After hearing incredible stories from two of my colleagues yesterday, I’ve been inspired to share some about my own struggles with my mental health. So here goes.

I’ve spent the last couple of days on Struggle Street.

Out of all the places I’ve ever been, Struggle Street has to be the worst. It’s filled with bad memories, shame, overthinking, horrible hangovers, constant doubt, and self-loathing. Struggle Street isn’t a place I choose to go. It’s a place that just pops up every so often and puts itself in my way, so that I have to turn down it. Sometimes I’m stuck there for days; other times I manage to extract myself within an hour. It’s a rabbit warren, a labyrinth (unfortunately without David Bowie in tights), a prison.

When I’m on Struggle Street, the main things I feel are shame and self-loathing. Along with these come self-doubt, low to non-existent self-worth, the occasional episode of self-harm, and a lot of self-deprecation.

I took this photo earlier today. I’d had a wonderful morning at the beach with Mikey. Look at my face. How happy do I look? Very. Do you know what I was telling myself right before I took that photo? It certainly wasn’t anything nice.

The amount of times I’ve called myself an “idiot” or “fucking stupid” or a “waste of space” over the past 36 hours would be enough to reduce anyone else to tears were I saying it to them. But that’s the thing about high-functioning sufferers of depression and anxiety: we’re high-functioning. We continue to get along with our work, play sport, laugh at social gatherings, be there for others, and generally live life – all while these toxic thoughts, self-loathing, or other harmful behaviours are happening in the backgrounds of our minds.

The moments after this photo were spent avoiding food (trying to feel in control), anger at myself for gaining weight (cheese, man), inspections of the scars on my legs from self-harm and the new scratches that joined them in the past couple of days, and a lot of wondering about why the hell anyone would want to spend time with me.

Did you guess all that from that photo?


I have been living with diagnosed depression and generalised anxiety disorder for most of my life. I think there are three buckets that people who know me fall into:

  • Those close to me who have seen very low lows. They’ve seen me freeze before I’m about to enter a social situation, watched me excuse myself from conversations so I can leave the room to have a panic attack, witnessed my face drop just before I cover it up with a smile, walked in on me curled on the floor in the foetal position, heard or been in the presence of me bawling my eyes out, or seen me shaking uncontrollably.
  • Those who know about my mental illnesses but haven’t seen a low. I’m pretty open about my mental health, but I rarely give details about how it affects me, and how often I head to Struggle Street. The thing is, I struggle a lot more often than I let on. To this group I might seem like I’m having a bit of a bad day, but then I turn around and crack a joke – so I must really be okay, right? Like I said before, I’m high-functioning.
  • Those who actually have no idea. Again: high-functioning.

How do I get away from Struggle Street and make the escape into a better place? It depends where I am and who’s around me, really. It also depends on what sort of dark hole I’m stuck in. I have a bunch of strategies up my sleeve to help slow my mind down, lower my heart rate, make me feel safe and in control, and remember my worth. I use these to varying degrees of success on a regular basis. If you’ve ever stumbled across me sitting and staring into space, chances are I’m counting my breaths, trying to ground myself, or reciting something in my head.

Today? Nothing has helped. I’ve had a couple of conversations with supportive friends, which kept me a little distracted. I’ve tried reconnecting with nature, meditating at the beach, listening to music, spending time with my pets, and cooking, but nothing is snapping me out of it. Writing has been helping, but I’m also anxious about the possible ramifications (there’s that overthinking) of being so open about my struggles. Sometimes I just have to wait for it to pass on its own.

Being on Struggle Street when travelling can be interesting. Travellers are often more emotionally open (think how quickly travel romances can develop) and tend to have a bit more life experience and a willingness to be vulnerable. I’ve been lucky enough to find good shoulders to lean upon when I’ve needed them. But sometimes all I can do is wait until the storm blows over and try not to completely isolate myself.

It’s a different approach when travelling, because it can be tempting to lock myself in a room and feel miserable. But sometimes I am forced to be outside, be social, and get through. The unexpected can help too.


So, why share all this? Because sometimes I just need people to know what I’m going through. It helps. No matter how outwardly confident someone looks, they can still be struggling in a deep, dark space. No matter how happy I look, behind my big ol’ smile I might be putting myself down.

This isn’t a cry for help. It’s another story for you to add to your library of mental health knowledge. It’s a request for you to think about your words before you utter them and to practice kindness. It’s a reminder to myself that there is strength in numbers and that a society more educated about mental illness is a more supportive one.

So. I am here for you, even if I’m not always here for me. Share your stories, or gain strength from others. I know that Struggle Street will always be there, though my visits may be less frequent at times. It’s part of how my brain is made, so I’ll keep working on my strategies and drawing strength from others.

