Thursday, 14 July 2016

My Unplanned Hiatus, My Great Return, and Everything 'Between

I've lost count how many times over the last few months I've apologised, and how many times that followed where people have told me to stop. Whether it's my boss in work for being off, or my doctor for always breaking down in front of him, my parents and my siblings, or my work advisor, I'm always apologising for something, but today, I want to start by saying sorry to you. I've been gone for a long time - at least, it feels that way, and I didn't give much warning, or heads up, I just.. vanished. Poof, like a puff of smoke. Do I have a good reason for taking a break away? You can bet your ass, but it doesn't take away from the fact that I left you. I stopped helping, stopped advising you, I stopped supporting you, and nurturing you. I stopped without a word, and I'm sorry.

It's been a really tough few months, but really, if I'm being completely honest with you, it's been a tough few years, and you know when you pack up problem after problem into one big box and padlock it shut, instead of actually dealing with them? Well, that's what I did, and much like all containers, it would only hold so much before it burst, and burst it did. My dam broke, my walls crumbled, and I couldn't carry on pretending, ignoring, hiding, and I couldn't carry on blogging.

So what actually happened for things to reach this point, and are you actually okay Amanda?

Let's start with April '15, when my problems first started, when I realised almost all of my social media life had been manipulated, fabricated, and spun into a web of tiny lies for over 7 years. My 'best friend' at the time confessed to me that many of my 'friends' on social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, where in fact fake profiles created with real people's photos, by her. She'd created well over 100, reaching into 150 by the time she called it a day, and over those 7 years, I grew attached to these 'people'. I developed crushes. I fell in love. I shared my deepest secrets, my darkest memories, and even battled my first experience with depression with them, so you can appreciate how not only heartbreaking it was to lose all of those 'friends' in mere seconds, but also lose my trust in said 'best friend', and in people I surrounded myself with. My entire world, and everything, and everyone I knew in it had changed before my eyes. My circles shrunk. My confidence crashed. My life as I'd known it had ended. I was alone.

It's a difficult situation to describe to somebody who hasn't been through it, which is probably why I denied it'd ever happened for 6-8 months afterwards. Police have described it as a form of cyber bullying, but she didn't actually commit any crimes. Support groups and helplines have called my denial and grief that followed, and the friendship I kept with her because of that, as a type of Stockholm Syndrome. Doctors have called it 'the most extreme case of manipulation, and most unusual causes of PTSD they've ever seen". Sometimes I wish I wasn't such an individual case, so I'd actually have somebody who understood beside me..

Fast forward to February '16 and I reached the end of the line. I was out of work for anxiety and stress, and my depression was kicking me down at every opportunity. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I couldn't leave the house unless absolutely necessary. I felt pretty much at a loss. I'd held on to those profiles, those 'friends' for so long, that it eventually became a battle between my memories of them, false, fabricated, Frankenstein memories, or an uncertain and unknown future, which made finally accepting help and support all the more painful, but I realise now that I did the right thing. I started taking medication for my anxiety and depression, and got put on a waiting list for therapy. I started going out a little more, and cooking meals I actually enjoyed eating. I threw that 'best friend' to the curb (via a letter which I've made available for public reading here), and started clearing my life of negative and poisonousness memories I didn't want to let go.

Is waking up everyday as difficult as it seems? Yes. Does remembering everything that's happened hurt? Of course, but it wouldn't be healthy if it didn't, and I can see that now that I'm on the road to recovery. I feel so much more than the emptiness that once filled me. I feel grief, hurt, sadness, anger, hatred, spite, and fear over what happened, and why I'm the one made to suffer, but I also feel excitement and intrigue over what my new future might hold, topped with a ton of anxiety, but I'm getting there, and that's something I never thought I'd feel afterwards.

Pretty easy to see why Nellie and Co. wasn't my number one priority, am I right?

