Thank you for taking the time to listen to your curiosities and venture over to this side of the page. Here is a little bit of my story. In no way am I the most eloquent writer or story teller but I am refusing to let that stop me from sharing. So bare with my imperfections and read on if you're into it...
Something new I am trying is to be completely open about what that story looks like, no matter how difficult the content. In respect to others potentially reading this, I want to be mindful that the content below deals with things that may be difficult or triggering to some.
As some of you reading this may, or may not know, my name is Hayley and I am just another human learning to live with mental illness.
My journey with my own personal mental health began in 2015. Often people ask what was the trigger for my illness; well, I wish I had something to point to. The reality is the trigger(s) are unknown. Sure, there are a couple small life events I could maybe point to but ultimately I don't know if there was a reason. All I know is that I was unwell and my status quo life was suddenly upside down. It was one of the most confusing and overwhelming moments for me to date.
Over the last 3 years, I have used the phrase "I'm in transition" more times than I would like to admit, especially when it comes to answering questions about my professional life. Every time I was asked 'how are you', I wanted to respond with 'I'm a fucking mess, how are you' but of course I checked myself and would reply with the standard 'I'm good and you'. I rarely had the courage to be honest about what I was really feeling outside of my own head. In these last few years, my health struggles have cost me me great jobs, it's caused some broken relationships, its cost me my social life and ultimately it's cost me my ability to understand who I am. For a few years I struggled with trying to find my place again in a professional world. Over the last year, I have chosen to turn my passion for mental health and awareness into my work. It's a transition I am still learning to navigate as I look to find ways to support others who may be struggling and let them know, they are not alone.
Three years, a couple diagnosed mental illnesses, self-harm and the unpleasantries of debilitating suicidal ideations. In the last 2 months, those ideations started to tip to action.
Trying to crawl out of this space has been my biggest learning experience and biggest wake up call that the mind is a wildly complicated beast. Just when I thought I had a solid grip on how to support my wellbeing, everything I knew became obsolete. This is where I fully believe that human connection and having access to my support system saved my life.
So, why am I writing this down?
A large part of my initial and on going recovery has been informally writing. By starting to practice writing, I was able to get out of my head and move my thoughts on to paper. I found this simple practice to really help me when I was first coming to terms with my Mental Health struggles. In a very real way, it validated that everything I was feeling in the beginning stages of my challenges with mental health, was all very real.
Something that I have wanted to do for a long time is to bring some of those personal words to a new platform...here is where I've landed.
And to stick with the theme of honesty, I wrote part of this blog post back in January. I never had the courage to post it publicly, until today thanks to something that someone said to me last night. I was told (to paraphrase) that I am the epitome of how invisible mental illness is. To give you context, I openly shared in a group gathering a little of my personal struggle. Afterwards, a woman approached me to thank me for being so open but what struck me were her words that if I had never mentioned I struggled, she would have never guessed. It was that reminder I needed of just how invisible Mental Illness is and how important it is to me to continue to lend my voice to the conversation and bring awareness to the reality of what Mental Health Challenge, Illness and Addictions can look like...it looks like all of us.