2018 knocked me to my knees. Not once. Not twice, but eight times. From February through November a parade of deaths, illnesses and traumas occurred within my family and circle of close friends. They all happened so fast there was barely time for me to catch my breath, let alone begin to recover and heal.
By late October, the grief and trauma had left nothing but a shell of who I had been. At the urging of a friend I sought therapy and a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and places on medication to help with each.
I’d like to say that the road to recovery was quick once therapy and treatment was in place. But the road to healing will be a long one for me. It’s hard to process everything that happened last year because much of it does not make sense. It never will. What I’m learning, though, is that sometimes the “something good” that comes from bad times isn’t necessarily for us but for others.
Throughout the struggles of last year and, now, during my recovery there was one thing that helped me hang on. That one thing helped me get up in the morning, work through the day and then sleep soundly at night. That one thing was you.
You see, I knew that my healing and recovery was going to take a long, long time. But I needed to do something positive now. Now. So, first I developed a natural product that would help ease my anxiety symptoms. I shared it with a few people who also suffer from anxiety, and it helped them. And the fact that I was able to help someone else made me feel good, even in the midst of my pain.
That first creation — my Calm Balm — was a tiny snowball that started to gain momentum and grew to be a huge ball of snow. I developed a skin salve and intensive hand balms for some nurse friends who said nothing worked on their dry, cracked hands. Then I made a natural vapor rub and, at that point, I thought “what the hey, I might as well keep going!” And I did; I developed and tested anti-aging skincare products and body butter.
When you’re in the midst of suffering so great that the mental anguish becomes physically painful you need to reach outside yourself and find something positive to focus on. Concocting skincare products and home remedies like a mad scientist was and is that positive thing for me because I know I can help others with my products.
Until 2018 I always believed that everything happened for a reason. I wrestle with that concept now, but there is one thing I’m sure of. The pain I’ve been through and the recovery I work toward can benefit someone else who is hurting. Going through all those traumas and tragedies last year may not benefit me. But it could benefit as many people as I am able to reach with my message. And my message is simply this:
I see you. I see you and accept you, and it’s okay if everything isn’t perfect in your life.
I hear you. I hear your cries of sadness; I hear you asking “why?” I hear the self-doubt that has creeped into your head.
Lastly, you are worthy and worthwhile. You deserve to be loved and cared for. Especially by you. Self-love and self-care are not selfish.
February 18th is the anniversary of the first trauma that happened last year. I smile more today than I did a few months ago. Some days I laugh, some days I cry. But the laughter continues to increase. Every day I think of you out there and what I can create to help you. This motivates me more than anything else.
Almost one year after my world started to crumble I can assure you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It may take time to get there, and some days you may take one step forward and two steps back. But that’s part of the recovery process. Self-care and self-love are part of the process, too.
This chapter of my story isn’t over yet. Some things take time. But I know I will continue to heal, and I know you will, too. Maybe we can heal together.
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