Finding strength in the darkness

Olivia Hardcastle

By Olivia Hardcastle, Representative

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I still struggle to admit to this day that I still struggle. I find it hard to admit that I still struggle with self-loathing, that there are still days when I don’t want to wake up. There are still days where I battle my thoughts and fight to not go back to my past coping mechanisms. But I use these daily battles to make myself stronger. I use my struggles as fuel to push me further forward.

I was told anorexia would kill me. I was told I would never get over the self harm or the depression. I was told that I would never get to university or live ‘normally’. I was told so many things and yet I have proved them all wrong. I fought my brain, I fought my demons and I am winning and every single day that I choose to keep fighting.

Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. I have lost many friends and people I knew along the way. I have seen things that 15 year olds shouldn’t even think about. I have caused so much damage to my body, to my family and to my relationships.

"But I have come out stronger!"

I am no longer afraid to talk to anyone about anything. I never shy away from a client being open about their current battles or mental health difficulties and I now dedicate every single day to helping others. The main reason that I chose to become a personal trainer was because finding powerlifting and a healthy relationship with exercise and my body truly helped to save me. I now use my experiences and my journey in the hope that I can motivate, support and make other peoples days even a tiny bit better.

It is too easy to think about the past and see it as wasted years. And yes of course I wasted countless years crying over being force fed, I wasted countless hours self harming. But I now see it as part of my journey. It has made me who I am. I am genuinely grateful to still be here and to have survived my deepest darkest moments. I am grateful that my body didn’t give up at its lowest points and I now want to live my life helping others to ensure that I utilise the gift of life.

"I am not perfect!"

I still cry myself to sleep with self loathing. I still have days where I have to plaster on a fake smile at work to hide my inner pain. But I am stronger for it. Mental Health Muscle has been incredible in supporting me and I have truly found a family of strong, amazing fighters. Here at Mental Health Muscle we just get stronger with every battle! So just know that no matter what you may be going through right now - it will just make you stronger in the end!

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