I’m Sorry

I know those two words seem small, and they actually are. They are nothing more than seven letters, but I don’t know where else to start. So I’ll start with:

I’m sorry.

There are, obviously, things I am not and can never be sorry for. I’m not sorry for my illness. It’s something beyond my control; it is a physical disorder as much as it is a mental one. But I am sorry for the years I’ve wasted feeling sorry for myself. I’m sorry for the years I’ve tried to hide my illness, to keep it a secret.

I’ve pushed you away, though you never knew why. You may not have even realized I was doing it, but there were cancelled plans and social gatherings I forced myself to go to, resentfully and begrudgingly.. even just recently.

It wasn’t your fault. I was too broken to hold it all together, but because I was also too scared to tell you the truth, I would just sit there, forcing an awkward smile and some bland conversation. I would excuse myself from social events and I would withdraw to a corner and watch while you laughed and had a ball.

You thought I was a buzzkill (and you were right), but what I’m most sorry and hurt for is that you thought I was too good for you. But that was never the case. The truth is I wanted to be happy. I wanted nothing more than to laugh beside you and enjoy myself the way you do, but I felt disconnected. Sure, there are moments of happiness and joy, but most of my life is about just getting by. So instead of pretending, I pulled away.

I’m sorry for not being present, for not celebrating your successes and joys. Please know I wanted to, but sometimes the pain held me back — the pain of seeing everything I wanted but would never have, could never have. It’s selfish, I know, but I didn’t know how to handle it.

I’m sorry for the times my temper has been short, and you’ve been the recipient of my rage. Anger has been the most unexpected symptom of my sickness. When I was a teenager, and even now in my 20s, my depression was marked by melancholy. But as the years passed, the symptoms shifted. It’s the anger I cannot ignore and scares me.

And I’m sorry for all this.

It’s embarrassing and scary to admit you need help, to admit you are not OK. You know once you let your secret out you’ll have no choice but to follow through with therapy. You’ll have to talk to friends and family about your illness, even when you don’t want to. You know you can’t close the curtains and hide anymore, and that thought is terrifying. God knows how scared shitless I was, which is why it took me over ten years to seek treatment.

Sometimes, we “find the light” and make it out. I have, but depression is a lifelong disease, and may return, guaranteed. There is nothing I can do to stop it. The only thing I can control is how I handle it when it does. And for me, handling it means not hiding from it.

So, to everyone entangled in this mess with me, I’m sorry. I never wanted to hurt you or drag you into this nightmare I call my life. I love you for standing by me, and hope you still can.

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The Symptoms of Depression Nobody Talks About

Depression is often very misunderstood. Some believe it means simply being sad and unmotivated, when in reality, the symptoms of depression often have a way of infiltrating everything, from the smallest, most unsuspecting details, to the biggest, most significant aspects. And trying to explain this often feels like trying to hold onto water.

I did a lot of research on this, both as a curious person and a sufferer of mental health illnesses, which is why it took me over two weeks to publish it.

By opening the dialogue and trying to put words to these symptoms, we can continue to deepen our understanding and unveil the misunderstanding that leads to stigma. 

Here is what I found out:

