Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Why I started a Blog, What Blogging means to me, and a Thank You.

Hey everyone. I just woke up from a nap, so excuse the Sainsbury's t-shirt and half awake look in my eyes, but I just felt like writing this, so that is what I'm going to do. 
Over the years, I definitely haven't had the worst time of things, but I also haven't experienced the best either. Whilst I still consider myself a strong-minded individual, there have been a lot of times where my self-confidence has plummeted, and where I didn't feel that I 'belonged' so to speak. At university especially, being the non-drinker really did prove quite isolating (within my own department anyway), and those feelings contributed towards my reasoning for starting to write this blog. Not only did I start blogging because I had read and loved reading them for years and years prior, alongside simply wanting to meet new people and connect with people around the world; I also think that I was seeking to belong somewhere, when in that moment I really didn't feel that I did at all. Time and time again, as a Blogger, I get asked why it is that I started to write this blog and what it actually means to me, so today I thought that I would share that with you.

When I published my first post, I was living in a student house with people that just really didn't care about me. There was one member whom, on a daily basis would attempt to make my day the worst it could be - sending threatening, aggressive text messages, listening to what I was doing constantly outside my door (thinking I couldn't hear him, of course). He would leave sticky notes everywhere around the house, using disgusting language which was seriously shocking for a 22 year old to use when simply seeking to remind people not to use his things or to lock the door properly. I still don't know who, but one day someone used his baking tray (I believe they left some crumbs on there or something), and he burst out crying, his whole attire moved in a direction where I genuinely thought he would physically hurt me, being the only one in the house at the time, and that was just so so scary. The other two members of the house used to 'stay out of it' because they 'didn't want any drama'. They hadn't ever experienced this type of independence before, and didn't know even the first thing about how to make a bank transfer or pay a bill, which as you can probably tell, left me to try and organise everything. Not only was I having to deal with the normal stress and pressure of second year, whilst living alongside this aggressive bully, I also had to play mum to two people that were quite simply too selfish to ever stand up for me against this person, and just added to the stress by failing to ever get off their butts and pay me their share of the bills until the day before they were due, even when I'd give them weeks to do it. I was never afraid to speak my mind, and tell, who I'm going to refer to as 'B', when they were being out of order, but the others didn't have enough courage to to that, so what happened? It seemed like I was the enemy. I was told to stop fighting back and simply 'let' this narcissistic arsehole get his own way because it would make life 'easier'. Which I'll never forgive those two people for, because how bloody selfish were they to do that?

I'd go out and have the most amazing day, trying to stay on campus from first thing till last thing, or book as much overtime at work as possible just so I wouldn't have to spend too much time at that hell hole. But because I did that, B got so jealous, being cooped up in all day because he didn't want to make any efforts to socialise with people, that as soon as I would return he'd take it out on me. He was nothing less than mentally abusive, and at the time I just couldn't understand why he behaved in such a way. & on top of all this, he once told me he was 'more mature' than I was, which actually makes me feel nauseous inside, (This being the day after he cried about someone using his baking tray, may I add). I'd decided that I'd had enough, and I advertised my room behind their back and before I knew it I luckily found an escape route, and I am so so happy that I made that decision. 

