We are told that honesty is the best policy…so I’ll start by confessing that I have starred at a blank word document for the past few weeks in fear of the sentences to follow.

Growing up, mental health was a concept that was discussed in small circles. It was hidden behind closed doors and was spoken about with gritted teeth and hushed tones. In the media it was used as an opportunity to ridicule personalities in the spotlight and in families it was viewed as a scandalous secret.

Flash forward to the present and most attitudes bear little resemblance to the ones ignorantly broadcasted 10 years prior. There is no time like ever before to welcome the concept of deconstructing your own emotions and as much as I wholeheartedly advocate for people to do so, I struggle to show myself the same compassion.

I was introduced to the practice of therapy at the age of 14. I’d spent two school terms in bed; held hostage by my thoughts and have little detail to add as each day seemed to roll into one, acting as a catalyst to the pain that I was longing to escape. I remember only putting on a pair of shoes a handful of times and, even then, their soles only ever graced the waiting rooms of hospitals and doctors’ surgeries. Ironically, the only emotion that I can take away from this time, however, was the anger that I felt throughout the “intervention” process. The rage I felt of having to share a sofa with a woman whose purpose was to build me up and make me better. The bitterness I expressed towards having her waste hours of my timeless days.

As a child, I developed a default mechanism to mask my feelings flawlessly and so I was at war with myself for letting my guard down and, in a desperate bid to gain back control, I began to counsel myself through my own issues. Through doing this I created a smokescreen that falsely reassured those closest to me that I had gotten a hold of my situation and that any means of professional help could now subside. Never did I think that 7 years later I would be burdened by what has now become a behavioural habit. It has gifted me the opportunity to become self-assured and self-sufficient. I know myself – flaws and all – and there is nothing more powerful than that. Yet, with good comes evil and that practice that I’ve now mastered has fuelled an arrogance of self-diagnosis and granted me with the ability to manipulate the ways in which others view my current state of mind and the demons that surface as a result of it.

At 21 I’m now coming around to understanding the importance of interjection. Even writing and knowing that you are reading this lightens the load. For so long I’ve compartmentalised my past – the effect that it has on my present and used this method to stabilise my emotions, yet I’ve only ever been able to do so using my own perspective on my own situation.  Never did I think I would find myself toying with the idea of welcoming an outsider’s viewpoint but in order to heal you must first accept and I am aware that a part of my recovery has been built on a sense of denial that has never been challenged.

I’ve prided myself on playing therapist to my conscious thoughts but am terrified to dabble in my subconscious which is where I’ve buried the root cause of my darker years. It’s impossible for me to overhaul those repressed memories alone because I’m in control of the emotions that I want to experiment with. I am able to close doors tight shut when I begin to relive those moments in the past that are too big for me to micromanage and so can never truly move forward. Truthfully, I am not afraid of the woman with a pen and a clipboard anymore but of myself. I’m afraid that I’ll unlock a door but this time won’t be able to manipulate her out of coaxing me to step inside and having me speak directly to whoever or whatever I may find.

How can anyone suggest that they know themselves when there is a side that they are consistently battling to keep distant from? I’m becoming increasingly aware that starving my present of the past is actually more damaging than choosing to indulge in parts of it, in order to facilitate growth and closure for the future. We are taught to be kind to others, but we all skipped the lesson on learning how to be kind to ourselves…So it appears as though I’ll be stepping into 2020 accepting help and welcoming change which for me now makes the prospect of flying cars and Kanye running for President seem plausible.