The mind is one of the most powerful organs in the human body. And I don’t need theoretical or scientific facts to convince you of this fact. When the mind is healthy and functioning as it should, doing life feels easy even when chaos is happening all around. But when the mind is battling, struggling and fighting to keep a grip on being healthy and functional, problems arise.

2019 has bar far been a defining year for me. My personal will power was tested in ways I never imagined.

In the summer of this year, 2019, I hit a mental rock bottom. I fell into a dark place and no one knew I was there. I held it all together until late at night when I was along. Lost in my feelings. Lost in my emotions. And feeling like I was surely on the brink of losing my mind.

I remember feeling like a certified zombie. At times, I felt nothing. And other times, I felt it all. I felt confusion, sadness, happiness, unease, awareness, judgment, guilt, and even joy. My day-to-day was a whirlwind, never knowing when I’d slip out of reality and into my own mental hell. Car rides were eventful. I’d talk to myself. I’d scream and cry. I’d ride in silence hoping that in some way some form of relief would occur.

I’d smile around my family, laugh my way through business meetings, and shrug my mental anguish away as “growing pains.” Relationships with everyone and everything in my sphere of influence were being impacted. Until one day, my inner knowing said to me “This is not normal and you are not okay.” It was at that moment that I knew I needed professional help. And so, I hired a therapist.

In my culture and community, mental health is equated to just being “crazy.” In 2016, I wrote about how the idea of having mental health issues is taboo. If one experiences mental hiccups, society has labeled them as “broken” and as “less then.” I’ve always held an affinity for those who suffered mentally as I’ve identified with many of the feelings and symptoms they’ve shared. But, I would never admit it publically that I’ve been in a cycle of being mentally bothered and mentally unbalanced. And even this year, I found it hard to admit.

In my first therapy session, sitting in front of my laptop, I shared my reality. “You know what that’s called,” my therapist asked. “Uh,” I replied. “It’s called depression,” she finished.

Immediately when she said those words, I felt something shift in my soul. “That makes sense,” I felt.

A few years ago, I thought I was depressed so I figured if it ever occurred again, I’d know. I was wrong. For over a quarter of the year, I was stuck in a ruminating cycle of mental depletion and I never once considered to assess how I was really doing.

Years ago, I would work my way through sadness and depression. I would immerse myself in my job and in my business so much that I didn’t have time to slow down to consider my well-being. Many of us do the same thing. We work and get busy to keep from dealing. I’m at the point where I knew distractions, no matter how great they were, would not be my solution this time around.

My therapist assured me that I could be helped if I’m willing to do the work to get my mental health back. And though it’s been a little over two months since I started doing the work, I’ve noticed a huge difference. I’m more aware of the things I think and the people, places, and events that trigger negative feelings and emotions. Along with therapy, I’ve gone back to meditating and prayer multiple times a day to stay mindful and present in all that I do.

I said in a therapy session that I used to feel like I was at the bottom of a dark hole looking out but now I feel like I’m in the light and I look down the hole, but I don’t fall back in…as often. I can’t say that I’m done doing the work. It’s a process and I believe it’s a process that I’ll allow to happen for as long as needed.

I encourage every person to choose professional therapy as a means of help. Balancing being a professional, a parent and a person is tough. And no one can tell you exactly how to work with life to have it work for you and not against you — but you. Getting guidance and a helpful voice of reason to help you navigate through your mental clutter can be a defining journey if you allow it to be.

You cannot continue to pour from an empty cup. You cannot show up as your best self for others if you don’t show up as your best self for you.

There is help and there is hope for you if you allow it in.