Decisions, decisions, decisions

black and white decision doors opportunity

 

It’s Sunday night and unlike most of you I’m utterly thrilled that the weekend is over and that work beckons in the morning. I’ve told you this before, but weekends have become a ‘thing’, and these last two have been quite grisly. And before you give out a massive sigh, no this is not another blog about being the ‘loneliest girl in the world’, this one’s about being the most indecisive girl in the world.

So weekends, yes, I don’t particularly enjoy them, I’m not sure I ever really have when I think about it. Yes, the not having to get up early is nice but the lack of routine and structure they administer leaves me in a right old tiswas. The fact I could be doing absolutely anything I want, leaves me in sheer panic as I seem to have lost the ability to make a simple decision. Give me a life changing, groundbreaking decision and I’m fine, I can weigh up the pros and cons and come to a decision with little deadlock, but ask me to make a seemingly cinch decision and I’ll tie myself up in knots, deeply procrastinate and throw in a panic attack for good measure.

Last weekend it was choosing a supermarket that put paid to any sort of ‘nice weekend’. I spent, without a word of a lie, two hours, debating which store I was going to go to. Was I going to go to Sainsbury’s and have a look around the homeware? Or should I go to Morrison’s and stick to my fierce new year new me budgeting? Or should I stop wasting money altogether and walk to Aldi? But if I go to Morrison’s I’ll have to pass all the sociable cool people having brunch along the Rye, what if I see someone I know and I haven’t washed my hair or put any make-up on….and so on and so forth it went. In the end I had exhausted myself with all the ridiculous scenarios (I mean who on earth ever sees anyone they know in London?), that leaving the confines of the flat felt like an almighty task, so I settled on going to the Tesco Express at the end of my road and didn’t leave the flat again until Monday morning.

Friday nights are usually cordial; I’ll leave work on time, pick up something nice for dinner, have a bath and throw myself on the couch with Netflix. I’ll have a think about how I’m going to spend my weekend – I’ll vouch that I’m going to do something constructive (like tidy my wardrobe and take all the stuff I don’t wear to the charity shop) and something cultured (visit a museum or art gallery or see a film). I’ll always go to bed on a Friday night thinking that I’m going to make the weekend count, that this is going to be the weekend where I stick to my plans and get out there and do stuff…..and of course that rarely happens.

This Saturday was no exception – the indecisiveness reigned supreme. I was going to go to the Saatchi and have a walk through Battersea Park, mooch around the shops and maybe catch a film. No, actually I was going to go to see an exhibition at the Natural History Museum and walk through Kensington Gardens. Actually on second thoughts I’ll go central and pop to the RA and head to my favourite Picturhouse Central. But what will I see? Where will I have lunch? I need to stay on track with the healthy eating. Actually, should I not just be going to the gym? It will save money and I’ll feel good afterwards. But I could do that on Sunday. I really need to hoover. Perhaps I should just stay home tidy the flat, do some washing and then go to Peckhamplex. Oh but the times don’t really work…..and this went on and on until I caved in and decided that I was just going to stop trying to fight it and would just stay home and watch Netflix – by this point I was drained, my heart felt like it was about to beat out of my chest and the worst headache had descended.

Today however I’m glad to say that I had a small victory when it came to the indecisiveness and apathy – I got on the bus with the Southbank in my sights and had a lovely walk. I mean don’t get me wrong it took some doing, and all the while I was thinking of what I should be doing and where I should be going and whether the two mile walk was enough and whether I should go in to the Tate or not etc, but I did it. It felt a bit uncomfortable, it felt a bit panicky and I wanted to flee a fair few times but I did it; I made a decision and I stuck to it.

It feels really silly writing all this, it seems so utterly incredulous that I can have such meltdowns at the weekend over such trivial things. But I do and I’m sure I’m not the only one (please tell me I’m not?!). I know being ‘indecisive’ is common and that it’s often an excuse for laziness and disinterest but that feeling of not being able to make a simple decision is quite debilitating, the more you try to make a decision the more difficult it becomes and the more you ruminate. I’ve heard quite a few people with anxiety and depression talk about it but I always thought it was an exaggeration and not really a thing; but the last few months have definitely changed that perception.