Until next time. x

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  • Those misty, green woods in Winter ๐ŸŒฒ๐Ÿƒ
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I love love LOVE the English woods. Not pictured: one food-crazy dog that I'm pet-sitting ๐Ÿถ
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#theunpreparedtraveller #rowtrip #travelblogger #housesitters #petsitters #nature_brilliance #EarthVisuals #artofvisuals #welivetoexplore #natureaddict #naturediversity #ourplanetdaily #earth_deluxe #instanaturelover #nature_prefection #instapassport #aroundtheworldpix #ig_masterpiece #campinassp #flashesofdelight #travelog #mytinyatlas #visualmobs #theglobewanderer #lovegreatbritain #visitengland #photosofengland #englandtrip #photosofbritain  #focalmarked
  • When I was heading to London two years ago, my colleague at the time @merranbowedesignlust gave me a list of things to do. I didn't manage to tick off all the things on the list, but this time around I made sure I did one of her highly recommended activities: walking along the canal from Camden Markets to Regents Park. My goodness. It's now on my highly recommended list! It's beautiful, peaceful and goes past the zoo! Sure I saw some hyenas ripping another animal apart but that was all part of the experience... Thanks Merran ๐Ÿ’•
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  • Today I walked through the woods. Words fail me, even now. It is like the landscape is from my dreams; from my imagination. I remember growing up wishing that we had beautiful woods like this near us. The Australian bush is beautiful, don't get me wrong. But English woods are so full of life in a totally different way. They are full of deep greens, vines, moisture! The birds sang around me as I walked. I felt my breath being taken away by the beauty. And I will see it again in my dreams tonight ๐Ÿƒ
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  • Welcome to Steyning, an old village in the south of England where the woods are a-plenty (and so was the fog today). Iโ€™m house sitting and looking after Lucky the beagle. Hereโ€™s what we saw on todayโ€™s walk (warning: will give you forest envy)
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  • Another view of Canterbury Cathedral. Seriously, this architecture is so stunning. I know the locals walk past it every day and don't take it in because it's the norm, so it takes me an extra 20 minutes to walk anywhere because I just want to stop and stare!
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  • Welcome to Canterbury! It's my first stop in the UK and boy is it cold... for someone who has just been in an Australian heatwave, anyway. I've been walking around seeing the aights, sitting in cafes, making friends, visiting friends, hiking in Dover, and slowly settling in. It's hard, but I'm trying. I'm loving the architecture here so much!
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  • I stand on the rocks at one of my favourite beaches in Newcastle with my trusty best friend (Mikey the border collie) by my side.
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With only days left in Newcastle before I move overseas, my anxiety is building. I keep thinking of all the things that I am leaving behind, and it's making me question why I'm doing this at all.
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But, as my good friend Alex told me, there are so many "hellos" in the future. Hello to new people. Hello to new experiences. Hello again to all those I'm "leaving behind".
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So, this picture is a bit of a metaphor, as well as a stunning sunset. There are so many sunsets to look forward to. There will be rocks, tumultuous seas, and calm waters on the way to those beautiful experiences. One day at a time.
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#theunpreparedtraveller #rowtrip #aussieblog #aussieblogger #travelblog #travelblogger #mynewcastle #goodbyes #roamtheplanet #travelphotography #visualoflife #beachlife #dametraveler #artofvisuals #flashesofdelight #thecreative #ig_masterpiece #beachvibes #skyporn #sunsetsniper #skylovers #sunrise_and_sunsets #sunsets #sunset_hub #sunsetlovers #instasunsets #all_sunsets #sunsethunter #sunset_madness #sunset_stream
  • When a friend recently invited me up to Valla Beach to camp with his family, I jumped at the opportunity (after finding a way to make the 3.5 hour drive when I'd just sold my car...). I've got limited time left in Australia before my big adventure and I've never actually been properly camping! So, thank you @danmurphy31. I'm so happy to have had some time at such a beautiful beach/river and to have had my first family camping experience where the whole aim is to live slow โ›บโ˜€๏ธ๐ŸŒŠ
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  • I'm trying to visit all of my old haunts in Newcastle from the past ten years. This is a stunning way to end the day - the top of the hill at King Edward Park while the sun sets behind you. It turns the sky brilliant colours and is also one of the best places to watch the moon rise. Take a picnic blanket and some beers for the best experience ๐Ÿป
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Mate, who am i?

(I ask myself the same thing)

Travelling can be really hard when you never feel like you're prepared. But, the more I do it the more I realise that being unprepared is the best way to travel. Iโ€™m Rowena. I live with depression and an anxiety disorder, which inspires a lot of my writing. My first reaction is to over-pack, over-worry, freak out, and give myself a headache. Iโ€™m consciously rebelling against that.

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