“I still struggle with my sense of self-worth” – Lucy’s story
In this blog, Lucy reflects on her childhood and adolescence. Although she experienced depression, an eating disorder and difficulties with self-harm, Lucy has now found joy in her studies and hobbies, with close friends and family by her side.
Since the age of about 16, I have struggled with a range of mental illnesses, from restrictive eating disorders to anxiety and depression. I am now turning 21 in less than a month, and while my problems persist and will probably never be completely healed, I have developed ways to manage them.
At the onset of my problems, I distinctly remember feeling too embarrassed to say anything because I felt like I wouldn’t be taken seriously. Undeniably, I did end up being judged even when I spoke up which is why I believe that society needs to undergo a mental health revolution on a mass scale, until discussions of mental health are totally normalised.
That’s not to say that the significance of mental health should be belittled; rather, by talking more openly and confidently about it, we can acknowledge how prevalent it is and better equip ourselves with how to approach and empathise with people suffering from mental health issues.
The root of the problem was really my inability to love myself unconditionally for who I already was.
Initially, my problems stemmed from trying to change the way I looked for the validation of others. I thought this was pathetic at the time, but now I realise that the root of the problem was really my inability to love myself unconditionally for who I already was.
Looking retrospectively, my issues actually started long before that, when I lost motivation at school and gave up things I loved and was good at, like swimming, art and piano. The problems intensified and quickly spiraled into self-harm, depression; difficult days where I was unable to get out of bed, even experiencing suicidal ideation.
When I turned 18, I turned to drinking too and developed an unhealthy attachment to alcohol, which led to visits to the hospital and even the police station. People used to (and still do) call me “psycho” or “crazy”, but in reality, I was just in a lot of pain and struggling to cope with it.
Spend your time doing what you want to do, with the people you want to do it with.
A few months ago, I spoke to a psychiatrist who gave me a diagnostic assessment. While I was likely to have borderline personality disorder (BPD) or bipolar disorder, she didn’t officially diagnose me as either because of fears that I might be discriminated against in a university or employment setting.
Even in this era of ‘liberalism’ and political correctness, it’s still viewed as acceptable to condemn people struggling with mental illness - a trope of today’s society that I believe needs to be corrected.
Recovery is a process and we should never think of it as a final - we should consistently strive toward self-betterment. I still struggle with my sense of self-worth. But more than a year ago, I gave up alcohol entirely; a decision that I attribute my ‘recovery’ to. I’ve also started to spend more time with my family and I’ve discovered passions such as photography, writing and volunteering.
As long as you’re doing better than you were yesterday, then you’re succeeding.
I’m now at my first-choice university studying my dream course and living alongside my best friends, something I did not believe to be possible when I was at my lowest point during A-Levels.
My advice would be to do anything you can to regain power and control. Often this manifests in small habits, like making conscious choices to only spend your time doing what you want to do, with the people you want to do it with. As long as you’re doing better than you were yesterday, then you’re succeeding and even if you’re not, being able to recognise it is already a huge step in itself.
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