There And Back Again

There’s no other way to say it, I spent the last half of 2013 and the first half of 2014 stuck in a giant rut. I slept all day, shut myself off from everyone I knew, and pretty much traded in reality for Netflix. Other than my cat, I stopped caring about everything and everyone. I was living the existentialist dream… which just so happened to be a normal functioning human being’s nightmare.

I didn’t know I was depressed. I was so deep in negative thoughts that I didn’t even feel like I could justify how I felt by calling it depression. I hated myself so much that I didn’t feel worthy of having a mental illness. It was only around May 2014 when I finally managed to drag myself out of my dark thoughts long enough to make a change. After giving up on my year long job search (which just made things worse really, I probably would have been less full of self loathing if I didn’t regularly wake up to job rejection emails), I had a bit of a ‘fuck this’ moment. Since I hated literally everything about myself, I decided to do the most out of character thing I could think of: move abroad to teach English. Heck, I even picked a country that I (thought I) hated. How un-Rosy like was that?

From the second I applied for my TEFL course, I was a completely different person. For the first time in almost a year I actually felt optimistic about something, I felt hope, instead of residing myself to the ‘this is it’ feelings I’d let consume me for so long. I didn’t waste any time with my move to Spain. In just over a month I’d arrived in Madrid and straight away I knew things would be better. Even facing problems on my first day like getting locked out of my apartment and not understanding anything anyone said to me, I still felt happier than I had in a long time. This continued all throughout my teacher training. It had been so long since I had to immerse myself in a new environment and meet new people– but it was something I really needed. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and it hasn’t always been easy for me, but I know I’ll never regret moving here.

Obviously I’m not saying that if you suffer from depression or find yourself unhappy with your life then you should just get up and move somewhere new. Everyone deals with these things differently. But for me, I’d sucked myself so deep into my own toxic little world that I needed to do something drastic to get out.

Recently I’ve been feeling a little down again– nowhere near to the extent of how I felt for the entire time I was 21 (worst year of my life, hands down), but still enough to make me feel ‘oh god, I moved countries and met an entire new group of wonderful people and got  some amazing opportunities and it’s still not enough to make me happy, what’s wrong with me?’ It’s a little daunting when you feel this way, especially when you’ve been happier than you have for years. I knew that all the bad thoughts I’d been drowning in for the last year wouldn’t disappear immediately, but it was still a shock to have them back.

A lot of it stems from what I touched on in my last blogpost– I have no idea what I’m doing and I feel like that makes me a failure. All my life I knew what I was doing or at least what I was supposed to be doing. School to sixth form to university to job. That’s how it works, right? Although I never got to the job part. It wasn’t what I was expecting to happen, and I didn’t know how to deal with it when it did. So I backtracked, I went back to the studying thing– and I’d get a job teaching, right? Except for now I’m a marketing intern. Which is great, and is the original thing I wanted to do a whole entire year ago at the beginning of this cycle; but once more, it wasn’t what I was expecting to happen. Or what other people were expecting of me.

Things are going well, and I know that I have no reason to be complaining. I live in an amazing city, I have friends who like what I like, I spend my time in galleries and museums, I’m learning another language, and let’s not forget that the wine is 2€. Everything should be great. And I feel guilty that I’m not jumping around with joy. But these things never really leave you, or if they do they take more time than six months. I know I should be concentrating on the little things that make me happy, the little things that I’m doing well– but I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Or I’m not doing it well enough. I don’t even know. Maybe these feelings will always be with me. Maybe I’ll just have to find a way to live with them. On the rare occasions that I do feel happy with my life, I’m overcome by guilt. It’s like there’s always a voice telling me that I made the wrong decision, or that I could be doing more. Even if part of me knows that what I’m doing now will be so much better in the long term, the other part is telling me that I should be concentrating on the present. I should be making more money. I should be in an office somewhere in the UK working in admin or something as equally dull to me. I should be in reality and not living my dreams. I don’t deserve any of this. It’s a very Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde situation going in my inner psyche.

This blogpost kind of got away from me, much like my feelings about this situation and my life in general. I don’t know what I’m saying. I don’t even know what I’m doing. It turned out to be a pretty great metaphor.

