A few months ago, I had an epiphany with regards to the process of healing. Although I was very familiar with the notion that healing is not linear, it had never struck such a chord with me, until I hit rock bottom for the second time in my life and thankfully the light bulb switched on.
When I reached that very bottom trough, quite simply in the depths of despair, I thought to myself, “Ok, it’s ok” (It really didn’t feel ok!) “This is all part of the process, even though I really don’t feel like I have the capacity to deal with anything else right now, and I certainly don’t have any energy left in the tank to do so. I feel shocked to be down here again, but it’s ok” (It wasn’t).
Rock bottom was a place I thought I’d already been, and that I thought you could only find yourself at once in life?! Surely not twice?! Why was I here again? How had this happened? And how the heck could I get myself out of it?
The second time hit harder and somehow hurt a lot more. It was certainly more difficult to rise from… Perhaps because of the additional emotional baggage & experiences that I’d endured since the last time, a year or so ago (read more on my mental health journey). I’d noticed a significant deterioration with my own mental health in the 6 months leading up to those moments, while I was trying to work through so much ‘stuff’. I can honestly say it’s the lowest I’ve ever felt during my life so far, and a place that I hope I never find myself in again.I can only describe it as pockets of depression and excessive anxiety, and I often found myself feeling thoroughly numb to my core.
Worst still, I’d lost my HOPE.
When you go through big changes, trauma and/or losses in life, you build resilience, and most of your experiences make you stronger and more determined to face whatever is thrown at you next. But when the big things just seem to keep on coming and you’re faced with even more trauma, loss, grief, rejection (all in a relatively short space of time), you can start to feel that life is in fact very unfair, and you can lose the will to keep on going. You’ve put enough effort in trying to overcome the last big knock, you can’t deal with another one! “Give me a break!” moments become more frequent, and it’s easy to fall into victim mode.
I’d gotten so focused on external circumstances and situations (even though I thought I’d consciously managed not to), and was so focused on trying to fix everyone else’s pain & issues, that I’d completely lost sight of me, and my own life & path. As a HSP (highly sensitive person), empath & previous full-time carer, it’s very easy to fall into this trap!
Bombarded by everything, unable to cope with anything or anyone, and cowering from all of the external noise, I felt so very oppressed, lost, isolated, and overcrowded, all at the same time.
Have you ever experienced such emotional pain that it starts to become physically unbearable too? It simply feels too much to cope with.
I think it’s important to be honest & vulnerable in sharing our stories to help others, so although I would never physically act upon these feelings, I can honestly say that I found myself just not wanting to be here anymore. And I don’t make that comment lightly.
Life was no longer fun and it certainly didn’t seem worth all the effort. I had far too many moments hoping something might happen to me so that I wouldn’t have to be here anymore.
Having witnessed Dad’s mental health journey first-hand and those of so many around me, there is always a little voice somewhere inside, reminding me that there is more to life and that somehow life is always worth living. We just have to clear the blocks to get back there, or move through them & out the other side.
Two encounters with people that I love & respect stick in my mind from the last couple of months with regards to my mindset & identity. While I know to go at my own pace, I’m certain that they acted as the catalyst for working towards regaining my fun-loving attitude & zest for life again:
The first was with one of my wonderful retreat leaders in Bali, Dr Jonathan Bloch, who informed me, while providing osteopathic treatment and referring to my shoulders, that I’d ‘lost my wings’. This obviously made my ears prick up, because hello! Wings are my thing! – My heart & soul! It was so very symbolic to hear that there & then, and although I knew there was a way to go, I felt like I was finally making steps to getting my wings back. (NB: The retreat was aptly named Heal Yourself, Heal The World).
The second was during a heart to heart with Mum in my room where she said something I knew, but that was extremely hard to hear nonetheless… “I’ve noticed a change in you over the last 2 years, and understandably so with everything that’s happened, but I miss my Jessica. I want my Jessica back.” I replied tearily that I thought I’d grown even kinder and more gentle through these experiences, to which she did not deny, but she went on to explain that it wasn’t that, it was that…
I’d lost my carefree nature and my zest for life.
This was something I was very much aware of and that I knew deep down – my anxiety and worries had been off the scale – but it was still not easy to hear, especially from a loved one. It made me want to do something about it, but I felt so very lost as to what?!
Even my closest, most supportive friends were no longer able to make me feel better or lift my spirits & help me find the light again. This worried me greatly and set alarm bells off in my head.
I realised that I was the only one left who could help me.
Consumed by the past, controlled by fear and completely unaligned with who I am and what I need to be doing, I placed an urgent self-care/self-love call with the Universe and ended up turning to the only thing I knew deep down might be able to help me: meditation.
I began to implement a non-negotiable meditation and self-care routine on a daily basis. It needed to be manageable and it needed to be achievable, but ultimately, I needed to want to make a change, and I did.
Because of this, and great support from friends, I even managed to carry it on during my recent holiday, and reaped the benefits by doing so. My perfectly-timed road-tripping adventure around Florida also helped me more than I’ll probably ever be able to express in words. Being out on the open road is so incredibly freeing. If you haven’t tried it yet, then do! I felt more ‘me’ again and definitely succeeded in reigniting the fire in my soul & rediscovering my natural ability to find joy in the smallest of things.
Learning to let go of other people’s problems and remember that you can only ever change you, has been enlightening for me. You can’t walk other’s paths for them, only your own. You can be by their side for part of the way, but that truly is it.
I feel as though I’m slowly but surely getting to the point where I can simply let go of more things without having to solve, work out and change absolutely everything that can no longer be changed. Focus on what you can control, and save your own time & peace of mind by dropping everything else in the ocean.
Healing is not linear.
Go at your own pace and respect your own recovery journey.
△ Who were you before all the mess & noise of life got in the way?
△ Who do you want to be the other side of it all?
△ What do you want to be doing?
△ Who’s path are you currently walking? Remember, it should only ever be your own.
Learn, grow, leave the past behind, but never forget who you authentically were before it all. This will never change. Come full circle until ‘old you’ meets ‘new you’ & they perfectly combine.