Hello, my lovely readers! I won’t lie, returning to this space after such a lengthy pause is nerve-wrecking. Finding the right words to explain why I’ve been gone for so long is hard. I have sabotaged myself at least a dozen times in 2020 with thoughts like “Can I even write any longer?” or “Who will even read my posts?” But at the end of the day, I realized that what was keeping me from going back to blogging was the voice in my own head. An unsubstantiated fear.
However, alongside the fear, there is also a palpable excitement to go back to something I held dear yet was not mentally able to do for a while now. You see, the title of this post – Awakening – represents awakening of me as a person, as much as the blog itself. The past two years have passed in a bit of a blur because of something I arrogantly thought would never touch me – depression.
I won’t delve into the details of why it happened or what caused it. It is not relevant. What matters to me is to realize what a demoralizing and debilitating condition it truly is. I became a shell of a person I once was, turned into a shadow, living life on an auto-pilot. I’ve now been living in DC over two years, yet when I was trying to remember what I did in fall of 2019 or what it looked like – I couldn’t remember. Then it dawned on me – depression kept me completely zoned out. It stripped me from any excitement or inspiration. To put it in a poetic way, my joie de vivre was put out just like a gust of unexpected wind knocks out the flickering flame of a wax candle in a split of a second.
But, every struggle sent our way is a lesson from Universe or God, if you’re a believer. I learned that depression is a real health condition and you cannot just “snap out of it.” I learned that admitting you are struggling and need help is not shameful. I will never be able to properly thank my husband and dearest friends for their unconditional love, support and patience during this difficult period in my life. I learned that it doesn’t make you a weak person. If anything, it makes you stronger. It forces you to dig deep and confront your demons. With baby steps you learn to fight it and you persevere. I now know myself much better than before, I know what I want and, most importantly, what doesn’t serve me any longer.
I’m sharing this because I also learned that I was not alone facing this monster. Growing up in Georgia, talking about your private issues (“airing your dirty laundry”, as we put it), especially pertaining to mental health was a huge social taboo. It still is. As a result, many feel isolated and lonely cause they think no one else has that issue, that they are uniquely damaged. I too felt weak and ashamed. I was afraid of being misunderstood, especially when you know people are used to seeing you succeed, be strong, always in good mood and generally well. I then learned that letting the mentality of “what will others say?” is what holds you back, what makes you weaker. It dims your light. So if you’re like me, feeling lonely and isolated, please know – you’re not uniquely damaged. There is nothing to be ashamed of. There is always help available, and with a little bit of patience, consistency and discipline, you’ll awaken and shine bright again.
With time, I learned how to not only smile, but laugh. I’m back to my passions: photography, exploring, writing and I’m diving deep to take it all to the next level. With that comes the question: what’s in store for Travels with Nano? The goal is to publish at least a couple of times a week, sharing my favorite sips, bites and travel moments. I also want to expand what I write about and share my general thoughts on different topics around life and style. I work and live in Washington, D.C. metro area now, so I’ll share a lot of local travel insights moving forward. Just like everyone else, I spent most of 2020 exploring locally, which has turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to get to know a place I’ve learned to call home. But I have not severed my ties with Japan either, so expect many interesting posts about the Land of the Rising Sun as well. I feel like, with madness that COVID-19 has brought onto the world, we can all use a little doze of inspiration!
It feels so good to be back. Thanks for reading and hope you’ll stay around for more!