I've spent the last few days looking back over my first ever posts on this very blog.
It begun in 2011, a time where after developing severe depression and consequently taking an overdose in late 2010 I was disallowed from attending Sixth Form and had to take 6 months out of education.
The girl writing those posts in 2011 feels so far away from the girl who is writing this post today.
I'm now 23 years old, and will soon be turning 24. I was 18 years old when I was writing these posts - still a teenager, lost, confused and trapped in a never ending cycle of depression.
Looking back on my schooling days feels like asking for trouble sometimes. As in reality, it was a horrible time. I'd spent each waking moment of those days hating myself. So much so, that I was self-harming and starving myself by the age of 12. I was bullied, constantly. I didn't have a friendship group that I could call my own. I turned to teachers as my concrete source of support. Prozac, citalopram and lorazepam had become items that I could be dependant on. I look back at my school days and just remember crying an awful lot and spending the majority of my time in teacher's offices and classrooms after hours, desperately seeking someone to understand what on earth was going on inside my head. I hated myself, despised myself, and thought I was worth nothing. That is just a small summary of everything but the reality feels quite traumatic now I look back on it all. It makes me feel ill and sends shivers down my spine.
The last time I self-harmed was last November. That's well over 10 years of fighting a war with myself. Last November feels so recent when you think about it but I'm determined to never get there again.
Many of you will know that I have spent the last three years at University, studying a BA Honours Degree in English Literature. And looking back on THOSE three years, so much has happened in that time - I met my biological father for the first time in my adult life, I lost my biological father for the first time in my adult life, one of my dear friends passed away, I'd taken a severe overdose, I'd moved house, I've switched jobs, and a lot of things happened in Nathan's life too.
I'm proud to announce that last Friday I graduated with a First Class Honours degree, standing with my boyfriend of 7 years by my side and all of my friends and family:
I guess I don't really have words for the feeling that I had on graduation day. Graduation is an exciting time for a lot of people but for me it felt like I was kicking my past to the kerb. I had actually achieved something where it was impossible to do any better. I've constantly never felt good enough, and still feel like that to a strong extent, but last Friday was an example of how hard work, determination, and pushing on through each and every dark cloud pays off.
Many of you will now know that I'm now working full-time for Macmillan Cancer Support as an Editorial Assistant. As astounded as I was to get the position, I was for the first time in many years met with an overwhelming surge of pride towards myself. That, together with my first class honours degree, felt unbelievably strange. I've overworked myself as a perfectionist my entire life with what felt like nothing to show for it. These two achievements were unarguably achievements that had been completed by no-one else but myself. I had faced them with passion, determination and a drive that I didn't know I had and they paid off. In almost 24 years, I had never been proud of myself fully until I got into the office at work to be greeted by cupcakes from my lovely colleagues to say congratulations on my degree result. I had never allowed myself to feel proud and I had forbidded myself from achievement because I was completely full of self-hatred.
That's not to say that life now is totally plain sailing. I sometimes feel that I'm not 'over' the situation with my father, and I'm not sure I will ever be. I still have a huge portion of me that is full of self-hatred, despite all of these amazing things happening to me. I have days where, after having achieved everything I ever wanted to at the time I wanted to, I want to retreat back into bed and cry. I, already after two months into my job, have had what I refer to as my 'bad days' to my colleagues - which to me are simply bad mental health days. I know when they're coming and they can creep up and feel as pressing as a thunderstorm on a gloomy day. Yet I belittle myself thinking 'but why? This is what you wanted' and then I slowly realise that my illnesses will still follow me around at each available opportunity attempting to diminish every good thing that happens.
It's my ability to cope with each up and each low that passes which can make this work. I'm going through a really exciting time, but one which is full of a lot of change and adaptation. I'm still at an age where I'm trying to figure out who I am. I'm trying to find an identity which I never really had in the first place. I'm still in many ways trying to accept the person that I am, in all its forms. I guess 'overwhelming' is the word you can use to describe those feelings.
But my goodness, let's not forget where I was 3, 4, 5 years ago and completely marvel at who I am now. It's pretty much unrecognisable. Yesterday I sat on a train to St Albans whereas I was housebound almost 6 years ago. The thought of hurting myself fills me with dread and not necessity and urgency, and I'm not as quite as dismissive of myself as I used to be.
I also left therapy a couple of weeks into my new job. Michael Appleton, who saw me for two and a half years, had been a godsend and I wasn't sure if there was any other ways that I could thank him for his guidance, support and care. I now enter life without therapy for the first time since I was 12 years old. Of course, I have had breaks from therapy before but I am determined that I want this to be the last time. I don't want to go back.
And where does this blog fit in with this journey? I've been rattling my brains for such a long time trying to think of ways that I could make my little section of the internet alive again. This blog has been a saviour in so many ways and has helped a lot of people, and I'll never forget that. But the words I used to have are not quite there anymore. I've exhausted the amount I can say and I worry that forcing it will make it worse. I'm also not quite sure I want my life to be quite as public as it was. I've never been one to hide my past issues, and never will - but I don't want to be known as a mental health blogger anymore. I want my identity to consist of things that are unrelated to my past and present experiences with mental health difficulties and I hope that you all can understand that.
So, without further ado, this is likely to be my final post here. I'm ready to move on and I'm ready to kick start my new life. I'm accepting that this life may never be truly free of the complexities of mental health difficulties, neither will it be smooth sailing. But I worry that this blog occasionally hindered more than helped me and I think it's time to take a step back.
I want to thank each and every one of you who I have met throughout this journey. Some of my bestest friends have been made through blogging and you know who you are. I want you all to know that my care for you all stills stands and that I love and appreciate you all dearly. Blogging is not where my heart lies at this moment in my life and I can't force what isn't quite there.