Sunday 25 September 2016

When Ish Hits The Fan

"Secrets make you sick"

This is probably one of the biggest and simplest take home messages from To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA).

For those who haven't seen it, it focuses on Rene Yohe and how, with the help of her friends, she overcame drug addiction. Although that seems like a really simplified or watered down explanation of what really happened, because what you learn at the end is that it's a daily battle. She comes home and writes 'Day 1' on her bedroom mirror, because essentially, every day is day 1, over and over again until you don't need to think about the number associated with the day anymore.

The most inspiring thing that I took from it is to own my story. I may not have been sexually assaulted or suffered deep depression, I may not have anything more serious than Generalised Anxiety Disorder, but my story is still one worth telling, if only to make myself heard and so others know that they're not alone.

So hi, I'm Melissa and I'm a love addict who also suffers from anxiety and possibly depression.

I grew up in a family that, due to a family history of mental illness and not knowing how to cope with it, saw me lacking in my own psychological and particularly emotional needs being met.

As a child, I didn't understand what was going on and took it personally when one or both of my parents would yell at me because I genuinely believed that it meant I wasn't worthy of love, attention, affection or any of the other things that I craved.

Throughout high school I sought out quite possibly the one person that couldn't give me the love I so desperately wanted, which only make me want to fight harder for it, much to my own detriment.

I was also diagnosed with severe Idiopathic Scoliosis at 12 which saw me undergo two intensive surgeries just before my 14th birthday. Despite this huge hurdle and the impact this had on me at the time and has since affected me and helped shaped my life, I don't consider myself a Scoliosis survivor. It's a condition that I have and was corrected as best as the surgeons possibly could, but it in no way defines me, who I am, what I do, or what I want to achieve in my life.

Anyway, with my love addiction seeking a new target after spending 4-5 years hopelessly trailing after a guy who was becoming less and less appealing as a person the older he got, I met a teacher when I was 16 and became completely obsessed with him for about 3 years. I'm really not proud of how I acted during this time and how relentlessly I pursued him despite him making it clear that he couldn't give me the kind of attention that I wanted and trying to get me to stop what I was doing, but I understand why I did what I did and have subconsciously vowed to never behave in the same way ever again.

Everything came to an absolutely crushing halt when the teacher got married. It was like my entire world had been completely shattered and I was left with two choices: either stay where I was and revel in the pain and misery of what my life had suddenly become, or ask for help and keep doing whatever it takes to get myself out of the intensely grey pit I'd found myself in.

It took a few weeks along with trial and error of counselors, but I finally found someone who was just right for me and help me get past the first hurdle of pain, find the core of my problem and helped me rebuild myself and my life, one step at a time.

I've now been seeing her for nearly 7 years and my life, as she reminds me as well, is completely different from when I first started seeing her. I've got a stable job, a happy home life, great friends, am halfway through an Arts degree, finished paying off my car a few months ago, and am finally learning to love and accept myself exactly as I am.

During my darkest times, namely around the age of 15 when I hated everything about my life, was sick of fighting for a reason to keep living and often thought about running away or taking my own life, I couldn't have fathomed I'd be able to create the kind of life I have now. It's not perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than where I've come from, which means that where I'm headed it going to be better still.

So that's my story in a nutshell. I'm sharing it because I feel like I need to and that others need to hear it.

So tell me, what's your story? What do you do when life messes with the fan?