I woke up this morning to the awful news of the terrorist attack at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. My heart goes out to all those affected by such a tragic incident that should never have happened. It got me thinking, as most tragedies do, about how we should all keep our loved ones as close as we can because we never know what is going to be round the corner. I truly hope those parents with missing children or have lost their children can find peace. I cannot even imagine the pain they must be suffering. We saw some wonderful acts of kindness as all people fled to help, with taxi drivers offering free fares to safety and hotels opening their doors to people who needed it most. Know that although something so evil has happened, there was love and kindness around at the time and this can help people to try to remain positive.
This evening, I received a text from my best friend. She told me she was feeling low about herself and unattractive. That she didn’t feel that people ever looked at her and thought, wow, she’s beautiful.
Whilst we know that ‘beauty’ is only skin deep, it got me thinking about how unkind my friend was being to herself, and how we all do it to ourselves all the time. I couldn’t ever imagine telling my friend she was unattractive and that nobody thought she was beautiful. So why is she saying it to herself?
Today I wanted to share something that I find very important in my life. Since last year, my anxiety has lead me to become more and more of a recluse and in the past, I have struggled to find the motivation to drag myself out of bed. Without the help of my partner, I would probably still be like that now. This has been so harmful to our relationship because my partner wants me to be the independent, carefree girl that he fell in love with – not somebody who mopes and feels sorry for themselves. He has been incredibly supportive in my journey, including taking interest in my CBT sessions, however now I know that it is truly up to me to build myself up. At the end of it all, the only person who can make you feel better is yourself; people can come and go all the time.
The journey to a happy and comfortable state of mind may be within touching distance or miles away through a long, dark tunnel. We all have our own personal battles, whether that be mild anxiety, low self-esteem, OCD, grief or chronic depression. That being said, it’s important to know that it will not all be okay with a click of the fingers; it takes time and perseverance. Not only this but it may be easier some days than on other days.
For me, I suffer with low confidence and anxiety regarding how I look and how people perceive me. I sunk into a dark depression last year, and ever since, have been doing what I can to try and bring myself back up from the ‘darkness.’ That has included CBT therapy, positive thinking and mindfulness activities. I am no longer in a depressed state of mind, however my self-esteem is still low and my anxiety can still get pretty high leading up to events.
“How do you know that people are thinking that about you?”
“I just know, by the way they look at me.”
“Have you got any evidence to tell you what they’re thinking?”
This is a conversation I have frequently with my CBT therapist. Whenever I meet friends that I haven’t seen in a while, or even when I pop to the shop, I am bewildered by thoughts of what the people around me must be thinking. “She looks horrible.” “She needs to look in the mirror and sort her hair out.” “She looks cheap.” “What on Earth is that girl wearing!” “She smells bad.” These are just a few of the thoughts I have whenever I see someone looking or I catch somebody’s eye.
This, my therapist told me, is mind reading.
Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat… to name a few of the websites that the majority of us use in our day to day lives. It helps us to build bonds with friends who live far away, keep in touch with family members and very often it is a superb support network whenever you need anything. Forget asking Google; your friends on Facebook are bound to give a quick, reliable answer to your query about where the best place to get a burger is.
However, social media has only contributed to the downfall of my own self-esteem and confidence. Here, though, is why I won’t remove myself from social media altogether: