Finding a purpose – or a dolphin

For many years of my life I struggled to find any sense of identity, direction, purpose or path.

I didn’t know why this was the case, or what to do to change it. It took many years of jumping in at the deep end – particularly with relationships. I hadn’t known how to form them, or make emotional connections of any kind when I was younger, and eventually I knew that I had somehow to kick-start my life into action if I was going to have any kind of life at all.

Two divorces, another failed relationship, a shipwreck of a business venture and extreme bullying in the workplace led to me having a breakdown in all aspects when I was in my late thirties.

This included having what was described later by a psychiatrist as a ‘psychotic episode’. The psychotic episode followed a period when I was desperately trying to be as positive as possible about a situation that was too much to bear. Afterwards, my brain went ‘clunk’, ‘clunk’, ‘clunk’ down into the depths of depression and I have spent much of the last 25+ years training my brain to come to terms with the past and think differently about the present and future.

In my desperate state, running on survival instinct at best, I began to realise that I was very much not alone; that many people were struggling with many different difficulties, and when I could I reached out to help them too. I decided at one point that, knowing I was going to feel crap inside for a very long time, at least if I did ‘stuff’ along the way, I’d know that I hadn’t just done nothing.

After doing loads of different kinds of voluntary work and then part-time paid work, I was able to start a full-time job again and sustain myself in that for the next 14 years. By that time I’d learnt to prioritise, and I concentrated on work to the exclusion of most other things. Working and resting didn’t offer much scope for a personal life, but it was my way of getting through. At one point I decided that, if I could achieve nothing else in life, I would make sure that my cat, Bertie, had a good one. It felt like that was enough, and I do believe it was. At that time, that was my purpose in life.

Who is to say what is important in this world and what isn’t? In finding my own priorities I finally started to find my own path. Not a well-trodden one, and not one without trip-ups and tricky spots along the way, but mine.

I was eventually able to start and maintain a fulfilling relationship and my life is continuing to open up in ways that I could never have imagined possible when I was so aimless and adrift.

I continue to prioritise on a day-to-day basis, often on things that may not seem important to other people, but they are precious to me. My purpose is to make the most of things that come my way, the everyday, the challenges, the opportunities to engage – with others, with household tasks, with being creative or being quiet.

As for the dolphin, well that’s another story!

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