I’m Depressed

There. I’ve said it. It’s not the first time. But I don’t want to say it again.

I’m depressed.

Not your milennial kind. Sitting at a cafe, rolling my eyes at the girl I don’t like and complaining about singledom, “Ohmygod! I’m so depressed!” No. Not that kind.

The real one. The emotional kind that people tend to treat lightly because they don’t understand how serious it can possibly be. So, welcome to my world.

I’m not an actress. My life isn’t a Bollywood movie. I’m not sitting by the window, staring into space and nothingness. I don’t have a single tear running down my face as I lose sight of what’s happening around me. I’m not snapped back to reality. A hug isn’t going to heal me. A boyfriend cannot fix me.

This is real.

I’m right beside you. I’m not in hiding. I’m everywhere I need to be. I’m talking to you when you’re talking to me. I sound like I do everyday but I care a lot less. You just can’t tell. I show up to the event, dressed like a dream. You can’t tell it took me effort to put it all on. Not physical. Emotional. To get out of bed and prepare myself to smile with a world I can’t connect to anymore.

I can’t tell you I’d rather be at home. Not listening to you talk about problems that don’t affect me and having to give you comforting advice when I can’t even think. I can’t tell you I’m two seconds away from breaking apart even when I seem to be laughing.

You help me. Sitting across the table, as a best friend. You help me. Knocking on my door for a small conversation. You help me. A distraction for a few seconds. But you can’t take it away.

I want to confide. To tell you how I spiral. To tell you how this is all too much. I think I’ve taken on more than I can chew. My overthinking has taken me by my hand and led me back to my dark place. I was depressed a few years ago. I think it’s back for me. Or maybe it never stopped at all.

I wake up every morning. I walk out the door, that takes a lot of effort. I look through my checklist, ticking off things that pay my bills. I eat my lunch to Netflix. I come back home, turn the lights on, find my corner of the bed and suddenly I’m lost. I switch between streaming platforms. I grab my phone and get on Instagram. There’s nothing to watch. Nobody to see. I don’t care about any of it. But I have to. Because if I’m not watching Mike Ross fight with Harvey Specter or Lorelai and Rory Gilmore fast talk their way through Luke’s coffee, I’d want to slam my head against the wall, crying.

I ask myself everyday. Is it the end of my relationship? Is it the amount of work? Is it the personal woes? The inability to give back to the people who gave me everything? Is it the drowning debt? My answer is the same every time. No.

Someone once asked me what depression feels like. “Is it a state of mind? Can’t you change your state of mind?” I tried to tell her.

It’s like an empty room that hasn’t been lived in for decades. It’s hollow, your voice echoes multifold. So your worries echo multifold. It’s dirty, not the sexy kind. It’s broken windows and rusty doors. It’s haunting without the ghosts. It’s a feeling of sinking. Like something bad is always going to happen. But it’s not. You know it’s not. Yet you feel like it just did. You feel like you’ve lost. Maybe it’s the loss of life in that room. Or the loss of happiness. The loss of light. It’s a dark room. Maybe there’s light. All it takes is the flick of a switch. But you’re stuck. You can’t get up and turn it on.

She asked me why. I didn’t have an answer.

My depression doesn’t need a reason to cling on to. My emotions don’t have to explain themselves for sinking again. I can’t write down why I’m not okay. But it’s the truth. I’m not okay.

How do you ask for help when you don’t know what you need help with? What do I say?

“Hey, I’m depressed. I don’t know why. I don’t know the fix. But help me?”

What do they go on with? What solution do they give to a problem I can’t describe?

So I try what I always have. To smile. Maybe if I smile enough, the happiness will become real. I try to giggle. Perhaps the silliness will help lighten up my heart. I try to create. Art helped me once, so it should again? I try to live. But as I sat there at that boardwalk, staring at fireworks, my sister turned to me, “Are you crying?”

I had to say no because I didn’t want to explain myself. But the truth was… Yes. The fireworks made me cry. I don’t know why. They always make me happy. And I was happy. But something within me made me cry. Because I wasn’t really happy.

How do you explain that?

