I was looking at the two questions on my laptop screen:
1. What do you value most?
2. What do you want?
It was over a year since my nervous breakdown and I was in psychosis. I didn’t know it at the time however; I thought the synchronistic messages from god, continuously writing formulas in my worn notebooks to save the world, feeling the benevolent touch of angels, and having my name softly spoken in my ear at night, were all signs my mental health was improving.
I thought my Dark Night of the Soul had ended in a spiritual awakening.
So when my alternative practitioner emailed me these two questions, I was beyond using the left-side of my brain to do any thinking and went with whatever popped into my head.
Years later I would realize that answering these questions saved my life.
So what were my actual answers? Funny you should ask…
But before I tell you, I want you to grab a piece of paper and a writing instrument.
Now, I want to ask YOU the same questions:
- What do you value most?
- What do you want?
Immediately write down what comes to mind. Don’t think. Don’t judge. There is no right or wrong here. Your answers are perfect.
Did you do it? Seriously—you have to do it now or reading the rest of this post will take the magic out of the process.
Now fold that piece of paper and store it in a safe place.
Further instructions are to follow (that sounds so “James Bond”, doesn’t it?)
An angel diva
- Accept myself for who I am
Then I forgot about it and went on my merry way in delusional ambivalence. I do remember thinking “how do I value love more and accept myself?” but some shiny object must have fluttered by in my mind and I was off again.
Soon after, I remember lying in my bed in the pitch dark, curled in the fetal position and hugging myself around the shoulders. I was crying for I had never felt so alone. You know the kind of loneliness I am talking about–the isolation that comes with the knowing that you, and only you, can relate to what you are going through. You feel like a freak, separate from every single living thing on the planet.
Amongst my tears, I asked god to send me a sign that I was not alone. Then I cried myself to sleep.
I dreamt that I was in a maze. Everywhere I turned there was someone telling me where to go. Whenever I listened, I would end up at a door that opened to the outside with a zillion foot drop to the concrete below.
Eventually I stopped listening and tried to find my own way.
I came upon a circular control room surrounded by glass. By this time I was naked (of course) and I walked around the control room until I found the door. I was trying to cover my nakedness as I used all my weight to open the door.
Flamboyant by nature, the man across the room was dressed in a paisley blouse, cropped pants, sandals, and a pink boa. His hands fluttered around his face as if he was delicately shooing butterflies from landing on his cheeks. His smile could ignite rainbows and he had the grace of a leaf following the whisper of a summer breeze.
I sat down across from him and he swirled over to me with a black hoodie and draped it around my shoulders. I felt warm and protected.
He said “all you need to do is love yourself.”
Then I awoke convinced I had been visited by an angel. Again, I didn’t know how to love myself; I just knew it was important.
I quickly forgot about my dream and moved on to more pressing matters; like holding back the black force that was threatening to take over my mind if I let my guard down.
I was faltering.
Shortly after, I turned to allopathic medicine, a psychiatrist and a therapist. It was very difficult in the beginning to get the right medication, but after a year we found a combination that enabled me to start functioning again. It wasn’t the cure I had hoped for and I was still determined to fix myself.
I signed up with a coach/therapist who specialized in working with Highly Sensitive People (HSP). I had been researching HSPs and sensitivity for a while and felt it explained my body sensations and sensory overstimulation as well as how I felt in certain situations. I thought I had finally found my tribe; the place where I fit in with all my “abnormalities” and would be accepted with open arms. I joined forums, signed up for newsletters from HSP web sites and spent a small fortune on buying books on the topic. When I hone into something that might fix me, I really get into it!
Yet the lonely feeling didn’t go away.
However my experience with the HSP coach was interesting.
She seriously thought I was not broken.
What? I had nothing to fix about myself? I had invested the last two and half years trying to “fix” my mental health and the effects of my trauma. What would I do with myself if I had nothing to fix?
She was determined that I was just right the way I was.
Now that was crazy talk! How could that be when I had all these problems, fears, and insecurities, and was nothing like the person I was before the trauma?
She encouraged me to do things I loved.
It was like she was speaking a foreign language. What was it that I loved to do? I had nothing in my life but my illness.
I had started meditating about 6 months prior and began using that time to consider what she was suggesting.
What if I was just right the way I was? What if I wasn’t broken? What would I do with my time if I had nothing about me to fix? What if it was okay to feel fear/sad/angry/isolated/vulnerable/overwhelmed?
Every night I pondered these questions until I was able to commit to three promises.
It had been a long time since I had committed to anything. I couldn’t forgive myself for letting everyone down by being sick, including myself. I didn’t want to disappoint or be disappointed anymore.
But somehow the need to accept myself was greater than my fear and I took the chance.
I committed to:
No more trying to fix myself. I would accept myself as I was and if that meant a crazy mental-case with weird sensations and a constant feeling of being unsafe then so-be-it (apparently I was still very judgmental at this stage).
No matter what I felt, it was okay. I could feel and not have my world come to a halt until I “managed” my feelings. I could be anxious and do it anyway. I could feel vulnerable and be there anyway. I could feel love and express it without hesitation.
I would do what I loved. I would draw. I would write. I would cuddle with my cats every chance I had.
A year later, I was able to start this blog. It was my vehicle to explore my stigma towards my mental illness. I felt sharing my story would make a difference somehow.
Then magic happened.
Terrified, I wrote a post with my first cartoon and published it on the blog. Insecure and feeling fraudulent in my ability to create anything that could connect with others, I had only shown my work to two people prior to that post. Now I was making it available to the world. I was so anxious; this action kept me overstimulated for a week!
Then I started to get feedback… on the post, my artwork, and the benefits of the blog (thank you!)
People were willing to support me.
I had found my tribe. This blog was a place where I could freely express every part of me and be received by people… my people.
I am not alone anymore.
The last instructions
Your final instructions are to forget about your answers to those questions and continue your life with as much love for yourself as you can.
By forgetting (or letting go) you allow the Universe to work its magic.
I know this means placing your trust in something, and most of the time that is really hard for us to do.
Please take the chance.
And someday you might find that piece of paper with your answers and realize it was your soul’s map to your life all along.
If you wish to share the answers to these two questions, or an experience or feedback which this post has awakened in you, I encourage you to do so in the comments.
Thank you to Kat and Face 2 Face Movie for inspiring part of this post.
My wonderful HSP coach is a past Superhero guest blogger. Read Ane’s post here.
Image credit: Trish Hurtubise
Hi. I’m Trish Hurtubise…the founder, curator and an editor for Mental Health Talk. I love serving those who are relegated to the shadows by society by giving them a platform to share their voice and be seen and heard… hence my passion for working with all the wonderful people who have shared their stories and wisdom on MHT.
You may view all posts by me here.
Much love to you.