Your Strength Is In Your Struggle

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I’ve been coping with some recent changes to my life, as well as how I’m doing generally. Recovery is actually a concept that’s quite difficult not only to grasp, but to measure. Day to day we lead our lives in whichever ways we can at that time, not really thinking about the days prior. I know that’s definitely the case for me, anyway. I wake up in the morning to go to work for the day and I come home and I write, take photographs, walk, or take some time out. These things seem so normal. But really, all of those things are actually quite a big deal

They don’t sound it, I know. They sound like completely ‘normal’ activities – activities that most people do every day. But not for me. For me, these are things that have gradually built up over time and that I’ve become more able to do. Things would become so overwhelming before. A day at work would drain all of my energy – emotionally and physically – bringing me to a point of no longer being able to socialise or, to a degree, function. Everything was exhausting. Everything was a trigger. Everything was hard. Some things are still hard – I don’t doubt or sugarcoat that for a second – but we must take a little bit of time every so often, just to acknowledge what we’ve done.

This thought process naturally brings up how I’ve changed as a person, as well as how my daily life has changed. Ok, I got a new job, I’m managing to do it, I’m socialising more, panicking less. But what does it really mean? The triggers are still there and will be indefinitely. But the point is, I am strong. I am really strong. I won’t even apologise for saying that because you know what? I’ve dealt with shit. But that’s exactly it: I dealt with it. I’m still dealing with it. Everybody has their own shit and I am pretty darn sure that you’ve got yours – you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t – and I’m also pretty darn sure that you’re stronger because of it. You have grown because of it. Maybe you’re still growing, I know I am.

Every day we’re growing, learning, being. Who do you want to be? I wouldn’t wish mental illness upon anybody but this is my reality, this is life as I know it, and I have to deal with the life that I’ve got. When I look back I sometimes think what was I actually like before all of this? Who was I, really? I wasn’t as strong, compassionate or mindful. I didn’t think to look after my mental health. I didn’t really think about how my actions could affect others. So I’m proud of who I am as a result of my mental health struggles. I’m a better person for it. I have learnt to be understanding, compassionate, kind and mindful. Maybe I would have had these qualities anyway, without everything that’s happened, but I can categorically say that I doubt I’d be the person I am today. I wouldn’t be so mindful of the way I treat others; I wouldn’t be as compassionate towards others; I wouldn’t be as consciously kind to other people, aware that I don’t know what they’re going through. 

Maybe this is why stigma frustrates me like it does. Don’t people realise how strong you are? Do you realise how strong you are? Let this be your focus – you owe it to yourself.

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6 Comments

  1. June 9, 2017 / 8:53 pm

    Brilliant stuff, Hannah. I turn the grand old age of 36 this month and I am still learning everyday ( reading such good stuff from you youngsters) I’ve always classed myself as a ‘nice’ guy but since my incident late last year I now feel like a completely different guy, I liken it to a night on the piss and thinking back on the last nights events but ‘last nights’ events go back years. I’m a different, hopefully better man now with a lot more compassion and understanding of others problems. I’m actually turning into the Dr. Phil of my group of friends. All the best and take care

  2. June 9, 2017 / 11:20 pm

    I love this. I always say compassion is my biggest reward since struggling with my mental health. It taught me so much and began to show me exactly how I should treat people. Great post.

  3. June 10, 2017 / 8:37 am

    I love this entry as well and agree that our struggles can be great sources of personal change, growth and help shape not only our reality but also a good portion of our person – from thoughts, feelings/emotions, to actions and personality traits.

    Like you, I suffered trauma in such an early part of my life, that I cannot image what I will become without my battles with mental illnesses. I can, however, imagine some horrible alternate versions of myself, based on scenarios where I didn’t use my struggles and let them ruin the person that I am today in this current reality. But, that’s a long story.

    Stigma still baffles me, in the sense that understanding of the psyche has gradually evolved, and despite some backward minded people who want to perpetuate antiquated ideas about it, most of us know better – and yet… so many in society don’t even want to listen to any of us!

    So, like you, all these activities that seem so easy to many, I know how tough it can be and congratulate you on each of your endeavours and efforts, which will all become parts of your overall recovery, which I think for both of us will be an ongoing life-long process, and that’s ok, we’re not in a race against anyone.

    I love your blog entries and appreciate your kind friendship- thank you for being such a muse and inspiration to the masses!

  4. June 10, 2017 / 10:17 am

    Perfectly put Hannah! I think this is so important to realise, and we often forget just how far we’ve come. I too sometimes forget what I was like before all this happened and can’t believe how quickly 7 years have gone!

    Only when I think back and think of all the things I’ve learnt through this experience do I ever realise how strong I am for fighting and not giving up. And even though it looks to others like I keep relapsing and ‘failing’, they can’t see that even though I may relapse now and again, I still get back up and fight again and each time I do I get healthier and closer to full recovery and I need to hang onto that when I lose faith or get put down by other people!

    Never forget how amazing you are Hannah, for getting on with each day! And how inspiring you are for sharing your story, god knows just how many people you’ve helped through this incredible blog!

    JosieVictoriaa // Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle

  5. June 11, 2017 / 7:38 pm

    Really good post Hannah!

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