Leaving home was kind of exciting and exhilarating. To be honest. Being far away from the chores, my mom yelling for me to get out of bed every morning at 7(I was a very lazy child), eating the same boring Ugandan food (I really regret calling it boring because now I am in the kind of situation where I wish God could create other types of food). Yada yada yada! You get my drift. But all those thoughts quickly vanished from my mind when I landed in New Delhi on 13th August, 2018. For those that know, the air quality is not so good so my first breath wasn’t that perfect movie like breath. Nope. I was reaching in to my bag for my inhaler as this sharp pain seared across my chest because my asthma was acting up. Wow India!
But my positive self was like, “Girl you got this. New country. New life. New me.”
I’d decided to reset a lot of things when I left Uganda. My mindset, my interests and my body count too so I was really excited you know. Boarding the connecting flight to the airport in Amritsar did not help my starting anxiety. Northern India gets really hot so that’s like 55°C heating up the engines. I’ve heard stories from friends who have had crazy landings. You know those ones you watch on YouTube at 3am. Yeah!!!
Anywayyyy, let’s skip to arriving at campus. I was pretty bad ass until I got here. I’m not even joking. I had last cried in like 2017. (Over some rumors. <eyeroll>) but that’s a story for another day. And it’s not like what you’re imagining. No that Shit was a pain in the a**. I checked in to hostel. Smiled all the way to my room. Taking in my disappointing surroundings (I swear I am not exaggerating. BTW you should check out my campus’ video on YouTube. ( Explains the power of advertising)
It’s not a bad place when you get used to it though. I ate and moved around some more then entered my room, sat on my bed. And balled my eyes out.
It was a good cry. I can’t lie. I quickly got over it though, told myself it would be the last time I’d break down like that and even mentally scolded myself. A big girl like me? Wow. Little did I know the bad days had just started. Ha! The curfew and early classes and late classes. Come on uni! You’re supposed to be cool. But hell nooo. It was a polite version of high school. Only where I’m allowed to use my phone and stuff. The first semester was a blur to be honest. I can’t even remember most of it. All I know is that a lot of people I’d met didn’t really value friendships the way I’d grown up to. They defended themselves saying, “We are all from different countries so where would I even meet you after graduating? There’s simply no point. ” sad. BTW I suck at making friends but when I feel like a person is genuine, that’s the same energy they will get through and through. (We Scorpios are like that. Don’t attack me please.)
I feel like I’m drifting away from the story. Pardon me.
Winter vacation is where the problems began. Being far from home with a few people you know is really hard. That’s when the depression fully kicked in. I guess I’d been telling myself for a long time that I was okay yet in actual sense I wasn’t. I’d always told myself the same thing. “I’m a badass, I don’t cry, I don’t get sad, I’m a vibe… ” blah blah blah. I really wasn’t okay. And on the night of Christmas is when it hit me and I wanted to black out. Just go. Shut everyone out. My depression always made me want a break from the world but I would want to wake up and see who’d miss me. Can’t relate? I envy you.
After that incident, I tried to put myself out there. Went out a bit, did this and that..mmh but I am really not one to maintain fake energy. I’m not all about that so I just went where I was wanted… In this case.. No where. BTW (okay this is the last personal BTW), I’m one of those people where if the invite doesn’t start with, “Rianne I want you there…” or “I want you to come. ” or “I wish you’d come,” I wouldn’t turn up. At all. Even if you paid me. Okay if you paid me, I’d definitely go.
The cold January came with the same sadness. And it wasn’t normal sadness. You know the kind where you get sad because something’s happened or it’s like your period mood swings. This would clench to me. Like a shadow or something. A lot of my happiness became really fake and I’d rely on other people to feel happy. I’d fake laughter, fake smiles, fake interest in what people had to say. I was sick of myself. I grew insecure, questioned everyone’s presence in my life. I thought everyone was out to get me. I was so needy. I wanted attention. Not the good kind of attention. Nah, that stay on the phone and talk to me for hours attention. I was lucky I had the kind of person (a friend) to give me that attention at the time. We were both depressed so we needed it. I got so toxic to the extent that even I realized it. It’s a wonder that I still have friends. (who I am so so grateful for because a lot of them really helped me stay sane)
February rolled in with an amazing gift. Panic attacks. My mind getting clouded, breath coming out hard and fast, physical chest pain on some days, feeling like I was on the verge of tears all the time. I was a nervous wreck and the only people I could explain that to were online. Most times they’d be offline when it happened. A lot of times I’d need a hug. You know those days where you just need someone to hold you real close and lie to you about how everything will be okay. Yeah. My duvet did I great job. This went on for some time and I had a few trusty friends I’d always talk to back home. That period really taught me the value of friendship.
The problem with depression is that when they first symptoms show up, you just keep on sliding and sliding down that sad hole picking up more symptoms. You can only hope you get a rein on it before you hit the depressive pit.
