It’s been a rough couple of years.
It could have been much more difficult of course (nope, I’m not taking my blessings and privileges for granted for even a second); even so, it’s been hard. I think it was tough as it was the tipping point from experiences ongoing from my 20s. Maybe you relate to that time of figuring out who you are, clarifying values and intentions, boundaries, what and who you’re growing into. In addition, the universe had other plans and layered on the curveballs, as it inevitably does – c’est la vie!
I asked for help to learn the tools to grow introspectively, to heal from previous toxic relationships, and to let go of harmful thoughts and habits. I became very aware of what kind of person I want to be, and what actions I must stop and start in order to support this growth.
Mentally, my anxiety was at an all-time high. I went days, sometimes weeks with eye pain, nausea, headaches, on-going fatigue, insomnia, and “butterflies in my stomach.” I retreated more often and found myself avoiding anything and anyone that threatened my peace, especially when I felt I was not being heard. I developed a negative perception of social media and found myself turned off by what I perceived as forced and inauthentic. I was battling myself with wanting to be open and transparent but also wanting to fly off to Neverland and hanging out in a tree by myself.
I went through and I am still climbing out of burnout. I was struggling with my motivation and discipline to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle. I was struggling to be a role model and practice what I stand for and coach. I struggled with self-doubt and imposter syndrome. I ripped apart and pieced back together many aspects of who I am personally and professionally.
With the support of numerous health professionals, I eliminated issues that didn’t make sense and came to the conclusion in which my physical symptoms were manifestations of my anxiety and stress. More specifically, I also learned I had ‘Post Concussion Syndrome’ from repeated head trauma over the years of contact sports, running into various things, and falling off my bike several times (more on this topic later). It was difficult to pinpoint a source because there were compounding effects of many variables and not a specific trauma I could recall.
I firmly believe the universe was screaming at me to prioritize my mental health.
Did I make it worse for myself?
Maybe the entrepreneurship rollercoaster is exactly what I needed to force this growth.
Every decision has its own pros and cons. We can only make the choice that is most authentic at the moment and then reflect on the lessons later on.
I’m inspired and hopeful that we talk about mental health more and more these days. We definitely need to continue the discussion in order to break down the barriers and stigma associated with mental illness. We’re talking on Bell Let’s Talk Day…but how do we keep the conversation going and making sure it’s 2-sided? How do we overcome our own personal biases?
When someone is sharing, are we fully listening? Are we projecting our own perceptions and issues onto that person?
I’m 100% including myself. I’m sure there are many times I wasn’t fully listening and so the words shared went through the filters of my mindset or life experience. I’m sure there were times I was harming instead of helping. To one person we can be a hero, to another person we can be the toxic one. We can only choose to grow, or not grow. To me, this is the whole point of self-love. It’s not always about bubble baths and affirmations. In my opinion, it’s about embracing and leading by example the values and attributes that I find important. Who am I to recommend or suggest anything to any of my clients (or community, My Fabulous Self Campaign) if I am not committing to my own constant growth? We all have things to unlearn and to learn!
Sometimes we’re quick to judge others and impose our personal beliefs and expectations on to them or their situations. We don’t all act the same. We don’t all deal with stressful situations the same. Our insecurities and issues don’t all look the same. Sometimes we’re clouded from our own perceptions, triggers, and experiences. Of course, we are though. We don’t know what we don’t know! But I encourage all of us to pay attention to our own listening skills. When someone is talking are you;
Comparing? Listening to someone expressing hard times only to one-up them?
Mind reading? Because you know how someone else is feeling or thinking?
Rehearsing? Setting up a conversation before it takes place, regardless of the flow of the actual conversation?
Selective listening or filtering? Ignoring parts and only listening to things that may confirm a previous bias or an expectation?
Advising? Perhaps unsolicitedly?
Judging? Derailing? Determined to be proven right at whatever cost?
Are you being led by compassion or ego?
Are you helping because you want to help? Or because it’ll make you feel good about yourself as you subconsciously think of it as a transaction? “You know, he/she will pay for it later.”
(Adapted from ‘The 12 Blocks to Listening’ canfitpro Stress Resiliency Certificate)
As a mental health advocate, holistic nutrition and fitness coach, a student of life, and a former people pleaser, I ask all of us to consider the above and carry them forward to continue the conversation.
For those of you suffering in silence, please talk. Please speak to someone you can trust. It’s okay to not be okay. You don’t owe anybody an apology for feeling whatever way you’re feeling. You are not a burden. You’re human. You’re loved.
For those of you wanting to help, please be a compassionate listening ear with self-awareness. Please don’t tell someone they don’t have it that bad and to get over it. Please stay in your lane. Recommended health practitioners who have dedicated themselves to be experts in their field (therapists, mindfulness coaches, concussion specialists, etc.). Please don’t add more stigma by labeling medication as bad. Sometimes it’s necessary. So is exercising and moving, nourishing our minds, taking timeouts, expressing creativity, walking in the forest, hiking, meditating, surrounding ourselves with good people, feeling fulfilled in our work, and feeling wanted in our relationships.
It’s already hard enough to speak out sometimes. People that need help don’t need the weight of your opinions on top of whatever burden they are already feeling.
Sometimes it’s about needing to talk and having someone just sit and listen, offering nothing but a peaceful presence.
If you have financial resources, please support mental health services in your community.
Prioritize mental health in your place of work. Don’t dismiss days off as laziness. Don’t work yourselves to death. Value yourself. Give yourself compassion and love. Treat yourself better so you can treat others around you better.
Let’s continue talking, listening, and growing. Let’s be better, and do better.
In health and with love,