How have you allowed fear to guide you through life? Is it bringing you closer to your dreams or is it sabotaging them? As I observe fear in my personal life, I’ve come to realize it can be a very useful means of guidance in certain situations. Say you find yourself at a fork in the road, you are deciding between two situations, two new opportunities, and two unknown paths. You are unsure of which direction to go. Do you choose the path that is comfortable, cozy, and guaranteed? Or do you choose the path that challenges you to step outside of your comfort zone and experience growth. The path that, dare I say it, terrifies you? Fear doesn’t always mean danger. Fear can be an indicator that you’re on the right path, or more specifically, it can be your intuition telling you to stay the course. It’s your internal guidance screaming “We got this, let me help you!” My advice? Always walk the path that terrifies you. As humans, we are capable of far more than we could have ever imagined. I haven’t always embraced fear with open arms, but once I did it opened up so many more possibilities. Let me share with you how I let fear be the guiding force.

My last Lithium By Night post was entered on December 5th, 2018. After a SIX month sabbatical from blogging, I’m finally breaking the silence. It was a period of time where I closed my heart space and journeyed within. It wasn’t a planned period of introspection, but a prime example of what happens when you let fear silence your voice. I was in full fight or flight mode and decided to take a hard pass on the fight. Do I regret not fighting? Of course not. All situations we encounter in life “good or bad” are meant to teach us something. We must always search for the lesson, that is how we evolve. Through this introspective journey, I personally learned to value fear in a different way. Rather than looking at it as a blockade, I’ve learned to utilize it as my compass. This lesson allows me to share my experience with others in hopes that they might view fear in this productive manner as well.

Let’s journey back to June 2018, where I was coming in hot with my self-help talk, substance abuse experience, and mental health advocacy. I had just started sharing my personal story on social media and then eventually on my blog. By the end of the year my little mental health ship had taken sail in Mankato, MN. I found myself speaking in front of small groups, and I would occasionally produce content on my blog or social media. The work I was doing was manageable, it was just barely outside of my comfort zone and I liked it that way. I’m guessing the universe took note of my complacency and on November 27th, my opportunity to take this work to a whole new level came knocking on my door. The talented Diana Rojo-Garcia with The Free Press asked if she could interview me for their January 2019 edition of Mankato Magazine. An issue all about bettering oneself mentally, physically, financially, and spiritually for the New Year. Without hesitation I responded with “Let’s do it!” Immediately after sending her my response, I felt my body go completely numb and I started sweating profusely. It was a sensation I had never experienced in my entire life. It felt like crippling fear and a rush of excitement and adrenaline all in one. This was a bold move for me, I was expanding outside of my social network and being tossed outside of my comfort zone and into the unknown. I felt that a platform like Mankato Magazine would reach so many people than I could on my own, it could really help people. On the other hand, this exposure could provide someone with the fuel necessary to completely alienate me from my community. I mean, mental illness and addiction are topics that people don’t like to relate to or talk about in general. I still went through with it, the article was beautifully written and I even ended up on the cover with the words “Be Your Best You” beside me. I was suddenly a cover girl owning up to her struggles and encouraging others to do the same. I had aired my dirty laundry and was living out my truth while discussing these topics in the most authentic way I could. I found myself existing in a place that was completely and utterly my own. I had forged a new life path and was living out my truth. Through sharing my personal experience, I was able to connect with people on a very human level and I saw this connection as a mutual recognition that we are not alone. I was honored to hear admissions from all different walks of life, people reached and shared their deepest secrets. These shared experiences grounded me in vulnerability and connected me to humanity. It was a beautiful experience but eventually the pressures of being a “self-proclaimed poster child for mental health” started to creep in. Self-doubt and fear had begun to take the wheel controlling my life from the inside out.

Although afraid, my desire to harness this momentum and awareness for the messages I was spreading was on fire. I wanted to persist so I set goals for my blog at the beginning of the year, I decided that I could easily release 2 blog posts a month. I scheduled them in my planner, gathered a list of potential blog topics, and even created content. The foundation for success had been set and I knew how to move forward with my intentions. Albeit, the year progressed slowly, I had produced nothing, not even crickets. I’d flip through my planner and see “LBN blog post” penciled in and feel my heart sink, moving on with my daily schedule. My passion and direction for bringing awareness had seemingly fizzled. I hadn’t quit writing exactly, I had just quit sharing my writing. I even managed to draft a few posts that were nearly complete, yet I never clicked the “publish” button. I was to AFRAID. I allowed the illusion of fear control over this part of my life. I had developed a habit of being overly critical of my content, not necessarily the information that I was sharing but the sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation. I was afraid to make an error on so many levels but most of all I was afraid of being judged for who I truly was. This loud and persistent voice inside of my head (the ego) kept telling me that I’m not a professional writer and that I need a degree or some sort of certification to be discussing mental health and substance abuse. I have my Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design for crying out loud. To top it off, I had barely researched how to manage a legitimate blog before I decided to create my own. I felt like a fraud on all accounts. Who was I to be giving this kind of advice to people in need? So many thoughts and insecurities went through my head ultimately silencing my voice.

During my time off, I lead the fear parade through a long Minnesota Winter and short but sweet Spring. It was a very mindful journey inward connecting me to my spirituality, meditation, new knowledge, and the underrated practice of self love. I even went on a social media cleanse! (completely recommend it) I created tunnel vision and I began to carefully curate a path for who and what I want to become in this life. The common denominator was that I need to continue writing. I needed to do this for myself and for whoever feels they benefit from reading what I have to say. I understand that I’m not the most amazing writer or story teller. I’m not a trained psychologist or drug counselor, and I don’t plan to be. I do however have a wealth of knowledge to share from the life of Melissa Ketchum. I’m open to sharing my story, and I have a passion for sharing it. I write from the heart and everything I say is in alignment with my truth and my higher self. I’ve decided that it’s time to take back my power and start sharing my story again.

I read somewhere that whenever Thomas Edison had a good idea he would call a press conference to publicly announce the idea. He would announce it, then he would go and invent it. The Edison Method is a great tactic for creating commitment and accountability. I love your style Thomas Edison, which is why I’m following suit and announcing that I plan to release a blog post once a week through the rest of 2019. (no going back now!) I’ve compiled and organized current and past writing material, made an action plan, and released my intentions out into the universe and into the eyes of ears of my community. “I refuse to leave this planet until every thought and every word living within me is outside of me.”



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