It Takes A Lot

"You cry a lot don't you" Followed by a laugh.
"You post a lot of sh*t on Facebook [Instagram etc]" Followed by a laugh.
"All you do is moan about being single and stuff" Followed by a laugh.
"You over-react"
"You take too much to heart".

It's hard to not believe that people don't see that happy side of you, the side you try to portray every day.
Depression takes over a big part of MY life. It is a fight I have daily. I try my best, to the point of exhaustion sometimes, to fight it. To try to not acknowledge it. But it's always there.
Just because it is part of MY life it doesn't mean I want to make it a part of everyone elses lives too.
But, I am open about my depression, my anxiety. I don't want to be defined by it, but when people say the things listed above it almost feels like I have to put a disclaimer up.

"Depression sufferer. Likely to cry over the smallest of things. Approach with caution"

It's not something I advertise but I also don't hide it.
I don't tell people for the attention. I don't tell people for the sympathy. 
I tell them so that they stop judging me. So that maybe, comments about me stop and maybe a little bit of understanding can be used instead.

But that's the problem. People don't understand. 
This is my 16th year with depression. And still I don't understand it.
We are all affected in different ways, we all cope in different ways and we all have different ways of expressing it. 
For me, I'm not afraid to say I have it. I'm not ashamed.
It's not my fault I have it. 

It's easy for people to say "just don't think the things you are thinking" "Just do X,Y or Z" but if it was that easy, then I would be doing it. 
Sometimes the more you try to ignore it, the stronger it comes through.

It is a battle. 
It is a fight. 
And when it is going on inside your own head, and you own body, it's not as easy as walking away or taking a break.

It gets confusing. 
I question why I do this to myself. These things are going on in my head, they are a part of me, so I am doing this to myself. 
I struggle to recognise it as an illness because it feels like it is part of me. Like it is part of my make up. 
It can't be cut out of me. 

Today is one of my bad days. One of those days when I woke up and didn't want to do life at all. 
I posted on Instagram, not for attention. Not because I wanted people to send me virtual hugs. But so that some of the hurt and pain I feel today can be released. 
When I was a housewife I didn't mind so much putting it all out there. The only people who saw my Instagram were online followers and friends who knew about my issues. 
But now, now that I work and I have children in school my circle has grown. 
School mum friends, and work colleagues, all there able to see that I am this person.
And it takes a lot to actually let people who see you, and who know you, talk to you, work with you, know that actually you are a mess. 
You struggle every day and what to them seems like attention seeking, negativity, or "sh*t" is actually something that for you is every day life, and although not a cry for help, is a release.

I don't want sympathy. I don't want attention.
I don't over-react on purpose. I don't want to take things to heart.
I want people to recognise that things aren't always as they seem.
And that sometimes the bravest things people do aren't something we can see. But are those quiet battles we face within ourselves every day. 
I try to be strong. I try to be someone people don't feel it necessary to put down just because they are not afraid to cry. 

I face this every day. On my own. 
It takes a lot to admit to others that inside my head, I am not okay. I am not always this person I show myself to be. 

That girl, boy, man, lady that you roll your eyes at because they've put something else negative or sad on social media...they could be an attention seeker. But they could also be taking a brave step in posting what they do.
They may sit for a while, as I do, hovering their finger over the "post" button, in fear for admitting "I'm not ok" or "Today is not good for me". 
That is what takes a lot, hitting the post button. 
Putting that out there. 

Life with depression and mental health problems is hard enough without worrying about people judging you.
It's hard enough without having fear of letting people know, and being open about it.
And that is why I am not ashamed, and I am not afraid. 

I am a normal person who just has this "thing" that lives inside her head. It took a lot for me to accept that. But I have done, because I know that I have done nothing to create it. 
It is part of me and as much as I hate that, I have to accept it. If not the battle just goes on and gets worse. 
To accept it, makes the battle a tiny, tiny bit easier. 



43 Days

I've been suffering a lot with panic attacks recently. Although only small ones due to being able to control them I know that at any point I will have one that I can't control.
I feel unsettled, anxious, a fidgety mess.
Anticipation and being impatient is pretty much taking over my life and I am having to try my best to not be the obsessive person I want to be just to try and control it.

I have 43 days of this to cope with. And it's tough.

You'd think, by reading the above that maybe it's something I'm not looking forward to.
As I write this my heart is racing, my breathing is quick and my fingers are typing at a silly speed. I feel like I can't sit still.
I'm trying my best to keep my head focussed and to not watch the video I've embedded in the bottom of this post over and over again.

In 43 days I will be in my happy place.
The place that put me in this stage of my life.
The place that made me realise my brother is the best human being I know and that I would do anything for him.
The place that brought me a wonderful friend who lives too far away but has been my rock.
The place where I discovered this sport, probably the only sport, that captured my heart and made me look at motorbikes and racing in a different light.

