How dance helped my mental health recover.
I battled with myself for a long time after being knocked down by bullying and I didn’t see myself getting back up again. Bullying knocked my confidence and made me feel worthless. I honestly didn’t see a very bright future for myself. But something changed for me.
I have always loved to dance from a young age, starting ballet and tap at the age of 3 and dreaming of being a ballerina. But this was always just a childhood dream. I never thought that after losing my passion for years that I would find it again during the most difficult time of my life. I never liked dance from year 7-9 (we studied it at school as a compulsory lesson), and I couldn’t wait to get rid of it. When I started secondary school it was a lot easier to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others and I always feared being judged. But at the end of year 9 I decided to join our schools dance club and ended up taking it at GCSE which was definitely the best decision I made.
Going into GCSEs was a difficult transition for me and coming out of a difficult year made it even harder. Year 10 wasn’t too much easier, but I started therapy after things became too much and I was struggling with everyday life. My motivation dropped a lot and my world continued to get darker.
But having dance classes to go to everyday gave me something to focus on. It was a place where I could let go and express myself. My love of dance only grew throughout year 10 and 11, helping me through the stress of exams and overcoming battles with myself. I suddenly felt in control of my feelings and finally felt like I had some sort of connection with myself in the dance studio.
I would encourage anyone with a mental health illness to find something they can do that they enjoy and can express themselves through. Sometimes talking can be really hard, and it’s such a difficult first step to take. But I know that dance helped me feel more able to communicate with others about how I was feeling and accept help rather than resist it. It changed my whole perspective of life and allowed me to reach a brighter future, which I am thoroughly enjoying.
Creativity isn’t limited and creative subjects like the performing arts really do have an enormous amount of power to help us change our perspectives of life.
You can overcome any mental health illness, but please don’t put pressure on yourself if you’re struggling to express yourself through words. There are so many things that can help you overcome difficulties in your life. This passion might be clear for some people and more hidden for others, but it is there. The words will come… you just have to give them time.
With thanks to YoungMinds for giving me the platform to write this blog earlier this year. I have loved being on the Youth Panel this year and look forward to another great year #FightingFor Young People's mental health.
This blog was originally written for and posted on the YoungMinds website (https://youngminds.org.uk/blog/how-dance-helped-my-mental-health-recover/)
I thought I'd just add this picture at the end - I took it a couple of years ago. This Christmas tree is made out of 540 pointe shoes!