I lost my appetite. It would go like two days without food because I didn’t have energy to walk to the food court. I lost interest in absolutely everything I loved. I felt so worthless and useless. All my self worth deappreciated and I started settling for less, making decisions I wouldn’t have made in my normal state. I got really bad insomnia. Ha! I remember one time before a Media Law Exam in my second year, I went 47 hours without sleep. When I reported for the exam, I couldn’t even think. I did what I could and left an hour later. I developed social anxiety as well and tried my best to avoid any social occasions because I felt like I didn’t know how to act or I didn’t fit in. I’d go on and on about the symptoms but I’m sure you get the idea.
This continued for some time until one random day, I was sitting in my room. Overthinking, when I googled something I’d never googled before. “Painless ways to kill yourself. ” As usual I was crying but this was a whole lot of pain. And non of the tools of an almost painless death were at my disposal. Flinging myself off a rooftop didn’t seem to bring me any pleasure as I’d seen this video of a guy who did just that and splattered on to the ground with just broken bones but still alive. No thanks! Also 13 Reasons why had made slitting one’s wrists look really painful (before they deleted that scene because I went back to watch it to see if it still had an effect on me but I didn’t find it). For some reason, I dosed off and when I woke up, I was so shocked. Like when did it get to this? I then decided to uninstall my whatsapp, deactivate my instagram and all other social apps. Now at that point, you need to remember social media was all I had. Call it a safe place if you like but my safe place was not really “safe”. I felt like I’d been on some sad height and I was suddenly getting sober.
It’s like a switch had flipped. And for the first time, I could see things really clearly. You know when you’re high and you’re walking all funny and saying all this crazy stuff, but at the back of your mind, you can still make really sober decisions? Yeah that’s how I felt. It’s like I’d severed my connection to that sad stuff. It wasn’t like it was completely cut off but wow. It was a feeling I can’t actually describe. I’d been getting counseling from school but I’d never felt that this weird liberation before. I got up and looked at myself in the mirror and laughed out loud and that’s when it hit me. I could be okay.
Healing and getting better.
As I looked at myself, I realized I’d lost a lot of weight. My collar bones (I don’t know if that’s the term) were showing and my stomach was way too small. When was the last time I’d drank water? What happened to my thighs? I couldn’t even see my a**. (those that know me know it’s a big deal) I ran to my bed and pulled out a note book. I love books. Novels, notebooks, not text books. Name it. (okay that was unnecessary) and I started writing. I want to upload the image but I’ll embarrass myself the more and I’m already doing quite a job here.
So I made a table with two rows. One marked “2017” and the other “2019”. Did I want to get back to that girl I was? Yes and No. Some of my old traits just couldn’t fit in to what I wanted to be. I had so much to change; my body, my skin, I had to work on my toxicity, my anger issues, my anxiety, my depression, my self esteem, my self love, my anger at the world, my expectations. All these key points helped me to get a rein on. For 3 weeks thereafter, I tried my best. I could have done better but I did what I could. I kept a journal, exercised a bit, drank 3l of water everyday, prayed everyday, got a a stress app, watched videos of cute puppies on YouTube. Generally did what I had to to change. And it got better. I became more grateful, for the situation I was in and the ones that would come after, for my family, for the people in my life, for being able to breathe and walk and talk and eat and dance.
Of course some days were hard, but they weren’t half as bad as the first time. Instead of crying 5 times a week, it went down to 1 then soon…once a month. (yes I was such a baby). When I felt like I really enjoyed my company and wasn’t a danger to myself, I went out there. Made a couple of friends. And yeah I’m still an over thinker so it is hard to find people that genuinely like you but it’s really okay.
My inspiration to Blog( The actual reason for this post)
In my second year, we were required to set up a blog and I knew without a doubt, mine would be about mental health. I didn’t know how I’d start or what I’d even say but I’m still learning, and still trying. I reach out to those that come to me. We are all going through a hard time. Financially, mentally, socially and physically. These take a toll on us and it’s okay to feel helpless. But what’s even better is knowing that that situation is not permanent and it’s you that has to get yourself out. You have to show up for yourself. It can take days, months, weeks and for some even years but we will all make it. One way or another.
This world is hard enough already as it is. So everyone needs that positive energy to go around. Don’t shun anyone’s sadness or depression. You might be the only one that could help them. Be kind to yourself and to everyone.
Aight it’s time to wrap up this post. I’m not going to edit so I’ll just post it like it is because I’ll start over thinking that people will judge me. So this is raw. Hope you enjoyed it because I actually felt good writing it. It’s long overdue.
It’s key to appreciate everyone and everything in a journey like this. It isn’t one that ends really, but I am glad I am figuring things out. If you have read this far, thank you for being part of my story. It is a big deal to me.
To my mom, for always reminding me I was bigger than my depression, my dad for reminding me God’s the constant in every equation plus my sisters (real MVPs), to my amazing friends that went out of their way to remind me that I was loved and still am. To those assholes that were really mean to me, karma is a bitch but also thank you for teaching me to always rely on myself. (I mean this in a really good way BTW.) and thanks again for reading.
If you would like to share your story, this is a platform for you. Feel free to contact me.