Mental Health Struggles: a view from the inside out - part V (FINAL)

upcoming & remarkable - a special series by talents on the rise

Nothing can dim the light which shines from within
— Maya Angelou

In order to heal I did what was necessary, which for me was doing absolutely nothing. It was only as I finally surrendered to my immense exhaustion, I started to notice just how empty I felt on the inside, and had been for a long time.

The following months were fully focused on my ‘recovery’. Next to recovering from my cervical treatments, I also had to come to terms with giving up. That I wouldn’t graduate that summer. That I didn’t have it all together, and that I was too ‘weak’ to handle all of this.

I felt like a failure.

Only this time I realized that giving up did not equal failing at all. It was actually the greatest gift I could ever give myself.

Slowly, but surely I started to learn how to listen to myself again. I started to figure out what my true needs are, but also how to honor them. As previously explained, I stopped working on my thesis and didn't go back to work. All I needed was to do nothing. Just me, myself and I, and a big dose of sleep.

 

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Family

My loved ones were worried. They got scared, and wondered how this could’ve happened to me. I’d always been the strong one, the happy one, the one who always has her shit together. They weren’t familiar with this ‘Rachella’. They didn’t know the Rachella who gave up.

It was in this specific period when I fully came to understand what it means to honor your needs. While my loved ones supported me in doing some me-time, simultaneously the interrogation and questions started: from “When will you finish your thesis?” and “Why are you sleeping all the time?” to “You’re almost at the finish line, don’t give up now!” and “If you only do this and this and this, it’s no big deal, then you can relax.”

Usually, this would make me really upset. I would blame them even, for putting extra pressure on me. But as I was learning to honor my needs - and more importantly how to cater them - I understood that the feeling of additional pressure wasn’t their fault, and that I couldn’t blame them. It was their way of saying they loved me. Their way of showing me they cared.

 

Mask

In hindsight I can imagine why they reacted the way they did. Not only did I put up a front for myself, but also for everyone around me. Every time someone asked me if I was okay, I wholeheartedly shouted ‘Yes!’. I was doing great! All whilst seemingly doing all these amazing things, like going on incredible trips. The pitch of my life to the world was ‘I am on a roll and no one can stop me.‘ But deep down I knew I was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. And when I finally exploded, I pretty much surprised everyone but myself.

Explaining to my loved ones that I felt completely broken and burned up, for me was the most difficult part. This was because I could feel the need to pretend everything was more than fine, crawling up again. I was afraid of letting them down or having them worry about me. But in that sense, feeling exhausted was actually helpful for once. I was simply too tired to respond to the urge to pretend again.

 

(Re)birth

It’s almost been a year now, and I’ve never felt so close to myself. As I let go of this idea of who I should be, I finally got to connect with the real me. The authentic me. It might sound cliche, but letting go of how things should be, and instead 'just letting them be', has taken me to the Enlightenment I feel today.

Ofcourse, mental health looks different on different people. One beautiful woman I met through CWC reminded me that for some people who suffer from severe mental illness(es), simply 'being mindful' isn't enough, and that they need professional help. It is important to remember that for some people there is no such thing as 'Enlightenment' or a cure. That in a certain way, they will never fully heal or recover, but that the struggle with their inner demons will always remain.

We should also remember to not judge each other. To understand that there are different treatments for everyone, that for some the use of medication isn't necessary, and yet for others vital. But above all, we should remember that we should not feel ashamed for ourselves, and that it is okay to ask for help.

I used to feel so lonely, thinking there wasn't a single soul who would understand my suffering. But ever since I stopped feeling ashamed, dared to be vulnerable and finally faced my demons, a new world has opened up for me. One where I'm not afraid to shine bright, and embrace the whole Universe like it’s a part of me, and I am a part of it. So, don't be afraid if you ever find yourself in the dark, because nothing can dim the light which shines from within.

Namasté,

- Rachella


New Moon Ritual

Today's New Moon in Aries marks the beginning of a new astrological year. You can celebrate this by giving yourself a New Moon Bath, to fully cleanse yourself and start fresh in this 'new year'. You can perform this ritual up to three days after the New Moon.

Step 1:

Set your New Moon intentions on paper (whatever you write down and/or speak of, will be send out into the Universe!).

Step 2:

Run bath water and light a white candle, the color of new beginnings. Add the elements to running water: Himalayan sea salt, lemon essential oil, a piece of sage leaves. All are meant to cleanse yourself from negative energies and give yourself that 'fresh' start. Enter the bath and read your intentions out loud.

Step 3:

After you're finished reading them, go entirely under water and visualize your energy being renewed.

The New Moon is the perfect time to allow renewal, so you better make use of it.

Happy New Moon!

 

PHOTOGRAPHY: SHENELVA BOOIJ | ART DIRECTION: RACHELLA HOOIJMAN