I got to know Mindfump through blogging and Twitter recently, quickly becoming one of my favourite blogs to read. The writing is honest, refreshing and gets to the heart of mental illness in a great way that everyone can get an insight into how it deeply affects the person suffering.
We were having a conversation and I asked Mindfump to write a guest post and I’m delighted to see the result here. I really hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
You can follow Mindfump here and I recommend you do. https://mindfump.com/
Travelling has been a constant in my life for around 10 years now. If we were to do some Sherlock Holmes style deductive investigation, we would notice that 10 years is also about the same amount of time I’ve been mentally ill. Now that is actually not true, I have probably been mentally ill for around 15 years, but 10 years as an adult. An adult who could make their own decisions.
Now there is a well-known psychological and physiological reaction to potentially harmful situations called Hyperarousal – more commonly known as ‘Fight or Flight’. So to put any future prize fighting career to bed once and for all, I’ll be bold and say that I am definitely a ‘Flight’ person – specifically flight VA206 from London Heathrow to Hong Kong International. This was the first major flight I took on my own when I was 18.
I flew, or took flight in my attempt to leave my mental illness behind. I didn’t know it was a mental illness at the time and I didn’t know I was running – but it was and I was. So there I was packing my suitcase the day before; underwear – check, clothes – check, toothbrush – check, shoes, – check, copy of Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus – check. I look over at Unhappiness who is slumped unhappily in the corner* and I make a point of not putting them in the suitcase. The suitcase is full anyway, so it was an easy decision.
I then get to the airport and the same question is asked every time; ’have you packed these bags yourself sir?’, or what they’re actually saying is; do you know what is in your bags sir? I do, or I thought I did. Only to discover upon arrival that unhappiness had made its way onto the plane and into my luggage like a desperate stowaway.
I didn’t understand it. I would analyse the things that made me unhappy and the answers were always the same. It was home, or it was school, or it was my friends or my job. How could I be unhappy if those things were no longer around me? Ah I am an idiot. OK, I was wrong. It obviously wasn’t friends or home or school or work. It was Hong Kong, or Zhuhai or the teaching I was doing. I’d found it, that was the source. All I need to do is remedy those things and voilà!
So up I get and pack my bags again, remembering to really leave Unhappiness behind this time. I move on to Los Angeles. Sun! California has Sun, England doesn’t have that and neither did Hong Kong. That is why I was unhappy – how could I have been so stupid? They even speak english here – another thing that made me unhappy in China. You may be surprised to hear that neither the Sun nor the english language saved me from unhappiness, the sun burnt me repeatedly, almost as a punishment for my terrible English skin. The english language didn’t save me either, mainly because it revealed the stupidity of man once more.
It was in California that I first sought out mental help though. This is when I realised I wasn’t quite right. I was there to study, but I couldn’t study. I was there to socialise but I couldn’t socialise. I was there to enjoy the sun, but I couldn’t grasp the concept of sun cream. Even with extensive therapy and drugs I wasn’t able to rid my world of Unhappiness.
It was time to return to the UK – had I been wrong the whole time? The UK isn’t that bad. I mean I love my family and my friends, they can’t be the source. I also need money and a job will give me that. It will be a fabulous return, I realised the rest of the world is no better. The UK will solve everything, oh UK please take me back!
I return to the UK to a welcome part of unhappiness.
OK, so I needed to leave the UK. And I did, and this pattern of flight continued for a few more years. Then a realisation finally hit me on a flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo. Anyone reading this will have figured out this anticlimactic and rather obvious plot twist, but that makes you a better person than me, as it took me 8 years of running to figure it out.
The unhappiness was in me.
The depression and the anxiety was in me all along. Like a poor mans Clarke Kent/Superman combo. I was Mindfump and Depressed Mindfump or Mindfump and Anxious Mindfump, my disappointing alter egos, with me whether I liked it or not. I sat on the whole flight to Tokyo in floods of tears. I realised then that I could never out run myself, I could never avoid me and no amount of external adjustment could rid me of me*.
So here we are, packing again. I now live in Vienna, Austria and I’m soon to be moving to Ireland. Although this time not because I want to out run anything, in fact I’m running towards something. I’m moving there with my girlfriend, and a new life awaits. Of course I still need to pack but I’ll keep plenty of space for depression and anxiety this time. They will come along but there will be no surprises when I unpack them at the other end. It does unfortunately mean I don’t have space for my copy of Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus. Oh well, you can’t win them all.
*You get me? Not sure I said ‘me’ enough.