Just over 3 years ago I was in bed at 8am constantly refreshing my screen with my heart in my throat and my hands shaking. I knew it wouldn't come through until half an hour later but I knew that my whole life depended on the words on my screen. at 8:30am I'd found out. I got into University.
3 years later, I was reliving it. Logging onto my University portal and waiting rather impatiently to see how I'd done. I graduated with a 2:1 Bachelors degree in Drama.
Acting has been my 'be all and end all' ever since I can remember. Since being a little girl, I've dreamt of being on stage and performing for the rest of my life. I studied it in school, in 6th form and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to study it at a degree level. There were so many things in my way, personal demons, family life, you name it, but nothing changed the passion I have for performance. And now? I have worked my absolute arse off to come out with a degree that I am really proud of.
If anyone told me 6 years ago that I would have made it this far, I would've laughed in their face. I was going through the hardest time in my life, battling with depression and a constant doubt in myself that I couldn't get where I wanted to be. I couldn't do what I wanted. I was at my lowest point when I was doing my A-Levels and it seemed as though I wasn't strong enough to be the person I so longed to be. You see, mental health has always had a stigma with it, and I'm afraid that it always will, but no-one really knows what it's like unless you experience it yourself. No matter how many times someone told me I was good enough, I didn't believe them. Everytime someone told me that it would get better, I didn't believe them. I was going through my GCSE's with a feeling at the back of my mind that I wouldn't get into 6th form. I spent my entire two years at 6th form with the same, but a more intense, feeling that I wouldn't pass my A-Levels and get into University. I sat at the computer yesterday with a quiet confidence but still terrified that, somehow, I wouldn't get a degree.
6 years later, I've been recovering from depression for almost 3 years now. I'm not that person anymore and I've finally become the woman that I've always longed to be. I don't know why I decided to post something so personal, but I feel like I really wanted to for the sake of those who are struggling. Not necessarily from mental illness, maybe from self doubt or you're going through stress with studies or work. All those people who tell you that you can do it, THEY'RE RIGHT. All those people who tell you that it gets better, guess what, they're right too.
I want to share with you my top tips - on life I guess - to everyone out there who needs it. Those who want to pursue their dreams but not quite sure how, those who believe they can't get there, those who are battling with mental illness. Anyone.
- Take deep breaths. Whenever you feel stressed or anxious, just breathe. In for 5, out for 7. It helped me so much when I was on the brink of an anxiety attack.
- For those struggling with deadlines, talk to a tutor and get help wherever you can. They're there to guide you as well as teach you, so use them for it.
- Live for the day. Don't panic yourself too much about what you should be doing in a months/years time. Don't be afraid of what might go wrong, focus on what you're doing right.
- Surround yourself with positive people, this is a big one for me. Negative people bring you down, so it's better to rid yourself of the toxic people in your life. If they want the best for you, they'll give you the best of them.
- It's hard to get out of bed some days, but those are the days where you have to push yourself. Get up, make breakfast, have a shower and go for a walk with your music on. It will make you feel better, I promise.
- Don't bottle your feelings up, find just one person who you can trust and talk to and confide in them whenever you need it. If they're true to you, they'll be there to help you every step of the way.
- Celebrate your success. You got out of the house today, good on you. You passed that essay you didn't think you would, give yourself a pat on the back. You got that promotion at work, well done! You're doing ok.
- It may be a slow process but keep going. You might be struggling for a very long time but there's always a new day ahead and quitting won't speed it up. Don't give up on yourself.
- Don't put your happiness into someone else's hands, whether that be a partner, friend or family member. It never works.
- Have a good cry when you need it, then down a glass of water and put on your favourite film.
- Everything happens for a reason, some of us believe in that. But also believe that if you want something hard enough, go out and get it. Fight for what you love.
- Don't compare yourself to others. Yes, that individual might be running their own business or has got a mortgage but hey, you're doing just fine too. And don't forget, everyone is fighting their own little battle as well. You're not alone.
- The most important piece of advice I can give you is look after yourself. As selfish as it may sound, but put yourself first. I have a habit about caring more about the people around me and neglecting my own well being. At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself for the rest of your life. People will come and go and things will change but you will always be you and the most important person that you have to look after is yourself. Love YOU.
At 21, I have achieved everything that I dreamt of but never even considered would come true. I passed my A-Levels, I kicked depressions arse, I GOT that degree. I never ever expected this to happen and I am completely overwhelmed by it all. I am the happiest I've ever been in my whole life, and even though there are still days where my self doubt creeps back in and my anxiety will start to flare up but I've now built a guard and learnt how to control it.
Now is the next step in my life. I've finished education for good and it's time to step into the real world and put my degree to use and make my way up to that stage I dreamt of since I was 5. It's scary and it's going to be hard, I know that, but if you put your mind to anything, you can do it.
Thank you everyone for reading this post, I know it's different to my others but I felt it was important to share this with you guys because it really means a lot to me.
Love, Melissa x