Friends.

I am not good at friends.

I have friends, and then they stop being friends and they float away. I never know what to say, and I never know what to do. I’m not good at small talk, I’d much rather learn my friend’s opinions on whatever topic it is that means a lot to them – or that one thing we have in common that ‘keeps us together’.

Those brief comments over Facebook make me yearn to be back in a place where we were talking day in, day out – but it never comes again because we all move on.

Now, it seems that the only friends I really ‘see’ as friends are the ones right in front of me. Whether we see each other once a week or once a month.

It hurts that I feel like I don’t belong to people anymore. I want to be a part of my friend’s lives, and I hate that I cannot manage the balance between here and there. Here is obviously right now, in the forefront, constantly aware of everything that’s going on in their lives, and there is something distant and obscure when you stop being a part of their every day world.

Logically, it’s easy to understand that there simply aren’t enough days in a week to maintain a close relationship as you once had – and that actually, even though you’re apart from one another that bond is still strong.

I want to believe that the friends I haven’t seen for weeks, months, or years still think of me the way that I think of them. I love a lot of people, for all kinds of reasons and in varying amounts but they all have a piece of my heart whether I really want them to have it or not.

I think about you, more often than I’d like to admit.

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Splitting

It hurts. We know it’s not just us that it’s hurting too – but it happens for reasons that more often than not, we don’t even understand.

For an impossibly long time, I realised that here and there I’d been developing personal vendettas against people in my friends groups. I began to detest them, and grow agitated by the slightest thing that they would say and do.

Some of these people had never meant anything more to me than someone with whom I was acquainted, usually due to mutual friends. Of course, there was always the potential for more to come of our friendships – but instead of fostering those friendships, for whatever reason, subconsciously I chose to keep them at a distance.

I can be cold, judgmental and harsh about their every single move, detail and decision.

Being the introspective, self-aware thing that I believe I am – over time I’ve put this down to some very complex and difficult concepts. I once managed to convince myself that the reason I so despised these people was because there was some part of them that I saw as ‘negative’, but worse than that – I believed it was a reflection of who I was. That one personality trait we shared, that I found to be so ugly was too difficult to come to terms with so I chose to hate that person, rather than try to come to terms with it.

The other conclusion, was that the person whom I directed so much of my frustrations on actually deserved those feelings because of some kind of negative attitude. I cannot count the number of times when I’ve felt frustrated about someone’s situation – and equally felt powerless to offer them any support or guidance because, and isn’t that the nature of people, they are their own person and can do what they want with their lives.

Sometimes, I feel like I care too much. I know that I have a lot of love to give, and I love a lot of people – and I’m working on the acceptance that I am a compassionate, caring person.

Splitting is difficult. Equally so when it directly challenges my belief that I am the person I want to believe I am.

I have days when I know that every little thing someone does is going to make me mad, and I feel completely powerless to stop it. Things frustrate me, sometimes the smallest things and for whatever reason ‘letting go’ of those things is impossible, or at least it feels that way. I constantly strive to make sure I will see the day when I am able to take control of those feelings and turn them on their head. This disorder might have directed my life for this long but I am determined to prove that there are ways to accomplish what sound impossible.

Christmas & ‘The Holidays’.

I cannot remember the last time that I was this excited about the run up to Christmas. I cannot wait to spend time with friends and family, and feel so excited about the prospect of doing festive things and looking forward to the future and being so thankful to everyone in my life.

Before now, my relationship with this time of year has been difficult at best. Complex relationships, friendships and the relationship I’ve had with my feelings about them have clouded my view of this time of year.

There are the kind of challenges that everyone faces – what am I going to BUY for this person, or that person. How can I possibly buy/afford/find the perfect present that will adequately express how much I value this person?

Occasionally, I found that I managed to find something that seemed to tick all the boxes. Usually it was during a spending spree in resulted in a lot of impulsive decisions and probably a few choice purchases for myself. Come the following morning, I’d feel a heavy sort of guilt about it. Not only do NONE of those presents feel ‘right’ any more, but I’d lessened the value of them by spending money on myself in the same breath. (Usually money I ‘don’t have’ and therefore shouldn’t have spent on me.) To make matters worse, I would usually dig myself into a hole of belief that because I couldn’t find the perfect present, I therefore could not possibly value that person as much as I should. Which started a spiral of negativity.