Since I left the island last June I have had this aching to return. I've been lucky enough to be able to visit some amazing countries as a teenager but no place has ever made me feel like the Isle of Man did.

It's not just the island though. It's the sport. The TT.
I struggle to explain it and the fact is, unless you've been there, you will never understand or even begin to understand just what is so amazing about it.
I watched YouTube videos before I went. I thought I knew what to expect. I wasn't too bothered about watching the bikes. I wanted to spend time with my brother, I wanted to visit an island I hadn't been to before. The only rider I wanted to see was William Dunlop and I wanted to visit Joey Dunlops statue.
I will never forget that feeling I had when I stepped off the plane. I knew that the week was due to be something special. When I went to collect my luggage, expecting to meet my brother at the campsite and hearing a knock on the glass, ignoring it at first then turning round and seeing him. Me crazily then miming and making weird hand gestures pointing to myself and then the ground saying "I'm here. I'm actually here. Look. Me and you. We're here".
The fact he surprised me at the airport, when I then got some phone signal and saw that he had watched my plane land and had taken a photo of it, excitedly uploading it to Facebook to show off that I was there. The he took a photo of himself waiting outside the airport, again uploading it to Facebook telling people he was surprising me and adding "Twin Time" at the end.
That was enough for me. My week was made.
Little did I expect the atmosphere to be electric from the beginning.
The anticipation....the build up....and then later when the race started the uncontrollable feel that when through my body as my brother said "They're now coming Lauren". The tears that rolled down my face, the panic attack that took my body hostage. I didn't understand it, I didn't get why it was so special. Until the first bike went past. And I heard the noise. I felt the speed.
And I wanted to scream. I looked at my brother. I looked at how happy he was and seeing him smile. Having this moment together. It was amazing. It was one of the best moments of my life.
Him then saying "That's William. That was William" as William Dunlop then rode past made my week and I'd only been on the island for 6 or 7 hours.

I never ever wanted that feeling to end. And it hasn't. It has wedged itself in my heart and in my head and it's so hard to forget and to let go of.
It's hard to control, and to keep hidden and quiet.
And in 43 days I get to experience it all over again. I get to add to that feeling.

And I can't wait. I really really can't wait.

I watch this video over and over and it makes me want to explode.
43 days...not long at all, but it feels like the longest countdown I've ever done.



Just Because

Just because she cries it doesn't mean she's weak.
It doesn't mean she is over sensitive or over reacting.
Maybe those tears have been building up for a while.
Maybe there is so much going on in her head, in her life, in her world that you don't know about.
Maybe she pretends to be strong and she pretends to be ok and to be happy when in reality, she just wants someone to scoop her up and to let her cry out all of the pain and frustration that is building inside her.

Just because she is single it doesn't mean she is desperate to have sex with you.
It also doesn't mean that anything she says can be turned into a pick up line or to be suggestive.
She might be friendly. She might be a flirt. But it doesn't mean she wants you.
It doesn't mean she wants to borrow you from your girlfriend or wife.
It doesn't make it ok for you to suggest that because "it's just a bit of fun".

Just because she talks to other guys it doesn't mean she wouldn't stop it all for you.
It doesn't mean she doesn't like you. Because she does.
She gets butterflies when she see's you. She makes excuses to be near you and to talk to you.
The sound of your voice makes her look for you. When you talk to her she just wants to grab hold of you.
When you look at her a certain way, or talk to her in a certain way, she wants you to mean it. She wants to have translated it and to have read it correctly.
She wants you to feel the same.

Just because she is getting a divorce it doesn't mean she has a broken heart.
It doesn't mean she has regrets or she made a mistake.
She didn't walk away without making an effort and without thinking long and hard about whether or not it was the right thing.

Just because he has a girlfriend it doesn't mean she is jealous.
It doesn't mean she wants him back.
Maybe she feels proud of the fact that she is happy for him. And for the fact that they can talk openly about their love life and sex life without it being weird that the last 13 years they were in that relationship.

Just because she has children it doesn't mean she will be hard work.
It doesn't mean she is looking for them to have a new "daddy". Or that she even wants someone to have anything to do with her children.
Maybe she just wants adult company. Maybe she thinks it's more important to have time with someone, one on one, before her children become involved. 

Just because you have this idea of her it doesn't mean it's right.
Because she mixes with certain people it doesn't mean what you want it to, or what you think it does.
Maybe those are the people who have taken time to get to know her, who she trusts and connects with. The ones she feels she can be herself around.

Just because things aren't how she imagined they would be.
And life isn't how she planned it.
It doesn't mean she isn't happy.
Maybe she has hope. Maybe she is enjoying discovering who she is, and discovering what it is like to have freedom.

To be herself.

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