In order to show people around, I took down all the abusive post-it notes, and organised one meeting after another during a day where I knew that nobody else would be there, because I was scared of what would happen. In the end someone did move in, which meant I could leave, and I was so relieved because I just couldn't have lived there a second longer (and don't worry, I did inform them of the problem at the time). When B came back from his parents house, he started shouting at the top of his lungs at me, bashing on my door demanding, not asking, demanding that I opened it and tell him what I had done to his things. Confused, I answered the door and explained that I hadn't been anywhere near his room. But what do you know? He was referring to the months old sticky notes that he'd even gone to the effort of re-sticking up with duct tape because they were so old they kept falling off. When I said that I had put them in the bin because they were abusive and aggressive, he just came up with the most pathetic reasons to have a go at me about it. 'You have no right to throw away my stuff', 'Those were for everyone in the house', 'I wanted them back so I could keep them'... and when I asked why he would want to keep some old sticky notes, he simply replied with 'I don't know.' I was already aware that he felt pleasure in using each and every opportunity to shout at me about something. For example, he and the others kept leaving the lights on when we moved in, as well as leaving the shower curtain scrunched up after use. All I did was say, please can we try to turn the lights off after we leave the house, and if you don't straighten out the shower curtain after use, it'll develop mould (guess what, it did). But if I was in a rush, and the shower curtain wasn't fully straightened out or if I popped downstairs to get something to eat and leave my room light on, he'd literally jump out of his room, like he was waiting for me, to point it out to everyone and shout at me for it. How dare I suggest that we save energy or take measures as to prevent the shower curtain from going mouldy when I would leave my light on for a few minutes whilst I popped downstairs for foor? This thing about the sticky notes just reconfirmed that he was just targeting me for the sake of it, and that it wasn't all in my head. 

Utterly fed up with it all, I said that I was leaving, and what do you know? He says that he will do the same thing. He then goes on to 'apologise' (he didn't actually apologise, but I think he thought he was apologising) for the way he had acted, saying it was merely because he wasn't understanding his course, and therefore was struggling with his academic work. B said he was tired of spending too much time in the house, and when I asked him why he wouldn't get a job, join some societies, or ask any lecturers or tutors for help he just said 'he couldn't be bothered' - so I felt absolutely no sympathy whatsoever. It just confirmed to me that he had been on a control seeking power-trip all this time, because he felt so useless and out of control in all the other aspects of his life. That's not an excuse for trying to make someone's life utter hell. B knew I had an anxiety disorder, and he used that against me. If I would have a panic attack from all his shouting (which was quite often, as you can probably imagine) he'd still continue to shout at me, and laugh at me because I wasn't 'mature enough to have a discussion without going to the extremes'. 

On the weeks where it was other people's responsibilities to take out the rubbish, or to clean the kitchen and the bathrooms, but they had a lot of work going on or had to go home for family things, no-one else was grown up enough to get over themselves and say 'I'll take out the rubbish, it's fine', apart from me. I'd nevre had a problem with cleaning on my weeks, because I actually enjoy cleaning, but when it came to half way through my week one week, I had received some devastating news that a close friend of mine had fallen very ill, amongst a time when I had three weighty pieces of coursework to hand in too, and my anxiety went through the roof. Also, being the only one with a job, I wasn't at the house much anyway, so I did as much as I could. But guess what? Nobody wanted to help me, even by simply making sure that they had cleared up after themselves after cooking. They would all let the bins over flow, leave their food spills and dirty things everywhere, and as soon as I would walk in, even though they were all aware of what was going on, mr. bully would be there straight away before I had even taken my shoes off to tell me to clear it all up. When I said I would do it after I had eaten or at least gotten undressed, no. It HAD to be done then and now, blocking the stairs so I couldn't go up to my room. Because I was having a shit enough time as it was, I just didn't have the energy to argue back that time, so I just went to the kitchen and starting clearing up. Part of me is so angry that I did that, giving him his own way, but I also have to remember at the time, there's no way I felt I could push past him to go up the stairs because I was so scared that he would physically hurt me. What's even creepier is he said he 'enjoyed watching me', which one again just confirms that he was an utter control freak. 

Things got so bad, that I remember once waking up with such bad pains in my chest I wasn't sure what was happening, but I thought that I might throw up so I went downstairs to the bathroom, and I must have passed out because I woke up on the bathroom floor I don't even know how long later. I had to call my dad to pick me up at 4AM in the morning and miss two days of lectures because B did that to me. Can you imagine how scary it was living in the same house as someone who you thought may physically hurt you, and then fainting in the middle of the night when you, nor anyone else could be there to defend you? I was terrified. He could have done anything to me so that was it, the next time I went back I was moving out my things and good riddance I say. 

