Babalon Szenaszki, Vadstena, Sweden

I was raised in a community of two families living in a big house in the countryside just outside of Vadstena in Sweden. I think that my childhood was quite unique in a lot of ways. I was encouraged by my mother at a very early age to acknowledge and express my feelings regardless of whether these were positive or negative emotions such as happiness, sadness or anger. I see myself as a sensitive, emotional individual. My mother and father separated when I was 3 years old and not long after my mother gave birth to my first sister with her new husband. As a child I recognised that I was quite different from others and this never really bothered me until the age of 12. At this time I struggled to find my own identity and became resentful. My teenage years were quite a destructive time and I caused damage to both myself and others during that period. I often fantasised about taking my own life. My mother and stepfather were always supportive and a genuine help during those darker days. I also sought professional support and had regular counselling which supported me with understanding my destructive patterns and the reasons for my unhappiness.

I moved away from home to Gothenburg in 2014 where I worked as a chef before moving to Barcelona in the autumn of 2017. During this time I started to make a lot of lifestyle changes; I practiced self-care and started to look after my body and mind, which quickly began to manifest positive results in my life. It wasn’t until fairly recently that I stopped hating myself. Reaching out for guidance and help was hard for me but when I did manage to ask for support I really did find this most helpful. The counselling service that I received made a big difference and supported me to develop, reflect and make changes in life that positively improved my general wellbeing. I still find it hard to ask for help but this is improving. I don’t think that anyone can deal with all of life’s challenges on their own; we all need support sometimes and it takes great courage to ask for it.

Today I am very happy and thankful for who I am. I recognise that life is full of different experiences and both the tough times and the good are part of what has helped me to develop and grow. These days I see myself and the world from a different perspective. I have learnt to embrace my feelings and emotions, after all they are only feelings and the feelings alone won’t kill me.

I initially wanted to participate in the Hope Project to support my step-father Aamod. He is doing great work in supporting men to open up and express their feelings and experiences about their mental health which will help to eradicate this taboo amongst men. I can see that life changes all the time and I recognise that it can always get better. I hope that people on the edge of taking their own lives will get to experience positive changes that help them to turn their lives around. I believe that life smiles on anyone who looks close enough.