I had been ill for many years as a teenager and young adult and I lived in hospitals. Eventually I learnt that 'I am okay', no better or worse than others. This enabled me to go a bit easier on myself and begin to get my life back together.
What challenge does this story focus on?
This story focuses on battling with severe depression for many years. Part of the reason for my depression has been that I have struggled with hating myself and have found it very difficult to see any other perspective concerning whether it was reasonable and logical to hate myself so much! It didn't matter what people said to me to challenge my perspective, I refused to give in! Unfortunately seeing myself in this way, affected every single part of my life.
How has this challenge affected you?
My depression has led to a number of self harm and suicide attempts and a number of long and difficult hospital admissions. This has been really difficult for both me and those who care for me. I feel pretty sad that much of my teenage and young person years were spent in institutions.
What has or is helping you to move forward with this challenge?
I have found psychoanalytic therapy really helpful, although I don't need it anymore, it helped me to process some of the struggles I experienced as a child and to understand why I hated myself so much. I also found hearing other people's stories really helpful, it made me feel that I wasn't alone. Now when I get depressed, I am able to ask for help much more easily, and I am able to believe in the phrase 'this too will pass'. I take one step at a time, one task at a time, and this keeps me calm, helping me to avoid wanting to self harm. I also have professional help from my GP and psychiatrist, which helps to keep me on the straight and narrow(!).
What have you learnt as a result of this challenge?
I have learnt that I can get through even the most difficult of challenges. I have learnt that things can and do change, and that time can be a healer. I accept that I am the same as everyone else, no better or worse, and this means that it doesn't make sense to hate myself, as I don't hate others! I still have to remind myself of this sometimes! I have learnt that it is okay to say out loud both the things I find hard, but also the things that I am good at.
How do you use this learning in your life now?
Now I am more aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I am able to focus more on building a career that surrounds the things I'm good at and enjoy. I know I am creative and I know I don't like being labelled or 'boxed' therefore I choose to work in a way that works for me - as a self employed person who can be creative and build a business in a way that works for me. I get some joy from this and it helps me when the dark days come.
What positive message would you like the reader to go away with?
It is possible for things to change, and for things to get better. It takes a huge amount of courage to turn a corner and step back from a long held belief, but it is possible with support and encouragement from others, and kindness and grace towards oneself.