  • Wanting to say what’s on your mind, but can’t explain it, so you just cry because you don’t even know what you’re feeling
  • The exhaustion is equally mental as it is physical. Mental exhaustion from having to apologize for who you are, from trying to convince yourself you deserve to be alive. The physical and mental exhaustion from living in general
  • The black hole felt in the core of being. It sucks in life, motivation, concentration, etc. It’s drowning in the the ocean in the middle of a tempest
  • Not showering, combing your hair, brushing your teeth or changing clothes for a long time. Basically, all hygiene just goes out the window
  • When having an episode but you are not so far gone, and part of your rational mind is telling you there’s no reason to feel that way, yet the dark part of your mind still won’t release its grip
  • You can see and take in your surroundings, but you don’t feel a part of it, as if in a dream
  • When you’re depressed, your ability to feel joy from the things you normally love fades, but the worst days are the days where you are so numb you can barely even feel compassion or empathy
  • Your aching body from staying still all day, whether from laying in bed or just sitting. People think people with depression are just lazy for doing so
  • Disassociation. When you are so depressed and consumed you are no longer yourself. It feels like you are in a videogame. There is no emotional connection to reality
  • When you are so tired you do not manage to get to places in time. It takes you a lot of energy to get up, get ready and go
  • Not knowing that something is wrong in the early stage, and hurting other people with your behavior, and this is of course not done on purpose. This results in people accusing you of the things caused by the illnesses you could not control
  • The amount of migraines you struggle with when you go through depressive episodes which makes dealing with everything a million times harder
  • Anger, agitation, irritability and the feeling of having little to no self-control. This often gets to a point where you cannot bottle it up anymore, and you go down a downward spiral over the simplest, smallest of things because you cannot manage your emotions. Basically, depression is anger turned inwards
  • Thinking depression will be passed on to your children, and you cannot explain this because it is not tangible. Fact: children are more likely to develop mental health problems if their parents experienced them
  • This one is for the ladies: your period reacts to your emotional stress level and depression can cause you so much stress because people don’t understand, your period sometimes either stops or it just keeps going and becomes super irregular and painful
  • You are not able to talk and voice your thoughts because depression makes you believe your opinion does not matter
  • Sometimes you think: am I just exhausted because of my sleep schedule? Or because my mind hasn’t stopped working or stressing for days? That constant need to rationalize your mental health makes the depression symptoms even worse
  • Preoccupation. Depression can make you preoccupy yourself with game apps and simple things I know I can do or change because I feel that I can’t change or control anything else in my life
  • Promiscuity. You get so down and depressed you just want to do anything to feel better, even though you hurt yourself at the same time
  • The internal frustration that you are too scared, guilty or embarrassed to speak out because there is still so much stigma and lack of services, and people who say they are there for you when actually they aren’t. So you just end up drowning in your own thoughts and your depression or anxiety worsens

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  • Paranoia. You think that people are getting annoyed with you and the awful symptoms
  • One minute you’re having fun with your friends and family, and then it hits you hard and begin to shut down without an explanation, nothing to have triggered it. Suddenly you have trouble enjoying yourself with people you are happy around
  • Foggy thinking, making it impossible to concentrate or remember anything
  • Gaining weight because you don’t know what else to do. Or the weight loss because you are just not hungry and don’t have the energy to cook
  • You’re guilty all the time. Hurting friends and family, lying about why you can’t do something or go somewhere, not going to work, staying in bed all day, not taking proper care of your responsibilities… It’s consuming and never ending
  • The uncertainty. You don’t know if you’re going to wake up in the same horrid mood, a worse or better one. Not knowing if one day you’re going to stop functioning. Not knowing whether you will be able to keep your job while keeping your head above water
  • Cancelling plans last minute, having your friends and family think you don’t love then when this occurs constantly
  • You don’t know if your thoughts are real of just effects of depression feeding you lies. You feel betrayed by your own brain and you’re not able to distinguish the true and depressive thoughts
  • The need to put on an act so everyone thinks you are OK, but inside you feel worthless. Sometimes you just want to shout that you are suffering and cannot cope, but you’re made to feel like you are not allowed to show weakness. The exhaustion and the physical pain caused by holding back tears because you have to appear to function well at home, at work and in social situations
  • Not knowing how to explain why you are depressed. People constantly ask you “What’s making you depressed?” or “Why are you depressed?”. It’s hard to keep saying that you have no clue. Because if you knew, you would have loved telling them and fix it, but it’s tough… you just don’t know why. You just are
  • Awareness. Awareness of all the things that are wrong, but the inability to fix any of it
  • The physical and emotional pain and weariness and feeling like you have to apologize for all of it. It’s exhausting!
  • Wanting to put yourself in dangerous situations. Depression isn’t always about laying in your bed, it also can be the urge to be self-destructive. People don’t talk about this because it’s a kind of a grey space. You’re not really suicidal, but you have a kind of urge to put yourself in dangerous situation
  • When you’re typically a super responsible, organized person, and you slowly feel all of it start to unravel. You start showing up late to work, falling behind on tasks, stop eating, start praying that your kids (if you have them) won’t notice and you put on that fake smile and try to keep it all together. Through tears and self-doubt, you pull through for them because they need you
  • Thinking you’re no longer in love with the love of your life. Becoming paranoid of them thinking they’re bad for you. It causes the partner to feel unloved, no matter if you still say ‘I love you,’ they can feel it
  • When every decision, no matter how small or big, becomes an insurmountable burden because of your indecisive mind. Then the guilt of having made a decision that always seems to be the wrong one. And then more guilt that makes you think you are useless to anyone in the world including yourself
  • Selfishness. You tend to isolate yourself and put your depression first, and the rest second. Depression takes the spotlight, and everyone and everything else is in the backseat
  • Constipation. Whether it’s because of something bad you ate, the medication or because all you do is sleep. It takes you weeks to start getting back to normal, and nothing prolongs the cloud in your head than feeling bloated and sick on top of lack of motivation and self-deprecation

