Who I’ve Become…
It is said that our personalities are formed by the age of 7. I cannot remember much about being that age, apart from wanting to make sure everyone else was okay and happy. I can remember that feeling of pride when I would help with folding the washing (pairing socks is serious business) and the swell of happiness when my parents would come back from a good parents evening. I did that, I made them happy.
I’ve always known that I’m a fairly considerate person. I like people to be happy as a result of my words and actions. I have always done my own thing, as long as it didn’t upset the status quo. I am the way I am because I’m a perfectionist.
So it’s not really a surprise that after 20 years, the status quo would finally catch up with me and start to wobble. I started uni when I was 19 but things didn’t really start going downhill until I hit the age of 20. Moving away from home was hard but manageable, making friends was difficult but it happened and my grades were still pretty up there. However, things went a bit squiffy for me when I gained weight and couldn’t find a job. This was not too long after I had stopped taking antidepressants so for a while I felt like I was coping. I found a job, I lost some weight and started my second year at university.
It was at this time I moved in with a very difficult flatmate. The hardest part was that she was so much hard work that she drained my energy all the time. She was emotionally immature and was constantly up and down, asking for my reassurance and it became too much for me. As a result I became depressed and moody. I wasn’t sleeping well and I spent my days trying to keep her and all my other friends happy. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to please everyone all at the same time before, but I can tell you now that you will eventually crash and burn.
Crash and burn I did. I became an entirely different person; agitated, moody, miserable. I needed to talk to my friends about it but of course my bubbly, excitable flat mate had also become their friend too, so when I would talk about my difficulties with living with her (all the time 24/7), they would get annoyed with me. I felt like I was constantly moaning and I hated it. It wasn’t me.
I have this habit where I do something crazy on the outside, so people are distracted from the crazy on the inside. And the inside was a mess. In the end I had to distance myself from my old flatmate and the friends we hung out with for a while so they could deal with her incessant lies and emotional roller coasters. I had enough of my own issues to deal with!
Fast forward to the summer months when I’d put some distance between myself and the situation and I looked more normal. I finally did something for myself and got my nose pierced, started eating properly and began to socialise again. It helped that I had been diagnosed for the second time with depression and had been on medication for a few months so was mentally more capable of coping with things.
I don’t want you to take from this that I am just badmouthing my old flatmate because I’m not. I’m just explaining how the situation affected me personally. This is how I felt for a whole year…
Last summer I spent working on building myself back up, which I had completely lost during that whole second year at university. I was looking forward to living in France and making new friends and experiencing a new culture… We all know that this has not worked out so well.
Today I have been accused of being unfair in saying that France isn’t a nice country. I despise people telling me that my feelings and opinions are wrong. They have no qualms about invalidating my emotions but it’s something I cannot stand. I have met 4 nice French people in the time I have been in this country. I have been attacked, insulted and taken the piss out of. So when I say I think all French people are nasty, of course I’m generalising. Same as when I say the whole of France is crap. I actually love Paris and find the Parisians really friendly but on the whole, I dislike the way this country is run, I hate the general attitude of the French people and I don’t like the way foreigners are treated here. As a general rule, this is the way I feel about this country. Perhaps other people’s experience is different but I cannot accept it when someone says my opinion on the situation is “unfair” or “harsh”, because frankly, unless you feel the exact same emotions as me at this very particular moment in time, you cannot presume to tell me how intense my own feelings should or shouldn’t be.
I would happily go back to living with that difficult flatmate who I felt at the time, was manipulating everyone around me because for me, that is preferable to living in a country where people sneer when you smile at them. I am so unhappy and stressed here that my hair is falling out, I don’t sleep more than 3 hours a night and I literally have panic attacks at the prospect of having to leave my house. A sure way to tell something is wrong? Well just take a look at the things I do to my hair… This year I chopped it all off. Worst. Decision. Ever.
What I want get at in this post is that I feel like I have totally lost myself. I never fully got back to 100% after last year, so to have 2 utterly shit years in a row has been so hard for me. I wanted to say that currently, I’m not me. I am miserable, moody and irritable all the time. I cry when I’m alone because it seems I’m never getting out of this negative place. I have panic attacks when I am faced with social situations, or generally just leaving the house. I pace, a lot when I’m at home. I have rituals where I have to clean things a certain way and patterns for certain things. It’s just another coping mechanism. I moan about being here because it is consuming me wholly. It is draining my personality and is making me consider things I didn’t thing I would ever think of. I hate it because this isn’t me. I am usually the person telling lame jokes, breaking out into song and trying to make other people happy. I strive to make others happy remember, so being this way is horrible.
So please hang on. I’m not me right now, but I’m working on it. Some day (soon, I hope) I will be that girl who laughs freely, rushes out the door without a second thought and isn’t afraid to say what she thinks, without getting hurt by others judging her. Some day, I’ll get back to that. But in the meantime, please be more considerate when you judge me and what I think… it takes a lot for me to say something. Please stick around until after this negativity has gone away because the friend you used to know, I’m still here, I’m just buried under a few problems right now and if you can wait it out, I’ll be that friend again and I’ll be so grateful that you’re still there.