Dear Diary

April 23, 2014

Happy birthday, Naomi. ♥

Naomi

I am staring at a blank page, something that I’ve done every Sunday for two and a half years. I am more fulfilled as a person than I have ever been, but somehow that makes it harder to write. When I started writing my weekly diaries for Rookie, I was still haunted by the depression I’d had the summer before. I had just turned 16 and it hadn’t been very sweet.

I thought you were meant to know much more at the age of 16 than I did. I had felt the same way about turning 15, 14, 13, etc. Every 24th April I knew less, had less, than I thought I should. By 16, I thought I should have life pretty much figured out; the fact that I didn’t, I believed, meant I would never be successful or content. Instead I was spending all my time at home, unhappy and tired.

Rookie, this brand new baby of a creation, was the light at the end of that summer tunnel. I read Tavi’s call for submissions as an opportunity to be involved in something special for once, instead of just watching from the sidelines. When I think of that moment, I see a blank grey slate with a few flowers beginning to grow. I got to write about my slow crawl out of agoraphobia, my building back up from the dirt of my life, my numerous “firsts” after being so sheltered for so long, my falling a bit apart again, and finally my move to a new city, full of new firsts. Today, I can say I’ve never been more proud of myself.

I think I needed to leave home for a while to learn to actually look after myself. I had to remove myself from the damaging cycles that were so easy to get caught up in while sitting stagnant in the same house I’d lived in for 13 years. I couldn’t have become an adult if I had stayed home, having Mum to make my doctors’ appointments, buy my food, pick up my prescriptions.

Those prescriptions—my antidepressant, my birth-control pill—are the main reason I have to remember to make my own appointments at my new health centre in London. I always forget till the last minute and stress at the thought of ringing the centre at 8:45 in the morning to see if there have been any cancellations. But I always manage to do it. Then I walk to the pharmacy, brandishing that green slip of paper as if to say, “I am not ashamed of people knowing that I have my own type of malady; I am treating it, and I am treating it by myself.” There is no one to hold my hand.

If I do ever need someone to hold my hand, it’s usually Erica. When I arrived a few days late to student halls, she opened the door of her flat and said, “Things have been happening!” We went to her bedroom straightaway and that was that. Instant friendship. And that was really when my life began. My favourite activity is still flopping down on her bed, where it’s OK to be quiet.

My most precious possession is my Oyster card, for the train. It is mine, it has my name on it, and it makes going anywhere in London so simple. I like to keep the things that could flare up my agoraphobia as simple as possible. I have gone back and forth between Birmingham and London more times than I can remember, but every journey is different. Though I am beginning to memorize the order of particular landmarks by the tracks—power stations, bridges, wind turbines, fields of yellow and caravan parks—my feelings are not as reliable. Every time I come back home something new has happened: People who are new become old, but old people become something new. Trust shifts, I have different things to talk about, different things to laugh about. All the way back and forth on the train, I am constantly weighing what to love and what to hate. What is right and what is wrong. But answers are not what I am looking for.

My happiness is much more invested in people now that I don’t spend all my time alone. I don’t trust falling in love, but I trust friendship way more than I ever thought I could. I still feel a shadow of my agoraphobic past from time to time, and I still remember acutely what it feels like to be paralyzed by anxiety. Sometimes I can move on from those thoughts easily; sometimes my face tenses when I remember my worst moments. But then I go outside for fresh air, or tell Erica, or get on the next train to see St. Paul’s or Tower Bridge or the National Gallery. I’ll buy flowers and put them on my windowsill, or rearrange my bedroom and feel renewed.

Or we’ll go out, like we do, and I’ll dance with lovers and strangers and bestow kisses on those I have no romantic feeling for, but want to protect from the bottom of my heart. I want to protect them from themselves, because I know how much harm one person can do to their own skin and bones. If only I could reach out more to other people and teach them what I know. But I also know that a person can only ever help themselves.

I’ve always been a person that has worth, though for a long time I allowed myself to be convinced otherwise. But I am going to be 20 years old tomorrow, and the optimistic me will not let bad things define me anymore. I’ve had years of experience being tormented—I think that’s enough to be going on with. I am not the same person I was. I’ve grown and grown.

Life is more fun now. Life is happier without hatred—of oneself or of people and their actions. It’s good to realise that they are just living their lives too.

I don’t know whether any of this says anything, or enough of what I have to say. Whenever someone related to any of my diaries, it gave me a rush. It felt good to be reminded that what I feel is real, and that other people feel the same. That is perhaps the best thing about living in a community like this one.

Turning 20 means I won’t be writing these diaries for Rookie anymore. I remember one of things I wrote to Tavi the first time was that I had “a lot to say.” I have too much to say. I hope it has been enough. ♦

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20 Comments

  • thebrownette April 23rd, 2014 8:06 PM

    Welcome to the wonderful world of moshpits, Britney. Keep your shoes tied tight and your spirits high.