I have no idea what has changed this year – all I know, and all I am going to take away from this feeling is that is just has changed. I want to put up Christmas decorations, and I want to spend good quality time with my family and friends. The people I love, because I love them, and I know that I can show that by being with them and around them!

For a while, even just a few days ago I had bad feelings about the run up to this time of year, but this evening I’ve spent the last 2 hours listening to some uplifting podcasts on mental health thanks to a link from a friend and sat writing my Christmas Cards. I have a lot of friends who live abroad and it dawned on me earlier today that in three weeks today, it’ll all be over. (At least the Christmas part.) It’s definitely put me in a festive mood, and brightened my outlook on a lot of things drastically.

Knowing that I can’t afford to perhaps buy the things I WANT to buy for people is not as depressing a feeling anymore. I’ve decided that I am going to do what I CAN do, and the rest will work itself out. Positivity is always productive, and I want to keep on this little train line and choo choo my way all the way through the next four weeks.

 

Love in 2016

I know that I’m not alone in the belief that 2016 has been an incredibly tough year. The media has been filled with news stories that have rocked us to the core, and some huge decisions have literally divided both the UK and America.

At this time, it feels like we’re clinging to hope – and it breaks my heart to read comments, often from people I’ve never met and do not know, expressing their loss of hope, and quite often their hatred of other people.

It feels very much like there is no ‘answer’ to all that seems to be going wrong in the world. So many people have forgotten how to have compassion, and many seem to find it hard to focus what compassion they have on anyone beyond their immediate field of vision.

In amongst all of this though, there are good stories. People doing good things for one another, positive movements gaining traction. I’ve seen a lot of pictures and videos of people doing good things, and it is heartbreaking that these acts of kindness are riddled with negativity. I don’t believe that a good deed should be recorded for the sake of personal gain, but to have done something good for someone else and to make a record of it to show to the rest of the world that people are doing good things is important.

It’s important at this time, for all of us to know that despite the way the world seems to be headed, people are still fundamentally good. We are kind, caring, compassionate creatures. Every single one of us, no matter what we have done only want for one thing – and that is to be happy. Happiness is a state of mind that can be achieved through so many means, but when you sit down and think about it, even if only for a minute it’s clear – at least to me, that happiness can be found in the smallest of gestures.

Please, please try to find kind words. We all have bad days, and bad moods and difficulties ahead of us. We all have complicated emotions and feelings but we don’t have to give in to them.

I met someone recently, completely by chance. It was chucking it down with rain, and thankfully the local bus stop has a shelter and so immediately we struck up conversation. The topic was obvious, and from it – in no time at all we were making all kinds of connections.

When it came to part ways, my new friend turned to me and told me that she had been in an awful mood, and had prepared herself to feel the same way for the rest of the day – but after our conversation her mood had changed. Just hearing that was enough to make me smile, I was already in good spirits, despite the awful weather and it reinforced this idea that happiness begets happiness.

I’m pretty sure that the change in frame of mind wasn’t down to ‘me’ fundamentally. I went out of my way to talk to someone, and in doing so made a connection that otherwise would have come and gone and left us.

Yes, there are a lot of difficult decisions and changes ahead of us that we will not be in control of. It’s okay to be afraid of how our world will change, and whether it really will be for the better – right now we know absolutely nothing about what is going to happen, and there is a lot of unrest and upset in the media over the outcome of these things.

Giving love, being kind and having compassion will not only help you as an individual through these times but it will also help to show others that they can do the same. It can be difficult to have compassion for someone else, but it is far better than to judge them and for both people to feel the effects of that negativity.

Extreme Emotions

When you’re bombarded by extreme emotion, it’s not just the extreme emotions that you have to deal with. Most of the time, when something unexpected happens it’s because you’re in a situation you can’t control.

I like ‘my’ time best. When I’m on my own and completely in control of my environment. If I don’t feel like washing dishes right now, I don’t have to, and I know that if they stay there all day the only person I’m upsetting is me. 

There is pressure, of course. I don’t like living in a messy environment, but some days I’m happy to let things pile up until such a time when I feel ready to deal with it, whether it’s dishes or laundry.

