You’re Doing Better Than You Think, I Promise

Hello there,

It’s been a ponder filled Sunday, so I figured it was time to write, relying on my old favourite coping mechanism.

As time has officially lost all meaning and the days are running together, I have discovered a new means of differentiating the days. It seems as if each day I unwillingly remind myself of something I miss terribly, be it a friendship, an opportunity or simply working through some writing and college deadlines in a cosy coffee shop corner. Or as far as this weekend is concerned, I’m missing a joyous day with family at my cousin’s wedding day.

This has become a benign kind of torture where I delicately remind myself of what I am missing out on, like a soft poke in the ribs. Bare in mind, I am quite introverted and my day to day life has changed very little. In comparison to so many, if not everyone, I am blessed with my life and my personality and how they work in combination during this particular time.

So, I’ve been following Leo’s advice (followed via Twitter) and have been keeping busy. One of my ‘keep busy’ tasks was to go through a large stack of old notebooks I’ve gathered over my entire lifetime. Some are filled with childish scribbles, notes to friends or ideas for novels. Others are full to the brim with accounts from my life during college in Galway.

One such notebook, a notebook I picked up with no shortage of dread, denotes my life during my Leaving Cert.

If the entire country of Ireland was to be honest, we would all say that the Leaving Cert can be hellish at worst and painful at best. Those close to me, and in some instances just my parents and sister, will know that my year of being eighteen was an unpleasant experience for all.

I’ve been candid about my experiences with mental illness before. In the past, I’ve talked about my depression with an embattled blaze of bravery, knowing all about the word Stigma with a capital S. Now, I speak about it without much emotion and with an unflinching honesty. Because here’s the fact we all know: people suffer and life is hard. For some, it is impossibly so.

In this notebook, I saw words that did not shock me. I was so depressed that I didn’t so much want to not exist, rather I wished I hadn’t existed in the first place.

This is the first time that I have view these words with the soul I carry now that is filled with such undeniable life. I am joy and sadness and fear and love all in one because I am electric with feelings. Sometimes this is overwhelming, other times, it is my gift.

Scribbled at the bottom of one of the pages where I describe a particularly terrible day, I saw a minuscule note, obviously added by myself as an after thought.

‘You are meaner than your demons, colder than your pain and braver than your last thought.’

I don’t remember what inspired those words. For all I know, I scrawled them in the back of my maths class where I never listened anyway.

When I read them now, seven years later as a fully healthy human who has recovered from my worst, they were a sucker punch of truth, giving me such power to withstand this trying time.

Perhaps that is the true secret, how we know we are doing better than we think during a time where morale is thin on the ground; we’ve been meaner than our worst demons. We’ve stayed standing after the fight, our existence is proof enough of that. The air in our lungs, a victory in itself.

Our hands may shake, we may spit blood into the ground and walk away with scratches on our psyche that were never there before, but we will walk away, together.

Perhaps you are not fully feeling at the moment. Perhaps the world is a little numb, swaying side to side in time to a dull beat and you’ve forgotten what it was to thrive. Yet know this; I honour each piece of you with all of the numb pieces of me. When the time comes that this is all done and dusted, I will grip you tightly, hug you closely, hard enough to feel your heartbeat and know that you survived.

All that is left to be said is congratulations, my friend. Your pulse is your war beat, your fists ready to fight for sanity are your battle cry, and I could not imagine better company to get through this with.

I will see you on the other side,

Jens x

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