I’m 34 years young and as I reflect on my life, I’ve had many mental health challenges that I mostly battled alone, opening up to my parents, husband and a few close friends throughout. I’m not saying I haven’t had an incredible life with more opportunity and privilege than most, but I have battled anxiety and depression and never really thought about it as my ‘mental health’. I’ve just thought my working too much, exhaustion, non-stop thinking, ruminating, and pit in stomach at times were ‘normal’ when you’re adulting.
Have you experienced mental health challenges?
Let’s be honest, it hasn’t been okay to have mental health concerns or be open about our internal struggles at school, work or amongst our families. Even as I write this, I have to justify that I’m grateful and privileged, almost feeling guilty for having anxiety and not loving life all of the time. I’m a massive overachiever and perfectionist which has given me the grit to…
…get two degrees, a BBA and MBA
…live in 6 states, CA, WI, IL, NY, TX, WA
…travel to 5 continents
…become a stepmother of two by 30 years old
…work at and with Fortune 500 companies
…speak in front of 100s
…become a female entrepreneur in business with her husband (cray crazy)
…journey through IVF
The power of sharing my story will hopefully give you permission to have dark days and thoughts, and still know you’re okay. Because even in my lowest moments, I always know there are better days ahead. And that whatever is happening is to teach me something that may serve one other person. I’d usually never share so vulnerably online, especially if I worked for someone else, but in honor of mental health awareness month and with the hope that this may touch one life, I’m opening up.
What’s mental health all about
Mental health is about our health… mentally. Just like you need to eat healthy foods for your body, you need to feed your mind and spirit good thoughts and energy.
Simple, right? Ha, NOPE.
How are your thoughts throughout a day…mostly negative, neutral or positive?
⏭️. Are you a nervous wreck every time you chat with your boss?
⏭️. Do you know what to do when you’re spiraling into negative possibilities?
⏭️ Is your heart pumping and you feel like you’re living in your fight or flight mode most of the time?
⏭️ How is your energy level throughout the day?
⏭️ Do you know when you’re being triggered by someone or something and how to shift out of that?
This is all about mental health (and much more) and everyone experiences it differently.
Bringing internal awareness to our mental health
I didn’t prioritize my mental health until about 6 years ago, when I finished my MBA, moved to Seattle and was in a long distance relationship with a man with 2 children. There were many days as I made the decision to move back to Austin to pursue love over my career, that I was an utter mess. This is when I started to talk to a counselor which was incredibly helpful in guiding my decisions.
There were many moments in my teens and 20s that I was straight freaking out about grades, excelling at work, boyfriend or friend drama, and had no clue how to calm myself down. I didn’t have a therapist and looked to my parents for resolve. While they were amazingly supportive, they didn’t always know how to support my mental breakdowns. When my mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer in 2018, months before my wedding, I turned to a counselor immediately
Over time, I’ve realized much of my anxiety and exhaustion comes from a need to please, be perfect, and a feeling of guilt and unworthiness. It’s taken me years (and lots of support) to be able to write down what is actually causing my pain and suffering and have this awareness. Yay to me! To know that I’m not going crazy, I’m not alone and that many of my triggers are from childhood experiences, societal pressures and just LIFE LIFING!
It’s nobody’s fault. I don’t blame my parents, teachers, friends, society or anybody. I take responsibility for the fears inside my mind and body that come out in anxiety and breakdowns at times. I let these feelings come for as long as they need to and seek support. The only way OUT of the pain is THROUGH IT!
3 Ways I supported my mental health
Every person is different so I can only speak to my personal experiences and learnings through my mental health journey. Here’s 3 ways I’ve felt supported in my mental health:
1. Notice when I’m out of alignment:
I take note of when I’m feeling high energy and excited vs low energy and exhausted. This is a really big one that I didn’t start to think about until a few years ago when I was working with different counselors and coaches.
For instance, in one of my roles there was a heavy amount of analytics and excel sheets. In my 20s I thought I had to be good at this stuff to have a career, and they tried to tell us that during the MBA. And I hated it. I love reading data when it’s already in written form with nice charts that I can digest, but I hate having to create it all. It’s a BIG energy DRAIN for me and I was in a role that became more about the data and less about the creativity and customer. I started to lose interest quickly. I tried to force myself to like it and ‘be good at it’ but ultimately it wasn’t making me happy and gave me a lot of anxiety.
So I chose a new career path that uses my super powers AND lights me up. A lot of people know they hate what they’re doing in their jobs but stick it out because they feel like they ‘have’ to which is a major mental health concern. Staying in a role you hate because ‘you think you need to do it’, is not good for the team or yourself so take notice of your energy every single day.
2. Be in the SHIT – it’s okay!
Many times in my life I put a negative emotion into a box and didn’t feel it all. I pretended to be okay but deep down, I felt sick and found ways to distract myself whether it was moving to a new city, working too much, drinking too much or whatever. This is VERY common. The only way to really transform our lives and intelligence is by deeply understanding our pain and darkness. As Amy Eliza Wong says, ‘We grow equally in the dark as we in the light’.
As you’re in your own shit, it’s important that you get those feelings out in whatever way feels right for you. That may mean reaching out to a therapist or friend, writing out your emotions, attending a retreat, having a somatic, cathartic experience…something. Those feelings must work through you and get out because when they don’t, they lock up in your body and turn into anger and various health issues. I usually feel a heaviness on my heart and throat when I’m in my shit, and find that heavy crying, exercise, yoga, and even yelling helps get the emotion out. Everyone is different, so do you!
3. Learn the power of the shift
I love what Gabby Bernstein talks about with the ‘bounce back rate’. It’s not that you’re not going to have shitty days and mental health breakdowns, it’s how fast you can notice where you’re at and choose to shift out of it. Choosing to shift DOES NOT COME EASY. Trust me, I get it, I’m with you. And when you’re in the shit from above, it’s very hard to shift.
So my job is to figure out ways that help me shift and get my mind into more positive vibrations. I’ve learned through the Ascension Leadership Academy (an emotional intelligence curriculum) and Grace (female embodiment weekend), how important our bodies are in our mental efforts. I’m JUST realizing that if I lead with my body, and not my mind, I can shift fast. So things I’m currently doing to support this are taking walks in nature everyday with Frankie (multiple times a day if necessary), meditating, dancing with myself to Odesza (yepppp), singing out loud, taking baths, and yoga. I’ve learned some of these methods from incredible coaches, mentors, and healers and I promise they do work, I’m evidence of it but you get to figure out what works for you!
It’s your life, make it count
We’re all humans and experiencing a full range of emotions. It’s okay to not feel okay. But if you’re not feeling okay most of the time, I encourage you to reach out for support. Whether it’s your colleagues, community, spiritual leaders or hell reach out to me, we’re more alike than different and it’s only in our human shared experiences that we can lift each other up and get through the shit together.
* Note I am NOT a mental health expert by any means. These are thoughts from my own experiences and I encourage you to check out https://www.nami.org/home for all sorts of resources.
Want to join our famiLEE?
Josh and I are very open and honest about our ups and downs. It’s why we’re launching our $SOA Coin and Discord Community next week…so that we can create a community of heart centered, conscious leaders that want to share, learn and grow together. If you want to learn more about it, check out our LIVE event May 12th 10amCST or check out more info here.