When you live with others, the pressure changes entirely. Things have to be done, or at least that’s how I feel about things. Leaving one dish isn’t enough to throw me head first into a mood swing, but leaving just that one dish isn’t easy because I know that if I don’t clean it right away, it’s highly likely they my housemates will when they do the dishes. Although I know I do my fair share of the dishes, and often offer to do them all in one go (mine and my house mates, in an evening) the notion that I am putting someone else out brings on a world of stress that is not easily ‘pushed aside’. People lie, people tell white lies all the time and I’m still undecided about how I feel about it. I tell them too. We all do. 

“Sorry, I forgot to wash that plate.”

“It’s okay!”

It’s okay? Is it though? Is it really? Are you not just seething inside? This is the third time this week I’ve made myself a sandwich and left the plate there and you’ve washed it with all your dishes. There are days for me, when nothing is okay. Sure, you can dismiss it, whatever okay. It’s just a plate, but it’s not. You left it on the table and that’s not where it belongs. How lazy are you? You’ve walked into the kitchen twice and not bothered to take the damn plate with you and it’s on the way. It’s. Not. Hard. 

Some days, it’s easier to let go of those uncertainties than others. Some days it’s okay to leave the plate there, and perhaps that’s down to confidence rather than mood? Having confidence in the things that other people tell you comes and goes. 

“No worries, I was washing up anyway!”

On a ‘good’ day it’s easy to have confidence, to accept the word of others without question. In the same vein, it’s likely not to happen on those days. On a good day, I’m on the ball. I’m the one clearing up dishes and engaging in normal conversation, I’ve probably hoovered, cleaned and done dishes already or at least contributed in some way that feels valid. That in itself makes a huge difference to general mood. 

‘Good’ days come with their own set of ‘base’ emotions. Positivity, excitement, and enjoyment of simply being. It’s a state of mind and on it’s own, apparently, (because I haven’t noticed a pattern), uncontrollable. It’s the difference between waking up in the afternoon and feeling like there is no point in showering, dressing, eating, doing out and doing something – and waking up feeling like you can get something accomplished even if you don’t get out of pyjamas. (Which I hasten to tell you! Doesn’t happen very frequently!)

Of course, this is before you put into consideration the great number of environmental factors that can so drastically destabilise whatever mood you happen to wake up in. Like anyone.

There are simple, every day things – the weather, the state of the bank account, what day it is, what plans you have, what letters arrive in the post. 

Then there are things that I find the most difficult – social engagement. 

I have strong feeling for a lot of my friends and family. People exist in ‘my world’ in very different extremes. There are people I love. They are sometimes family, sometimes friends and mostly animals. I’m compassionate, mostly toward those whose voice is not as ‘strong’ as others. Animals, children, and so many others who have enough on their plate, or are unable to voice their feelings, worries and fears. 

Then there’s this huuuuuge gap. To exist in that space is impossible, and it’s what makes social situations so complicated for me. I’m focusing on anger, and a sensation of hatred, but it’s equally applicable to a whole range of other emotions.

On the other side of my ‘scale’ there is hate. I’ve been taught, from an early age not to use that word, especially by my Dad, because it is such an extreme and to this day I’ve been unable to accept that there could be a better word to fit the way I feel. It’s lonely, to go from feeling intense affection for someone who is a friend and then feel so deeply hurt and frustrated by them or something they have done or said that the feelings inside you switch and develop, consume and utterly control you. 

I can only describe it as hate, and it’s an awful sensation. It comes with an intense desire to be away from them, to hurt them, to make them realise how much you’re hurting and to hurt them back. You become unable to focus – words and almost impossible to muster, and because you know that the feeling is only temporary it’s so important to be able to get out of the situation without saying anything damaging. The anger is so finely and specifically directed at this one particular thing, but to control the emotion feels like a mammoth task. 

It’s followed instantly by the desperate need to GET OUT. Whether you’re there in person, or talking on the phone, text messaging, or talking through e-mail or online messaging. 

Everything becomes impossible. This anger is the sole emotion. There is nothing else. Even though you might fight desperately within yourself for rationale, there is nothing. Struggling to stay ‘level’ takes a lot of effort in itself. Often, in the time it takes to fight the wave of emotions a host of other thoughts, feelings and general awarenesses happen to further confuse the situation.

You can’t just pause time, and often that need to explain yourself is too difficult. You know that you shouldn’t be angry, but in the time it takes to try and reel in your emotions it’s just too late. Whoever you’re with, or talking to knows that there is something wrong. So the question comes. Rarely, is it understanding, slow, careful. Usually it’s defensive or provoking. You don’t want either of those things. A defensive question brings the clarity to understand that yes they know you’re feeling something – and the wave of concerns comes all over again. 

