Saturday, 12 January 2013

A1: S10 - The Darkest of Days

Now before I start, I'd like to give a brief word about this post. I have been in two minds for quite some time about whether to include this part of my life in this blog. As you read on you'll understand why. There are obvious reasons as to why I would not want to share this, even more so to put it out there on the Internet for all the world to read - but I am going to, and the reasons as to why I have chosen now to do so, may not be so obvious. I am not asking for attention, for people to feel sorry for me or to be guilt tripped or anything, that's the opposite of what I want. I want to include this because it was, and continues to be, a terribly important part of my life, and fundamental to the shaping of who I have been able to do and become today. Also, I think it's important to show the reality, however painful, as well as these incredible stories I have because it is real life after all. Finally,  I guess it's bit of personal therapy too. I've never been able to talk about this properly as it is an awfully touchy subject for me, and I think this will be a liberating experience. Okay... here goes.

At the end of the summer 2012, I felt like an entirely new person. Well, more accurately, I'd found the old person that I'd been all along. My soul felt refreshed and I held a mix of dreaded anticipation and sheer excitement at returning to uni again - determined this time to start with a firm grip on myself. But although I always speak of my first year as an absolute mess of a year, I regret nothing about it. I didn't particularly like who I was and the things I did and what happened, but I believe it all needed to happen for me to be able to have that realisation. I needed to go to the complete other end of the spectrum to realise where my place on it was all along. Because there was simple fact about my first year and the people I lived with, that, regardless of anything they said or did subsequently, no matter how drastic, would never change - and that was that I'd been saved. And this is why, at the end of the summer, before returning to uni for me second year, I decided to get a tattoo.

*

I'd loved my school years . My time at first, middle and secondary school was an absolute blast, and I'd change none of it for the world. I loved to learn, I was pretty popular with a lot of great friends, and generally had a bloody great time growing up. But then I hit sixth form. How dramatically everything went so very, very wrong.

It had begun with an illness. In the first few weeks of term at the start of year 12, I was struck down with intense abdominal pain and suspected appendicitis. I was taken straight from school to hospital one Friday afternoon and did not return for another two weeks. I did not have appendicitis but the Doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me. I stayed in hospital for a week on emergency watch as my condition deteriorated, before eventually going under the knife to figure out what was wrong. To cut a long story short (excuse the pun), the Doctors never did find out what was wrong with me, but during the operation I had a bad reaction to the anaesthetic, and my 30 minute op turned into a 3 hour ordeal as the Doctors could not keep me breathing. I had to have CPR performed on me three times before they jammed a tube down my throat and nose to force me breathe. As you can imagine, when I came to and was told all that, it changed me a little bit.

I suddenly, out of nowhere, became very mature. The fact that I'd been pretty much dead disturbed me to the core and almost forced me to grow up a lot. When I was all better, I returned to school with a new outlook on life, and not necessarily a positive one. I became very serious and less sociable. This is when I first began to develop my own personal tastes and take more care in my appearance and how I presented myself. Because I had no job and my parents were always reluctant to give me money for clothes, I used to go into places like Topshop and River Island and take down little sketches of the outfits I saw, then go to charity shops and see if I could find similar items, often to great success. This is what sparked my long-enduring passion for vintage clothes and fashion.

So I began to dress differently, and this did not go unnoticed. Quickly people started making snidy remarks about how I'd 'changed', how I was 'trying to be something I wasn't' and I was 'pretentious' and 'up myself', but that was just the beginning. I dyed my hair and started wearing make-up and the remarks got worse and the whispers not so hushed anymore. Then out of nowhere it all seemed to spiral drastically out of control. I started getting hundreds of anonymous messages online airing my most private secrets publicly and stating things like "you think everyone loves you but in fact everyone hates you", and "isn't it funny how the people who you think are closest to you are the ones who hate you the most" and I began to shun myself away from people, as I didn't feel I could trust anyone anymore. I couldn't understand what I'd done to cause all this, and my best friend actually said to me one day, "Y'know, I really don't get why everyone hates you."

Cutting myself off just made everything worse, as people began to think I was being snobby and thought I thought I was better than anyone else. I tried to put on a brave front and fight back online which just exacerbated things beyond any expectation. The worst thing was, it was the people who were supposed to be my best friends that were doing it. One of the most humiliating things was to realise at the age of 17, I was being bullied. Things just went from worse to worse - I got dog shit smeared over my car windows and rubbish stuffed under the windscreen wipers, I got messages over and over telling me I was fat and everyone hated me, and I spent my time at school just watching people pointing and laughing at me as I sat alone. It was genuinely like I was in 'Mean Girls' or something, Then I got messages telling me I should kill myself.

