It was a really difficult year, self-development from a dark place is not easy...

Hello, my name is Ilana, and I am a full-time BSc Psychology student and aspiring Clinical Psychologist and Life Coach. My desire to become a Psychologist/Life Coach and dedicate my life to helping others to improve their mental health and reach their life successes stems from my teenage years.

I struggled as a teenager with my mental health, a mixture of negative life events and toxic influences led me down a dark path. I continued on this path for a number of years, not attending classes, working my part-time job to fund my weekends of drinking, avoiding responsibilities and not facing my emotions. It was at age 17, when I got my year one a-level results back, failed one subject, barely passed the rest, that something clicked. I evaluated my life, I hadn’t addressed my emotions for years, masking them with going out, drinking, and avoiding them, disregarding responsibilities including my education and my health. I realised this wasn’t how I wanted my life to continue, I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to make myself a better person.

As cliché as it sounds, I really did have a revelation. Sat there, looking at the results; U, E, D; my mind reviewed the year just gone, not handing assignments in on time, walking out of exams early, skipping classes, living for the weekend, overlooking my mental and physical health. I wanted to change. I wanted to be a better person.

At 17 I started researching self-development, how to target toxic thought patterns and behaviours, develop constructive habits and increase gratitude and positivity. I started to exercise and eat healthier and was more mindful of my emotions and mental state. I slowly reduced the time I spent with toxic people and surrounded myself with people who encouraged me to pursue my goals. I met my partner close to my 18th birthday, over the next year he encouraged me to go to all my classes, revise at the weekends, and helped my journey of self-development by calling me out whenever I was speaking or behaving in a toxic manner. It was a really difficult year, self-development from a dark place is not easy – at all. So many times, I wanted to give up or shy away from targeting my own limiting beliefs and toxic thought patterns. But, I didn’t.

The next time I opened my a-level results I had an A grade in Psychology. B grade in Sociology. B grade in Creative Writing. I went on to do an Extended Project Qualification the next year and achieved an A grade. I secured a place in my top university choice and am now studying Psychology, in my second year. I plan to go on to complete a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and become a Clinical Psychologist in the NHS for 10 years. Followed by the rest of my career, opening my own business as a Psychologist and Life Coach to help others to improve their mental health and reach their life successes using an individual, personalised approach.

The take-home message from this, is that self-development can help to improve so many areas of your life. Your mental health, your mindset, your physical health, your life goals and successes. It is definitely something to look into, even if you are in a dark place. There is always light at the end of the tunnel and everything can change drastically for the better in one year – use my story as evidence of that.

Sending love & support to all who read this, Ilana.

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