Today is World Mental Health Day. This is my story.

My name is Asa-Mari. I’m a mother, wife, best friend, personal development expert, writer, baker, crafter, gardener, and multi-passionate entrepreneur.

I’ve also struggled with depression, anxiety, mania and PTSD over the course of my lifetime. The majority of my childhood and young adult life was rooted in chaos. Poverty, physical, verbal, emotional, sexual abuse, and homelessness shaped the way I perceived myself and the world around me. I attempted suicide a few times, but I am still here.

After my relationship with my children’s father fell apart and I found myself in a women’s shelter with a toddler and a newborn, I took a look around me and realized that if I didn’t get it together soon I was not going to ever be the kind of person my children needed me to be.

Moreover, I kept asking myself, “How did I get here?”

How did I become the girl with multiple psych hospitalizations persistently contemplating suicide?

Sure, life had not been perfect, but at what point did I decide I wanted to be in and out of institutions, depending on the kindness of strangers to provide for me and my children, aimless and alone?

That’s not the girl I remembered- the girl who loved to read and write and who used to dream of becoming an astronaut or a lawyer or a powerful sorceress.

What happened to that girl? Was I still her? What would she want me to do?

My inner child, who had been loved deeply and irrevocably by her grandmother, saved me.

I will always recommend therapy as my favorite mental health resource- whether it is individual or group therapy, whether it is talk therapy or writing, play, art, sound, or movement- we must have an outlet to express ourselves. It took four years of therapy- one of which was intensive inpatient therapy- for me to get my head and my life together.

Therapy isn’t expensive- if you think you can’t afford it, there are community resources in or near your area that are either free or available on a sliding scale. It isn’t just for people who are symptomatic either. We all need someone to talk to who will listen without judgement and help us sort through our thoughts to help us identify the thoughts that are harmful or just plain old wrong.

Pent up thoughts will always cause us to become toxic and stressed, and a brain in a toxic space will not work the way it is meant to, just like anything else. My advice to anyone who is still unsure about whether or not therapy works is: give yourself a chance to breathe, to feel, and to live.

What changed my life the most was my fundamental understanding of God.

Instead of seeing God as an external, distant force looking at me as a flawed being, disappointed and angry, waiting to punish me for messing up, I began to learn God as an intimate, internal presence, forever loving me, wanting what is best for me, empowering me and making me whole at all times.

That shift in understanding made all the difference. I learned to practice gratitude.

Instead of long-winded, self-indulgent prayer, my daily prayer has become simply, “Thank you. How may I be of service today?”

The road to healing has been a very long, arduous one. I had to be willing to forget everything I thought I knew and learn new things. I would never be the same, thankfully.

And the universe, knowing I wanted this more than anything else, provided me with all kinds of people and resources to get my life back on track.

I learned that if I was willing to lean into the the grace of the universe- or God or goddess or whatever you might call it- to heal the disconnect and show me the magic waiting for all of us when we commit to understanding what it means to be truly interconnected and aligned with Source, that the answers for every single step of my recovery and healing would come, whether it was from a residential technician, a counselor, a tv show, a song, a book, or from deep within myself.

I just had to be willing to be still and quiet, to stop fighting myself, and listen.

Today, I spend my time helping others connect with God inside of themselves, and channel their own inner divinity to identify and achieve their goals.

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