For a long time when I struggled with severe mental illness, I felt like I was 10 steps behind other people that didn’t have the same challenges as me. I spent years unable to function, completely isolated from people, socially anxious, in and out of episodes and hospitals, and struggling with negativity and self-hate. I was unable to work for a number of years and had no career like most other people my age. People were in long term relationships, getting married and having children and had years of working in their careers under their belt… me zero. Their lives seemed to be amazing from the outside looking in and I was genuinely happy for them. But it also depressed me that I was not thriving, happy or successful. My life seemed to be a mess. I felt trapped in the aftermath of mental illness.
What I didn’t appreciate or give myself credit for, is that during this time (and 10 years in therapy), I was working on me. Combing through some serious issue surrounding trauma, mental illness and self-hate. I realize now that it was a blessing that I had the space, time and support to deal with those things. Volunteered, went back to school and slowly started to reclaim my life. I got pieces of myself back bit by bit and found new strength that I never knew existed!
It’s cliché, but I am so much stronger as a result of everything I’ve fought my way back from. I have a career that I’m proud of working in the mental health field. I’m good at it and proud of it. I get to help people everyday which has been something Ive always loved doing. It was instilled in me by my grandmother who was a nurse. I’m proud to be able to honour her in that way.
I had a full circle moment yesterday. I went to a studio for a photoshoot. My first one in almost 20 years. The pictures will be used for my website and promotional materials.. for my business! maiLIFE! It’s been an idea I’ve had in my head for so long and now it’s real! maiLIFE is a word I created when I was unwell and now other people are making reference to it. Using it. It’s a real thing! They’re excited to hear what it’s all about. Here I was standing chatting with a group of black business owners.. and it hit me! These are my peers! I too am a black business owner.
It’s so interesting because so many of my friends and the people around me are where I am now. Starting their own business (or having recently started them). They’re at the same stage I am.
I no longer feel like I’m 10 steps behind because I’m not. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. A 9-5 that I love. Creating a business that I love. Love from amazing friends and family. Self-love like I’ve never known before. Life is amazing. So blessed and incredibly grateful.
Peace Love & Dreams Actualized
What an amazing place to be! To walk through life filled with self-love is a phenomenal and awesome place to be.
I’ve struggled with self-hate for almost 30 years. Almost 30 years with this horrible and sometimes nasty negative voice inside my head criticizing everything I do.. everything that I am. Telling me why I would never and could never accomplish the things I wanted to achieve. I tried to be good at things so I would like myself (track, music, art, university, being a good friend)but I hated myself even more.
The self hate stemmed from having been a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I internalized things my abuser had told me. I didn’t remember the things he told me to make me believe it was my fault.. until recently. His words became my own words in my head. Tremendous guilt, shame and self-hate because I believed it was my fault. It’s like I had been given poison by my abusers. Even though they were no longer in my life, I continued to drink the poison. Filled with toxic, painful and destructive thoughts/feelings. I felt like my soul was tormented.
After years of work and a decade of therapy I truly love myself! It feels so much lighter navigating through life without carrying 200 extra lbs of emotional baggage. I’m free from the persistent and nagging negative thoughts that used to cling to me like an unwanted intruder.
Thoughts are incredibly powerful and just because you have a thought in your head about yourself, does not necessarily make it true! Be aware of your thoughts because they affect how you experience life.
I made the decision 20 years ago that I would make pursuing self-love my mission.. my passion. A very long time but well worth it! I feel like the first chapter of my life has closed and now the new chapter has begun. I’m so excited to see what life has in store for me.
If you’re in a place where you don’t love yourself. Acknowledge it. Fight to change it. You truly are worth it. You’re worth fighting for. It will change your life!
Peace Love & Dreams Actualized
Well the countdown is on until the official launch of my business MaiLIFE as a Self-empowerment Mental Health Advocacy Speaker. I’m super excited at the thought of having a career doing what I love.. inspiring people, creating hope, helping people and spreading awareness about mental health challenges.
