Finally I should be able to tell the story as it is and most of this is from my heart today, now I can begin to understand why I am depressed. It is January 2017 and I have been depressed since July 2016. Here is the full story on why. It dates back to my trip to Romania in 2014.
“Where did it all go wrong?” – Noel Gallagher.
I met Polish tourists Ola Mueller and Magi Kokosz in Bucharest in 2014. We shared the same hostel dorm at the Little Bucharest Hostel. As with thousands of people on my journey – we talk to many fellow tourists every day. I meet so many people and have done since leaving Northern Ireland in 2003. Some of them, I keep touch with, others we meet for a few hours and that’s it, some of them become closer than others, some we end up dating, some we end up backpacking with for years. With Ola and Magi, I loved their enthusiasm for travel, they were really happy cool girls. I trusted them and decided to keep touch, also because they were living in Bulgaria and I was visiting Sofia the next month anyway so we could meet again. Which we did. We became friends, the same way I was friends with so so many other people. I didn’t see this friendship in any way different or even fake.
Ola and Magi had invited me to Gdansk, where they had also lived. I said of course I will visit Gdansk someday and they knew that I had studied European History and was enthusiastic about the history of that region. They would be able to meet me and show me the sights they said – this was exactly what I did with every other friend I visited – I toured their towns and wrote about them. I met Ola and Magda again in 2015, when I was back in Poland. We always had a fun time and they were nice girls with a love for travel and culture. Ola and I did become a bit closer than this, but still we saw each other as travel friends only. And this is not a love story. This is about depression in friendship and about a girl who sadly didn’t realise that I suffered from depression and that her simple actions or lack of actions could send me into 7 plus months of depression and suicidal thoughts daily.
In the intervening years between meeting Magi and Ola (2014) and 2016, I had now left Hong Kong for good. That was my base for 4-5 (2011 – 2015) years when I worked there, was in a strong relationship with Panny (we were engaged to be married) and toured Asia. But it was no secret that I was now looking for a base back in Europe or Central Asia. I had three options in my mind – Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Poland. Having split with Panny in 2015 and toyed with living in Kyrgyzstan, it was after the Euro 2016 tournament that I made my decision. Moldova was always an option because it was cheap for a person who works for themselves online. Around May – June 2016, Ola and I had been messaging a lot at the time, and it seemed a good time for me to come to Poland, tour Kaliningrad and then make my choice. I didn’t expect to enjoy Gdansk as much as I did, nor did I foresee how wrong I was about Ola. I was sure she would meet me in Gdansk and Starogard Gdanski and we would enjoy many coffees, beers and sightseeing together. But I was totally wrong. She was some kind of compulsive liar, which I would later discover. I arrived in Gdansk in July 2016, but I kept the door open on Kyrgyzstan. Ola and Magi had said that if I ever come to Gdansk they would show me around. I was excited to see them both again and to tour Gdansk. BUT – the three of us never met up in Gdansk, nor did I ever get that tour (well, except Magi did give me a mini-tour one night – thanks Magi).
Just before the trip to Gdansk, I messaged Ola on the Friday to say I was arriving on the Sunday and invited her to a food tour with me (it was a sponsored tour but I would cover her expenses) in Gdynia on the Monday. I knew and expected Ola would be excited by this and would love to attend. To my surprise, 22 months after meeting her, she ignored the message. Even worse, she pretended not to see the message and even worse, she pretended “not to know” I was in Poland. However she knew I was in Poland because she had seen my Facebook photos. She had viewed them a few times. She was the number one viewer on my Facebook Page and blog that week. She was also starting to play tricks on her phone and laptop to make it look like she hadn’t read my message. I wondered what her reasons were for that. She had always said how she respected and felt inspired by my travels. Was it all a big lie?
