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Where I've Been

Artist: Jeremy Lipking
Well, I think it's safe to say that 2014 has been my best year of blogging yet! Are we all in agreement? Funny business aside, I have to crack these jokes because the last six months have been an utter clusterfuck of horrible and if I stop laughing, I might start crying. When I set out to create Miss Underpinnings, I was determined that it would be my positive, warm little corner of the Internet. I can be a pessimistic, paranoid and anxious person in real life so I promised myself I'd weed that out of the blog. Besides, who'd want to read about my problems on a website devoted to fabulous lingerie?! Thus, when shit hit the metaphorical fan this year, I froze. I didn't want to break my self-imposed rule yet I felt as if writing an upbeat sentence would be as difficult as climbing Mount Everest. I relied on my years of gendered conditioning: when you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Since that didn't work, I've decided to tell the truth -- even if it isn't pretty.

I realize now that no one would've judged me. In fact, in the last six months, I've had an amazing outpouring of support from you guys and my fellow bloggers. I don't think it would've been possible for me to return like this, if it hadn't been for those emails and messages. To all those who wrote to check in, say thanks and/or express concern over my health, I'm truly grateful. I'm sorry I haven't written back, but please know that your kind words have helped me get through this. Now, I've decided to come clean or as Ernest Hemingway put it, I'm going to "write hard and clear about what hurts".

Last fall, I became depressed. I can remember it clearly because it was the first week of October and I'd just finished a month of blogging that I'd been really proud of. I didn't feel well, I knew that, and I knew what was wrong and yet, I pretended it wasn't happening. I thought I could will it away. I believed that if I could push through and insist it wasn't going on, everything would be alright again. I had gone more than a year without a major depressive episode and I had been so relieved to be in remission that I couldn't admit that my symptoms were returning. It sounds counterintuitive now, but at the time, I had dug myself into such deep denial that I allowed my symptoms to worsen for months.

Piece by piece, my depression robbed me of everything I loved. I had so little energy that showering became a task of Herculean proportions. I couldn't concentrate so writing was out of the question. I wasn't interested in spending time with my friends, my family or Zack. I stared dead eyed at the tv for weeks at a time, an ugly husk of who I'd been only months before. I refused to leave the house, I wasn't working. As ashamed as I am to admit this, my boyfriend was doing it all. Zack worked day and night to support us, he made our meals, did the chores, and ran errands while I sat -- but mostly laid -- on the couch, waiting for...I don't know what, a miracle? Oblivion? Death? By the time I finally went to the doctor's, it was February.

After weeks of tinkering with my medication and hauling myself to therapy, I began to feel like myself again. I was optimistic, I could hold a conversation, and I wanted to get myself back in the game. But then, I encountered a phase of recovery no one warned me about. My life had been reduced to it's skeleton and I felt painfully overwhelmed by how much I hadn't done. I had hundreds of unchecked emails, piles of product to review, and I'd fallen out of touch with all my friends. I wanted to rebuild, but there was so much to work on, I didn't know where to start. Depression is such a stigmatized condition that I didn't want to explain what had really happened. I was so embarrassed to admit what I believed was my own culpability -- I'd denied my illness for so long -- that I couldn't bring myself to face the parts of my life that had slipped away.

Simultaneously, I was vaguely traumatized by what had happened. I'd been in remission, I'd built a life for myself, and out of nowhere, the thing I was most terrified of had returned. If this could happen randomly, then it could happen again any time. Like, tomorrow. Or, the next day or the day after that. Depression had wrecked my life but even as I began to heal, I felt that the disorder was waiting for me around the next corner. I couldn't shake the fear so I froze. I didn't know where to start reconstructing my life so I didn't. I took the possum's way out, I played dead. Just as denying my depression hadn't "worked" all winter, rendering myself immobile for fear I'd lose everything again wasn't helpful in the long term.

Depression is the best thief in the world because even when you think it's robbed you blind, it finds something else to steal. I learned that little gem in late April when Zack sat me down in our kitchen and explained that he didn't love me anymore. I can't really blame him. He didn't sign up to be my nursemaid and he was paying the bills for two people when he was only 26 and on a musician's salary. He'd been amazing while I was sick: he'd ferried me to my appointments, insured that I didn't need to worry about anything but getting better and talked me down from the edge whenever I was convinced that my life was pointless. I was enormously grateful and I know I couldn't have gotten better without him, but the ordeal had been too much. Justifiably so and yet, as he explained to me that he'd been thinking about this for weeks, I felt as if all the air had been sucked out of the room and the apocalypse I'd been waiting for had finally begun.

