Editor’s Note: For Mental Health Month 2019 our theme is “It Gets Better.” As part of our campaign, we are interviewing Libero alumni and asking them to reflect on the past and share words of encouragement to those who can relate to their stories. CLICK HERE to learn more about our Mental Health Month campaign!
What was your life like before you took steps towards mental health?
My life before taking steps to get help was dark, clouded, and unclear.
It felt like my mind was constantly sluggish; happiness was not felt fully and my mind felt dull. Some days I would creep up a bit higher and see some glimmers of hope, but I felt as though they were just out of my grasp. I would have moments of clarity, but primarily everything was stunted–my emotions, my experiences, and even my memories.
What was the turning point that led you down the path of change?
The turning point that led me to change was when I was sitting in my sister’s car, my feelings, emotions, and circumstance spilling out of me in a plea for help. I could actually sense the turning point when my sister, after hearing me share, said: “this does not define you.”
When did you first reach out for support?
I first reached out for support when I talked to my sister about what I was going through. I was 14 at the time, which was in 2009.
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What gave you the courage to ask for help?
The courage to ask for help came from a few places: A safe person, a safe place, and feeling like everything was out of control and wanting to gain that control back.
Another person that helped give me courage was the Founder of Libero, Lauren Bersaglio. Before Libero was even Libero, she posted her story on Facebook and it inspired me to be honest in sharing mine as well. Others’ courage is a powerful motivator.
What types of support did you pursue and which were most helpful for you?
I pursued community support, but my faith in Jesus was the biggest support I could ever have and is the most sustaining.
How did Libero help you along the way?
I said in an earlier question that one thing that gave me the courage to ask for help was a safe space. Libero was–and is still to this day–a safe place to share my story, process my experiences, and find and give encouragement to others.
How does your life today compare to your life before beginning the journey towards mental wellness?
My life today is completely different. I experience a fullness of joy, which I am even more grateful for since I have experienced such darkness.
The fog has cleared, and I experience clarity in my mind, body, and soul. I still have days where that familiar fog settles, but I am confident that it does not (and will not) last. My experiences, memories, and life are filled and felt with great highs and lows, and I am thankful for the ability to experience all of it. My life is one marked with contentment that I have worked through much and still have much to work through in the future, but that all of it is for a purpose.
Do you still have “bad days”? If so, how do you respond to them?
I do still have bad days. When I do, I remind myself that this bad day does not mean I’m backsliding.
I take a moment in my day to pause and reflect on what is causing it: is it an internal or external conflict? Have I been sleeping and eating well? Have I been exercising? Have I spent time practicing my faith? If I cannot find the source, I will acknowledge my bad day for what it is, and then move forward, either reaching out or taking some time to rest. Because I am a person of faith, I also read the Bible and pray, seeking counsel that is greater than my own.
What is something about your life today that you never would have thought possible before?
I would have never thought it was possible to experience life with clarity again. More tangibly, I never thought it would be possible to experience holistic health again. But it is possible, and I am grateful.
What do you wish you’d known when you were first reaching out for support?
I wish I’d know that reaching out is not a sign of weakness. I wish I’d known that reaching out is a powerful step in disarming the power and control of negative mental health.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your former self?
If I could go back in time, I would tell my former self two things: It does get better and expressing gratitude can be a powerful tool in overcoming negativity.
What would you like to share with those who can relate to your story and may feel that things won’t get better?
It will get better. It will get better. It will get better. In the darkest moment, let that still, small voice inside you cling to hope that “it will get better.” It does not matter the strength of that voice as long as it’s there.
Getting better does not happen instantaneously, but celebrate the gradual moments of progress, no matter how ‘small’ they feel. Take time to reflect on those moments of progress; it can be easy to overlook them.
Is there a specific quote or song that helped get you through difficult times?
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Also John 1 and 1 Peter 5:7.
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