Anna Wild: A Depression Memoir, Part IV

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This article series was written by Anna Wild. She explains how the circumstances in which she grew up lead her into the dark world of self-harm and depression.

Click here to read Part I.

I eventually left home to study in Europe. A couple of weeks into my trip, I broke up with my boyfriend. I began to eliminate the bad, and I had less contact with my family since I was overseas. I felt a huge weight had been lifted, if only for a little while. My time in Europe was probably the best six months of my life. And then I came home.

All of my problems were exactly where I'd left them. Luckily, it was only a few months before I was off to Africa on a volunteer mission. Traveling had begun to replace sex, drugs and alcohol. Traveling had become my escape both literally and figuratively. I could actually get on a plane and fly away from my problems. The only issue was that the problems were still there waiting for me to return.

Giving up on a Dream ...or Two

When I came back from Africa, I planned to save up to move away and spend a year in Australia, but instead I ended up in a serious relationship with an old friend of mine. It was a whirlwind romance that led to us moving in together and getting engaged – for all of the wrong reasons.

My Australia dream had gone out the window, but now I was planning a wedding, so I had something else to keep me preoccupied. I was enjoying a blissfully normal life for once. I still had my bouts of anxiety and was working at an incredibly stressful job that ended up driving me to more therapy, but I felt really secure at home and knew that my fiancé was there to support me... that is, until he wasn't.

Three short months after getting engaged, I went away for a weekend only to return home and find out he'd slept with another girl. My heart was broken, and my seemingly happy life was shattered. In the melee of the breakup, I found out that this was not the first time he had cheated, and that one time actually involved my best friend – who is a gay male.

I was hurt, confused, angry, sad and felt as if there was nobody I could trust. I booked my ticket to Australia almost instantly and poured my energy into having the best summer of my life before leaving for Oz.

Of course, feeling rejected and low, I looked for love in all of the wrong places again, mainly in the pelvic region of men I picked up at bars. Unexpectedly, one of those men ended up falling in love with me and vice versa. Ryan saw me off to Australia but packed up his life in Canada and followed me there just four months into my trip.

Reclaiming My Dream Just to Live a Nightmare

For the first few weeks of being together in Australia, I was in pure bliss – until all of a sudden I woke up one day and didn't want to get out of bed. I was homesick and depressed. Then my cousin died of cancer out of the blue, and I felt overwhelming guilt for not being there to support my family. My uncle had also passed away shortly after I'd left Canada, and my mom wasn't taking it so well. Then she found out she had a brain tumor, and she began to struggle with her own bout of depression. The guilt overwhelmed me.

Ryan and I were living in a double-wide trailer in a small beach community and were isolated from our friends and family both at home and in Australia. Work was hard to come by, and I was barely making ends meet as a maid in the caravan park where we were living. The sun rose and shone every day, but inside I was blue. I tried a healthy diet and exercise to get me back on track. I tried visualization techniques and affirmations. I began researching the science of happiness and reading about other people's struggles with depression. Nothing helped. I felt alone and helpless and hopeless.

We moved back to Melbourne a few weeks later, and my mood slowly started to lift again. I got a new job and was back with friends, and I was planning a big birthday bash for my 25th, so I had little to no time to feel depressed. But deep down it was still there. I had never felt so homesick in all of my travels.

Click here to read Part V.

 
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