When I think about the last two months, I tend to see a giant mushroom cloud. Zack and I had picked out baby names, we'd discussed wedding venues, and the relationship I thought was meant to be was gone. I'd love to say that I was cool about all this or it had been a mutual break up, but that would be an epic lie. I've been undeniably uncool. Let me give you an example:

An hour after he broke up with me, I decided to go shopping at the local bookstore because duh, isn't that what everyone does the day they're dumped?! I'd rushed out of the apartment in a pair of jeans and a long sleeved tee like a hot mess. My hair was dirty, I'd picked at my acne, and I'd been sobbing for a solid 60 minutes so suffice it to say, I didn't want to run into anyone I know. In an act of supremely inept subterfuge, I threw a scarf over my head and headed into the shop like a deranged Jason Bourne. I'd chosen my books, paid for them, and decided to peruse the sale section they kept on a table outside when a middle aged woman approached me. She was smiling, sweet looking and seemed polite as she prefaced her question with a soft spoken, "I don't mean to offend you and you don't have to answer if you don't want to". I froze, instantly understanding what was coming next and realizing I was totally unequipped to deal with it. She leaned in, "As a young Muslim woman, why do you choose to wear the hajib?". I looked at her, looked at the parking lot sprawled in front of us and I couldn't summon the will to correct her. In a dazed state, I began to say things like, "Although faith is very personal and private, I'm not ashamed to appear in public and express what I believe in". Yes, that's right, folks. Mere hours after my boyfriend of four and a half years had dumped me, I was impersonating a Muslim.

I've been sitting in the public library while I write this, feeling the sun set behind my back. Truthfully, I haven't figured anything out. I might stay with my sister in Burlington, Vermont or fly out to my cousin's in Austin. I miss Zack acutely each day. I've thought of going back to school to be a librarian or a graphic designer. I've realized that I have to write to be happy and that I've missed you guys tremendously. I don't know what I'm doing, but right now, with the sun and the library and the locals moseying around, I think it's going to be okay. And that's good enough for me.

So, what do you say? Shall I get this old gal up and running again? Are you still interested in what this neurotic, newly single, highly medicated & thoroughly broke girl has to say about lingerie?  


  1. Thank you for sharing your journey. It isn't easy to dig out of depression let alone publicly acknowledge it! I wish you the best on your journey. Please keep the blog going!!

  2. Your voice and your words are strong and beautiful. You're finding your way, and I believe in you. I'd love to read more of your writing, and I hope you keep blogging here if it gives you joy and purpose.

  3. Cecily,
    You were one of the first bloggers I discovered when I forst entered this world. Your posts have continuously inspired me and I noticed your radio silence and hoped each week that you would return. I have tears in my eyes as I think about the pain you are in but I want you to know how much I value your writing and work. From the very beginning you provided a fresh positive voice to big bust blogging and my confidence has grown through your blog. I'm sending you love and support. Please continue to share your wonderful spirit!

  4. Wishing you all the best <3

  5. Hi Cecily, good to hear from you even though what I'm hearing makes me sad. I can honestly say I know how you feel as I have dealt with depression and a major break-up myself so I truly understand you. I think you should definitely do something new with you life, graphic design sounds awesome! You have all my prayers with you and I know that you will land on your feet eventually, I did too. Hugs and love <3 PS. Can't wait to get reading your blog posts again!

  6. That's so sad, and very brave of you to write in this way when you are still so raw. You write beautifully - maybe writing about how you and your condition would help you, along with helping others. As a sufferer myself, I know it often helps me to know others are struggling in the same way. Best wishes to you xxx

