I was introduced to mindfulness following a “nervous breakdown” years ago in a six week DBT course that was recommended for aftercare upon discharge from the hospital. Mindfulness has honestly saved my life and I could not be more grateful.
That was not my first breakdown. In fact I have been hospitalized multiple times and diagnosed with every mental illness known to psychiatry, and prescribed every medication for the treatment of mental illness, and taken it as prescribed. It’s a wonder my brain can even hold a thought and that I am in good physical health today considering the amounts and types of medications I have taken in my lifetime. Reading the side effects of some of those medications is pretty scary! I was led to believe that taking very strong mood altering drugs as prescribed by psychiatrists was my only hope of being well adjusted enough to function outside the hospital setting. Despite following all the different prescribed regimens, I continued to have “breakdowns” so severe that I was hospitalized time and time again, missing large segments of my life entirely. There are actually years erased from my memory. Important years. Moments that would have been mine, I am convinced, if I had known about the practice of mindfulness.
That six week introduction to mindfulness was life changing. Following it, I couldn’t learn enough about mindfulness and continued diving more deeply into my study of mindfulness, to the point my husband complained that I was obsessed. Perhaps I was and am still. I had never been so fully awake before and I was so inspired that all I wanted to do was learn more about it. I became passionate about sharing my new-found balance tools with my peers, especially those in the throes of suffering with symptoms of mental and emotional illness. As my knowledge increased and my mindfulness practice developed, doors opened and clarity of thought became a new reality to me, replacing darkness and fear that had ruled prior to the practice. In times of clarity, which is mostly now, I am keenly aware of Spirit breathing through all of us, connecting us, a Universal force of Love that binds us all.
For years I went on studying mindfulness, reading everything I could about it. My sense of awareness increased greatly as my meditation practice matured. In that awakened awareness of Spirit I found that so many facets of my being that were considered “abnormal” were honestly gifts with which I have been blessed and are best used by blessing others through the sharing of my own story.
Since I began my mindful practice years ago, I have enjoyed increasingly wonderful health, mental, physical and spiritual, a sense of balance that far exceeds anything I could have imagined earlier in my life. I was especially blessed to discover the work of John Shearer who pulled so much of ten years of study together in one small manageable volume entitled Mindful Actions. My mindful practice rekindled and ignited as I connected with others inspired to begin or improve a mindfulness practice.
Today in this moment, I am blessed with a full life, a loving family, strong friendships, fabulous physical and mental health and the joyful clarity of vision through all my senses, ever increasing awareness of the glorious unfolding of creation. I have a fabulous career and thrive in the pleasure of helping people lost in the dark into the light, putting mindfulness practice into their toolbox to access whenever they are ready to choose wellness.
The mind that I once believed was the bane of my existence is perhaps my greatest gift. The same imagination that has gone into the depths of darkness, revels in the joy of bright light today. Happiness is a choice I make, based on a foundation of gratitude. I am exactly where I am meant to be in the present moment, deeply and gratefully attuned to the focused power of my own breath.
Love and blessings Michele
Thank you and deep bows to you Michele for sharing your story so openly. I have experienced a more ‘under the radar’ version of what you experienced with several episodes of “clinical depression”, one period I think of as a nervous breakdown at 18, but not labeled as such clinically, and more recently posttraumatic stress symptoms. I don’t know how I evaded hospitalization, as there have been times I remember dreaming of just wanting someone to take care of me, tell me what to eat and how to get through a day. I am blessed to have “met you” (virtually) and appreciate your capacity to live intensely in the moment with great appreciation for the natural world and all you encounter. I admire your resilience most of all!