I cried a lot in 2012 – FAR more than my normal cry-quota allowance for a typical year. No one died, thankfully, but I did feel loss, estrangement and despair. In fact, I wanted to die and had convinced my foolish little self that I was headed directly to Suicide City.
All my problems with life merged into one, big, Godzilla of a problem. For one, I was 23 and single. Two, I had a job I loathed to the point where I’d wake up in the morning and mock-curse that I hadn’t died in my sleep. Three, I didn’t want to be in Ireland anymore – all my close friends are away in Korea, Edinburgh and Spain, and some of those friends and myself have already lost touch. It depressed me.
But I didn’t self-harm or drink, or do drugs to compensate for my loneliness. No. I’m too frightened of the heavy stuff. You might be breathing a sigh of relief at this, but it left me hating myself even more; I’m such a fucking spa, I can’t even do out-of-control well enough. I had and still have huge confidence issues. It goes all the way back to my mother scolding me for something and getting impatient with me when I stammered, and to my time in secondary school where I let the fat kid bully me and the hot guy spit on me. I don’t think I’ll ever recover from those years.
So in 2012 when I undertook my MA in journalism I was struck down with anxiety at having to deal with the fact that I truly saw myself as a good-for-nothing, never-gonna-make-it, idiot. I had convinced myself I couldn’t write, couldn’t do a tap. But the years of toiling away stacking shelves and confronting horrible customers daily spurred me on to apply to DIT. To this day I still think trying to write, even if the outcome of my soul searching is shit, is better than offing myself. Wouldn’t you agree? (I should hope so!)
In January of last year I sought out my college counsellor. I couldn’t digest my food and I had lost a bit too much weight for my liking. I also felt queasy much of the time. We talked about my issues with retail, the bullying I’ve received from a number of people over the years, the fact that I hate myself for being so nice, why I’m afraid to travel, and why after falling in love for the first time, the rejection nearly killed me. We made it through six months of me crying. I always left her office bin piled high with tissue.
Fast forward to winter 2012:
- I finished my dissertation on female journalists in conflict zones, an unplanned feminist analysis of wimmin in war zones.
- I got moved to another department in work because I told my HR manager (err, broke down and blubbered to her seems more accurate) I just couldn’t take life anymore if she didn’t help me out.
- I realised that if you fall in love with someone in an instant it’s pretty likely you’ll fall out of love with them eventually.
By December I had made great efforts to move on. I left my retail job of nearly five years, and moved to SpunOut towers in Temple Bar. SpunOut is a youth charity dedicated to empowering 16-25 year olds. It seemed like a job I not only wanted, but personally needed. The different work environment is unlike any other place I’ve heard of; shared management, everyone needs to get on this.
My name is Aileen Donegan, I’m a sub-editor for SpunOut. Well, this statement sent my heart racing in a way that made me so thankful I’m still alive.
It took me such a long time to realise just how depressed I had been. I didn’t realise it when I walked through the aisles of Dunnes Stores numbed between the ears. I didn’t realise it when I got too drunk at a party and told the nearest human being how much I longed to kill myself but couldn’t muster up the confidence to do it. I didn’t realise it when I went to a job interview lackluster and morose because that guy I fell in love with – and barely speak to now – took me seriously when I said (in a fit of drama) “I don’t think we should talk anymore.”
I didn’t realise how depressed I had been until now, in January 2013, when I feel the happiest I have ever felt because I found a counsellor who helped, and got a job I love.
Here’s to a great 2013, lads.