Read the inspiring story of Melissa
Melissa W., PA
What would being your healthiest self look like?
Being my healthiest self looks like a balance of work, family/friends, fun, home life, and personal growth. Sadly all of these depend on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, so those have to be primary all the time.
Tell us a time where you felt like you stepped into your authentic voice or authentic power. What does authenticity look like for you?
Since 2019 I have decided to leave agency work to pursue contract positions and then started my private practice in 2020. Both of these changes were a huge shift for me from a place of stagnancy and safety to a place of challenge and autonomy which have allowed me to more fully embody my authentic self. And that authenticity continues to grow and change every day. It’s been an integral part of finding more balance in my life to become my own boss and focus my time and work on things I care about.
Tell us about a time where you overcame a big hurdle. What got you to the other side? What would you say to someone going through something hard?
Right now I’m grieving the loss of a Mother figure in my life and it’s not a hurdle like you’d think such as getting through graduate school or moving or something episodic like that. It feels like a cellular change and it affects me differently every day. I think what is getting me through it is the same thing that has gotten me through many other challenges in my life and which I share with my clients and that is to face the pain when it comes. Give it space. Ask yourself what you need and then find ways to meet those needs. Don’t push it away. Be with it and learn from it. Resistance is the root of suffering and life is hard enough.
Why is mental health important to you?
Having had a dark period of time where my mental health was in tatters to the point of a suicide attempt led me to make it central to everything from that point on. At the same time I discovered Social Work and my eventual profession and now my mental health is not only for myself but also for my clients and those I work alongside. I have a responsibility to be well, mentally and emotionally, as much as possible which include caring for myself often. I feel driven by a greater purpose of helping others heal, empowering people to master their moods in a way that gives them the greatest freedom and happiness possible, and this inspires me to practice what I preach.
When you think about living your best, boldest life, what does that look like for you?
It looks like travel and time spent with loved ones and friends. It looks like cherishing my home life including my four fur kids and husband. It also includes being financially stable enough to enjoy things and to live without fear of instability.
Tell us something about you that most people get wrong about you.
Most people think I want to analyze them and honestly unless I’m being paid to help someone, I don’t want to get involved in someone else’s psyche any more than necessary. Even if I observe things and have thoughts about someone that might be formed by my education and work, I really don’t allow myself to blur any lines. If someone needs help, I give them referrals and support them as a friend.
What do you think your life's purpose (or your soul's purpose) is? When did you realize this?
I’m just going to repeat what I wrote above: I feel driven by a greater purpose of helping others heal, empowering people to master their moods in a way that gives them the greatest freedom and happiness possible, and this inspires me to practice what I preach.
Recently I find myself focused on making psycho-education more accessible and spreading awareness of positive psychology and mindfulness. I believe if people were educated more on the stress response and ways to combat it, as well as ways to heal traumatic experiences, that we would see much less interference from mental health disorders.
What do you love most about yourself?
My compassion and my intellect are things I love most about myself. I really love being this combination of Snow White and Belle from Beauty and the Beast even if it has lead to some pain and heartache. When I connect with people, I feel alive. And when I understand something complicated like human behavior, I’m inspired.
What is a piece of advice you would want this reader to know?
Oh geez… I would say the map is not the important thing, but the traveler. By that I mean the more authentic and aligned your decisions can be to your wisest self, the self that appears as intuition or a knowing, the better your life will be regardless of the direction or landmarks along the way. I’d rather see someone love their life and live on their own terms than to ever push them into a particular way of being. I think living in-authentically is traumatizing and leads to most of the problematic behaviors that exist.