The Unicorn. A Journey through Mental Illness and What Exists at the End of the Rainbow.

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Unicorns don’t just exist in stories and in the place between waking and dreams. Unicorns are real and the path to finding one can be hard. Let me take you on my journey of finding my inner Unicorn and defining a new chapter for myself.

I remember being very young, perhaps five or six years old and sitting in the office of a trained professional who was telling my parents about the mental condition of their only daughter. Born prematurely and a resident in a house full of verbal and physical abuse had left me shattered on the inside and even at my tender age, it was readily evident. In school I was a trouble maker, out-spoken and seemingly in a world of my own. The other kids didn’t want anything to do with me and I spent a lot of my time playing alone in my room with a host of toys. These toys became my friends and guides in the confusing jungle of growing up. As the therapist was making recommendations to my parents in an attempt to stop the behaviors I was exhibiting at school, I remember holding on to my beloved My Little Pony toys, two pastel Unicorns named Gusty and Twilight.

Holding those two little toys tightly in my small hands, I could feel the tears pooling in my eyes and blurring them out of view. I was concentrating hard on drowning out the room and reality and projecting something better to save my sanity. I had always envisioned myself as a Unicorn, complete with a glittery horn and two wings to help me soar above the hurricane that existed within my household. No matter how much I kept that vision in my mind, I was still plagued with fear and chaos that seemed to rule my life like two tyrants. I kept falling in life and blaming everyone for my pain. I was also ignoring the mental illness that infested every nook and cranny of my young mind. I became set in this pattern of blame and ignorance and even though as a Pagan I worshiped Kali – The Mother of Banishing Ego, I was still caught in the matrix of deceit.  As I got older, the damage that was done to me by my upbringing began to spiral outwards and do damage to those around me. It made for many tearful losses including former relationships with good friends. The saddest part? I didn’t even see what I was doing wrong so I could fix it.

That’s when enlightenment came to me one day after a particularly painful moment. I had finally snapped quite fully and I had done it publicly during a Pagan gathering. My upset and finger-pointing during a session of drama had finally boiled over and the entirety of my Tribe witnessed a complete and utter meltdown. I was reduced to a pile of screeching nonsense while my friends looked on with horror and concern. While I had aspired to be a healer and Priestess, I had done exactly the opposite. I realized it in that moment yet I was still unable to connect the cause of the event to the moment. I had been avoiding the source of source of pain for so long, the festering disease finally reared it’s ugly head and took me over. Luckily, there’s a rainbow at the end of this Unicorn hunt.

That could have been the moment I decided to give up. I could have run, screaming from my community like a coward. I could have ignored the phone calls from my comrades and sulked in loneliness at what I had done.  While I have been many things in my life, I have never been a coward. In the process of transforming my dreams and aspirations into reality, I learned that I could be those Unicorns that I had written stories about. So what if I redefined for myself what it would be like living with a mental illness and instead of masking the problem, I learned how to take that weakness and make it a strength? Is such a thing possible?

You bet it is! Are unicorns real? We’ll let’s see the process in uncovering this supposed mythical creature that existed within me. I decided to write down on a piece of paper what I wanted to be:

  • Healer
  • Friend
  • Priestess
  • Advisor
  • Writer

Then I wrote what I already possessed to make those dreams come true. After all, no one person is completely useless and without worth. Sometimes we have to dig really deep to find it, although we can be sure that it’s there if we’re willing to put in the effort to discover our strengths. The next part required me to step outside my comfort zone of “always being right” and ask others for the help I needed. That takes a practice of humility which is the first virtue of being a Unicorn. I scribbled what was necessary to obtain from others to accomplish this goal should challenges arise (and by the way, they always do.) I had to take an inventory of who my friends really were and then build up the courage to ask them to help me in my quest. While we should aspire to be self-reliant, we should also know the beautiful balance that comes about when we learn to trust others. Such trust in others means a trust of the self and those two concepts make up the Yin Yang that helps a mentally ill person rise up.

After a lot of work, I found myself rising slowly every day. Instead of making big, dramatic changes that I couldn’t sustain, I had to make small ones that became the stepping stones out of the cave of darkness that I felt trapped in. Some moments in my life, I was again a screeching mess because I was backsliding. I felt so ashamed of myself, yet a good friend reminded me of the real journey ahead of myself.  Backsliding is normal and part of the healing process. It’s actually a sign of growth as your mind will fight you during deep depression in an attempt to keep you in a place that is comfortable. This is much like a mental version of homeostasis, the function of the body to keep consistent hormones, temperatures and other natural occurrences to promote physical harmony. Sometimes this works against us as we are so caught in the momentum of our past, we begin to feel overwhelmed. If we are persistent in the need to become better than our original programming, we become so much more than we could have imagined. It might not have felt like I was doing much at first, yet I was coming along in leaps and bounds that were noticeable not only to others, also myself! That’s the Magick that Paganism helped inspire from me and for which I am truly grateful.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a Unicorn as such:

1 a : a mythical, usually white animal generally depicted with the body and head of a horse with long flowing mane and tail and a single often spiraled horn in the middle of the forehead
b : an animal mentioned in the Bible that is usually considered an aurochs, a one-horned rhinoceros, or an antelope

2 : something unusual, rare, or unique

  • There’s the elusive unicorn: headphones that do everything well and work in any situation.
  • —Damon Darlin
  • In Washington, D.C., truth is now a veritable unicorn.
  • —Marilyn M. Singleton
  • … he’s like baseball’s version of a unicorn—a true two-way player.
  • —Tony Paul

I say Unicorns are something else and definitely something tangible and attainable. Unicorns don’t have to be mythological and unseen creatures from our childhoods. As an empowered witch and Pagan, I have the opportunity to redefine words and transform my space. So what is a unicorn in terms of Paganism?

A Unicorn is any mentally ill person who aspires to be more than the sum of their challenges. We all have challenges to work through. Unicorns are those people that don’t mask the issue, they deal with it head on with a powerful sword attached to their head. Unicorns use this ability to heal others who are caught in the same web of lies. It requires some enlightenment readily available through observation to make that horn grow. It takes reaching for the sky to grow those wings. It’s an evolution of mankind into something more. Heal yourself and you’re able to heal others and there is no greater gift than that in the Universe.

For others out there who are struggling, I want to give you this blessing! Take heart, you’re not the sum of your diagnosis. You are not just a person with autism, PTSD, Bi-polar.  You’re not crippled and useless. You can be an inspiration for yourself and an invention of your own making. Everyone has the potential inside of them to contribute to life. There is so much more to the mural of your life than a medical diagnosis or a disability. Don’t give up! You are a person who happens to be experiencing these challenges and have a choice to overcome it in the healthiest, most all-encompassing way that will transform that spectrum into a palette for you to paint the final picture of your destiny. Be a Unicorn, a Faerie, anything that dances in your mind and helps you take those first steps to a better life.

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