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Project Love -Pls Read A.Cs- by julietcaesar Project Love -Pls Read A.Cs- by julietcaesar
Sorry for the poor quality; taking this left handed on my right arm is not exactly easy. But the message is more important.

Standing here today, reflecting over the past year, and especially over the past few months, it is a joy to realise that despite what life could throw at me I am still alive, that I am still living every moment. My battles are by no means over, and perhaps some of them are ones that will be lifelong. But in each battle I find the will to bite back, whether through indulging in the things that give my life meaning, or through my favourite medium of expression: writing. These things keep me alive and sane. These things define who I am.

I still remember the first day of 2010, its key details vivid as though I had experienced them yesterday. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep after the New Year fireworks, or waking up to a hot day cooking pikelets on a hot stove, or dipping our toes in the swimming pool, but that day struck me as strangely peaceful, as a snapshot of everything before it changed. Friends for instance, whom I thought I would get to know better, now fading into the distance. Cooling off lazily in summer without a care for the school year beginning again in the coming weeks. They happened, but during the darker days I thought they were all illusions. Things that would never happen to me again.

The warning signs first appeared during school, building up as stress as increasing workloads made it hard for me to cope initially. On top of that, I was feeling somewhat alienated at school, and I felt extremely awkward in social situations. In fact, I had always felt this for years; it would not be until months later that I discovered I have social phobia/social anxiety disorder, and I only found this out through dA. Realising this was bittersweet, for I had finally realised what I'm feeling IS a real problem, and is not just some phase, but at the same time I felt it set me apart even further from the people I tried to communicate with.

Meanwhile, at school, family pressures including my mother's expectations of what I should be doing now that I was at a senior level of high school started to press down on me, and finally culminated in an argument one early morning before my English Extension exam. Completely shaken, I could not stop crying and had to leave the examination room, when the teacher half gave up on me trying to get me to do the exam and advised me to visit a counsellor. I didn't. Ultimately, I managed to resit the exam and reconciled briefly with my mother, but while it felt like an isolated incident at the time, I still dwell on it from time to time, purely because I felt it was the trigger for how I was going to feel. And it was.

Because when the term ended, the feelings of sadness and hopelessness did not go away. In the first week of the holidays, I was glad just to leave the house in order to go to philosophy lectures, but as soon as I came back I just started crying all over again. My parents never knew a thing. I hid it well. And when the next term started I was just so miserable that people kept asking what was wrong. And I put up a brave face and said I was fine, I was fine. I wasn't fine. The exams and assignments built up on me. Realising I was going to fail an exam on one day, since I had not studied for it, I deliberately stayed home and wouldn't go to school. Eventually my parents sent me to the doctor, and he made me take the K10 test, the universal test for depression. I scored 40/50, which classed me as extremely depressed. Suggestions to visit a psychiatrist started to float around my head. I stood my ground for a few more weeks. In those few weeks, my condition steadily grew worse, as I contemplated suicide in school lessons, constantly had tears in my eyes and withdrew to myself completely. I especially had recurring urges to jump in front of a train, because I had remembered a boy from my school doing the exact same thing last year, to escape from his depression. I had to physically hold onto something during those moments because I was scared that I might actually do it, even though for all my suicidal thoughts I was one who could never really bring myself to do it. It was a small irremovable part of me that deep down would not let me go.

Finally, on 6 June 2010, after a demoralising chemistry lesson, I finally consented to visiting the psychiatrist. I left school early and had the appointment. The initial consultation only revealed what I had already guessed for so long, that I had major depression (moderate). And so began the fortnightly sessions, as I tried to hang onto everything that was crumbling. As I tried to hang on to what I used to be.

More and more, dA intervened to be my saviour. The friends I made on dA cheered me up more than any of real life friends could ever do. To be honest, I don't really blame them since I don't say anything much to them nowadays; I just felt they would never understand how I feel and I thought people on dA understand me better than those in real life. In particular, there was one very special friend whom I feel extremely lucky to have met. Although six years and an ocean divides us, we were as close as sisters could be. Over time we have sent each other gifts of words and objects and each of them are never far away from me. Of course, my involvement with dA during this time has faced much criticism from friends in real life, but I had not let that faze me. With each year I have been on dA, I have been increasingly more involved, and I know this year has been the most worthwhile year to date being on deviantART. :heart:

Nevertheless, while I found a most precious support base on dA :heart:, a pool of encouragement I can dip into when I needed to, I still had to come to terms with the problems I had to face in real life. dA was a wonderful distraction, and a wonderful place to be, but ultimately it will not be, or it will not solely be my long-term solution to a long-term problem. My sessions with my psychiatrist decreased my anger and hurt and gave me some useful advice to think about and apply to in real life. Through these sessions, I have come to realise that speaking aloud and unafraid on issues that we are so willing to turn a blind eye to is a powerful way for me to break the silence that had trapped me for so long. So I did. I once spoke about my experiences to a group I didn't know. I wrote often about my own experiences and posted them on dA. I even started speaking a little more about it to my friends. But on that front it still remains a struggle, and in my eyes it is a mixed blessing, because while I felt abandoned during the process of healing, I slowly developed a self-confidence and belief in my self that I had never truly possessed for all my life until today, which keeps me standing in those moments when I am alone. Once again, it was the friends I had met on dA that had helped me develop it, but it was also the efforts of my psychiatrist and surprisingly, my mum's recognition and acceptance of my condition. Not only had I grown in many ways in this journey, so had my own mother, and her support was something which I had valued for so long, but had taken on something more of a significance as the year progressed.

Today is November 18th. It is that special friend's birthday. Without her, I do not believe I will have the courage to share this today. In truth, I have already shared parts of it on dA already; this is just the complete story in one deviation. But without her, it will be hard to conceive the person that I am today. There is without a doubt that she has shaped me as who I am today, as has dA for the past three years. As has my faithful readers, if you are reading this now. I appreciate your every comment and every bit of support. For the past few days, I have written the word "love" on my arm as a reminder for the beautiful things that do exist, for the words that tell me I am loved. I can only hope that as I continue on my life journey that I will hang onto such reminders.

Life is a gift, so make full use of it. :heart:

Project Love
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:iconshadowedacolyte:
ShadowedAcolyte Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2010
I love reading the TWLOHA stories (I tried to comment on them all before the feature, but I missed yours), because they're all so full of the fight! They all involve being in that dark place, and having people reach out to the writer, but in the end it's the person himself who has to struggle out of it all, and who has to keep struggling every day.

It's a powerful feeling, to know that others are struggling the same struggle, that diverse people with such a wide array of life experiences coalesce their stories so similarly. Depression is part of the human condition, it seems, but so is putting depression in its place.

:heart:
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Too true. When stories intersect, it is a most remarkable and liberating experience to know that we're not alone in our struggles and that there are others out there fighting too. Thank you for your comment. :heart:
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:iconkneelingglory:
KneelingGlory Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2010
I've read this five times now, and am only now able to write a proper comment. You have no idea how closely your journey mirrors mine, except that you were smart enough to seek help immediately rather than waiting years and years. You have no idea how thankful I am for that. Or for all that you give me just by being you: laughter, companionship, compassion, love. I tell all my friends and family about the amazing girl from Australia that I'm going to meet one day and we'll go find kangaroos and koalas and visit a mountain when it actually snows. She'll teach me how to drive on the wrong side of the road and we'll eat Tim Tams while I continue her musical education.

You are precious to me, Rachel. Never forget it. :tighthug:
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:iconkneelingglory:
KneelingGlory Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2010
Also, Featured! :heart:
[link]
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
:heart: And I am saving that comment in my inbox. Goodness knows how many of yours I've saved so far. But I don't want to lose it. Thank you. :heart:
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:iconkneelingglory:
KneelingGlory Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2010
:hug:
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:iconlaysl:
LaysL Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2010
To be honest when I saw the picture of your deviation I hesitated to click as I'm extremely picky when it comes to pictures on DA. ^^; However a voice in my head (not literally :XD:) reminded me that I've never been disappointed by any of your works, so I sort of know that there is a message behind the picture.

:hug: I really look up to people who can express their feelings, particularly when it comes to things you rather not talk about. You definitely gain extra respect points from me! (Other than that you're already one of my favourite writers on DA) There's so much wisdom and inspiration in your words. Don't know what more I can add, not much of an expressive person myself. (Pff, I'm so bad in my wording)
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :hug: I know it's not the best of photos, but it was the artist's comments that I was more concerned about. Thank you for reading. :heart:
Reply
:icongwenavhyeuranastasia:
GwenavhyeurAnastasia Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2010
dA brought me my best friend and the person who helped me most, too. :heart: You two are both beautiful and strong. So glad to know you, and I hope everything continues to improve. Your attitude is inspiring.
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you. :heart:
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:iconthorns:
thorns Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2010   Writer
:hug:
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
:tighthug:
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:iconfakekraid:
FakeKraid Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Well done. You'll probably have a lifelong struggle ahead of you, but having the courage to develop the tools you need to face it will make it a possible one. And that moment when dawn finally breaks after a victory and you look at your enemy in the face and realize "I can win this" is an important one for all of us. I hope you continue to improve, and I'll try to do the same.
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you, and I wish you the best of luck as well. :)
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:iconsadisticicecream:
SadisticIceCream Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2010   Writer
This is so brave, and hit very close to home for me for reasons you already know. You're an amazing person. :hug:
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
:hug: You are an amazing person for being who you are.
Reply
:iconsadisticicecream:
SadisticIceCream Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2010   Writer
:blush: You are too sweet.
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
:hug:
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:icon3wyl:
3wyl Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
:hug:

