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There’s an old saying that I have grown rather fond of over the years. No doubt you’ve heard of it too. It’s “put one foot in front of the other.” While it’s not that long and is seemingly unremarkable, it has nonetheless, seen me through some of my darkest days.
One of the reasons this short sentence ended up being on my favs play list is because when I think of it, it reminds me to slow down and that my battle is a hell of a battle. I need the right weapons to go to war. Plus, when I “slow down,” I can regroup and remind myself that I am indeed moving ahead with purpose.
Purpose – a single word loaded with a whole heap of helping potential. This was probably the single most important take-away from my time at Rally Point Retreat, a peer support facility for service persons with PTSD. The owner told me that peer support is so important because it can help to define one’s new purpose for moving forward.
If you’re struggling to understand just how fundamentally powerful the word ‘purpose’ is, perhaps you need to ask yourself these questions: How far can one make it without a sense of purpose? And furthermore, how can one see a future without it? Undoubtedly, you will reach the same conclusions that I have.
See, one small seemingly insignificant word does indeed play a pivotal role in one’s success, even at the best of times. But I happen to think that, for those with a mental health condition, it can be a matter of survival. I know in my case, it is, at times, the one element that can make me or break me.
Because I am also on the main battlefield of my own mind, fighting not only PTSD, but also major depressive disorder, I NEED purpose, almost as much as I need support and connection. Think it as the fuel that keeps the convoy of mental-health tools rolling toward my internal conflict. Without it, I would be a sitting duck against depression’s impressive might.
Okay, so shouting out that moving ahead with purpose is essential for survival is easy. However, how do we find things that matter? For me, and I am willing to bet, many others, there is a hidden passion hiding deep within that we are simply too afraid to let out.
In order for me to find purpose, I had to dust off a passion that I have held in captivity for well over twenty years; I’d locked it away in a dungeon of fear. So, what’s this passion I speak of? Well, you’re reading it. It’s writing.
Ever since I was in my teens, I have dreamed of being a writer. Didn’t matter what – songs, short stories, poems, whatever – I loved it. Sadly though, I had to give up on this “pipe dream” to man up and follow the millions of young people who were conforming to the cookie-cutter mythical expectation. I mean, we are suspposed to pick a career that supports a living that society says will get us the “dream” life. The house, the partner, the kids; the list goes on and on.
There’s just one tiny problem with this expectation. It’s someone else’s dream. Now that I am older and have tried the traditional lifestyle, I am just tired and mentally-ill enough from it to understand that I want my dream. Thankfully, nowadays, I care little for what others think of me. Because I care a little for other people’s opinions, I am free, and liberated to follow what it is I love.
Essentially, I am moving ahead with purpose, my purpose. And finally, I am chasing my dream…and man, I’m doing it! This blog has helped me make baby steps towards my goals, thus aiding my recovery. To add to it, I have somehow – despite spending over half my time in bed or hiding – become a published author, appearing in Lemonade Stand Vol. III. While I find it difficult to extract joy out of almost everything, I am grateful to have done it. The work that came with the project kept the super fuel – purpose – flowing, and helping me move forward.
While it’s true that this i’Ampossible Project-initiated book kept me going, I am perhaps most proud of my own book The Road To Mental Wellness. This is a remarkable achievement because, I finally finished it, the final rough draft. It’s complete! Now it’s off to an editor for a good going-over.
What’s so amazing about it is the very fact that, in the face of PTSD and all my time in bed, overwhelmed and otherwise symptomatic, I FINISHED IT! I know I already mentioned this but honestly, it can not be overstated. It’s monumental because there are few things I have seen through to completion once I got sick. So what’s the common denominator? You guessed it, a single word that means so much: purpose.
I sincerely hope that you find the strength to follow your passions and start moving ahead with your passions. I think if you do, you will find yet another reason to keep going down your road to mental wellness.
20 authors from the military and emergency services tell their story of PTSD.
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