But hey, I took the last pill in my birth control packet yesterday so maybe I’m just PMSing.

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Author: Rosanna Parrish

Brit exiled in Spain.

12 thoughts on “There And Back Again”

  1. I hope my TEFL experience is as good as this. Feeling like that is awful, my lowest point was when I was 19 – it’s pretty awful. I want to move to Spain next year to teach, would you recommend Madrid? I should stop now, perhaps I’m PMSing too. (Can boys PMS?! Get those pads ready!)

    1. Madrid is a really great place to live and to teach– and this is coming from a self confessed Spain hater. If you’re not TEFL qualified yet, I really suggest checking out TtMadrid because they are so wonderful and helpful with everything 😀

      1. I’ve just completed my 120 hour TEFL course and I’m graduating later this month – in History, kinda similar to English – I’ve no idea what to do in the ‘real world’ with it. 😦
        Is it not a bit hot away from the coast though? I was thinking perhaps Valencia.
        I’ve just read your vegetarian woes, I was expecting this struggle. *sigh*

      2. I was fine with the weather, August was a bit too hot but it’s been perfect since then. Although it’s totally jacket weather now though. On the vegetarian side of things: you better make sure you like patatas bravas ^__^

      3. Well that’s a positive then, I won’t be sweltering everyday!
        Oh I sure do love patatas bravas, and the potato-y omelette thing (tortilla?!) they’ll be a large chuck of my diet.
        Was the accommodation side of things easy and pretty reasonably priced? Sorry for my pestering!

      4. The pestering is fine ahaha. Obviously I can only speak for Madrid, but it depends on where you look. I live super central and a lot of people think I pay a lot– but in my mind the location makes it worth it. You pay more if you go through an agency (which I used to do), so although it’s easier I’d avoid it. Or at least only do it for a month whilst you look privately.

      5. Yeah I guess that applies to anywhere! I can’t imagine it’ll be as expensive as England’s accommodation, hopefully it’ll be cheap in comparison.

        How quickly are you picking up Spanish? That’s probably the biggest pull factor for me – I really wanna learn it!

      6. Uh, slowly. But in my defence I’m not actively trying. Mainly I just read everything I see outside and I’m also using a great app called Cat Spanish which is really good (and I’ve tried a lot of apps). I can get by though, so I think if someone actually put in the effort to learn then they’d pick it up pretty quickly.

  2. I can’t Identify with the moving country, but if you swap netflix with youtube and the moving country to doing short term jobs, then I’ve been there. Now I have a permanent job, and had some counselling, I’m starting to come back to me again. But you aren’t alone in feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing. I’m glad to hear it’s starting to work out for you

  3. It’s too bad when we tell a complete stranger on the other side of the world how impressive as an example of a good human being we think they are, they don’t immediately realize it. The might even pass it off as being trite, idealistic, or even pathetic. However, seemingly at random, some people we meet – or in this case, just follow their blogs – are impressive to the extent that they serve as a source of not only inspiration but hope. I’ve had that (very rarely) said about me and it greatly lifted my spirits so, in the hopes that it might do the same for you, keep sharing because I’m sure I’m not the only one whose day becomes a little bit brighter whenever you decide to share a bit of your world.

  4. Thank you for writing this, I am sure it will inspire many as it has me. You have done so well you should be proud of yourself don’t dwell on the negatives (most graduates struggle to get a job) especially in their chosen field! Enjoy the life you have and the new friends you have made. Keep on writing these posts you might make a difference to someone’s life!

  5. I have been through virtually the exact same thing, believe me. The only difference being after graduation, travelling (through Spain/Madrid) and failed job search misery I decided against taking the TEFL plunge and now have the boring office job which you wonder about. I wonder if I should have gone abroad, or still should, or am I too old now? (29). I still pine for the weather, lifestyle, people in Spain – and the escape from the monotony/baggage of the UK. I have the exact same ups and downs, negative thoughts and my brain seems unwilling to allow me to settle on anything I want or feel is a realistic goal.

    I think the only conclusion is it’s totally normal to feel like the grass is greener whichever path you take. Keep up the blogging – it’s inspirational.

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