GET FREE

Friday, 6 October 2017

 




Finally,
I'm crossing the threshold
From the ordinary world
To the reveal of my heart. 
- 'Get Free'
Lana Del Rey


So you guys all know how much I love Lana Del Rey. And a huge part of the reason I love her so much is that she vocalises what I feel. When I was at my lowest points, my parents actually hated me listening to her. They'd say 'her music is too sad, it's making you more depressed.' But the truth was, her music helped me, it comforted me, because it made me feel less alone. Her lyrics seemed to sooth my soul. It's funny, because it seems that every album she releases is timed perfectly to compliment my state of mind at that moment. I remember when 'Honeymoon' was released around 2015, the song 'God Knows I Tried' perfectly encapsulated everything I had been feeling those past few months; lost, without hope, feeling as though I had tried and failed, and had not much left to live for.
And then this summer, uncharacteristically, Lana released 'Lust For Life', an album with slightly more optimistic themes, and it's strikes me how incredibly coincidental that is, given that I've begun to enter that slightly more optimistic head space too. See I think a year ago had Lana released that album, it would have been named 'Lost For Life', and that's exactly how I felt then. But now I'm starting to feel different. I'm starting to feel as though, finally, I'm crossing the threshold too.

Undoubtedly, that will for certain
Take the dead out of the sea
And the darkness from the arts
- 'Get Free'
Lana Del Rey


My mental health struggles have been openly documented on this blog. If you're new, about 10 months ago, my mental health reached crisis point, and I was forced to suspend my university study in order to take time to recover from depression and anxiety. This was something that I had never really foreseen. I think especially in our current social media obsessed world, I had seen and heard so much about mental health issues, that instead of becoming more open and accepting of it for myself, it had a rather different effect, in that I normalised it completely and didn't see the need to get help, or view it as a legitimate health concern that I needed assistance with. I think often depression is accompanied with a rather powerful guilt and denial complex. A feeling of, 'everyone suffers with down periods in their life, I'm no exception so I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with it'. This was all compacted by the fact that mental health issues are incredibly widespread in my university, and could even be considered the 'norm', so I never felt as though I was really any different, and thus needed, or deserved, help. I had suffered with mild bouts of depression throughout my teen years before uni, and was aware that there was a history of depression within my family, but I had never envisioned my mental state affecting my life to the extent it has. See, we see a lot of information about depression online, and often people claim to suffer from various mental health issues, but I think it's difficult, as lots of the time health issues are claimed without any real medical professional assistance or legitimate diagnoses'. This was also something I was worried about. I felt as though I didn't have the 'right' to say I had depression, because I hadn't been diagnosed, and the denial and guilt meant I felt as though I was attention seeking so didn't want to go to the doctors. Of course, it then became a vicious cycle.

Been trying hard not to get into trouble, 
But I, I've got a war in my mind
- 'Ride'
Lana Del Rey

Depression can be an incredibly lonely illness. Because for so long, you can act as though nothing is wrong. But it's in those moments on your own, when it's just you and your thoughts, that you really just how desperately unhappy you are. Just how much pain you are feeling, and just how isolated you feel. It can feel as though no one will get it, no one will can understand. I remember often feeling empty, just empty. And the saddest part for me was that I could never understand why. I had, to the that point, achieved everything I had set my mind to. I had a family who loved me and had been given some of the best opportunities, better than I ever thought I would have had. But yet, this didn't stop me feeling so incredibly lost and unhappy with and inside myself.

Yet still inside, I felt alone
For reasons unknown to me
- 'Old Money'
Lana Del Rey


It was only when it got to the point at which I was barely existing that I realised just how serious mental illness can be. What had been a progressively developing illness became extremely acute last January. All of a sudden I was unable to do anything and everything. I had been miserably getting by with uni work, which had been unaffected grades wise so my tutors were unsuspecting that anything was wrong, but my concentration then dramatically waned. It got to the point where I was physically unable to get out of bed because I felt so low and so tired. I had no routine, I was waking up at 6pm and sleeping at 7am. I never saw daylight. I had terrible eating habits. I was perpetually weepy, and disinterested in absolutely everything. Whilst I had experienced this before for a couple of weeks here and there, this time it was far more prolonged, far more intense, and far more scary. Despite wanting to keep going on, it was then that I knew that I didn't have a choice. Something had to change, because my world was crumbling, and the suffering was simply too much.

