11 August 2015

Shattering Stigmas: My Story and mini readathon!

Last night, I was doing my usual little stalk on Twitter when a retweet caught my eye. I clicked on the original tweet's link and what I read made me cry. 

Shattering Stigmas is an event running from 10th-24th August, hosted by the lovely Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight, Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections and Kayla @ The Thousand Lives. They aim to talk about all things mental health and mental health in YA fiction and they'll also be hosting competitions, games, author guest posts, author interviews and books to read which focus on mental health. Guys, I am SO super excited for this! I implore you to join in and check out their posts throughout the next couple of weeks, please! I know I'll be participating and I'll be doing my own mini readathon of mental health themed YA books (listed below).

Apologies in advance for the long and detailed post, I am just lucky enough to be able to pinpoint exactly where things went wrong for me. There is a detailed paragraph on domestic violence, so feel free to skim that part if you think it will affect you badly.

Many of you may or may not be aware of my struggle with depression over the years. In fact, depression was a major cause of my almost 2 year long hiatus on this blog until recently. I don't know how long I've had depression for, as far as I know it's been on-off since about 2009, but when I really think about it, I know at one stage I was quite young. 

High school was great for me and for the most part I was absolutely fine, I didn't feel depressed, have anxiety, or any other mental health issue and I had lots of friends who were there to support me in tougher times.

My final year of high school is where things started to go awry. I met a boy slightly older than me who seemed lovely, kind and caring. We hung out heaps, I made more new friends, and things were pretty great for a while. At the end of Grade 12, I failed my uni-entrance exams and thought my world was going to end (for those going through the same thing, fear not!), but managed to find a bridging course to get in instead. I saved up for the initial upfront payment in 6 months by working two jobs and 12 hour days almost everyday and inbetween working and spending time with my new boyfriend, I barely saw my family.

I moved 600km away from my home for uni, my boyfriend ended up moving shortly after, and we moved in together. The two years after that were some of the hardest I've ever been through. He was emotionally, physically and psychologically abusive, and without realising at the time, he essentially ostracised me from seeing my family or friends. Going out to visit my family when they were in my city would result in feelings of guilt and possibly a screaming match. The same thing happened if I wanted to see friends. In order to keep him happy and prevent him getting angry, I stopped seeing friends and family. Nothing I did was enough, he would regularly throw furniture at the walls, threaten me, scream at me, and call me names all the while I thought everything was my fault and I was to blame, I was never good enough. By then, my depression had well and truly manifested and when I finally realised something was wrong, I felt I had noone to talk to. I hated myself and who I'd become, and thought there was no way my family or friends would want to help me. Why would they want to help me? I'd barely spoken to them for 2 years and was this horrible person who couldn't do anything right. (I actually started book blogging around this time and it was a major help). In December 2011, I went and visited my hometown for a few months to work and started going out with people I went to high school with, I was shocked that people thought I was someone worth hanging out with. I went back to the city in January 2012 and broke up with my boyfriend. It was not easy, in fact it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but after a couple of days, it was finally over. I moved back with my family until uni started again and the times I spent with my new friends were some of the best I've ever had.

Over the next couple of years, my depression was on and off. I had an awesome network of friends, my relationship with my family was greater than ever and my housemates at the time were incredibly understanding as well. In 2013, people I loved died and I failed some units at uni. My coping mechanisms back then were far from stellar and I would go out drinking over the holidays and kind of, I dunno, ignored everything until I went back to uni (which, by the way, you should definitely not do. In hindsight, drinking alcohol was one of the worst things I could've done for my depression), had to face reality and it all caught up with me.

At the end of 2013, beginning of 2014, I would go to bed at night not caring whether I woke up the next day and just generally didn't feel much of anything. I don't really know how, but after one of the darkest periods of my life, I managed to crawl out of that darkness and started feeling happier again. It sounds weird, but it's a bit of a blur. Over the years and to this day, I have learned to monitor my thinking patterns and have learned how to separate destructive, depressive thoughts, from normal ones. I've never been on medication due to not being able to afford it at the time (there is NOTHING to be ashamed about if you do take medication to help though, I can not stress this enough and recommend it more than my method) but I still "think about my thinking" and have started mindfulness meditation (by the recommendation of my old housemate who is very mental health aware as well). 

