Last week I went to my cousin’s graduation ceremony where he was
awarded a First Class History and Politics
degree. In the the closing
speech, Sanjeev Bhaskar (The Kumars at No. 42), spoke about his failed attempt
at getting into the University of Sussex back in the 1980s, and how
demoralising, devastating and utterly demotivating it was. He quoted Winston
Churchill: ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going’. He’s now the
Let me state now, that this is NOT a cry for help, or a ‘FEEL SORRY FOR ME’ blog post, but a record of overcoming failure. It’s about how I managed to power through those rocky moments in life that jump out and bite you in the bum
when you least expect it.
Last year was undoubtedly the worst year of my life. As well
as coping with the trials and tribulations of being thrown into a world
post-university, with a debt of £15,000 and the strain of having to move back
home with my parents, my boyfriend broke up with me, I was rejected from my
dream job, and I spent the summer nursing my Grandma until she died.
I felt as if my
life was completely out of control. The career path I’d pursued for 4 years had
faded away into the distance, and I’d lost two of the people I loved most
in the world.
When you feel as if there’s nothing much left to live for,
my god it’s hard to keep going. I was utterly fed up, and I came to
realise that I was depressed.
The worst thing about depression is feeling like you’ve fallen down a hole you can’t climb out of. It’s so easy to slip and fall, but a bloody nightmare to pull yourself out of. People would say to me: ‘aww don’t worry
about it, things will get better!’ but if you’ve ever suffered from depression, you’ll know that this is the most
ANNOYING and USELESS thing that anyone can say to you, because at
that moment in time you feel like things are NEVER going to get better.
And, to be
honest, they won’t to begin with. Unfortunately, when life hurtles to the
deepest depths of the earth, it takes bloody ages to rebuild it again, regain in
confidence and restore self-esteem. But, as Churchill said ‘if you’re
going through hell, keep going.’ Half of struggling through depression was
admitting that yes, this was my hell. The other half was
questioning ‘how on earth am I going to get out of it?’.
For some, medication is the answer. Obviously it depends on the severity of the illness but as I knew that my depression was only circumstantial, I didn’t want to rely on chemicals to make me happy. I had a few counselling sessions but really, for me, it was about finding one positive thing a day to keep
me going. Be it writing a card to my Grandpa, baking some cakes for a friend’s
birthday or making an extra effort to chat to a shop assistant in Boots.
Somehow that collection of tiny, mundane things kept me going when I was
struggling to even get out of bed in the morning.
Everyone’s hell is different and I know that mine is far
from being even SLIGHTLY terrible. Whether it’s battling a mental illness,
questioning your sexuality, being homeless, being unemployed, going through
heartbreak, or struggling with a bereavement – everyone has a completely
different experience of ‘hell’ and everyone has a different way of keeping
going. It doesn’t matter how you achieve it, all I’m urging you to do is to not give up and KEEP
I wouldn’t have achieved anything if I’d have given up to
work in an office, crumbled because of my Grandmother’s death or refused to
ever go on a date again. I would’ve been a boring, miserable person. And yes,
it was the worst time of my life, but in a strange way, I’m so pleased it
happened. The phrase ‘character building’ doesn’t exist for nothing.
A year on and I’m getting lovely facebook messages, phonecalls and texts from friends and family congratulating me on my new job. I’m so lucky to have such an incredible radio presenting job that I love doing every single day, but although it seems that I’ve been offered it overnight: ‘There is no success without failure’ and in my case that cliché is one hundred percent true.
As I walked from my cousin’s graduation to get my train back to Southampton, I saw a homeless man asleep on the street. In front of him were colourful pictures in chalk and a message explaining that he didn’t believe in begging for money, so instead he drew pictures to cheer people up and if they wanted to pop some spare change in his hat then they could. To the left of the pictures was a quotation. I couldn’t believe that within the space of 10 minutes I’d been introduced to this quotation twice, both in equally poignant, but entirely different ways. It read: ‘Smile, as when you’re going through hell, you just got to keep on going.’ If he can do it, then we can do it.