Sarah, 24

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“I have a really troubled past, growing up with a drug addict and mentally abusive father, who then committed suicide, just days before my 10th birthday.

I then went to a school focusing on music, where I discovered my true joy comes from singing. I was sexually harassed at the age of 12, 13, 16 and 17.
After graduating from high school I was accepted into an amazing music college in the US, but since I didn’t get a scholarship (being an Austrian citizen), this dream was shattered. So I stayed in Vienna and decided to study at a music university there, focusing on classical singing. I was then sexually harassed not only by some male singing teachers but also told I’d get a role in an opera if I slept with one of the agents there. Which of course I didn’t. I was then raped by strangers at night when I was 21 and 22 and intoxicated with liquid ecstasy in a club the same year.

When I was 23, I got really ill and almost died. Everyone told me it’s only a question of time… So I prepared to die. Luckily enough, after trying a ton of different pills etc… I found something that helped cure at least the lethal part of this illness, which does not mean that I’m still in a lot of pain 90% of the time, but I’m not dying from it anymore.
When some old friends of my father – all drug addicts, started appearing wherever I went, I got really paranoid and moved to England, just to get away from everything and start my opera singing career there. For some time everything seemed perfect, I loved my life and my boyfriend and my work and went to loads of auditions. I then met a really manipulative woman, who not only made me turn down my place in a very good music uni in London but also made me turn down and an amazing job offer in London. Not to mention, she lied to me about my boyfriend for months and broke us up. That’s when the wall I had built to hide all the things from the past, started to crumble and I had a couple breakdowns and attempted suicide…

My mum then forced me to move back to Vienna, because she knew I wasn’t safe in England and on my own anymore. I’ve been back for two months and I’m struggling a lot. I think about suicide almost every day, I cut and burn myself or hit my head against the wall regularly. I’m looking for a job here now… I don’t sing anymore. Because when I try, I break down and cry. My dream is over.
Concerning the mental illnesses, I suffer from – I have severe anxiety, moderate depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, self-harm and an eating disorder.
In terms of what helps me – who helped me a lot was my boyfriend, he was my saviour, until we were separated. I now go to therapy several times a week and take various kinds of medication. I recently got a puppy, which is a great help as well. None of my friends know about my illness, except my two best friends and my mum, but I rarely talk to them about it either – I always pretend like I’m living the most amazing super life…”

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