Things that bring me an abundance of joy cannot lift me out of this dark hole I find myself stuck in over and over again. Maybe we’re all depressed and we just don’t admit it to each other. Maybe as you’re reading this, you’re relating. But you can’t tell anyone either because when they ask, “Your life is amazing. What do you have to be depressed about?” what do you say?

What do I say?

So I shrug my shoulders, look down in guilt and swallow my tears. I look at them, a lump in my throat and softly say,

“I’m not okay.”

 

Young & In Love

I remember being young. Excited for the future. A little immature. Naive, not innocent. I met a boy. He was cute as a button. Special in his own way. We were different like night and day. He was obnoxious, so sure of himself. Sarcasm came to him like it was art and he was Picasso. I couldn’t stand the sight of him. Or bear to hear the words he would utter.

But I was lonely, he kind of liked me. He asked. I said yes. Three rules were laid out.

  1. We don’t tell anyone.
  2. When this ends, we stay friends.
  3. This will end.

And so we began.

I knew where I was going. I had plans, back-up plans and back-up for my back-up plans. I had a vision of who I was and who I wanted to be. He had love and a comfortable dream. I wanted no part in it. 8 months and we’re done,  I told myself on our first date.

Who was I kidding?!

They say you don’t always know the moment you fall in love with someone. I do. I know the moment my heart leapt out of me, into his hands to do as he pleased. On the phone with him, he said to me, “I don’t care what the situation is, you’ll never be alone. I’ll always stand by you.” I knew I wanted that in my life.

And just like that, 8 months turned 9 and I couldn’t imagine waking up to a world where he wasn’t with me. We couldn’t tell anyone but every part of me was dying to. I wanted everyone to know how much I loved him, how much he loved me, how amazing he was and that his love was only for me.

We hit one year and I couldn’t believe my ears. I was so excited. We shopped, went for lunch and celebrated us. But the back of my mind was beginning to nag. I was young but not young enough to ignore the facts. If this didn’t have a future, I had to be honest with myself and step back. I’d look at him, ready to ask the question and I’d stop. No. I can’t lose him to my need for permanence. We’re happy as we are.

The battle went on until the conversation was finally had, spread over six months of back and forth, sharing thoughts, ideas and passions. Sharing our vision of what marriage means to us, what it looks like in our minds and the other’s role in it. We disagreed time and again. We almost broke up over and over again. Until, finally, one day, I sat next to him. We knew there were differences – kids, lifestyle, career – we wanted so many different things. But when we looked at each other, our hearts knew, “I love you too much to let you go.”

The decision was made. I wish we’d waited.

I loved him, I still do. But life caught up. I grew up in uncertainty, unsure where life would take me. My obsessive planning was born the first time I didn’t know what the future held. Uncertainty scares me. His life was filled with them. I never thought about it until suddenly I did. And then I couldn’t let it go. It was an adventure I didn’t want to be in.

How do you choose between the love of your life and the feeling of security? How do you feel safe in someone’s arms yet afraid in his world?

I did. And like all things negative, the fear grew larger and more prominent in my mind until it took over every conversation, every argument, every joke, every look and every minute of our relationship. I began to compare. Not with the living but with the imaginary. The vision of the future I wanted versus the one I was being offered. “Life is filled with uncertainty,” I was told on repeat. But that’s why you have plans. You have destinations. You have back-up plans, my mind would scream. Sometimes, I would scream.

The fights grew bigger, the shouting louder, the words more hurtful. Sometimes, I’d remember the moments we spent too in love to give a fuck about anything else. Sometimes, I’d remember my parents in heated arguments, afraid I was following their precedent. Are we just like them?

We pushed, pulled and lost our minds in the swinging emotions that were mostly mine. I wanted him as much as I wanted to know every little part of my life.

The longing I had for the world to know made me feel trapped with the eyes that were now watching. The people I wanted to gasp with jealousy were now running their mouth with opinions I didn’t want to hear.

He stood his ground, “I want you. It’s really that simple to me.” I couldn’t relate. Instead, I had pain. I had fears. I felt lost in a relationship that had once made me feel like I belonged. And it was so easy…

It was so easy to pretend like it didn’t matter. To turn off my fears when I heard his voice. His laughter brought with it that comfort, his words made me feel loved. His arms… they felt like home. But then I’d leave to come back to my real one, the home that’s made of walls and cement and reality would stare at me, questions burning my brain, anxiety waiting to spiral.

