Two years ago, I was a very different person.
~ Photograph from March 2018 ~
I did not have orientation in time and space: my mind couldn't comprehend the present moment within linear time, and my body had no understanding of where it existed within this physical world.
All because traumatic-stress ruled my reality, dominating my neurophysiology on the deepest level imaginable.
My entire world was a constant state of traumatic-stress. Everything felt terrifying. Nervous system dysregulation and brain wave dysregulation were irrefutable constants. Anxiety was crippling. Panic attacks were chronic. Depression came in drowning waves.
But I knew that my experience did not define me. I knew that I was more than what I was experiencing. I knew that I held the keys to my own healing. I knew that only I could transform where I was into where I desired to be.
So I fought forward in LOVE.
********** TRIGGER WARNING FOR REST OF ARTICLE:
Self-Harm, Depression, Suicidal Ideation, Etc. **********
Battles began during elementary school and thickened during high school. I began researching psychology straight out of high school in 2011. I also began psychiatric treatment.
Things dramatically worsened in 2014 and I began experiencing disability and homelessness. Psychiatric treatment and associated therapies intensified and became my whole life. I began to blog about my mental health battles and experiences.
During spring of 2017, I was taking over 30 pills/day, as prescribed. I was in group therapies and individual therapies.
Still, my battles were intensifying. After self-harming for 10 years, cutting no longer brought me back to a sane space of reality, and I began bashing my head against hard objects with the goal of losing consciousness to "reset" me so I could have a moment of peace, clarity of thought, and regulated energy.
Now, on top of other mental and physical health battles, my skull bones were partially dislocated, affecting the distribution of cerebral spinal fluid, which further worsened my health battles. I began to lose the ability to create new memories altogether: they were always a bit jumbled with my chronic dissociation, but now they weren't being processed at all, from my perceptual awareness.
I would go out with a friend and break down sobbing: "What's the point of this when I won't remember it tomorrow?!"
I was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID) in spring of 2017, and that opened doors to new understandings: could there be some trauma from childhood that had sprouted ALL of these battles!??!?!?!??!
As far as I knew, I was completely "normal" and had had a beautiful childhood and "typical" neurodevelopment. There was zero knowledge of traumatic events or traumatic-stress from early childhood. There was no understanding of how any of my mental health battles could be stemming from my physical body. Doctors had never explored this, and I had never considered the possibility of it.
I discovered Janina Fisher's book "Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation" during autumn of 2017 and began gaining a whole new understanding of what healing might entail.
Unable to find a therapist familiar with the technique (it had JUST been published that year!), I taught myself the technique and began effectively using it on all parts of myself.
I began sharing my healing journey on instagram. Despite the indescribable battles I faced in each moment of every day, without external guidance or internal relief, I always made sure to SMILE at the end of each video I recorded for Instagram. When I shared the post, I would be sure to choose the part of me smiling as the "cover." I wanted to share HOPE through the light of my smile even though I could not see the hope or the light.
I expressed myself honestly, rawly, vulnerably. I was open about the devastating battles I experienced every day. I authentically shared my darkness and despair. I did not hold back in expressing the depths of hopeless pain I felt nonstop.
Yet I also focused on the LIGHT, always striving to shift the direction towards LOVE and light, hoping for a shot at emPOWERment.
I fought to find where my power was.
That was the beginning of discovering PERSONAL POWER, a concept I now talk about regularly. (Click here to read about Personal Power!)
There was so much darkness, pain, terror, horror, and misery that there were no words to describe my experiences. There was literally no language to express what I was going through.
Nevertheless, I fought to express myself, refusing to allow my pain to remain trapped inside of me unseen.
Even when I could not recognize my own self, body, or voice, I found ways to focus on the beauty of life and create tender space of LOVE in hopes of allowing my BEing to heal.
I had no therapist, family, or close friends in the city when this next video clip was recorded. I was staying with someone I barely knew, which I am forever grateful for. I went for a walk and discovered a beautiful patch of ice. I spent a long time there, meditating, singing, photographing the beautiful scenery, and intentionally prioritizing smiles and laughter even though they did not at all come naturally. I allowed the tears to flow when they were activated, and I practiced compassionate presence and relentless tenderness through each unfolding moment.
I found myself in that ice, feeling so connected with its many layers and shattered appearance.
I grew lost in its shimmery beauty, reflecting a light when it could not create its own.
I pondered, Perhaps, if something so wild, chaotic, and shattered-looking can be beautiful, then so could I.