Dear Diary

March 5, 2014

Streams of self-consciousness.


I hardly journal anymore—I’ve been turning to letters instead. So on Friday I emailed my mum and dad:

Hey folks, Mama and Papa, etc. etc.,

I’ve had a weird day, one of those days where it’s easier to have minimal outside-world contact—but I’ve been OK. DON’T WORRY OK?

Anyway, I’ve been reading a lot of stuff today, and I read through Dad’s emails and found one that he sent just after I got to university. It made me emotional, because when I came to uni, I wanted to be like everyone else—I made a conscious decision to tell as few people as possible about my history/mental health, etc. And that’s why it’s hard on days like today. Even with the people I have trusted enough to tell, Erica especially, it’s really hard to vocalise it, because they’ve never experienced those dark days with me. But you two have. So I wish I had you to pat me on the back and tell me I am doing well. Because I am doing well: I am in London, and I go to lectures and galleries on my own. But in my desire to be “normal” and to treat myself no differently than I would anyone else, I rarely acknowledge the fact that I have achieved so much.

Dad’s email reminded me how strong I am. I don’t tell myself that enough. I tell myself I SHOULD be doing this, I SHOULD be doing that, that life should be a breeze.

Uni has taught me that life is hardly a breeze for anyone. This makes me feel somewhat better, but worse at the same time. I am not “special”—other people get sad and have loads of shit to deal with too. But then I think that I should be better at dealing with my shit.

The past is always sort of there. I carry it around with me, and it makes me feel distant from some people. The memories are the worst. I cried a bit this evening, and it was sort of a happy cry because I realised I am here despite how shit last summer was. It was SHIT. And I have to find ways to deal with the fact that it was shit. I have to accept that it was shit. I have to accept that there has been a lot of shit in the past. And being in the past doesn’t mean it has gone away.

But other people only see what I am now. This is a complete catch-22, because that is how I want to be seen—it is more who I really am—but there are reasons why I feel or act the way I do sometimes. In fact, all of my past is the whole reason I am who I am NOW. I can’t separate the two. I can’t separate the two. How can I get them to be friends with each other?

I have been trying to remind myself that my anxiety is not my fault. It is an illness that I actually take medication to control, and I still can’t control lit 100 percent of the time. I live with it every single day, I am reminded of it every single day—it is part of my life. I am OK with that. But it is not the same as “just being sad.” It is not just an emotion that other people experience regularly. They might get a taste of it every now and again, but to put myself on the same playing field with everyone else does me a disservice. I need to remember that. I need to give myself a break.

There is more I wanted to write, but I am tired. My main point was actually going to be to thank you both for being there through all of that. Making a fresh start and having new friends is such a pleasure, but they don’t know me like you do. They just don’t know. And that is incredibly frustrating sometimes.

So this makes me miss you and also reminds me how much I love you and how much you have done for me.

Lots of love,


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  • Rhiannon March 5th, 2014 7:40 PM

    Dear Naomi,

    When I first got to uni (I’ve left now, long story, but I’m going back) I felt exactly the same – I wanted to fit in but at the same time be my own person and have people around me who would pick me up every time I was down like my family would, but a lot of the time I found that most girls around me on my corridor had their own shit to deal with, and frankly a lot of it seemed more serious than mine. That made me question whether I had the right to be sad at all and occasionally whether they cared, which they did, but at uni everyone goes into it initially alone and in the long run, you need to deal with things on your own. I’ve realised this now and it took a while. I also agree with your comment about your parents being the people who understand you the most – old friends are somewhat distant, new friends are quite, well, new and parents are fab. Mine work a lot so I often end up wanting to talk to them all evening and at some point they have to break the news that they’re making a cuppa and going to bed.

    How do you find studying in London?
    Is it as expensive as everyone thinks it is?

  • jestoon425 March 5th, 2014 9:07 PM

    Naomi – As a fellow anxiety sufferer, and someone who just overcame his third extended “rough period,” I would just like to say what an incredibly brave young woman you are. As someone who deals with it daily, I know how difficult functioning normally, and coping with day-to-day stresses, that would normally be mangageable, can be. I don’t know the extent of your anxiety, but it sounds like it got pretty bad. I know how it makes you feel like quitting. Don’t. The best way to deal with anxiety, is to force yourself to push through it (though im sure you know this already). I know this sounds cliched, but when youre having a panic attack, just remind yourself “This soon will pass” in your head. It always passes eventually
    I wish you all the best,

  • strawberryhair March 6th, 2014 1:53 PM

    Caitlin, your diary is so beautiful and I really relate to it. I guess the good thing about growing up is that you can identify more fully with other characters? <3

  • crapbag March 9th, 2014 5:54 AM

    Wow Naomi, your piece really hits home for me and especially this week!!
    Last year I decided to move to another city by myself to study, and it turned out to be pretty great, heck I thought I’d almost seen the last of my anxiety. I decided at the end of last year, after the great victory of somewhat overcoming my anxiety, I’d move to another, bigger city, with a more challenging, yet rewarding degree. However Mr. anxiety has reared his ugly head again to remind me I don’t own shit and I’m not in control.
    It’s gotten to a point where I feel I have to leave and maybe sort myself out before continuing on my journey. This has led me to justify to everyone (and myself a bit, I suppose) that anxiety isn’t my fault, I can’t always control it and no.1 (you totally hit it on the head!!!) it isn’t a fleeting emotion everyone gets, it’s like a full time job.
    Even though leaving feels like giving up (and no one feels the sting of failure more than someone with anxiety) but I think it might be the best thing for me, to tackle my anxiety in a more relaxed environment where I have support if I need it. Hopefully later on this year, or next I’ll continue my study, with maybe more confidence and better ways to deal with my anxiety. Sorry for the long spiel, was just somewhat relieved to hear someone relates with me.
    Also, good on you Naomi, you should be totally proud of yourself!!! It’s a big, scary thing for anyone, let alone, someone with anxiety. I hope things start to get easier for you soon!!