Lipstick is My Armour
Written by Samantha Ferguson
This is my second post for Depression Army; and I would like to thank all the readers for their overwhelming response to my introductory post. Not only was it a huge personal achievement to write and publish such an honest piece; but the support has made it even more beneficial. God bless you all.
"Life: knocks you down repeatedly; but can also save you, greatly. That's a vital lesson I've learnt this year."
Six months ago, I would have never thought that I could be where I am right now. I've straightened my hair, whacked on some lippy, taken a risk with some brand new ankle boots—that I cannot walk in—and some sparkly top. My God, I look girly again. I'm wondering what drink to order, where to sit, and most importantly, if I will know anyone.
Right this second, I am about to walk into a huge restaurant full of professionals; to share curry and conversation about social work. I can feel my knees trembling and my mind working overtime to convince me that “YES, I am going to fall flat on my face any second!”
I'm queuing to greet the host whilst vigorously checking my purse over and over again. If I can control the environment, I will fit in. Well, that's what I tell myself.
Six months ago, I stopped going out as much as I used to. I stopped dressing up. I hated everything about myself. I thought I actually started to hate myself. I could see why others would hate me, too. It finally made sense as to why I felt so alone. Of course, this was all in my mind. Life had knocked me down. Stomped on me. Roughed me up around the edges. Pulled at my seams. I tried to cope but in actual fact it wasn't that I didn't know how to get "back up on my feet"; rather I physically couldn't. When the lights went out, nights scared me. Feelings scared me. Until life forced me to LIVE, to find my purpose.
I was on my own. Hurt. Isolated. Alone. I know now that I had a strong bracelet of people around me. Gold. Pure gold hearts. But at the time I couldn't reach into that reality. It was too rich.
So, as the saying goes, I was forced to glue myself back together. I realized that no one else was going to do it for me. I was forced to "carry on". My job was important. I had to keep going. So, I finally heard a voice inside of me asking for help. I think it’s the best thing that I could have done for myself. I saved myself. I spoke out loud everything that was in my head. I started my blog. I started therapies. Just as I felt like the darkness was going to eat me up, I ate my toast and drank my tea. My job, my responsibilities, were important to me. That was my purpose—if only for now. Other people needed me when I didn't want myself. That was my strength.
After wiping away tears and leaving my pajamas behind, I put on lipstick and faced another day. I spoke to my colleagues. I spoke to my friends. I spoke to my dad. And I felt alive.
I finally felt alive.
So what was I going to do to prove I was alive? I knew my strength lied within my professional duty so that's where I started. I signed into the guest list for a Social Care curry evening. And that's where I am right now.
I'm sat with six people I have never met before. I've decided to stick to water so I don't have to double check my purse, walk to the bar (looking like Bambi in these heels) and simply because water is the best when you feel like you can't breathe. I decide to ask people where they work and focus on talking about similar interests so that I don't have to talk so much about myself. I carefully plate up my food from the selection in front of me, ignoring the visions of me with curry down my shirt and/or throwing up on the man beside me. Then, almost out of nowhere, a past tutor hugs me. I feel safe. Welcomed. Part of the room. In touch with reality. The other side of the glass. Anxiety all gone.
I realised that no matter what is going on inside your head: good, bad, ugly, reality is still yours. That moment was mine—all be it, shared, but my memory to keep nonetheless. I realised that there was life around me and pouring out of me. Even if it didn't feel like it. So on my way home I told myself “Samantha, you are going to do this more often. You have proven you can do it. Now you have no excuses.”
Since then, I've made great steps to organise social activities; clear out my wardrobe and start fresh, become closer to 'Samantha' who seems so far away. Okay, so I may not have made huge steps or huge changes, more like baby steps in reality, but a world away from the past. That's what I truly feel in my heart. I'm proud of myself. I can say that now and not feel guilty, foolish, ashamed, or like I'm attention-seeking.
Let me tell you that it's okay to say we are proud of ourselves for making steps. It's okay to take one step and then three huge steps back. A step is a step. For each step we take, we know we are alive. And if we are alive, then we are on our way to our future.