Recovery is not about changing who you are. It’s about growing, maturing, strengthening yourself so that you can become a happier and healthier person. I have grown a lot in the last 2 1/2 years. At the start of recovery how I thought about who I am and what I’m worth was completely different. I was so vulnerable. Now don’t misunderstand I’m not claiming to have done a complete 180 since then, far from it actually, but today the way that I approach my life now has a certain flare to it that wasn’t there before.
I’ve reached the point where I do not believe I have made any mistakes in my life. I have made some bad decisions that have hurt myself and those around me but I don’t view these as mistakes. Obviously I’m not talking about misreading a message or getting the incorrect answer on a math test here, no I mean when it comes to all the events in my life that define who I am, I do not regret a single one.
This is what I want to preach to people this New Year. Do not be ashamed of your past, own it! If you take pride in your past, no matter how dark, then you will be able to control any demons to may have and you will become a stronger, wiser human being at the same time.
I do not define myself by my disorders. A lot of what I do in my life revolves around mental health and my experience but I do not define myself by my anorexia, my depression, my anxiety, my OCD, my PTSD etc. I define myself by my passion for writing and performing. That’s who I am, who I’ve ever been. In fact it’s the only part of me that’s probably been there inside of me just longer than my disorders themselves. However I cannot talk about who I am as a person without including my disorders because, like my music, my art etc, they are a part me! Without them I would not be the person I am today! My experience of living with mental health problems has made me wiser and more understanding than ever.
I’m not a cynic when it comes to New Years- it is a brand new year of possibilities, hard work and adventure after all! However, I think putting all this bravado into 1 simply day is rather missing the point of what a ‘New Year’ really means. Let’s think about this, we all get so hyped up for, what, a singular minute? People often end up missing the big countdown anyway because they’re too busy queuing for the club or they’ve fallen asleep on the sofa, but those who don’t It’s all show and no action- I mean don’t get me wrong, as an actor I do love me a bit of flashy showmanship- but really, rather than trying to strive for something better 1 day a year, shouldn’t we be doing it everyday of the year? The whole idea of New Years is to reinvent your life in someway, so if you’re not going to do that, why bother making a fuss of the evening?
I consider September to be the mark of a new year for me. Why? Because September 2013 is when I took that giant leap into the start of my recovery. In 2013 I was at deaths door, massively underweight, utterly miserable and desperate to just end my life right there. Since then I have achieved so many wonderful things that I never would have achieved had I not taken fought to save my life. In recovery you can only take it one day at a time. Yes you can have dreams and ambitions (heck I have more than most), but when it comes to defeating your demons, you can’t expect yourself to cope with it all at once. You learn new things about yourself everyday. So to me this idea of ‘New Years Resolutions’ is pretty overrated. Why do we never keep we resolutions? Because it’s a forced convention, people convince themselves they want to do something that they don’t really want to do. Although to take new chances you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone, you can only do this when you are ready. You can’t be forced by you or anyone else to try new experiences; you have to have a real desire to do so because without passion there is no drive, and without drive there is no chance of success. Think of yourself as a rocket, without fuel to the fire you’ll never reach the stars.
So this is what I’m really trying to say, this New Year, have fun! Go out with your friends and dance till 3am, pop the champagne and find a midnight kiss, stay in with your family and toast to the fireworks, update your bucket list, forget the guys who hurt you or lead you on, use your past as a reminder of how far you’ve come, get fit, go travelling, go skydiving, write a novel…do whatever you want to do! Just please, don’t do it because you feel you have to, do it because you want to! After all, you could have the most fruitful life in the world but you won’t be able to appreciate it unless you are happy and healthy…
May you find the fire in you to make 2016 your most fulfilling year yet!