I often have strong feelings, and I prefer to keep them to myself because that’s just easier.

I have many friends that I have simply had to leave or hang up on and almost always it’s without a word because formulating words is physically impossible. 

It’s not easy, but I’ll try to explain how complex the things that rush through my mind in those moments are. 

First of all, there is the ‘thing’ itself. Whatever the trigger has been. Meltdowns happen much more regularly on a ‘bad’ day, as if the chemicals in your brain are just so unbalanced that the only things that come from it are negative, low and depressed. 

A ‘thing’ will happen and all the possible causes, consequences and potential from that thing play out in your head all at the same time. Each new possibility tends to be worse than the last. You go from feeling upset that you can’t do this simple thing to feeling sad about what that means. Then the worry steps in. Will you ever be able to manage this? In fact, have you ever actually been able to manage it? Were ‘they’ right all along? You are not able, you are not capable, you are not useful, you are not accomplishing anything, you are a burden, you can’t even keep the promises that you make to yourself, never mind the promises you make to anyone else. In fact, why do you ever make promises?

It’s at this point, you’ve effectively cancelled out all the future plans in your life. Nothing is achievable. You’ve gone beyond all your basic needs, there’s no need for any of them so there is only one question. 

Why am I even here?

The ‘truth’ – that you don’t know is so soul destroying. It’s like everyone you love breaking your heart at the same time because they’ve let you go on like this. Believing that you could be something when really you’re just going through the motions. The belief that everyone you love hates you is strong, and difficult to cope with. Perhaps if you’re lucky there is a slither of desperation. The need to reach out, to make a phone call, message a friend, go to someone but it’s such a fragile moment. Calling someone and ending up with their answer machine is difficult, especially. Do you leave a message? In the state you’re currently in any friend will know that you have a problem and where does that leave you then? You can’t possibly leave a message because if you end it all you cannot imagine the guilt that you will leave them with. 

So you don’t leave a message. You just hope that they’ll call back. 

The ‘next thing’ is there though. It’s hovering over head like a dark cloud because once you’ve reached why am I even here the next step is obviously ‘I don’t deserve to be here’, so often in conjunction with ‘I can’t do this anymore’.

Getting out is difficult. Escaping those feelings usually means completely escaping. I personally feel lucky, that for whatever reason, I haven’t turned to drugs or alcohol. A quickly as I reach ‘critical’, I can come back down. I’m the first to admit to extreme behaviours and responses in those moments, and it’s embarrassing to know that so many people have witnessed them. I do get scared, that one day the ‘off’ button will be too close, too instant, and too permanent. That one day I’m going to be somewhere potentially life-threatening when something drastic happens to me. 

I’m happy knowing that I am most likely to go home, curl up in bed and cry until it hurts. The emotion comes out so easily like that, even if the act brings along with it a whole host of other intense feelings so self-hate and loathing. As soon as it’s done it’s as if the sun has come out and there’s a rainbow and everything is good. 

By the time that’s happened, a different set of problems arises. Crying doesn’t just seem to rid me of the emotions, but it also acts as a tool to forget whatever I was so emotional over in the first place. I want to forget, and move on – staples those feelings down so that they don’t get thought about any more. It leaves a ‘gap’. I often struggle to remember whether I’ve upset someone, and obviously – the act of leaving a friend in the lurch isn’t a terribly kind thing, but coming to terms with what happened is equally difficult. Admitting to the extreme emotion isn’t simple. I have a lot of pride, and something akin to ego too, and letting go of it to talk things through isn’t easy, especially when – all things considered, maybe that friend doesn’t want an apology? 

That friend deserves for me to be in control of things well before they escalate, and sometimes it feels that the only way to do that is to only interact with others when I’m in tip-top form, and that doesn’t happen very often.

With time, and therapy I’m really hoping that I can learn to control the things that impact the extreme emotions I have. I’m well aware that they were intimately linked with my own expectations and presumptions, whether they are directed toward myself, my friends, or other people around me.

Lessons in Love

“Love yourself before you can love anyone else.”

