Depressed. Anxious. Borderline. These labels only added to the feeling that I was wrong, that I wasn’t like anyone else. I felt like no matter what I did this constant emptiness would follow me, a disease slowly eating me away from the inside. The worst part was that I couldn’t tell anyone. My childhood ensured that.
How could I explain I was feeling completely empty for no reason?
I had been one of the perfect, pristine kids. I was never openly angry, I always listened in lessons, I never spoke out of turn, or at all for the matter. But for some reason, I used to cry. I cried a lot. This continued even when I was in High School, and the fact I couldn’t stop it only made it worse. I had teachers asking me what was wrong, but how could I explain I was feeling completely empty for no reason?
So I refused to explain, I didn’t want the attention drawn to me. The last thing I wanted was people singling me out, seeing how weird I was. And I wasn’t supposed to be the different one, I was meant to be the happiest, smartest kid in the class. I couldn’t admit I felt the opposite.
“Grow up.” That’s what friends and family told me. “Stop being so oversensitive.” Little did they know they were justifying my low self-esteem; I thought myself a drama queen and I didn’t know why. I was worthless and pathetic.
So I shut my feelings out, I bottled them up and ignored them. For years I focused on only keeping a mask, and making sure nobody saw through it.
I grew to trust Amy deeply
That was, until I befriended a girl called Amy. She knew the smile on my face wasn’t quite genuine, that my constant murmurs of ‘I’m ok.’ and ‘I’m fine.’ were fake. And I grew to trust her deeply, despite my paranoia and fear she would hate the ‘real’ me beneath. She was one of the only people that accepted my outbursts, who gave me a space to talk about anything, just so I could get rid of the internal bomb that my bottled feelings had become.
Of course it was messy; I was a wreck for a long time. I’d held 6 years of repressed emotions in my body, and once they began pouring out I couldn’t control them.
She was always a text message away
But Amy was there the entire time, even when I was crying my eyes out in the girls’ toilets at school, even when I stormed out of lessons with no excuse, hands literally shaking with my anger, even when I spent my evenings staring at my bedroom wall, wondering how I could feel so empty when I had everything a teenage girl could want. She was always a text message away.
She actually saved my life.
And her perseverance, her insistence that my feelings weren’t just ridiculous finally encouraged me to see a counsellor, to feel safe enough to confide in someone that wasn’t her. I quickly got referred to CBT, and I can safely say my life is better than it ever has been.
I learnt to accept myself
I learned to accept myself, that these feelings, these outbursts I have are okay. I don’t always feel like I belong, but it’s alright. Setbacks and difference make us stronger; I am a strong person now.
Help us get talking about mental health for #TimetoTalk Day, 6 February.