Zoe's Bennetts, testimonial:
Cognitive Depression and anxiety can be incredibly lonely; I thought that time would heal the wounds that had made me ill in 2015. I had battled with mental illness previously: I was eleven when I began self-harming and suffered with suicidal urges, it was then that I was sent to CAAMHS. I was passed from psychiatric nurse, to counsellor which was traumatic enough for a young person. It was only when I was thirteen that I decided I didn’t want to be ‘ill’ anymore and suppressed (although at the time I thought I had overcome) everything I felt and suffered with. Of course, last year I was terrified of going back to that dark place, which I had thought I would never go back to; I changed my lifestyle completely, in a desperate attempt to ‘get better’ without anyone else’s help, yet I found that each day was harder than the one before.
In April 2016 I fell extremely ill and was in and out of hospital due to an attempt to end my life. I was given various tablets to make me sleep, to calm me down and one to knock me out for 24 hours; these tablets didn’t work and I was erratic and dangerous. I don’t remember much from that weekend, but the parts I do remember are terrifying – it’s a place that I never thought I would get to. I didn’t see a future and I didn’t want one; I just wanted it all to stop: to stop thinking, to stop the nightmares, to stop hurting, to stop being. The only thing more frightening than feeling pain, was feeling nothing at all. I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel and the future that I had once been so excited about, stirred no emotions, no feeling. I remember thinking that I couldn’t be helped and that my life was over. It was in that April that I found the strength to go to a doctor and contacted Carla; it was then that things changed.
I had been in an emotionally abusive relationship with a man double my age; he lied about everything: who he was, what he did, where he lived – everything. He was controlling, nasty and hurtful and made me believe that I deserved everything I got. I was also bullied in Sixth Form twice within a couple of months. I was depressed and suffered with debilitating anxiety, where I’d have up to three or four panic attacks a day. When I went to Carla I thought that I would learn how to handle my anxiety and discuss the abusive relationship I had been in, but nothing could have prepared me for the journey that I have embarked on.
It transpired that everything that I was feeling currently, lead way back to childhood trauma and a psychologically abusive relationship with my father, that had shaped my core beliefs and my rules of living. I had convinced myself that I was a horrible person, that brought out the worst in people and everyone would be better off if I was dead. Carla and I startedright from the beginning to understand why I felt the way I did; why I had such low self-esteem; why I wanted to die. It was then that everything began to make sense: I remembered and recalled memories that explained so much of my adult behaviour. It was incredibly hard to revisit painful memories and there was so much anger, it physically hurt sometimes, but this was where the magic happened. Carla made me challenge my core beliefs and questioned my unhealthy behaviours, making it clear to me that there was another option; that I didn’t have to self-harm and she gave me the confidence and support to delve deeper into my past and research psychological theories that would help me to understand my relationship with my father and why I was feeling the way I was.
When I began seeing Carla, she told me that I was going to have to work hard – that she couldn’t do the work for me and she was completely right. It’s been a hard journey and therapy isn’t easy, but being in a safe environment and having Carla there to help and understand and, most importantly for me, challenge everything I was thinking and experiencing, has completely changed my life.
I’m pleased to say that after seven months of therapy with Carla, I’ve just had my final session. I see a future and more importantly, I’m excited about it. I have come so far and I feel more secure in myself and who I am, than I ever thought I could be and that’s because of the work I’ve done with Carla. Sometimes, you have to hit rock bottom to start getting back up, but I wouldn’t have gotten to the place I am today, without Carla’s support and work. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my bad days: I still wake up sometimes and can’t bear to face the world, but I now have the strength and the tools to get up, each and every day and know that I am worth the effort and I deserve to live a happy life. Carla has given me the tools to know that if I ever begin to feel the same way I did last year, I will be okay; I know what works for me and that even if I take steps back, I’ll never be in the same place I was in April.
I deferred my entry to Northumbria University to study Fashion Communication for a year, to go travelling and in January I am going to Nepal for four months to teach English to children in Kathmandu Valley. Whilst there, I embark on an eight-day trek of the Himalayas, three days’ white water rafting and Chitwan Safari. I am then travelling to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Bali and will be returning home at the end of July 2017 before heading to University in September. Not bad considering I didn’t see a future, all of seven months ago, hey?
Just remember: their behaviour is a reflection on their character, not on yours and you are so much stronger than you think. The fact that you’re seeking help, is the first step to getting better and trust me, if you work at it, you will learn so much about yourself and love yourself more than you thought you ever could.