Feet don't fail me now
Take me to the finish line
Oh, my heart, it breaks every step that I take
- 'Born to Die'
Lana Del Rey

Making the decision to temporarily leave uni for the sake of salvaging what I could of my mental health was one of the hardest I've ever made, entrenched in feelings of disappointment in myself, guilt, denial, and self-loathing. I felt like the biggest failure, which I touched on more in this post. I felt as though in some sense, this was what I deserved, I deserved to struggle and be unhappy, and that this just proved that I wasn't good enough. It proved that all of my feelings of worthlessness and pointlessness were legitimate, and this was all accompanied by a huge sense of feeling as though I was being left behind.

I'm tired of feeling like I'm fucking crazy
- 'Ride'
Lana Del Rey


For the first few months of my intermission, then, not much changed. I would spend all day in bed watching tv that I was utterly disinterested in, my sleep hygiene was still an absolute clusterfuck, and I was constantly stalking the social media profiles of my friends at uni, emphasising the fact that I was not at uni when I should have been. My counselling sessions felt futile, I noticed no changes in myself despite taking anti-depressants, and began to feel as though I could never be 'fixed' and go on to live a normal life. Life just began to seem pretty long, if that makes sense. Time felt slow and without end and distinction, I couldn't differentiate well between the days, had nothing to motivate me or look forward to. My whole outlook was, ultimately, incredibly bleak.

Don't make me sad, don't make me cry
Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough
I don't know why
- 'Born To Die'
Lana Del Rey


Life is tough for everyone at the best of times, but mental health is a very different kind of battle. It's an incredibly different one. So often, it can feel as though there is no hope, nothing worth living for. For so long I felt like I was falling deeper and deeper into the black. It was all I could see, all I could feel, all I knew.

I've got nothing much to live for
Ever since I found my fame
- 'God Knows I Tried'
Lana Del Rey

But slowly, bit by bit, that black is fading. Around June, things started to turn around. After an adjustment of my medication, I began, very slowly, to feel a little more alive. The changes those little pills began to give and the peace it provided me are the reason I will never apologise for turning to medication for help with my mental health. Anti-depressants are still rather stigmatised, and this was something I had internalised myself. At first, I felt as though I was a fraud who didn't really need them, who was pretending to be seriously ill. But I have so much to thank them for. They saved me, and I will unapologetically take them for as long as I need to.

Taking all my medicine to take my thoughts away
- 'Heroin'
Lana Del Rey

Beginning to feel a sense of peace was something I was so unfamiliar with. Being able to sleep without overthinking or insomnia became more frequent, as opposed to that ever so rare occurrence. I began to wake up and feel as though, even if I felt down, that I could still try and face the day. I began to sit up in bed instead of laying in it all day. I began to do one little task a day, whether it was a walk to the park, or a visit to a friend. I started to try and read short articles, something that had seemed impossible a few months previously. I would sit and draw or do colouring as a form of therapy when feeling unmotivated and sad, and therefore began to get in touch with some of my old passions. I began to feel a little more human, and my mindset slowly started to demystify. It wasn't so black, I was entering a grey area, grey to me brings uncertainty, but I'm ok with that, as uncertainty brings possibility. the grey something different, it's something new. And it means that change is possible.


There's a change gonna come, I don't know where or when
But whenever it does, we'll be here for it
- 'Change'
Lana Del Rey

I guess I'm starting to feel like maybe, just maybe, life is beautiful.

I don't pretend that my whole life outlook will ever change, and I won't apologise for my fundamentally pessimistic character. I realise now that being a 'glass have empty' as opposed to a 'glass half full' type of person is a personality trait, not necessarily a symptom of depression. I think sometimes, with mental health, we can confuse our personalities with our health issues, and for a little while I felt as though I needed to erase myself completely, to become a 'blank canvas' as it were, and start again. It didn't take long for me to realise that being optimistic, being someone who wakes up each day with an excitement for that day just isn't me. However hard I tried, it wouldn't come naturally. I know I will always fundamentally be me, and a big part of that is my slightly more pessimistic, or perhaps realistic outlook.