However, if this experience were a cloud, there would be a silver lining, and that's everything good that's come of it all. For starters, I finally said goodbye to my long long locks and am now sporting a new bouncy shoulder length do instead. It was the first of my big lifestyle changes, and I'm certainly still getting used to, you know, not having a million strands of hair all over my face. The second big step was coming out to my parents, and while I wish I could say I did it in an exciting way, I just sort of.. blurted it out instead. These two steps, although minor, where HUGE in terms of finding my future, and what it may hold. I have a certain sense of freedom now, freedom from fake friends, freedom from fear, and freedom from my past, not to mention the freedom to make some serious changes..

That's where Nellie and Co. comes in.

When I took my hiatus to give myself some serious TLC, I always knew I'd return. Was there a set date? No, but I knew I'd get a gut feeling when the time is right, and a few days ago, I got that feeling deep in the pit of my chest. I missed the community, and I missed the people in it. I missed creating and crafting content, and catching up on Twitter. I missed the friends I realised I'd made through blogging, and remembered that the only person who can manipulate my life, and my future is me, so I'm coming home.

It won't be a balloons and banners affair, and neither will you find yourself with an influx of content filling your doorstep, I'm taking things slowly, and allowing myself to make some needed changes. There's no set schedule, at least, not for now, and there's no real rules I'm making for myself either, because rules only ever get broken in the end anyway. While it's main branding won't see any changes, Nellie and Co. might see itself get a slight nip and tuck, and tweaks here and there, because this girl is no longer feeling quite so grey. Content wise, you can realistically expect one post a week, alongside a separate day for Blogger Love. While I've been through and battled depression before now, this time feels much different; things are a lot more complicated and difficult, and there's a lot more to consider, so for now, I ask for your patience and consideration, so I can get myself better, and bring Nellie and Co. back on top.

I hope you forgive my absence, and don't mind me sharing such a personal experience with you. I have plans to share more about the experience and it's repercussions on Safe Space in the upcoming months, but I felt you deserved to know the basics. For now though, you can find me on Twitter, sharing love and finding what makes me happy. Thank you to everyone who's waited for me to come back, and supported me throughout everything. I've missed you all so much.. See you all soon. <3

15 comments:

  1. It's terrible that happened to you, especially coming from a person you felt was your friend. I'm happy that you've taken great steps towards improving your mental health and cutting out that toxic person. And I love the new hair! Here's to moving forward towards a brighter future.

    Liselle @ Lunch-Time Librarian

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  2. I don't even know what to say. That's completely horrible what happened to you. I'm glad to hear you've managed to cut her out of your life - now it's time to build back up what you've lost. Big hugs ♥

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  3. Wow.

    I can't even fathom how all of that feels. That's beyond horrible! I can't believe someone who claimed to be your best friend could do that to you. I was reading that and thinking this must be the biggest and most horrible catfish experience ever.

    That's absolutely amazing that you've decided to take your life into your own hands and not let this destroy your life forever. It tames a strong person to admit all of that and get the help they need to overcome something so horrible. That's good you're not letting it define you.

    I hope you continue to be positive and make friends that are amazing to you! Love the new hair as well :)

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  4. Oh my gosh, Amanda, you've been through so much. I can't believe all of that was happening to you, one of the sweetest people I know in this book blogging community. I'm happy that you've given yourself some TLC though, and that you're working through things right now :)

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  5. Excuse my language, but HO-LY SHIT. I have such rage and anger and a ton of other feeling roiling through me right now for you. Like I want to drop kick that old "friend" of yours right into next year. I'm glad to hear, though, that you're back and you've gotten the help you need. I remember when some of this was happening because you read Face Time in early 2014, and it wasn't much longer after that I started to notice a change. That's a long time to struggle, girl. I'm hoping that it's nothing but sunshine and rainbows for you from here on out. <3

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  6. How the hell can someone do that??!! Unbelievable. Where does she even get the motivation to create and maintain so many account? Girl needs a hobby STAT.