For years I’ve been hearing sentiments like these. They’re the kind of things that people take on board, and in some ways we know them to be true but the full extent of their truth isn’t realised until we can begin to take the steps to realise them for ourselves. I often explain this feeling to others as knowing something ‘intellectually’, but not being able to comprehend it emotionally.

Self-love isn’t easy. From an early age we are judged from so many different angles that to combat those criticisms requires a lot of love. That love, I suppose, usually comes from parents and family. I feel so incredibly strongly that a loving home is the best start a child can get. Our world has changed so much, and it is a pleasure to see diversity and equality taking such huge strides. (Of course, there is so much more to be done, but that’s for another day.)

‘We’, as members of a western society have so much more opportunity than before. The chance to visit far off places, to work in whichever areas we take interest in, to explore, enquire and learn so much more than we would ever have the chance to. I know that I am lucky to have been fed every day by my parents, and that they worked hard to provide things that I wanted. My Mum certainly didn’t have that luxury and although I’ll never forget the stories of ‘bread and butter if we were lucky’, it never really struck me as something I could believe in.

I have access to a vast array of things. Whether it be simple necessities like food and drink, or more luxurious things like mobile phones, video games, books, movies, work options – the list goes on and on. Love can come from the simple things, as much as it can be shown in the luxurious things, but always it has to come in it’s most direct form. From one person to another.

My parents showed me love in their own ways, and although Love is a difficult thing to describe, and whether it’s due to Borderline Personality Disorder, or something else inherent in me myself – I have struggled to find confidence enough to say that I love me, or that I’ve ever been able to accept being loved.

I don’t love myself, and although I don’t always find it easy to accept, I feel like I am capable of loving others. When I consider my close friends and family, I will openly agree that I love each and every one of them. I’ve been picky about my friends, and I’m critical about the people I meet, but in the end I feel like I love them. Perhaps that’s because they are accepting of me as I am, or because they’ve gone through such a gruelling selection criteria that they were very likely completely unaware of – a criteria I couldn’t put values to myself. I’ve accepted them as people I love.

I am able to recognise the beliefs in my friends that I share with them. I enjoy knowing that my friends & I share common interests, which is important of course if you want to spend time with someone! It’s very easy for me to quite simply ignore the parts of my friends which I do not like. By putting those traits, beliefs or interests out of my mind and therefore out of sight it’s much easier to get along. I’m sat here trying to work out if this is a human response to friendships or if it’s as a result of Borderline that I chose to vehemently ignore those things I don’t like, because there are definitely some people who I would chose to ‘hate’ for the same opinions.

(I need another half hour of your time to explain my thoughts on the word ‘hate’, I’ve always been told it’s too extreme a word to use in application to people – but I generally find in the past I’ve either ‘loved’ or ‘hated’ people. There is very rarely a happy medium between these two points in my mind.)

Today, I feel like I have managed to take steps in the right direction to loving myself.

Quotes, internet memes, and posts that other people choose to share on the internet have helped to promote what counts as self love. This morning I ate cereal. Then I decided I was feeling far too sick to get up and go and that it was okay to go back to sleep, as long as I took my meds first.

They’re small things, but when you’re recovering they’re so important. Show yourself some love. Build up that warm confidence that you are worth it, to yourself. I am worth my own existence, and I hope that one day I’ll be able to love myself enough to be able to truly love someone else.

Helpful Links

You feel like shit. – A great support, when you’re really having trouble to self-care.

Calm.com – For a quick meditation session.

Tiny Buddha – A place for inspiration and wisdom.

running away

I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder only 2 days ago.

Before that, I’d spent the last 13 years believing that I was ‘just depressed’. That the things I was feeling and doing and saying and thinking were just part and parcel of having depression.

I wish I could fully express how glad I am to finally have the right diagnosis because I believe it so strongly now, and I understand so much about the things I’ve done in the past. The abuser I was in a relationship with what should have been the best thing to have ever happened to me. I miss you to this day, and I wish I wish I wish I could go to where you are and that you’d have me back and I could make everything better because I have a diagnosis now. I know that it wasn’t just me, it was me and the disorder.

I understand why I so desperately needed to leave. What was so important about travelling. It breaks my heart to understand that I had to get away because being functional, managing my days, my weeks, my hours, my minutes was hard. So fucking hard, and I can’t even begin to explain how and why. It’s easier to be out of touch with people than to have to explain yourself, to regulate your feelings and go through the agony of wondering whether they are your friend or not.