The funny thing of course is that it all somehow gets washed away come 6.45am on a Monday morning when I get out of bed and start the working week once more and put on the ‘I’m in control’ mask.

“Morning Michelle, how was your weekend?”

“Good thanks, you?”.

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29 thoughts on “Decisions, decisions, decisions

  1. Hi Michelle,

    Hope you are well. Happy New Year also.

    I read your blog whenever you update it. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your stories, as I also struggle with depression and anxiety and I find your blog hugely helpful. So Diolch Yn Fawr.

    I’m currently on a comedy writing course at the BBC and will be on London at the end of the month if you are around. I made a sitcom last year called Halfway, it was selected out of 350 scripts to be developed and filmed got television. That gave me some confidence, but I still struggle. If you want to have a link to the sitcom let me know. I’m currently trying to develop a stand up show about mental health and my troubles, I was going to call it ‘Am I Mental?’.

    Hope you are well.

    Diolch,

    Sion x

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    1. Thanks Sion, definitely let me know when you’re down and we can grab a coffee or something. I’ve watched the sitcom – Mum told me about it. Loved it! Well done. Look forward to hearing more about the stand up show too. Speak soon x

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  2. Hang on, this isn’t making sense. When you’re on Netflix and choose between a plethora of mediocre cinematic options, you don’t get wracked with anxiety at making the ‘wrong choice’, throw the remote down in exasperation, and walk outside to clear your head. And surely you don’t freeze up in terror at your toothpaste bottle, wondering if the toothpaste has been poisoned, thereby neglecting this mundane hygienic task every day.

    In other words, only some choices leave you very anxious while others don’t.

    And if you really think about it, your home life is probably well-organized and isn’t terribly messy (quite unlike a man’s abode). So private space = order and peace, public space = unpredictable and chaotic.

    Imagine for a second that while you were alone and oblivious in your flat, a zombie apocalypse occurred right outside and everyone else on planet earth died off. And then, for some inexplicable reason, the zombies died off. So on a Monday, you walked outside and the whole planet was deserted with only you in it. I’m betting pretty quickly, you wouldn’t have anxiety much longer because you could do whatever you wanted outside without fear of judgment.

    I have a hunch the underlying reason for your anxiety is because you’re afraid of other people and the power other people might have to emotionally hurt you. You want to feel safe in being alone because you’re inoculated against the emotional trauma you’ve experienced in your past, and which you have convinced yourself in your spirit that you are fated to experience time and time again if you are foolish enough to open up your heart. Isn’t that why you keep posting stuff about Miley the dog and that baby? Because you can love them knowing they can’t hurt you?

    What an incredibly sad way to live for the rest of your life. To be plagued by your traumas, to feel progressively lost, to sabotage your closest relationships à la Will Hunting because any potential bereavement isn’t worth it. Is living vicariously through Netflix living at all? Love doesn’t have to end or break, but you’re not interested in that conversation, so whatever.

    The saddest part, and I have a premonition about this, is that you might not even want a life free of anxiety. You’ve probably imbibed so much media, blogs, and research about it that you feel that mental illness is your defining cultural identity now, and you aren’t sure if it’s worth getting rid of. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. If you really want to help people, and get a sense of value and life in doing so, you have an obligation to them as well as yourself to recover. There’s nothing romantic or inspiring about living a tragic situation. A recoverer’s blog would be much more helpful to sufferers than commiseration. This isn’t stage IV cancer – anxiety can be gotten rid of completely. You’ve been given so much love, tangible support, and resources for recovery. If you’re unserious or defeatist about it, then you’re just setting a bad example for other people. In fact, it’s an insult to those who really could use the hope.

