YOUR STORIES: “Never be afraid to be vulnerable with those around you”

It’s Mental Health Awareness week and to honour this, there will be a couple of stories from some amazing individuals. The first of our stories comes from Raveena Kaur. This story tells of the struggles of living with self harm, letting go of impossible expectations and to not be afraid to be vulnerable around those close to you.

A couple of months ago I was asked to write a blog for Mental Health Awareness week, and about a week ago, I finally put pen to paper. Today, lying in bed at 4.40pm on a Bank Holiday Monday after a nap, I’ve realised that what I had to say in my previous draft was a little premature and a little too hopeful.

But there is still hope.

Last month, after years of internal conflict, I broke up with my fiancé. In the end, it was an easy decision. I had self harmed earlier that day because I felt so torn between what I really wanted and what I knew he really wanted. I realized it was time to let go of the expectations I had of myself as a fiancée and a partner, but also as a step parent.

We’ve broken up many times before but this time I knew that I couldn’t keep putting myself through it. I needed to get it done and try my best to survive alone. For the most part, I’ve been OK. However as things have started to sink in, I’ve been struggling with feelings of loss, grief and loneliness.

In the past, my old self would have hopped straight onto a dating app and started looking for someone to fill the void and make me happy again. This time has been different. I’ve been working on curing my loneliness by becoming more at peace with being alone. Rather than merely alleviating the symptom by finding company, love and fulfilment in someone else.

It’s hardest on the weekends. When, for whatever reason, I need to leave the house. Getting on the train causes extreme low mood when I know there’s no one waiting to see me on the other end. Even walking to the gym gives me too much alone time. This weekend, I crashed. All the hopefulness and positivity had run dry. Things got fairly bleak. I keep taking naps, whether it’s morning, afternoon or evening, just to escape the pain of my solitude. I thought I had the man I was going to spend my life with. I thought I would never feel alone. But nothing and no-one can give us that. Not permanently. And we shouldn’t take it for granted.

My self harm urges have been a little deeper and darker of late. I’ve started dwelling on the thought of suicide. “But why?” I ask myself. Why not?

It’s hard to think of the life you’d be leaving behind when you feel like your life is already over. Like it’s no longer worth living. Like you failed and you won’t get another shot at love and having a family. But there’s one amazing human being who, without knowing it, has saved my life over and over again.

She’s the woman who gave me life. I’m not all that close to my dad, and my siblings now live far away, but over the past couple of years I’ve grown very close to my mother. Sometimes I could be crying alone in my room. I could be returning home in tears. But whenever she is there, she will ask me to sit with her until the feeling passes. You don’t have to hang on for a whole bunch of people. You only need one reason to keep living, and I thank the universe that I have my mum.

Please, if you take nothing else from this week, never be afraid to be vulnerable with those around you. If you see someone struggling, never let them struggle alone. Thank you for reading this.

Words:  Raveena Kaur

If you or someone you know is struggling with self harm, here are some websites that provide help and support:

User-led organisation for people who self-harm, and their friends and families

National Self Harm Network (NSHN)
Survivor-led closely monitored forum for people who self-harm, and their friends and families

Emotional support for anyone feeling isolated, distressed or struggling to cope.

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