Who do we see when we look in the mirror? You should be so comfortable with the face you were born with. We have seen ourselves grow and change, from the pictures we have witnessed when we were children. The truth is we never see the real us, the reflection always differs from the way that others see us. I am sure you know what I am talking about here, we think we are to fat but others tell us that not the case. Our hair never seems to look good, while friends ask us for our stylist’s telephone number. Your noise is too big. Why can’t I look that good in jeans? I could fill this page with examples, but I am sure they are not needed. Now here’s the kicker. For those that have suffered with mental Health, for those who are still within its care umbrella, the picture in front of us is so much darker. This is because we are no longer concerned with our outside appearance. We don’t even see that ugly fat person in front of us now; all we can see are the dark shadows lurking deep inside of us. That small child within us has been lost. Is it possible to look good on the outside, while deep inside you are dying from the inside out? To answer that question if asked of me at that time, it would be a compounding and definite yes. I lost all my self-worth, totally believing that I was not worthy of loving. That the monster inside of me had taken over. I believed it to be seen by others also so clearly. But the truth is that the monster is only recognised by us, no one else can look into that mirror and see what we see. If you are ever going to alter that image you may find yourself in the fight of your life, but there will never be a more worthy one. It’s true to say that for many of us years have gone by since our baptism by fire, but sadly we are still affected by our past. It’s likened to Groundhog Day, where it seems we are happy to relive it daily. Why? The answer to that is never going to be easy. Maybe facing it is just too painful, but there comes a time for all of us where turning away is no longer an option. It’s so evident to me on reflection tempered by my own personal experience, that with the right help we can all evict that monster from our lives. There is a feeling of let’s not stir things up; the past is the past that’s where it should remain. But the truth is that it was never left, we are still dragging it along with us. We can change that. All that is missing or lacking is the strength to move on. Each and every one of us will find that strength in an array of different places. So how do I know this? Simply because it’s a journey I have taken. That does not make me all seeing; when I hit rock bottom the only place to go for me was up. It’s a journey that you too can make; we all have the capacity to do so. Through the blood sweat and tears you will once more emerge. The real you that may have been lost to circumstance which was not of you’re making. It may seem like we are once more putting ourselves in harm’s way, that revisiting those times has no real purpose. But how can we move on with our lives if we are unable to close that chapter behind us. Search for the innocence that was yours before it was taken from you; learn to love yourself once more. Find that self-worth that should never have been ripped away from you. Anything is possible; I have every faith in you as you should have in yourself.

Author's Bio: 

Teresa Joyce was born in 1958 the middle child of three. After losing her father at a very young age; it was to set the pattern for the rest of her life. Losing was something that she would have to get used to. Today she still has some memory of her father, but in truth it’s all a little hazy. Her mother through no fault of her own after that loss had no other alternative, then to return to her parent’s home with her children in tow. This family unit were to spend only a few years there, until the wind of change came around once more. Teresa still holds many happy memories from her time there as a child. Happy memories are something that Teresa holds in very short supply, and she has treasured them always. Her mother was set to meet the man that was to become her stepfather, and they moved on once more to a new city with the promise of a new life. Hopefully it would be a happy one for all concerned, but it became a place for Teresa that felt far more like a prison. One in which she would spend many days months and years hating. Teresa swore to herself that she would leave all this behind her at the first possible occasion. She can still clearly remember the day that she left that family home and joined the Royal Air Force. It was just two months off her sixteenth birthday. Her stepfather had informed her that to remain living in his house, she had to live by his rules. This was a big decision for her to take being so young, but she could no longer live by any rules that he imposed. Never really understanding at that time, what she was really running from. Memories of those years living by his rules were buried so deep, that previous years and events were only a burr to her. Teresa’s Time spent while in the Royal Air Force was very rewarding, and she involved herself in all and everything possible. After meeting her ex -husband whilst she was on leave, she then left this all behind her and married. It was greatly missed and in retrospect, it would be something that she would live to regret many years later. Life as a married woman changed many things for her; the biggest of all would be the arrival of her son. Teresa loved him even before he was born, and he is still able to pull on her heart strings daily.
Sadly after many years, she found herself unable to stay within that marriage. The onset of a set of circumstances beyond her control would stamp its seal, rendering the marriage unworkable. Engineered by the involvement of the one man Teresa had learnt to hate - her stepfather. The marriage was dissolved and there was no going back on her part, that door was firmly closed behind her. Some years later she would find herself in a long term lesbian relationship, firmly believing that anything touched by a man was tainted; bringing with it only pain and heartache. Teresa’s thoughts at that time were that the worst was surly now behind her, but her life was set to make another turn from her envisaged path. It was to arrive in the form of an accident, which once again would alter her life forever. After many months and many doctors reports she was ill health retired, unable to return to work in either one of her two loved occupations. Teresa was affected by this far more then she could have ever expected, she was left alone with nothing but time, and still within the mix of a completely insane situation; it was at this point that Teresa would enter into the mental health care system fully, to have any hope of dealing with everything going on around her. That care umbrella is still part of her everyday life. The loss of her mother through less than adequate health care, brought her pain like she had never thought possible. Teresa saw herself delving deeper and deeper into her own unconscious thoughts, revealing to her at that time memories which seemed so alien. Ultimately her mental health would prove to be a factor, in the disintegration of her then lesbian relationship.
It’s something that Teresa is still trying to come to terms with even now. She now lives alone with only a small dog for company, which in truth she is happy with. Firmly believing that she can’t hurt those she loves, if they are not there for her to do so; to her mind segregation is the answer. Teresa is still unable to work and in constant pain daily. Maybe today you could say that she has once more taken back control of her life, but only outwardly. The truth is she still carries the past along with her, like an uninvited guest at a party. The one that never seems to know when the party is over and it’s time to leave. Teresa is now trying to live her life as fully as possible, through her son and grandson; they have become her light at the end of the tunnel.