Joy. Unraveled. Or is it Joy unraveled? Or is it Joy Unraveled! or is it Joy unraveled? There are many meanings behind these two words and plenty of ways to play on them. Throughout my website, writings, and work, you will find that I enjoy playing with words: punning, reframing, and symbolizing. I have had clients tell me I should write a book about the analogies I will often come up with in a session to reframe or put words to validate clients' experiences. Joy Unraveled came about because my name is Joy, and I simply...unraveled. It seemed my life was unraveling and that I was unraveling, and I needed to find meaning to a series of events so I could reweave my seemingly fragmented life, my thoughts, and my very core identity. The experience of "unraveling" led to "unraveling the mystery" of my sense of self and being able to find "Joy" again--joy as in the sense of peace, acceptance, and contentment and Joy as in--me--the real me.
I began blogging because I wanted to share my story--stories, rather, to let the reader know they are not alone in the hardships of life. I have been through many tumultuous life experiences: adverse childhood traumas, tragedies, death of loved ones, losses, difficult life transitions, to name a few that have left me with Complex and Chronic PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). With PTSD comes anxiety in all forms; depression in all forms; sleep disorder in all forms; and hypervigilance and flashbacks. Although I am a mental health therapist, I am also in therapy to heal from multiple tragic and wounding events. I want to ensure that I take care of myself properly so that I can help take care of others. And while this blog is mostly a lifestyle blog about mental health and midlife, it is also a storytelling blog of relatable events that impact mental health at midlife.
In my most recent difficult life circumstance, I realized that I was journaling a lot. I mean A LOT. I was writing non-stop. I had forgotten how much I loved to write. Growing up and wanting to be a counselor, I also wanted to write, either going into some form of journalism or creative writing. But all that seemed to stop the moment I entered college. Writing became drudgery and stressful. Between college research papers, obsessing over APA style, and proper citations, as well as spending nearly all of my adult life writing chart notes in the dryest and most short-handed of ways, I had forgotten that for me, writing, was a creative, healing form of self-expression and I was once good at it. At least, I think so. So I decided to turn my recent obsessive need to write out my streams of consciousness into something that could empower others. But this comes with a price: Vulnerability. Putting myself out there. Because after all, I'm a therapist, and I'm supposed to have my shit together and never have any problems, right? I realized I had lost myself in all the stress. Who I was. What I liked. What made me happy. How to go get it. And where to find it. Writing publicly not only pushes me to articulate experiences and perceptions through such an expressive and creative outlet, but it also holds me accountable in seeking the adventure I crave but will often avoid in order to feel safe. After all I need content to write about!
A therapist being in therapy is something that many clients either do not often hear about or expect. However, I would question any therapist who has never gone to therapy or is unwilling to go to therapy. Especially since most therapists often go into the counseling profession with a desire to help others heal because they, too, have had their own stuff happen in life. Sadly, I have learned some clients either perceive or have had the unfortunate experience of counselors/therapists judging, analyzing, and criticizing while flaunting classroom knowledge without the life experience to go along with it. And while there may be some therapists in the field only as a form of employment or with no real passion, vision, or mission--the vast majority of therapists, I believe, have had significant life events that have led them to the field of counseling. These adverse events, often beginning in childhood, will also give way to a well, if not overdeveloped, sense of empathy and intuition.
Mindfulness, self-evaluation, and acceptance are key components to living and thriving in the here, and now so the future is not ruled only by the past. Even though I might write about a current experience, the past will influence how I experience current events. Healing from trauma is an ongoing process of self-evaluation and assigning meaning to what feels like danger even when not in danger and trying to determine when our intuition, heightened sense of awareness, or "spidey-senses" are either working for us or against us. It is a delicate dance. I hope that as I tell my stories of struggle and strength, tragedy and triumph, my story resonates and will empower others. I also hope that in the process I will continue to embrace life while I have it, and encourage others to do the same.
Below are some of my experiences, their associated impact, and the growth and healing that is occurring along the way.
Impact of Adversity:
I hope you will find hope here. Strength. Empowerment. Purpose. A reason to keep going. Unraveling is inevitable. We all unravel at times. Especially when too much has happened, causing a breakdown in the fabric of our very existence. But in that moment, we get a chance to see what unraveling reveals--about how we are, what we are, and who we are.
You, too, get to find joy, bring joy, and be joy.
Remember, discover, and rediscover YOU.
Just be real. Unraveling is discovering what you are made of. Your real, authentic self.
Grace, Love, Light,
Become a guest writer and share your story of how you turned a shit show into joy. ("joy" here means "self discovery")