I got sick. Really sick. I fell into a dark and terrible place. After a month I was diagnosed with depression and put on a course of cognitive behavioural therapy, which I still, to this day, never completed. I don't remember much of those days. The abuse soon dwindled out as everyone got bored of me and I was just left alone in the corner and forgotten about and broken. But despite it all stopping, the deep depression clung to me like a sickly shadow. The thing I remember most was the overwhelming tiredness. Most days I couldn't even find it within myself to open my eyes in the morning, let alone get out of bed and face going to school. I just slept all the time, but still never felt rested. My absences soon wracked up and I was called in for many disciplinaries. I didn't even stick up for myself or try and defend my actions, I just let the oblivious teachers talk at me and tried to look sincere as I promised to do better in school. This continued for months.

I stopped eating after a while. Partly because the fat comments had really touched a nerve, and partly because I just didn't have the energy or effort to. Most people think depression is about being sad all the time, but that's not what it's like at all. It is just an overwhelming and profound sense of eternal... blankness. I was just a shell of a person who'd forgotten how to be. What was worse was that I had no reason to feel that way. The abuse had stopped and even some people had come forward and apologised, I now had a boyfriend and a loving family, but I was just... absent. I'd forgotten how to function and was just slowly sinking into this abyss of no return. I remember trying to talk to my friend Harry, who'd left the school, about it, saying I just didn't want to be here anymore and he said to me. "Katie... if you ever EVER did anything stupid... I'd never fucking forgive you for it, Katie. Never." But I was numb and his words meant nothing. They were dark, dark times.

Then one night, about a year after I'd been diagnosed, I had been crying to myself solidly for hours after punishingly reading through the old messages, and I was curled up on the bathroom floor in a pathetic heap of shuddering human. I weakly sat up, smudging mascara across my face and tried to slow my stuttering breath. Then, with only minimal awareness and presence of mind, I slowly got to my feet, picked it up, and sat back down again on the floor.

It glistened between my fingers. My tears and irregular breathing had stopped. It was so small and it would be so easy. Slowly I turned over my right hand and looked at the threads of blue veins against my grey wrist. I looked back at the razor blade in my hand. And that's when the thought of such pure and concentrated despair, from the final depth of my depression, the floor of the pit of self loathing which I could never wish anyone to ever experience, came to me and detonated with horror the very fibre of my being.

Killing myself wouldn't be so bad.


If ever the phrase 'my life flashed before my eyes' could have been more apt, it was then. Suddenly I saw the the very skin on my bones jump as if it were alive itself, every inch of it having grown up with me for the past seventeen years, a living history. In my mind I saw my life in a sort of montage of home movie clips.

 I saw myself being born, how happy my parents were, all their dreams coming true in the form of me. I saw the hours and hours they put into caring for me, making sure they did everything I could to turn out to be the best possible person I could be. I saw them looking into my eyes at night and kissing my forehead as I fell asleep. I saw them spending every penny of their hard earned cash into making sure that my life was amazing, I saw them teaching me how to walk and how to talk, showing me the world, and telling me stories. I saw them crying at the gates on my first day at school, so proud of their little girl. I saw them mounting photos of me on the mantelpiece and sending copies off to Grandma. I saw them teaching me how to ride a bike and laughing as I crashed headfirst into the trailer outside the Canadians house down the street. I saw them endure my endless tantrums and 'I hate you!'s, still loving me regardless of how horribly I treated them. I saw them agonising over the bills after Christmas because they'd forked out everything they could so I could have the very best toys like all the other kids. I saw them helping me with my homework, grounding me, teaching me, loving me, holding me, wiping away my tears, encouraging me - seventeen birthdays, Christmas's, summer holidays and school terms - seventeen years of ME.

And then I saw myself, I finally saw myself and what I was doing, at the lowest, darkest point of my depression, knowing that I could lay waste to every single part of that, make all that time, effort, money and strain completely worthless with one small swipe across my skin.


I cannot tell you what that feeling felt like. I'd say it was a mixture of sudden realisation, disgust, guilt, sorrow, shock and horror - but really, that doesn't come close. I felt my whole body physically shake with the intensity of that emotion and I howled a noise that I didn't even know a human could make.

I count that as my darkest day, but also the day I began to wake up. I don't think I was ever really going to do it. In fact, I'm certain of it. I think it was just the thought that the idea of suicide didn't seem shocking to me anymore that made me fully realise that I was seriously not well.   

