Hi, I’m Sarah. I’m a nonfiction writer and editor, and I have a very active and creative mind that can be the source of great inspiration…or great pain.
Living the Mess grew out of my personal adventures in neuroplasticity and my search for inner peace. For most of my life, I struggled with severe depression and anxiety that had a lineage, back three or more generations on both sides. I sought to find answers through talk therapy—two decades worth—and medications (more than 18, all told). Over the years, 12 different labels were placed on my brain. Even at doses well over the maximum, I always had a low-lying sense of unease. The pain was so pervasive that in 2008, I began the process of applying for psychiatric disability (though I never went through with it).
In 2010, I went through a classic Dark Night of the Soul and tapered myself off medication. I was terrified that I’d kill myself, yet I was also determined to find a new way of being and rewire my brain for inner peace. I’d moved to an island off the coast of mainland British Columbia and, in solitude—no family, friends or colleagues—I began healing my brain.
Spirituality was no longer an interesting theoretical concept: it was the key to my physical survival. I read and listened to every spiritual and metaphysical teaching I could find. I tried everything – and that’s what much of this blog is about. I began meditating, spending long stretches of time in nature and walking up to eight miles a day. Well-being became, and remains, my top priority.
I also discovered just how radically meds had altered my personality. I watched as my authentic self emerged, and I slowly became acquainted—and comfortable—with her.
When challenges arose, I wrote about the pieces of the toolkit that helped me find peace (and even—gasp—happiness), as a way to embed those processes more deeply in myself.
“The mess,” to me, encompasses both the positives and the challenges. It’s like the word “catastrophe” in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living (and before that, in Zorba the Greek). It acknowledges that life includes a vast constellation of experiences and emotions. In nature, what looks like a mess in the ancient forest is actually an intricate ecosystem, in which each element, no matter how small, plays a crucial role. I try to use that as a metaphor for my life—sometimes with more success than others. Most of the time, by focusing on these practices, I feel an inner peace I never imagined was possible. I hope that my experiences will help others, especially those who spend large amounts of time in their heads, to navigate their way to inner peace.