I seem to be straying from my original intent to focus on my job readiness journey this month. But, perhaps not. Today, I’m talking about mental health.
Here’s why: If you’re struggling with mental illness or emotional instability OR you have a loved one who is OR you have experienced trauma OR any combination of the aforementioned, you need to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I want you to know that, despite however weak, fragile, overwhelmed, and incapable you may feel right now, you are one of the strongest, most courageous people you know.
Feeling the way you feel, experiencing anxiety, depression, hyper-reactivity, mania, having compulsive self-harming behaviors, experiencing suicidal thoughts, or any other “wrong” thing does not mean you are “less than,” unworthy, insignificant, or “damaged beyond repair.”
You see, I’ve been there. Some days I’m still there. I have friends and family who have been or are there. I’ve known those who didn’t make it and know those who make it one day at a time, if not moment by moment.
Last night I had the privilege to speak with another mom, who is facing and navigating challenges similar to those I have experienced – some of which I’ve come out on the other side of and some that will ever be with me. A history of physical and mental trauma, mental illness, and parenting a child with mental health and behavioral challenges through childhood and into adulthood.
Feelings of loneliness, isolation, despair, and thoughts of permanently packing it in are all things I’m more than familiar with and gave me the empathy she needed. I was able to listen with understanding. I had knowledge of resources and professionals better equipped to help her than I am to offer her. I was able to share some of my stories, giving her hope and shoring up her faith.
By the end of the call, we had established a rapport and a bond borne of shared experience and the knowledge that neither of us is alone in our struggle. She seemed genuinely hopeful, a 180 degree turnaround from where she was when we first began talking.
My lived experience of surviving trauma and mental illness has equipped me to be of service to others who are living through similar things. Even though I still have my struggles and even though I’ll never be “fully” healed and recovered, I’m far enough along that I have something good to offer.
I have a friend who says, “God doesn’t waste a wound.”
While I am not of the belief that God punishes and wounds us by causing trauma and devastation in our lives, I do believe he is present in and with us throughout these things. Furthermore, I believe that, if we are able to participate in the healing process, he redeems our personal tragedies in ways that can bring good.
This is what I want to do with my life. I want to walk alongside others on this healing and recovery journey, bolstering them up when they’re walk is shaky and help them stand back up, dust off, and get going again.
That’s what it’s about, right?
We all stumble. We all fall. We all get exhausted, worn down, and overwhelmed. We all need a little help getting by.
Now, due to several factors, prior student debt to a private institution being chief among them, going back to college isn’t a feasible option. Especially if I want to start working ASAP.
What I CAN do is get a certification to be a Mental Health Peer Support Specialist.
I didn’t get into the certification training I wanted to, this go around. But, I’m only getting started and there are other things I can do while I figure out how to access the training I need.
Today I start a Peer to Peer class put on by NAMI – the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It will help me be less isolated on my own journey and add to my toolbox of coping skills.
Wish me luck!