I understand now, why the slightest word, comment or joke felt like it was pushing me off a cliff and I wasn’t sure if it was a cliff that had rocks at the bottom and I was being told in not such a direct way that those people hated me… or whether there was going to be a huge warm bath of water at the bottom and somehow I’d been wrong all along.

I know now why I could never believe that people would be in my life forever. The constant fear that it would only take one thing for people to turn their backs on me, and I would lose everything about that person that I loved. That fear is so real, and now that I’ve been hunting around online I realise I’m not alone. That wasn’t just depression and paranoia but the BPD. I’d feel so guilty and untrusting of people who I knew in one breath would do anything for me, and in the next would ditch me like a banana peel.

Living away from that has been so liberating and yet so exhausting. My life has dissolved completely in front of me. I’ve gone from keeping a full-time job, managing the bills in the household, living every day like it was my last and enjoying the company of friends I knew and loved for this. I work in a hostel for my accommodation, and I can’t go to work because I’m so fucking anxious about which school I will be going to, never mind which teacher I’ll be working with. What type of person will they be? Will they have a sense of humour? What if they make a joke and I don’t understand it? What if their expectations of me are different? and what about the children? What if I can’t remember their names. People will think I’m dumb if I call out the wrong name to a child, and I’ve done it! I’ve been that person calling out to a child and using the wrong name. I’ve felt that sinking realisation that I am that person. I got it wrong and everyone is thinking about how stupid I am. That’s not that child’s name how dumb can you get? How stupid ARE you? What kind of teaching assistant are you?

It took me MONTHS to feel comfortable in a situation that I should have felt safe in. Three other adults, and four children I knew relatively well. I thought things were fine, and I know now why I was so freaked out. This disorder forces me to think the worst in every situation. It’s no wonder that every time someone wanted to talk to me that I thought the ground was going to collapse under me and everything I’d ever done would be for nothing. That all the years I dedicated to a school I loved would be erased, that all the friendships I thought I’d made there would be meaningless.

I wonder maybe if I left the UK for so long to test my theory. You know, if someone is gone for long enough will people forget?

I’m so consumed by this, and I never realised it until now. I never thought that I was suffering for a reason, I truly thought that I was naturally delusional and dysfunctional.  That the depression was just an added bonus.

I want so desperately to leave here. I want to be somewhere safe, but I’m so scared that I don’t know where that is. I want to be with my Mum. I want to be somewhere that I can pull the covers over my head and know that I’m safe. That it’s going to be okay even if I mess up a little.

I want to believe my friends when they offer to come round, when they say they miss me, I want so, so much that my head is hurting so hard right now, to believe. I don’t want to hate myself, I don’t want to have this self-loathing anymore, I don’t want to love the people I love, and then feel like I hate them the next minute. I want to be stable, I want to be normal, I want to live my life and laugh and be happy.

I want that so much

When things are steady

Yesterday was the busiest day for me in weeks, and I didn’t actually ‘accomplish’ anything that I’d set out for myself.

A friend from Brisbane was in the city, and along with two other mutual friends of ours from Melbourne, we spent the day together. Despite the huge amount of things on offer in Melbourne we ended up doing the very thing that I think Melbourne should probably be most famous for.

‘Brunch’ was an instant requirement. Melbourne Central has a really convenient food hall, so that was where we headed first. I think I’ve had food from most of the food establishments that have set up shop there, but I tried out Oporto. I try to avoid burgers, mostly because unless you go somewhere like Grill’d you have no choice but to have their wheat-full bread buns. I’m not a coeliac, but I’m intolerant and usually I pay for it for the rest of the day but it was a risk I took. (I think I’m paying for it now it’s ‘the next day’ actually, which is unusual, but I suppose that’s just how your body works sometimes.) I actually really enjoyed it, but I could have quite easily just done with the burger rather than the chips and drink I added. Why am I always hooked in by meal deals??

After that we went to look at the Little Library. There were far fewer books than normal, which made me wonder if the school holidays had anything to do with diminishing numbers of books. I wish there were an easy way to count how many books there are there… or maybe I ought to start a book counting project. I love numbers, but without a regular count it’s just figures without any pattern. (Still, it might be fun!)