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  7. Anonymous14 July, 2016

    I'm sorry you had to go through all that! This is the first time I've heard something like this and I can't imagine how it must have been for you.
    Take your time and set your pace, we're here to support you! *hugs*

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  8. *sends you hugs and all the warm cupcakes* Omg, Amanda, I'M REALLY GLAD YOU'RE BACK and I was actually super worried when I didn't see you hardly online at all. But I toootally get that when things just pile up and get overwhelming and totally swamp you. I'm glad you took time to take care of yourself! Because that is a seriously horrible and terrible experience you had. Omg. I'm really really glad you ditched that "friend". That is....I just have no words. Why would someone do that????? I've lost friends, so I do understand how that betrayed feeling. Although noooot to this extent of course. ANWAY. I really hope things get better for you (and congrats on coming out to your family!) and I'm really happy you are back! :D

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  9. What a horrible thing to go through! I'm so glad you're on the road to recovery and able to recognize those silver linings. I hope things continue to get better for you. Blessings on your journey.

    Serena
    poetree {blog} | editing services

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  10. Oh Amanda, I am SO, so sorry. How on earth can someone do such a thing!? I read your letter, and it was amazing, I am so happy that you were able to do that, it is such a great step to getting your life back- or maybe getting a different, better one is the better phrasing. There is absolutely SO much light at the end of the tunnel though, even though I cannot even imagine how hard it is to see. Just the insight you have, and how you are pulling yourself out of the darkness is proof that you are destined for all the good things. Also, your hair looks gorgeous, and I am so glad that you came out to your family, I hope they're being a great support system (and it sounds like they are, from the letter!) for you. And we're here too, no matter how often you post, or when you feel up to it... hopefully this can be a safe spot to land for you too. BIG hugs ♥

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  11. You do not need to apologize for taking time to get better. I cannot believe what you went through... look how strong you are because of it. I'm proud of you for sharing your story and for pushing through it all to allow yourself to heal.

    Glad to see you back. *hugs*

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  12. I am so sorry that happened from you, especially since that person was a trusted friend. Nothing to that level has ever happened to me before, so I can't say I know what you feel, but I have been deeply betrayed by close friends, so I know what that part feels like. It sounds like you are doing better, but if you ever need to talk, feel free to reach out to me. I'll listen.

    Don't feel bad for not blogging for a while, taking care of yourself is the most important thing. Anyone who matters will understand that.

    Thank you for sharing your story and your letter. It is horrible and I really feel for you and the situation you are going through. You might not see it, but I think you're a hero. You took this devastating blow, and are fighting to work your way back to where you should be. So many people would just quit where they fell and stop fighting for anything.

    I'm so proud of you because you are going to do it. You are going to remove the effects of this negative encounter from your life. You'll never forget, and whether or not you eventually forgive I can't say, but this will make you a stronger person. And I firmly believe you'll find better, real friends that will never manipulated you this way. People that will fight tooth and nail for you because you're worth fighting for and not because they want something from you.

    I wish you all the best.

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  13. Oh my...I ended up here via a Bloglovin suggested post link, then went to see what you'd posted recently and, woah! I feel a tiny bit of your pain, people who I thought I could trust and that cared for me, betrayed and slandered me during a time when I was laid low with grief due to losing a close family member...I also have a chronic incurable illness and folks I thought were friends turned out not to be when I ceased to be useful to them due to my health, it's not the same I know but it means I can empathise. Give yourself time to heal and be kind to yourself...
    I used to struggle with this, still do sometimes, but I hope you can remember that emotions are valid and necessary and I hope very very much that you're able to transform this betrayal into something positive...or not! Work through it and let it go or use what you've learned from it to help others to cope. Sending love and light your way.
    - Oh and Karma will engineer some fitting payback for that twisted manipulator, of that you can be sure.

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  14. I am so sorry this happened to you, Amanda! I can't believe that girl. How manipulative and horrible. Well take your time getting back into the swing of things and know that we are all here for you. <3 Sending lots of hugs your way!

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  15. I don't know what to say about this.. I'm so sorry this happened to you and I seriously can't understand why someone would do such a thing. That is terrible :(

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