From a young age, I was always very quiet and introverted and only come out of myself around a select few people. In my mid teens I was estranged from one of my parents and had a difficult relationship with the other, I threw myself into working hard at school as I tried to find ways of seeking approval from others and was constantly striving to impress my parents to feel validated. After I left school, like many I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had lost contact with any friends from school and relied on my boyfriend as my best friend and confidant. When I secured my first permanent job role I didn’t speak for months but put everything into learning and worked tirelessly to keep up expectations I had built for myself.
My life so far had been spending so much time seeking validation from others particularly through work as it was the only way I knew how. I had become so closed off from the world and only had one healthy relationship which I depended on entirely for all of my emotional needs. Experiences in my childhood moulded me into a person with no self-confidence and I only knew the world through the eyes of my mum as a very negative and unwelcoming place. My mum persisted that I needed help and so after some time eventually consulted my GP and started a course of anti depressants. A few months went by and I hadn’t noticed any changes.
My mum and I went through stages of getting along amicably but these were often short lived. I would be belittled and knocked down and her drinking problem only worsened these issues often leading to bouts of aggression and verbal abuse. The evenings often filled me with anxiety, fear and anticipation of what could unfold only for it all to be forgotten by morning.
I had always longed for a close mother daughter relationship, I knew it was possible for others so I couldn’t see why this is something I couldn’t have for myself. Growing up you are taught by society that family is everything and seeing how my boyfriend interacted with his proved to me just how lonely I was.
I continued for several years feeling like this under the impression it was normal. I started to realise how different I was to the world around me, while people my age were out partying and holidaying with friends I was either with my boyfriend or waiting for him to come home. Similarly, at work I was surrounded by confident and self assured people who thrived from socialising and spending nights after work at the pub. I felt like something was wrong with me but I didnt know how to change. I was empty and not living.
It took me some years to realise it all started from the relationships I had at home and after moving in with my boyfriend I felt a sense of freedom, although most days I was still haunted by the past and the voice inside my head persisted. I became unhealthily reliant on our relationship and put an absurd amount of pressure on my boyfriend to be everyone and all the relationships I was lacking.
After 7 years our relationship sadly ended and I found myself moving back home. I was in a deep fog and looking back now am unsure how I got through each day. My mum’s drinking had got progressively worse and the arguments and abuse became a more regular occurrence. I was a shell of a person, with no purpose and no one to turn to, I knew I didn’t want to be alive anymore.
I had found the motivation somehow to start working out at the gym, it gave me a reason to not be in the house and I would come out feeling energised and like a whole new person. This feeling was often short lived as I returned home. Being in lockdown meant I was living and working in one room and only left for making meals and exercise. I began to work out more and started watching what I ate, as a few months passed this had developed into a borderline obsession. It was a distraction from the realities of life and I started noticing physical changes in my appearance which at the time I was impressed by. Little did i know I was driving myself into unhealthy habits and once the gym closed I resorted to intense hiit workouts everyday as I knew these would burn the most calories.
I had an urge to start looking for my own place. The housing market in the UK was a bit uncertain as we were in the first lockdown. However I managed to find somewhere pretty quickly, I put an offer in on the first place I viewed and it was accepted the next day. This felt like my first break into freedom but with lockdown the process took almost 6 months and the abuse had gotten so bad I had become a tiny frame, with no energy or appetite, bad skin and starting losing my hair.
This part of my life was such a blur, but I am so thankful to now be in a better position 6 months down the line. It wasn’t until the beginning of the year I realised the impact of my trauma, I was severely underweight and barely had enough energy to make it through the day. I am now on the right track to becoming a healthy weight once more and having a diet free of restrictions. My hair has stopped falling out and I am starting to recognise myself in the mirror. It took several months for me to properly relax and enjoy my own space and come to terms with the trauma I had been through. The most important step for me was to start talking to a therapist and those around me about how I was feeling, being honest with myself for the first time and starting to accept what I had been through.
I became inspired to write my own mental health blog and tell my story in the hope of connecting with others that have gone through similar experiences and to share the message that your experiences and your past do not define you. I am now free to start living my life and slowly training my mind towards a more positive outset, celebrating the small wins each day and feeling happy to get out of bed in the morning which is something I never thought was possible for me.