My name is Aisling, I am 18 years old, I live in Waterford and I suffer from depression.
This is me in my natural habitat with elephants. (and bad brows)
I am clearly a happy gal. Can’t you see it in my face? Smile, teeth, happiness?
How about when I met one of my idols?
Is that not the face of an excited 12 year old in complete awe?
Fun, loving, free spirit, compassionate, intelligent, beautiful, loving, potential, talented, mature, kind, funny. Some words used to describe me in my 18 years on this earth. Whether they are true or untrue is a different story. Noticeably depressed isn’t on that list.
Have you seen that ad on the telly where the Irish people are at the barbeque and the smoke is getting in your man’s eyes and he won’t move because he wouldn’t want the hassle. The guy is coughing and spluttering but responds to the question of “is the smoke bothering you?” with “no not at all” comparing his red eyes to the fact he was “actually crying earlier”. Well the catchphrase for this advert is “as Irish as not wanting to cause a fuss.” It’s something we do. We don’t cause a lot of fuss and become comfortable with the discomfort.
I was uncomfortable with my migraines, my lack of sleep, the pains in my chest in the morning on the way to school, the war in my brain and constant guilt for things that had nothing to do with me. I became comfortable with the discomfort and what I call My Black Dog. My Black Dog is what I call my depression. Some days I can’t get out of bed and go to school. Some days I have My Black Dog on a leash and while it may try to pull my arm out of its socket I got it. It’s still in my grip.
I am on anti-depressants, I go to counselling and I live my life. Sometimes I can’t get out of bed, sometimes I will take the day into my stride. I manage and make the most of my good days and make them into great days. I’m not an expert. Christ I rarely know whether I’m coming or going. I do know that a part of me is My Black Dog. It’s a part of me not all of me. And if I had known what I know now, I wouldn’t have done a lot of stupid things that I did a few years ago.
I am writing this because well actually my grasp on my leash isn’t going well the past while and I know a friend of mine is struggling too. She told me that when she was diagnosed with her anxiety she felt better because she knew about My Black Dog and knew that she wasn’t alone. Unfortunately, I wasn’t so lucky and I knew no one.
Rewind back to when I was in primary school. I knew I was different. I was unsure how, but I knew I wasn’t normal. This continued into secondary school and a teenage girl who loved fun one day and could barely breathe the next was certainly not normal. I had the life. I was good at school, I kissed boys, I travelled as much as possible, I was good at music and I was coming into my own skin. I was I suppose “finding myself.” Even if My Black Dog tried to pull on its leash I was doing quite well until I went into transition year.
TY for me was a stupid year, I started smoking, I got my first tattoo (sorry to tell you like this mam I’ve got more than one), I did stupid things that I regret. Most of all trying to take my own life. Luckily for me, I didn’t know how to use a Stanley knife and no one could see my legs. I felt lonely, I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. Why was I feeling like this? I pushed everyone completely away I broke up with my boyfriend and shut my family out. I felt so alone. Why is everyone so happy? Why can’t I be like that? Why do I stay up all night telling myself how shit I am? I tried to ignore it but what I couldn’t understand is why am I the only one? Why does no one else look as tired as me and how come none of them have tears in their eyes? I bet myself up over it and just kept going. Every morning I would tell myself “just keep going Ash, just keep going.”
I did exactly that, I kept going. But I still couldn’t help but feeling so damn lonely. No one knew a single thing because of my outgoing personality. Look at this picture, do I look like someone who sometimes couldn’t function and dreamed of being hit by lightning?
I guess why I’m even writing this to let you know wherever you are and however you feel it’s okay. Don’t do anything silly. Just because “fucked up” isn’t written across someone’s forehead doesn’t mean anything. You’re not on your own. If anything, I’m with you. I feel shit too. Just make the most of the good days and make them great and talk about it.
I don’t know if I’ll ever write another one of these. But if I do, I do. It depends on how I’m feeling. But for now, thanks for reading. I don’t plan on making an impact but if one person finds comfort in knowing we are all a little messed up that’s okay too.
Ash wrote his post a year ago. Since then she has done amazing work including taking part in this video for RTE and this video for the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland awards 2017. Ash doesn’t write so much anymore, because she’s thriving and happy. Which is wonderful.
You can read Aisling’s blog here.
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