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I'm tired

I’m tired. The past year, if not decade, has been intense. There has been love, loss, mental illness and family drama. I’ve been damaged and I have grown. I’ve seen inside the walls of psych wards and parliaments. I’ve made friends, lost others, left places behind and returned to some. I’ve learnt how to enjoy feeling at home while also still falling back into old, harmful patterns. I’m learning how to love better than I did, how to enjoy the mundane, how to share the load of saving the world, and how to reach out for help.

It’s been a lot, this lifetime, and it feels like things are slowly coming together. I’m closing some doors while opening others, some doors I didn’t even know existed, some windows that allow sunshine to come through. I’ve learnt to sit through my storms, which aren’t as paralysing as they used to be. I still struggle with things that are deeply engrained within me, but I have learnt to recognise them and acknowledge that they are part of me, for now, and for good reasons, but that doesn’t mean they have to be part of me forever. I’ve often changed my environment to avoid changing myself, and now that I’m back on the smaller island of Malta, the country I (sometimes unfortunately) feel most at home, I am learning that I can change from within, too. I don’t need to embrace external chaos to match the whirlwinds inside of me. I can accept serenity and learn to be calm.

It’s difficult, not only because you need to make a living and pay rent every month, which takes up a substantial amount of my energy and time, but also because growth can hurt. It takes courage to look at yourself and see which baggage you carry around and what patterns you repeat at the cost of your own well-being. It takes even more courage, then, to unpack that baggage, look at every item from all sides, find out why you decided to pack this in the first place, and dispose of it adequately. To realise that not everything you’re carrying with you is necessary, or even useful, on the journey that you are on. To realise that you don’t need to keep giving into the same patterns, more often than not unconsciously, but to look at the map and see that there are more paths than the one you’ve been on. That you can decide where to walk, who to join on the journey, and create your own paths – perhaps even better ones than the one you were on.

Apart from energy and courage, it takes time. When I recovered from my psychosis, it took me a full year of balancing medication, therapy, yoga, diving, and my dog to arrive at a point where I could live a full life again. I had the privilege of working few hours and managing to afford my – then cheap – room in Gżira, as well as a great group of friends who were there for me no matter what. That’s different now: life has become expensive, salaries haven’t increased, I need my own space and have a dog to take care of. I have great friends, but mostly on the other island, and work has become the predominant thing in my life. The state of our environment, be it the country we live in, the continent we share or the planet in its entirety, has become more hostile and individualistic, something I struggle to grapple with. My work has more meaning, which brings satisfaction, but it has also become harder and continues to be so as everything I stand for seems to crumble in front of my eyes.

To work most of your days means there remains little time for reflection and introspection, because apart from a four-hour daily commute and eight hours in the office, there are friends to see, chores to do, errands to run and a dog to take care of. When I have time left, I swim, read, write, and lie in the hammock I hung up on my terrace. That’s the time I have to think about the things I discuss in therapy. The way my childhood has ramifications on who I am today, how my conscious choices stem from deep-rooted beliefs and ideas based on past events, and why I struggle to allow myself to enjoy things and to be loved.

These are big questions for a little girl, and I cannot blame myself for being tired. But I often find myself asking whether I am spending my twenties right, being more in my head than out in the world. In these moments, I tell myself that I thoroughly enjoy getting to know myself on such a deep level. I find strong satisfaction in finding out why I am the way I am, where I’m facing recurrent obstacles, and how to deal with those to become a more well-rounded person. I love reading about the scientific background of trauma as much as I enjoy spotting a moray eel on a dive. I love writing about my inner workings as much as I love an early-morning yoga session or a drink with a good friend.

Again, this does not mean it is easy. Far from it. But it is worth the effort it takes.

As for the rest of this year, I have a rough plan of what I'll do. I'll finish my stint at the European Parliament office in Malta at the end of this month (July) and I'll try to take some time off. ‘Off’ is relative, as I will still be editing newsletters for The European Correspondent, making videos for EU Factor Next and working on a major investigation, but those are things I can do from home in my own time. Looking back, I see why I struggle to do all of this while working a full-time job in an office two hours away from home. Maybe that’s why I’m tired.

After summer, I want to commit to investigative journalism. All my experiences, from working in newsrooms to parliaments, have confirmed that this is what I want to be doing. I’ve learnt so much from the diverse experiences, and the skills and knowledge I’ve gained will undoubtedly come in handy, but the end goal will always be to write, ideally about things that might actually change the world for the better. I love digging deep, uncovering things, and writing for those who love to read. If I get to do that for a living, I’m a happy woman.

As for everything else, it will work out over time. Things tend to fall into place one way or another. I can't do more than I can, I can't heal faster than my body allows me to. I know there will be worse times and better times, and I know both are part of life. I've survived them all until now, so I'll try to keep that up.

Oh, one more thing! I have come off my antipsychotics over the past months, which we've replaced with a mood stabiliser. I was told this new medication would have fewer side effects and longterm implications. We might even be able to slowly reduce my antidepressants at some point, leaving me on that mood stabiliser alone. I'm not in a rush, but it's a sign of positive progress.



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