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      1. LH, of course it’s accurate. What would be helpful? Saying, “Oh dear, I feel the same way!”? Come on, use common sense. That helps nobody. People have been saying that to her for eons on this blog, and she’s only gotten worse since then. In fact, read this (“4. Beware the reassurance-seeking trap”):
        https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201607/how-help-someone-anxiety

        So why reinforce the anxiety-based neuroses with mollycoddling? She clearly isn’t all right, and unless she enjoys the attention for carrying this cross up Golgotha (which I doubt), she needs to understand that she’s doing nobody a favor in not getting better. Last month, she was blogging about how she felt so lost and hardening up. A very ominous sign. Just imagine, what if she blogs, “I’m thinking of jumping off a bridge”? Is it appropriate to write back, “I’ve had those feelings too! Hang in there, you’re doing great!”? A non-substantive reply isn’t just useless, it’s almost patronizing.

        As for judgmental, why yes, yes it is. In fact, everyone in life is going to form judgments about everyone else they encounter on an interpersonal basis. Immature people get hung up on it. Mature adults understand everyone’s judgments stem from their own life-experiences and biases, accept the ones that they connect with, and reject the rest.

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      2. Simianq – your tone is coming across as rather aggressive and you almost write with the emotional intensity of a spurned lover!

        One of the main tenets of Michelle’s argument in this piece is the inconsistency of action that feeling low can elicit. I think she describes this very well and if others identify with those feelings then that is surely to her credit as a blogger.

        She is not a patient, or damsel In distress, waiting to be rescued by you or anyone else. She’s a young woman in London trying to deal with what life throws at her in the best way she can and being brave enough to share her difficult experiences.

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  3. You are not the only one. Thank you for writing about something that does apply to me too. Like you say, life changing decisions are easy. Mundane ones are really hard and become really stressful and anxiety provoking. Be kind to yourself x

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  4. Thank you for sharing. You have summed up how I feel at weekends so perfectly. Sorry you are going through this but no you’re not alone

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  5. @Michael Snodgrass: My tone is one seeing all these inconsistencies and holes in her narrative and having the cojones to point them out. Believe me, she has been given more than an abundance of resources to meaningfully get better. There are heaps of blogs that even discuss the therapeutic efficacy of various interventions. If she doesn’t want to get better, then that’s on her. Free country, her choices are hers alone to make. But she should not be under any illusion that she’s helping anyone else by fame-whoring off of her anxiety experiences. If she really wanted to help others, she would candidly talk about barriers to support and help (if she can’t access it) so people could help her out, or she would talk about what works and what doesn’t. “Inconsistency of action”, pfft! What a euphemistic way of describing “excuses”. She ought to rename her blog from “You Don’t Look Depressed” to “Come Watch Me Deteriorate”, if we’re being intellectually honest.

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    1. Samian, it doesn’t take ‘cojones’ to fire off a series of increasingly bitter comments on a blog from a cloak of anonymity. I feel genuinely sorry for you if you’ve deluded yourself to believe such nonsense.

      You’re not being brave here, you’re not saying the unsayable. You’re just coming across as a rather sad, pathetic individual – the kind that the internet is unfortunately teeming with.

      Inconsistencies? Narrative holes? I feel you might be better off on the discussion boards of IMDB. In fact, I can recommend an adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis novel you might be able to relate to if you like.

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      1. How am I anonymous if you just said my name?

        But I digress. If you have read some of her off-blog stuff, and followed her on here, the hypocrisies become more and more glaring with time.

