As we draw a close on mental health awareness week, I like to reflect upon my own mental health and remember how far I’ve come on my own journey.
Throughout my teenage years, I struggled horrendously with bullying and acceptance. I’d do anything for people to like me and wanted to be accepted by everyone. My mental health started to deteriorate at secondary school. After my classmates found out that I was bisexual, in a very Christian school, the bullying heightened. The nastiness continued and my mental health went from bad to worse. This continued outside of school too, I never seemed to ‘fit in’ and sadly always longed to.
For me personally, depression is like riding a wave, and you have to allow yourself to feel every part of the process. You may not always understand why you feel a certain way, but acknowledging your feelings and trying to move forward is the most positive thing you can do. Before I went to counselling, I was taking a very high dose of anti-depressants and trying to understand why everyday I didn’t want to move forward or even be here. After feeling this way for a considerable amount of time; I sought help through psychotherapy. I was diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was able to understand my anxiety, my trauma’s and the reasons for my depression, but most importantly for me, I felt validated.
My journey truly started after my therapy. I learnt to find coping mechanisms to deal with the trauma I’d suffered throughout my life and childhood and managed to find ways to move forward. Through understanding my own diagnosis, and coming to terms with my mental health, and the reasons for this, I was able to fix the things in my life that did not spark joy. I took a lot of time to work on myself and know who I wanted to be, and understand what I wanted to stand for, what made me who I was. I poured my heart and soul in to trying to be the best version of myself, but not for acceptance from others, for acceptance from myself. I wanted to be someone I could be proud of; I wanted to be as kind, understanding, considerate and compassionate as possible. I worked tirelessly to change my perspective and the way I viewed things, to acknowledge certain situations, but not always react. I put myself first and learnt that loving yourself and the person you are is the most important thing you can do, because ultimately, you’re the person you have to justify your actions to, along with your thoughts and your feelings, and you have to be happy you’ve made the right choices. Life is all about choices and we always have a choice to do the right thing.
I truly believe that happiness is found from yourself and from within and we do not find happiness in people or things, they may enhance our happiness but it is no substitute. I have been off anti-depressants for 2 years now. I still suffer with anxiety tremendously, and find certain social situations very difficult. I do try to challenge myself outside of my comfort-zone, but i’m not always able to do this and retreat back to my wonderous world of introverted ways! But that’s okay with me, there is still work to be done. I find comfort in the things I enjoy, my family and friends, my hobbies, my work. Although, I do still have bad days, I know it is just a bad day. I look forward to the future, I make plans and try hard to make my life as amazing as I want it to be. I’m in control of my own feelings and thoughts and understand that through finding happiness and understanding my own self worth, i’m able to really relish in the beauty of what life has to offer.
I don’t try and fit in anymore, I don’t even particularly try to be liked either. I’m confident knowing i’m a good person; I know i’m kind, funny, loyal and a really good fucking friend. I don’t need to be accepted by others now, because I love myself enough to understand that their opinion isn’t important. I will not tolerate any kind of negativity in my life and will not associate with anything or anyone that doesn’t add value or positivity in to my life. Obviously, we all have flaws and i’m well aware of mine and it’s a continued cruise of self critique and evaluation to ensure i’m progressing forward and not taking any steps backwards.
It is important to remember that we’re all on our own journeys and things take time. We’re surrounded by peoples ideals of perfection on social media and we have to pinch ourselves to remember that things aren’t always as picture perfect as they seem. So try not to get hung up on other people’s idea of perfection.
I apologise if this was a difficult read, depending on where you are in your journey, but know that things will get easier, and everything is temporary. I’ve added a form on the end of this post, please do not hesitate to contact me if you need to talk, i’m not a trained medical professional but I will always lend an ear.
I’ve added a link to the Mind Website here for resources if you are struggling: https://www.mind.org.uk/donate?gclid=CjwKCAjwtqj2BRBYEiwAqfzurwo_6lZUYYLbMiceL09IF3puQnGYDIsBSRaq6WvXx0hI0DFO9e4gkRoCXe0QAvD_BwE
Lots of Love, Lily. xo