There came a point in my life, and I’m writing this very shortly after it happened so it’s fresh, where I decided that a geographical change would be a silver bullet for my problems. It wasn’t. I firstly applied to become a Royal Marines Commando! I was always into health and fitness (Still am) and I saw joining the RMCs as a way to escape my home, escape Ireland, run from my feelings, my friends, my family and so I trained my ass off for over a year to surpass the fitness standard I’d have needed.
I got as far as the medical and hit a pretty big bump in the road. So now I was back to square one and university had just ended. I had to get out into the real world but I still had this itch to run. Now at the time I put this down to wanting a challenge, feeding my wanderlust and wanting to get away from my parents, so it wasn’t a conscious fleeing. I went off and became a qualified TEFL teacher. It was handy enough and my best friend and I got jobs in China. My escape was almost complete.
We prepared and packed and were ready to go. I wasn’t even excited. I wasn’t apprehensive. I was nothing. It was a familiar feeling at the time, still often is all too familiar. We landed in Shanghai and had a three hour drive to Yuyao, which is a small city by Chinese standards in the middle of nowhere again by Chinese standards. I liked being in China, I was free, I had my own place, I was with my best friend, my job was awesome, my work colleagues were great people and the food was outstanding. Life was finally looking up.
The problem is Ireland wasn’t the problem, although I had issues with my parents they weren’t the problem either, the economy wasn’t the problem, I was the problem. My brain was my enemy. For over a year at this point my dysthymia had been so low. It kicked my ass severely for a year but I ignored it by telling myself daily ‘When I get to China everything will be fine’. And that’s when I had a breakdown.
In China I had some great moments, every day was something new, I was surrounded by similar people, I was in my element. Yet I badly wanted to kill myself. Just as I did in Ireland. I just wanted to cease to exist. For so long I had built China as a light at the end of the tunnel and when I got there not only was I still in the tunnel but the light was extinguished and the tracks started vibrating.
Once I realised going to China was a mistake I broke down crying and couldn’t stop for three days. I was angry with myself for allowing my mental health to deteriorate so severely. I was getting abuse from my mother by text message when I told her I need to come home and get help. It hurt my parents when I left for China, that’s not a surprise. What hurt me however was getting spoken to with repugnant abuse when I said I need to come home for help. So I nearly stayed in China. I couldn’t even face the thought of going home to my mother, the one person I was trying to escape the most.
Her issues were too much for me to deal with as a child and her issues caused me severe issue in my life but now I have learned to deal with the monster inside me so that I can handle her monster. Not for her, only she can fight those monsters but for me, those monsters lash out and it no longer affects me as it once did.
A proverb I now live my life by is ‘If there is no enemy within, then the enemy outside can do us no harm’. My mothers abuse only harmed me when I had my own enemy within, admittedly massively influenced in cause by the verbal abuse my whole life but as an adult we must learn to conquer the monster in us. As a child it’s impossible. As an adult only you are responsible for you.
In China I had an enemy within me. I had to leave the best experience of my life after only ten days… But I came home and I slew the enemy. I marched victorious afterwards and started this blog in hopes of helping someone else. I plan on going back to Asia once I have the money together. And now I feel invulnerable.
Coming home was tough. Being diagnosed with dysthymia was God awful. But having a diagnosis was nice, at least I knew what I was faced with. Just for full disclosure, Dysthymia isn’t the enemy, it’s an ‘illness’ for want of a much better word. The enemy within is discussed more HERE. But in short it was how I felt about me. My self esteem, my view of my self and only because of how I saw myself were the reasons the words of others able to harm me. Now the words of others are as close to water off a ducks back, but it takes time to get there, time and an extreme effort. It’s worth the work though.
Geographical change may be what you think will cure you but guess what? No matter where you go in this universe you have to take your head with you. The enemy within will be within on the plane, it’ll be there in your new apartment and it’ll be there until you break. The best advice I feel I can give here is that you deal with that enemy now rather than later. Then, run! Run far, and don’t look back!
Have you ever looked at your pet hamster and wondered how empty their lives are just living in a cage and occasionally getting to run around your bedroom if you put them in a bubble? They live in a tiny cage in one room of gigantic house. The vast majority of humans are hamsters, they live in their local area for their entire lives with short excursions before returning. They may emigrate for a short time before returning home or they may emigrate and make a different area their cage in a foreign country. You are a human, you are a citizen of planet Earth, the Earth is your home. Don’t stay in a tiny cage in a big house, don’t be a hamster.