As soon as I saw the self-esTEEm campaign I knew I had to wear one of the shirts. It’s a fantastic idea, and creates a talking point with other people. I don’t even mind them staring at my chest when I know they want to ask “What does that say?” The answer raises a shared smile and most people wish they could wear one themselves, or certainly know someone else they’d like to buy one for. And it’s not to point the finger at another individual’s vulnerability; the intention is to empower.
I know what it is like to be at rock bottom. I have experienced depression and felt suicidal, going through periods in my life when I’ve felt there is no purpose to my existence at all. The self-esTEEm campaign coincided with me resurfacing from one of those periods with renewed belief in myself. I’ve often needed a mirror in my life, searching for other people to reflect my existence, in the hope they might be able to complete me.
Everything in the world used to hurt me. It doesn’t so much these days. I’ve done a lot of exploring, worked very hard with a therapist over a number of years, and there will always be some difficult times. But when I look in the mirror now, I remember I am me. I do exist and I know that I can be enough for myself. I have discovered spontaneity and humour and I really do feel amazing every time I wear this shirt. It reminds me to trust myself. Other people have always trusted me and relied on my support, so why have I doubted myself? I’m beginning to enjoy the fact that I’m reliable and compassionate, rather than it seeming a burden, because now I also believe I’m worth looking after.