You are what you are
I don't matter to anyone
But Hollywood legends never grow old
And all of what's hidden
Well, it will never grow cold
- 'Terrence Loves You'
Lana Del Rey

But that's ok. There are positives, and I recognise that, I can be more critical and more of a perfectionist, which in my opinion, has it's advantages. I always set myself big goals and I always put my all into achieving them. I'm a realist and a skeptic, and so I'm not often let down but external factors, and when I'm proved wrong, I'm pleasantly surprised. So long as these personality traits don't ever cloud my judgement and become all encompassing due to my health illnesses, then I feel as though they are manageable, and without overly negative consequence. They are just me. I don't need to see everything as black, and now I realise that happiness isn't simply a fantasy, or something I'm undeserving of.

Oh, what can I do?
Life is beautiful, but you don't have a clue
Sun and ocean blue
Their magnificence, it don't make sense to you
- 'Black Beauty'
Lana Del Rey


Happiness is a funny concept. I'm still not sure it can ever really be achieved, not fully or completely. But maybe that's depression speaking, maybe that's my ultimately pessimistic attitude speaking, I don't know. There's a school of thought propagated by Aristotle and philosopher and theologian Aquinas that I actually studied a lot in my 2nd year of university for my philosophy module, that I've only really begun to consider more now. The thinking is that, in this earthly life, in these physical bodies, the most we can achieve is a sort of 'imperfect happiness', as there is always more that we want to achieve, want to know, want to feel, and we simply can't do it all. I can understand this logic, I think that might be true. I see that in humanity, there's a constant sense that no matter how much we have, we always seem to want more, feel that we're not living life 'to the full' because we're not achieving it all. Aquinas suggests that a 'perfect happiness', this beatitude, is only accessible to us in the after life. Maybe my thinking is closer to this, I don't know. Maybe by setting our expectations of happiness so high, we set ourselves up for a fail anyway. For so long I've been feeling as though I was missing out, because everyone else is completely happy, and I'm not. But I think this is a fallacy. People may seem to have it all outwardly, but more often than not, they have battles they're fighting too, and darkness in their lives. Darkness plagues some of us more than others, but I don't think anyone is completely devoid of it. I realised I had to change the way that I approached my recovery. Typically, I was reaching for something that might not even be possible. I've realised that I need to stop aiming for this 'perfect happiness', this beatitude. Living a life with both light and dark is ok. And it's about letting as much light in as I can; that's what I should be focussing on.


Let there be light
Light up my life
- 'God Knows I Tried'
Lana Del Rey

What I do know, however, is that that I no longer feel as though I'm total prisoner of my mind. I got free. This is no declaration of happiness. I can't say I've yet reached that stage. But I feel better. I feel ok. And I guess I've realised that maybe happiness is something worth believing in after all.


Taking the time out of uni to fix myself, to begin to find myself, was one of the best decisions I've made in my life. I was thrown a huge challenge, but I got the chance to breathe. I now hope to begin that journey of self acceptance has allowed myself to unapologetically rid myself of unnecessary darkness. I may have a long way to go, but I have the right to be proud of what I've achieved so far, of the huge life changes I've made, to know that I've worked hard to get here and that I am good enough to deserve them.

Life rocked me like Mötley,
Grabbed me by the ribbons in my hair
Life rocked me ultra-softly
Like the heavy metal that you wear
- 'Heroin'
Lana Del Rey

I'm hoping now, that I can close this chapter. That I can turn the page, and start afresh. I do not pretend for one second that I am 'cured', because I don't think that mental health often really works like that. I've made the mistake of reaching a good place, thinking that was 'the end' and then relapsing into a depressive episode which destroyed my faith in all I had achieved in my recovery. It made me realise that I think, for some of us, mental health is an ongoing struggle, and that can be difficult to accept. But we learn to live with it, to handle it. They say recovery is a journey, not a destination, and I tend to agree. There shall be ups and downs, but now I know that whoever far I sink into the black, there is always the possibility of finding the blue. Depression, for me, will likely be the war of my lifetime, but I have won this battle, and I hold onto that.


There's no more chasing rainbows
And hoping for an end to them
Their arches are illusions
Solid at first glance
But then you try to touch them
There's nothing to hold onto
The colours used to lure you in
And put you in a trance
- 'Get Free'
Lana Del Rey

For anyone out there who is still in the black, who is completely overwhelmed by the war in their mind, who is simply tired of feeling fucking crazy, please remember: This too shall pass. Life is always worth living.

I want to move
Out of the black
And into the blue
- 'Get Free'
Lana Del Rey



Until next time,
Bisous <3

Eva
xxx


OUTFIT DETAILS:
Playsuit: Missguided (also similar cheaper version here)
Belt: Asos (very old, similar here)

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