I've been well, happy and improving since May 2014. It's not easy and my mental health is still something I work on in some way, everyday. I have bad days and some weeks/months where I am terrified I'm going to fall into a depressive episode again, and almost have. I do little things that make me feel better and so far I've managed to prevent it since last year *high fives self*

You should definitely visit Bookish Reflections whose post, 'What to do if you're feeling blue' is much more eloquent than anything I might try and suggest in regards to making yourself feel a little bit better (although I would totally recommend mindfulness meditation too, there is an app called 'Smiling Mind' which is what I use when I have "bad days" or feel like I may be relapsing again).

*takes deep breath*

SO!! Onto the books! In honour of this event, I'm going to read/review as many books with mental health themes as I can. I have a few in mind that I already own and I probably won't read them all but here's to trying :) 

Let me know in the comments below if there are any I should go out and buy straight away and feel free to join in if you like with your own selection of books :) Even if you take the time to check out the blogs of the ladies I first mentioned in this post, that would be wonderful

If you know me personally, or even just online, I ask that you please not judge me for going into so much detail, or treat me any differently. Some of my family and close friends know the extent of my depression and struggle in the past and I'm fortunate that they love me unconditionally but I don't really openly discuss it with many others. That time period is something I was ashamed of for a very long time, and can now talk about openly about it, but I am still met with wary glances and awkward conversation whenever the words "I suffer depression" are uttered. If you suffer from depression, anxiety or any other mental illness that's not talked about as often; you are not weak, you are not a burden, and you should feel proud of yourself for doing the best you can even if it's just getting out of bed in the morning or making yourself breakfast.


  1. Thank you for opening up and telling your story, Taneika. I knew about some of the challenges you've faced but didn't know about others. I think you are incredibly brave and strong and every time we catch up you always light up a room. You are one of the nicest, most positive, cheerful and genuine people I know. I wish you all the good things, big hugs and love.

    Talking about books, I absolutely adored The Impossible Knife of Memory and highly recommend it. I also recommend Me Since You by Laura Wiess. It had me in tears for most of the book but it was amazing. There is a review up on my blog if you want to check it out. Oh and Just One Day by Gayle Forman. It's different to the others but also deals with core issues.

    Jess xx

    1. Awww Jess, thankyou so much! That is so nice of you to say <3 Thankyou for being so lovely and such a great person to be around whenever we catch up!

      I am thinking of reading The Impossible Knife of Memory after The Pause and I had a look for Me Since You but haven't been able to find it anywhere yet :(

      Thankyou lovely <3 xxx

  2. I'm not sure if my previous comment went through since I'm typing this on my phone and I didn't get a notification, so I'm just going to try this again.
    Thank you for sharing your journey with us! It takes incredible strength for someone to do so. Especially sharing these things with people who know you in real life. I'm still working on that myself, as I am scared that my family won't be as understanding, seeing as they have often voiced opinions like "you want to be that way" and "start acting like a grown up". They don't understand how mental health works - I think - and want to blame it on those people wanting more attention. It's all in our heads is what they say. And it is. But does it make it any less real? Any less hard to deal with? It doesn't.
    I'll be sharing my thoughts regarding this event as well, however, I do face the fear of someone from my RL finding out about it. I haven't really told anyone, which is why I admire your courage.
    Keep up the great work!

    1. Oh, that is horrible :( someone who is close to me has family like that and it absolutely breaks my heart to see them treated that way and told to "grow up" etc. It may be all in our heads, but that doesn't mean we are making anything up or that it's any less difficult to deal with than something physical.

