When in Rome..

  • Four years ago, I was 21, I was in the middle of my fourth year of university, which was because I had been able to complete my third year exams due to being on a psychiatric ward.

    The year before I had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and my life had been turned on its head. I had moved away from my University friends who had all finished on time, my parents weren’t speaking to me as they didn’t know how to handle me, I was somehow balancing full time uni with full time work (I still don’t know how I did  this) and coping with an awful break up not long before. It was one of the worst years of my life and I was getting through every day, simply because I had to and there was no other choice.

    Then something clicked in my head, I was existing, but I wasn’t living. All the things I had wanted to do and thought I would do, I wasn’t doing, and I could put a lot of reasons down to my mental illness. So after a bad day, and on a total whim I walked into the nearest shopping centre, into the travel agent and told the baffled man that I wanted to go somewhere and I wanted to go tomorrow morning. He asked me where I wanted to go and who I was going with. I told him I didn’t really mind where I was going, but I was going by myself.  The lovely man asked me if I was sure, he had a daughter my age and he said he didn’t want me going for the wrong reasons ( I was most likely crying at the time), I told him I wanted to go because I needed to prove to myself that I was able to go and that I was still capable of enjoying myself. He looked at me with an understanding smile and helped me book.

    I decided on Rome, so I booked it and went home to pack. On my way home, I went into work, told my manager I needed to go away for a few days and I wouldn’t be at work and that I would see her when I was back. I didn’t really give her an opportunity to respond and just left. ( I’m very lucky that she was very understanding when I got back and it was all ok!)

    The next day, I drove myself to the airport and burst into tears as I got there. My legs were shaking, my hands tingling and I hated myself for feeling like this. I had no idea why I was going, I couldn’t go to Rome for 4 days by myself! I can barely get through Sainsbury’s without bawling like a baby! The stubborn part of me needed to go to show myself that I could and that I wasn’t letting my feelings win, the rational part of me thought it was silly to put myself through this and upset myself to prove a point, while the BPD part of me was wanting to cry, be sick, shout at people and then lie down because I was just so physically and mentally exhausted.

    Somewhere in the whirlwind of emotions, I called my cousin and while I was sniffling down the phone, she said that if I was going to be sad, I could do that in Rome too. When you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom so many times, I thought well it can’t get worse. I decided even if I sat in the room alone for 4 days, that’s not different to what I would be doing at home if I feel like this. So I got on the plane.

    I got there and had calmed down a bit so I decided to make the most of it while I was there. Even if I didn’t enjoy it, I was there so I may as well do the touristy things I wanted to do. It did feel like I had to drag myself around for the first few hours, and yes I cried almost constantly but I was there.

    I actually started to enjoy myself. It felt different to before, not the same excitement as I previously may have had, but I still knew that this was a positive. I kept going and before I knew it, the 4 days were up and I hadn’t spent the whole time crying or the whole time stuck in my room, I had made new memories and new experiences and I knew that’s all that would matter once the mental health fog had lifted.

    I would recommend it to anyone. It taught me so many life lessons, to be independent, to take risks, that I am OK myself and I don’t have to not go due to be alone or how I feel. I can do anything I want because I am strong enough and I won’t let me illness tell me otherwise!

    Image result for rome trevi


2 thoughts on “When in Rome..

  1. Jane says:

    I had social phobia, still suffer slightly that way, wouldn’t ever have gone outside the front door alone, never mind travelled alone, so your courage, even though you were in agony mentally, is wondrous, admirable, inspiring & encouraging to me! I hope you are even stronger now than then, because I reckon you’re going places…..I mean that both literally & metaphorically! Stronger Together is the truth, so I hope you ALWAYS have someone by your side! Good Luck, and Bon Voyage on this journey of life! Of actual places I’ve wanted to visit, Bora Bora is one of my dream destinations! And Minsk, because I read about it in a book!


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