My heart would sink with me as I was stuck in the rut I forgot about when he was standing next to me. And the circle will start all over again.

How do you choose?

How do you choose between the comfort of his arms and the comfort of your mind? Between feeling at home and feeling secure?

How do you choose between the love of your life and yourself?

I chose myself.

I don’t know if I’ll wake up one morning and hate myself for this. I don’t know if I’ll ever find someone that loves me and makes me feel the way he did.  But today, in this moment, I believe I did what I had to for myself. There are people who get it and ones who don’t.

But I wake up every morning and tell myself, “It only has to make sense to you.” Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.

That’s just something I have to live with.

 

Alone

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It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon here in Singapore. I’m sitting on my bed, waiting for my nails to dry. The third movie of the day just ended and the feeling hit me again. The one where I can feel the emptiness within. It’s like a tiny prick that begins the moment my heart starts racing with anxiety. My heart starts racing the second my distraction ends and I don’t know what to do with myself.

I don’t know how to be alone.

I’ve struggled since I was a kid. Even if I’m by myself, I needed to be surrounded by people. I needed everyone else’s existence to keep mine calm and sane. I’ve annoyed friends and family time and again, taking advantage of their niceness to keep them by my side. I never needed them to talk to me or pay attention to me. Just to be within my line of vision, let me know they’re here.

When I was a teenager, friends were abundant. Never a moment alone, I began to crave it. I wanted the silence of my room, the coziness of a book or the melody of my favorite song. I didn’t enjoy people. I hated the company. In a Myers-Briggs test, I was an introvert – stereotypically so.

But then I hit 20. I developed depression, again. The loneliness that came from being alone was like an icepick being driven deep into my heart. I needed more than just a human in the room. I needed conversation, warmth, attention. I needed to be acknowledged and loved every minute of the day. I dreaded going to the bathroom because I’m in an empty space by myself and the anxiety would drive me insane.

Then came the incredible 23. I met a boy, cute as a button. Loving, affectionate and never stopped paying attention. I’ve been in love with him for almost 3 years now. Every waking minute I’m not busy, I was communicating with him. We mastered long distance. I didn’t need him in the same room. Just his voice, his texts, him. He became my best friend, my partner in the literal sense of it.

But life always happens. Between us, I happened. And because of me, space happened. So, here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, all alone and I don’t know what to do with myself. We sometimes spend so much time in a relationship, we forget what we did before we met them. I’m sure I had empty days quite like this but I can’t remember them. I don’t know who I was before I met him. What did I do? What was my distraction? Who did I talk to?

I fidget. I continue to fidget. I can feel the anxiety build within me and I don’t know how to get through it.

Am I hurting because I’m without him or am I anxious because I’m alone?

So many people do it. In and out of relationships. Sometimes, just alone. They’re occupied. Their brains don’t crash at the idea of coming back to an empty house – and I have flatmates. I have a roommate who sits outside the entire day. But she travels and I come back to an empty room. I won’t have him to talk to. To fill my silence. How will I survive?

How do they? Do they all feel this way?

Is it something you learn to live with?

Does the silence drive you insane like it does me?

Does it make you cry with memories from as far behind as 20 years ago?

Does it make you miss the place that feels like home?

Does it make you miss the voice that gave you joy?

The arms that kept you warm?

Or do you feel nothing at all?

Do you just walk in, drop your keys, pull off your shoes and settle in? No sound but your own footsteps. Your breathing. The distant kid’s screeching laughter.

Do you ever put earphones on?

Do you ever turn to the door wishing someone would walk in?

I sit here sometimes. I have a huge window to my left that’s always shut, the curtains drawn. But I still hear the world go by. Honking cars, screaming kids, music from the apartment above. I hear my flatmate laughing with his girlfriend. The laundry tumbling in the washer.

And I realize the silence that surrounds me that I can now hear things that don’t involve me. It makes me feel more alone. More anxious. More lonely.

I put my earphones on. The happy songs remind me of my good days with him. It reminds me they’re possibly behind us. The sad songs remind me of the choice I’ve made. It is a hint of a future that I have to re-learn to live in.