        She talks at length about how she feels so lonely and disconnected from other people, at how everyone’s conversations are so banal and lacking in introspection nowadays. Which I agree with. Then she goes on about how people who want to hang out with her are probably just pitying her. In retrospect, that is obviously a red flag (how does she have telepathic powers to know what others’ motives really are?), but hey, who wouldn’t want to give her a big hug and say that’s not true? The way I see it, we’re all human beings, and when another one of us is suffering, it’s natural for all of us to even some basic degree to want to reach out and alleviate some of it. Doesn’t matter if you’re male, female, old, young, gay, straight, black, white, green, aquamarine, whatever. So one would think she spends her Christmases at the pediatric hospital wards passing out homemade cookies to heal from her abandonment issues and sense of alienation from society. After all, she’s got a persona of The Last of the Mohicans-style soft empathetic creature stuck in a cold, cruel, uncaring world. So ask her yourself, which humans has she stepped out of her comfort zone to show compassion to? Or is it all just talk? Love is an action, not a feeling.

        Then she talks about how social media has made things so much worse, how she despises that people put up false fronts and makes her feel like her own life isn’t as glamorous as other people’s lives. All quite understandable. Of course if she had expressed the wisdom in realizing that people’s worthiness is based on their inner soul, their character, their values, rather than what they display to others on social media, that would be terrific. But then she’s on every social media imaginable, which negates every thing she said before. If social media makes you feel that empty and insecure, why bother with it?

        She also writes extensively about how London is so alienating and laments at how the people there aren’t terribly social. In every major population-dense metropolitan area on this planet, it’s like that. The human brain can only actively remember details about 150 people at a time, I recall reading somewhere. Major cities aren’t “family friendly”, the cosmopolitan vibe is for those who prefer a faster lifestyle. Everyone knows this. The thing is, London isn’t a North Korean labor camp. Nobody is forcing her to live there if it isn’t a right fit for her. There are so many wonderful towns and small cities in Wales (dw i’n dysgu Cymraeg, so I’m biased) where she would feel the interconnectedness and sense of belonging she craves. Why doesn’t she just move already than suffer?

        I actually air-mailed her Christmas presents, nonetheless, because if she seriously was all alone and suffering with not a soul in the world to care, maybe I could prove her wrong. It didn’t make any difference. Which shows she only cares about people in the abstract, not as real human beings. If you’re going to turn your life into a glorified soap opera, how can you act surprised when people get emotionally invested in it and don’t want a sad ending to it? And it goes back to what I said before, I do have a hunch that if her anxiety/depression disappeared overnight she might end up a little bit sad about it since she could no longer be a world-famous blogger getting heartfelt sympathies and would be back to being an ordinary civilian.

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    2. Ah, now I understand.

      You could probably have saved us all some time and just said “I air-mailed some Christmas presents to someone I don’t know and didn’t receive a thank you card, and now I feel a little silly so I’m going to convince myself that the problem here is her being a bad person, and definitely not the fact that I totally overstepped the mark (almost certainly not for the first time either), because that would require some introspection that I’m not comfortable with”

      Cool.

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      1. Cool indeed.

        Talk about bitter – these are the self-aggrandised ramblings of a disturbed man who’s (rightly) been spurned for behaviour worthy of a B-rate stalker.

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      2. Overstepped the mark? She was the one saying nobody cared about her as a real human being. Hindsight is 20/20, I didn’t know she was narcissistically coming up with a sad tale for sympathy.

        Believe me, I don’t care what anyone else thinks about me, and I won’t waste time on ad hominems. The bottom line of this story is that if someone is uninterested in changing to no longer be lonely, then they shouldn’t whine about being lonely. What exactly do you want people to do for you? If nothing, then at least be honest and say being a martyr is enjoyable.

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    3. Yes, overstepped the mark.

      Have a sit down pal, let me hit with you a couple of home truths. Going to the effort of tracking down someone’s address to send them gifts just because you read their blog is not cute. It’s not friendly. It’s creepy, and a total invasion of privacy.

      You might claim that it was done with only the purest of intentions, but the mask has slipped. Your incredibly bitter comments here show as much. You tried the white knight routine, it wasn’t appreciated, and now you’re very, very angry. I hope you might learn a lesson from this, but I have a feeling you’re the kind of person who’s incapable of even contemplating that they might be in the wrong.

