‘Each of us has a little pocket of light but you have to look for it’ ‘When my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was at its height (after the 2008 sulphuric acid attack that left Katie scarred and blind in one eye), I was so isolated I didn’t want to leave my parents’ house. It took my mum dropping me off at church to help me get what I needed at that time: connection with others, free from judgment. I’d found my safe space – but it will be different for everyone.
Nine years on, I am so much more than what happened to me. I’m a mother and a businesswoman; I run a charity that supports others overcoming adversity; and, most importantly, I’m happy. But I want people to understand how difficult a process getting well has been, so that they might look on their own recovery with a little more kindness. I’m not going to tell you: “I had PTSD and anxiety and depression but now everything is great.” People don’t go through traumatic events and just become emotionally strong.
I still have difficult days when I lose hours to anxiety, feeling my throat swell and my mind race with paranoid thoughts. But – thanks in part to ongoing therapy – they’re happening less and less.
Mindset is important – but it’s not realistic to expect people to simply replace ‘bad’ thoughts with good ones. I’m a positive person, but someone telling me to just “cheer up” when I’m struggling won’t help. I focus on building resilience – which to me means having a sense that, yes, sometimes things aren’t going to be okay, but accepting that.
Journaling regularly helps me understand my triggers, and an evening run is brilliant for clearing the day’s crap from my mind. But no one thing – book, podcast, online community, fitness or healthy meal plan – alone is going to make anyone strong and happy. They all help, sure, but taking responsibility for your recovery is the most important thing.
My advice? Look for that little pocket of light in the darkness. It could be a supportive person, a mantra, or even the feeling you get when you’re working up a sweat. It’ll be there somewhere – you just have to look for it.’ Katie Piper tours in the spring with her live show What’s In My