The Phoenix Project: Introduction
The Phoenix Always Rises
In Greek mythology, one of the most well-known symbols of renewal is the phoenix, a long-lived bird that cyclically dies then regenerates by arising from the ashes of its former version. Associated with the sun, some say the bird dies in an explosion of flames and smoke before being reborn, while others claim the phoenix quietly dies and decomposes preceding its rise to new life. In either version, it rises gloriously from the ashes, spreading its grand and golden wings, proclaiming its reentry into the world.
Throughout my battle with depression and anxiety, I’ve discovered that recovery is much like the rise and fall of the phoenix. Recovery is not linear. It is not a straight line up or flat or even a line at all. It is a combination of highs and lows: a jagged, looped path in which you try to find your footing. Some days you feel as if the illness is long behind you, merely a shadow in your past. And other days it completely engulfs you, leaving you scrambling around aimlessly in a dark cloud, wondering if you will ever see the light again. Some days you may feel as if you are sitting in a pile of ashes, watching all of your efforts and success in recovery burn down around you, as the mental illness grips you by the throat again.
It's not easy. It's not simple. It's messy. It's grueling. It can be a lifelong battle. But during the battle, there are moments of happiness. There are peaks of joy. Times when you spread your gold wings and rise from the ashes. Moments when the light is so bright, you forget your life was ever so dark. Although there are times of desolation, there are still the moments of consolation, of pure and unadulterated bliss.
And, well, I think that makes it all worth it.
The Phoenix Project is a series of interviews with people who have experienced the highs and lows of recovery; who have been in the trenches of mental illness but have risen from the ashes to spread their wings and fulfill their purpose on this earth. Although they may still struggle, the continue to fight because they know their lives are worth it.
The goal of these interviews is to shed light on the struggle of mental illness and the complexities of recovery and break common misconceptions surrounding mental health along the way.
I hope this series gives you hope that it can get better, that although recovery can be a difficult journey, it is a journey worth taking. I hope these stories show you that there is beauty, life, and purpose not only on the other side but in the highs and lows of recovery as well.
Although you may fall into times of relapse, in times of darkness, the phoenix always rises.
And so can you.