Darkness Will Transform Into Light... if you let it

In 2003, I was required to withdraw from university because I was pretending like my mental health stuff wasn't a factor in how I was doing at school.

My grades were a reflection of my health. I couldn’t cover that up with a smile.

I would barely get out of bed to shower, never mind make it to an exam I didn't have the mental capacity to study hours on end for. I was seriously struggling. Writing reflections, poetry and transferring my emotions to paper (or my computer) was my only outlet.

No insurance for therapy or friends I could confide in about mental health then. I learned quickly folks didn’t want to talk about mental health - mine or theirs.

Along the way, I found friends (mostly via online) who were able to be open with their mental health journey because similar to me, they couldn’t/didn’t mask their own struggle. We’d joke about meds, our government funded social workers or therapists and family dynamics.

In January 2008, I had my first Reiki session but didn’t go back. It was amazing, but I didn’t prioritize my resources for ongoing sessions. Much like we get a reading or a massage for a treat but not as a way to continually protect our intentions and overall wellness. In November 2008, I stopped my full dose of Wellbutrin cold turkey. I hesitate to share that because all folks on meds know you’re supposed to wean. I was taking 330mg and sometimes I’d “play” with my dose and take an extra to see if I’d get a boost beyond my max dose.

After five years of trial and error, side effects, and being told I’d be on medication for the rest of my life, I decided for myself. I started to call in sick more regularly, whether I was physically sick or needed a day to cry or sit in silence. I was afraid of the withdrawal experience as I had one in 2005 but I didn’t know how to manage my biofeedback and actively regulate my physiology. It was just medication and talk therapy. It still wasn't enough for me. I kept saying I felt like I wasn't "getting to the root" of the condition but no one talked about the spiritual aspect of mental health and often said there can be "no reason" for mental health.

By 2009-2010, I started to have regular Reiki treatments. Nearing the end of 2010, I started hypnotherapy for about six months. I got serious with my negative self-talk and self-criticism. I rested more and called in sick as needed which was confounding those I would confide in. Even my parents. "Just don't get fired", I'd hear.

In 2011, after earning a certificate in Web Design and Production at Humber College, I felt confident enough to even reapply to my home university since I didn't think I'd be accepted anywhere else. It was probably true, but I didn’t even check. I think I was too scared of rejection.

By 2012, I was receiving biweekly Reiki sessions and decided to learn so I could use it in the moments I was feeling stressed rather than having to wait for the next appointment. Looking back, I was taking my healing into my own hands. My confidence started to increase and I felt better about trusting myself, even in times of uncertainty.

Between 2011 and 2013, I took a few online courses of limited selection and none in my major, because they didn’t offer psychology classes online. I’d have to return in person three hours away to take the courses I needed to bring up my major grade point average.

In 2013, after a year of planning, I quit my job and moved three hours away, back to my home university much to everyone's dismay. Particularly my mom. She was outright against it and couldn’t understand why I had to quit a job “in a good company”. But I chose ME. I chose my future.

I called 2013-2014 the "GREAT ESCAPE" because of the strategic ways I had to get creative and ingenious with how I'd figure out how to navigate something I had no support with, but knew I was being guided to do.

In 2013-2014, I did the best I had ever done in university with As and Bs gracing my transcript for the first time in years. I was alone, but not lonely. I was intentional and purposeful with my days, what I listened to and who I let in to my life. I was listening to myself and following through on truly changing my life for the first time.

In 2014, I took a course on aging and dying.

It impacted me so much that I returned home the following year, degree still in proc