Today’s #SameHereHero: “Sarah” (Why just Sarah? She felt so strongly abt helping others w her story, despite not showing her full name/face, she found a creative way to be a hero!)
“I grew up in an unstable home where my parents were abusive to one another, fighting verbally & physically. My mum had enuf & chose a divorce. We were homeless for almost 6 months. I admire my mum’s strength exiting a toxic relationship, but her emotional wounds started to affect her children. She became physically/verbally abusive towards me & my 3 siblings.
I was bullied during primary & HS. I always sought external validation bc my parents were never able to give it to me. I didn’t know right/wrong or how to maintain stable relationships w ppl – I didn’t have guidance. I also didn’t do well in HS, due to my constant anxiety/emotional instability. I never believed I was smart enuf to do well & instead, I befriended the wrong ppl who encouraged me to skip school/neglect my education. So, I failed. I didn’t have life goals or think about my future.
Things changed dramatically at 17. I met a guy who I really liked & became friends w. He had everything I thought I’d wanted: mentally & physically strong, smart & good-looking & excelled at everything he tried. I admired him so much that I tried to become his perfect match. I took education more seriously, began to read books, picked up hobbies, began to travel & become an ‘interesting person.’ I even started watching videos abt relationships so I could get him to like/validate me. I basically gave him authority to dictate my self-worth.
I played it cool in front of him for 5 years of friendship, & eventually he asked me out. We began dating & even discussed a future. But once the formal relationship began, things became dull & I didn’t know if I wanted him. It hit me that I was becoming something I thought he wanted rather than being myself. I was working to be liked, & didn’t feel authentic. Those feelings led to anxiety, & insecurities came rushing on so strong that I couldn’t think straight. I had a rush of many emotions: fear, panic & most of all, I felt like I was stuck. I felt like I betrayed myself & even him. I didn’t know who ‘I’ was & felt like an awful person for manipulating someone to like me. That’s when I began to mentally shut down.
The symptoms leading up to that crash included: being in constant “fight or flight” mode, consistently tired, worried, agitated, angry, defensive, mood swings, irritation w everyone, afraid of losing control, & my boyfriend began to feel like a danger to me. I couldn’t control him & it felt wrong to manipulate him more. My mind was constantly racing & analysing my relationship, trying to visualise what my future would be w him: Racing questions: Was I good enough? Strong enough? Did I really want to be with him? Would he find out the truth & leave & lose respect for me? I had no dignity…didn’t feel worthy of anyone or anything – my racing thoughts lead to…shutdown.
A mental shutdown feels like losing the following: internal monologue, thought process, ability to visualise/imagine anything, chemical activity in my body (no adrenaline, serotonin), identity, brain signals (for when ur hungry, feeling sleepy, etc.), sense of time/reality. It feels like ur in coma, but still conscious. You lack ability to make simple judgements/decisions & there’s no internal compass telling you what to do/say. It’s a complete disconnection from everyone & everything.
I knew I had to do something to get out of it. The only thing that made me feel better after struggling & reaching out to 50+ different ppl over 5 months, was joining the group “Loss of Thought Process” on Fbook. Connecting w these ppl, I didn’t feel alone anymore. I began asking others what triggered their symptoms & most said it was “stress.” It all then started to make sense, I needed to reverse it. I needed to stop stressing & analyzing problems that were non-existent. I kept reminding myself I was OK, everything happens for a reason & I was safe. I began to actively & purposefully belittle those negative feelings & laugh at them whenever I could.
Accepting my state & thanking my brain for trying to protect me, by going blank from certain stresses allowed me to carry on w my life & that perspective allowed me to begin feeling better. Seeing fam & friends instead of isolating myself, watching movies, reading self-help books & taking my supplements all helped. I needed positive energy despite the disconnection w the world. I won’t say I’m 100% now, but 40% is WAY better than no improvement at all. My life motto is this: God/Life gave me a mind, a situation & a choice. So, basically, it’s my choice how I approach any challenge & I must take control of how I choose to feel.
I decided to share my story to impart the following: Surrender to the truth. Accept your reality. Give in. That’s the only way you’ll start to heal. #SameHere.”