Hello again, world.
I’ve neglected you a bit, haven’t I. Truth be told, I’ve been absent from a lot of things. I could tell you that I’ve just been unwell, but that would be lying to you and to myself. In the latter half of 2014, I had the worst time possible, which culminated in something of a mental breakdown.
I lost my job at an awful, repressive place, which would have been a blessing had it not been for the fact I desperately needed money. I lost a good friend to cancer and another to a premature aging condition. I failed my postgraduate degree on 3% of one exam, with no chance of a retake. All the hard work, none of the payoff, and two of my main confidantes gone far, far too soon.
On New Year’s Eve I couldn’t foresee it getting any better. I got hideously drunk at my best friends house, and considered taking my own life. But something stopped me – something which had been getting me through without me even realising.
In October, I started training with the Nottingham Hellfire Harlots roller derby team. I put roller skates on, made an utter prat of myself, but improved every week and fell in love with it. The rush when I got a new skill right, the incredible emotional pride when one of our phenomenal coaches told me “you are doing amazingly”. Although everything else felt as though it was crashing around my ears, roller derby was the one constant. My teammates are like family – when I lost my job, the skates went on and I sweated it out and added more bruise-shaped badges of honour to my collection instead of crying and moping around. When I found out I had failed my postgrad, the girls were there to lift my spirits and show me that if I can take a hit from an a team player, there isn’t much I can’t do.
Last night I went out and got ridiculously drunk again, around 2 months on from the night I almost killed myself. But this time, I was so deliriously happy. One of our team is leaving for a year in New Zealand, so of course there were tears, but is finally got to tell her that she’s been a complete inspiration to me since the first time I saw her play. Seeing how that can make someone feel is a beautiful thing.
I was out with girls who know everything about me, who know my flaws, my weaknesses and my strengths, and love and respect me for all of them. They’re the girls who will let you sleep at theirs at a moments notice, who share their cheesy chips with you, and who will always be at the end of the phone checking you got home okay. I’m not afraid to be what I am, mental health wobbles and all. I don’t want to die anymore, if anything I’ve never felt more alive. In the space of two months, everything changed for the beautiful.
If you are feeling like I did back then right this moment, find your bliss and chase it. Hunt it down, whether it’s roller derby or otherwise. Don’t stop working. Enjoy the bruises and the muscle aches. They will remind you that you can feel, that you are a person with veins and nerves and potential to get better. One of the first things they taught me is if you start to wobble and you’re scared you’ll fall, drop gently onto one knee, regain composure, and try again. That applies to life too.
I promise, you will be okay. I was.