  • emseely April 23rd, 2014 8:16 PM

    Naomi!!! I love your diary and have been reading it as I grew up alongside you. thank you for sharing, and I’m hoping you’ll be writing other stuff for Rookie soon? Please?

  • die_mad April 23rd, 2014 8:25 PM

    Naomi, thank you for sharing your life with us! Your diary gave me hope that one day i’ll find my niche in the world like you’re doing. You are so brave and strong, and I feel lucky to ‘know’ you a little through these diaries.
    Please don’t leave Rookie! much love.

  • Floraposte April 23rd, 2014 8:55 PM

    Thank you, Marah, for giving me a healthy dose of perspective.

    • tasmia April 23rd, 2014 9:40 PM

      seconded. you’re in my thoughts, Marah!

  • ColoredSoft April 23rd, 2014 10:02 PM

    Happy birthday, Naomi~
    Stay strong, Marah!!!!

  • honorarygilmoregal April 23rd, 2014 11:37 PM

    Naomi, I will miss your diary entries!

  • alxwx April 23rd, 2014 11:37 PM

    Thank you so much Naomi, because your diary has given me so much hope. I’ve always been able to relate to what you’re saying because I’ve had some of the same issues, and it’s been really inspiring to see how you’ve overcome them. It gives me optimism for the future and I’ll really miss your weekly entries.

  • 3LL3NH April 24th, 2014 3:18 AM

    Marah: Hope you get there. I admire your spirit. And I love hearing about you, even though so many things are hard, because you don’t often hear about those who are swept along in revolutions, but your story matters a lot.

    Britney: I loved that quote and I loved your words, and the way you put them together. Punk has a lot of life to it, the good kind.

    Naomi: You have been beautiful. Your entries have given me hope more than anything, that something other than loneliness and being all caught up inside my own head is possible. I like your light.

    Caitlin: Socks are underrated and brilliant <3

    I didn't realize Rookie had been here that long, adding to my life. It feels like it's always been here. I'm grateful.

  • owl be there for you April 24th, 2014 8:46 AM

    Totally get the anxiety stuff (have it pretty bad myself) and so true about wanting to help others but knowing that they can only help themselves. I love this entry a lot.

  • signette April 24th, 2014 9:10 AM

    Naomi, I remember reading your first diary all the way back when Rookie was just at its very beginnings. You’re only a few months older than me, and every wednesday, on and off over time, I would read your diaries and occasionally cry with relief at how much your experiences could relate to my own. I still keep my own diaries from when I was 8 years old and unable to leave the house from anxiety, when I was 13 and racked with self-hatred, when I was 17 and discovered just how much one person could hurt another, and how lying to my therapist got me nowhere. I keep these to remind me where I came from. Last year I travelled overseas (I’m from australia) entirely alone, and this year I moved to a new city to start university alone. I am so glad life is more fun for you now too. You have seriously said so much. It is more than enough.

  • iwentfaraway April 24th, 2014 9:58 AM

    Marah, stay strong. Life takes lots of turns, and I can assure you that the things that you’re going through now are shaping you to become an even more wonderful person! Hugs from a girl in Venezuela.

  • WitchesRave April 24th, 2014 2:05 PM

    Naomi:

    I used to sneak onto Rookie during school to read the dairy entries on Thursdays in computer class, mastering how to switch from ECDL to Rookie in .7 seconds when my teacher walked by! Anyway, I was 15 and struggling with depression and anxiety, and I have to say honestly, your writing really helped me feel normal, like I had someone my age who understood what it felt like.

    Now I’m 18, and in a month I’ll have graduated secondary school, and I can wholeheartedly say I am happy and nearly anxiety-free. I too have grown so much from that girl in the computer room.

    Anyway, just wanted to say thank you and good luck for the future!

  • EmilyJn April 24th, 2014 2:22 PM

    <3 <3 <3 Love u Nome from your Erica <3 <3

  • rhymeswithorange April 24th, 2014 6:06 PM

    Naomi, I have loved reading your writing, thank you for always being so honest!

  • Viaperson April 24th, 2014 7:58 PM

    Naomi – HAPPY birthday and thank you for all the beautiful writing!!! Though I know it must be ridiculous to hear, you’ve been an inspiration, and I hope we get to keep reading your writing on Rookie.

  • Viaperson April 24th, 2014 8:01 PM

    Oh Marah, I hurt you. Your spirit is so strong and beautiful — keep your dreams in your heart and know that you are strong enough to reach them. Sending you a LOT of love from the US — you deserve all the beauty and success and joy this world has to offer <3

    • Viaperson April 24th, 2014 8:01 PM

      OOPS – i meant “I hurt for you”! Hahaha sorry all.

  • Tavi April 25th, 2014 12:18 PM

    Oh Naomi, this has me in tears. It’s so weird to remember your first email and so wondrous to think about everything that’s happened since then…dragging this into my “faith in life + love” folder BTW. Love you.

  • amanda April 27th, 2014 2:50 AM

    I’m really gonna miss Naomi’s diaries! I related to her a lot. Hope she keeps writing for Rookie :)