On my journey around the world, most of my travel friends had met up with me in their towns, or at the very least apologised for being out of the town at the time, given me their travel tips and wished me a good time. In July 2016, I was a very well respected and professional travel writer. I have written for companies like Expedia and Wanderlust and I have appeared on BBC, UTV and in the Sun newspaper. I was good at my job and a huge part of my travels was visiting remote towns and writing about them. I love the more remote and obscure places! Ola and Magda were two friends that really fitted my bill – they hailed from Starogard Gdanski and Tczew! I had never heard of these towns before, but promised to visit, write about them and promote them. I was pretty excited about them.
Perhaps Ola and Magda were not aware of my crazy journey and my love for unusual towns though. Looking back it seems that way. On my travels, I visited and wrote about really obscure places. I am not a typical tourist who flocks to Rome, Barcelona and Gdansk to write about popular towns. Instead, I have visited the following places because of my friends:
Isfiya, ISRAEL/DRUZE VILLAGE (because of my friends Alex and Natali)
Mizra and Afula, ISRAEL (because of my friend Haya)
Lam Tin, HONG KONG (because of my ex-girlfriend Panny)
Angelhom, SWEDEN (because of my friends Daniel and Sofia)
Jarvenpaa, FINLAND (because of my friends Sofia and Karoliina)
Kaiping, CHINA (because Panny’s family hailed from there)
Osterweddingen, GERMANY (because of my friend Rene)
Guasca, COLOMBIA (because of my friend Julio)
Gaborone, BOTSWANA (because of my friends Fingile, Louie and Allan)
As you can tell, I was hoping that my trip to Gdansk, Starogard Gdanski and Tczew would be the same.
I have also visited the following places not because of my friends, just my love of lunacy travel:
Escaldes Engordany, ANDORRA
The Empire of ADAMMIA
Belfast, NEW ZEALAND
Ta Pa Tsune, CHINA
(None of the above trips were for anything other than my love of travel. None are manipulation and there was no way my upcoming trips to Starogard Gdanski, Tczew and Biskupiec would be manipulation or anything other than my love of travel!!). Please know this, and if you don’t you can ask Daniel Evans and Haya Harpaz.
But then, something odd happened – my trips to Starogard Gdanski and Tczew were not the same as all those previous journeys. I had met up with Magi in Gdansk and she gave me some tips, which was nice. She told me how to get the train from Tczew to Pelplin and I know she genuinely wished me well. Ola, however, couldn’t do it. I told Ola Mueller on the Monday that I was coming to Starogard Gdanski on the Thursday/Friday for ¾ days to tour and I asked her to meet for dinner or drinks. Because I was so nice, I didn’t push the meeting, but had still no response by the Wednesday evening, less than 36 hours before my trip and it felt now like she suddenly didn’t want to meet or that she wasn’t even excited about my trip. This would be crazy for me – every town I visited had brought excitement to both myself and my friends in previous times. Ola eventually replied late on the Wednesday with a fake story. She pretended she had now moved to Poznan (on the 22nd July 2016). But the oddest thing was, having since followed my story and my blog for 20 months, now that I was coming to her town, she decided to stop following my story (and pretending she didn’t see my photos). When that message came in, I also saw there was no “Oh that’s amazing Jonny. Finally you are coming to visit my town. Can’t wait to see you there and to read your story about it”. The reason is, for some reason now, Ola Mueller was NOT enthusiastic about my trip to her town. I couldn’t believe it. I decided not to message her back as I knew that in less than 2 days time I would be in her town, where she was working yet I wasn’t a good enough travel writer or tourist for her to meet. She also gave no NO travel tips. This was horrible. This felt horrible. But you have to realise that this had never happened to me before and I couldn’t stand it. I felt like just phoning her and saying “are you serious? You are not excited about my trip and you cannot meet? Come on – you must be excited and have at least 10 minutes for me!” But I didn’t do that, I felt I could go on and had too much pride to do that.
But what she did, it was humiliation for me. It was the first time as a tourist and travel writer that I was visiting the town of one of my friends and they, (Ola Mueller):
1.Lied to me.
