Back in July 2011 when I was very mentally unwell I remember sitting down with my CPN and writing out some goals. Short term, medium term and long term.
On the long-term goals I stated ‘I want to make something good come out of what I’ve experienced. I don’t know how or when I will do this, but I will’.
Little would I imagine that 2.5 years later I’d have set up a successful mental health training business, having trained in hundreds in the skills to help someone with a mental health problem. That I’d also have set up two peer support groups which have helped dozens, and helped people through writing this blog.
I feel like I’ve done nothing more than follow my heart, so when I step back and think about what I’ve achieved it it actually surprises me.
I had a desire to make good come from my experiences – to make beauty from pain - and that’s what I’ve done.
But lately I’ve been thinking – what about my beauty from pain?
Most of the things I’ve done are focused on helping other people. What about me?
Now don’t get me wrong – all of these things that help other people also help me more than I could ever even begin to describe.
But… now is the time to focus on me.
The last year in particular – since I set up my business – I know there has not been nearly enough time for me. I’ve told myself that that’s natural with any new business in its first year. But I’ve seen it become a successful business, and I now need to step back and focus more on me.
Beauty from pain is about making good things come out of my experiences. But I need good things to come out of it for me too. Not just in terms of a great career, doing things I love – but I want to use those experiences to help me really achieve the things I deserve in life.
There are many different definitions of mental health recovery. Every individual ultimately needs to define for themselves what recovery means to them.
For me: recovery means living the life I’m meant to live, regardless of the presence or absence of the symptoms of any mental illness.
The life I’m meant to live – what does that mean? For me, it’s simply a case of ‘What life does Amanda O’Connell want to have?’ Can I achieve that? Whether or not I can, I am not going to let my mental illness hold me back from doing so.
Every day is still so much fucking harder than I could ever even begin to describe to anyone. I’m not sure anyone really truly gets that, given what I achieve, and what I choose to others.
But, hard or not, I’m going to give it my my best shot.
Career wise I know I’m doing what I was born to do. I have so much more to come career wise, but I’m very much on the right path.
But my life is so much more than a career. There are many things I want in life. My own family, children, a nice home, good friends… I want do achieve these things.
My mental illness is holding me back with some of these at the moment. Very much so. But now is my time to work on these issues. To make my beauty from pain.
2013 was new business. 2014 is continuing and expanding that business but focusing on me also. Helping me be all I can be.
I don’t completely know how I will do this.
I know that despite my mental illness very much still affecting my life there is basically no support from mental health services right now. Or at least nothing which doesn’t just cause me more problems.
So right now I’m reminding myself that I am my own best mental health worker, and always will be.
I could let the fact that there is no helpful help hold me back. Or I can choose to become all I can be, despite that lack of help. And that is what I am doing.
I will also speak out and aim to get the right help for me.
I will look beyond the traditional support services and determine what else other services can help me be all I can be.
I will remember that just because I am very functional professionally does not mean I am ok personally.
I need to do most of the work myself, but I am not naive enough to think I can do it all on my own.
Right here, right now, I am making a commitment to myself. I am choosing to put me first. After all, if I don’t… who will?
I am choosing to make my own beauty from pain.
I almost called this ‘finding my own beauty from pain’. But it’s not something out there that I can go out and ‘find’. It’s something within me. It’s something that is a work in progress. It’s something that I – and only I – can make happen. I not only can but I also will.
Here’s to the next stage of beauty from pain.