As a life coach for troubled teens and unmotivated Millenials, I work with a lot of people with mental health issues ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia. What is really a great honour is to have people in their teens and twenties trust me enough to share their deepest thoughts about their lives with me.
Sometimes, these thoughts need to be shared. I am doing so now with permission.
Meet Reginald (Really? You think that there is a twenty-something schizophrenic living in Toronto in the 21st century named Reginald? No, it's not his real name.)
He is on a fair bit of medication which he takes consistently since we have been working together. Reginald has gone back to university and is following my regimen of taking one course in semester one, two in second semester, all the way up to five once he has learned how to study efficiently, prepare to write papers (not in the 24 hours before its due) and work with TAs and teachers when something doesn't make sense.
Regg is doing famously. He is also in a wheelchair, more round than tall and although when I met him he radiated "I know more than you" (which he often did), he now radiates the warmth, the grace, the brilliant humour which is how I know Reginald to be.
So here we are. Doing great at school (low 80s), contributing really well in class and what should come along? Valentine's day! And who is sitting next to him in class but a warm, sensitive woman who seems to "get" Regg's humour and he senses there is something there. Now remember, this is Reginald 2.0. Through the work we've done he has found new faith in himself and his self-worth has grown with every task we have set upon doing and succeeding or figuring out how to rise above.
They go for coffee. They share thoughts. They share fears. Esmeralda shares the fact that she used to be a cutter and then Reginald tells her that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Esmeralda's starts shifting uncomfortably in her seat, not making eye contact and shortly afterwards excuses herself due to a very bad headache. She also doesn't sit on the same side of class anymore.
I see Regg twice a week, which I do with all my clients, better to reinforce good habits and less time to acquire bad ones. We meet the next day and he shares the Esmarelda incident with me.
What do you say to someone who is the most thoughtful, astute, wise and sensitive guy you could know who has just had all his self-worth shattered. His greatest fears realized. "No one will ever love me for who I am."
This is not just the cry of all the Reginalds in the world. It is the call of a great many people out there who feel less than worthy.
I told Regg the simple truth: "Regg, you are special. There is no one like you and I feel honoured to work with you, laugh with you and learn from you. There is no question that there are other people out there like me who will see you for who you are and women who will not care about any labels you may have. They will fall in love with you."
You can't just give up because you haven't found love or met people who live their lives based on appearances or fear. You know that. Tell yourself: "I deserve to be loved. I deserve happiness and I will be patient and relentless in my pursuit of both." Say it again.
Say it everyday into the mirror while looking into your deepest self.
To all the Reginalds and the Esmeraldas out there: Keep your eyes sharp, your hearts open, your faith strong and your resolve everlasting and Happy Valentines Day to those who are loved and those waiting to know that there is a lover out there who will love them as they are.
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