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"We as humans have to be as compassionate to ourselves, as much as we would to someone we love"

"The implications of Mental illness and the impact it has on people dealing with loved ones who suffer from it are very difficult. My first hand experience with being exposed to mental illness was when my mother had a psychotic break down at a bus stop. I just remember how fragmented she was and as a child you just aren’t capable of understanding such fluctuations in adult behaviour. I had to figure out how to get us home at the tender age of 7. I can honestly say from that day my childhood was over. My mother has had bipolar even before it was referred to as such. My father had a spell of mental illness also but he was never a major factor in my life. I was raised in foster care since I was 2 years old and Unfortunately subjected to all kinds of abuse but when raised in such environments, you don’t know any other way. My whole youth was plagued by mental illness as I started to worry that I too would become like my parents. All the while being told by my seniors that I had to put on a brave face for my mother. Reinforcing to me that my feelings weren’t important. As a result of all I was going through I just couldn’t grasp what was happening. Days and nights merged into weeks, months to years and I just couldn’t focus on anything let alone coming to terms with my existence on a daily basis, moment to moment, day to day. I blamed myself for many years for my mothers illness, as I was always made to feel as though It was my fault. I ate to fill a never ending void, that just consumed me and as a result My health deteriorated and by the age of 14, I ballooned to 21 stones.

I felt so many things were outside of my control and found the darker my thoughts became the more crippled by them I would become. I held everything in, struggled socially and would only express myself in school and disrupt the class to the point that the teachers just didn’t know what to do? As for my future, I never really thought of it and remember that as my school friends prepared for their future. I had to figure out how I would live outside of the care system with no support.

I can’t remember when exactly but my life really turned around when I just accepted things as they were. When I finally accepted I was gay. I was blessed enough to always find some solace in alternative healing such as spiritual healing, reiki, crystal therapy and meditation. I also found respite when my interests in the Hindu goddess Kali, the destroyer of the ego helped me change my perspective of the world. From this space I started to ascend to a place where I felt I had ownership of my life and feelings.

They say the truth will set us free but I find it’s just the willingness to embrace the element of compassion for yourself and others. That is the true freedom. I realise now that, we as humans have to be as compassionate to ourselves, as much as we would to someone we loved or admired. Even if you feel undeserving, just the thought alone of how to love yourself creates the change. If it’s still impossible, try to be of service to others through any medium that helps you, help others. It’s through the mode of service and detachment of the ego that we can plant the seeds required for change. If we move from the heart space with no desires to benefit or be praised it distracts us from indulging in thoughts that do not serve a purpose. These other thoughts weaken our mental capacity to elevate and liberate ourselves. If we don’t love and nurture ourselves, if we continue to lose ourselves in paradigms that do not serve, we can never come to a place where we can make room for peace. Inhale, exhale and let what binds you go, we are not our circumstances or are limitations. We are spiritual beings, living a material existence and we have the power to alter our reality but we can’t do it alone, we have to support each other. 🙏🏿" Jnana Dev

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