  7. Quite frustrating....I had this whole thing written out and Google eats it. Stupid Google. I know that you have no idea who I am...I don't comment (I subscribe by email and read voraciously but tend not to comment [and even as a former blogger I know how much comments rock but I just never know what to write]) but your story resonates with me. I've been through almost the identical thing, I was so in love and suddenly the bottom dropped out and he didn't feel the same and it is actually something I'm enduring right now...the first time I've had my heart broken in well over a decade and possibly the first time I've ever experienced proper heartbreak (as an adult? last time I was in my early twenties) and shit does it hurt. Not to mention the depression when just breathing seems like hard work. People or partners don't necessarily want to take care of you and wait for you to become the person you were (and you are trying to be this new person because you don't think you can ever be who you were before, you can only be this new person who has suffered and emerged from this dark place...somehow and in time and in your own way). Anyway...this is probably a huge overshare. I just wanted to say that you aren't alone. Which is the hardest part. You feel so alone. You aren't. We are all here for you if or when you choose to return. Like I said, I know you don't know me but as someone who's been there and is in the trenches's always nice to have someone to talk to who understands. As off the wall as that sounds coming from a complete stranger. If you're ever in London (I think you're in the UK?) maybe we can grab some tea and share our love of lingerie.


    1. oops, you live in Massachusetts. well, virtual tea. <3

  8. So sorry sweetheart - keep well and keep writing!!

  9. Writing honestly about depression is an incredibly brave thing. Thank you so much for sharing this. Your voice is very welcome on these here internets! On any topic, including lingerie or wherever your reemerging energies turn. Sending hugs.

  10. To answer your question, YES, please keep writing! I love your blog posts and your style. I think being a "neurotic, newly single, highly medicated & thoroughly broke girl" only adds experience and dimension to your character and writings.

    BUT ALSO, I am so sorry you're going through heartbreak and depression, and if you don't have the energy or desire to write, that is totally cool, too. It was kind of you to update us and be so frank and open about what you're going through. Breakups are like the most traumatic mundane thing to go through, know what I mean? Last time I went through a breakup, I mentally beat myself up for being so strung out and upset about it. But now I realize that it is quite honestly very painful to have such a close, intimate relationship end. It is a private universe ending. It's one of the worst things, but it is unavoidable in a rich and full life where you love people. Relationships end, and growth is sometimes so painful. It sucks.

    Depression also sucks, and I'm glad you are getting treatment. Remember, your depressive thoughts may feel true, but they are not really, actually true. (I needed to hear this over and over again during my depression.) They are kind of like a weird emotional hallucination, different for each person.

    Remember also that you are wonderful, lovable and special, and you will feel better with time. Every step towards opening up, towards treatment, towards people is a step forward. You are doing a great job. Keep taking care of yourself!

    P.S. Come to Austin! BBQ + swimming pools + porches + weather so hot it will erase all chattering thought = vacation.

    1. P.P.S. I did not add the above link for swimming pools! Not sure where that came from.

  11. Dear Cecily, my heart was aching as I was reading your post last night. I understand what it is to deal with depression - several members of my family have been struck by that illness at one or more points in their lives. I just wanted to let you know that I am so glad that you decided to blog again - you are the reason why at the age of 49 I am finally wearing the right bra and feeling confident about a part of my body that up to recently was always hiding under voluminous tunics and sweaters. If it was not for you and your blog, I would have never discovered Ewa Michalak, Avocado, Comexim. My horizons would have never expanded beyond Empreinte, which I could not quite afford. I am eternally grateful to you. Please, keep this blog going, you have been sorely missed. I hope you will slowly start feeling better and see how wonderful you are and how many friends you have. And you know what? Feel free to blog even when you are not upbeat and cheerful. Trust me, we all are sometimes shy to admit it,but said out loud, the admission of our lives not being perfect - and that it is OK - frees us somehow.
    And if you don't want to blog, that is OK, too. But if blogging is a creative outlet for you, please know that there is tons of your fans out there (and here) waiting for your wonderful pieces of writing. You are very talented and whatever you decide to focus your energy on, you will excell in it. Sending you my best wishes from West Coast Canada!

  12. Please keep writing if you can! I've missed reading your posts so much this year. Wishing you all the best from the West Coast!

  13. Cecily, thank you so much for your blog and for being brave enough to share this with us. I don't know how to share what I'm feeling for you now, and I know there isn't much can do to help, but you can be a new person and be happy and be fresh and joyful. We'll get there with you.

  14. You keep writing. Your strength shines through.You might not see it yourself but it is all there. I hate it when people say that things happen for a reasonz but I do think you will look back at this time in a few years and you will be OK with it all. We all walk down a road and as it forks we have to decide to then left or just took a few different turns than expected but the road does continue. Love and light your way!

