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Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

I come from a family with a genetic disposition to depression, & I suffered from terrible bouts when I was younger. Diaries from my teenage years document my “dark days” with my “can’t put my finger on it” feelings of utter despair. When I was 21, after a dreadful experience with my “best friends” at school, followed by a heart breaking betrayal by my childhood sweetheart, I was at my lowest & took an overdose. I was struggling at university, studying law & trying too hard to be perfect at everything. I spent the next 10 years drinking a lot and doing things I shouldn’t have done. But you know, I have no regrets. I tried a lot of things & they all made me the person I am today.

After my traumatic birth I was a perfect candidate for PND, PTSD, severe anxiety & depression. I remember a few years after my son was born a health visitor answering in response to my tearful enquiry “will I ever be happy?”, that I could be “happier”. I noted she did not say “happy”. Perhaps she wanted to be realistic but I have never forgotten how devastated I felt.

Gradually I began to drag myself up. I learnt to filter my negative thoughts, employing a strict “how will this thought help me achieve happiness” rule - if it wasn’t going to help me, then the thought wasn’t allowed in. I forced myself to focus on the good things, on what I was grateful for. I am lucky I have never felt resentful or bitter about my traumatic birth, they are wasted emotions to me & I am glad I have been able to avoid them dominating my mind. The more positive I was, the more positive my life became. Even the pandemic didn’t derail me, as any thoughts about how long it would go on for weren’t allowed in my brain as that wasn’t a route to happiness. Instead I focused on the day to day, small goals such as a nice walk, good film and a chat with a friend.

I became sober 3 years ago. Goodbye hangxiety & feeling like shit! Hello feeling fresh & happy.

I am genuinely, gloriously HAPPY. I have truly beaten my demons, and I want you to know YOU CAN BE HAPPY TOO! It takes hard work to train your brain, & I never EVER believed I would reach this stage.

But I have.

You can, too.

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