A Letter to My Beautiful Mind


Shaley Hoogendorn -Dear Mind3By Shaley Hoogendoorn | Twitter: @shaleyhoogs 

Dear Mind,

I used to hate you. I felt betrayed by you. I hated the way you turned my life into two moods—either dark depression or frenzied anxiety.

I felt like you had chosen this path for us and I hated you for that.

I despised the way you chose two seasons for how we moved through the world. Winter was the worst. In winter you told me to hide inside and sleep. I didn’t feel like I was enough or ever could be. You went numb. I didn’t feel like I could ever be entirely present. I hated that. During these endless months you played dark songs on repeat. I heard shame and regret. Deep wounds. Songs with hopeless lyrics. Lyrics that robbed all joy and peace.

I hated you for winter, all winter long.

Every winter.

But then the seasons changed and you’d flip the tape. Suddenly the songs were loud but so upbeat, they jolted me into new thinking. You played songs of big love and bright light. I no longer wanted to sleep the days away. I had ALL the ideas, ALL at once. BIG DREAMS and BIG PLANS. These songs were bright and held all the colours of the rainbow. I thanked you for them. But soon they would come at me so fast, I couldn’t focus, function or even breathe. I would flit from here to there to everywhere. The endless thoughts kept me up all night planning and all day creating. You made me believe I needed little sleep. You convinced me I needed to quickly do all the things.

I saw red. I was on fire.

I was quick to anger and lash out at the ones I loved most. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t keep up. I was sure if they would just join the party, they would see all the hopes and plans. Some jumped in and tried to keep up, but they couldn’t hear my manic songs. They always left before I was finished.

I was so tired. I searched out help but you didn’t let me tell me the whole story. The story of two seasons. The doctors thought we were just anxious and prescribed meds for that. They introduced us to Zoloft. This powerful medicine didn’t pick sides and at first it made us feel shiny and new. Remember how it would rewind and fast forward emotions without warning? Remember how we would twist and twirl? We no longer needed rest. We were so proud of all we could accomplish. We were unstoppable. Zoloft was good to us, until it wasn’t. Zoloft felt beautiful, until it was terrible. Eventually we stopped sleeping altogether and our moves became jerky and all wrong.

I blamed you for the downward spiral. I blamed you when we couldn’t catch our breath in the dark of the night. We fell hard. We fell so hard that we ended up in the emergency room in the middle of the night. Our body failed us. We couldn’t recover on our own.

I blamed you for what happened next. I blamed you in the waiting. I knew sluggish and I knew fast and furious. At least those ways were familiar. This was not. I hated this new way. This new way exposed our weakness and made us feel needy and helpless. It was in those days of slowly coming down and off Zoloft that I saw you and your struggle.

My dear Mind, I didn’t know you were limited to creating high highs and low lows. I didn’t know you didn’t have the right chemical balance. You only knew how to go up and down and back and forth. You were missing things you desperately needed. I didn’t know your circuits were disrupted. I didn’t know you needed specific medicine to fill the gaps and find balance.

There was deep fear and healing in our diagnosis. Claiming our mental illness made us feel vulnerable, but also a little less alone. We tried on those terrifying new words. Mood disorder. Heavy words like Bipolar 2. Words we knew would cause fear, confusion and judgment from ourselves and others. We needed to heal and could no longer care what people think.

Slowly we saw that we could be set free. Free to step into our true self.

I no longer blame you. I no longer hate you. I didn’t know how much you were hurting. I didn’t know you were trying your best. I see now how we are connected and that you are my greatest ally. We no longer have to dread the changing seasons.

We get to choose our own songs now. We have so many choices. We can dance slow or upbeat but now with moves of great purpose. We can sit in our pain and not let it drown us. We can live in great joy and excitement without the inevitable crash. We can fully participate in the grand plans God has for us.

We know without a doubt that we are all kinds of crazy. The good kind. The kind that tells a story. The kind that searches for others in their darkness. The kind that stands in the brave, beautiful and daring. The kind that seeks freedom and believes in better tomorrows.

Dear Mind, we got this.


About Shaley:

Shaley HoogendoornShaley grew up in Northern BC in her family-built log home with loads of brothers. Her childhood was filled with snow, skates, hockey and huskies. Shaley has always had a small town heart with big city dreams. She is married to Rob and put down roots in PoCo with their smart and sassy tween girls. Shaley has no inner monologue, never follows a recipe and has the biggest hair in any room. Hands down.
Shaley invests her heart into her family, her community and her world. She works as an elementary school teacher and an event planner. She is fiercely passionate about helping the next generation become peacemakers and world changers. She brings beauty and order to Women’s Events and everyday life. She believes in sisterhood and women telling their stories without judgement. She follows Jesus and believes that love always ALWAYS wins.
Come follow her ramblings on Instagram at @shaley_hoogs and @messybeautywithshaley