How I Started My Mental Health Journey of Self-Discovery
I was speaking with a good friend the other day. She has been going through immense change and self-discovery the past few years. As with most of us who take that journey, it is uncomfortable, scary, friend-changing, often lonely, sometimes peaceful, very discombobulating. But there is a certain point, where deep inside, you begin to feel the seeds of contentment — the knowing of who you really are at your core — take hold and reach up from the mud.
The past eight years has been a whirlwind of change for me. My life turned upside down because of my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and I had to decide — both consciously and unconsciously — to heal, to change or I would most probably die. It’s a sobering thought as I sit down to write this, but it was true. One day, very early on in therapy, my therapist and I were discussing the book “The Alchemist,” and he asked me to go home and think about what I wanted my personal legend to be and report it back to him in our next session. I took that homework very seriously, and I decided my personal legend was to know the entire truth of my past, live with my eyes wide open, blinders off. To continually operate in a place of self-discovery, growth and change. I knew how I was going to meet some of those goals but was at a loss on how I was going to maintain the intention of what I wanted my life’s purpose to look like as I continue to grow and change through time and experience.
I know the definition of my life’s purpose is who I want to be. I know I’m the author of my own story, and I get to choose how I want to be in the world. At this point in my life, it’s about choices and being proactive rather than reactive. It’s about aligning my personal values and beliefs with my actions and words while maintaining my integrity.
For me, self-discovery also comes with the knowledge that the truth often hurts and is uncomfortable on many levels including physical, spiritual, emotional and mental.
I love that we live in a time where self-discovery is an accepted way of life. I spent so much time in fear and hiding, squelching any dream of a life lived, only a life survived. Now, most times, I am able to live, speak, listen and learn from a place of safety and truth. Discovering the wonder and accepting of life and what it has to offer. Not getting in the way of who I am, and instead, letting myself be who I am, without my ego reminding me of the should haves, did nots, or cannots.
Self-discovery also comes with the knowledge that truth often hurts and is uncomfortable on many levels including physical, spiritual, emotional and mental. There were times when I would begin processing a memory and I had to fight not to ignore it, or repress it again. I learned that by repressing what I had painfully remembered was making a choice to live in fear. If I wanted to live my life’s purpose, I had to begin to learn to forget how to forget. It wasn’t an easy path or the path of least resistance, but it was the only way I could see to begin to create the life I wanted.
My PTSD was the catalyst of change for me. I had to face certain truths about myself and was forced to look at the direction my life was going. Was I going to continue to allow my perpetrators to define who I am and how I live my life? Or do I find the strength to uncover who I really am at my core and how I want to live my life moving forward? My illness gave me the choice to put my foot down and say, “Enough is enough. I am not going to ride the tide of fortune and misfortune anymore. I’m going to make different choices because I have the power to do so.”
I am resolute on my goal of living with my eyes wide open, blinders off. To continually operate in a place of self-discovery, growth and change. Creating and restructuring my life’s purpose, choosing who I want to be is a lifelong, ever-changing, nonlinear journey, but it’s empowering to know that often with each change, I grow and emerge stronger than before.
Follow this journey on Untangled.
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Thinkstock photo via Dahabian.