Two Years in Poland: Where Has Don’t Stop Living Gone?

“Seventh son of a seventh son” – Iron Maiden.

Well I have been in Poland just over two years now. It’s crazy. I never meant to live here, I honestly had no idea I would stay this long, be living and working here. It was something in the hands of God. At the moment I am trying to legalise my stay document wise so that I’ll always have a home here in pretty Polska. As well as this website, I’ll be setting up a company here and legalising my stay. However, each day I still battle with depression and suicidal thoughts, but somehow I always win. I beat it. I’m not scared of death, or of suicide because nobody is promised a tomorrow. Not you, not me, not Robert Lewandowski. I’m damn strong now. Even defeat won’t beat me anymore.

“I’m your biggest fan, I’ll follow you until you love me” – Lady Gaga.

Two years in Poland. (Folwark Żuławski near Elbląg in Polish Countryside)

However, I still get lots of emails related to the Don’t Stop Living blog, so many, that I don’t reply to them, I don’t post comments anymore and I can’t always be bothered. The ship has sailed. A bit of truth and honesty hurts, no? Some of these emails are sincere, some ask why the blog isn’t active on Facebook anymore, where I’ve gone and why I quit such a huge project. Some miss it. Some attack me for being open, some don’t like my honesty and how I exposed a nasty fellow ‘travel blogger’ (word used loosely!) and two horrible liars, one of whom still refuses to apologise for lies that could have led to my suicide back in 2016. Do I miss Don’t Stop Living? Not one bit, but there could be one catalyst that brings that blog back, one day.

“One day maybe we will dance again” – Richard Ashcroft.

I almost wasn’t here to see the day…I’m not scared of such past events.

jonny blair missing

I was reported missing in Polish national newspapers in 2016

“It’s over, you don’t have to tell me” – Damon Albarn.

Something hit me deeply recently when I decided to post a 2 year old photo on Facebook. It seemed fitting to post the same photo on the first Sunday of July 2018 as that odd day when I landed in Gdańsk on the 3rd July 2016. I posted the same photo two years later as I was sentimental that evening and not so happy. I had sunk into a depression zone again and I fought alone with my pillow.

“The lonesome hum from my desklamp is where I find my heaven” – Gigolo Aunts.

Eyes on the prize

Then I realised that there was a light. Something had changed in those two years (2016 – 2018), and as readers you might hate it or not understand my depression, but this point had an unknowingly telling impact:

Don’t Stop Living – was a serious travel blog started in July/August 2007, globally once my passion – 60,000 page views a month, 9,000 likes, listed in the world’s best ever travel blogs etc. It was a business. But it had ran its course. By the time my weary head rocked up in Gdańsk, that LIVE photo on the Don’t Stop Living platform attracted a mere 48 likes (it angered me at the time only because the TWO people that I was visiting in Gdańsk that time couldn’t click like on it). Yes that affected me. I bet you didn’t know that, or care. But I did, and I noticed…

This photo – Sunday 3rd July 2016 – 48 likes (stopped counting – I took it offline) on Don’t Stop Living:

My photo from Gdańsk Główny on Don’t Stop Living – July 2016

“Every beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” – Semisonic.

Northern Irishman in Poland – in all honesty, this was a joke project I made out of boredom in December 2016, I had no intention to make it into a business, I didn’t expect to be featured in 6 Polish newspapers, 7 websites and linger so long. I made the logo in about 3 minutes in a coffee shop in Warszawa’s Świętokrzyska area. Yes, this idea was just a little bit of fun. But it’s now bigger and more precious to me than Don’t Stop Living ever could be. It’s a funny world, because just four days ago, the same photo (a repeat from 2 years ago, and not hidden but publicised as such) hit an unforeseen jackpot. I’d have been happy to have my Mum and best friends to have seen it and liked it this time, caught up in a social media world. My website Połnocny Irlandczyk w Polsce (Northern Irishman in Poland) hit 1,500 page views one day in June 2018, eclipsing DSL for the first time.

This photo – Sunday 1st July 2018 – 83 likes, 3 comments (so far – it’s only 4 days old – still online):

My photo from Gdańsk Główny on Northern Irishman in Poland - July 2018

My photo from Gdańsk Główny on Northern Irishman in Poland – July 2018

I smiled in my bed that night as the least likely had happened. An underdog had beaten an overdog. Northern Irishman in Poland bigger than Don’t Stop Living??? Are you kidding?

“Ain’t it funny how yer new life didn’t change things. Yer still the same old girl you used to be” – The Eagles.

Cooking Lunch – Polish Pierogi

I don’t know if this will ever cure my depression or kill the ghost of the nasty compulsive liar who destroyed me, but it keeps me sane for now. I know Northern Irishman in Poland as a project has been successful, even if I quit it now. I’ve done something positive for Poland, for people and for myself. That’s enough for me, the fact that I get emails and messages from Polish people I have never met before is enough to prove to me that something good has come from that horrible period.

And I won’t stop.

This is just the start.

The burning question:

Will Don’t Stop Living ever return for good?

I can’t answer that. I’ve paid for the site’s domain for another year and I pay monthly to keep it hosted. This fee is being covered by sponsored posts at present to keep the site afloat as it’s huge. You know what is even stranger is – I can’t be bothered to go backpacking the world again. I had a few trips since DSL kicked the daily updated bucket in late 2016 but the passion was gone. Even Saudi Arabia passed me nonchalantly by.

I’d rather have been sipping a Sangria on Sopot beach. I’m happy in Poland.

I will make one promise though, and I’ll keep this – if the person who caused Don’t Stop Living to end ever admits their mistakes and their lies to myself (or indeed the police or my parents), then I will bring the job back as that would be a full circle for me and depression would be gone.

I don’t miss Don’t Stop Living one bit.

Goodbye Baby Dont Stop Living bites the dust

Goodbye Baby – Don’t Stop Living bites the dust on 31.12.2016

And finally, I’ll be releasing my poetry and lyrics at some point. During my journeys I wrote around 2,000 poems and lyrics. They’ll see the light of day.

“We can play McLeary now that Steve has gone” – Nottingham Forest fans.

Final days on the Don’t Stop Living project (but I didn’t know it then)

Don’t hate me for my honesty, my exposition of liars or my happiness that the new project here outdid the former one on Facebook likes. You don’t know what goes on in a man’s head.

I’ve met some wonderful people in Poland. I have no doubt that some of them have changed my life, and will continue to do so.

Sleep well, everyone.

With love,

Jonny

Sleep well my friends

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