By Janina Scarlet, Ph.D.

Dr Janina Scarlet

Dr Janina Scarlet

It should be easy. Getting up, getting ready, going to work or school.

It should be easy. But what if it’s not?

Some days it’s not only hard, it seems impossible. The thunderstorm of self-deprecating thoughts is paradoxically painless and excruciating at the same time – ‘I’m not fit enough, not attractive enough, not good enough at the [thousands of roles you play on daily basis] … not enough.’

You might feel weighed down and chained, stifled in a scream, deep in a pain of torture, all while putting on a smile for everyone else. Following a predetermined script –

‘How are you?’

‘I’m fine. Thank you. And you?’

The mask of ‘everything is fine’ might feel like your own face now. Not many people know the pain, the true person underneath. The fear is that if they did, if people truly knew how much you struggle, how you really feel, and who you really are, they would reject you, leaving you alone with your shame. So, you hide behind scripted lines, feeling safer but alone, fitting in but not feeling that you truly belong.

If only people knew how difficult it is for you to get out of bed, to keep moving, to keep working hard while simultaneously fighting a thousand monsters and keeping up with your responsibilities. If only they knew of all your heartbreaks, your fears, what you’ve been through. Like Harry Potter, like The Doctor, like a hero of a fantastical quest, you too have been through a lot. You are secretly battling monsters on a daily basis. Like a hero in a mask. Like Batgirl.

So, what if these battles were your call to action? Of course, fighting these monsters is hard but just as they are stronger in numbers, so are you. As the hero of your journey, you might need to acquire trusted allies, perhaps a support group or a sidekick to help you on your journey. In addition, it helps if you are able to learn some magic – some healing spells, such as mindfulness, self-compassion, and other mental health skills.

Your excruciating experiences make you the perfect warrior, one who is strong enough and experienced enough in mental combat to help those around you who are facing the same monsters you are. Maybe the very people who seem most “put together” are actually at the beginning of their own battle with these mental monsters. What words of wisdom could you offer them?

You are the hero of your own journey. You are the Chosen One. The one who makes a difference. May your life quest be magical because you are.

Dr Janina Scarlet is a clinical psychologist and the author of Therapy Quest, a revolutionary self-help book which combines therapy with an interactive fantasy quest.