2.Pretended not to live there any more.
3.Didn’t wish me a nice trip.
4.Didn’t offer for me to meet their friends instead (since they were pretending not to live there, I could meet her friends instead right?).
5.Didn’t offer any travel tips at all!!
6.Didn’t care at all anymore. (having invited me here and I arrived in my own time and expense to see yet another friend. Ola was just another friend on the journey, like Haya or Daniel – but Haya and Daniel didn’t lie to me or let me down.)
Ola Mueller also knew that Starogard Gdanski was not a popular travel destination or town, yet I wanted to come there and write about it. She knew I loved unusual towns and villages and loved writing about them, so she should give me travel tips right? We would all do it for our friends that are visiting, especially in remote untouristic towns. I am a foreigner – they don’t speak much English in Starogard and I don’t speak much Polish so it would have been nice to have been told at least the bus and train routes, cafes with Wi-Fi, good local beers etc.
I carried on regardless, and loved my time in Starogard Gdanski. Without Ola Mueller, I was able to tour the key sights, meet lots of locals and write passionately about it. Ola saw all my photos and articles this time but couldn’t bring herself to click “like” on any of them or even to message me and say “that is amazing – well done on your story to my town”. It’s fair to say that other travel writers may not care much in the same situation, but I felt really humiliated, really depressed and disrespected. If Haya or Daniel had done that to me, I would have been so suicidal. Luckily, Haya not only met me but gave me full tours of her town, let me stay with her friends and invited me to her wedding. Daniel had also done the same when I visited Angelholm. My friend Julio had done the same in Colombia. I knew lots of Polish people and loved the culture and country so for Ola to suddenly do this to me, felt weird. I couldn’t work it out. Please remember this is nothing about being a female, if Ola was a man, I would have expected the same and been equally upset and angry. From that moment on, when she hadn’t been happy about my trip to her town, this was my depression starting.
I suddenly realised I must be a horrible person and a crap travel writer. If my trip to her remote town wasn’t exciting for a local, then I must be worse than Hitler. I wanted to kill myself. So I contacted local psychiatrists and psychologists in Gdansk and decided to get a flat here while the depression had kicked in. No matter what anyone says – OLA MUELLER caused my depression. It is that simple. She still hasn’t admitted she lied about moving to another city, or that she should have sent me some travel tips and met up (as she promised) nor has she apologised. She can’t live with the guilt or bring herself to admit that she ruined my life. She ruined my travel blog, my travel dreams, my travel story, my travel reputation. I was in deep depression before July ended and this young Starogard Gdanski girl caused it. Crazy – a strong guy who had backpacked through Afghanistan, Iraq, China, Honduras and to over 130 countries had now been completely humiliated and depressed by the lies of one person from the thousands I met on my journey. This was so hard to explain to others but it is the truth. This is my truth, this is why I got so depressed, but things got worse.
What was even stranger though, was that I had kind of now become popular and a mini celebrity in her town. My story was shared on their Facebook pages, I had new local friends from Starogard Gdanski, I was invited to a local wedding and at the end of August came some crazier news – I was on the front page of the local newspaper and had a FULL PAGE feature inside. That’s right – my random visit to Ola’s town had now got me featured in her local newspaper. This was my little slice of justice I thought and friends might have believed it would lift my depression. Ola must surely have now realised what she had done as I was on the front page for a week every time she went into her local shops and supermarket. Even if she tried to avoid me, now she couldn’t.
It would have lifted my depression were it not for what happened next. I wrote to Ola and told her I was very offended that she didn’t enjoy my trip to her town, want to meet me, give me travel tips or even feel happy about my story. I was absolutely devastated, humiliated and depressed now. It was more from a writer’s perspective than anything else – I felt so disrespected by her as a travel writer. How could we be friends one minute and then she cannot enjoy my trip to her town. If she had visited my town, Bangor in Northern Ireland, I would have been so so enthusiastic about it. I would have done everything I could have done to make her enjoy her trip, even in my absence. I’d have sent her tips on places to go and even friends of mine to meet. And this was even when it wasn’t a business. Remember, my travel writing to obscure spots was my business too. This was business, Don’t Stop Living was a professional travel blog for 4 years.
