Sarah, 26, Vienna

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“It’s been two years, since I first shared my story on here. Back then, I was in a very dark place and my life seemed to be crashing down on me. Reading, what I wrote back then, makes me realise just how much I really was struggling. More than I usually remember. My brain seems to selectively forget how unwell I was.

Back then, I had just returned to Vienna/Austria, after having lived in the UK for a while. I had been an aspiring opera singer and had moved to the UK to continue my studies and pursue my dreams. I had also tried to leave behind my past; growing up with a mentally abusive, drug-addict father, who committed suicide, sexual harassment and assault, rape and very bad health problems.

Long story short, it didn’t work out, and after several months of having the best time of my life, it became a nightmare and while I loved living in Brighton and everyone I met there, I returned to Vienna.

The first couple of months being back in Vienna were hell for me. I had forgotten, how much I hated it here, I missed Brighton and the friends I had made there, I hated my apartment, I hated myself, I hated the city, I hated everything and my self-destructive behaviours were going through the roof.

To distract me, my mum got me a puppy (probably one of the best things that ever happened to me!) and I started working several jobs. I also started therapy. Actually committing to therapy was hard for me, as I had gone through so many years of unsuccessful therapy after my father’s suicide, when I was 10, up until to the age 16. Additionally, I always felt like I could do everything on my own and admitting that I needed help very badly, was hard for me.

I also feel like it’s important to realise that therapy should be available to everyone. Right now, I feel like therapy is a luxury when it’s actually a necessity. In an ideal world, everyone should have access to therapy and mental wellbeing classes, just every now and then, to clean up the mess everyday life leaves in our minds and bodies.

Especially within the past year, I’ve gotten so much better. I don’t self-harm anymore, I haven’t had a panic attack in over 6 months and I’ve learned so much about myself, who I am and who I want to be and while it was quite painful to do so, I realised that my relationship with singing was very unhealthy, it was an obsession that made me push myself to the point that I started hating it and limited me in ways I now find bewildering. I always put singing first, I didn’t allow myself to have any hobbies or feel passionate about other things and I’ve come to realise that this is not how I want to live my life.

I have a very positive outlook on life now and while my past is always going to be a part of me, I don’t let it define me anymore. I sometimes do get flashbacks, because that just happens with PTSD, but I now know how to handle them. My main focus lies on making my life better for myself, I meditate every morning and I try to spend as much time as possible outside with my dog.

I’m now studying psychology and I’m excited to be returning to the UK soon to do my master’s degree in forensic psychology. Singing is now a hobby and I’m actually starting to enjoy it again. I don’t try to cover up my scars, but try my best to carry them with pride, I’m vocal about the importance of mental health awareness and I’m not scared to speak up against the stigma. Obviously, it’s not easy all the time and there are days when I struggle a lot, as I’m still battling my physical health issues and I’m sometimes overwhelmed with the amount of pain I’m in, to the point that I can’t walk or even get out of bed. But I know that, eventually, this is going to get better too.

To everyone that’s struggling, my advice would be to focus on the things that make you happy, listen to yourself and your needs. It’s okay to ask for help and if you find yourself caught up in what seems like a never-ending spiral of unhappiness, remember that even the darkest hour only has 60 minutes. I thought I would never get better and yet, I did. And so will you.”

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Check out our October advertisers for some great content: Stuart , Come2Life

And two upcoming events in November, in Birmingham, UK: Futurize- Future of Learning and AddVentureMind Weekend – Stand up to Mental Health Stigma.

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