Criticism in any format can be difficult to hear. Especially if you are like me and you wear your heart on your sleeve, open yourself up to people with every ounce of vulnerability and at the root of it all, really care what people think about you.
Please note before I start, I think it’s perfectly OK to care what people think about you. It demonstrates awareness and shows you have important core values. It’s woven into a part of my character I never want to lose, I just want to ensure that, moving forward, it exists in the right amount. An amount that isn’t detrimental. A healthy amount.
Imagine being the worst critic in the world but to yourself.
All day every day.
First thought on waking up: “No one cares if you show up today or not”.
Thoughts in the gym: “They are definitely discussing how bad you look and definitely hate you”.
Thoughts when in the supermarket (amidst a racing heart): “Everyone thinks you’re stupid, you can’t even do a simple thing like count your money to pay: stupid fool”.
That was literally the dialogue in my head from the moment I opened my eyes until the moment I finally got to sleep at night. I didn’t believe I was worthy of anybody or anything. Even when in other people’s company, I used to feel overwhelmed with guilt about potentially wasting their time and decide what negative things they were thinking about me without having any evidence whatsoever.
Anyway, as it’s mental health awareness week and I’ve just spoken with The Sun about my own journey and how the project was born, It’s high time I addressed to you guys what actually happened in March this year when my life suddenly spiralled out of “control” and the project began.
The truth is, since March last year when the fire happened and my marriage broke down, I was never really OK. I had been riding this wave of “I’m fine! I got this!” and never accepted any offers of help.
I learned to just turn the volume down slightly on the dialogue in my head and get on with life but the torment never went away. It was constant.
On the 22nd March of this year, I’d had enough. I felt a deep dark emptiness, loneliness and a sincere desperation to get away. I was absolutely desperate for someone to just see me. To tell me I was OK. To remind me that I mattered.
All I remember is running. Running in the direction of the big bridge with tears streaming down my face and things falling out of my bag onto the road. I don’t want to go into too much further detail and the next three or four days are a total blur but I found myself in hospital.
I had, with every intention, tried to end my life.
I write this without seeking attention… I genuinely just didn’t believe life was worth living anymore and felt too “stupid” to describe that desire to anyone. I didn’t want to trouble anyone and I certainly didn’t want anyone to think I was “crazy” and was worried they’d discover the “real Mandy”.
I felt like I was existing in incredible darkness and I wanted to disappear. To just disappear from existence. Just like that.
Like I say, I don’t even remember the first few days in hospital. All I know is I absolutely never want to go back to such a dark place. It was a terrifying experience. I remained in the same clothes for theee full days and I don’t even remember the first visit from my Mum or the countless trips my friends made to me with chocolate, flowers and cards.
I was numb.
I just felt like I’d failed. Again.
After about two whole weeks of not really even understanding my surroundings, I started to feel the tiniest tiniest twinges of motivation to be productive. When I say productive I mean open the curtains or put a hoodie on or open my laptop.
So I began writing.
I called it a project and so I got stuck in to it like you would with any project.
I began writing about positive things which made me smile for a moment. For example the ideal way I would lead my life if I could get back to feeling like being alive again someday. The type of life I’d design for another woman perhaps. Tips to make yourself feel better, trips to go on by yourself, how to combat stress.
How to love yourself more.
As I go through the recovery process (and I still continue to do so), and accept the help I’ve needed for so long, I can finally say for the first time in a long time that I see light at the end of the tunnel. Shiny, sparkly light.
And what’s helped me along the way in amongst it all is just being more of what I needed in the world. I needed someone to see me.
So women of the world, I see you.
I see the directors and CEO’s, the cleaners, the young single mum’s who haven’t a penny to their name, the older single mum’s, the mum’s with post natal depression, the women going through a sex change, the woman who doesn’t know how she will afford to get to work next week, the woman who thinks her man may be cheating on her but stands by him anyway, the one who makes herself sick after every meal in case she gains 1lb, the one who loves someone who is taken and finally, the one who just needs to be seen.
I see all of you.
Through my continued posts, guest posts, random acts of kindness in the form of my yellow flowers and kindness cards, I hope that just one person who needs to be seen, feels seen. If just one person takes something from the acts of kindness or blog then I have achieved everything I ever set out to achieve.
I’ll leave with one thought:
Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. Drop your barriers, become your true self. Don’t be scared of her or what other people may think of her and I promise your tribe will stand by you no matter what. The people left behind when you truly bare all are your people.
Thank you to every single person for every inch of involvement as the project grows. It’s so very close to my heart and the work I’m doing every day gives me a reason to get out of bed and truly means the world to me.
Never be ashamed to speak up.
The future is sparkly and your sparkle adds more to the world than you will ever realise.