After that we went for Froyo. This is easily one of my favourite things. I love the stuff, and even though I have the same thing every time (with the singular difference in what kind of yoghurt I choose) I still really enjoyed it. There’s something about strawberries and white chocolate chips that I really love, and despite trying to recreate this at home, there’s something about frozen yogurt that sets it apart from yoghurt out of the fridge. It’s a rather expensive habit, to be honest. I rarely manage to pay under A$10!

We debated for a long time what to do with the rest of our day. The weather wasn’t particularly awesome, and we were hoping to avoid anywhere that was terribly expensive. Walking was quickly knocked off our list of top-ten things to do after finding out what one of our number had kicked a thing and hurt her toe so we went to EB Games. This, was unfortunately, a disappointment. I love the Nintendo Experience in EB Games on Swanston St, mostly because it’s the only place I can get free wifi for my 3DS automatically, which means my gaming experience is vastly improved! We attempted to play on one of the Wii U units they had on display – but the two old Wii controllers severely lacked battery power and with no obvious method of recharging them we were left sitting around discussing the state of our friend’s food, whether one of our friends who was clearly incredibly tired was asleep or not, and occasionally talking about a few games we played and what we liked about them.

Inevitably, our stay didn’t last long.

In the hope of inspiration we took a trip on the Number 35 tram. It’s a free ‘circle’ tram that takes you right the way around the CBD in a loop. We spent a bit of time looking at the map whilst we were on our way and talking about which buildings were which and whether we ought to go to them. Most of the things we’d like to have done involved either a lot of walking, or breaking our vows to boycott certain places (Not naming any names, SeaWorld and MelbourneZoo. Sorry not Sorry.)

We ended up in a coffee shop on Flinders Street an hour later.

It was so nice to be able to spend an entire day with like minded friends, to talk about ridiculous things that we were all interested in, to debate the validity of every single chapter that possibly existed after Naruto 699. (It’s all fake. :\) To talk about games, and jobs, and careers and families with absolutely no pressure.

One of our number left us, and we were joined by a friend of mine that I’ve known for well over 13 years. The fact that I’d known him for 13 years was a point of discussion and two of my friends were quite happy to remind us both how old they’d been at the time we’d started talking. What amused me was the fact that I’d met them all through the same medium. Roleplaying online has been a hobby of mine for well over a decade, and I’m not sure when I’m going to give it up. It always, of course, relates back to writing so I can’t see me giving it up any time soon no matter how much I’ve tried in recent years.

Dinner was a joint affair, at a Japanese Restaurant attached to the QV building. I had ‘gyu don’ or beef with rice, and although it was nice, it was full of other things that weren’t rice and I didn’t REALLY enjoy it which made me sad, and also made me miss Wagamama’s back home.

My two friends from much, much earlier left us after dinner – leaving myself and one of my dearest friends to catch up after what must have been a month. It’s always so good to see him, and I’m going to hate it when I have to leave Australia. We chatted, caught up and he finally asked me about my mood.

I talked. Openly. He commented, honestly and I wish I could say that I found accepting his advice easy but it wasn’t. Again, the difference between knowing something intellectually and accepting it as relational to yourself is huge.

One of the biggest things that I feel I need to take away from my chat with him is that Depression is a valid illness. There are such huge differences in the way some people struggle and cope with depression, and I think that hearing about some people with depression who maintain a steady job, relationship and do all kinds of other things makes me feel like I’m a failure for not being able to manage it.

I was very easily able to understand what he was saying to me about trying to hunt for something else to label myself with. I have friends with bipolar and I know, without a doubt that I do not have it, but I questioned myself despite that. I’m terrible with money, and incredibly impulsive about the things I do, buy and say. This is often classed as a trait of bipolar, and an example I used with him yesterday but he suggested that perhaps that’s just a ‘normal’ trait of mine. He’s right, and I think that my impulsiveness goes hand in hand with my compassion. Just today I turned a corner in the local Coles and I saw a man who was bleeding. I didn’t stop to ask myself whether he was a danger, or who he was, or whether he was of sound state of mind – I just went over and instantly asked him if he was okay.

I’m proud of that. I’m proud of the person I am and I know I need to focus far more intensely on the things that I am, and what makes me, me. Rather than looking for something that I need to slot myself into. Yes, I’m impulsive, yes – I use instinct before I use knowledge and wisdom. Yes, I tend to look for the negative before I hunt for positives.

I’m Ollie, with depression. I will never not be.