I have absolutely no regrets, and I'll be honest, it did take me a long time to get over it, because it was just such a traumatic experience. I gained weight, I couldn't engage well in my studies, and for the first time ever in my life I had to call in sick one day at work. I hate calling in sick, even if I fall down the stairs in the morning, I would still go to work in the afternoon because it's that important to me to to my best at my job. I was furious with myself that I had let that person practically destroy me during those months, and what's sparked me to start thinking about all of this again was that he tried contacting me over Facebook the other week, with a laughing face asking why I had deleted him, clearly still obvious to anything that he did. I didn't reply, but he send some question marks so I simply informed him that I had made a new Facebook account, and didn't add him because I didn't want to (little did he know that I actually deleted my old account because of him, as well as my number so that he couldn't send me abusive text messages any more). He then saw that as a reason to start a conversation with me, asking how I was, but when I said that I didn't want to talk to him, he just immaturely replied back with something along the lines of 'well... sorry for asking...', as though I was in the wrong some how??! I'd actually forgotten to block him, so he actually did me a favour by reminding me to do just that, but it also made me angry, because I don't understand how someone can't recollect any of what happened? Even when all this was happening, he'd genuinely believe that he hadn't said or done some things which not only I, but the other people living there would recollect, which is actually quite scary, and signifies that mentally there's something not quite right there. I don't forgive that person, but I don't feel angry either. I don't even feel anything towards them any more because even though they formed a significant problem in my life during that time, in the grand scheme of things, B actually turned out to be one of the most insignificant things, and I really do feel sorry for him, because how pathetic must his life have been/be.

I know it seems as though I went a little off topic, but all of that above, that is why I started this blog. I couldn't spend 24 hours a day at university studying, at societies, or working (bearing in mind I had three jobs at this point too), so when I was back in that hell hole I needed something, anything to distract me from the hell that I was living in. When I eventually moved back to my parents' house, I carried on, because I saw how amazing it felt to have a platform, and somewhere to project my voice. My blog did get off to a slow start, but in the past year and a half or so... just wow. Your friendliness, and kindness made me feel a part of something, and I'm so happy that all of that hell happened to me because not only did it make me a far stronger person in the end, but it sparked me to start writing this blog. If I hadn't have started writing this blog, I wouldn't have met you or made so many new awesome friends, so I just wanted to say thank you. I wanted to say thank you for making me smile and making me laugh even on the worst of days. I wanted to thank you for giving me the confidence I needed to get back on my feet and to open up my walls again. I wanted to thank you for not judging me because I don't drink, or because I have an anxiety disorder like so many people on my university course did. I thank you all so much for reading these words because it adds further purpose and meaning to my week, and just reading those inspiringly kind comments, tweets, e-mails or anything really just makes my day so much better and I couldn't thank you enough for that. 

It sometimes puzzles me how many of you come to me asking for help or advice because you're feeling down or don't know what to do, or just need someone to talk to really, because it's you that has made me strong enough to be able to be that happy, bubbly, love-sharing person that I hope I come across as. I'm so so thankful I went through that terrible nightmare, because it pushed me to find you, and I feel, for the first time since college, that I actually belong to something and form a part of something, which is just everything to me. & so I hope you know how much I actually do love and appreciate you all now. How much I appreciate every comment, question, follow, e-mail or just general support and loveliness that I experience on an everyday basis as a result of this blog. It's loving communities like this than can quite literally save people, even from the darkest of times. As Bloggers, I believe that we have the power to make someone's day even just the tiniest bit better by making them smile through a silly joke on Twitter - to seriously transforming people's perspectives in life by making them feel more confident, comfortable and safe when discussing important topics like mental health, sexuality, feminism, or anything really. I see absolutely no limits to what the blogging community could achieve with regards to making individuals and even groups of people feel better about themselves and others, and that's so unbelievably awesome; and being one of those people that you all so helped? I thank you so much.
Love you all,
Hannah x

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