Shake me up when September ends

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“Life is a rollercoaster, you’ve just gotta ride it”: Ronan Keating “schaid” it best while saying pretty much nothing at all, and it’s never been more clear to me than it is now.

I won’t bore you with my usual “if you’d told me a year ago I’d be doing X,Y or Z I wouldn’t have believed you” blog opener, but I will say that looking back on the past 12 months, I’ve come to realise just how quickly life can change, both for the better and the worse. And of course, it has to get worse before it can get better.

This little blog has seen its fair share of the trials and tribulations, joys and celebrations of my 2014/15 experiences, and really now serves as something of an insight into my mental decline, resurgence, regression and everything in between.

A decade ago – as we all know from my many posts on bullying in school, the irrelevance of league tables and various other things – I was sitting by a swimming pool in Spain when a call from a school in north Dublin put me back on the path to where I am now.

I can still remember how fragile that little 15-year-old was and, as I sat with my incredible counsellor on my latest trip home to Dublin, I realised I was feeling just as vulnerable as I had then.

It wouldn’t take a genius to work out that I haven’t exactly been feeling very comfortable in my own skin for a while. The endless emotionally charged and subliminally angry blog posts were certainly evidence of that.

Maisie Williams as Casey Jacobs

There’s a part of me that looks back and thinks “Jaysis Sarah, what were you at?” and then there’s the other part that says “well, if someone’s just not going to listen to you, you need some sort of outlet”.

Except y’know, the internet isn’t always the best outlet is it? Especially when you’re a bit emotionally vulnerable.

That’s why the blog has remained quiet enough this summer, because I didn’t trust myself to write it. That energy and enthusiasm that surged through me as I celebrated the improvement in my mental and physical health all but dissipated as the adrenaline rush from the move to London died down.

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And when things leveled out in terms of work and living arrangements, the ghosts (I know, so overly dramatic but I make my living through writing so I’m one of ‘those’, aren’t I?) I’d managed to leave behind caught up with me and I fell to pieces.

I’ve spent the guts of the past year trying to deal with a really unnecessarily bad break up and the anxiety I’d just started going to counselling for the day before it happened, while moving to London, attempting to find a new job and a new house and wondering why, no matter how much time passed, people didn’t spend every day reassuring me that the way I’d been treated was just plain wrong.

I juggled a rapidly changing new life with the grief of losing the old one and, when things in London finally settled down a bit, the whole thing came crashing down on top of me.

There were tears, nightmares, and endless nights spent blaming myself and picking at my flaws in a desperate attempt to find some sort of logical explanation for what had transpired.

All that confidence that surged through me in the early part of the year when I talked about mental health with Ryan Tubridy on 2fm, all that belief in myself and my abilities that lead me to pack my bags and move to London with just a week’s notice vanished and I very nearly threw in the towel and went home.

I would have done it too, if it wasn’t for a small group of people that I can honestly call my oldest and dearest friends. They’re the ones I can call, no matter how much time has passed. Brian, Ciara, Catherine, Jackie, Quinton, Amy and Emma – I really can’t thank you all enough for the lunches, the brunches and just being there.

I can’t forget the pals who spent time chatting to me online or via text either. There are more of you than I can name and you know who you are.

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And I couldn’t have weathered the storm and come out the other side without three very important people: My mum, my counsellor, and an utterly incredible young man huw brews an unreal cup of tea and makes me want to be a better, happier, healthier and more positive person every single day.

I’m now done with treating my blog like a diary because, honestly, I have far more interesting things to write about than my own life.

I live in one of the biggest cities in the world, have an incredible job that offers me the opportunity to do amazing things, and a back catalogue of so many bloody books to read and review in those annoying YouTube videos I spent most of last winter forcing upon you.

By the end of the month, I’m hoping to give It’s Strawberry Blonde the TLC it deserves and so very dearly needs.

Every September I used to celebrate a really important milestone and this will be the first its meaning completely changes. But y’know, that’s OK, because this year I’ve got something totally different to celebrate that same day.

And if you’d told me a year ago that I’d be hosting an evening of festivities to celebrate the return of Doctor Who, I can say, hand on heart(s), I honestly wouldn’t have believed you.

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