I read recently, “Darkness is rarely content to wound us with one decisive blow when it can equally injure us with a thousand paper cuts.”

In my life and in regards to some mental health challenges I’ve personally experienced, namely post traumatic stress, anxiety and depression – some days, some hours, some minutes even – have felt like death by thousands of paper cuts. The burning, the stinging, the pain continuing for longer than I anticipated, leaving me worn out, feeling wrung out, quiet and withdrawn.  

What I have learned over the years and through the continued work I’ve done on myself and continue to engage in, is that growth, transformation and restoration occurs similarly. There isn’t a fairy godmother who magically appears, flicks her spell-breaking wand and heals deep-seated scars in one fell swoop like a prized magician’s trick. It takes work – hard work – to heal internal wounds, millimeter by millimeter, scar by scar, gradually scabbing over to become fully restored through new cells. 

There may be added medicines (traditional and non-traditional) and therapies (scientifically proven and alternative) that help usher us towards healing, but the true work must take place within ourselves. 

Significant steps forward might be gained some weeks, or even for some months, followed by small setbacks, succeeded by incremental advances towards personal goals once again. This walk is often a lonesome one and rarely visible or known to others…but it is okay to ask for help if what you are carrying or working through is too heavy or too hard to bear or do alone. It’s not necessarily the load we carry that breaks us down, it’s the way we carry it. 

It’s the process, our own journeys – laced with grit, bolstered by determination, founded on resilience and brought by sweet surrender– that can show us all through struggle comes strength, through sharing comes self compassion and community, and ultimately what we’re all hoping for – healing.