      It took me a very long time to tell people I knew in real life about any of this so take all of the time you need! <3

  3. Thanks for so open with us, I know it must not be easy to share this stuff. Like Jess said, you are one of the most nicest, positive, loveliest people I know and I always love catching up with you and I wish you the best. It's so great to hear that you're feeling better these days <3 And as Dr. Seuss says: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

    1. You are so wonderful, Rebecca! Thankyou so much. I love catching up with you as well and I always look forward to it!

      <3 <3

  4. Thank you so much for opening up about this, and wow, that's quite the story. That must have been incredibly difficult and I can only imagine what you must have gone through. To come out of such a relationship -- no wonder! In any case, I'm really glad to hear you're doing much, MUCH better and I hope things keep going well for you <3

    Thank you for joining our mental health event, thank you for saying there's no shame in needing medication, and thank you for linking to my blog post -- I've heard incredible things about mindfulness, but I haven't tried it myself, so I felt like I couldn't comment on that. :)

    You are an incredibly strong woman.

    1. Thankyou so much <3 I'm very lucky to have come out of it better and it's something I had to talk about because it's something I think needs to be talked about as much as mental health!

      Your blog post was brilliant and I couldn't agree more with everything you said! I tried to compile my own list but yours was just better :)

  5. Thank you so, so much for sharing your story with us, though I am incredibly sorry that you've had to go through all that. I am, however, so very proud that you were able to leave that abusive and horrible relationship- that takes SO much courage, and I am just so glad you were able to leave it behind. And I am so sorry that you've felt ashamed, and I know exactly what you mean. It's so frustrating because it isn't your fault, and you should never, ever feel ashamed, but I understand how people have the ability to make you feel that way, especially when you are already struggling.

    BIG hugs, and thank you SO much for joining in! I actually added a link-up to the welcome post, so feel free to link your post up! And I am excited about your read-a-thon- some of those books I have really wanted to read (the only one I have read- and liked!- was All the Bright Places) so I am super excited to hear your thoughts!! <3
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    1. Aww you're absolutely welcome! Thank YOU for hosting this incredible event! Mental health awareness if something I'm very passionate about so it made me incredibly happy to see this happening.

      I added my link to the post, thankyou!! I am looking forward to All the Bright Places, I wanted to read it sometime soon anyway, so this was just uncanny timing!


  6. Taneika, this is incredibly brave of you to put your story out here in the open and I think I fell in love with you a bit for doing so. I can't even imagine what you have been through, but you are a freaking inspiration and I consider it a privilege to be your friend (even if only a blogging one!) You are amazing!

    I've read Thirteen Reasons Why and All The Bright Places and think you'll enjoy them (with some tears though).

    <3 <3

  7. I am so sorry you had to go through these things. Nobody deserves to be treated in those ways. It's heartbreaking to think of the long term impact things like that can have on a person. You are incredibly brave, and a very strong woman, as shown by your willingness to share this story with us.

    I'm so glad that you've been able to do so well with managing your depression! That is huge, and I truly hope you are able to continue down this happier path!

    All The Bright Places is actually a book I am planning to read (listen) to soon! I have heard that is a very powerful and important book. So I am really looking forward to it.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing and participating in our event! I'm so happy you were able to walk away from that relationship, even if it was the hardest thing. I can see you're doing much better for it :)

    I really liked The Impossible Knife of Memory - I'd love to see what you think of it!

  9. I know this seems super weird, but I kind of fell in love with your personality through this text. I'm so sorry what have happened to you, but I think you are awesome and brave and a survivor. This text was so beautiful and touching and I just feel so much right now. I have had my struggles with depression too, and I recognized some of my own thoughts here. But we are survivors! We have love. And that's the most important part, to not lose love.

    And about mental illness in books, The Shock Of The Fall by Nathan Filer is amazing. I don't like self help books, but Gretchen Rubin's books (The Happiness Project and Better Than Before) have gave me some ideas and hope how to make my life happier, what is really important in my life.

    Sorry for the rambling and thank you for having this blog! I love it.

  10. We have now talked about this, but I was shattered to read this. But all is good, we are here, you know we are here, we love you and are here for you for ever!!! even longer if needed, I am quite open to haunting!!! :-) Love you xxxxxx


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