From the suggestion of a treasured friend who was the nudge to get back to writing again, today I’ll take a look at writing about the journey to me.
We were having a conversation this morning about needing that nudge to get active again. She reminded me that being an advocate is also for yourself, not just for others. She said, I noticed you had shut down almost completely, we all need to help each other and writing is part of helping others and healing ourselves. We are mental health warriors and we will leave no one behind.
Keeping that in mind kittens, why do I write about my journey?
For far too many years, for myself, and for many of my friends, we thought we were the only ones who had the challenges we did, nobody else could possibly be dealing with this. That’s one reason, to put this out there, to say to somebody who reads the words, hey, you are not alone, there are others of us out here, we support each other. It is that shame you feel, that is based in the stigma created by society that drives you to isolate, withdraw into yourself, to shut down almost completely. There is one great problem with that, when you do isolate, you reduce the opportunities to find those who have a similar experience, a chance to have conversations, to find hope, to work on making it better. It is why online communities like #SickNotWeak are so vital to forwarding the conversation.
It is also why the graphic at the top of this post speaks to so many of us who write about our experiences, our challenges, our personal journeys. You always hope that the one person who needs to know they are not alone, is the one who will see what you have written.
The people I know, from virtual online support groups that we created on the spot, to the people I encounter in person on a regular basis, these are my mental health warriors, my inspiration to keep going, the people who still fight every day to get up and make a difference for themselves and others. To hear or read their stories is to know the personal hell they have gone through and have survived. They have survived for a reason. When they share their stories, they will inspire others who wonder if they can ever return to what they knew.
And, like that quote, I am broken and damaged, and I’m not quite fixed yet. But I did come back, stronger than before, through everything that has occurred, I am still standing. And I fight on because there is plenty worth fighting for, even when mental injuries make it seem otherwise. And every day, those who could not fight on any longer, I carry them with me, because their struggle should not go unnoticed, it will mean something, and it will cause the needed change to take place.
I write about my journey, because I am an Empath, and there are many of us out there. My friend Laurie, who is responsible for Nat and I meeting, she is an Empath, she picked it up about both of us being Empaths of a high order. And she regularly reminds us both, we are both good and necessary for each other, but we need to remember to step back and recharge now and then as well. There are days when just being in certain environments is unbearable, the energy is such that it is similar to a migraine, and the only way is to get out and find some solitude to rebalance ourselves.
This is part of our journeys, and there are other Empaths out there, and we hope to connect and share things that we have learned, like our best tips on self-care and managing your space.
Oh, and the “complete strangers tell me their life story” happens almost every time I go out somewhere. Could be in Starbucks, could be in an airport lounge (happened regularly when travelling on business, those travelling with me were always amazed by this every time we were out of town), could be in line at the bank. I still think the reason it happens, beyond the energy, is that we know how to listen without judgement. Also a safe space, the chances of you meeting again are miniscule at best.
I write about my journey because this is my standard method of operating in the world. The greatest hope of all humans is to make a difference in the lives of others. Some may think it is stardom, fame, money, power. No. It is the ability to make a difference in one other person’s life, no matter how big or small, just to be able to cause something positive.
One of my closest and dearest friends recently sent me a note that read: “I owe you so many bear hugs. I think you are single handedly one of the biggest positive influences in my life.” Honestly, I was speechless at first. I had been quite open about the fact that I would have succeeded on the day in which she saw herself as the amazing world-changing human being that I have always known her to be. She had that a-ha moment, I hope many others will too… that is also why I write about the journey back to me.
I write about the journey because this was shared with me some time ago, and as with the other quotes in this post, it spoke to me at the soul level. And it is time that this message reached as many as possible so they too can know they are survivors and will thrive in their life again. I won’t detail historical things here, but will save those items for future posts.
Writing about my journey back to me, I am hoping that the reader will understand. It goes back again to my four steps in life, the first being education, which leads to understanding, which eventually becomes acceptance, and will one day become quite simply, love.
I have heard that “walk a mile in my shoes” line so many times over my life that I fight the urge to vomit on the speaker every time that tired old load of nonsense is dragged out. No. Walking a mile in my shoes will only take you to every local Starbucks I hang out in when I need to write and need the solitude of a space where I am unknown. No, the shoes thing is beyond tired, it should have been buried years ago. If you want to understand me, you have to get into my mind and my soul, see, feel, perceive, believe and live what I live. I still say that many who are quick to criticize would be a puddle on the floor if they had to spend 24 – 48 hours in my mind, dealing with a sudden anxiety off the charts moment, a panic attack that would floor some, or being stressed to the point of dissociation, or any of the triggers with C-PTSD.
And to wrap things up about why I write about the journey…
I will be the first to admit that some of the talks and speeches I have delivered over the years must have been excessively fucking gag worthy. I delivered the stock-standard happy clappy drivel, while blowing sunshine up your jumper. It’s how we were trained to do it. But there was no life in it at all, at all, at all, at all.
It was a close friend who said to me one day, “Honey, you have to tell them ALL of the story, the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly parts. The only way you will reach them and cause a shift is to be brutally honest.”
Two opportunities presented themselves right after we had that conversation (thanks Rachel, I love you to bits). One was to be part of a documentary being put together for 16X9 on Global TV. I honestly expected as always to do my behind the scenes brain-dump kind of thing. No, they wanted me on camera. Want to hear a lot of mental traffic? Should have heard the conversation I was having with myself in that moment. If you must know, for as long as I can remember, my least favourite thing on the planet has been being in front of a camera. Dug deep down and did it (even though struggling like mad during the one on one filming, my coping things were in high gear being my excessively dark humour… could not do it “straight”)… response to the show was amazing, made a life-long friend of the Producer. I will admit, it was a bit unnerving to be recognized walking down the street after it aired. I am literally off in my own little world when I’m out in public.
The other was the very first lecture that I ever delivered with Danielle at Ryerson University. My entire prep was us meeting at Starbucks for a coffee a half hour before, and discussing the aim of the talk. No slides, nothing pre-arranged, no preparation. I got up and delivered a soul-baring talk for the first hour, I literally was pulling things from memory as I spoke. I still don’t work with notes, although I have a number of slides and infographics as part of our current lectures, I just have a path through my mind that I follow, and some times I go off on a tangent to look at something unique this one time.
The one takeaway I had from that afternoon was the one student who had a question when we did one-on-ones after the Q&A session ended. They asked, “Can I give you a hug?” (I NEVER turn down a hug!) And that hug was heavy with meaning and energy. A few weeks later, the professor and I went out for lunch, and I asked about this student (I did not know their name). Ah, I’ve had them in my classes every year they have been at Ryerson, and we had a private chat in my office after the lecture. Everything you spoke of (baring my soul, or as my treasured friend refers to it, “ripping off your scabs publicly”) has happened to them as well. They saw you up there, being “ballsy as fuck” (quote from student), and realized that they could make it too. In the interim, they came out and began transition. That student will travel with me in my soul for the rest of my days in this existence.
Yes, our upcoming lecture in October will be the absolute last time I will be “ripping off scabs” publicly, but in those years of lecturing, and through what I write here, I hope that somebody who heard or read my words suddenly realized they were not alone, and they too could reach the other side of their trauma, mental injury, mental health challenges.
I write about my journey because it is part of my healing taking place in front of you. I write about my journey because I want to reach that one soul to let them know, hey, I’ve got your back, take my hand, I will walk with you.
I write about the journey to me because I want to tell people this:
There is always, kittens, more to come.