Two years ago around this time of year, I wrote my first ever blog post related to Mental Health and my absolute pain of a brain. I was that nervous about posting it that I contemplated it for days. I made sure most of my friends were online at the time so they were able to like it immediately. This was in hope that I wasn’t going to feel like everyone was judging or making fun of me. As I always say, I’m not a world famous blogger so I didn’t receive hundreds of likes and comments, but what I did receive was a lot of personal messages and a good amount of likes and shares that I felt like I was meant to be doing this. Sharing my experiences is hard because I know it can be seen as attention seeking or making myself sound like a grade A nutter. I am, however, learning that a lot of people have suffered and felt the same way I do. I’ve received messages thanking me for sharing my stories and people have shared their experiences with me. It’s an amazing feeling to know that your story resonates with so many others and that you’ve made a bit of a difference just through your words. I’ve written about Men’s Mental Health and SAD. But I’ve also been able to write about my Eating Disorder, Depression and Anxiety as personal experiences. Today I want to combine it all, I want to discuss why this one question, I’ve been asking myself for most of my life, has taken so much of my happiness away from me. It’s become the thing my depression, anxiety and eating disorder have all stemmed from. It’s that constant feeling of not being smart enough, pretty enough or funny enough and that constant comparison you have to make. It’s the question of ‘Why am I not good enough?’
I feel like this is one of those topics anyone can relate too and something everyone has asked themselves a few times in their life. This isn’t just for people who’ve struggled with their weight or self image because we aren’t just talking about looks here. We’re talking about all the negative things we think about ourselves that make us feel like we’re unworthy of happiness – whether you’re a boy or girl. I often start my stories at the age of 14/15 because that’s when my Mental Health got particularly bad. But the question of not being good enough actually goes way further back than that. I usually try to keep my blogs as short as I possibly can, but today I want to be as honest and thorough as I can.
From that point I was shy. I stuck to one best friend in High School and anyone else around me I was never completely myself with. I was so scared people would make fun of me if I said anything, so I kept quiet and they couldn’t. I always say I wasn’t bullied but I think it’s because I didn’t give anyone a reason too, I sat away from a lot of people and if I needed to sit with anyone I’d let them copy my work or just do whatever I could to stay in the good books. People were okay with me for the most part and so my confidence grew again by the time I was 13/14. I had a really big group of friends and I was starting to talk a lot more. I was also starting to understand makeup, even if it wasn’t particularly well. I started to feel less ‘ugly’ than I had. Unfortunately as I’ve stated over and over again, 14 started to become a troubled year for me. I’d never had a boyfriend and nobody had ever really fancied me - now before anyone starts with me about letting a boy’s affection define my worth, can we just remember that I was 14 and everyone was getting boyfriends and saying they were in love and I wasn’t! At 14 I felt like I was the most mature person on the planet and we all know I watch Disney films about 100 times a day and all the Princesses were getting married at 16! Jokes aside I was just feeling like nobody really thought I was attractive, I didn’t feel like I took photos like everyone else or I could do my makeup like everyone else. I just sort of felt inferior. It was around this time I started having a bit of trouble with my weight again, someone had made a comment that bothered me so much I was getting scared to go into school again. I knew there was no way I was getting any time off and with Year 10 GCSEs in the winter, I had no time to be avoiding lessons. I didn’t know how to handle my anxiety. All I wanted was to be better. Just good enough for someone, let alone myself. So I started making myself sick again and this time it was in secret and it wasn’t about staying off sick it was about managing my pain and losing weight. I’ve written a blog post about this that you can read here if you want to know more about that battle!
I’m aware this is already so long and I’m sorry - I’m actually writing this at twelve and I have to be up for University in five hours but it’s helping me so we’re going to keep going! So anyway I actually got my first boyfriend shortly after all these issues began. I’m always nervous to write about relationships in case they read these and don’t want to be mentioned or anything similar. But what I can say is that even though I was going through a tough time with my weight, this relationship did make me feel safe. I never really compared myself to anyone because for the first time someone really seemed to like me. This relationship lasted two years and it just phased out like any teen relationship does, but I think the issue is I only felt good enough when I had a boyfriend. Whilst together I wasn’t making myself sick as often, I didn’t pile make up on constantly, I didn’t feel the need to impress anyone. When it was over I felt like I needed someone else or I was nothing. I’d learnt to rely on another person, my worth was based on whether I’d been complimented that day. But the minute it was over all I could think was how could I be good enough if nobody wanted me? What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I loved anymore?
