Learning to Love Myself

There’s no better feeling than being in love. It’s exhilarating, intoxicating, a giddy rush… until it isn’t.

Three words. That’s all it took. Having the person who I truly cared about more than anyone else spit in my face and tell me that I was – and I quote – “hard to love” and “too much for them” was all it took to break me. I was all by myself, back in that deep, dark place I thought I had left behind.

To the boy who told me I couldn’t wear pink because it didn’t suit my skin tone, this one’s for you!

While I’m saving the detailed depressive spiel for another post, you can imagine that, judging by my absence, the past few months have been incredibly hard. For twenty years, I believed that I was truly unlovable. For some reason or other, I wasn’t the kind of person someone looked at and thought was special or interesting enough to care about and while this was upsetting, I had become accustomed to being alone. When I finally did fall in love for the first time, I dove in head – and heart – first, only to be left with the sad, stark reality… no-one could ever love me. I was not good enough as a human being for anyone.

The failed relationship left me dejected and, I won’t lie, severely depressed. It took a massive toll on my health where I lost a ton of weight through not eating, became a total insomniac and couldn’t go a single hour without bursting into tears. After pouring my heart – and my eyes out – to a GP, I was handed a prescription for antidepressants and was sent on my way.

Even without an official™ diagnosis, I was acutely aware while growing up that I was far more anxious than the everyday individual. I meticulously planned my day to the hour, panicking if anything dared throw me off schedule – even for a fraction of a millisecond! I would work myself into worried frenzies, restless and nauseous about every little thing that bothered me. I became a prime target for bullying, what exactly it was that drew every chavvy Welsh teen in my school to torture me is beyond me. Was it because I was quiet? Or because I was simply a massive, uncool nerd who worked too hard? Who knows, but it definitely didn’t help my emotional state. In fact, I spent an overwhelmingly large bulk of my childhood (probably from around ages eleven to seventeen) contemplating suicide, wanting nothing more than to die, and by the end, even making attempts. It’s incredibly laughable now to see those same girls who bullied me and put me through hell throughout comprehensive school now advocate for treating each other kindly on social media – Ok, maybe, I’ll always be bitter, but still.

For all the jokes I make about being a narcissist, the truth couldn’t be any more different. I actually hate myself. Quite a lot. ‘Oh, but Sam, you’re always taking selfies or partaking in shoots!’ Yes, I am, but that’s only because I have a disgustingly low self-esteem and rather embarrassingly crave the validation. I actually rather have a lot of anxieties about the way I look. It made me sick how desperate I was to be deemed good enough in someone’s eyes, but that’s all I’ve ever wanted.

It sounds rather sad, I suppose, when I write it out like this. It’s quite pathetic just how much I despised myself. I resented the fact I had severe anxiety, I hated that I reacted too emotionally to situations that caused me distress, but I just didn’t know how to change all of that without entirely altering or eradicating the soft, sensitive side to my personality.

Dress: ASOS Design Pinafore Dress [out of stock]

Make-up: Burberry Liquid Lip Velvet in Dark Rosewood

Flowers: Romantic Juliet Bouquet @ The Real Flower Company  £46

Turns out, I didn’t need a revamp of my entire self. Deep down, who I am is good enough, but I could be a stronger, more confident, less stressed Samantha. However, that didn’t mean fundamentally changing my core personality traits in order to become an entirely different person.

Mental illness has a diverse and vast spectrum. I’ve been diagnosed with major depressive order, generalised anxiety disorder and borderline personality disorder. While it was initially tricky to come to terms with all that, I must confess I found some relief in the fact that it wasn’t just me being crazy. That my emotional responses to stressful situations were because I had suffered a series of life events that left me prone to what some would call ‘over dramatic, too sensitive and nightmarish weakling behaviour’. For some reason, I have great difficulty computing emotional frustration. Once I am upset by something, I fall into a depressive rabbit hole where the familiar feelings of believing nobody loves me, understands or cares about me return. I am completely and entirely hopeless, surrendering to my self-doubts. It’s not a premeditated behaviour or choice, I don’t choose to have an emotional breakdown every time I experience sadness, it just happens and I wish more than anything that I could control it.

I have no doubt my ongoing battle with depression, anxiety and BPD contributed to the downfall of my relationship, but my boyfriend at the time was also struggling with his own ‘demons’ for lack of a less of cliché phrase and I entirely accept that complexity of the situation. It by no means was a healthy relationship, escalating on the rare occasion to physical harm from him which is something that obviously frightened and only served to make me believe my self-worth was even lower than I had originally anticipated. However, what is extremely soul destroying for me was how I was made to bear a ridiculous amount of blame for having a mental health issue. I felt vilified, labelled as “selfish”, “manipulative” and “controlling”, but that wasn’t the case.

I spent a good month post-break up agonising over what I horrible person I was. Once again, I was on the brink of actively ending my life with serious steps being taken to go ahead with it. Even today, I still struggle to fathom the headspace I was and am currently in. Changes do have to happen and I’ve been taking baby-steps to bettering myself over the past couple of weeks, but I’ve come to learn that that doesn’t mean I need an entire personality makeover. The mental health disorders that I struggle with stem from a childhood full of bullying and self-doubt and while it has at times been crippling to deal with, they have shaped me into the (albeit incredibly anxious) adult I am today and are a part of me.

I don’t want to go too much into it as I am saving that for the lengthy post I will write in the coming months about tackling depression etc, but I will say that after six weeks of counselling and around three months of Prozac, I am feeling a lot more positive in myself. I’m not by any means fixed, but I no longer feel that punishing sense of shame and guilt when I think about what I’ve been through. I no longer instil the blame entirely on myself and I try my best not to get into the ‘extremely low moods’ where I begin to contemplate ending it all.

I am not, as that person said, “hard to love”, but I don’t believe any human is particularly easy to love as we all have our flaws. However, being able to come to terms with who I am by nature and slowly learning how to balance that depressing darkness in order to achieve some semblance of happiness has been really uplifting. The physical weight of the depression I began to feel on my shoulders has vanished. I do feel lighter, more accepting and appreciative of my quirks and traits and I can walk around without getting into a panic about, say, crossing the road.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always be a shy, nerdy bookworm with a tendency to get overly stressed. I’m just learning how to be a slightly happier one! Also, staying well away from love for the foreseeable future.

Also, a special mention to Lorde’s album Melodrama. Listening to it really helped to navigate me through the rollercoaster of emotions I was feeling post-break up and provided a weird sense of comfort in the early hours when I was bawling like a baby.

Happy superfluous construct of capitalism day! 💕

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