A road which at some points in my depressive, destructive struggle would have seemed alien to me. Unreachable. Unattainable. But by some near miracle I have made it to that road; the road full of hope and promise and I am recovering. Even uttering those three words now almost brings me to tears. To have finally, after all these years reach a point where I can wholeheartedly stand up and announce I can see the end of the tunnel and I will get there.
Recovery is different for everyone. For me, it was about accepting myself and admitting to myself and the world that I needed help. Above all, it was coming to terms with my inner demons and learning to cope with the bullying trolls of my subconscious. And by long road, I mean grueling emotional torture, with the walls of anxiety and isolation moving closer and closer in, pressing down on my soul, breaking my being and suffocating me into a state of absolute despair. It was only once I got to that breaking point, a fork in the road, if you will, presented itself and in order to take one step towards and onto my road to recovery I had to first of all admit. Admit the root cause and issue of my pain, the identity of the megaphone which was amplifying my deafening cries of self-hatred and disarray. Still to this day I would argue that the hardest thing I have ever done is to face myself, look at my reflection, with my insecurities , vulnerabilities and all my sickness spreading demons glaring back at me and saying to myself: this is me. Who I am will never change and I should have never have tried to hide that or change it. What needs to change is my outlook, my perception of myself and my judgement of the weight outside/societal social perception should bear in my life and in my mind.
Once I faced myself, faced my demons and finally began to fight to break the chains that bound me to my mental illness, I found, looking back now that I was already half way on the road to recovery. To announce to myself and truly make Heather hear that I am gay and I am proud. I am weird, quirky and unpredictable and that is ok, in fact that is great. I am slightly funny looking and was 15 stone. All of these things are me and make me Heather. To think, I ever wanted to change that, hide Heather and lock her in a closet in a state of claustrophobic anxious depressive panic, completely floods the very depths of my soul with sadness. But in this sadness, which I can’t lie I do still feel and struggle with as I am still recovering, I have found immense strength, immense pride in my identity and family for accepting me as simply Heather and I have found immense comfort in the realization that you do not have to be thin, aesthetically perfect, overwhelmingly popular to be loved. Because overall, it is in love I have found my true beauty, my true confidence and self-acceptance of who I am. Through meeting my girlfriend, sharing every breath of bliss and every gleaming smile of happiness with her, I have learned to heal; I have learned to open up and most of all I have learned to love myself again and see the value in true, binding friendships and everlasting connections of love between family, friends and partners.
Now, you must not fall into the trap of thinking recovery is easy, comes natural or even is speedy. No, unfortunately it is not. But, by god can I tell you how much stronger, resilient and sensitive to those around you, you are afterwards. As I said it’s not simple. Personally, after breaking the deafening silence of depression and bearing the stifling stage of coming out, I was in disillusion, making false promises to myself and my loved ones that I was better, I was ok, I was healed just because I had admitted it. Yes, it is a gigantic step, which I personally view as the most essential and life-changing. However, by admitting my problems and struggles that had only permitted me to take that step onto my recovery journey, a great deal more work and self-reflection needed to be done. It was at this stage that I regrettably faltered. As I say, I was disillusioned and believed I was now ‘fixed’. I could scream at myself now because I had it all wrong I did not need ‘fixing’, I simply needed to accept myself and welcome the Heather that I had admitted I had been suppressing in. For some that may be easy but for me it came with more struggles.
My struggles and personal battles were buried so deeply in my subconscious that their surface manifestations were unrecognizable to me as problems of concern. The constant putting off of sharing my sexuality with my friends and family, suppressing my overwhelming fear of rejection, loss and even being ostracized by those I consider my nearest and dearest. But it was the moments that I was at my most vulnerable and filled with raw honesty and heartfelt emotion that I grew and blossomed into the seedling Heather that had always been hiding in the deepest chasm of my soul, stowed safely away until the day I was brave enough to bear my soul to another for all to see. Nevertheless, my self-sabotage as I call it (my demons of destruction and seething self-hatred), still consumed my everyday life and shamefully sent me into a vicious, binge cycle of drinking, fostering the unhealthiest relationship between me and alcohol. A subject which I find very difficult to talk about because it still to this day and forever will haunt me and disgust me at how I let myself become a dependent too such a life destructive substance. Thankfully, my saving grace managed to pull me out of the wreckage of my life and managed to make me see the light of day, the beaming hope and excitement for my future and our future together. She taught me to love myself, accept myself for who I really am, no need to force myself into a unhealthy binge culture to fit in, to be liked or to have friends because if they don’t cherish me for who I truly am they are not true friends anyway.
Through never-ending self-sabotage and subconscious self-depressive manipulation forging self-hatred and distraught, I couldn’t be happier to say I am ok. I am in recovery. I am strong. I am proud. And I am loved. If my long journey of self-exploration and recovery has taught me anything it is to be true to yourself, never compromise your identity and inner being. Above all, please, just listen to yourself, accept yourself and love yourself and you will be ok because you are not alone – keep fighting.
I am Heather, once lost, now found, still recovering and still learning each day but I am stronger and prouder than ever. And you can be too, just take that step…