It is important to remember that no matter how much you are struggling or how overwhelming your symptoms may feel, you are never alone and you are worthy and deserving of help.

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#ClaireNotes… London Edition! – July 2017

London baby!

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My most anticipated holiday to date has to be this one. It had been planned and booked for over a year! One week in London, jam-packed with fantastic events and banter (knowing me) with my bestfriend of 12 years.

The downside? Being at the airport at 4 in the morning. Yeah, I am not a morning person. But there were some upsides!: seven days with my bestfriend in the whole world. And shopping. And musicals. And souvenirs!

BFF’s Birthday in London

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Why the Cursed Child poster, you may be wondering…? Well, because we booked to see both parts of the play on her birthday!

I cannot share any details on the play itself (#keepthesecrets), but let’s just say it was beautiful and the transitions from one scene to another were out of this world and… dare I say… MAGICAL!

Brighton

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The day before Cursed Child we went to Brighton. We attended an event called Pop Up Pug Café which you can assume what it was all about.

After the Café we caught the bus to the Royal Pavilion…

Me

… and then headed to the amazing Brighton Pier, which was a lifelong dream of mine to visit.

You can tell the weather wasn’t in our favour, but we still had the greatest time!


Would you like a post on my week in London? Let me know in the comments’ section below!

Dim the Spotlight on… Chester Bennington [#3]

THIS IS A NEW SERIES WHICH CONSISTS OF ME LOOKING BACK AT ARTISTS I LOVE AND HAVE INFLUENCED ME THAT ARE UNFORTUNATELY NO LONGER ALIVE.


If the previous DtSo post was tough to write, then this one is a hundred times tougher. I found out about Chester’s demise during the Hamlet intermission last Thursday… so that’s one whole week of research upon research. I saved and bookmarked up to thirty – yes, thirty! – articles. Despite the fact that I knew about the singer’s turbulent past, I still wanted to base this post on more facts that you might not have been aware of.

Warning: A very long post is ahead of you, you’ve been warned.

Continue reading “Dim the Spotlight on… Chester Bennington [#3]”

Dim the Spotlight on… Robin Williams [#2]

THIS IS A NEW SERIES WHICH CONSISTS OF ME LOOKING BACK AT ARTISTS I LOVE AND HAVE INFLUENCED ME THAT ARE UNFORTUNATELY NO LONGER ALIVE.


This is quite a difficult post to write; I’ve had to do a lot of research on the matter and I was quite surprised with what I found about the comedian’s untimely death. My earliest memory of his acting was either in Jumanji or Mrs Doubtfire when I was still a child.

The assumption was the Robin Williams ended his life due to struggles with depression, which he was known to have dealt with when he was still alive. And I will repeat again: this was the assumption.

In a recent interview, Susan Williams, Robin’s widow, revealed that he was actually struggling with dementia with Lewy Bodies – also called Lewy Body dementia. While making the loss of such a beloved individual no less tragic, this does throw a different light on matters.

So what is Dementia with Lewy Bodies?

Dementia with Lewy Bodies is not as common or well known as depression, or the more familiar forms of dementia, most obviously Alzheimer’s disease. However, even among the grim spectrum of neurological disorders and mental illnesses, dementia with Lewy Bodies is a particularly nasty condition.

