My name is Chelsea Freeborn... and I have mental (w)ill-ness. Funny how scary that statement can sound and how diverted we are as a society to announce it publicly. But in recent times. more and more have found the free will to shout from the rooftop about their dis/ease... mental will-ness. While others use it as a means to remove your power.
Well, let me expose my power first...
I have mental (w)ill-ness.
Yes, Will-ness, but more on that later.
Recently, I’ve felt boundless from my ability to freely expose what’s been a driving focus behind my failures & successes.
If I could bottle up my hypomanic episodes and the amount of work, creativity and inspiration it manifests... it would put any adrenaline rush or little pill on the planet to shame.
My mental will-ness does not defeat me. It is a joyous gift that gives me power: the empathy and understanding I have for others. The healing words I can share. This is backed by years of self-help, therapy, and discovery that I hope everyone can experience.
I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Bi-Polar (2), ADHD, OCD, an eating disorder, addiction issues for love, drugs and other “fun” things.
It all started at the age of 5-6. I was different, I was strong willed. I knew what I wanted, when I wanted it, and wasn’t going to let ANYONE, tell me I couldn’t have it.
My parents realized the frightening barrier of not being able to control me. Neither could anyone else for that matter. They rushed me to multiple therapists, where multiple diagnoses ensued.
It sounded like this,
“Chelsea, is the only girl in school who won’t participate unless she has these particular pair of shoes.”
Or, “Chelsea, is the only girl in her class that has to eat the same thing, on the same plate and with the same fork.”
Or, “Chelsea, is the only little girl who won’t wear anything but that sunflower dress for a year and demands we wash it every night.”
Fix, fix, fix- pill, pill, pill- cure, cure, cure?
Always chasing something to fix, something to cure.
When really, it’s something to be nurtured. What realistically did I need? To be loved, to be heard, and told it’s okay to be you. You will be okay.
Today when I become a mother and if my child has my strong will and/or “defiant nature”, first I’ll embrace that will. I will love the will, love the defiant nature. Then I will find the solution for shifting moods and or neurological issues. Because that’s what I needed then, and that’s what I’ve given myself now.
Why, why, why, do I say mental will-ness? Not mental illness? Because, anyone with a mental (w)illness has a strong, glorious will to see the world differently. A strong, glorious will to define who they are, being so majestically unique.
Because mental (w)ill-ness is not a illness of shame, guilt, or being ostracized. It’s the gift of empathetic understanding with others who are suffering. It’s the will to help others even while you still suffer. To see, feel, hear and touch emotions many may never even embrace. It’s touching a dimension of community and understanding that many great leaders yearn for. That’s why I call it mental will-ness. Because without will, you’d have no willingness, you’d have no story.
Currently, I’m working with a dedicated therapist, healers, and active participant of AA. I’m blessed to have found the right team and have resources to help with that. Finding the right team takes time, but it’s worth the wait. I’ve used local resources, free resources and government resources which have allocated a lot of freedom as well.
Life is a traumatic, traumatizing place, but in both a positive way & a negative way. We wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t. The stigma we give each word, each phase of our development is the real harm and trauma.
Be it external or internal, we all experience (w)illness from seemingly small or large traumatic events, the first being birth. We experience it on a group level, independent level and a universal level. We cannot find change, healing, or truth without it.
It’s growing with these scars, showing these beautiful scars, communicating these stories, that (w)illness- curates a world of understanding, universal success and joy we all strive for.
Happiness, recovery, stability are attainable when we commit our willingness to healing, whether we do this through prescription medication, intensive therapy, healers, etc. Our dreams will happen, maybe not how we dreamt them, but they will manifest.
I’ve sat for so long ruminating in thoughts of failure and unworthiness. Basking in detailed plans for the ultimate escape, the ultimate ride “home.” The idea I needed to be fixed, and the idea that I was unfixable.
I’ve even attempted to take my own life. One time I woke up strapped to a bed, from an alcohol and drugs fused attempt. I was crying for help but told to be quiet.
I sat with others who were suffering. They were younger than me, more harmed than me, but I saw the beautiful gift of willingness beneath their faces. It gave me willingness.
I sat lonely, confused, lost and hopeless on multiple buses, trying to find my unique place in this vast world. While watching others interact, I would often disappear into traumatic flashbacks, only to realize my safe place was within my body. Grounded, feet on the floor, breath in my lungs, eyes towards the sun. I carved painful artsy tattoos into my arm that bare a story I don’t have to share with many, but has saved a few.
I released the idea that having obsessive thoughts, gives me more ability to think things through more thoroughly, be them real or not. That pausing and asking if that’s real, true, or not even about you, helped save a lot of relationships. I realized the need to wear the same thing or eat a particular food is not normal, but not wrong. I don’t want to be normal. It’s what I like, it’s what I need and it’s my will to choose if it suits me.
I walked hand in hand with myself after years of purging to fit in, restricting to be thin. I had to realized she (me), and my body is mine. I can truly love her, I can truly sit in her and know that she’s wonderful just the way she is.
It took intensive therapy, leaving my career career, group of friends and even my city to set my eating dis-order on the shelf. I realized I needed to re-order my thoughts, conditioning and patterns.
Today, it’s in my mental god box, given to something bigger to manage. Just like my addiction to alcohol and drugs. They sit with its fellows and whisper soft hymns, but nothing unnameable, nothing I can’t win. It took leaving a city, a lover and group of friends to put the drugs and alcohol down and allow myself to begin.
My recent diagnosis with PTSD has helped me discover “thought catching” as a method of healing. My thinking has changed:
From: “I’m a failure.”
To: “I’m boundless, joyous and on my way to my primary purpose.”
From the depression: “Why did you do that, you should of done this, you’d be there if you hadn’t fucked up in the past.”
To: “That road diverted to a new gift. Today is joyous. My feet are on the ground, my lungs are filled with air right now.”
From anxiety: “What if I never make it, what if they are right... my future has no hope.”
To “What if I never make it… Has that happened yet? And what a gift of a diverted path it would be. Have I ever been lead down the wrong road? Have I ever actually been in lack or not truly provided for? My feet are on this ground, this fresh breath within my lungs.”
I work diligently to work with, not against my (w)illness. As I see it, this offers more clues as to what my values are, my morals, my passions, even who belongs within my circle. We’re all on a journey to some form of recovery, success and freedom. I hope you follow your journey, I hope you see how beautifully willing you are, that your will-ness is your greatest asset.