There is no power on earth more formidable than the truth.
– Margaret Lee Runbeck
Day Twenty Two: Power
Telling the truth can be so powerful, it can change the world. Think about the way people talk about mental health now compared to a few years ago – people telling their true stories started this. We need to keep this up, telling real truths about our own stories to make others realise they’re not alone.
So today’s thought is to take power in your own hands and speak your truth. Maybe not today, and it doesn’t have to be on social media announcing your troubles to the world, but next time you have an opportunity.
When people used to ask why I gave up teaching, I’d make something up about being disillusioned with the system. Nowadays, I’ll admit that I suffered from stress, anxiety and depression, and had to take sick leave. It was scary at first but now I see it as a powerful moment, as it normally opens up a conversation about mental health. As a result, my self-esteem increases as I feel this power I created.
In the name of speaking true stories, I’m going to write about something that has really affected my self-esteem over the years, and often still does unfortunately. I find it hard to talk or write about, so this is hard! Fingers crossed it’ll give me the power I’ve promised you all…
My skin is covered in moles, I have inherited them from both parents so there are loads. As a child, a couple of things happened that made me believe they were really ugly. I have one on my right hand, and at primary school a girl told everyone I had poo on my hand (almost seems funny when I type it!). In my teens, I was reading a magazine and there was an interview with a musician at the back…wish I could remember who so I could tell him the impact his words had. He said he was kissing a girl, ran his hand down her back, felt a mole and was ‘disgusted’. He never contacted her again because of this.
I hate that magazine for printing the story…again I can’t remember which one it was annoyingly. Those two moments had a huge effect on me – I thought no man would ever find me attractive because of my moles. My self esteem was hitting rock bottom in my late teens, and I would accept awful behaviour from boyfriends/men in general because I didn’t think I deserved better.
This continued into my 20s, to the point that I saved up a lot of money to get rid of the biggest moles on my body, including one on my face. It was expensive (£thousands) – it was a cosmetic thing so I couldn’t do it on the NHS. But I was prepared to pay anything because I had convinced myself that my happiness was dependent on my skin being perfect. I went through with it and yes, some of the moles were gone but they were replaced with horrible scars.
Of course, I still suffered horribly from low self-esteem because now I had these angry red scars all over my body…luckily the one on my face was not so bad! I bought expensive make up to cover them up, and would apply this secretly before letting others see my body as I was so self conscious.
When anyone asks, I lie and say the doctors suspected skin cancer and had to remove the moles. I am too ashamed to say the real reason I had scarred myself. Thankfully I don’t secretly apply the make-up anymore as I have a wonderful husband who accepts every part of me. However I still feel self-conscious about both my moles and scars around anyone else, and dread bikini time.
So there you have it, I’ve spoken my truth and I hope it adds to the growing picture of true stories that are empowering everyone to speak more openly about mental health.
Next, we challenge ourselves.
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