It’s hard to know when to begin your story or why everything happened the way it did. Because there is never really a clear beginning.
Mental health is tricky that way. People are tricky that way. We think that we are a certain way because of a few specific things that may or may not have happened, but the truth is, we are so much more complex than that. Every single bit of our waking lives has an impact on the choices we make, and that’s what makes us who we are. You see, for the longest time, I played the victim. I sometimes still do. Because it’s easy. Think about it; how easy is it to blame someone else for.. I don’t know, let’s say leaving the dishes in the sink? It’s easy to put the blame on someone else because we would rather not clean up the mess ourselves. I know what I’m about to say might be a harsh truth for some. But we have to take ownership for ourselves and clean up our own mess. It’s incredibly easy to say I’m unstable, or whatever you choose, because of someone else. Or better yet, what someone else did to me. But I realized, I made decisions to put myself in those situations. I also contributed to those choices that changed my life forever. I have to step up.
I didn’t come to these realizations by myself. I was lucky enough to be referred to the Addictions and Mental Health program at South Health Campus in Calgary, Alberta. Speaking to a therapist about my life put things into perspective. You see, therapists don’t tell you what to do. They help you make realizations on your own and help you see clearly. Those ideas have to come from you. Those steps and choices that you start to make have to come from you believing in it, believing in yourself.
It’s easy to say all these things. I know from experience, it is much harder to do. It’s hard to get the motivation to get out of bed every day for a lot of people. But there will be a click, like a light switch, when everything changes and your life starts to turn around.
For me, the key was finding something that sparked the light in me. Something that I truly loved and was able to pour all of my passion into. I know everyone has at least one thing that makes them feel truly happy. If you haven’t found it yet, I know you will. There is something, within all of us, that shines through when we practice a passion or skill that resonates with our soul. Watching people do what they love is something I have grown to appreciate over the years after I finally found my art.
My whole life, this is something I struggled with. I felt as though everyone had something that made them ‘unique’, or ‘special’. But I never really had anything. I was a jack of all trades yet a master of none. It really got to me. I almost gave up trying to find something I could truly call my own, something that sparked that feeling of true bliss and happiness; something that made me feel whole. Home.
I had been going to music festivals for a few years; I loved dressing up and expressing my true self. Music festivals are where I felt accepted for who I really was; a weirdo that loved to dance in the sunshine and smile with my friends. After a while, I started hula hooping It brought me out of some really dark places. It is the greatest gift I could have ever hoped for; to finally find something that made me truly happy. Something that motivated me to be better. To get out of bed.
My passion led me to make goals for myself. I found a new purpose in life and I am using my creativity to interact with people in a way I never could have imagined possible for myself. I have come so far. I have to give myself credit. That is so important when dealing with mental health; giving yourself praise. It motivates you. It drives you. It makes you realize that recovery is possible. It’s something you can achieve. It’s real. It exists. I’ve seen it.
Just like there is never really a clear beginning, there is never really an end. I have to work hard on myself and my mental health every day. Just like you show up for work, you have to show up to do the work on yourself. You have to commit. I know more than anyone how hard it is to find that motivation, but it’s there. I believe that if you tell yourself something enough times, you start to believe it. I used to tell myself I was crazy, there was no hope, and that I will never get better. So that’s what I believed. Now, I tell myself that I am grateful. Slowly, but surely, my reality changed. I can finally see the world for what it is and appreciate its beauty; something I never thought I would be able to do.
**Photo taken by Ashley-Rae Carter-Wells