      Lastly (buckle up, this might be a mindblower) – maybe she isn’t actually expecting anyone who reads her blog to do anything at all for her? Maybe she just puts it up because she genuinely wants people in the same situation to feel (if even for just a few brief moments) that someone else is going through the same thing?

      Samian, this might be alien to you, but occasionally people do nice things without expecting a reward at the end of it. Crazy, right?

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      1. Okay Paul, let me put it to you this way so it can put your mind at ease on my intentions: She shouldn’t be in a relationship with anyone in her condition. Look at what she did to the poor, poor Tom (the real victim of this story, I think). He was more of a white knight than I could ever be, and she left him because she felt lonely. 100% Cotton got rewarded with 100% abandonment. Perpetual adolescents act according to feelings, decent adults act according to values. Imagine if she had a 4 year-old daughter, then got tired of changing diapers and feeding her, and felt lonely and bored so decided to run off with a rockstar. Is it worth risking the trauma to a little child in order to act on one’s self-centeredness? I think not. You can try to spin this into an ad hominem attack on me, but I’ve been clear on my case.

        If she doesn’t expect anyone to do anything for her, then she should understand that people who feel the same way may need hope and guidance so they don’t keep on feeling that way. I’ve already discussed this in a previous comment. What is “bitter” to you is me being forthright and saying how frustrating it is that she won’t take tangible steps to get better, and how demoralizing and hurtful her suffering is to people who care.

        Anyway, I am done posting on this blog. She’s got her thing going for her, and she alone is in control of her own destiny. I’m at peace with speaking my mind, so I’m out!

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    4. Your intentions are blindingly obvious – you couldn’t have made it clearer that you’d happily swim the Atlantic blindfolded if there was the faintest whiff of the possibility of oooh, I dunno, attending a Florence And The Machine gig with her or something.

      Anyway, next Welsh lesson for you – cer i
      grafu.

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      1. Assume what you want, at least I have the peace of mind knowing I didn’t let her get worse with empty platitudes. Like I said, I’m done.

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  6. Dear Michelle,
    I don’t think we’ve actually ever met, but my partner showed me your blog because I’ve been struggling lately with anxiety and depression. Reading your words make me feel less alone, and offer me hope at this time where I don’t quite understand myself. Thank you for sharing your insights and observations.. please don’t listen or take on board some of the other comments written. You do more good than you realise. xx

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    1. Thank you so much for getting in touch – I’ve worked out who your partner is! I think we may have met very very briefly at one of his shows in Manchester many moons ago. Sorry to hear you are struggling but glad you are finding some of what I say useful, sometimes (yesterday especially) I doubt whether anyone takes anything from it, but reading this has really helped me today. The fact you are talking about how you feel is such a massive step and one which isn’t easy at all; not being able to understand yourself is scary but take it from me, there will come a time when you look back on this time and see how far you have come. It’s a massive cliché I know and forgive me for using it but, sometimes we have to go through the lows to appreciate the highs, so just remember that. I’ll drop D a message and hopefully we can meet properly some time. If you need anyone to talk to, do drop me an email, I may not have all the answers but sometimes it’s just good to talk to someone who gets it. Take care xxx

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  7. Not normally one for commenting on blogs, but this was such a eureka moment for me! Whenever I’m having a bad period with my anxiety and depression, I’ve always felt like making any decision completely knackers me out and it’s always been particularly acute at weekends. I’ve always blamed it on long weeks at work, the need to chill out etc.. I’ve always felt that extra veil of tiredness weigh quite heavy on my when I’m at my lowest but this makes a load of sense and I identify with it completely. You’re definitely not the only one.

    Keep going, and ignore the weird and unhelpful comments!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Michelle

    Yes, some odd comments back on this piece but, like walking past a cafe with no make-up, this an opinion which, since its not yours and is also not a statement of fact, frankly doesn’t matter to you.

