My own war
Firstly, Thank you.
There's no human words I could write that would articulate my gratitude for projects like the Lunatique. I have attempted suicide twice... that I can remember. Mental illness can do an impeccable job of not only making you feel like you are loosing your mind but also taking your memories away.
I'm trying to find the right human words to tell my story about depression and anxiety but honestly the words i can find are passive and non descriptive compared to how it feels. Its crippling and overwhelming. Whilst many mental illnesses are still considered a topic of taboo, experiencing it first hand i can tell you this. It can act like a cruel disease, cancer of the mind. Hard to diagnose and hard to treat because often the patients are convinced that there is no hope, no cure. It has at times taken away my ability to sleep and eat. Its made my bones ache, my head thump and at times literally taken my breath away with out consent. But as long as my heart still beats my purpose is partly to remind others that it does get better and that mental illnesses does not define you.
I knew something wasn’t right around the age of 13. I have been told id just cry myself to sleep. I had little friends and often befriended people who were kind of loners themselves. Nothing was really wrong in my life. It was stagnant and ordinary sure and maybe i was bullied a little for my pale skin and red hair but i also had much to be grateful for. Yet it was the age i had first started cutting. Under my long sleeves and socks id pull past my knees was skin that resembled a chopping board. It was also around the time i first had access to browsing the web and what i came across heightened my compulsion to self sabotage. Sites like Thinspo introduced me to going days with out eating. Others were flooded by imagery of self harm and instructions on how i could end my life. Aside from the cutting and occasionally not eating the rest were all just ideas i wouldn’t follow through with…. yet.
A few key events happened from the age of 17-19 though my memory is a little foggy. Depression does an impeccable job of making you feel like you are loosing your mind and taking chronological memories away. In the space of a year i had lost my grandfather, my family home was flooded, my sister had fallen pregnant and moved away, my parents got a divorce and i was sexually abused multiple times by the first boy i had kissed. It was also the first time i attempted suicide. I wanted the pain to end. I felt so empty and numb it was like i was already dead. I didn’t think id make it to my 21st birthday and truthfully i didn’t want to because each moment felt more unbearable than the last. People knew i was sick and tried to help. I saw a few dodgy psychologists and was put on some medication that made me nauseous and shake. I remember begging my mum to help me end my life. I never meant to break her heart, i never did it for attention and the small amount of Katie left just wanted the hurt to stop.
I finished high school and went to uni to study a Bachelor in Photography. I was both paralysed with fear of the future (apart of me cared and was excited there for scared it would be ruined) and uninterested in the outcome. Photo school helped me express my thoughts and feelings in a creative, non toxic way. I connected with other artists who became friends. I felt better. But after my degree i ended up in a job in fast fashion and in a relationship both which i didn’t know how to leave until both failed. Still i continued to get better. I attended Headspace an organisation specialising in youth and saw a psychologist who was kind and helpful. I made friends with likeminded, genuine and strong women. I started working at a boho brand i had been shopping at since a young age and admired. Years passed and i hadn’t self harmed, hadn’t made plans to end my life. I was confident and opened up through social media about my illness.
At the start of this year all that hard work essentially came undone. I had relapsed harder than ever. I didn’t know how to cope. The depression and anxiety was more aggressive and rid my entire body. I scratched my self so hard id draw blood and bruise. Then all at once i broke up with my boyfriend, my job finished and i had an unexpected and silent falling out with my best friend who was also my housemate. I had no money to pay rent, was put on a waitlist to get help and was heartbroken by another unhealthy relationship. My amygdala went into over drive. Over a bottle of $5 moscato and Vera Blue album i concluded, there was nothing to fight but a reason to fly. So i sold and donated almost everything i owned, booked a one way ticket and said my goodbyes.
A chaotic, wild and wonderful journey awaited me at the arrival gate of Gold Coast airport. Through scrambled thoughts i reminded my self, I'm the woman who has solo travelled to Japan, Nepal and India. I have jumped out of a plane, worked in dirt with eight legged creatures and overcame depression before. I used to think i was scared of nothing and some people even called me brave. But I had truthfully never felt more vulnerable, alone and scared.
After a couple of weeks the adrenalin had worn off and reality hit hard. I quickly realised moving would be the easy part and settling in would take much longer than any patience i had. I had to surrender, truly let go to the process and trust that i had made the right decision. I was forced to solitude and healing. It felt like life was happening to me and not for me. Since my 24th birthday was coming up i reflected, YUP I’m having a total quarter life crisis (just a year early). I was a hurricane of emotions and couldn’t switch off. No job, no partner, no car, no friends and no job. Isolated in suburbia.
I wanted to be here, i have always wanted to be here. The land of pink sunsets, fresh juices and surfer boys with longer hair than myself. A place where the sea meets the forest. Where i can wrap my arms around my nephews every day and where dresses in the middle of winter. I developed a mantra. ‘I will make this work, this is my new home and i belong here’
I needed to get out of my comfort zone of Netflix and jam on toast and really discover the Gold Coast. I came across the Urban List and my days transformed. With my abundance of free time and peanut savings i started ticking off places and things to do. Who would of known that the Gold Coast was more than Theme Parks and Surfers Paradise, Google never told me different. I also got in touch with women groups, the right helplines and again a good psychologist.
All these creative co spaces, workshops, events, live music gigs, nature trails, Sunday markets and vegan food spots filled up my calendar and gave me fuel for life! I connected to the community, made friends and discovered a lot about myself.
I'm still trying to make sense of everything, be okay with missing people and not knowing what's next. But i can’t help but think it all happened for a reason, to bring me here. I feel like this is life showing up in a big way and presenting me with exactly what i need. Shifting me in the right direction and riding energy that no longer serves me. Down the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland to help me work through my worries, trouble and regain that sense of childlike adventure.
"I know i can't go back to the person i was before but that's okay. I am stronger now and better days are more often."