Over the last few months I've felt more like myself than ever. I don't really like that term because obviously we are always being ourselves, we can't be anything else, but I've felt like I'm being totally honest with my values and interests lately and I'm not suppressing any part of myself to pacify other people. I have never been fake, I know that, just that I have had a tendency in the past to let important parts of my personality disintegrate due to lack of self care and self belief.
'Stop spending time you don't have, doing things you don't want to do with people you don't like.'
I'm sure we've all been in a situation where we consistently spend time with people who make us feel terrible about ourselves and seem to take far more than they give. I'm not talking about every now and again because we're only human so of course we are going to disagree with each other sometimes, but if you're spending a lot of time with people who go out of their way to create insecurities and refuse to take responsibility for the hurt they cause please be aware that these are not your people and you are not obligated to listen to them or to tear yourself to pieces trying to get them to value you. (This works both ways as you will not always be the best person for other people either and that's ok. Some of us are just on completely different wavelengths.)
I learned this a ridiculously hard way – I do like to make things complicated – but thank god I did. Distancing yourself from people who aren't helping you grow isn't selfish, it's absolutely vital for your own happiness. If you're finding it difficult, ask yourself what it is you want from that person that makes you endure feeling deflated. I bet the answer is validation. A need to be loved. And I have to tell you that you do not need validation from anyone other than yourself. You HAVE to get comfortable in your own skin and when you believe with all of your heart that you're a decent, kind, loving human being, it really doesn't matter what anybody else thinks, does it?
In my life right now I am surrounded by the most incredible people. People who have helped me grow into everything I was meant to be and I'm so grateful.
'I can say with great certainty and absolute honesty that I did not know what love was until I knew what love was not.'
These are the people who have never made me feel guilty for my sadness and this is how I learned to heal. When people truly love you for who you are, they reflect it back to you and you begin to believe it for yourself. You feel valued and begin to trust in your own voice. This is one of the main reasons I started Lowena because you need to know that there ARE people out here in the universe that feel the way you do, it's not wrong and it doesn't make you crazy, you just need to find yourself again. You are still in there. I promise.
My wish for anybody who is struggling right now is that you feel heard. I used to go to therapy once a week simply to have my feelings validated. 'You have a right to feel this anger. You are entitled to your grief. It's understandable that you feel insecure.' That was all I needed because without that, I felt mental and alone. That all my pain and self loathing came from nowhere – which of course, it didn't. The numerous times I called The Samaritans in the middle of the night was so that I didn't feel so lonely, I don't know why I didn't reach out to my friends or family at that time but I felt stupid and scared. And actually thinking about it, more than anything, I felt guilty. How dare I be sad when there are so many people around me that love me – but it wasn't the love I wanted and in the end I eventually drained myself of my entire being. That sounds completely melodramatic but I can't describe it in any other way. The hollowness I felt can't be written, just to say that thinking about it now makes me feel sick. As if I ever got to a place where I truly believed my existence was insignificant. I would self harm on a daily basis and had panic attacks if I thought I was saying or doing the wrong thing. Who was that girl?! I had no interests, my love of life had evaporated and I would sit alone crying wondering how I would ever get out of the pit I was in. The first step for me was making the decision to go and stay with family for a while. You'll see in my poetry how important the sea is to me, it's a recurring theme and at the time I thought I'd totally lost the plot but I realise now that it was the beginning of putting myself first and the beginning of recovery. Love is a healer. It just is. When people want the best for you and love you with all of their hearts, it helps and it makes you gain perspective. When you are made a priority and your heart is protected, you are given freedom and you can begin to trust. I don't care if there's just one person you feel like you can turn to, please turn to them. Do not try and fight this battle alone – and above all, be honest. Nobody realised how bad I'd gotten until I showed up, didn't sleep or eat and spent my days crying my eyes out. I had gotten to a point where I thought I deserved to feel this way and didn't believe I was worthy of attention. I would constantly apologise for myself and quite literally became a quivering wreck. When you don't believe your opinions are valid, it strips you of your entire sense of self and you begin to second guess everything; on my worst days I quite literally couldn't make the simplest decisions because I didn't have a clue what I wanted or how I felt. I'd completely lost myself. If this sounds familiar, it's not normal. You are ill and you are in desperate need of so much love and care. I can obviously only speak for myself because my depression and anxiety weren't helped by drugs, they were helped by the support of a few incredible people and the tiny voice in my head that was screaming at me to trust myself (which only got louder over time and turns out was such a key source of my recovery – more about that another day). It wasn't easy but the main thing for me was saying goodbye to anyone and anything that didn't bring me peace. I had to stop internalising certain opinions of me when I knew they were false. I needed to understand that other people's actions were not a reflection of me and I needed to ask myself WHY I allowed myself to get into self sacrificing situations. Self reflection has been absolutely crucial to my recovery. It's been a hell of a ride and it's been so uncomfortable at times because I've really had to bare my soul and think about everything that makes me who I am – but I get it now. And although I still have days where I doubt myself (who doesn't?) I can say with absolute certainty that I like myself and am filled with more gratitude and love than ever. I am in awe of this life that we've been given, it's a miracle and I don't really understand it but I'm so fucking grateful.
We all go through rough times and some of us are more emotional than others but please don't let anyone make you feel like you're abnormal for having feelings. Keep moving forwards and trust that once you decide that you're worthy of love, it will come to you in abundance. Just perhaps not in the way you imagined. xxxx
'When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.'
PS. I just read this to my flatmate to make sure I don't sound pathetic. So clearly I still struggle with the fear of being judged but this is my truth and the more people who can speak out about their struggles with mental health, the better. This is terrifying for me in a way but now I'm on the other side I feel like I owe it to the girl who was very lost and to every other person who might feel this way. It's vital that I take this time to write about how I felt because it really mattered – I may not have thought so then, but I know it now – and if you can relate to this in any way then this is just me reaching out to say hello. We all get lost sometimes you know.
I think I just quoted Bieber. Jesus Christ.