  15. Dear Cecily, yes, you should keep writing! You write beautifully, even about the terrible stuff that is going on for you right now. I'm so sorry things fell apart in your life, and I hope you will recuperate from it all as fast as you can. Know that many girls around the world are enjoying your posts very much, and right now thinking about you and hoping you get better soon. Take care, love from Holland

  16. I love you for writing this. I'm so sorry you were sick, and that you've gone through a bad time, but thank you so, so much for sharing so openly, compassionately, and honestly what you've gone through. I think it takes real courage not only to be able to face a situation like this, but also to share it the way you have. Brava, and all my best wishes for a continued recovery!

  17. Hi, Cecily- this is my first time commenting on your blog even though I've been reading it for a year .I just wanted to relate by saying that I have Borderline PD and am also bipolar. Borderline PD is an ugly illness that's characterized by the brain's overreaction to emotional stimulus and the inability to curb those emotions. That causes me to act erratically sometimes, such as bursting out into tears or lashing out at random. My relationship of a year and a half ended because he said he couldn't deal with the inconsistency, and that threw me into a year-long period of extreme instability and depression. I was suicidal for most of it and attempted once. I started my blog because I needed to feel like I had something to keep going for, and it's rewarded me and all the most amazing ways. Believe me when I say that we're all interested in your blog and any neuroticism that may come with it. Keep on trucking, because at the end of the day, I believe that we're stronger than our illnesses, and that we can beat them. These illnesses are not character flaws, nor do they have any relation to our personalities. There is always hope, and it will triumph over anything- every time. Thanks for reading this, and keep on writing.
    P.S. for depression, invest in an orange-scented body wash or lotion. The scent of oranges naturally increases your brain's serotonin levels, as do daily walks and other forms of light exercise.

  18. Dear Cecily,
    as a long time reader (but only commented one time) I am very relieved to read something from you!

    At the same time I am very sorry for the hard time that you went through and are still going and I know it must be hard not knowing how to continue and where to go! I wish you welcoming friends and family that will help you now and please don't give up, it will be better some day although it doesn't feel any good at the moment!

    As many girls and women I always enjoyed your posts, they are helpful, beautiful written and full of inspirations - and so are you as a person and woman! It doesn't matter that you are neurotic or whatever, that doesn't make you less likeable! :)

    I wish you all the best from Germany,

    1. PS: In my most terrible moments in life I clinged to the saying "It's always darkest before dawn" and it helped me to continue. Maybe it can give you hope, too?

  19. Cecily,

    Your writing is really excellent, and I have missed you! I would love to read about what you have to say. The "neurotic, newly single, highly medicated & thoroughly broke girl" can add another dimension to your posts. Keep going! I've gone through similar depressive episodes (that have lasted two years), and doing stuff (really anything) has helped me.

    Keep on progressing through recovery!

  20. I am so sorry you have been going through all that. Depression really sucks (as a vacuum sucking life out of you), and anxiety (is that what you mean by neurotic?) sucks too. You are a beautiful writer, and an inspiration, and I want to thank you for honestly telling us what happened. Voices like yours strengthen the message that mental health issues are something to be treated with respect and understanding. Thanks again.

    Keep taking care of your health, and I would love to hear you in your blog again!

  21. You do what you need to do (don't write out of obligation or just for us). Write when and if it makes you feel good or gives an outlet.
    Thank you for sharing- I've lost three months so far this year to depression. If you can think you'll be okay, that makes me happy.

  22. Oh god Cecily, I am on the verge of crying reading this. I'm so sorry for everything you've been through, but want to thank you for being brave enough to write this because this is a serious wake up call for me. I've been experiencing frequent depressive episodes for the past month after being fairly depression-free for a while, and haven't known what to do about it... so I've done a bunch of nothing. I'm going to take this as a serious kick in the pants to get my shit together. Please keep writing if it makes you feel better, but don't maintain your blog out of obligation to anyone. Do what feels best right now, and if writing is it, then I'm sure all of your readers are eager to keep up with your blog again :) I may only know your internet self, but that's a part of you, and it's pretty awesome. Remember that depression always lies, and says awful things about you, but they're not true. I hope your recovery is smooth.

  23. Thank You for writing this, I think your readers appreciate it very much. I´ve been wondering myself why is it that you don´t blog any more.

    I´m so sorry you feel bad! :( Depression is terrible, I know it. Most of us go through it some time during our lives. I hope you are gentle on yourself. It´s okay to feel what ever you are feeling. Many people blame themselves and go over what they could´ve done differently etc.

