by Nikki Russell, Recovery Coach
May 23, 2023
What people see on the outside is just a hint of what is happening within. Moving through life and feeling the world while my trauma weaves stories about my emotions creates a mental storm legitimized by science as a mental health disorder. Some people call this empathic or highly sensitive, being tuned into what my immediate circle feels and carrying the unspoken weight of our disease. Mental health goes back as far as I could research in my family; it is the generational pattern that has been transferred from mother to child; it manifests as the burning of the internal turmoil in the middle of my life and replaces the peace my heart came here to feel. My diagnosis is substance use disorder which began when I could not bare the load of internalizing secrets, stigma, madness, and abuse. Fear consumed my heart and built a barrier of protection around it so that nothing could ever hurt me again. I lived in a mental prison for 40 years, believing what fear told me. Insidious thoughts would consume my life, and what may have begun as an innocent survival mechanism turned into a belief system that pushed life away. I met the core of my mental health in a dream; my inner child was in a dark alley, tattered, beaten, and cold. I had abandoned her for the world's approval, and she was transferring dark emotions and thoughts that manifested as a life that did not align with my purpose. I tried to drink and drug her away, but she only got louder. The exterior of my life was only a shadow of the true me. My ego heard the emotions coming from that dark space and translated them into things that would protect me from the trauma that hurt her. So I had everything our culture tells us should make a person happy, but I was slowly dying. My mental health was subtle because it kept this secret so close that I did not recognize it as mental prison; I fooled myself with a world of illusions. An event happened in my life that through me so hard to my bottom that it cracked open the prison cell, allowing me to see the sunlight of the spirit. A glimmer of hope washed over me, and I could remember that once upon a time, I had a clear perspective that there was nothing wrong with me; my quirkiness and awkwardness were given to me for my life journey. I slowly began the walk home, breaking my silence, wrapping up my inner child, and setting on a journey where all thoughts and emotions are welcomed. My mental health has much to say, and when I slow down and listen to her, I become grateful and validated, something I always searched for outside myself and could never receive until my inside matched my outside. Eventually, I could look through the world with eyes of my purity and stand in my strength.
Today I am the mother of my inner child. I honor her words, hopes, and desires. I am breaking the generational trauma and the silence that has plagued my family. My daughter lives free from an unspoken contract that could have bound her for life. Recovery is freedom, my mental health disorder still exists, but it does not mandate my life. Instead, I deeply respect how it kept me alive and honor its robust ability to sustain a belief system that nobody could break, patiently waiting for somebody to stand in their power and dare to live a life of recovery.