I did Toast Masters at the age of 9 and then started entering speech arts competitions in French and English. Instantly I was hooked! What a rush. And the thought that the whole audience was silent just because they wanted to hear what i had to say! At the age of 9! That’s when I figured out that words were powerful. That was awesome, humbling and empowering.
In high school I heard the term “motivational speaker”. I thought it was a wonderful concept but thought at the time that I had nothing to say. What could I possibly say that would motivate, affect and help people? Well 20 years later it turns out that I have lots of things of value to say, that can help people, increase their awareness and motivate them.
So many people, along the road of my journey of life, have offered to help me in any way they can.. when I was ready. I’ve met some really amazing people along the way and I’m so grateful. It’s really taken a village to get me here.
So look out for me in April/May 2017 for the launch of MaiLIFE. Super excited! The culmination of a life long dream. So many great people that are celebrating with me. Dreams can and do come true. I really believe I’m starting the next chapter of my life and that it will be bigger than I ever could have imagined!
Peace Love & Dreams Actualized.
So I’ve finally arrived. I’m finally here. “Where is here” you ask? I’m in a place where I no longer feel shame about my mental illness. I’m not discouraged or oppressed by the stigma surrounding it and I am proud to speak about my experiences with people. I’m thriving in spite of it. This is a gigantic step forward for me. Very important in my work as a Peer Support Specialist and for my business (MaiLIFE) as a public speaker.
A “peer” is someone who identifies as having a mental illness. It’s in my job title! Everyone in my agency knows that I have a mental illness, because of my title. The thought of that terrified me for a long time. I wouldn’t have even applied for the position this time last year. I feared that if people knew I had a mental challenges, I would be judged harshly and viewed differently. Now I wear the title proudly. I’m getting valuable practice disclosing to people as I introduce myself to 90 new clients and explain that I am a peer, and what that means.
Years ago, while in hospital, a social worker said to me “Wow! You have a mental illness and you finished university?! You’re SO high functioning!” (Ever since I heard the words “high functioning,” in that context, I’ve hated them). This was someone who worked in the mental health field and was shocked at the fact that I’d completed a post secondary degree?! What a sad state of affairs. I quickly understood that some people did not expect much of people with mental challenges. More than ten years later I still get that reaction from some people. Some of whom work in the mental health field. The reality is there are many peers like me out here. We live among you! We’re living well. We have completed or are completing post secondary studies. We have healthy relationships and are productive members of our communities. We love. We feel pain. We have accomplished amazing things. We are living “normal” lives.
I want to make that known to people. So yes, it’s on my business cards. Yes, it’s in my job title. Yes, I will continue to be open and share my experiences with people if I think it will be helpful and if they want to listen. I’m proud of every part of who I am. Mental illness is not who I am, it’s what I have. I’m living well, enjoying life, I’m successful, healthy and genuinely happy. It is possible!
This is the beginning of the new look of this blog. After years of thinking/talking/dreaming about it.. I finally registered my public speaking business! MaiLIFE! It’s something that I love to do and did it happily.. and for free.. for years. Eventually I started really looking into what it would take for me to make this into a successful business. There have been many people over the years who have told me “when you’re ready, let me know and I’ll help however I can.” I finally started taking them up on their offers. I’ve believed for a long time that “when the pupil is ready, the master will appear.” That’s what has been unfolding in my life as of late. I’ve found a great mentor who is sharing her knowledge with me about the public speaking world. I’m so excited to be working with her. More to come on that.
I plan to officially launch my company in April/May 2017.
This blog will be about sharing my thoughts and experiences as a business owner, public speaker, workshop facilitator, mental health advocate, black woman and human being.
I have a unique voice as I have a degree in psychology, I’ve worked in the field of mental health as a case manager and I am a survivor of mental illness.
I hope you enjoy the read.
Peace Love & Happiness