Julia Kerr Shares her  Mental Health story for RUOK Day. Image: Selfie image mental health warrior woman Julia Kerr with brown hair, orange beanie and sunglasses smiling. The grand canyon is behind her.

R U OK Blog Series - Julia Kerr

R U Ok day was on September 15th 2018, and as part of this I decided to reach out to some of my beautiful family, friends and clients to see if I could share some of their incredibly powerful stories with you all.

Written by Julia Kerr. 

It’s 2018 and things are very good. My life is sweet. I’ve had so much fun. I’ve learnt heaps. I’ve met such uplifting people – I feel very loved. I’ve just been to the Grand Canyon and I cant tell you what that was like. I always wanted to go there; I don’t have the words to explain everything I felt there, to describe what I saw or to voice how grateful I am. 2018 is a very good year.

But 2011 was a really bad year for me. If I mapped out my life, that would be the lowest point – my rock bottom. That’s when I wanted to check out. I spent a lot of that year in my head, working out how to value myself or give up on my life altogether and wondering which would be the easier of the two because they both seemed really hard. I was inexplicably sad.

I was suffering through life so hard that it manifested into physical pain and I would throw up through the night and cry myself back to sleep. I didn’t know why I hurt so much. I didn’t know that life wasn’t meant to be like that, I just thought I wasn’t strong enough to make it through the shitty parts – I thought I was too weak to cope with the world I lived in.

Sometime during that year I had decided I really didn’t know how to live in this world any more where I couldn’t describe what it was like to live in my own head or where I invalidated my own mental illness because I didn’t understand it and no one else seemed to either. I didn’t know how to ask for help to fix something I couldn’t explain. I decided my son would be better off without me because I thought he deserved better. Who needed a mum like me?

On one black and cloudy day at some non-descript time in a place that could have been anywhere; I laid down on the bed and decided that that was the day I would choose my path.

One path lead to what I perceived as peace; finally being able to let go of that heavy weight threatening to drown me anyway. The other path lead to what I knew would be a shit fight but would ultimately keep me alive. I chose life.

I will never have any greater achievement than that. Of all the things I have to be proud of, that’s the pinnacle of my success. I chose my life. I chose the opportunity to fall in love again, to grow my family, to get to know myself better, to learn and to teach and to just be present. But at that moment in 2011 I couldn’t have imagined what 2018 would be. I had no capacity at that point to see any good that might come my way, I just knew I had to get through that day. Then the next one. One day at a time. I couldn’t think of some far fetched future – I just had to hold on to tomorrow.

I had to recognize and take responsibility for my suffering and realise that it wasn’t normal and that I deserved to get help for that. I had to learn about what I was dealing with. I had to accept that through whatever divine course, my son chose me as his mother and I was worthy and able of filling that role.

I had to be patient and kind with myself while I recovered my broken soul and mind like I would have been patient and kind with myself If I had been recovering a broken body.

I had to build my strength back up piece by piece till I felt strong enough to think of a future I had been fairly willing to give up on. It was rough but it was worth it. It was so worth it to be here now, to have done all I have done since then.
I had to ask for help.

I sometimes allow myself to think about all that I might have missed. I look at my youngest son and try to imagine a world where he is un-imagined. A world where I don’t exist and therefore he cant. I try to think about all the people that love him and how their lives would be different if he weren’t in it and the ripple effect of that.
And then I think of how my own un-imagining might have had the same effect – further than I could have known.
Its overwhelming.

I could never know the full extent of choosing a different path that day. I know there are people who have me in their life now that need me here. I know I’ve made a difference in this world by choosing to stay in it.

We just need one more day, every day to get from where we are to where we are going; Because where we are is not where we will always be. 2011 was a shitty year. It was painful and hollow and dark but my 2018 wouldn’t be what it is without my 2011. I wouldn’t have what I have now without knowing how fucking hard I worked to get it and how strong I had to be to crawl out from that place that threatened to crush the life out of me.

I was never weak, I just needed to ask for help.
We are stronger because of our sufferings.

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