Updated: Dec 26, 2022
In the spring of 2021, after having gone through a series of painful and unfortunate events, I found myself journaling. A lot. My head was full of words and I really thought it might explode. If there is an exploding brain syndrome, I thought I had it. So, I began writing. Writing in the notes on my phone. Scribbling on paper. Telling Siri to write something for me as I am driving in the car. Before long, I realized that these writings could be useful in another way. Maybe they could help others who are also going through difficult circumstances. Maybe I could somehow send the message, "you are not alone." I certainly felt alone at the time and I know how terribly painful it is to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and feel utterly helpless and alone. So...I started blogging.
I came up with a name for a website that accurately captured how I felt about myself, and my life, yet it was also a play on words that could mean many things if you read between the lines. I created the website and my blogging journey began. At the time, it was focused on mid-life and mental health because I really felt I had hit that dreaded stage in midlife where it feels like your life is falling apart, you are falling apart, and you do everything in your power to try to put it back together. You feel desperate, alone, helpless, and hopeless. Sounds like depression, eh? Well, as someone who has off and on battled depression and anxiety related to traumatic events spread out throughout my life, it was a never-ending journey for me, but one that I embraced and advocated for. In fact, I am actually a therapist and have worked in the mental health field in some form or fashion for nearly 30 years. My life's mission has always been to try to help someone else on their healing journey, and I often would do so even when my own life was unraveling or had unraveled.
While self-improvement, self-love, self-care, self-compassion, and self-empowerment are mental health priorities of mine, that doesn't mean bad things won't happen. And bad things have, indeed, happened throughout the course of my life. They showed their ugly faces time and time again and I would have to go through dark and painful periods and draw upon my faith, spirituality, my inner strength, and my few close friends and family, and push on through. But at nearly 50 years old, that was getting harder and harder to do and trustworthy friends were harder to come by. So in April 2021, my blog, Joy Unraveled began. "Joy Unraveled: Where mental health and mid-life collide. Unraveling is simply discovering what you are made of," were my tag lines.
I rocked on with this blogging persona for about 3 months, immersing myself in the blogging community and trying to learn the tricks of the trade and all that it was about. Then I felt myself dreading the activity. Dreading reading others' posts. Dreading opening up social media because my social media feeds became inundated with all things related to, can you take a guess? Mental health. Mental health this, mental health that. Inspirational quotes about mental health, relationships, etc. Talks about depression, anxiety, trauma, narcissists, attachment styles, self-care, and self-love. It was the ONLY thing in my feed anymore and I could tell it was not helping me at all. What once was something I thought was stigmatized in our society was suddenly flooding every aspect of my life. I already work in the field and spend about 7-8 hours a day on a job helping others with their mental health, as well as trying to take care of my own mental health, so to open up social media and it be lit on fire with mental health awareness, which is NOT a bad thing and definitely needed in our society, was overkill for me. The very thing that I was doing to help myself and others was actually becoming counterproductive. I had to do something. I had to figure out how to cleanse my social media feeds and I knew I had to go a different way if I was going to help myself or others.
I asked myself the question of what actually brings me JOY? Where and when do I feel alive? Even though I do thrive off of helping others and advocating for mental health and self-care, something was missing. It was like I wasn't clocking out from work. I noticed a pattern: I would hide posts about mental health, but I would read posts about traveling. I would hide posts about self-care, but I would read posts about someone going somewhere and doing something fun. I would hide posts about relationship advice, but I would read posts about women who were going places and doing things all by themselves. And then it clicked. "Joy, you are going about this all wrong. What do you tell your clients? You tell them to go find the healthy dopamine that gives them pleasure. You teach them about mental health and self-care, yes, but ultimately it is about finding pleasure again. You can read books, listen to podcasts, and read inspirational quotes, but if you are not doing anything to activate the pleasure center in your brain, none of that matters. In fact, you might be doing yourself a disservice by consuming so much information about mental health, that you began to think this is the way it will always be," and I said, "no. NO!"
Instead, I said, "I'm going to hit the road."
I am going to do something I have always fantasized about doing but have never done. I am going to stop feeling sorry for myself about not having been able to travel as much or being bitter that the pandemic had shut international travel down and I was going to figure out a way to find JOY and life again.
At that point, I decided to transition from Joy Unraveled to Adventure Unraveled, and I researched, planned, prepared, and packed up for a 5-week road trip from Alabama to Michigan then to Maine, and back down again. In that process, I reconnected with a brother I had not seen in 30 years and met some friends in person that I had only known online.
However, those series of unfortunate events that I had prior to my blogging in April 2021 showed back up again after I ended my most beautiful and amazing trip. After 5 weeks on the road and one day before I was leaving to come back home, I received a text from my lawn guys that water was flowing from underneath my front door. And so it begins again, another unraveling... "the fuckening." I returned home to a flooded house and I have been battling renovation woes since then. Blogging came to a screeching halt and so did travel and well, the whole renovation experience has been soul-draining.
During the fall of 2021 and into the new year of 2022, while dealing with the home renovations and being displaced, the stress took its toll on me as I battled many emotional, health-related, and financial demons. Unfortunately, the "powers that be" such as the insurance and contracting industry only served to injure me further in those areas. I threw myself into work to cope with the chaos and to feel that I had some sense of control in my life. I signed up for continuing education courses, focused on turning my health around, and took inventory of what is truly important in my life. During that dark time, I realized that somehow my life and my story can be used to help others. Of course, that has always been my "go-to" for trying to make myself feel better when life goes awry. But this time, I wanted to turn it into a business venture and asked myself these questions: What is lacking in our society? What is it that I am needing? What has helped me? Who has helped me? How can I help others find what they need in times of distress? How can I be a conduit for change in a world that seems to not only lack awareness and empathy but where it seems so many will go out of their way to hurt and destroy other people at increasingly alarming rates. I knew the madness that has surrounded me in my own attempts to pursue relationships, health, or business transactions was being experienced by others as well.
Integrative Inspirations, LLC was then conceived. Conceived out of necessity to find stability in a life and world that has gone mad. Conceived out of isolation, hopelessness, and despair in the hopes of bringing light into the darkness. Conceived out of lack in order to discover what viable resources are available.
As spring 2022 rolled around, I dusted off and tweaked my existing websites, cautiously ventured into the blogging community again, restructured my therapy practice, became a certified life coach, and researched strategies for promoting awareness and disseminating information. However, above all, I set the intention to bring light and hope to others through increasing access to integrative healing approaches.
I would like to hear from you. What information would you like to know more about? What resources are lacking where you are? What obstacles have you faced when trying to reach health and wellness goals? What barriers have you encountered when pursuing relationships with others? What experiences have you had with unscrupulous business transactions? How have you struggled spiritually? What are your wishes, hopes, and dreams for a better life and a better world? What brings you joy? If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?