I have never been as scared as what I was when I was fighting to try and stay alive. Suicide threatened me for a long time. I was highly suicidal for 6 months and mildly suicidal for close to 2 years. Anybody that has lived with depression, anxiety or any type of mental illness knows that each day feels like a week. Time slows down. it is quite possibly the cruelest form of self destruction there is. I get why people kill themselves, I really do. I understand why people turn to alcohol and drugs and I know how easy it can be to suddenly find yourself living a life that you could never have once imagined.
It’s true – there is help available – but for me (and I suspect many others) it wasn’t the right kind of help. I watched my mum go through the public mental health system for decades, only to see her steadily worsen. My mum is the reason I knew I had to look for answers outside of the current system. I had a very strong instinct guiding me when I was at my sickest. I had (before my breakdown) suffered with depression and mild anxiety for 10 years in which time I had taken varying quantities of Zoloft while regularly seeing Psychologists and counsellors. But during my breakdown I had a very strong inner sense that this was no longer going to be the path that I wanted to take. I refused to take any medication and I no longer believed that the mainstream medical system had the right answers for me. I did end up being admitted to the mental health ward at one stage for a short period of time, only to be handed a comprehensive list of labels telling me all of the things that were wrong with me. I left immediately afterwards terrified that I would become trapped in a system that would do little to help me find the underlying reasons behind my illnesses and subsequent breakdown. I knew how easy it would be to believe that I had what they told me I had, I knew that I was so down on myself that it would almost be a reassurance to believe that there was something very wrong with me that could never be fixed. It was almost a relief to know that I didn’t have to search for any more answers, it was a relief to know that there was a reason I was going ‘crazy’.
I was highly suicidal, severely depressed, I had major anxiety, voices in my head, I experienced mania, and couldn’t escape the lowest of lows, I was traumatised and I had a history of abuse, as well as a genetic disposition to Bipolar- all of which could have easily told me that mental illness was going to be a part of my life forever. But there was also something else within me. A voice that kept saying ‘NO- this isn’t it’. My symptoms were very real but I knew deep within that there was more to the story, that I had to dig a little deeper, that I shouldn’t just accept what I had been told. I knew there was something else happening to me, and I knew that my life was never going to be the same again.
Mental illness almost destroyed me but it also did something else to me. IT WOKE ME UP. It forced me to go deep within, to search and to listen to myself in a way I had never listened before. It was the catalyst I needed so that I could begin to take notice of myself, my life and what I really wanted. The life that I had been living was an EGO based life because this was all I knew how to do (thinking I had to get ahead, constantly achieving, trying to better myself, constantly comparing myself to others, denying my emotions and the pain of my past, trying to keep up with what society expected of me, living in constant fear and closing my heart off to those around me, tying to prove my worth by focusing on material possessions & money & what I didn’t have). I was living the life that I thought I was ‘supposed’ to live as opposed to the life that I really wanted to live (because fear kept winning & because the underlying issue was that I didn’t believe that I was enough just as I was) until I couldn’t live it anymore. I could no longer pretend, conform, act as though I was fine- illness, depression, anxiety and all of the associated symptoms came because I was denying my soul, and my truth.
I have been led to change my beliefs about what mental illness is. I used to think it was such a curse, that it had in many ways ruined my life and the lives of those around me. I hated it with such a passion but now I know it has been my greatest blessing. It has given me what I needed- the opportunity to AWAKEN and to return to SPIRIT and in doing so to live my life in the way that is true and real to me. I had to confront myself and my past, and make the necessary changes in my life that I was being guided to make (but mostly ignored because I was too scared & it was easier to settle). I know when you are in it that its almost impossible to see that there can be any benefit (especially when you are stuck in the repetitive cycle), but without it I would still be living a life that kept me small. I would still be enduring the reality of mental illness because I didn’t listen to myself. Trusting myself and finding the right help to uncover the underlying issues that were happening to my body, mind and soul has been the greatest gift I have ever given myself. Its taken three years ( the HARDEST & MOST OVERWHELMING years of my life) but I know its all happened exactly as it should have. I know I’m now exactly where I was always intended to be and I know it wouldn’t have happened without the symptoms of depression and anxiety.