It’s World Mental Health Day today, and I felt it is important to make a point of posting specifically about a topic so close to my heart by sharing a little of my story and thoughts that I hope will help and inspire you to be kind to yourself, keep going, and never give up
Not only have I experienced depression and anxiety on and off over the last twenty years, but I have also learnt to overcome them. I wanted to encourage and shine a light on this day for anyone struggling to let them know that you are not defined by a mental health issue and it is something you can overcome (when I say overcome, I’ve learned to manage anxiety and rewire my brain but that doesn’t mean I don’t have good and bad days, we are human of course and growth in life is never a straight light – just look at the beats on a life support machine and you’ll see what I mean by that).
I am not a professional on the topic, but I am passionate about getting the message out there to those in need that YOU matter! You are worth fighting for, and that there is LIGHT at the end of your tunnel. You are a GIFT to be treasured and this world cannot afford to lose you, so please say and read on…
In my own experience, there was never just one thing that would cause me to feel intense depression or anxiety. In my own case, I believe depression and anxiety were just the symptoms of larger issues at play in my life.
I think it’s fair to say that our brain is a tool to be mastered. Not every thought we have is pure and helpful to everyday life. How can it be when we have between 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts in just one day? Rewiring our thoughts and checking them is not something I got taught at school, and through the last few years, I’ve become a student of my own mind. Moving hundreds of miles from home and making all the bad choices someone could make, I found myself in a rut feeling a deep sense of sadness, fear, guilt, and loneliness. I remember sobbing so hard that I could barely speak or lift myself up from the ground.
I even tried paying for counselling but the counsellor I got was in many ways limited to the help she could offer. Another counsellor I saw, unbeknown to me at the time, stopped me in the middle of a session and closed her notebook with a sigh to then inform me that she was out of ideas and had nothing left to say. *
It wasn’t until a friend of a friend who is a qualified therapist that I actually began learning the tools of CBT and step by step began walking out free of the chains and darkness that surrounded me.
*That is not to say that counselling is bad or doesn’t help. There are different kinds of therapy and depending on your personal experience it may differ so please do seek advice from a doctor or professional.
It took all the courage I could muster, and picking up the phone even without the words or voice to speak. I know what it feels like to feel your voice slip away and I have felt the weight of thought that lies to so many that they’d be better off not here. I never thought I would fall so low, even in those younger years of feeling depressed and struggling to deal with my health, bullying, and at the same time trying to find my fit in this world.
From the age of 18 months, I was diagnosed with chronic bronchial asthma. This meant lots of blue light ambulances, hospital visits and stays right up till the age of 18 and beyond. Asthma was just one thing, swiftly followed by hearing loss that required me to wear hearing aids and other complications that meant fitting into school was difficult. I often missed it for being admitted to hospital, so when I did make it, I quickly found out at the age of 6 I had become an easy target for school bullies. That was probably not helped by the vivid memory I held off a family ‘friend’ who was drunk and called me ugly at the age of 5. I believed that lie until I turned 15 and began the work of loving myself – a journey that continued to have many bumps along the road. It’d be so easy if life came with a handbook, wouldn’t it? The reality is that often it doesn’t. We all have different life experiences that shape and hurt us. I say all of this and share a little tiny snippet of my story to say that you are more than what’s happened to you. You can overcome, you can achieve the dream in your heart, and where it feels comfortable to stay hurt and in that place of bitterness, it’s important to note that hurt people often hurt people. We can choose to let what happened to us to rule the rest of our lives, or we can fight the internal fight to get help, seek better and live to tell the tale that dreams do come true.
Three key lessons I’ve learned on this journey so far…
Friend, I’m a testimony to anyone’s struggle that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I may have had to go through a few valley’s, and one particular steep valley, but reaching out for help, learning how to fight to get the help I needed, all the work to re-wire the lies, bad experiences and learn to love and care for myself whilst pursue the dreams in my heart was worth every sweat and tear.
- Whatever you do, don’t stay silent, seek help, and if it’s not helping seek better help.
- Never make a permanent decision based on temporary feelings and circumstances.
- Knowledge is power. Learning to understand my thoughts, how to manage them, what foods to eat, how to nourish my body (because our mind and body are connected) will help you make the journey.
If you need help or need to speak to anyone, please do reach out! I’ve listed some great places to start looking for help.