Finally Ola sent me a message back, 10 days later than the one I sent her and only after I begged for a reply and her reply said “if I knew you had wanted tips, I would have sent you them”, this was also a lie as she knew I wanted tips because I write about travel and Magda had given me travel tips. So I then messaged her back immediately to say “yes please send me your travel tips, I am visiting again on Saturday. Please tell me – 1.what are the best bars, 2. What are the best cafes, 3.what are the best churches and so on…)”. So now I had the proof she was lying to me. It confirmed everything about her – this girl was mentally unstable. By the Saturday she had still not given me these travel tips she had promised despite the fact I could see she had been online and wasn’t “too busy” to do it. Then this was the week, I appeared on the front page of her newspaper so I again messaged her asking her to buy it for me and post it to me please (I now had a flat in Gdansk) and I knew finally she must be able to do this – it’s her town so surely she will buy the newspaper for me (I offered to pay the costs of it), but this was crazy – she ignored the message. When I told my friends this, one of them called her a “b*tch”, another called her an “ass**le” while I remained calm yet still in depression, I tried to give her the chance to redeem herself and at least posting the newspaper to me would have lifted my depression. But, she couldn’t even buy me the newspaper and post it to me. I had even said if she can’t post it, to ask one of her friends or family in that town to post it for me – I’d have even doubled their money to do it as this was a big moment for me – front page in a Polish newspaper! For a story on a town like Starogard! This was ridiculous and as I sat depressed nightly in my new flat, I couldn’t work out what I had done wrong. I had been a gentleman all the way and a good travel writer. My story on her town even uncovered some things that locals didn’t know – like the dimensions of the town square (Rynek) or the fact that the town had a football stadium and a hotel on an island! Some of the locals didn’t even realise it was an island. So she refused to post me the newspaper by deliberately not replying to my message. Again, I had done NOTHING wrong here. I have to stress that.
Finally the other girl Magi agreed that her family owned a newspaper shop and she could source me the newspaper and post it to me. Basically I was back in Gdansk now in a flat, working on new projects and learning Polish, and I didn’t want to venture back to the Kociewie region just to buy a newspaper and then leave again. So I was happy with Magi for this – she agreed she could get me the newspaper and even saw and liked my photos from her town – Tczew. When we met up finally to get the newspaper, I told Magi the story of what had happened with Ola and Magi pretended not to know or pretended somehow that Ola had not made a mistake. I was convinced Ola had made a mistake because on my travel journey before that, none of my other friends had disrespected my travel writing or travel blog in this way. She was the first and I was now into my third month of deep depression, still seeing doctors in Poland and through my travel blog I had now admitted I was in depression. I made my trip to Kaliningrad my final trip and hung up my backpack, surprising my friends by this move. But deep down, it was depression and Ola Mueller’s lies that had caused it. It was nothing else. Nothing else was to blame. Sorry Ola Mueller – it was you. You caused all this. I cannot say anything more about it – doctors, friends, family, everyone kept asking me the root cause of the depression and that is it. Sorry Ola – I didn’t want to write this story or to have 7 months (and counting) of depression but all you needed to do was give me travel tips ahead of time, post me a newspaper or even better message me to say “sorry I don’t like you – I cannot give you tips or post the newspaper” but instead you messaged insisting “we are friends” and that you are “too busy”. I had come to Poland, to Gdansk, to Starogard because you invited me and wanted to show me around. I am a stranger here. If you visited Northern Ireland after my invite and I suddenly made up stories about being too busy or even worse not messaging back, not giving helpful travel tips would you be happy with me as a friend? No, you wouldn’t. If you appeared on the front page of my local newspaper in Bangor, Northern Ireland, and not only did I refuse to post it to you, but I pretended