And from then on, I began to heal. I locked away all those past resentments and put my head down and got through school as quickly and painlessly as I could. I painstakingly slowly began to pick up the tattered pieces of myself. It took time, but every little shard that I picked up found its place again, and I began to slowly and meticulously cement everything back together, ten times stronger this time, until I gradually began to form this impenetrable armour.

As you'd expect, all this didn't have a great effect on me academically - hence why I went into clearing. I was also terrified about going to university, as I didn't think I was mentally strong enough to handle the strain. But with the tuition fees changing, there was nothing I could do. So, with my past lying heavy on my shoulders like a backpack of stone, and a half tattered soul trailing along behind me like a moth-eaten cloak, I braced myself the best I could, and headed to the unknown lands of Hertfordshire.

I never would have imagined how lucky I was to be. Although admittedly I did end up going a weird way, my life improved three thousand-fold. I met hundreds of new friends and welcomed a new world of exciting possibilities, and I fell in love with the uni lifestyle. And it was mostly thanks to my housemates. I never told them the extent of what happened to me, but I indicated to them that I'd come from being in a bad way, and thankfully, they never pushed to find out the details. That sort of made it even more special for me, because they didn't even know how they'd helped me, it was just by being themselves that they had saved me.

Although we had our scuffles and fall outs throughout the year and continue to now, nearly two years on, it will never change what they did for me at the start of my first year. Even our worst of the worst days here are still better than my best of best days when I was suffering, and that is such an important for me to remember.

So, at the end of summer 2012, before the start of my second year, with Ariella by my side, I got a tattoo of six small birds on my back, to represent the six of us in the house, and the freedom they bought me. As I sat in that chair in the tattoo parlour, after an incredible year of living and thriving, I really appreciated just how far I'd come from that dark place. With each painful stroke which rattled my ribs, it felt like all the pain and suffering that I'd inflicted on myself over the past few years was being concentrated, channeled through the tip of that needle and sealed within my skin in the form of these six tiny birds, forever. Never to be released ever again, but forever marked there so I'll not forget from where I have come from.


Over time, the tattoo continues to deepen in meaning for me. Some people get loads of tattoos to represent different things, but this one seems to fulfill it all in one for me. It is a symbol of the freedom I have achieved from depression, it represents the five others which helped me to do that, it is a reminder of
that dark place I went to and managed to come back from, and now, it has become to me a symbol of strength. I feel like my recovery and my armour is almost complete, I feel wiser, more resilient and most of all, fiercely strong-minded. And I owe that entirely, to being reduced to my weakest point.

Most people say to me "You got a tattoo of your uni housemates? Ha, someone's gonna regret that in a year." but I just smile, because I know that if it wasn't for my housemates, and what they helped me to do, then there's a chance I wouldn't even be here at all.

(and you know what, it's on my back, so if I do one day hate it in fifty years time, I'll never have to look at it!)


*exhale deeply*




And that's the story behind my tattoo.



Scarlet-Ophelia.


P.s  I bawled my eyes out through the majority of typing this, but my good god.... do I now feel peace.

39 comments :

  1. o baby u have chosen awesome location for tattoos designs

    ReplyDelete
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySzrJ4GRF7s

    ReplyDelete
  3. I cannot believe that some of your posts don't have hundreds of comments! It's unbelievable because no doubt this post especially would have touched so many people and it's such a shame that you don't get to hear about it. I love it because after reading all about you, you seem to be the most perfect and outgoing person ever (currently putting real effort in to not be jealous but inspired) - and finding out that you've gone through something as tough as this is just a brilliant example of how people can pick themselves up and to such a large extent!

    (I also commented on your tumblr but then realised there was a high chance I sent the fawning message to the wrong blog - it basically said you were my new hero)

    xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, I'm blown away by your comment, especially on this post too! 'Thank you' seems like such a lame and meaningless expression, but really, thank you so much.

      A lot of my earlier posts get overlooked because no-one really read my blog back when I wrote them, so it's kinda sad that some important things get missed out, but then again, especially for posts such as this, they're not written to be read, they're written to cleanse... Just to know it's out of my system and stored safely somewhere is good enough for me!

      But of course I do love feedback and comments haha :) and everything you wrote made me beam from ear to ear. I feel so grateful to have a reader like you!

      Do you have a blog? I'd love to have a read!

      Thank you eternally,

      Katie x

      Delete
    2. Aw I'm glad I can be of service! And you're welcome, happy to get such a responsive reply as well! I know what you mean, I write to cleanse in my diaries and it does feel sad when an awesome joke sneaks in and no one can benefit from it!

