To say the journey to my current mental state has been difficult is an understatement, it felt more like an 18-year swimming marathon in shark infested water whilst having raw meat stuffed down my bikini, big bags of rocks strapped to my arms and legs and steamy goggles on.

That seems a bit closer to reality.

My name is Sasha Keable, I’m a singer/songwriter from South London and I suffer from depression, anxiety and have struggled with self-harming for most of my life.

It seems right for me to go back in time in order to prepare myself for the future.

I started self-harming when I was 7, I don’t remember doing it the first time but I remember the thoughts I had surrounding it, my mum told me later down the line that I would tell her I wanted to hurt myself, we would go to the garden and scream at the top of our lungs to try and get the anger out and I would tell her I felt better, but I didn’t. The thoughts began to manifest and soon I was smashing my head against walls, cutting myself with broken pencils and punching myself until I was visibly bruised. Luckily after about a year of self-harming I sought help from a counsellor at school, I don’t know what told my little 8-year-old brain to do that because I had never heard of counselling before, but I am so glad I did. After a couple of years of counselling I was still self-harming, it progressed to piercing my skin with needles and cutting my arms and legs, It didn’t seem to be slowing down; then my councillor introduced me to writing. I was told that when I get angry I should write down what I’m feeling, it didn’t have to make sense or be well thought out it just had to get on to paper somehow, so that’s what I started doing. It didn’t work straight away, I have so many notebooks of ripped paper, drawings of me hanging or stabbing myself with the writing “I WANT TO DIE” next to them, it wasn’t easy, but it gave me something to focus on, it meant that even after those horrible, angry, destructive breakdowns I had something to show for it apart from bruises and scars.

When I was 15  I started at a new school which I loved, I felt happier than ever but for some reason I just couldn’t shake this sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, it turned out to be anxiety and I began having multiple panic attacks daily, it was the scariest time of my life, I lived in permanent fear of dying, constantly checking my pulse to monitor the strength of my heartbeat. Very quickly the anxiety took over my life, I couldn’t go to school because I couldn’t get on public transport or socialise with friends because it reminded me of how “not normal” I was compared to them, I felt completely trapped inside my own mind, I had nowhere to run and felt completely alone. The anxiety severely triggered my self-harming and at around 16 I began having severe suicidal thoughts, it just seemed so much easier to end it all than to keep living in this nightmare, so I kept hurting myself hoping one day I’d take it too far.

As I got older my mental health deteriorated, I lost my stepdad suddenly which tore my family apart, any loneliness I had felt in the past was doubled, my mum was mentally unstable after losing her partner and I was the one she relied on, I willingly, through guilt or pity became her punch bag; I turned to alcohol and drugs to escape, constantly trying to leave my life behind and find a new way of coping with the mess it had turned into. I ran and I ran, but nothing was helping and soon enough I found myself in a very depressed dark hole, a hole filled with anxiety and self-harming, self-doubt and suicide; I couldn’t escape and honestly, everything felt pointless.

It’s difficult to write to your future self while you’re still in the midst of recovering, as someone who deals with mental health problems you can only try and do the best for yourself whenever your brain gives you that window to do so; I’m writing this 2 months and 3 weeks sober, I knew something had to give and finally I found the strength to begin trying to change my situation. I’ve been taking antidepressants for nearly a year, and now that the tablets aren’t battling alcohol or drugs for my sanity, they’re working much better. I can safely say that every step I’ve taken over the last nearly 3 months has been with me in mind. I practice gratitude daily, I walk my dog without my phone to give my brain space to think and process emotions, I go to bed and wake up at a “normal” time, it may not seem like much, but to someone that has spent weeks in bed at a time it feels like an absolute miracle.

I remember not so long ago when I couldn’t make future plans because I was convinced that I would die or kill myself before they happened, my world was covered in a thick dark cloud that wouldn’t budge; I can’t say for sure that it’s completely gone, I still rely on my medication and constant self-analysis to ensure I’m on what feels like the right track, but I’ve found hope and that’s the most beautiful gift I’ve ever received; the prospect of a happy future, and although I’m not sipping tequila cocktails at sunset on a lazy river; I feel miles away from that marathon I’ve been swimming my whole life.