Active Monitoring is available to anyone over 18 in Wales. It's free of charge, and is designed to help you understand and manage your feelings. Learn more and sign up here.
I thought self-hatred was normal. Everyone wakes up every day and looks in the mirror and thinks ‘yeah, I hate that bit about me’, right? Surely every time someone catches a glimpse of their reflection, they think of a million reasons why they should hate themselves? Surely every time someone else looks at you they also think these things?
My brain was so laden with these thoughts that they became entrenched into my everyday thinking. Not a day went past when I didn't think of at least one negative thing about myself. These were constantly reinforced by those around me. Every criticism smashed against my broken mind making the pieces even smaller. Just a little chip every now and then until my mind became so fragile it broke.
In order to heal my broken mind I became a fixer. When I saw someone else a little bit broken, I immediately felt responsible. I poured every ounce of energy I had into helping other people; into solving problems they could've solved themselves. I didn't want to focus on myself because it was too big a task. I didn't know where to start, so I ignored it.
"Every time I tried to praise myself it felt tainted with all the self-doubt and self-hatred that's been there all my life."
Then something happened. I stepped up when no one else would. I did everything, I changed everything, I gave up everything and I was proud of myself. I knew that I had done what was right and I knew that I should be proud of myself but, I was unable to be. Every time I tried to praise myself it felt tainted with all the self-doubt and self-hatred that's been there all my life. It was then I realised maybe I needed help.
So that’s when I started Active Monitoring. When asked to pick one course out of six I felt I needed help with self-esteem the most. Completing the initial questionnaire I could hear those negative thoughts being etched into the paper. I don't remember the questions exactly, but I remember my responses: all of the time, most of the time, all of the time, and on and on it went. It was as if I was hearing myself for the first time and I started question, ‘why do you believe that?’. I have a loving husband, two incredible boys, amazing friends and family and a job I love. It was as if I was waking up, as if somehow I'd been in a trance and I was unable to see the truth. For the first time I thought there is no way that all these negative things can be true with so many people in my life who love me for who I am.
"The only person who did not love me for who I am, is me."
Slowly Active Monitoring helped me begin to see that my mind was not completely broken. There was just a thick cloud of dust I was unable to see through. As I used the tips and strategies I learned, to clear away the dust, I was able to see the fundamental pieces of who I am. I am compassionate, sometimes to a flaw, I love deeply and in return I am loved deeply. The only person who did not love me for who I am, is me.
Instead of focusing my energy onto fixing those who did not want my help I focused my energy on me. I started looking in the mirror and thinking of the things that I could be proud of, that I should be proud of. This took time. Often, I would look in the mirror and think of things that I was proud of in other people, unable to then focus on myself. With the help of Mind, and the person who spoke to me for all of my sessions, I slowly began to achieve this skill. The more I did it the easier it became.
I allowed some room for the negatives, because there will always be negatives. However, I allowed more room for the positives. When my mind wandered and tried to go back to its old ways, I had to think hard to keep it on track. Over time this took less work and I started to notice the corners of my mouth lifting. It occurred to me that feeling happy was not a natural state that I've known for so long. I had many things in my life to be happy about, so it shocked me I was not a naturally happy person. However, it was with this realisation that I realised if I conditioned myself to think one way and I can condition myself to think another way.
"I am happy and I am at peace with myself."
I became my own champion, empowering myself to be happy, to be free of other people’s insecurities. I no longer needed to be trapped. Taking pride in my own success is something to be encouraged.
I still don't need the mirror to reflect on myself. I feel it every day. It's almost like a soft hug reminding me that I am worth so much more than I ever thought I was. I take pride in the things that I once criticised. Aging is not a luxury afforded to all. Every wrinkle I gain has been well earnt. It is a composition of time, of beauty, of moments to be treasured. It is a thousand special memories etched into my skin to show the world who I am and why I should be celebrated. Every grey hair is a montage of incredible things I have achieved. My soul now sings on a daily basis (only out loud if no one is listening because, unfortunately, my voice sounds like strangled cats). I am happy and I am at peace with myself. I am not perfect but I do not need to be perfect. I make mistakes but every failure is an opportunity in the learning and I now know how to rise to every challenge. I even started to write again, and the following words flowed out:
Be not afraid of the snake in the grass the one that spews forth vicious lies and rumours
Their poisonous lies twisting the honest truth and their very nature suffocating the life out of you
Instead, be aware of the eagle who rises above it all leaving the petty squabbles on the ground spreading its magnificent wings and venturing to heights of which the snake could never achieve
You tried so hard to clip my wings to keep me on the ground with you because you did not have the ability to see past the tip of your spitting tongue but I am free of your hatred and I'm free of your lies I've spread my wings and I am soaring up here I am free I can no longer hear your poisonous whispers I no longer care if you are still spewing them because now you are nothing an insignificant shadow on the ground tried hard to consume me but failed
I am the eagle I will rise above because it's where I'm meant to be up here in the sky soaring magnificent and free.
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