Back again with another amazing guest post, from a friend, who wanted to share their story. As always, I offer people the option to post under a pseudonym or anonymously. For these purposes, we’ll call the author of this post Inner Peer Supporter. Without further adieu, I’ll let our guest poster take over from here!
JOURNEY TO HOPE: MY STORY
I was sitting in a peaceful room giving peer support to a wonderful person who had seen so much horrific suffering in her life. I listened quietly and felt emotional, empathy and concern for her being. The interesting thing was when I went home that day some how I didn’t allow her suffering to eat away at me and I knew for the first time that I was beginning to get stronger.
So how did I get to this place from my own suffering? This is my journey.
Underlining Reasons For Life Long Anxiety:
Fall 1980: I was in the first Grade ready for the first recess of the day. I walked out the door and found myself being shoved around by fellow students. This marked the beginning of always running into some people from time to time who showed their resentment to me for being just me.
I was a shy meek kid who wasn’t perfect, but was good hearted and sensitive to the point that I always absorbed how I was treated and at young age defined myself as less then others. I recognise now that I had anxiety then. I always sat at the back of the class afraid to be ridiculed. Words have the power to harm and when I formed the opinion of myself as being less then others that view stayed with me until I was an adult.
My anxiety and fears had shaped me too, preventing myself from properly progressing. I remember one teacher I was scared of in a regular grade 5 class who ridiculed me for being in remedial for math. Kids in special education classes were labeled as retards then. Students in regular classes and some teachers were biased in their treatment as a result.
I remember an Olympic day in grade 4 where all the students go around the school competing in sport competitions. I was intimidated by my bullies and didn’t do well. At the end of the day the teachers gave out gold, silver, and bronze badges for participation and my teacher instead gave me a nil certificate for failure. Everyone and the teacher laughed.
I could go on with examples, but I think you get the picture that my childhood was filled with adversity that shaped my perception of myself. One side note of mention is that If I ever said something wrong or stumbled I rejected myself even more as a child.
My family was oblivious to my plight, because I never told them anything. Everything was buried within. That is how I dealt with it.
I went through high school never really fitting in and skipped my prom night as a result.
By the time I was in my 20’s I was glad to leave high school behind. I was in university studying history part time and working the rest of the time.
It began with a depression and increasing disillusionment that set in and I left University. Over the next eight years I would move in and out battling the perception I had of myself with anxiety; never dating, not having friends, never truly venturing out in life; I felt less then others; unworthy and ugly.
Down the road I would go to college instead. One program stuck in my mind. A leadership course. I knew then some how I wanted to help others, but didn’t know in what capacity. I found a best selling book there after by Dale Carnegie called, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ It floored me and I enrolled in one of their training programs. I remained on for 2 years as a volunteer coach working with other people.
Carnegie was influential in my life, but try as I did then, I never conquered that battle inside of me.
Over the years some of the depression and disillusionment returned. No matter what I tried it persisted for years and my anxiety began to get worse.
Finally in 2014 I was in total crisis. My anxiety evolved into a terrible disorder with powerful panic attacks and I turned to help at the hospital. That phase was the most grueling phase of my life.
At one point I sat across from a therapist who with compassion said, “can you do me a favour and throw away the rope.” I had revealed to her that I was suicidal. I had previously almost went through with it.
The compassion I received from her, my doctor, and a social worker, had an impact on me. Once again that urge to help others set in. My life was reignited.
I finally found a non-profit mental health organization; a cause bigger then my self to devote my life to.
I went from having no hope, no purpose to finding it again. I faced my anxiety head on and became a facilitator for wellness programs and trained volunteer peer supporter and even a board member. Our organization employs peer support workers in hospital settings. This was my calling to pursue.
Like every plateau in life, I did run into a few people who devalued my self worth, but was able to rise out of that. I found myself face to face with myself and this kick started the road to healing.
In January 2018 I took an online anxiety course with coach Leigha Benson that added to my recovery journey. It helped me to embrace myself and open the path to recovery even wider. I see now that repeated moments of self doubt in my youth and how I was treated kept me in a compartment for much of life.
I never had any animosity towards others for how I was treated for I knew God was always with me and them too. I first found him in grade one when I was being social isolated in play ground. I sat under these peaceful trees on a June day looked up and felt his presence in the breeze if the trees.
I credit spirituality as a constant in my life. For God taught me the value of unconditional love and forgiveness for people no matter what.
Anxiety will be something to always manage, but my life is gradually getting better step by step. There is more work to be done, but I can now do it with a rented strength and hope.