Ilana's Story - Overcoming trauma, addressing negative thoughts and striving for positivity

Hello! My name is Ilana, I’m 21 years old and I’m an aspiring Clinical Psychologist.

I had a number of traumatic experiences during my early teenage years which had a huge impact on my mental health and mindset because they happened whilst my brain was still developing. I will not be talking about them all as this will turn into a list of traumas which I don’t want it to be! What I would like to focus on, is how I have addressed my trauma to live a positive and happy life.

I had a number of traumatic experiences throughout the ages of 13, 14 and 15 which had significant lasting effects. My first ‘proper’ boyfriend tried to take his own life in front of me. I was physically attacked in an alleyway at night by two people. I attended three funerals of school peers who died or took their own life before the age of 15. I was cheated on. I lost a baby. These are a small percentage of the major traumas I’ve experienced, and they all happened within a few years.

My traumas went unaddressed for years, repressed into my unconscious mind and dealt with using alcohol and erratic behaviours. I wasn’t doing great in school, I wasn’t doing great in my family or friendships, I wasn’t doing great in my own mind. It was when I started studying Psychology that I started to question what had happened, the effect of the traumas on my mental health, and my methods for dealing with that. It was age 17, I was going out to parties at the weekend, spending all my money on my weekend activities, had a friendship group who only cared about getting drunk, my mental health was awful, I had such a negative mindset. When I received my AS (first year of a-levels) grades, they weren’t good, and I looked at my life and thought ‘is this really how I want my life to be?’. It was at that moment that I realised this was the time that I either continued down the path I had been going down since I was very young, or I decided to make a change.

So, I did. I made not only one change, but as many changes as I could. The first defining change was I quit smoking and drinking alcohol, this was replaced with exercise and that is where my love for fitness began. I stopped spending time with people who were a negative influence and started making friends with those who were a positive influence. My erratic spending on nights out was replaced with saving money, and that is when my personal finances stabilised. I started making goals, focusing in education, working hard in my job. Within a couple of years I had completely transformed my physical life. I had high enough grades to get into a top-15 university to study Psychology, I’d passed my driving test and bought a car, I had a great work ethic and always had a part-time job. I was a couple of years into my current relationship. Of course, physical things are telling of a transformation, but the real transformation happened in my mind.

Around the time I quit smoking and drinking, I started to research self-development. I would listen to self-help and self-development audio-books as I walked to college and internalise the methods of improving oneself. I worked on addressing negative thoughts and striving for positivity and happiness. I worked on addressing my traumas, accepting them and moving on. I worked on improving my mental health and mindset and moving away from the negative and destructive mindset I once had. I worked on my intrusive thoughts and anxiety which came with this whole development process, and over the years have reduced that too.

It was about making positive and constructive changes, that formed habits, which provided me with a happy, healthy, and positive life. I could have stayed on the path I was going down and allowed my traumas to impact the rest of my life. I could have kept my negative mindset, I could have accepted mental ill health, I could have stayed friends with those who were a negative influence, I could have kept smoking and drinking and damaging my health, I could have kept wasting my money and achieving bad grades. But we weren’t put on this earth to be a victim of our experiences, to live a life as a reaction to trauma, to be unhappy. We are alive and on this earth for a reason.

My reason is to help others manage and improve their mental health. I’m currently an aspiring Clinical Psychologist in education and I really want to dedicate my career to helping others. In the last year or so I have dedicated my social media and created a blog based around health (mental and physical) and mindset (along with some Psychology knowledge and positivity). In my content I aim to educate and give tips on how others can help themselves through self-development – as I did. I often talk about addressing trauma and developing and healthy mindset. I try my best to help others.

I guess, sometimes, adversities can motivate you to be better than you ever were before and encourage you to do everything in your power to help others. That is one thing I am grateful for, is to have been humbled by my experiences and have this motivation and passion to help others because of it.

We are so honoured to share Ilana's story with our community. Her inspiring story of overcoming her trauma and changing her mindset shows her courage and fearlessness. We are so proud of you!

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