough to cry about it. Over the years, in my mind, I’d deal irrationally with the way something ended with someone or something one of my friends said once, or making a god-awful decision that I knew I would regret but doing it anyway. I knew in the back of my mind that I wasn’t actually sad about whatever the thing at the time was – but I was sad. And I didn’t know why. So I was going to blame them, or it.
But imagine being my mum when she hears me say, at 16 years old, that I thought it was easier if I just went to sleep forever. It breaks my heart today that she had to hear me say that, but I didn’t know at the time there was anything wrong with it; I thought it was kind of normal. I thought most 16 year olds were that depressed. I wish I could say sorry to her for hearing me say that. And I wish I could go back to that goddamned doctor (who is not my doctor today), and say; listen to this mother, and help this child. She sent me away saying, “just write in your diary.”
Maybe I should also be thanking her, too, as I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without learning to express myself through words.
For quite some time it was also incredibly easy to say, “oh I’m just sad about mum.” And sometimes it was as simple as wishing I had her to come home to at the end of the day, but a lot of the time, the grief was just accompanied with the depression, and I simply didn’t see the point in it at all.
I’ve had very few moments in life where I’ve actually truly broken. All in the weirdest and most inconsequential times. In a Kmart carpark after a shift at the pub. On the side of the goddamn road in Sydney, during work. When I dropped a bloody punnet of blueberries on the floor. And as I was driving home one night last year and I was genuinely scared I couldn’t take care of my own life.
I say this all not to gain any sympathy; please, I really don’t want it. But to raise a bit of awareness. In school, most people thought I was happy-go-lucky, ray of fucking sunshine Racquel. I was always happy. I was always laughing. I was always really bloody loud; but part of that was a mask. Some days it was true to me; when I’m happy, I’m obnoxiously so, so they saw that a lot. But when I’m sad, I always used to try and hide it. So I’d laugh a little louder. Be a little more annoying. Think, don’t look into these goddamn eyes because I’m scared of what you’ll see.
There are usually warning signs, but unfortunately as a species, we can be incredibly self-involved. Not always in a bad way, because we’ve all got shit going on. But honestly, just the occasional message to say you love someone is all they need.
And today, tomorrow, and every day, when your friends say “ARE YOU OKAY?”
You could save your own life.