to not even know about it, not even read your message and to not even be proud about it, would you be happy with me as a friend? No, you wouldn’t. It’s simple friendship tasks like these. I looked on my Facebook profile that day and I knew that all of my other friends (and even some enemies) would have posted me that newspaper – whether I had offered to pay the postage and cost or not. If you do this to your other friends, please know that they will stop being friends with you – you will lose them. And guess what – I was front page of your local newspaper next to an Olympic Medal winner without even trying – they found my story online and write about it. You’re not good enough to make the front page in my hometown if you go there as a travel writer. Yes, this might hurt you now to hear that Ola and to read all of this, but it will never hurt you as much as the last 7 months have hurt me. My parents were in ruins, they even flew to Poland looking for me, my friends stopped talking to me, I went missing, I wanted to die. I lost weight. I became a nasty person. I have had a horrible last 7 months. Each day I have just been waking up hoping one day you will finally write to me and say “Sorry Jonny Blair, I got it wrong. I used to like your story and sorry I invited you to Gdansk and Starogard and couldn’t give you tips on time. Sorry I lied. Sorry I couldn’t post you a newspaper. Sorry I couldn’t meet you. Sorry I was nasty. Sorry I caused your depression.” Just one sorry would do. Just one “sorry Jonny, I was wrong. I made a mistake”.
I also knew that Ola had other travel friends such as Truong from Vietnam, Evgenia from Russia and Luci from Kaliningrad. She had sent me photos of them during her time in Siberia, she talked about all of them when we met up and I knew that if any of the three of them had been visiting Starogard Gdanski to meet Ola or to be a travel writer there, Ola would have met them, she would have given them tips and she would NOT have blanked them and ignored them the way she had done to me. I felt like the worst person on earth. It was me that had been victimised and bullied by Ola Mueller. But as the depression grew, my hate for her also sadly grew. I also now, clearly hated Ola Mueller for this. I hated her, I had really bad opinions and thoughts on her but I couldn’t be public about her at this point as I knew it would be wrong to mention her name. So I gave her some chances to redeem herself, I expected an apology at the very least. I copied my Mum in on a message to Ola hoping it would finally prompt an apology. My doctors were going to get in touch and the police also called her. I kept expecting an apology, but it never came. I couldn’t believe it. If someone is suicidal or depressed, I would do anything that is simple and easy to help them – we could save a life. Ola could have saved 4 months out of the 7 of my depression so far. I could have committed suicide easily that time and she will never have realised that an apology could have saved my life, saved my career, saved me a lot, saved herself from hurt and public shame. Why could she not apologise? It was baffling me. I almost wanted to knock on the door of her parents home, hand them $1000 US and say “this is for you if your daughter can just admit she lied and apologise to me”. But even offering money didn’t seem to help. No apology was forthcoming and daily, I kept starving myself.
She must have felt a little bit of guilt though, because FIVE WEEKS AFTER my trip to her town, she finally sent me a message with her “travel tips” which were completely disrespectful and useless. I think she did it to make it look as if she had at least sent me some “tips”. But these “tips” were useless to me now – I had already been to her town twice, written 10 articles on it and been in the local paper!! She couldn’t tell me the best bus route as I had asked (even though she knew it as she got the bus regularly) and she told me about a Café that was now closed (Café Anka) and a bar that was also now closed (Projeckt PRL). I was again humiliated and had now deleted her as a Facebook friend. I thought deleting her and closing the door would help me, but the depression didn’t go away, so I messaged her on What’s App, telling her I knew she had lied, but to prove she wasn’t lying, I asked her to do three simple things. I was trying to get her to finally say “sorry I was wrong, I lied” but she couldn’t admit it – her lack of reply and silence though had now proved all of her lies, some of which I also haven’t mentioned on here.
