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I was 21. I didn’t feel 21 though. I felt like someone past a hundred, living out the years that I didn’t deserve because somewhere, somehow, I was wondering why I wasn’t dead yet. I felt like I was living on borrowed time, wandering a world soaked in a never-ending fog. But I didn’t have it that bad – I didn’t have a mental illness (or at least, I didn’t bother seeking a diagnosis because it couldn’t be that bad, right). I had parents who made sure that I had enough to eat, that I could handle school and general life things. Money was never a problem.  

Turns out, I had been running my whole life. I learnt how to disconnect from my emotions. I learnt how to repress anything that remotely distressed me, and that’s why I can’t remember most of my childhood and adolescence. I had made everything into a complete joke because if I could laugh about it, it didn’t affect me, right? And if I couldn’t laugh about it, I’d end up crying the moment I thought or spoke about it.

I was 21 years old.

At 21 years old, I met someone. Someone who told me this was not okay, that it should not be like this. That this was not living – just surviving. With some help, I realised my family was just…emotionally unavailable. Unsupportive. I realised that the things I experienced were unacceptable. The shaming, the guilt-tripping, the paralysing powerlessness and the haunting loneliness of not being heard – I did not deserve to feel that way. I did not deserve to expect that as a normal part of life.

Reframing all that changed everything – and that’s the thing. Sometimes, we just need one person to stop us, and ask: are you really okay? Being stuck in a fog for so long, you forget about how the sun shines, or how fresh the flowers smells in the morning. You forget how there’s life beyond that fog. And sometimes, that changes everything.  

One year later, things are different. Things are better. I’m getting the help I need, doing the changes I need to do – not to survive, but to live. Recovery is not a linear path, of course – some days you regress and feel like nothing’s changed and there’s no point, but it will pass. It doesn’t always have to be like this.

It will be one long, hard fight, but you deserve a happy ending. You deserve to be more than the pain you carry in your bones.

Honestly? I feel that tomorrow is worth fighting for.

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