    And like most other commentors on this piece, I also recognized what you write but neither have the courage, candor or eloquence to state it. I think I see 2 parts to what you describe

    1. Wanting to do things with other people but also not wanting to at the same time
    2. Wanting to do things but unsure what to do or to decide what to do

    Personally, no 1, is a big issue for me because, all through the work week, I feel besieged by too many people which seem to drain me of energy. I like the adrenaline of being with people but, fundamentally I find it exhausting which shows up later. Perhaps the energy of an introvert trying to be actively social?

    No2? Usually out of energy from No1 to want to do much at all or have ideas of what to do

    But I recognize what you write of from earlier in my life. The good news is that you seem packed with energy enough to come up with a great load of ideas. And that’s seriously good news! The bad news is that your brain has ways of confusing you or pulling you in different directions. I got out of this by seeing anxiety as separate from depression. Its almost about not wanting to care so much. Id like to say I got there by taking on a new philosophy but I sort of happened upon it through a change of medication to an older medicine called Anafranil/Tofranil.

    Books Ive come across that help though
    1. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k: How to stop spending time you don’t have doing things you don’t want to do with people you don’t like by Sarah Knight

    In an intelligent but shouty way it helps put a sort of value to choices you face and it also shows you how to manage other people’s opinions and not being beholden to them

    2. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
    https://dailystoic.com/meditations-marcus-aurelius/

    A Roman Emperor, once the most powerful man in the world, in a time when the Empire was under constant challenge. He wrote a daily journal on his thoughts with an amazing candor. Faced with constant challenges and choices on a daily basis, and of the severity which would induce anyone into wild anxiety and panic, I found this thoughts useful in reducing my anxiety as well

    Nowhere close to your eloquence and not intended as a prescription for you or others but I wanted to tell you how I shared the same feelings and have since come to manage it a bit better. Now onto tackling point 1…..

    A

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    1. Thank you for the helpful response, very much appreciated. I’ll definitely have a look at these books. I always appreciate people getting in touch and making positive suggestions and realising how complicated these things are despite how simple they may appear. I completely concur about point 1 – if you manage to figure it out, do let me know! Thanks again.

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  9. I totally understand this too, I’ve been unemployed for nearly a year now, partly due to my own mental health problems and not having work has been so hard and that indecisiveness and struggle to actually work out what to do with my time has been really hard. I’ve realised I probably spent too much time and energy on/in my workplace but a big part of that was simply that it gave me something to do and kept my on a kind of autopilot that meant I didn’t have to worry so much about figuring out how to actually do/live properly.
    I’ve got no clue on how to improve the situation, sorry, just fwiw I totally empathise with this post and appreciate you sharing something that really difficult to articulate x

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  10. Hi Michelle, just wanted to leave a quick comment to say thank you for creating this blog. I read the BBC article that led me to your blog, I really identify. I am always inspired to read about people who are speaking out more openly about mental health issues. Well done. I will be reading your blog regularly now. The one thing I read recently that helped me with my own loneliness was that rather than seeking out new connections with others (there is a pressure and a lot of social anxiety around that and a fear of rejection that I struggle with) you can try to improve your relationship with yourself – try to do activities that you get enjoyment from every day, building up lots of short term happiness which can lead to longer term contentment. Good luck.

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  11. Hi Michelle,

    I have just read the BBC article and linked to your blog.

    I can very much relate to the issues of the weekend, the can seem very long and lonely. I often spend the whole weekend home alone in my pyjamas, struggling to even get washed and dressed. The weekend approaching fills me with dread and like you I welcome a Sunday evening with the thought of returning to work on Monday.

    I enjoy both my job and the fact I am surrounded by people; it’s then hard to go home to the loneliness / quietness.

    I have enjoyed reading you blog and to know I am not alone in these thoughts. I am 33 with a good job, nice house and financial security to enjoy exotic holidays etc so people think I am happy and how could I be suffering from mental health issues. It’s hard to talk when others think you have the ‘perfect life’.

    Thanks for sharing x

    Like

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