Every lyric I hear, every joke I laugh at, every scene I watch continues to build slowly, step by step. I can feel it within me. Anxious.

Anxious that it’s so great. Anxious that it’ll end. Anxious that the end will mean a few minutes of quiet before the next one begins.

Anxious of the thoughts that come with the quiet.

Anxious of the memories I don’t want to re-live.

Anxious of the silence.

Anxious of the sounds.

Anxious of the world.

The never-ending reminders.

Anxious that in a world filled with people, here I am.

In this little concrete block that I slave my life away for.

Surrounded by the things that often bring me joy.

Anxious of being alone.

Alone.

Living In Contradiction

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I am the girl you’ll see on the streets, smiling at strangers, forever cheery.

I am her, nose in the air, uncaring, uninterested, just a little bit snooty.

 

I am loud, to you, maybe to her. You’ll hear me from the other room, laughing and making jokes.

I am shy and anxious. Timid when I see them. Afraid of my voice, terrified of the crowd.

 

I long to be free. To be rid of the Louis Vuitton dreams.

“Find me a corner and my old computer. I’m in the mood to watch TV.”

To be rid of my wants, focus on the needs,

To buy less clothes, to save fewer links,

To return my credit card, to live debt free.

 

I am the ideal consumer. Have something pretty? Does it smell luxury?

“Bring it to me, won’t you please?”

It’s not for show. It’s not for them to see.

It’s for me. It’s for the way they make me feel.

Powerful. Rich. Just a little bit snooty.

 

I suffered. A childhood that left me broken. Insecure and sceptic.

I’ve had days where food wasn’t real, when home wasn’t existent and life was on hold.

Yet, here I am, spoilt. Like a kid in a candy store who won’t stop crying. 

Not because I’m sad. Because I want what I want when I want it. 

 

I love people. The closer I can keep them, the happier I feel.

I hate company. Leave me alone, don’t want to speak.

 

I long for a partner. For someone’s arm to hold.

To smile, to flirt, to laugh. To hug when I’m cold.

I am his woman, in love, smitten. 

“Where’s my ring? Can’t wait till I marry him!”

 

I imagine a world, my company, I’m Queen.

There’s no king, no man. Just me and my employees.

It’s an empire. It’s mine. It’s hard work, long hours, no sleep,

But when I stand at that window, overlooking a world that I can finally touch and feel…

I would be invincible… but wait, that’s not it.

 

I want more. Out of this life, this world.

To have it better. To fight for more. 

A better job, better salary, better rights, better government, 

Better love, better laughter, better people,

I just want…

 

I want to be content. Happy with what I have. 

Accepting of others. To have the ability to say,

“You are your best version and that’s okay.”

To them, to him, to me…

 

But I just don’t agree.

 

 

I Feel Alive

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I’m drawn to pain. I’ve known this forever.

I say this often and people always underestimate how it runs and how real it is.

I’m always the one on the phone listening to everyone’s most depressing sentences. I’m the one my friends come to when they need to cry, when they need to vent or when they need to complain. And I absorb it. For someone who doesn’t know how to care for a human being, I’m always the one listening, ready to comfort.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself why.

Have you seen Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran’s River? The actual video is a flipping nightmare when you look at it in the sense of a relationship. But I’m so drawn to it. I find myself watching the video and listening to the video instead of just the song because I don’t want to just hear the song. I want to hear him say hurtful things to her. I want to hear them fight. And I find comfort in the pain that it gives me.

It’s similar to Love the Way You Lie. When they constantly push each other against walls but they also are attracted to each other and this destructive cycle continues until the house finally burns down and I thought to myself, “My God. That relationship. Wow.”

I fight with him all the time. I don’t intend to start fights and most of the time, I am trying to stop them. But in a way, when I look back at them, I realize how easy it was for me to escalate something insignificant into something so big.  How hurtful words rolled off my tongue like I was asking for an extra shot of espresso. How I did anything I could to ensure he would say the things he’ll regret because it hurts me. But I wanted to hear them.

I remember a phase a few months ago. It was a bad one. We were fighting like the world was crumbling around us. I woke up every morning, exhausted. My fingers would itch to text him an apology but instead, it would build up. I’d begin with, “I’m sorry. But you know what happens…” The text would end with, “But you’re an asshole. It’s your fucking fault.”