Put simply, Lewy Bodies are lumps, known as aggregates, of misshapen protein (of the type Alpha-synuclein) that occur in nerve cells (neurons) of people with certain conditions, most often Parkinson’s disease, and but also (obviously) dementia with Lewy Bodies. Cells as complex and important as neurons produce a bewildering array of proteins, to aid in the necessary functions and form the delicate cytoskeletal structure in place to maintain everything.

The most likely people to develop dementia with Lewy Bodies are men, aged early 60s to 70s. Sadly, Robin Williams fell right into this category.

So it wasn’t depression after all?

As Susan Williams said, if Robin Williams had depression at the time of his death, it was one of countless other symptoms he was dealing with. A look at the very brief summary shows just how all-consuming dementia with Lewy Bodies can be.

But depression and dementia with Lewy Bodies often occur together, as is the case with most dementias. This is entirely understandable; it would take someone of superhuman mental fortitude to not let such a diagnosis affect them very deeply. It’s like depression with anxiety: they often co-occur together.

We will never know exactly what Robin Williams was thinking when he opted to end his own life, and at this point it seems disrespectful and more than a little sinister to keep asking about this. However, given the number of things dementia with Lewy Bodies can put a person through, accusations of “selfishness” now seem more unwarranted than ever.

A Leap of Faith: Things are Changing…

“Clean” Eating

For some people, eating clean means being healthy and cutting down on junk food and add up the fruits and vegetables. Since I’m a junkie at heart and have probably had a total of five vegetables in my 23 years of life, I am taking a different approach to this whole clean eating thing: incorporating more and more vegetables in my diet until I can ultimately limit my junk food intake. SOunds easy? It’s not. Not for me, at least. But I’m trying, which counts.

Internship

After being contacted by Comino Magazine to be a regular collaborator, I had to accept the opportunity. “But what will happen to your blog?” It will still be here. “And you?” Yes, me too.

This is not only an opportunity to help a fellow blogger, but also myself to be a better writer and get my work out there, which is outside of my sassy, realistic and blunt blog.

New Job?

The question mark is so important in this case which is why I decided to underline it. With the driving exams (practical and theory) fast approaching, which means I need to save up for a car from now (or should I have started before?!?!), I decided to get a part-time job for the summer, as a Fashion Advisor (fancy) in a popular retail shop in a popular mall in Malta. I started this week, and so far, I love it!

… But wait! I might have a day job as a Support Worker for children during summer.

Shigh. So many things, so little time.

Vitamins

This was an unexpected thing, but I’ve started taking fish oil vitamins. They were recommended to me by my psychiatrist to help with my concentration and memory. I’m going on week three and I’ve seen a mental transformation in relation to memory and how I process thoughts. I’ve taken vitamins before but they made me more tired and physically sick, but these are really good so far! I am taking one capsule of Pharmepa RESTORE | 1000 mg pure EPA omega-3 fish oil a day.

50 Questions Tag

1. What’s your favorite candle scent?

 Anything that has jasmines smells soooo damn good to me.

2. What female celebrity do you wish was your sister?

 Jennifer Lawrence, because who else?

3. What male celebrity do you wish was your brother?

Probably John Lennon. He’s cool.

4. How old do you think you’ll be when you get married?

I don’t have a particular age in mind, nor do I want to get married to my boyfriend – I prefer a long relationship than marriage – but maybe sometime before we hit 30 years old.

5. Do you know a hoarder?

Before I spring-cleaned my room a few months ago, no. After that, yes: myself. I had all sorts of things dating over ten years. TEN. YEARS.

6. Can you do the splits?

Nope. Not now or before or ever.

7. How old were you when you learned how to ride a bike?

… I never did.

8. How many oceans have you swam in?

Just the Mediterranean Sea in three different countries: Malta, Gozo and Sicily.

9. How many countries have you been to?

Tunisia, Spain, France, Sicily, Italy, England, Budapest, Austria… so that’s eight.

10. Is anyone in your family in the army?

Nope.

11. What would you name your daughter if you had one?

Anything Beatles-related – Julia, Michelle, Jude, Cynthia, Eleanor, Belle, Ebony, Stella and a lot more that cannot come to mind – and I also like Emma, Coraline, Dharla, Olivia, Lyla, Daisy, Lily, Daria, Dhalia and Emily.

