Updated: Jan 8, 2020
It was an ordinary Thursday in August. I was walking with a colleague to a meeting I was dreading when, out of nowhere, I began feeling nauseous and lightheaded. We quickly found a bench so that I could sit down and collect myself, but suddenly I began to feel even worse. All at once, it felt as though my head was full of spiders while an elephant sat on my chest. As I struggled for air, and for the words to describe what I was experiencing, I began to panic.
On that fateful day, I lacked the ability to make sense of what I was experiencing in that moment: I was suffering from a panic attack. I continued to struggle to breathe as I pushed myself to snap out of whatever it was that was happening to me, but every time I tried to stand up I felt as though I might pass out. My colleague, who was clearly startled and unsure of what to make of the situation, sat with me until I was able to stand up again. She insisted that we go to the Emergency Room which, fortunately, was within walking distance since we worked on a medical campus.
My memories of that day are a bit hazy after that, which could be the result of the stress I experienced, or maybe even from the anti-anxiety medication that I was given at the hospital. I do, however, remember all of the worrying that I did in the days following my panic attack. I worried that there would be repercussions for missing my meeting, and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find the words to adequately excuse myself from it. I worried about what my colleagues thought of me, and whether or not they were gossiping about me. I worried about the hospital bill, and I worried about explaining what had just happened to my friends and family. Above all, I remember worrying that my panic attack was a warning from my subconscious mind that things absolutely needed to change, or that my life was over.
As far back as I can remember, I have struggled with a negative mindset. I was raised in a household where tensions ran high, and an extreme amount of emphasis was placed on my performance, both academically and athletically. I often felt as though I wasn’t enough. On top of that, I was painfully shy, to the point where I spent most of my days worrying that I was going to be called on in class. I look back on my childhood and feel so much compassion for the little girl who had nowhere to turn, who was ill-equipped to deal with the stress and pressure that was placed on her at such a young age.
As I got older and was finally on my own, I came out of my shell socially, but the pressure to achieve and over-perform stuck with me. I tried to be all things to all people, and ultimately lost myself to the never-ending “frenzy” within my overactive mind. My mind was always on either the past or the future. I dwelled on the past, as I was still carrying around a lot of baggage from my upbringing, as well as regrets and a lot of sadness (depression). I was also future-focused, filling my social calendar up with happy hours to dull the pain, and constantly trying to figure out ways to achieve more, more, more (anxiety).
My overactive mind prevented me from ever truly enjoying the present moment. I also began to feel like a total failure because I wasn’t able to achieve the impossibly high standards I set for myself. In my attempt to be perfect, I stopped paying attention to my innermost wants and needs. In fact, I had no idea who I really was and what I wanted out of life! Because I was so out of touch, I worked jobs that weren’t a good fit for me and spent my time with toxic people. I also attempted to sabotage my marriage because I craved a scapegoat for my pain and sadness.
As life became increasingly dark and complicated for me, I put self-care dead last. I was completely unmotivated to change myself because I solely blamed external sources for my pain and sadness. I felt terrible about my appearance as my weight crept up and up, but also lacked the motivation to exercise or to eat right. As the feeling of being lost and perpetually sad took over every aspect of my life, I really began to hate myself. That’s when my depression was at its worst.
In August of 2014, I reached the ultimate breaking point when I suffered from my panic attack at work. It ultimately caused me to make some really drastic changes. I knew that my currently lifestyle wasn’t sustainable so, on top of quitting my job, I decided to go back to school, and I really began to take a hard look at the things that were no longer serving me.
My road to recovery took well over 3 years. It was a scary, and often isolating, process. It was also completely necessary, because learning how to get out of my own way not only changed my life, it saved my life. During that time, I rid myself of toxic people, and fell in love with fitness by rediscovering activities, such as yoga and hiking, that truly light me up. I began to pay more attention to what I was eating, and adopted a mostly plant-based diet. I went to therapy, rebuilt my marriage, and eventually began attracting the people and things that were a reflection of my newly-discovered health and happiness.
As my physical and mental health improved, I was better equipped to deal with bouts of depression when they crept back into my life. I know that depression is something that I will likely struggle with off and on over the course of my life, but now I’m happy to report that I am able to deal with times of sadness because I live by a routine that works for me: one that is founded on self-love and mindful awareness.
I became a Coach because my ultimate goal is to help people who are suffering from a negative mindset to break free from the toxic cycle of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are causing them so much pain and suffering. For those of us who have ever suffered from depression and anxiety, we know what it’s like to feel plagued by negativity, and just how harmful it can be to talk to ourselves in a harsh, judgmental manner. We know all too well the toll it takes on our minds, bodies, and spirits.
In many ways, I believe that I was lucky to have reached a breaking point; as painful as it was at the time, it propelled me to make drastic changes for the better. However, I know that many people struggle with mood and a negative mindset off and on throughout their entire lives. Many of them don’t have the option to quit their jobs and embark on a long and arduous path to self-discovery. And, my journey to healing involved a great deal of trial and error.
That is why it’s now my mission to help my clients to make BIG changes within a matter of weeks that took me years to master. I want to help clients to learn new skills that will allow them to break free from the old patterns that are no longer serving them so that they can change their lives for the better. And, I am motivated to help them to rediscover their passions, hopes, and dreams throughout the process. I don’t want anyone to have to suffer the way I did for well over three decades! I believe it’s my purpose in life to support my clients in their quest to overcome perpetual sadness so that they may finally experience joyful and purpose-driven lives.