In a way, I was the sanest during that time. The constant pain in my chest was a comfort. And there was so much pain. I was hurting emotionally to a point where I could physically feel the pain. But it was perfect.

You know how you dream of a future?

I do, too.

I sit in a room, drink my coffee and imagine a world where I’m finally successful. I’m in the perfect career, look absolutely gorgeous and in love with a man that’s amazing. But we’re not just in love. We’re in love in a way that makes us extremely vulnerable around each other. Like I could drop dead with a heart attack if he said one word wrong because that’s how toxic and unhealthy that relationship was. But it was powerful. Because we were in that relationship knowing we had the power to destroy the other with one word but loved each other so much that we’d never say it. It was like walking at the edge of a cliff. You could fall to your death or on land and live. It was filled with adrenaline. And the idea of that relationship felt so surreal and incredible.

The problem is – my needs don’t match my reactions in reality.

I’m someone that will put up with a lot. But when my boyfriend said something that hurt me deeply, I didn’t run towards him. I didn’t say, “More please.” I took a step back. I called less. I spoke less. I hated him with a passion because he’d hurt me and it wasn’t okay.

And I told myself, “Maybe I’m over it. Maybe I’m not that person anymore. Maybe I’m not drawn to pain.” But every time we fight, every argument we ever have, I want more. Like an addict who found the best version of a drug, I can’t stop until it’s all done and I’ve finally heard it and felt it. Then I stop and breathe. Then I go, “Cool. Now we can fix this.”

Are you like that?

We sit together as a family. I find myself disconnecting. Like an outsider looking in. The happiness that they feel doesn’t exist in me. I’m laughing with them while thinking to myself, “Fuck. This feels so fake.”

But when they’re screaming…

When we’re all screaming… it’s so bloody painful. But I’m in that moment. I’m not detached from my reality. I’m present and alive.

I live everyday believing he and I will break up someday. I love him. The idea of a world without him scares me to death. But I think of it everyday. I think of why it’ll happen – because I’d choose to end it, of course. I think of that conversation. The panic and the pain set in and I pick up my phone and text him how much I love him. He writes back and I smile with a little blush.

The back of my mind goes, “Imagine a day when that doesn’t happen…”

And I’m alive again.

Laugh Like Her

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I’m a 26-year-old living in Singapore working a job that takes me to different countries and a boyfriend who adores me. I buy clothes every weekend and complain about how many nights of wine and cheese my colleagues throw in lieu of a party.

I post pictures of me with large groups, great food and brilliant surroundings. I spent an evening in Paris at an apartment one street away from the Eiffel Tower with women who are so strong and brave, it’s unrealistic. You saw the champagne, you saw the image, you never saw the truth.

Welcome to the facade of us happy working women.

“I met the CEO of a fancy company. He introduced himself to me.” – I saw the CEO of a fancy company. I stood around awkwardly while he spoke to my boss because I was too embarrassed to introduce myself and so I just stared for a half-hour and he ended up being really nice and introduced himself to me.

“I went to Paris. My office sent me.” – I went to a small town that’s a one hour drive away from Paris where I didn’t realize things shut down on Sundays and has very limited vegetarian options all 7 days of the week. I lost a lot of weight and developed severe ulcers when I came back.

“Oh my God! I feel so bad. Are you okay?” – I don’t know how to care. Sometimes, I think it’s a flaw. Sometimes, I think it’s normal and we’re all like that.

Because, come on…

When someone falls down, do you actually care? Do you rush out of reflex because society has taught you to ask how they are, let them know you can help and pretend you give a fuck about anyone but yourself or is it because your heart actually hurts when you see someone fall?

I don’t. Not unless I really truly care. Which is so fucking rare. Because I’m in constant competition with everyone I know since I was in first grade. “I have to be better. I have to score higher. I have to look hotter.” You know what? Fuck that shit. Here’s the truth.

I have high-functioning depression. I see a therapist once a month. I fight with my boyfriend every other day. I’m jealous of girls and their laughter even though I know it’s all fake, just like mine.

