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Word of advice, if you’re suffering because of your mental health, please get help. I started showing signs of clinical depression and anxiety at the age of 13, I had panic attacks almost every day but I didn’t know what they were. By the age of 14, I went to my first therapist for my depression and I didn’t feel comfortable so I never returned. Sometimes it takes multiple tries to receive help that suits your needs. By 15, I had been through multiple tests to check for the reasons behind my breathing problems and got diagnosed with clinical anxiety instead. I started going for therapy since. At the age of 16, I started showing symptoms of ARFID(eating disorder) and dissociation. Sometimes the battle isn’t easy, it can get worse, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the road. The road to recovery is difficult and anything is a step forward as long as you’re trying, even a relapse counts. Your life is worth fighting for. You are loved whether you feel it or not. And most of all, anything you feel is valid. Don’t forget that. Pain is pain and healing takes time. Self-care is important so please learn to be kind to yourself, and know that you are loved.

Christmas was not always merry for me. 8 years with eating disorder, OCD and BPD, Christmas was an awkward, depressing and lonely time to me. I didn’t know what it was like to laugh heartily. I didn’t know what it was like to freely enjoy food with loved ones. I had mixed feelings seeing lovers because I believed I was ‘not lovable’ and so ‘romantic relationships are not for me’.

Secretly however, I longed for joy and to be free to enjoy food with my friends and family. I longed to love and be loved by someone special, but my fear was greater than my dreams. I didn’t date for 12 years until in 2015, I tried Tinder and went on quite a number of dates, attracting all the men who weren’t good for me.

My turning point was in Oct 2015 when I wrote a 40 page intention/declaration journal to myself – “Today, I declare to the universe, that I’m resolute and committed to love Valerie more every day. I’m loving her more than anyone else, anything else. I’ll take care of her Whole Person – body, mind, heart and spirit. Let’s do this and enjoy this life quest – this Love Quest! So Val, I love you! You are my favourite person. You are my best friend. Thank you for staying with me – through it all.”

And I wrote, as detailed as I could, what kind of relationship I was going to have with myself. Then I wrote what kind of relationship I wanted with someone special. 2015 was my first truly Merry Christmas with myself and loved ones. I was excited about 2016. And I attracted priceless gifts of life in friendships and a beloved. My life was never the same again.

Bottomline: When you truly love yourself, the choices you make for yourself will change for the best – health, friends, romance, career, money… I wish you warmth, love and joy.

I used to have severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). There is a huge misconception that OCD is all about making sure that everything is squeaky clean. This is not true. Many people use it inappropriately in their comments about themselves, “This chair is not in order! Sorry I am OCD”. This simply means that they like to be neat.

OCD is more complex than merely wanting to keep clean and neat. Going through OCD is a real struggle because your brain is just permeated 24/7 with intrusive thoughts that feel very real. For example, being afraid that you will kill your family if you leave the gas tap turned on when it is already turned on. Afraid that you may have illicit sexual affairs with people you randomly see on the street when you have no sexual attraction for them at all.

OCD is about the inability to break out of irrationality. It’s difficult to explain it to people who don’t have OCD. They just dismiss my concerns as “you are too worried.”

They don’t understand that it is excruciating to have these worries that are constantly being repeated in your head.

I still keep my old expired antidepressants in my drawer as a reminder to stay where the light is. I was 14 when I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anorexia. It was an extremely difficult and painful phase of my life, especially at such a tender age. I didn’t eat and cried my weight in tears.

Starving myself was a slow death the voice in my head had masterfully orchestrated. And, everyone around me had front row seats. I still remember vividly how my peers would recoil from me with disgust/shock/fear, the looks they gave, the callous remarks said behind my back. I was a painful spectacle and was utterly helpless to it all. It hurts to think about it even till this day.

Being afflicted with a mental disorder doesn’t make sense, it is unlike breaking a leg. How can you hurt when there is no wound? How can you be sad when your life is ‘perfect’? Because an affliction of the mind is like internal bleeding. I bled in pools of desolation, self-hatred, anguish for years, simply waiting for death to whisk me away.

Today, I’m beyond lucky to have recovered. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort trying to undo and bury my past. Because the stigma behind depression is very real, and not everyone is kind. At 22, the prime of my youth and beauty, I am unrecognisable from the girl I was when I was 14. But I know the only way to end this epidemic is through vulnerability, empathy, and openness.

My pain has given me so much perspective. I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. It’s time I embraced my past and paid a tribute. I wouldn’t wish to hide behind a cloak of anonymity forever but it gives me anxiety when people know too much.

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