Or the story of me looking like a criminal in a photograph, a perfume bottle and an interview.

Recovering from a mental illness is quite an awakening journey. The liberating feeling one experiences during this journey opens up many possibilities. No one knows how and when significant awakening moments occur. The important thing is to recognise those moments.

Amongst, many moments, I recognise three as the most important for me.

The story of the photograph.

I applied for a job which I thought was my dream job at the time and got through numerous tests and interviews and finally began the training. A photograph was necessary for the ID to visit sites so I decided to take one. I put on a bluish purple knitted jumper and a pair of turquoise trousers that were desperately clinging just under my post birth floppy tummy muscles. I brushed my hair quickly before I dropped my two year old at the nursery before heading off to the photo booth. I inserted the coins, ran my fingers through the messy hair and blew my nose on a tissue that I clenched tightly between my fingers and pressed the buttons to take the photo. It came out of the counter and I was happy that another task was done before heading home to get many more done on a bonus day off I got myself booking my daughter for an extra day at the nursery. Dragging the guilt on my feet, I went home that day after posting the photo and carried on with many other 'to do list'. Few months later, I gave up the training not knowing why I couldn't get a single report typed up without making millions of mistakes. Little did I know that my brain was telling me to 'Stop' and I ignored because I was 'fine'. Few years later, during my recovery I came across that photograph again whilst tidying a messy drawer. I gasped. The dishevelled me on the photo shocked me. My pale eyes were sunken like a wrecked boat and they were shouting for 'help!'. I had given up, yet carrying on business as usual. I stopped tidying up and kept staring at the photo. A sigh of relief broke the silence of the house.

I decided to keep that photograph with me as a reminder of a place I would never visit. I made many decisions that day. Look after myself, go for the 'dream job' again and look for different meaning in life were some of them.

The Interview

I blamed my poor mental health for not being able to continue with the training of my dream job, so few years later, as soon as I thought I was recovering I reapplied. I had begun to feel the fresh air, enjoy the sun shine on my face and I could engage in a conversation and actually understand what other people were saying. I thought I was recovering. On the day of the interview, I got up, dressed up in a red top, straightened my hair, put on a black skirt and matching high heels. I smiled through my bright lips at the image in the mirror and told myself 'I got this'. Several tests and group discussions later, I noticed something was happening to me. I was quiet, my answers to the questions were vague and I just wanted to go home instead of jumping the last hurdle to my 'dream job'. I took final Zombie steps to the interview room, sat faking my smile and kept answering looking out of the window. I was telepathically talking with the sun kissed tree leaves rustling in the summary breeze by the window. They were talking to me. I was awakening to a different reality. (CAUTION: DON'T TRY THIS AT ANY INTERVIEW YOU ATTEND). Needless to say, I didn't pass the interview. I shut that door down forever. Just like in a movie, I burnt everything that had anything to do with the job. I was truly awakened to a different goal. I just did not know what it was but I knew it was greater than anything I had ever done in my life. I was hopeful and universe was sending me messages. Some I didn't understand at the time but reflecting on them now, I knew that the universe was kicking my bottom over and over again to wake me up from a complaisant life.

The Perfume Bottle

I had left my work, had moved on from 'dream job' and living at home with few pennies left in my bank account. I am less likely get attached to material things in my life except for books, photographs of my daughter and a bottle of good perfume. My newly opened perfume bottle was going to see it's bottom soon and I knew I had no money to buy one. I could borrow books, save photos of my daughter in a computer but where could a new perfume bottle can come from?. I promised myself to find a new venture and start earning money so I could buy a new perfume bottle. The days went by and the yellow liquid that made few clothes I had in my wardrobe smell like a meadow in spring was decreasing. I was panicking and with no plans to earn anything or a new goal in my life, my heart pounded harder like I was being chased by a sabre tooth tiger. So, I spent a few pennies I had left in my bank account and bought two bottles of new perfume. I was o.k. Problems solved! Two days later, the heart pounded again and the guilt overtook the excitement of the solution. Patching things up without a real solution never works!. I had to do something. Research, questions, discussions, reflections and hours of scrolling down the phone finally showed me the way.

Here I am, having found a fulfilling new path with many new challenges after my recovery. The recovery aka awakening has already consumed more than 1000 days of my life. During those 86 million seconds, I gave birth to many new dreams. Many trivial moments turned out to be the most significant awakenings.

That's the story of the photograph, interview and the perfume bottle.

What decisions are you compelled to make in moments of awakening?

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