Learning to understand who I was, why I felt and thought the way I did, it was the hardest journey of my life. Making the milestone to then accept every part of me, was liberating.

My only complaint is that I did not understand myself sooner – it should always have been second nature to me and to all of us that mental health is a real thing.

I don’t have to pretend that my life wasn’t hard or that I didn’t go through all this trauma, because it happened. I don’t have to be the person who others want me to be or put down myself because “other people have it worse”. I can just take everything that has made me, the past included, and just say “It is a part of me, but it does not define me”.

This discovery and ability to allow myself to heal has only arrived in the last year or so. Meaning it took me 21 years to get to this place where I can be accepted. I suppose I just learned that life has never been about being accepted by others, It’s just about accepting yourself.

I have found this sense of freedom, for known that there are reasons for the dark days and there are reasons for my ‘untypical’ responses to daily life. I was never broken, I just learned different things and grew in my own way. The only thing that ever needed fixing was the stigma associated with mental health.

Now that I can see who I am and work alongside my mental health, I am better for it. It isn’t so scary when you know that the ‘abnormalities’ you have, are actually pretty normal. There is so much power in being able to talk about my actual feelings, rather than hide them in fear of rejection.

I am not ‘cured’, but I believe there is no cure for mental illness. But I am at a place where I can turn down that volume on the voices in my head that try to tear me down. I can start to live again.

I have a future where I can go to university, think about adopting children and working towards changing just a little bit of the worlds view on mental health.

When I think back to that time before I was in recovery and before I knew the causes or reasons for my thinking, when I felt like an alien in my own home, I can still feel how isolating that was.

I was not able to be the person I wanted to access the help and dreams that I did deserve. I did not feel valued but now, I don’t accept to be treated any less than that diamond I am; rough around the edges but perfectly imperfect.

Just learning about mental health in itself and understanding the importance of managing it is life-changing. It seems so dramatic that just talking about your mind and remembering to take those self-care days, could completely flip your world on its head but it does.

It’s not a quick fix, it will not happen overnight but slowly, each day, you’ll find more strength, courage, and comfort in the skin you are in.

You never have to be ashamed or scared of the person you are, you are valid and deserve every ounce of respect out there.

-Charlotte Underwood

Follow my blog at CharlotteUnderwoodAuthor.com

Click Here to review Part I of this series, “Before I Understood the Signs and Symptoms of my Mental Health