After all this, Ola had still maintained “we are friends Jonny” so I asked her to add me as a friend again on Facebook. She couldn’t do it because she had lied. We weren’t friends. But she was mentally unhealthy and couldn’t admit that.
She had said “I’m so proud of your story” so I asked her to post me the newspaper. I am still waiting on it. She wasn’t proud. She lied.
She had said “I work 91 hours a week in Poznan” so I asked her to send me photos from her new job and flat in Poznan. She couldn’t do it because she had lied. She was not in Poznan, she was not working 91 hours a week either. She was still in her hometown until her studies started again.
Other lies included her telling me that she doesn’t use Facebook and doesn’t need it – she was online almost all the time! I’m a travel writer and she was logged on more often than me.
Ola must have thought I was too stupid to know all this. Sadly, for Magi her friend, Magi was caught up in it all. I confessed to Magi that I was very depressed and suicidal and begging for help or Ola’s reply.
Ola was horrible. She kept blanking me, ignoring me and had now blocked me from contacting her. One night, I lay in bed, having cut myself and shaved my body hair off and I called her to tell her I was suicidal and asking for an apology. She hung up the phone. That was it for me. I still didn’t know what I had done wrong.
At this point, I put a suicide message on Facebook and was ready to die. I had lay on the tram tracks in Gdansk earlier that week. Now I considered killing myself on the train tracks at night. I went there to the main station to do that. Suddenly I was too strong to kill myself. Something stopped me and I didn’t do it. I know I diced with death though. I hadn’t eaten in two days. But I saw a guy drinking a beer and eating a kebab so I bought one, drank a beer too and booked a night train ticket south to Krakow and decided to run away to try and keep myself alive. I was aching inside. I was suicidal.
Since then, it has been 4 months of wanting to die everyday. I tried everything. I took tablets for 2 months, I gave up alcohol for 6 weeks, I gave up coffee for a week, I stopped eating for 2 days, I went volunteering in Kuklowka, I visited family in Northern Ireland, I visited friends in England, I moved to Warsaw, I went back to Starogard Gdanski and ended up dating a girl from there by complete coincidence. But nothing helped, I was suicidal.
To lift me out of this suicidal state, all I have begged for is:
Ola Mueller to message me saying “yes Jonny – that was all lies. I am sorry I treated you like that.” I also want to make sure that Ola does the same to her other friends as then I won’t feel so bad – I will see it as Ola is the bad person but somehow I feel she treated me like this only – not her other friends.
As of today, 13th January 2017, it has been 27 weeks of depression and still no apology from Ola Mueller.
I am in debt, I have spent thousands of pounds on medication and I even offered to pay Ola Mueller money for her apology and for that, she keeps blocking me and ignoring me.
I wished her Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Birthday and all I get in return is constant suicidal thoughts.
Every die I want to die, because of Ola Mueller’s lies.
This is the truth of my depression. I am really sorry that Magi got caught up in it. Sorry Magi and sorry to everyone else who I hurt.
Ola Mueller needs to apologise to me for me to finally be able to put this story to rest.
My Mum has been angry with me telling me “if Ola apologises and admits her mistake, it won’t suddenly make things better” but trust me – IT WILL. If Ola admits she lied and apologises then I will be immediately healed. It is that simple. But as ever, money, or force cannot buy us happiness and my depression continues.
Ola if you can apologise, I will finally forgive you and we will both grow stronger as people after this. I am depressed every single day.
My advice to others, please if any of your friends is suffering from depression, trust that they sometimes cannot control their thoughts or actions, they make mistakes but if they ask for something simple and easy – please DO IT FOR THEM. It will lift the depression in an instant. Do not hesitate and do not say it is manipulation. It is not – a simple action can save someone’s life.
If I get through this, which I plan to, I will be donating any charity money I ever have to mental health awareness and suicide prevention as quite frankly, those are now the only selfish charities I now care about.
Peace and love.