I spend endless hours staring at blank pages. I travel one hour in two trains to reach eight hours of work before I travel one hour in two trains to come back home and cook. I haven’t slept for 8 whole hours in a very long time. I don’t think I’m drinking enough water anymore. I don’t know if I’m eating the right things. I think I’m weak. I’m scared to check. My eyes are tired. My body is sore. My heart has been breaking in pieces for months. I’ve been staring at a draft of a second book that I can’t bring myself to edit.

I want to get married. I can’t admit it. Because it’s weak. Women don’t need men in their lives. Women are strong. Women can survive alone. But holy fuck, how desperately I want to live under one roof and play house. Sometimes, I think it’s just the sex. Sometimes, I think it’s the companionship. Sometimes, it’s because, fuck you strong and independent, I want to be his wife.

I’ve been studying GMAT. For months. I suck at it. I want so badly to get good at it. So I pick up the book and my phone rings and I try to spend time with human beings in actual conversation but my emails go off and I want to be a good employee who responds to my boss past midnight and I remember my book that I would really really like to edit but then it’s past 1am and I have to be up at 6am and I want so desperately to sleep.

So I do none of it. I turn music on and slowly cry.

Sometimes I stare at my Instagram. Sometimes I stare at hers. I don’t know whose smile is fake. Whole laughter is painful. I don’t know whose life is a lie.

But we all want to say, “Mine.” Because I cried when I went home but I bet she laughed and loved.

I sobbed alone into my pillow but I bet he shares hers.

I broke down every night but I bet she partied forever.

Her life. Her travel. Her hair. Her nails. Her boyfriend fiancé. Because didn’t you see that ring? Didn’t you see his proposal? I did. They’re meant to be together. Maybe we’re not. They never fight. Oh, you should hear us growl.

So here we go. I’ll try this again.

I’m a 26-year-old living 3000 miles away from the people I love on a routine that leaves no time for me. I work a job that takes me to countries I can’t explore because I’m always broke and a boyfriend who loves me, maybe not. I buy clothes I can’t afford, credit card bills ceiling to floor and that free wine? It’s my one true lifeline.

I love my job. It’s the only thing that keeps me going.

But that’s the only thing you’ll ever hear me complain about.

Because, that’s the new normal, right? We’re supposed to have perfect lives and shitty jobs but it pays for the perfect life and so it’ll be yet another thing I continue to lie about?

I have a messy life.

I have shitty interpersonal relationship skills.

I have one best friend.

I don’t really know if my relationship will last.

I’m worried sick about my aging dogs that live with my aging parents.

I’m worried sick about my aging parents.

I want to be rich through my capabilities as a creative thinker in the world of writing and advertising and marketing. I also just want to be married to someone rich but not really but maybe. We’ll see.

I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing.

I’m anxious 90% of my existence and you know what I do when I am?

I log on to Instagram. To look at lives I am not living. To look at lies we’re both saying.

I follow a lot of happy looking women on Instagram. Because my inspiration is not their clothes or their face or their bodies. It’s that laughter.

And so I go…

In a crowded train, early Monday morning. Staring at my phone. I find myself wonder…

What an incredible life it will be… if only I could laugh like her.

And I post yet another fake picture.

Welcome to my lie.

A Year That Was

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I wrapped up my 2018 on an emotional note. I said, “Until next time,” yet again to a love who lives far away. I am struggling with the resurfacing of suppressed emotions. I’m grieving a loss eight months after it happened. Or maybe, it’s just the feeling of such an overwhelming year coming to an end. But I’ve been emotional and always two minutes from tears.

This year has been all over the place. When I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. When I thought it couldn’t get better, it did. Sometimes, I can’t believe it all happened in 365 days. But it was filled with lessons for a lifetime.

I started my year with a job offer. The people around me looked excited, but I knew it wasn’t the right one. I knew there was something better waiting for me. I still took it. I traveled 3000 miles for it. I sat in a hotel room with my mother who was there to help me settle in and I knew in my gut I wasn’t supposed to be there. I cried, sobbed and came back home like a kid on the first day of kindergarten. With that, I learnt to trust my instincts and tune out other voices because I was right.