    I hope you will soon find out new doors open in your life. Once you loose important things in your life, there eventually will be room for new things to come. I wish you all my love and hope you will get well as soon :)

  24. Dear Cecily,

    I've been thinking over the past week about whether I should write and, if so, what I should say, and I'm just going to tell you that your writing is interesting and sensitive and captivating. Maybe that is in part because, if I'm reading you right, you're careful to edit yourself--but I feel sure that I and lots and lots of people see (in this post, I mean) and will see, if you feel it will make you happier to blog than to not, those same qualities in less-edited, less controlled, work. If that's where you're at right now.

    Also, I think you're very brave to have been able to write about your 2014; my mother died last year, and I can barely remember what's happened since, have barely been able to talk with my closest friends--just have buried myself in (Smith college) homework.

    Good luck. You're great!

  25. I'm following your blog for a while now because I love your taste, the pictures and everything. And even though I don't know you, I feel so, so sorry for what happened to you.
    I have been through this (except the boyfriend-thing) and it was and still is so hard to keep going, to escape this thing, the depression. It's a fight, I guess it takes a lifetime.
    Please keep on fighting, please keep on writing if it helps. At least it is always a pleasure to read your entries. But feel free to do whatever is good for you.

    The best and kindest wishes from far, far away,


  26. Thank you for sharing this, Cecily. The story about your depression was so honest and open. I'm certain that you have helped a lot of people just by sharing your story.

    Moreover, you are a brilliant writer. Putting the story about the hajib at the end was a refreshing surprise. I did laugh (I hope it was meant to me a little funny).

    I welcome reading more for you-- if blogging/writing is what you want to do. I realized tonight that I hadn't seen you on Twitter in a while and I checked here and found this post. You are how I found Avocado-- and I love those bras. You have a knack for conveying your thoughts and feelings in a picturesque way.

    I wish you all the best!

  27. Dear Cecily,

    I have only just seen this post, and just would like to say how brave and inspiring it is to read such open, heartfelt and honest words. I have missed reading your posts, and would love to read more when you feel ready, but please don’t feel any obligation to write for anyone other than yourself!

    I am so moved by your openness and strength, and the challenges you’ve been thought, and I wish you all the best for your ongoing recovery.

  28. I just wanted to say,
    1. Its good to know you're ok.
    2. As you managed to move on before, you'll manage to continue again.
    Best wishes

  29. You write really well! Wishing you all the best.

  30. I just wanted to add that, though I just today found your blog, I am glad you are back, glad you are feeling a bit better, and please know that although one of the horrible things about depression is the loneliness and isolation it makes you feel- you have reached someone else who has been there too, and managed to climb out a few times. I appreciate your honesty, and send you love and encouragement from France.

  31. I've never written here before, but I just wanted to say: please don't feel that you can't express yourself freely here. This is YOUR blog, and you can trust us to support you; you've done so much for us already!

  32. Cecily, just wanted to send you hugs and a notion that you're not alone. I have anxiety, which brings about it's depression bouts, not to mention OCD. So if you're ever in need of a chat, feel free to email me. I've missed your blog and your presence on social media, glad to have you back on any level you're able to share.

  33. We love you Cece! Wishing you the very best going forward.

  34. I am very glad to see you are back! You're my favorite blog and I was sad/worried when you hadn't updated in so long.

    I have dealt with awful depression throughout my entire life and am finally in a good place right now. As somebody who has gone through a similar situation, I just want to give some encouragement. It IS possible to rebuild your life and get to a happy place. While break ups are terrible, they can give you really valuable time to focus on yourself and doing what you need to make your life better. An awful breakup is what spurred me to finally really WORK at getting through my depression and it worked -- I am now happy with myself and married to a terrific guy. I have no doubts you can do the same.

    I look forward to all your new posts. Even though I am a basically anonymous reader you've never talked to -- I really do care and I hope you start doing better soon.

  35. I can only imagine, what your voice sounds like, but it seems to be bright and clear, is not easy to share what you've been through, and I truly admire you for that. I don't recall how I found your blog, but I remember what kept me here. That look in your eyes, and the passion for what you do here.
    I'd love to read just about anything you feel to write. I'm glad you're back. From the other side of the world, I wish you the best.

    Take your dreams and sweep the past away.

    Raise your eyes to the sky, ´cause
    believe that you can fly.


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