When I Realized Who I Needed Most on My Journey With Mental Illness


I was lost. Depressed. Alone. Anxious. Hopeless. I wanted someone to fix it. Take away this unbearable pain.

I went to a psychologist. She helped me understand how my thoughts were contributing to how I felt and that my thoughts were not always true.

I went to a clinical social worker. She encouraged me to let go of past hurts and accept the present. To set limits.

I went to a yoga therapist. She helped me to connect my mind and body. Add gentle movement. Breathe.

I went to a massage therapist. She helped to relax by tired body. Take care of myself.

I went to a spiritual healer. He gave me the gift of remembering to connect to spirit. That was God (for me).

After all these helpers and all these gifts, I still hurt. I went to one last place. Here, I heard her say, “If I had a magic wand and could take all your pain away, would you accept that?”

“Yes! Yes! Yes!”

“I have some bad news and some good news,” she said gently. “The bad news is that there is no magic wand to take away our pain. As human beings, we experience things that hurt us deeply. Some of us have depression, anxiety, physical pain and grief.”

My heart sunk.

Then, she said, “The good news is that the answers you seek to live with painful moments are within you. Along with the gifts that helpers through your life will share with you, you hold the most powerful gift of all.”

This last helper was in fact my own inner strength.

When you’re in pain, you can speak gently to yourself. You can remind yourself this is a moment of struggle. That all moments pass. That you do not have to believe everything you think. That you are a beautiful person.

Ask yourself what you need during these painful moments. To be held? To be heard? To be reminded that a better moment is coming? All these things are within you to offer to yourself at any time.

For a minute, I was sad. Sad there was no “fix.” No one coming to rescue me from pain and struggle. Then, I said to myself: “This is a moment of sadness. May I be kind to myself during this moment.”

“I am here for you,” I whispered to myself.

What can I do to soothe this moment?

I paused.

Well, I would love a warm bath, and please, add some orange scent. It reminds me of joy. When I’m in the bath, play me some music I love and afterwards massage my feet with  nice peppermint scent. Then, put flannel sheets on my bed, and let’s watch that funny sitcom I like. Remind me these moments pass and that you will never abandon me.

I promise I will never leave you, I whispered.

Thank you, I said.

You’re welcome, I replied. I’ve been looking so long for you.

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