The Life You Left Behind by Debbie Howells

“Your wings already exist. All you have to do is fly.”

How many times has it been an effort to get out of bed? The day where you can hear the rain and already know what the day will look like. The days where you have got back to back meetings you do not want to be in or the days where you are just too tired and it seems like such a struggle.

Now think how often do you have those kind of days? Once a month or once in a blue moon? But what if that feeling was with you everyday? That feeling of dread. That feeling of sickness that hits you even before the alarm goes off. Imagine having that feeling in the pit of your stomach everyday. That feeling of dread and anxiety, that feeling of worry.

I know that feeling because for many years that is how I felt. I felt everyday was like wading through tar. This immense tiredness that takes over your body but when you try to sleep you can’t. The desire to constantly eat or not eat at all. The way every bone in your body ached all the time and the rise and fall of emotions or lack of emotions. In some ways I was lucky, I had a purpose that made me get up every morning so in some ways it was not choice but it made me put one foot in front of the other day by day.

Ben suffered from solastalgia. “The distress that is produced by environmental change impacting on people while they are directly connected to their home environment.”

“In short, the destruction of our planet was what killed Ben, as well as the blindness and complicity of those in power. He simply couldn’t bear anymore of man’s inhumanity to man”

He suffered quietly everyday, some day better than others but always there under the surface. Then Ben met Casey and for a brief time Ben thought he had broken the cycle and could be happy. Unfortunately this happiness did not last long and now Casey is living a life without Ben trying to understand, trying to put one foot in front of the other and trying to survive. Hoping to escape the pain she feels Casey takes a break and goes to live in rural France. There she discovers a lot about herself, about Ben and about the people who love her. She learns how it feels to be alone and feel that heartbreak and she learns how to put one foot in front of the other. But most importantly, she learns that she wants to live for her and for Ben.

I learnt the hard way that life is for living and I was one of the lucky ones who made it and broke away from the vicious cycle but for so many people that isn’t always the case. And unlike a broken leg or a broken arm, depression; yes this word that many people see as a taboo is an illness, an illness just as real as the broken arm or the broken leg.

So if you see someone who you think is struggling I am not saying you can fix them but you can be kind. You never know what they are going through even if they portray the biggest smile or the jokiest face inside they may be falling apart.

“Some people come into our lives when we need them the most. We might not know it at the time, but they leave footprints in our hearts, changing us with the richness they bring, with their own unique way of looking at this beautiful world, the multi-coloured layers of their rainbow dreams. They are the gems and shining light and they fill our lives with love.”

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