12. What would you name your son if you had one?

Like the previous answer, anything Beatles-related – John, Paul, George, Harrison, Lennon, Mccartney, Julian, Dhani, Sean, Zak, Daniel, Michel and a lot more that cannot come to mind – and I also like Daniel, Noah, Kurt, Axl, Jimmy, Oliver, Logan and Alexander.

13. What’s the worst grade you got on a test?

Between 30 and 50 in Math.

14. What was your favorite TV show when you were a child?

That’s a long list, but anything I saw on Disney Channel, Power Rangers and anything I watched before I went to school (which were all Italian dubbed).

15. What did you dress up as on Halloween when you were eight?

Nothing. In Malta, we only started celebrating Halloween in the past ten years

16. Have you read any of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Twilight series?

I’m currently on the third book of the Harry Potter series… is that bad? The rest no, and not interested.

17. Would you rather have an American accent or a British accent?

British… preferably Scouse or Irish.

18. Did your mother go to college?

Nope.

19. Are your grandparents still married?

Yes, even though one grandpapa passed away.

20. Have you ever taken karate lessons?

No, but I’d like to try!

21. Do you know who Kermit the frog is?

Who doesn’t?

22. What’s the first amusement park you’ve been to?

I think it’s one in Tunisia, over 10 years ago.

23. What language, besides your native language, would you like to be fluent in?

I used to be very fluent in French, but after I stopped studying it, I forgot how to speak it, so I’d like to re-start. I’d also like to speak Irish.

24. Do you spell the color as grey or gray?

Grey.

25. Is your father bald?

No, almost though!

26. Do you know triplets?

Just twins.

27. Do you prefer Titanic or The Notebook?

Titanic, all the way!

28. Have you ever had Indian food?

I don’t think I have.

29. What’s the name of your favorite restaurant?

Hard Rock Cafe, hell yes!

30. Have you ever been to Olive Garden?

We don’t have one in my country.

31. Do you belong to any warehouse stores (Costco, BJ’s, etc.)?

No.

32. What would your parents have named you if you were the opposite gender?

I asked this to my mum yesterday because I never really asked about this, and she told me they never really had a boy’s name in mind because they’ve always wanted a girl. But then she said that dad always loved Michel.

33. If you have a nickname, what is it?

Never really had one. But I used to be called Marshmallow back in secondary school because I had an obsession with them.

34. Who’s your favorite person in the world?

My mother. She’s the absolute best person. And my boyfriend and BFF (I haven’t forgotten about you loves!).

35. Would you rather live in a rural area or in the suburbs?

Rural. I love peace and silence.

36. Can you whistle?

Yep!

37. Do you sleep with a nightlight?

I used to, but not anymore. Although my AC’s temperature is digital with a bright white LED display so hypothetically yes. I sleep with a nightlight.

38. Do you eat breakfast every morning?

Almost.

39. Do you take any pills or medication daily?

Yes, anxiety and vitamins for concentration.

40. What medical conditions do you have?

Crippling anxiety, social anxiety, depression and mild OCD.

41. How many times have you been to the hospital?

Twice, if you count the day I was born.

42. Have you ever seen Finding Nemo?

Uhhhhhhh, who hasn’t?!

43. Where do you buy your jeans?

New Look, Peacocks, Centro Moda, Matalan…

44. What’s the last compliment you got?

“Cutie” – from my boyfriend ❤

45. Do you usually remember your dreams in the morning?

Most of the time, yes.

46. What flavor tea do you enjoy?

English breakfast, medium flavour strength.

47. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own?

Over 10… 15, 16?

48. What religion will you raise your children to practice?

I’m more a spiritual than religious person even though I was raised as one. I’ll teach my children what is right and wrong and I will respect whatever religion they want to practise.

49. How old were you when you found out that Santa wasn’t real?

I don’t remember, but I was relieved because I was dead scared of him.

50. Why do you have a blog?

 Apart from always wanting to have one, I wanted to spread awareness on mental health and body positivity and equality and love around me.


I hope you got to know me better with this tag!

I know waaay too many bloggers, so if you’re one of them…

YOU’VE BEEN TAGGED!