Educating María

Life and living is a work-in-progress

Child of the world, María Llewellyn, suffered sleepless nights and self-doubt until losing a loved one to suicide prompted her to see a therapist and learn to love herself. Here, she shares her story with Hopezine…

“Self-education has always been my saving grace. Whether it´s learning a second language, teaching myself yoga or learning how to write a book. More recently I’ve been learning to love myself just as I am. I have always struggled with low self-esteem and most recently with bouts of night-time anxiety where I battle with everyday concerns like my dog destroying my sofa or jumping on strangers, getting older, failing to achieve anything or how I can feel free but maintain a balanced and happy relationship. After many years of striving and feeling like I was getting nowhere I began to have very dark thoughts, often suicidal but wouldn’t act upon them as I was confident that I would be greatly missed. I knew something was wrong with this and searched high and low for someone who counselled in English. Living abroad has made it difficult to access such things so I gave up on the idea and just swallowed all my anxieties and suffered silently at night, brushing it all off the next day. My life choices felt bleak and I began to feel like the walls of my existence were closing in on me. Death was feeling like the only way out from this mental trap, but even that wasn’t an option due to my resolve to exist for others only. So I was trapped in a mental horror story being abused my own subconscious. All this time I had thrown myself into educating myself and others but something was missing; I didn’t really like myself, my inner voice was harsh and never satisfied with my day to day efforts and I felt like a slave to my impossible demands. The only real happiness I felt was when others validated me or I made them happy. But I was incapable of doing that myself. Then this happened. I was contacted out of the blue by a distant relative who asked me to help get a friend ́s daughter settled in my town during her gap year. The young student came to visit me along with her mother and boyfriend. Her mother told me that my relatives had not really recovered from the loss of their mother, my great aunt and godmother. I said that was understandable and that I greatly missed her too. As I talked on, the student ́s mother clocked that there was a gap in my knowledge of the circumstances of how my aunt died. It turned out that she had taken her own life and I was non-the-wiser. There had been crossed wires, since being distant family and all this time I thought she died because of an accidental overdose. The truth was much worse, she died by her own hand and it certainly wasn’t an accident. I froze, forced a reassuring smile, thanked her for informing me and steered the conversation to a more palpable one. When they left, the news hit me hard! Over the coming weeks I sunk into a depression but more about how I felt stupid that I didn´t know. I contacted my family, had reassuring conversations with everyone and decided enough was enough. If I couldn’t do anything for Sue, I could do something for myself. It wasn’t too late, and I did indeed have a choice. I chose life. I spent hours looking for someone to help me and I found her. I didn’t care about the cost, because the cost of my happiness has no price. The first session which started a few months ago, was cathartic, a huge cloud lifted from my shoulders and I was 100% committed to learning to love myself as I truly deserved. Since I started the sessions, I have seen massive improvements, such as being kinder to myself, giving myself cuddles and taking time every day to check in and listen intently to my personal needs and acting on them. The bouts of sleepless nights were happening because I was failing to listen to myself and so the voices were getting louder and more insistent. Now, since facing them, I have unlocked just as many good thoughts, new energy and fresh ideas. I lost an amazing woman but she taught me the greatest lesson of my life. We can dedicate our lives to helping others but we really must take care of ourselves just as much. I ́m still the educator but now I’m a student learning self-love. One day, I hope to share what I’m discovering and that this time makes a long lasting difference in me and others in need. I’ve never suffered with a long term mental illness like my Aunt but everyone is susceptible to stress in all its forms, if you can ́t help yourself, find someone that can! Just as I did and now I´ve learnt reaching out to a professional has given me the confidence to believe in myself and my decisions.

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