Taking the reins: Claiming ownership of my own messy life

Over the past 30 years, I've been on a quest to learn all I can about alternative healing methods for mental illness. Doggedly determined to prove the fatalistic doctors wrong, I've poured through books, scoured medical research, read countless articles, signed up for dozens of self-healing workshops and visited more holistic practitioners than I can count. Some approaches were effective at the outset, but their efficacy diminished as time went on—others simply didn’t have the power to lift me far enough out of the mire. Some did offer meaningful relief—but they required a degree of time, energy, emotional strength, physical ability, or access to resources that I simply could not sustain.

I learned a great deal throughout this trial and error process, but the most profound lesson was this:
My healing would not come from the outside. Fixing my “brokenness” would have to be done from the inside out—with me as the guide.

But where to begin? I had more material, ideas, and information stored in my brain than I knew what to do with. So I decided to start with what was readily at hand: my own story.

Dissecting the Good

All those years I’d been so obsessed with figuring out what was “wrong” with me and how to fix it, I’d never really considered that there were things about me that were actually “right.” I had always credited my every accomplishment, my every success, to luck—no matter how hard I’d worked to achieve it. But this new phase in my healing journey demanded that I take a hard look at the good in my life and how I’d helped to create it.

I started to take stock of what had kept me going through tough times.

How had I kept my head above water when I was certain I would drown?

What strengths had I drawn on to help me build a business, teach public speaking, write books, produce benefit concerts, record an album, have and raise a child on my own—all while contending with depression, panic disorder, insomnia, PTSD and a brain that seemed hellbent on hijacking my every effort to heal?

What tools and practices did I use to grow and change when I barely had the will to go on?

What had I brought into my life that gave me a sense of connectedness, purpose, and joy?

As I put my accomplishments, triumphs and joys under a microscope it started to become clear that the “magic formula” was not magic at all—but a combination of determination, painful lessons, and hard work, bolstered by the many powerful healing tools I’d discovered along the way.

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