5 months. Not long compared to some. It’s a question I hear almost daily. 5 months. (If you want more info on how I do it, find out what’s the deal with Australia’s working holiday visa!) Albeit I stuck to the north of Australia, missing out on such awesome places as the Sand Dunes Resort on the Sunshine Coast and of course sadly missing Sydney, but I had fun nonetheless, seeing many beaches in Australia along the way.
It’s suddenly occurred to me, however, how much longer I’ve been traveling. I moved out of the comfort of a massive 2 bedroom apartment, complete with huge windows overlooking the most beautiful park in town, a heated year round outdoor swimming pool, hardwood floors, television and more weed than a normal person can smoke, and my best friend, 9 months ago. I’ve not had a home in the time since, and I visited but once for 5 days after a month and a half in the States. Hm. That’s a little longer than 5 months.
A year ago I lived there. My days were spent either lying on the couch or in my bed watching tv, toking massive amounts, attending the few university classes I could stand at that point, and falling further and further into the deepest, darkest depression I have ever experienced. Friends would come over sometimes; I had lost the ability to leave and see them. In addition to the depression, anxiety had struck. It began, as it tends to with me, as obsessional anxiety; I would get a thought in my head and could not rid myself of it no matter how mundane it was. It transformed into social anxiety, which seems odd in someone who is seemingly such an extrovert (though one ex-friend noted one day that I am truly an introvert; the girl saw something in me that was invisible to most).
I remember friends coming over and my leg would start twitching uncontrollably. Often it would be resting on the coffee table and the glasses and bongs would vibrate. My friends, the few I’d allow to see me at this point, would look at me with worried terror. If I tried to stop the twitching would get worse.
I fell deeper and deeper. Once we had large pot lucks, we invited friends over to predrink before going out, and to come back to ours after. It all faded away, and when Esther invited people over I’d hide in my room… I’d hide from some of my very best friends in the world.
When I decided to move out I didn’t know where I was going. I had little money. I was going somewhere else everyday; Philippines? Africa? South America? Somehow I wound up going to the States, the most unlikely place for me to visit. As I boarded the ferry to Seattle I wanted nothing more than to run straight back to my couch, to curl up and slowly await death. I was still very severely depressed.
It was 9 months ago that I left that couch. What was it that caused me to leave when I could barely get out of bed? I suppose it was the survival instinct. Back then I would have welcomed being hit by a bus. Yet survival drove me off the couch. And I think it was the single bravest thing I’ve ever done.
And so I remember this all, and I write it to remind myself of something: no matter how low things get, no matter how heartbroken I currently find myself, no matter what: I escaped the lowest I ever got. I escaped with my life. And for this, I am most grateful. Whatever snapped in my mind and drove me to survive rather than waste away… I am grateful. I would be remiss to think that it was entirely internal, though.
I believe there to be someone I met in the depths of my depression, who I think is one of the most pivotal people I have ever met. I don’t know why, or what this person did or said to help me, but I know that I would not be where I am now if it was not for us meeting.
But I got off the couch.
And I will never go back to it.