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I Could Have Missed This Once-In-A-Lifetime Moment If Not for My Mental Health Recovery

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As I write this, comet NEOWISE is visible in my part of the world.

When something comes around once in a lifetime, you have two choices — be like Lin-Manuel Miranda and not throw away your shot, or miss out.

Five years ago today as I write this, I was tattooed with my semicolon butterfly. Representing so much.

What do tattoos and comets have to do with each other? Well, before the tattoo, I was sick — so sick I wasn’t sure I would survive. So mentally ill that I was pretty sure I wouldn’t. I was scared all of the time. I was terrified to go out for dinner with friends. I was afraid to let anyone else drive me anywhere. I needed to know where every single washroom was before I left my house. My beautiful friend planned running routes with public washrooms on them, so I would feel at ease. I nearly lost that friend, due to my reluctance to understand that mental anguish does not have to be a way of life. Fear didn’t have to be in control.

Five and a half years ago, I would have missed seeing NEOWISE because, in the middle of the night, where there would not be easy access to a public washroom, I would not have been able to bring myself to go. I would have told myself I would see another comet one day, and it was fine. I would have thrown away my shot and cried. I planned my life in 30-minute intervals and left no room to relax. I couldn’t relax because relaxing let the fear seep back in. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Twelve years ago, I had postpartum depression. Twenty years ago, I was in one of my first major depressive episodes.

Today? Today, I proudly take the antidepressants, and do yoga, and talk about my problems, and seek therapy, and breathe. Today, I share my pain because bottling it in a vacuum feeds it. Because maybe, just one other person will feel less alone. Maybe one more person will get to see their comet.

NEOWISE is still visible where I live tonight. Thanks to family, friends, doctors and medications, I am here to see it.

Lead Photo by Pmdlt on Unsplash. Secondary photo via contributor.

Originally published: August 18, 2020
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