Last year, I failed a clinical internship for my dream job when my persistent low mood and thoughts impacted my work performance. This was a final blow for me, following a series of other difficult life events within a few months. It felt like everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.

I felt very lost.

I didn’t know whom I could trust. I didn’t find my family supportive – I was constantly criticised for anything I did or said, and felt that I was to blame for everything that went wrong in my life. I was always second-guessing my perspectives and experiences, and cautious of voicing out any opinion that was different from theirs. The premature end of my internship on “medical grounds” of my mental health only amplified the self-critical thoughts in my mind – that nothing I did was right or ever enough.

I used to be a source of support and encouragement for my friends – the high-achieving social butterfly in university who seemed to have it altogether, until depression stole my relationships and physical health by feeding my mind lies about myself.

I desperately wanted to disappear and pushed friends away, sometimes literally. I knew that my friends were hurt by my withdrawal and rejection of their hugs, but at the time I felt my actions were justified because I saw myself as a bad person that my friends didn’t deserve to have as part of their lives.

It was a time when shame felt tangible, and I truly believed that I was a contamination to people’s lives, no matter how much kindness and encouragement I tried to give. It was like I was bad and deserved to be punished or destroyed rather than be given a future and a second chance, so I made plans to end my life.

The turning point came when I began opening up to people, accepting help and taking baby steps in trusting that not everyone has a hidden agenda to reject me. For me, trust is still a work in progress even up to today.

Psychotherapy and antidepressants were helpful in starting my recovery and in recognising and navigating abusive relationships, but most of my recovery was made possible with the support of a small handful of amazing friends that I trust.

They frequently went out of their way to look out for me, listened to me, pointed out triggers and nudged me to challenge unhelpful habits when I struggled with lapses. They embodied love that did not depend on what I did, and Christian friends would pray and read the Bible along with me.

I used to live in fear – of opening up and of being myself, because it meant being hurt. But I began healing through relationships where I felt safe and was held accountable in non-judgmental ways.

I found freedom from living in fear by getting to know God on a personal level. It is a connection built on a kind of love that is unconditional, and reflected in truths written in the Bible, and these have shaped how I see others and myself.

I dream of being a person whom everyone will remember as someone who is trustworthy, whom they feel comfortable being themselves around. I hope to make a positive difference to other people’s lives, especially those who face disadvantages.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. You are a light for simply being you, even if you don’t feel worthy of being loved. You are made to be loved and to love others. There is so much you can bring to the world around you when you simply show up as yourself and open up. <3

Originally published on Celebrating Courageous lives.
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