“But what then am I? A thing that thinks. What is that? A thing that doubts, understand, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, and that also imagines and senses.”
― René Descartes,
Meditation on First Philosophy
My name is Naja.
I am 23 years old and I am born in the little country above Germany called Denmark.
Up to a few years ago I lived a life very similar to most young people in the western world.
But I did not feel well on the inside.
THIS IS MY STORY
I grew up in a small town not long from the capital.
As a kid I loved riding horses and playing football.
I was very active, joined sports from sailing to climbing to swimming.
Non of them for long. I got tired of one thing and wanted to try the next.
I was a dreamer, I would talk about the trolls I believed existed, play inside the forests and climb tall trees.
My parents got divorced when I was 6 years old.
I remember them fighting a lot up till then.
As a teenager I started dressing like how the cool teenagers around me did.
I attended school wearing high heels. I wore layers of make up and short skirts.
I liked ‘dolce and Gabbana’ tops and push up bras.
I was confused and angry. Especially at my parents.
I stopped joining sports, and got instead interested in the usual teenage stuff.
I created a huge focus on my outlook and my body.
On the same time I started having a harder time managing my world around me.
I started sabotaging a lot at home.
When I was the 11 years old I would steal from my siblings and my mom.
Slam doors till they broke, yell and scream often that I hated all of them
“I hate you all! Fuck you!”.
I would take out in the night and not come back.
My mom did not know how to handle most of what was going on. As the sensitive person she is, I scared her with my anger and violent behaviour. I knew that. I knew she did not know how to deal with this other part of me.
( What I was not aware of back then, was just how much I scared myself as well.)
Somehow my way of saying “ please hold me, I am scared. I need your love” came out by yelling and screaming, and smashing things. More and more as time went by.
My destructive behaviour often resulted in my mother escaping to her bedroom. The only room she was able to lock the door to besides the bathroom.
These actions often resulted in me crying and crying and crying, in the hall way. Screaming on long nights.
I did not see my dad too much as a child and teenager. He was busy during that time, teaching at a school nearby. He was hard to make appointments with and would rarely show up at the times he had promised. He would, like me, shift from one mood to another.
If he could not find his keys in the morning, his yelling would quite fast turn into: “Naja, the only one you fucking care about is yourself!”
I keep returning to this picture I have in my head of my sister hiding underneath our bed. She is so scared. I am standing in front her, yelling my lungs out at my dad. Trying to make him stop – to take revenge – for hurting us with his words and behaviour.
I have had good and amazing times with both my mother and my father too. It was far from being all chaos and destructive all the times.
But for me to tell you about this pain inside of me that got increased during my teenage years I have chosen to tell those memories of abandonment I felt.
During my teenage years confusion, pain inside my soul and anxiety, started taking place. Only increased by time.
My mom took me once to a doctor when I was 11 years old.
The doctor decided I had ADHD. He concluded together with my mom that it was best for me if I started taking medicine.
The ‘medicine project” did not work out that well.
I knew that the reason why they wanted me to start taking medicine was because I was scaring them all. I knew no one at home could handle me anymore. I knew that the reason why they were diagnosing me – why my mom brought me to the doctor in the first place – was an action out of powerlessness.
Trusting myself in these thoughts, resulted in me getting more angry. Hurting more. The pain I have had all my life, as long as I remember, between my ribs, inside my body, near my heart, got increased.
I stopped taking any pills.
“ I am not sick!”
We started receiving family therapy.
It did not lasted long. The separation and the gap between everyone at home was too big. The counsel meetings themself were catastrophic.
I was 15 years old. I wanted to move.
When the therapy stopped, I was given one of the family therapist as a contact person. A person who was going to be connected to me and could help me providing me support.
At the age of 16 years old I moved.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but my early adult life alone was not easy at all. My pain inside of me did not go away either.
Between the age of 16 and 19 several things happened: but not much.
I moved to a room in Copenhagen. I started studying to become a chef, but later decided to go back to highschool and finish that. I made good friends around me and was quite social. I always have been.
