Some days, I feel deep down in my heart that there’s just something wrong with me. Like I was born broken. Like I don’t have the ability that everyone else seems to have to do normal every day things. To be satisfied. To be ok with the small talk and the pretending. To not be constantly scared of rejection. I wonder how other people are not constantly questioning every word that comes out of their mouth or not finding every day conversation difficult. I wonder if I'm the only one that purposely avoids having to speak to people because the experience is too stressful. I wonder how other people can be so confident about making and keeping friends, and not constantly worrying whether people find them annoying, or wondering how everyone else seems to find it all so easy.
Last year I was ‘diagnosed’ with anxiety and depression. I put diagnosed in inverted commas because I still cannot deal with it. I don’t actually think it’s real, I just think that I’m overreacting. And I’m probably just stupid. Because some days I feel almost fine and I don’t have it as a bad as other people I know. So I think that the doctors have probably just doled out a ‘diagnosis’ to get my tears out of their office. I think I have been given a bandage when actually all I needed was a plaster.
For as long as I can remember I hated myself. I went to an all girl’s school and made a very quick observation that if I kept my mouth shut I would not be bullied. I didn’t realise at the time the price of silence.
When I started sixth form it suddenly came to my attention that boys found me attractive. So although I continued to hate everything inside of me I found a way to like myself – by appreciating the power of what was on the outside. I don’t know many other people who preferred their own bodies to their own minds. I almost laugh because I basically objectified myself. How messed up is that?
But about three years ago, haunted by hopefully the biggest screw up I’ll ever make, I made a conscious effort to start liking myself, and I thought for a long time that it was working. I thought I was fighting and figuring it all out. I thought I had found a way to appreciate myself for what was on the inside instead of what was on the outside.
I thought all of that until about six months ago, when I realised that all I had done was put all of my anxieties and hatred and worries in a box marked ‘keep out’, put thick black tape over it and hidden it away in the deepest darkest corner where I thought no-one could find it.
Except I was wrong. There is (although I appreciate that not everyone will agree) someone who was well aware of it and was not ok with me hiding it away, pretending I’d got it all sorted out. Someone who was determined – slowly and at a pace I could manage – to help me pull out that box and start ripping off the tape. Someone who is carrying my weight as I dizzily open the flaps and start taking out what’s inside. Someone who holds me when it gets too much and gives me space and peace to rest. I feel Him whispering in my ear, “It’s ok, I’m here, I’m not going anywhere.”
I feel like an onion and God is softly peeling back each layer. Not because He wants to bring me back to a place of pain and discomfort but because He wants me to work through it properly. To come out stronger. To genuinely like myself, and for it not just to be a phrase I tell myself to convince myself I’ve worked through it all. But I think that most of all, He must be there encouraging me to keep going deeper, because He believes that what is really inside is beautiful. I just have to trust that He’s right.
So yesterday I may have found it almost impossible to get out of bed and tomorrow I may float through the day with a knot in my stomach and sadness in my heart. But for now, I can’t worry about that. Because today, at least I’m still breathing.