Loving yourself

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Once I decided to try and get better, I did not know where to start or what to do about my mental health. I knew that my only option was to follow my gut and see where it takes me. Interestingly enough, everything and everyone was pointing me to the direction of self-love.

I do not think that I was ever capable of loving myself. Growing up, I was selfish with my possessions and jealous of everyone around my mum and I thought that this meant that I love myself a lot. Well… actually later I realised that it did not mean that, it just meant that I am insecure.

I have never been kind to myself – pushing myself beyond my limits every single day never listening to my body or souls’ needs. I have never accepted myself as I am – I was always striving to be someone else, to identify with something or someone better. I have never been able to gift myself with the pleasure of relaxing, without feeling guilty for wasting my time, or the pleasure of celebrating without an actual accomplishment, celebrating just the fact that I am alive. I have never been able to enjoy life for the simple things – walk in the park or on the beach, the smell of the flowers, the delicious food, the loving touch of those close to my heart, the beauty of traveling.

I have never accepted my feelings and emotions – I was constantly trying to bottle them up, to forget about them with a drink, a cigarette or a party, thinking that not paying attention to them will make them go away. In order to escape my own demons over the years I became the queen of distraction – reading, watching movies, listening to music, having tons of friends to go out with, having boyfriend after boyfriend without much of a break in between, going to ton of extracurricular activities, learning, learning, constantly learning everything I could think of that I found even slightly interesting. I was so busy with people and things that I did not have much time to let the demons out of the box. Nevertheless, I may not have paid attention to them, but they were still there – alive and well, trying to find their way out, making cracks in the bottle and escaping little by little through them.

I have lived like that for a long, long time before and after my anxiety and panic attacks started, until one day a couple of years ago my boyfriend and I packed our bags and moved from Manchester (where we studied at university) to London, where my boyfriend was about to start a new job. We both wanted to move to London, we were both applying for jobs in London the whole summer after finishing university and he found his dream job so we finally moved. We even found our dream apartment in a very nice neighbourhood and we were over the moon full with excitement and what seemed at the time infinite possibilities. I was sure I will find my dream job too pretty soon – after all I was already in London, where there is an opportunity at every corner.

Finding the dream job was the most important thing in the world for me at the time, my whole universe revolved around this. I cannot stress enough how important this was for me, because I have always worked very hard in order to be able to work whatever and wherever I wanted, I envisioned myself as a very successful person from the beginning of my career, I wanted to be able to rely on myself financially and to make my family proud. I was so sure this will happen that I could not even think of a different scenario – there was not anything else in the world, except this.

So you could probably imagine how I was feeling when none of this perfect little scenario ever happened… actually I do not know if you could imagine, because even for me, having experienced my world shattered into pieces and all the emotions afterwards, it all feels so surreal, almost like a very, very bad nightmare. Unfortunately, it was not just a bad dream. We moved to London two and a half years ago and I still have not found my dream job.

Looking back now I can see that I was pretty consistent – I applied for jobs every single day for around 9 months without losing hope. I have lost count of the applications I submitted but I am pretty sure that there are couple of hundred of them. It felt like the universe was just making fun of me, like everyone was making fun of me for being so stubborn and trying for so long only to find my head crashing into wall after wall.

However, probably the worst of all was having so much time on my hands – this has never ever happened to me before, as I told you above I used to be constantly busy. Then I found myself one day in London, where I did not know anyone, I did not have any friends or family here, I did not have school or work to go to, I did not have any money to sign up for some classes or something, I had to constantly rely on my parents or my boyfriend to give me money even to go buy food. I am very grateful for their financial support in my quest to find my place under the sun and for not having to work as a waitress, which would have been a total disaster as I am unable to bring a single bowl of soup to the table without spilling it, let alone a couple of them. But still having to ask for money constantly and permission to buy whatever is very, very hard thing for me to get used to. Even after all this time I still feel very uncomfortable doing so.

So I found myself in the beautiful city of London without any purpose in life with all the time in the world on my hands. This was all that my bottled feelings were dreaming of – having the opportunity to make even bigger cracks and start to resurface without any place for my mind to run to. I still watched every movie or TV series that was even slightly interesting, I studied a lot about marketing, which I want to work in, I applied for jobs, but there was far too much time I could not fill with anything. Time in which my demons caught up with me.

Fast forward 6 more months and we find ourselves at the moment when I received the most painful job rejection of them all. Rejection I could not live with because it finally made me feel hopeless. It made me realise that this dream of finding the perfect job and living happily ever after just was not meant to be for me at this point. This was also the time I last applied for a job for a very long time.

This was the time I was seriously contemplating suicide and was feeling so, so bad – panic attack after panic attack – I could not eat, sleep or do anything for days. With time, the symptoms subsided a little bit, but still I did not have any reason to live. My main reason for living – working and being successful was gone. I was desperately looking for something to hold on to so that I do not drawn in my own despair and take my life. I think this is the moment that the survival instinct kicks in, because my perspective started to shift a little bit by itself, trying desperately to find anything to give me a reason to live. And so it did – for the first time in my life, I have found a reason to live in the people around me. I started feeling so grateful for having a mother and a boyfriend that are there for me in all cases and under any circumstances. And I decided that they deserve to be my reason for living and for fighting. They still are my main reason for living, although with time I have found a couple of others too.

But I was about to find the most important reason of them all – loving myself.

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I am still no expert at loving myself, but I try very hard to learn how to do it.

I have not given up on my dream to find the perfect job, I have worked towards this a lot even though I was not applying for jobs. I just realised that I had to postpone it for a little bit while I learn how to take care of myself first. And that’s okay.

I have been feeling resentful for so long for the bad things in my life that actually made me the person I am today. But then one day I decided to look for the good in the bad, for the lessons, for the mind-opening experiences that just show you that life is not always what we think it should be, for the joy of overcoming them, for the fact that those moments actually bring you closer to your truer self, to your soul and to the balance in your life.

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