I started chasing guys and go to clubs in the weekend.
On the outside I was a very modern functioning pretty young woman.
Expect from all the absence I had from my school.
On the inside I was nothing like that. I was having very big issues with being alone. On the same time I could not handle having anyone close to me.
A rejection from a guy, from a friend – anyone really -could result in massive panic attacks with problems breathing.
These often brought me to late nights at the hospital.
I felt like everyone wanted to leave me all the time. Half of myself believed nobody could ever love me, that nobody was able to handle me.
I was constantly feeling left.
I still to this day deal with emotions like these deep inside of me.
I could not manage a lot of things at the same time. I often ended up getting help with basic things from my contact person. Going to the bank, paying my bills, sending letters. All the things I had to live up to, that I felt I could not.
I felt like all of what was going on around me – my entire word really – was bullshit.
It was all fake, lies.
I hated that I had to be in a school room. I hated all the things that I “should” do – or not do. I still hated everything like when I was 11. Myself too.
I wanted to escape. From my world – and myself.
I started cutting myself, drinking too much and doing drugs.
The pain inside of me was at times the only thing I could feel – and I could not stand to stay in it.
That was the reason why I a couple of times tried taking my own life. The first times with pills.
What ended up first getting me brought on a mental institution was the day I cut my legs wide open and had 30 stings sewn in them.
I went to see different psychologist after that. And a therapist for what they now had diagnosed me as being a: “borderline” patient.
Most of the times I felt like no one around me understood what I was trying to say.
That they were misinterpreting what I was saying and my emotions.
Or that my therapist was reading up from a book, treating me like a “task”. I got angry and I often left the treatment.
I knew that I needed help. I felt like going around in circles. I was falling apart inside.
On the same time, I could not let anybody too close to me. Admitting for myself I needed to see a therapist was almost impossible for me.
Every time I looked in one of the therapist’s eyes it was like seeing my mothers.
The anger came up again. I just could not let them win.
“They do not understand. Do not listen to them. Be strong. Naja, You are not sick!” I would tell myself.
I guess you can say that this is one of the reasons I became strong the way I am today.
I have always turned towards myself. Denied any illness.
When I was 17 years old and again when I was 18 I hiked 500 km on the “Camino de Santiago trail” in France and Spain. This awoken in me the forgotten excitement I had had for nature as a child.
It also created a curiosity in me of different ways of dealing with the mind. O experienced how it felt for my anger, frustration and anxiety to be met with silence and the raw wild nature.
When I was 21 years old I left Denmark for travelling.
I had saved up money for a year while working. I was longing to get away.
To for the wilderness and the solitude. I needed to have silence around me.
To get away from all the fakeness I felt surrounded by. The model advertisements, the hardworking students – all this business I never wanted nor could, be a part of.
I needed to start my search for different ways of dealing with my pain as well.
When I was 21 to 23 I travelled around in Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the lower states. Most of the time I was living in Canada.
I saw new worlds and experimented with new things.
I made it a mission to see how I could deal with my pain in new ways.
At first, I was so focused on that my darkness could get removed by being alone.
Again and again I had to face my fears and anxiety coming back to me.
It made it easy for me to travel because I was not scared of anyone or anything.
My worst enemy has always been myself.
But it was also hard. I became very lonely and I still felt very suicidal at times.
Nature helped me a lot.
I can talk about nature’s health effect on the mind and soul till I die.
I love hiking, climbing, kayaking, hunting – everything that can bring me outdoor – and I started spending a lot of times in the North American woods.
I loved the most being able to feel like I was a child again.
I loved the most, playing in the forest, not to be watched by anyone.
I loved the most being surrounded by mountains which seemed to ease my anxiety, made me feel safe.
The one in North America.
I guess I unknowingly had been searching for alternative communities for a while.
I was longing to connect with people whom I felt, felt like myself. Who were searching for new way of doing things as I was.
Taken out from some of the movies I had seen about the 60s and 70s – that was how it all was.
Young people at my age would walk around in clothes I had never seen in real life before – homemade or what looked like it – not shave necessarily, dance naked at nights, listen to electronic music, walk around barefoot, sit in parks all day sometimes and not seem to be during anything at all but to enjoy themselves.
It was all very new to me.
To see young people not focused and being busy with school and universities, or the newest fashion clothes.
I was so used to being around girls with eating disorders, worried about their make up and their dresses to look pretty. This was something else.
When I went to my first alternative festival, I felt wrong. I did not understand get what was going on. I felt like all the talk about “love” was too much, the hugging and kissing of strangers as well.
It made me anxious watching all the people doing their own weird things. Not necessarily interacting with each other. Dressed up, body painted…
I could not neither be as free as them, I felt.
I remember trying to hide. That I would find a place I could watch it all from a distance.
“ All this love… No I can not be apart of love like this.. It is not for me. I am not them.. Still.. All this love..”
At the place where most love – or call it what you want – was being shoved, given and received, I felt unloved the most. I completely excluded myself.
Leaving the festival too early I swore I was never going to return to events like that again.
Few weeks later life would that I ran into most of the same people I saw that weekend again. I saw it as a sign and chose to try to figure out why I kept ending in environments like that and why i kept not letting myself become apart of it.
I started spending quite some time with a special group of people.
I wanted to try to understand. I felt drawn to everything that was going on.
I learned a lot. Experienced, saw and felt things I had never been able to before.
Things I – no matter how much I love words – never will be able to write down.
Extreme pain, love, amazing light. I cried and I screamed, laughed and danced.
I began to understand that exactly trying to understand – was what was in my way.
Maybe not everything needed to make sense. It felt wonderful.
For the first time in my life I felt met by people who did not ask me any questions, neither treated me like sick in any possible way.
No one asked me about my mom or my previous school time.
No one told me “No you can not do that!” “That is not an inappropriate thing to do” – “You are a bit too weird”…
There were no rules, but the rule of respecting one another.
Nothing was being expected of me, but for me to be me.
The more “me” I could be I discovered, the better.
It took me a long time to start seeing it all this way. To get to the point where I felt I understood, to let myself go and know that my pain could be set free as well.
I learned and saw how most of the people in this alternative world all were a bit crazy or off.
Most importantly they were them, not like anyone else. Not trying to be anyone else.
By watching all these people letting their wild side go, be themselves and live their fantasies out, so did I. There were a space for me to let it all out in.
I could return to my dreams I had long forgotten about.
I remember swimming naked in the ocean.
Crawling around in the bushes at night
Lay in the grass for hours and watch the grass moving
Dress up like the elf I always wanted to be.
Dance like the bear or wolf I always had felt was living inside of me.
My angry bear! It can dance!
I would say my weirdest thoughts and feelings out loud.
The once that had always scared me or never made any sense in my head.
At home I would dance at clubs, like everyone else, that was all I ever felt doing. Trying more to look good and impress everyone around me than anything else.
I remember the few times I would let go and dance – the girls who would tell me that “the rest of the club are getting pretty tired of you. You cannot dance”…
I started not caring if I necessarily was “good” at what I was doing. Or maybe I started seeing the entire “being good at” in a different way.
I wanted to dance. I had a desire of just wanting to dance my own dance not to be good at dancing a certain style of dance. Dance has to come from within too, that is my belief.
Whether I was good at dancing or not – that was not the point.
If I liked something, it was good. The end.
Something from the inside of me was able to be expressed through dancing.
I had to dance.
And I loved dancing. Like I love writing. Like I love singing.
I realized that I loved dancing on my knees.
I felt the need to be close to the ground. To crawl around and grab the dirt in my hands.
I felt like an animal, like a bear. Like a baby sometimes.
I would at occasions take off all my clothes.
I felt like: “This is all there is. My wild untamed spirit. My naked body. The dirt, the bass, the sky, the stars.
And all those beautiful people around me.
I would stand by the stage with the open sky and close my eyes.
Let the music fill me up. I would wait and stand still, till the bass made my heart vibrate.
Then I would feel the sand surrounding my bare feet, imagine the bass rising from the ground. Moving into every little part of my body.
I would let my body flow as it wanted.
Move as I felt like it wanted. Move with the music.
I discovered that something inside of me was able to be sat free by being creative and through dancing.
I was able to feel pain and express it. But this time in a non self destructive way.
Like I believe every human journey is, it was very painful for me at times.
I made bad choices, almost lost my grip at myself at times.
I had to pick myself up from dark places and take my distance to places and people.
But afterwards – it became really simple.
The less force I created on having to dance and move in a certain way, the easier it became for me to dance.
The less focus I had on trying to be normal to “fit in” or to having to be happy – The more Naja took over every part of me.
I moved to live a life in the woods, with alternative humans around me and I loved it.
I am made for a life in the woods. I enjoy the solitude. I enjoy humans who sees the world on its head.
You might be asking yourself at this point where I want to get with all this.
Why am I talking about difficult teenage years to festival experiences?
It is all connected for me.
Today I know I am a sensitive human being.
I see things twisted or different from others at times. My pain/anxiety etc. might have had millions of creators – a mix of how I was born to be, my childhood and the environment I grew up in: but it is not going to go away. Certain kind of pain is apart of who we are.
But I can make my world around it suit it the best. I can in the right environment turn my sorrows into art and freedom.
My sensitivity and the way of insisting nothing as being one thing or the other is making me vulnerable to my surroundings. And demanding environments.
Being in big cities today still makes me anxious.
I start to pick up peoples emotions and take in all the stress.
I start to feel wrong and the feeling of “having to fit in” appears again.
I was trying to take a break and to feel myself, to go my own way, in a world there is moving way too fast, in a society that wants to give very little space for going different directions at times. In a world I feel have very little understanding at times for how it feels to feel different.
I was trying to listen to what I felt was society telling me that my fragileness and inner battles were wrong – that I was sick – that I had to be locked in at hospitals at times.
It is difficult to be different.
Or maybe it is the other way around – so hard to be normal?
I live today a different life from many others.
I have found a world, I am slowly creating my own world, where there is no right or wrong. Where I can be free in, where I can be me in.
I travel a lot and I try to follow my creative sides.
In the systems eyes I was once sick and diagnosed – as well as many of my beautiful amazing friends probably would be as well if you were to try to “fit them in in the modern city picture”. If you tried to change their reality.
Realities that can not be changes. They are not suppose to be changed – i believe.
Most diagnoses in my eyes are something society tries to force down on us who sees the world in a different way – whom do not fit in the “being normal box”, who can not live up to – or want to – all what is being demanded by society.
Psychologist, psychiatrists, medicine, hospitals – I think we are giving out the wrong treatment most of the times. I would like us to have a world where we help channel pain/anxiety/chaos into art and creativity – to teach “patientens” to work with their chaos and pain and unfold it and not to be scared of it – instead of what i feel like almost is the opposite at times: Trying to remove pain, trying to change realities..
I am not denying my pain, nor being afraid of it. I am not taking any medicine for my chaos – but I am constantly trying to find alternative ways of dealing with my mind, growing restlessness and pain in my heart.
I wish to show you how I am dealing with my sensitivity and pain.
Through my writings and dancing, for example.
We are only as sick as we make us self become.
I have chosen to love and live with my craziness.
I was once where I could have needed information and talks about things like I am writing about. We need more talks. I feel the need to try to help and support the once who feel wrong in the world at times. Our world is what often is wrong, not us.
I don’t I think I know better than anyone
I know nothing about anything, especially about you.
But I believe in sharing and story telling.
I believe in a world where we unite and help each other the way we can, and this is my way of during that.
I believe in a world where we do not see each other as crazy/worthless/ wrong because of things we do not understand – but where we will would turn our own world on its head in the attempt to see with new eyes.
Let us go for love.
Thank you for reading my blog.