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Opening up and finding freedom

Mental health

I vividly remember where I was when I said it. It was 2009 and I was walking with my best friend through a park in Stoke-on-Trent. My heart was racing, I couldn’t get my words out. ‘Shall we sit down on this bench for a bit?’ I said.

‘I need to tell you something, please don’t get upset, I’ve been hurting myself.’

And with that, tears began to fall and some of the pain was let out.

It had taken me a year to muster up the courage to tell someone about my secret, I always had excuses:

I don’t know what to say

There’s never a right time

They won’t understand

I don’t want to upset them

I can manage this.

I’d pushed it further into the darkness, a part of me that no one would ever know, but I was aching for things to change.

The day that I opened up in the park felt a bit like the curtains had been opened a tiny amount so that a glimpse of light shone into the dark room that I was sitting in. No huge changes, I was still in the room, I was still hurting myself but I was no longer alone. I said it out loud, I brought pain and shame into the light, and that’s when I began to heal. Looking back I realise that it was the first step in choosing to get better. It’s been 11 years since I’ve intentionally hurt my body, it took a long time to learn a new way of living but, through the help of friends, family and my faith in Jesus, I’m free.

I know it’s hard to open up, I know that often you don’t have the words to explain, often you don’t fully understand the ‘whys’ yourself. I know you get tired of living in dark days and coping with this alone and so, please, don’t carry this on your own any longer. If you have a secret, something that you’ve done or that you’re doing, or something that’s been done to you, let it out with someone that you trust. I’m not asking you to throw open the curtains today, but open up just enough to bring that secret, shame and pain into the light where freedom is found.

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