I agree with what everyone else has already said, but... it's inadequate, but I thank you for sharing your story with us, because ... there are so many factors involved, and... yeah. >.<

I don't know what to say to what you've written because it just doesn't... it doesn't feel enough, you know?

I mean, we all have our own lives, and for you to share something that we would normally think of as personal, it's... eh.

Life has its ups and downs, I suppose. ^^;
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I understand where you're coming from, because I often feel the same about reading personal stories, and you know, words might not feel enough but it's the thought that counts. And that's what matters for me. :)

I guess it depends on how far you want to take it, this personal business. We do have our own lives but at the same time, we do have to share some of that personally with others because there isn't really any other way to connect otherwise. Stories are the best form of such connection, in my opinion. Of course, there will be lines drawn depending on your audience and circumstance, but I take this step after many months, realising that sharing my story has helped me to connect to others and has allowed others to understand me better as a person. The internet is often easy to hide behind and well, sometimes I want to be more honest than that. I do draw a line though. It just depends on circumstances.

It certainly does, and that's why I enjoy every moment of any kind of happiness I do have, knowing full well it will not be permanent. But at the same time thinking about such impermanence empowers me because I know to treasure my every moment more and make life much fuller as a result. That, of course, is a struggle and not as easy as I say it, but I'm sort of getting there. ^^; As others have said, it's a lifelong journey. :)
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:icon3wyl:
3wyl Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
:hug:

That's true... it's like you're giving a part of yourself to receive something back, in a non-materialistic way.

I think it's difficult to put into words your thoughts and feelings, but stories are as good as other forms, if you get what I mean?

I guess that makes sense. :)

Hmm...

That's quite interesting. :nod:

I don't think I enjoy the moment.. because one needs to be quite self-aware and sometimes the happiness just sweeps over me and leaves just as abruptly.

I think I coast it, but at least one doesn't fall too hard if one does. o.O

That sounds quite wise. :D

Good. Sometimes it takes all of life, I think...

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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2010  Student Photographer
:faint: I had no idea.
This brought tears to my eyes.


:tighthug:
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
It is easier to hide for many instances. I've only really just learnt to let some of it out.

:tighthug:
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2010  Student Photographer
Glad to hear it. :heart:
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:iconrushingtide:
rushingtide Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2010
You are brave, and you are love.

We both have very long journeys to go, but I can tell you right now hon. You are already far down the line, and you will get to the light at the end of the tunnel closer than you think. The darkness will always come back though. It always tries. But you will beat it. You've beaten it enough and you're getting the tools now to continue beating it back until its little head will only rear a few times-- then cower away in fear of you and all that is you.

I don't know what else to say, except I should move mine into my gallery rather than scraps, LOL.

:heart:
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
You are love for saying all this and being who you are, and tackling the demons that you face. :heart: Thank you.

Maybe you should! :hug:
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:iconrushingtide:
rushingtide Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2010
Done. :)
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:iconexillior:
Exillior Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
See, I told you, you're a hero. :tighthug:
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I still have not forgotten you telling me to believe in myself, all this time. :heart: And also that other reply too, about how I was different in a good way...I still remember that, all this time.

You're the real hero here. :heart:
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:iconexillior:
Exillior Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I simply tried to give you the advice that nobody seemed to give back when I had problems of my own - the advice which I think actually is important. You should always believe in yourself. And you should never be afraid of your differences.

Ha! Heroes are measured by their courage - and comparing you to me in terms of courage is like comparing the sun to a candle. :giggle: :hug:
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
:tighthug: :heart:

Well, then I think you're a sun-sized candle, with a planet-sized flame, and you brighten people's lives every single hour for who you are and what you do. :hug:
Reply
:iconexillior:
Exillior Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Not at all! I am happy to hear, though, that it feels that way. :hug:
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:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
:tighthug:
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