But making that choice meant living off of my father’s money again. I know a lot of people who don’t mind this part. But I do. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY do. My need to live on my money is high. And so I sank. Deeper and deeper into depression. The kind I haven’t known before. The kind where I volunteered to get help against the wishes of the ones near and dear to me. I was prescribed medication. Yet, on a dull afternoon, I picked up a pencil and started to draw anything that made sense. When I finally put the pencil down, a weight had lifted off of me. I was free. I can’t express why. I can’t tell you how. But it was like my emotions had poured itself out and a light had found me. With that, I learnt the importance of art for my mental wellbeing.

And I thought to myself, Well, the worst is behind me. Life sat in a corner and laughed knowingly.

For the first time in my life, I learnt loss. I learnt how to know and love someone and have them be taken away. I learnt pain like nobody can ever teach you. I watched as the light went out from my fur baby’s eyes. The young one. The sweet one. The one I didn’t fear losing because I had another four years older. And I never understood how to process that pain. I never truly felt that loss wash over me. I find myself unable to say her name without breaking inside today. The therapist tells me it’s because I didn’t grieve. But I don’t know how to. I’m so used to not letting myself feel this pain, I don’t know how to just let it take over. This year, I learnt to love and lose, never to see again. I learnt the importance of grieving as I continue to struggle today.

They said she took the evil away. That worse things needed to happen but she took it so we could have it better. I don’t find myself enjoying the better when someone adds that spin to it. Because if I had to be at home depressed out of my mind to still have her with me, I’d do it in a heartbeat. And that is how I learnt that I’m not going to be the hard-ass, heartless and cold entrepreneur that I hoped to be. Because I can’t walk over people I love to get what I want. I need the ones I love around me, always.

It’s clingy but I’m lucky to have found someone who understands. Someone who stood by me as I went from sad to depressed to questioning the purpose of my existence to finding hope and passion again. A few weeks after my fur baby passed away, I landed the job I knew I would get. The one that feels like a dream. I’d kept the man I love in the dark about it until I got it. I took the job and went to him, “I got a job. It’s far away. We’ll be long distance until you’re able to move. But I took it anyway.” I didn’t ask questions. I didn’t ask how he felt. I did what I wanted to and let him know. Imagine my shock when he went, “OhmyGod! Congratulations! I’m so happy for you!” I count my blessings with that one everyday.

And so began the better part of the year. We adopted a stray dog. I identified my real friends. I announced my second book. I wrote the first draft of the second book. I ticked off two new countries on my list. I met global leaders, I shook hands with people I hope to one day be and most importantly, I found myself surrounded by women doing all the things the world I came from told me was absolutely impossible. I found myself inspired everyday and after endless months of not knowing why I’m here, I found my reason again. I found the need to move forward. And for the first time in a long time, I found hope.

My job makes me travel. And in October, I went to Paris. I saw the Eiffel Tower in shivering cold! It was magical. I remember standing there with four women who were way high up on the food chain at work laughing with me and teasing me. It was… perfect. Life laughed again. I spent two weeks in France unable to really experience my surrounding, faking laughter and fighting tears. Wanting to leave, knowing I should stay. I can’t ever explain what happened. But those two weeks taught me – I’m stronger than I think I am.

Because now I know. I know how tangible happiness is. How fleeting perfection is. And no, I won’t hide. I won’t be afraid to take bold and bright steps forward. But I’m going to be prepared. I have the ability to say, “I’ll make my plans, you do your worst. I’ll find my way again. I promise.” That was the biggest lesson 2018 taught me.

We all slip and fall. A number change in the date doesn’t change that. Sometimes, we fall harder than ever before. It doesn’t matter as long as you find the courage to rise again.

In 2018, I learnt the meaning of the words, “This too shall pass.” Because the good and the bad, they pass. And every morning is a fresh start. Every minute is a new one. Ride the waves as they come but be prepared to fall off the board. You’re the only one who can get back on it again.

I spent my last week of 2018 in Dubai. With people I love, doing things I enjoy. I created, I worked, I toured and of course, I fell more in love.

2019 will change many things for me. Personally and professionally. For better or for worse. I’m going to tell myself what I hope you’ll tell yourself, too, when life gets the better of you – Keep moving. Life doesn’t stagnate, you shouldn’t either.

Have a fantastic 2019! Happy New Year from me and mine to you and yours!!

With lots of love, bright smiles and bear hugs,

Poornima

 

In memory of Mika (2016 – 2018)
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