Throughout my teenage years I struggled with having a positive perception of myself but what I was fighting with on the inside didn’t coalesce with my outside world. I had an extremely close family who loved me and I seemed to have loads of friends. I was also a model student and good at sport. However, on the inside I couldn’t have felt more alone. I constantly felt judged by people and I cared too much about what irrelevant people thought of me, instead of listening to the advice of the ones that loved me. Any positive praise would go in one ear and straight out of the other and I would always find some way of turning it into a negative, self defeating thought such as: ‘You’re not good enough, nobody likes you, you’re going to fail in life’. These thoughts made me extremely reserved and shy in social situations to the point where it made me feel almost invisible. I got more and more annoyed and anxious with myself and as a result I took it out on my parents, the only two people in my life who truly cared and loved me. These thoughts were with me until sixth form and by this point I had under gone two sessions of Cognitive Behavioural therapy and was being prescribed Citalopram like there was no tomorrow. Yes there were times when I felt like I should just end it. This way I would no longer be a burden to other people and, it would be easier for everyone if I wasn’t here anymore.
But I just couldn’t.
I realised how much my family loved me. I only ever saw my Dad cry twice in his life. The first time was when I told him it would just be easier if I wasn’t here anymore. That was when I first realised. Even though I wasn’t as close to my Dad as my Mum he gave me the most poignant and memorable life advice in one of the few times we actually sat down and had a deep conversation. Unfortunately he is no longer here to give me advice and comfort as he was taken away from us when we lost him too cancer. The second and last time I ever saw him cry was when we had a conversation almost identical to the first time I saw him cry, except it was the other way around. It was at this point that I decided I had to find the strength within me to think about other people for a change in order to be there for my mum and the rest of my family. It was at this point that I realised that life was too short to be self-defeating. Life is too short to hurt the people that love you most with self-destructive behaviour. You are loved and life is precious. It was during the grieving process that I realised I had become stronger as a person.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t have other demons to battle following this. I suppressed my grief internally to be there for my family, which seemed to manifest into panic attacks whenever I had deadlines and exams. However, I searched for help at university and found solace in a parental loss support group at the counselling centre. I can honestly say it was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life and I have met some life long friends out of it. Of course I still get anxious from time to time and have the odd panic attack but they are infrequent and less aggressive. I can rationalise my thought processes and I can see there are multiple routes out. I also now practice mindfulness, meditation and yoga as a form of self help. After everything I’ve been through my life is more in perspective now. I can see in colour instead of just black and white. If somebody doesn’t like me or something doesn’t go my way, I just remember my Dad’s advice of ‘who cares, is it going to matter to you in a week?’ The answer is always probably not.
Remember that life is short, enjoy it.