That person is somebody else. I can hardly recognise her, I really have to look hard and remind myself that it’s really me.
That’s how I feel now when I think back just a year. A lot has happened. Things have got better – so much better – but back then, I couldn’t see a point to anything. I hated everything about myself. A lot of bad things had happened in my past and I made bad choices too, and I’d reached a point where I just didn’t really want to go on.
I’d been self-harming for about three years, and thought: break the cycle, start over, go somewhere else – you know? So when I applied and actually got the grades, and was accepted to Queen’s, I was excited and hopeful. My family were worried – they’d been through a lot with me – but they were very supportive and encouraging.
The world felt as if it was falling apart around me
I’d hoped to make friends quickly but it didn’t turn out well. Some people that I confided in turned me away and cut me off. I was struggling with my course too and I started to feel lost. I didn’t have that family support system that has always been there either. The world felt as if it was falling apart around me. When I eventually took the decision to go to the Wellbeing Centre and get help, it was supposed to be about support for my dyslexia. But that was just an excuse, something to get me through the door. I ended up breaking down and it was clear that the situation was more serious and urgent.
An appointment was made for me to go to the Mater Hospital, where I had a mental health assessment. The University moved quickly as well and provided me with counselling support. In all I spent about three months attending weekly sessions, pouring my heart out and coming to terms with the trauma in my past.
I was really just running away from that past. But I’m not running any more
I couldn’t see it back then, but when I made the decision to leave Liverpool and move to Belfast, I was really just running away from that past. But I’m not running any more.
It might sound strange, but I found my own worth. You see, that’s a huge leap when you previously were feeling worthless. I’ve made some good friends now and I’m free of self-harm for the first time in years.
I won’t let it define my life
Despite what’s happening all around us and the disruption etc. of the pandemic, my mental health hasn’t deteriorated. I’m not denying that I still have bad days, but that’s OK because I’ve got some perspective on things now. I’m still learning how to deal with the past – there’s no quick fix for that – but I won’t let it define my life.
I can actually say that I’m happy and feeling positive – things I hadn’t felt in a very long time. My family say they can see the difference in me too, the transformation. Because that’s what it is. And that’s the difference between us, person I am today and that person of a year ago. She’s gone now. Just a bad memory.
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