In Taiwan it seems like everything happens in Starbucks.
Business lunches, lawyer meetings, dates, mum-mornings and more.
For me, it’s my escape.
Although Taiwan doesn’t seem as ‘foreign’ to me as China did, it’s still far from being home. Thus, I need to find somewhere I feel a little okay. People don’t stare at foreigners in Starbucks, because the locals assume that they’ll see one here anyway.
So here you are,
Too foreign for home
Too foreign for here.
Never enough for both.
I’m one of those people who always encourages others to be honest and open about their mental health, and I’m always honest about mine too. I spent years suffering in silence, or posting anon on Tumblr and it’s so destructive.
I know that just one of my posts could help just one person, and that is enough of a reason for me to speak up. That one person could become two, or ten, or even twenty. Too many people are fighting battles we will never know about and that is something I strongly believe has to end. We need to speak up.
And today, it’s my turn again.
Day 16 in Taiwan has hit me hard. Day 14 and 15 were touch-and-go, but today’s full force battle up the Himalayas.
Why? I couldn’t say exactly. It’s just another one of those days where those sickening feelings of anxiety and depression slowly seem to be seeping back under my skin and into my brain. If you know, you know. If you don’t know, you may never understand. I hope you don’t ever have to.
I don’t think you can ever truly be free from depression or anxiety, or PTSD, or any other illness. I believe that you can recover, that you can have months and years without a glimmer of them but at some point, and maybe only briefly, you will feel those intense, sickening, panic-inducing feelings once again.
I just want to sleep forever. I want the world to go quiet and leave me alone to sleep. Yet I need a friend. I need someone to sit across the room and make stupid jokes, or to sit on the sofa with me and watch a movie, or to sit with me in Starbucks and talk about nothing but nonsense. But no one is here. Who can I call? When my friends are inundated with work, when my mum and dad are out enjoying their new home – why should I bother them? My friends are travelling, having babies, watching football games, working, whatever. Why do they need to hear about me, again?
So I’m reaching out to the black-hole of the internet and maybe someone will hear me.
What do I do?
I’m still learning how to cope, how to adapt, how to accept and how to react to these feelings. My instinct is to run. My body tells me I’m not safe. From what, Claire? You are perfectly fine.
I keep reminding myself that just 13 months ago I was sat in an apartment in Taipei, crying myself to sickness, hysterical, panic-ridden and beyond miserable. Why? I don’t even know. I didn’t even know then. I spent many nights of my 3 week holiday lying in bed. In pain, in depression, in a state of mind that I couldn’t escape from.
Yet here I am on my own, living, working, travelling. Not a single day of my new life has been spent in bed, not a single minute has been spent crying and no, I don’t feel like giving up. I feel like pushing through, but how? I feel like I’ve forgotten all of my techniques. I’ve forgotten so much Chinese I can barely communicate anymore, I feel swamped with paperwork and course books in my new job, I feel totally ill-equipped to teach children and grumpy teenagers. I feel overwhelmed. I know everything is new and I need time to adjust, but those waves just keep crashing down on me.
I know I’m not my old self. I’m stronger, braver, tougher, kinder, less bitter, more patient.
I’m not the old me, and I know the old me would never believe I made it this far.
I have spent the afternoon reading, listening to music, napping in the sun, streaming through the window. But it’s been too noisy to relax. The noise of people’s raised voices which will never ceases to frustrate me. I wonder if you can have counselling or therapy for noise tolerance levels? Because I could do with that.
I feel like I’m too old for my time. I hate noise. Yet I hate being stuck in doors all day.
I’m in the middle. Party-people are no longer my people (I really wish I still liked to party) but stay-home and do nothing people aren’t my people either.
Is there such thing as quiet adventures? If so, tell me where.
I’m struggling constantly.
Since I left my last teaching job, where one person made me feel completely inadequate, I have felt like I’m continuously battling to be better. I’m in that bitter cycle where I don’t care what people think of me, yet I desperately want to be good enough for anyone I meet. The pathetic predicament of wanting to be good enough, yet knowing how ridiculous that is because you’ll never be good enough for everyone. And neither should you want to be.
My final thought comes down to this:
Talking to my friend the other night and she said,
I have to tell you, I’m sad.
Even though I’m in this new city, I’m sad too.
Oh no, the magic of Instagram, where we look happy.
And that’s exactly it. The magic of Instagram, Facebook, snapchat, where everyone looks happy. Everyone is showing their highlights reel and very few are showing their average days, their bad moments or their mishaps. All of us fall victim to the comparison of our bad days to others’ best… I promise I’m trying to stop doing this, because I’m so aware that it’s not a true reflection of someone’s entire life.
Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling refreshed, relaxed and completely free of this black shadow, but maybe it’s here to hang out for a while. If anyone has any advice, please feel free to reach out, as I’m feeling a little lost.