One of my favorite bands has a very powerful line in one of their songs. “Never fear to suffer, never hide behind a smile.” It’s a quote from The Shandon, an Italian skapunk band that sings in English as well as Italian. This band was part of my youth. I discovered them when I was about 15 and in the years after that, I saw them on many festivals and gigs. Since it’s linked to my teenage years, it’s also deeply linked to a dark period of my life.
For years and years I’ve been struggling with depression. Mind you, right now I’m in a good place and thankful for that, but it wasn’t always like that. With the start of secondary school and puberty, came a time of confusion and losing the desire to live. Nobody knew and I think many of my friends, family and people who were around me in that time still don’t know. It was my awful secret that I didn’t even want to admit to myself.
Even though I was a smart kid and learning was fairly easy for me, I hated school. I didn’t see the point, but felt an enormous pressure about achieving the highest level in everything. There were so many expectations in my young life. I hated myself and my life. I’d go to school, put a smile on my face, but as soon as I got home I cried. I spend many hours crying, to the frustration of my parents, who didn’t know how to help me. I had massive headaches, couldn’t concentrate and often got angry and frustrated.
‘Never fear to suffer, never hide behind a smile’ became a motto. I was always hiding behind a smile, because people don’t want to see that you are suffering. I always smiled and said things were fine. When I decided to stop doing that, things changed for me. I started to admit I wasn’t feeling well, even though I still didn’t speak about the real reasons. I still don’t know exactly how I managed, but at a certain point during my university years, things started getting better. By exploring and challenging myself, I started to get back on track. Now, when there’s a smile on my face, it is there because I’m laughing.
Wondering what this is doing on a travel blog? Continue here for part two.