From around the age of nineteen, I considered myself a broken person; I was an alcoholic, a prostitute and was plagued by a crippling anxiety disorder. Little did I know that one day it would all be resolved, proving that nothing about me was broken, only lost.
If I had been broken, I would never have been able to get over my litre-of-gin per day habit. I would never have ever been able to walk outside without shaking and sweating with fear. I would never have been able to turn my life around to such a degree that I now help others who are suffering as much as I was.
Back then, I thought my life was over before it had begun; I considered myself such a flawed specimen that nothing and no-one would ever be able to truly fix me.
I was right in one way; no-one was able to fix me, because I wasn't broken, only lost. I needed guidance, treatment and advice, not to stick me back together, but to help me heal myself.
I clearly wasn't broken, because no pills or potions ever helped me in the end. All the progress I made was as a result of working on, and with, my own brain. All the solutions were found by asking for help and guidance from other human beings who knew more than I did.
No-one is born broken, and no-one is brought up to be broken. The symptoms we show and the disorders we suffer with are all indicative of our souls getting a little lost in life, buffeted from our rightful path by painful and difficult experiences.
No matter how distressing and difficult our lives seem, it can help to remind ourselves that we have only strayed by the wayside - we are not gone forever.
Having rediscovered my own path again, I now work as a therapist and coach. I half-smile and half-sigh when I get emails which begin "I don't think anyone can help me, but...". Many of them, I could have written myself during the dark days; back when I thought it was possible for a human being to be broken.
That "but..." is important. The email itself, the plea for help, is important. Because it means that no matter how far gone the person believes they are, somewhere inside they still believe they can come back. And they are right.
I believe there are solutions to all our problems, no matter how hard they seem to find. It took me ten years to find all the solutions to my own issues, and to complete my recovery. But I never stopped looking for the answers, and neither did those around me.
And when I finally rediscovered the path I had strayed from for so long, it was the most beautiful and gratifying path I could hope for, made all the more glistening and glorious in contrast to the dark shadows where I had been.
If you are lost there are only three tools you need to get yourself back on your rightful road; a pick to push back the tangled undergrowth, a guide with a light and a map to help you find the way, and a belief that you are not broken, but will one day find your way again.