If you didn’t know me well, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell that I have been struggling with depression, anxiety and a combination of anorexia and bulimia for most of my life.

I was a competitive athlete for 11 years and in those years I was probably my worst enemy and critic in my relentless pursuit of perfection.

Except that I failed myself.

I was struggling. Yet I couldn’t seek help because I was so caught up in not wanting to appear “weak”.

These were the roots of pain that were tearing me apart on the inside, invisible to others. I wish it had been invisible to me.

I managed to live with the illusion that I didn’t need to seek help by numbing the pain. I wore myself out. I worked out and ran incessantly – I couldn’t stop. If I did, the taunting voices would return to haunt me, along with emotional volatility and throbbing stress migraines.

Eventually, I collapsed and passed out during training.

I hadn’t eaten for three, going on four days. I had lost my appetite from everything that was going on. I was severely dehydrated.

I’d told myself that I was never going to seek help, but there I was, lying on a hospital bed in the A&E ward.

In my weak, confused state, it felt like a place where death angels selected people to take away; as I saw white blankets covering the bodies, my heart shivered in fear of was to happen to me, all because of my stubborn pride.

I was struggling. Yet I couldn’t seek help because I was so caught up in not wanting to appear “weak”.

My life didn’t flash in front of me, unlike what I’d seen on television dramas. All I felt was regret and anger at everything that had transpired. I refused to feel remorse, and instead burned with resentment at how my “diligence” hadn’t been rewarded with the results that I’d expected.

The manic voices went off in my head even as my limbs went numb.

Somehow, I convinced myself that only by ending my life would I find life and true freedom.

“Nobody would care if I died. I’m a burden to the world and to myself. A useless piece of s*** who can’t do anything right. The world would be better off without me. I should get rid of a vermin like me. Stupid and useless … “

The thoughts on replay slowly ingrained themselves into me, until I believed them as fact.

I was tormented, self-destructive. I thought about suicide, but couldn’t do anything about it, having been placed under the careful watch of nurses, 24/7.

It was then that I started writing. It was a therapeutic release for me. It seemed to be the key that released me from the wild, raving voices.

Writing became the most successful rehabilitative programme for me.

My notebook was my friend. He listened intently to my pain, my fears and my anxiety, without condemnation or judgement. He was present in each trial and struggle, accepting my brokenness.

Self-care is wiping my own tears and tucking myself into bed.

Instead of slitting my wrists to release pain and stress, freedom came through bleeding my life onto pages in ink.

This was my self-care.

Sometimes it’s hard to think of myself as being worthy of self-care. Most days, self-care is forcing myself to get out of bed and dragging myself to get through life.

Self-care is the pep talk I give myself when I’m breaking apart on the inside.

Self-care is picking myself up from the bathroom floor after bleeding, cleaning the wounds, and stepping back out into the world.

Self-care is letting myself cry in the corner when everything is breaking apart.

Self-care is reminding myself to eat even when I don’t feel like eating at all.

Self-care is wiping my own tears and tucking myself into bed.

Self-care is trying to live, even when it feels like the most painful and irrelevant experience.

Sometimes it’s the simple reminder that you’re not forgotten, forsaken.

It can be the hardest thing to believe on your worst days, but you have to be patient. It may be horribly dark and scary where you are right now, and the recovery process may be devastatingly long. Arduous.
Often, it feels like you’ll break before dawn. But rest assured that light is coming your way.

Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

Don’t lose hope – not yet.