I met up with an old friend recently. A friend who I first met when we were both living in supported accommodation as teenagers, we’d both had a shit hand dealt to us, and I moved into the flat below her. We quickly became best friends, and being teenagers, naturally we spent every waking minute together (even every sleeping minute for a while, we were attached at the hip!).
We lost touch when we were in our early 20’s, no falling out or anything like that, we just drifted in the way that people often do when young. We both had lots of troubles to work through, and she stopped using social media for a fair few years, until recently.
She popped up in my suggested friends about 18 months ago, so I sent her a request. We picked up like old times, but it was obvious we’d both matured and balanced out a lot since we last spoke. The really sweet thing is not long after we got chatting we both discovered we were pregnant, it turned out she was about 3 weeks ahead of me.
We’ve talked a lot since, and although Covid got in the way of us meeting since we had our babies, we finally got to meet up with them recently. It was such a wonderful experience to sit down with our little ones, and be mums together after all this time (as well as laugh at the fact we’re both still super awkward as people and as mums at times).
Even though I’m having a hard time lately I can’t help but smile when I think about it. Not only because it’s amazing to see her after all these years, but because of what it signifies for both of us when we meet up. We’re both in such good places in our lives, and it fills me with pride to be able to say that.
The last times I saw her I was a mess. She had plenty of reason to distance herself from me, whether it was conscious or subconsciously. Possibly a bit of both, and that’s totally fine.
I was a wreck mentally. I struggled with my borderline personality disorder, as well as my anxiety and depression. It was literally crippling for me, and there’s no doubt in my mind it was incredibly difficult for anyone around me too. I was suicidal and would self harm pretty badly on a daily basis as a result of the headspace I was in. I had an iffy relationship with drugs and was falling off the wagon a little.
I have a couple of friends who stuck by me through these times, and they aren’t afraid to tell me that they were convinced I was a lost cause. I was so messed up by traumatic life events, and the coping mechanisms I’d developed were far from healthy. The odds were incredibly against me.
Now today, although as most of you know I’ve been coping with some tricky depression recently, I am so unbelievably different from the girl that I was then. I’ve worked unbelievably hard to change my life, and myself.
I got myself away from the drug use. I battled the addiction to self-harm. I worked so hard through therapy, and with psychologists, to understand my mental health, and to change the unhealthy coping mechanisms, learn healthy coping mechanisms and ‘re-wire my brain’.
I went from being incredibly out of control with my borderline personality disorder, to being told I had it so well managed I didn’t meet the criteria for it anymore. I will always have a ‘different’ brain, I’ll always have to work harder than most to manage certain things, but it doesn’t control me anymore.
I’m a grounded and balanced person (despite the odd manic episode!). I’ve got a good job, I went back and got myself the basic qualifications I missed out on, and now have aspirations to possibly even go to uni. Sure, I still have my battles with depression and anxiety, but I handle them well and I continue to progress, even with the odd setback.
I think that as a society we are hardwired to notice the negative more than the positive. So whilst thinking about my own journey, I felt like it was important for me to take a moment to really recognise and appreciate it. To write about it and really allow myself to feel pride for how far both her and I have come. To let myself take a break from my difficulties, and be happy with where I’ve got to, even though things are still sometimes tough.
I urge you if you’re reading this, regardless of where you are emotionally, to try to think of something positive about yourself for a moment. Whether it’s looking back at where you were a certain number of years ago, and what you’ve overcome or how you’ve grown since then. Maybe just take a moment to think about something good you’ve done today, or this week.
It’s too easy to miss our own achievements, to gloss over the incredible things we’ve done and instead focus on the things we’ve not done. I’m going to enjoy this moment and these feelings of pride right now. I really hope that some of you reading this can do the same, even for a moment.