CW: mentions drug abuse, suicidal thoughts, mental health
I thought about writing this piece, and I had no idea how to start it, or what to even say, it’s just that I wanted to write what my heart was feeling and what I’ve realised in the past month, despite it taking a while for said realisation to hit me.
I’m actually writing this in a coffee shop after just having therapy and listening to this playlist I called ‘moving on’, which I think sets the mood perfectly. Some of the things I’m going to say scare me a little, because you, Stranger, will know things about myself that I have hidden for some time, and my anxiety is telling me that it will backfire, but I know it’ll be okay.
For once, I can say that my life is starting to change, and is starting to get there, wherever ‘there’ may be. This isn’t about my life, well it is slightly, but more my life as an example, as a means of helping others, because there have been a lot of people that have hurt and rejected me, friends and boyfriends amongst other things, and the hardest part in all of that was not hating myself. I’m not saying that I’m 100%, sunshine and rainbows, but I’m feeling my spirit, my ambition, my motivation, just me, coming back.
Catching COVID-19 the first time definitely felt like the beginning of the downward spiral that the past year and a half of my life has been. I’ve ‘lost’ probably around seven people in that time who I thought I couldn’t live my life without. Although they were mainly all different circumstances, it was hard not to feel like I was not good enough. And the more that people left and essentially ‘abandoned’ me, the worse I felt, and the worse my coping strategies became.
Two years ago, I’d not touched a drug in my life, now I’m essentially receiving drugs and alcohol therapy. The more I got hurt, the more I abused myself, from constantly smoking weed, to eating takeaway all the time because I was terrified of being in my kitchen, which led to me gaining around four or five stone in weight, to then losing all interest I had in my passions, hobbies, and joy I had in life.
One by one, people ‘left’ me, and none of these people disliked me more than I disliked and despised myself. So, what’s changed?
What happened that has made everything start to feel better again?
A few things really, a few things, and don’t get me wrong, it was overwhelmingly difficult at first.
I am fortunate enough to have therapy, which has helped me process this negativity and change it into something positive.
Self-care. In my first ever therapy session I had with Yellow Door*, I was asked ‘what does self-care mean to you? Do you ever take time to do things you enjoy?’
I instantly said no. The last time I’d done something for myself had been months ago. All my passions: writing, drawing, cooking, baking, reading, singing; they were gone. I detested them. I felt like I didn’t deserve them. I felt like I only deserved to be miserable, which nobody deserves.
So, I started taking myself out for coffee shop dates every week, going supermarket shopping and buying myself good food which I then have been cooking and experimenting with, and going to the gym, which I used to hate. Now, I can’t wipe the smile off my face when I walk out.
Little by little, I’ve become less harsh on myself. From the rejection of one person triggering a mental breakdown and a suicidal state, to one now barely leaving a mark; my determination resilience and hard work is starting to pay off. I’ve not felt this happy and whatever I deemed as ‘what normal people feel’ in five months, and all of this has come from me, not a stupid boy, or being drunk, or high, or whatever short-term happiness that came my way.
I was patient, I invested in me, no matter how selfish I felt. I said no, I went home when I was tired, I said no to going out when I had things to do the next day. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve not slipped up, because oh boy, I have.
But instead of saying, ‘damn, Issy, you’re terrible, you can’t do it, you’re not good enough’, I’ve said, ‘I’m human. I make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. And that is okay.’
Instead of, ‘this person doesn’t want me, they’ve hurt me. Why am I not good enough for anybody?’, I’ve said, ‘This is not a reflection on you, it’s on them. Whatever action they have done, it’s theirs, not yours, and it’s okay to hurt because it shows you care. You are more than good enough.’
I’m not saying it’s not hard, because my oh my, it really is. But I trusted my fire, I gave it fuel to burn, I brought back the roaring flame that will only continue to grow from its dying embers and ash.
The fact you are here, reading this, despite everything shows that you are so damn strong. You’ve got this, and trust me, you will get ‘there’, no matter how long it takes.
Sometimes, it’s okay to not forgive others if they’ve hurt you, that’s okay.
Just forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for the way you felt, for the anger, for the sadness, for the bitterness, for everything, and keep burning.
If you’ve got to here, I thank you and bless you. I hope my words reach you and resound in your heart as they have come from mine. I hope you enjoy your day or night, wherever you are, and stay safe.
Love, forever and always,
*Southampton based charity for those who have suffered from sexual abuse or abuse in any form
Image Tim Mossholder