I can’t remember when it all started or the first negative feeling or thought I ever experienced, but, there are a few moments I can remember with perfect clarity. Moments when I was ready to give up and say goodbye to this life.
My childhood was rough, to say the least. Our house was filled with emotional and verbal abuse, sometimes we couldn’t afford food, and we lived in isolation for long periods of time.
As a little girl, I had the things that kept me happy which were writing my novels, playing video games, playing with barbies, or playing my instruments, but, for a house with such a large family in it, I always felt alone.
I started to experience social anxiety at a very young age. The pressure of living up to a perfect standard at home spilled over into everything I attempted to do. People pleasing led to depression when I felt like I let others down or wasn’t good enough, and without guidance to help me overcome my insecurities, I retreated into myself where they continued to grow.
Today I still deal with depression and anxiety. At times I’ve thought it has never been as bad as it is now, but, I think the truth is, I’ve just never given a voice to my inner struggles until now.
Dealing with mental health issues can be one of the hardest battles. Your self-worth and self-esteem take a huge hit because you think that you are broken or not normal.
You start to pull away from everything and everyone because your soul does not have the strength to care about anyone else.
Towards the end of last year, I began struggling against myself. Why was I like this? Why did I have so many bad days? Why wasn’t I able to find joy? Why couldn’t I be normal? On the brink of another breakdown, I came to a crossroads; I could continue to hate myself and feel defeated or, I could try something completely new – accept myself and stand up.
There were enough negative voices coming from the outside already, so why was I joining them by putting myself down? “I am the only one I will ever truly have,” I thought. So I stopped the self-judging and self-sabotaging thoughts and decided I was not going to struggle against myself anymore. I took a step back and looked at myself as if I was my best friend who knew me the best and needed my support the most. I promised myself that the self-loathing was done and I would love myself and be kind to myself no matter the struggles I was facing.
It’s been a few months since this shift in my mental perspective, and in all honesty, it has been one hell of a ride. I had never realized how much I truly needed to stand up for myself not only against the negativity outside of me but mostly against the negativity coming from within.
I believe now that the way we change mental health awareness in the world is to start with our own perspective of ourselves.
Because once you are on your side, it does not matter who is against you. Once you are on your side it does not matter if others do not understand you. Once you are on your side you have the person in the arena that you have always needed. Once you are on your side you can achieve anything you set out to do no matter the pushback because you believe in you.
I am learning to love myself and value myself no matter how I am doing. Our mental health does not define us. Our value lies in our mere existence, the blood in our veins, and the beating heart in our chest.
Mental health growth is not a flaw or weakness. It is an inner cry for deeper care and understanding from the only one who knows us the best and has the power to truly pick us up and change our life; ourself.
Thanks for writing such a fantastic article, it really speaks to me and to where I am at at the moment in my mental health journey. I have recently realised that the root cause of most of my issues is the fact that I don’t love myself, so finding this article was really validating and helped me realise I am on the right path. Thank you so much and best of luck to you in your own journey too. It’s hard to be your own best friend but I’m holding on to the hope that it will be worth it in the end.
Thank you so much Sarah for sharing your experience. We are so glad to hear that this article was helpful and that it met you where you are. Please stay in touch and let us know what other articles have been helpful!
Needed this. I grew up in a Christian fundamental home where I was told I was a sinner for having normal human emotions and that I was scum that needed to give myself to the Lord or be condemned to eternal punishment. So according to my parents I am going to hell and God is just in doing that. If I can’t just believe (not something I can force myself to do), I am not one of the chosen. I think that is trash, but when you are brought up from a young age to think you are depraved and worthless apart from God, it’s impossible not to internalize it.
Rachel, thank you so much for sharing. We are so happy to hear that this article meant something to you and your journey.