These problems stuck with me through every relationship. Unless I was in one I was nothing. It was made worse by the rise in social media. If people weren’t liking my posts then I wasn’t funny enough, if people weren’t liking my photos then I wasn’t pretty enough, if people didn’t follow me then I wasn’t popular enough. I had it wired in to my brain that my validation came from fake likes and a ‘You’re beautiful text’. Sadly this is still something I’m fighting every day. Counselling helped for a while but whilst we talked about my ED we never really discussed the route of the issue and all the things that he led me to believe I wasn’t enough. I didn’t counsel for long enough either.
Whenever a relationship would end I would feel like I’d be alone forever because who would want me? These are things that if I heard my friends say I’d lose my shit and not stop until they knew how brilliant they were, but not me. My only validation came from likes and compliments. However I started something that I am actually worse with now than I ever was before and that’s getting extremely angry when anyone does try to compliment me. It’s cemented in my brain that I’m awful and so, whenever anyone says any different I get annoyed because they’re ‘lying’. You’ll see it in replies to comments sometimes, if I get a compliment I twist it so it’s about them (something I’m only just realising at this moment that I do.) of course I say thank you and I appreciate the compliments but that doesn’t mean I believe them.
So let’s talk about the reason I’m worse now than I have been for a while and how I’m trying to help myself. This is the part I feel everyone will be able to relate too if you haven’t already and it’s something I’ve only briefly mentioned. I was cheated on and for the longest time I was far too embarrassed to mention it. It seemed like everyone except me knew and I had it in my head that everyone was making fun of me. I ignored all the obvious stuff including constant Snapchats from other girls and I think I tried to be naive to it all because I didn’t need another reason to doubt my worth. The thing is, when someone is looking in your eyes, telling you they love you and they wouldn’t ever hurt you, you’ll believe it because you love them. You have to be ready to leave toxicity, but when you don’t feel like you deserve better this is extremely hard. I’m not just talking about Cheating here either, I’m not going to lie and say this person was constantly cruel because they weren’t but they were incredibly narcissistic and said things that made me feel bad about myself. I’d become so reliant on this person that I didn’t feel like I could leave despite being unhappy. I’d also put on weight and felt like nobody would look twice at me. But then I met someone who helped me see my worth, not because they appreciated me but because I’m actually pretty brilliant. I found courage inside me to leave.
I’m not here to say you need a relationship to feel worth it, I’m discussing my experiences and what helps me. But I also admit I’m still struggling. Some days I force myself to write the things I like about myself, on my bad days I’ll say there is nothing I like about myself. But I’ll be reminded of all the little things I’ve done, like a time I made a good joke or the time I made a difference. These little things help because I’m unable to say I have no good qualities. What I do want you to know is that you are enough. I’m telling you. I don’t care how awful you think you are, you’re not. I know that as someone who is struggling it probably seems as though I have no leg to stand on, I’m going to have to start listening to my own words, but as long as I’m writing about my experiences I refuse to let anyone else believe that they unworthy of love. Spending every day worrying you’re not thin enough, muscly enough, good looking enough, smart enough, funny enough or just plain good enough – It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to deal with. But you’re not alone, everyone has probably dealt with this at some point in their life whether it is through a bad breakup, a low grade or a job rejection, it’s easy to feel like you’re not enough. If anyone saw Jesy Nelson’s documentary recently you may have seen the conversation she had with the counsellor. She was made to see her beauty and brilliance. She was so obviously loved by her family who saw how perfect she was inside and out, as well as her boyfriend. Even though she struggles with not loving herself, she is loved and shown all the wonderful things about her. You may not feel like you’re anything like her because you aren’t famous or you’re not in a relationship. You may not have hundreds of friends or a huge family to tell you you’re special but we’re all human. You are you and you are perfect.
I feel like this was a particularly long post and I still have so much to say. I wish I could end this post with a comment about how much better I am and how I don’t compare myself to anyone because I know I’m special. But I can’t – like everyone else I am learning to deal with this. But I’m definitely doing a lot of reading about what I’m going through as well as speaking out about my feelings. I’m beginning to see that this is part of being ill and it’s not my fault I’m dealing with this. Just like it wasn’t my fault I was cheated on, or it wasn’t my fault I was so desperate to be liked or it isn’t my fault I’m struggling. It’s not your fault either; you’re pretty damn special if you’re coping with something as horrific as a battle with your own brain. As always my messages are open to anyone who wants to talk, I just hope whoever needs to hear this knows that you are incredibly brilliant and whoever you are, that is enough.
As always, have courage and be kind.