I’m a bit of a fan of the time-travel genre. First, with the beautiful movie, ‘Somewhere In Time’. In my teens it was ‘Back to the Future’ and much later, ‘Dr Who’. A friend’s whovian-child recently asked me, “If we had the power to time travel, why are there some points in time that have to be fixed? Why not just change them?” My answer was that they are Turning Points—events which have forever changed the course of human history. They can’t be changed without altering the world as we know it, possibly even erasing our own very existence. (For those wanting to explore the physics, look up The Grandfather Paradox).
But what is a turning point?

In mathematics
It is an x-value where a local maximum or local minimum happens: the top or bottom or a curve. Well I left maths back in secondary school.

In the Collins Dictionary
It is a time at which an important change takes place which affects the future of a person or thing. Ok, better, I like a good definition

In literature
The climax (from a Greek word meaning ‘staircase’ and ‘ladder’) or turning point of a narrative work is its point of highest tension and drama, or the time when the action starts during which the solution is given. Yep, I can relate to tension and drama.

And the music group, The Byrds, sing, “turn, turn, turn.” Now that just makes me dizzy.

Our lives are always in flux. Some changes may seem small and reversible like cutting your hair. Some are larger but still reversible, like changing jobs or getting married, and for some there is no turning back. I see Turning Points as events or moments that are critical to changing the path of our lives and, in the dark world of mental illness, I like the analogy of lightbulb moments. 

When I talk with my consumer peers, it never ceases to amaze me the randomness of how these illuminating events can take place. Mental health lightbulbs stereotypically occur during interpersonal therapy, in support groups or at rehab. But they can also come from the most unexpected sources

An obvious Turning Point in my life was when my marriage failed. A blindsided Turning Point came when a friend told me my need for support from her was more than she could give. For her own mental health she had to sever the ties of friendship. Most recently, my health reached a Turning Point where some health behaviours have to change now or I’ll end up...well it’s not a pretty future.

However, Turning Points don’t have to be negative. Being involved in Consumer Consultant roles has been a Turning Point for me in truly believing in the value of my life experience. Learning to say ‘No’ and sticking with the decision is a Turning Point in taking back my power without feeling guilty or unkind.

A difficulty upon reaching a turning point is not misunderstanding what the change is but feeling able to turn and following the path it is directing us to take. We don’t know what the outcome will be. We may have to take those bloody two steps forward and three steps back to read the sign again. We may need to stop to say ‘WTF?’, and even if we think we’ve hit a point of no return, it may be the turn we’re meant to take. 

As my dad is always saying: “time to hit the road kid, just don’t let the road hit you back.”