By Lisa Waugh
It wasn’t until I started to feel better that I realised how bad I had felt for so long. The weight of my low mood was something I just accepted and never thought to question. It was just me; I was lonely, shy, unconfident, and had low self-esteem. It’s a little scary to realise that I had been existing for so many years without living, without ever feeling happy. I went to work, looked after my horse and went home every day alone. I never went out, saw anyone or did anything.
One day I joined a new exercise class. Suddenly, I had something to do, something I loved instantly. I quickly built a little confidence moving from the back of the class to the front row, going to as many classes a week as I could get to. I thought I was ok, I seemed to be making friends and I was no longer alone so much.
Looking back even though I felt better, the underlying self-esteem issues remained and continued to affect me each and every day and in every situation without me realising it.
I was making friends and getting fulfilment from helping and looking after others, but I wasn’t looking after myself. I thought I was getting better, I could see changes within myself and in my situation, and my life experiences were increasing.
But I was trapped in a negative cycle, thinking I was doing better, but being put down and criticised by those closest to me, undermining any confidence I had built, commenting on how other people didn’t like me, undermining any relationships I thought I had built. I became trapped, believing no one else would like me, feeling as though it was better to be in this negative situation, because at least I wasn’t alone.
Looking back, I was still the lonely and sad person I was before, I was just busier and thought I was a least making a difference to someone.
Eventually things reached a point where I realised I needed help, not to get out of the cycle, as at the time I couldn’t see how bad it was, but to tackle the long standing self-esteem issues, thinking if I could just beat that problem everything else would just get better.
I started therapy and noticed some improvement but as I was trapped in a cycle, those improvements only went so far. I hit another low; all of a sudden I wanted to cry all the time. I was signed off work, the rest helped for a while and eventually a more understanding doctor started me on antidepressants, even though I was hesitant. I am so glad I did. Once the initial dose was increased I started to feel lighter and better. Over the next couple of months I continued to make improvements. However the negative cycle continued and stopped me getting better properly. I was being used and was exhausted, from doing too much and trying to get better despite the negativity I was subject to.
Thankfully the negative cycle was broken by the person herself and I was ‘thrown out’ of her life and that of her friends and family. Although they all meant a lot to me and it was incredibly hard and painful, it was undoubtedly the best thing that could have happened. Even though I was alone again I was free. I was free of exhaustion and of being expected to be available all day to run around after people, free of crushing negativity and constant criticisms, never being good enough and being made to feel I didn’t fit it.
Being alone was terrifying, but I was finally able to put into action everything I had been learning and working on.
There is now a light at the end of the tunnel, and I am working towards my new future, sometimes looking back is hard but also useful in guiding how to move forward and to remember how far you’ve come and where you don’t want to go back to and to see everything that lies ahead.
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