      And I do, but I'm still in the very beginning stage so writing to entertain myself basically! It's y0ssarian-lives.blogspot.co.uk , going to use my free time to get it pumping! xxxxx

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    3. Haha I know exactly what you mean.

      Just had a peek at your blog and I love it already, forgive me if I comment on everything! What instantly made me smile was 'a blog that hasn't quite settled into a genre yet' which is exactly what I feel Scarphelia is too.

      Don't feel pressured into changing to fit into a perfectly shaped box of a genre, just keep doing what you're doing 'cause I love it. :)

      Katie x

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  4. I cannot believe what you have gone through, you are such a strong person to pull yourself out of that rut! I have only just started reading your blog but you have got me hooked on your life and all you've been through. I am struggling not to be immensely jealous of what you've achieved but trying to use you as inspiration haha. Sorry, I'm having a bit of a fangirl moment on your blog, I'll leave you in peace now!

    xxx

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    Replies
    1. You have no idea how much this post means to me - thank you so so much!

      It's weird, I caught sight of my tattoo in the mirror earlier today and thought about this post... it's incredible how things can turn itself around. It's amazing... but somehow quite sad too. I'm firm in the belief that everything gets better, hell, what has happened since that point in my life has been such a testament to that! It's just so sad to think of the people that don't make it through that tough point to the light on the other side.

      Thank you so much for reading, gee your comment made me a bit giddy! Do you have a blog? I'd love to check it out :)

      Katie xo

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    2. You're welcome, I mean every word of it!

      It really is, I've had low points in my life but then I read this post, and wow, the strength you had to pull through that, I thought I'd better stop complaining! Its so upsetting that people don't make it through that, but you've got to be tough and believe that it can only get better, because it usually does!

      While I'm busy fangirling, I love the idea of silver and grey people, its exactly right! I've thought something along those lines for a while, but not managed to put it into words so eloquently so I have kept my mouth shut haha!

      I do have a blog, I'm just getting started after being persuaded that I would be good at it (don't think I am though) but I would love it if you had a look! Its http://ta-dahh.blogspot.co.uk!

      Sorry it took so long to reply to your comment, I didn't tick the notify me box and I just thought I'd check back to see if you'd replied and there it was!

      Ella xx

      Delete
  5. This article is a whirlwind of emotions. You have been through so much in your life, it really is inspiring that you managed to find the strength to come through the other side of such an ordeal and become a better person from it - amazing.

    From what I've read on your blog (and quite a few posts (sorry major creeping session)) so far you really are a lovely, talented person and should not let anyone or anything stop you (which you don't). I'm truly happy for you and inspired by your strength and determination.

    Sarah-Louise
    xo

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    Replies
    1. Never apologise for a major creep sesh, I thank you!

      You are so so lovely, thank you thank you thank you! In some ways I guess I was lucky to go through something like this and to be able to come out fo the other side and have a whole new appreciation for life and living every day as if it was your last - a realisation that I probably never would've had before all this.

      Thanks so much for reading :)

      Katie xo

      Delete
  6. I admit I cried like a baby reading this, you took our mirrored feelings and put it into such beautiful words something I've never been able to do. Thank You. Reading this has reminded me how far I've come from those dark days, just knowing someone has felt what I have felt is such an amazing feeling. You are so talented the way your words join together and release emotion its so stunning. I wish you nothing but the best in the future. x

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  7. Again another stunning post! I too felt the uneasiness about sharing my experience of depression but you put it into words brilliantly. It's good to focus on what you have achieved & live each moment, because depression takes that away from you. You can't see any future, you can't feel each day, everything is so hard & heavy. So glad I found your blog, very inspiring!
    Another fan for Scarphelia
    Bee Happy and Healthy

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is incredibly touching. I've struggled with depression on and off for nearly 5 years and can totally relate to your darkest moment. Seeing the way you've written it is more than my brain could fathom. Those feelings are indescribable but somehow you've managed to put them into words. Inspiring to say the least :)

    www.ohhellomango.co.uk

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  9. I love the fact that your style of writing is so incredibly powerful in conveying the most intense array of emotions and also believe that this is a post which deserves to be read by all young people; I'm sure it will touch every single reader in one way or another. What's more, you're extremely talented when it comes to putting into words experiences that others struggle to narrate and I'm truly glad that you found the strength from within needed to overcome the suffering you were subjected to. You're an inspiration to us all. I'm also overly delighted by the fact that I stumbled across your blog and have thoroughly enjoyed the little that I've read of it so far, especially 'Mr X'.

    -Gio

    ReplyDelete
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