A few years ago I was sitting on a park bench on a perfect Arizona spring day watching my two kids play on the playground, listening to all the laughter, seeing all the families out and about enjoying the weather. I remember it not being too hot, where you could actually enjoy sitting directly in the sunlight...but I was not able to enjoy it that day. Instead I had tears streaming down my face, behind my sunglasses, because where I should have felt full of contentment in that moment, I was full of deep sadness and overwhelming dread. I didn't want to be there, I didn't want to be living this life, I didn't want to be out with my family, where I felt a huge spotlight shining on me, pointing out where I was failing as a mother, failing as a wife, failing at work, failing, failing, failing. This spotlight was the only thing I felt shining on me that day. I wanted to go home, I wanted to run away, to disappear, stay in bed, in my cocoon and not be bothered by another soul. In that moment, for the first time in a long time, I was scared by my thoughts and then the overwhelming burden of guilt hit me. Who was I to feel this way? What right do I have to complain? Suck it up Lindsey, you have the picture perfect life, you should be happy!...But that is not how depression or anxiety works and nobody's life is perfect.
After years of dealing with the ups and downs with my mental health and it taking a toll on my relationships, last year I was determined to find personal healing. I couldn't carry the weight any more. I needed to open up about my mental health struggles. My mission for health and wellness began. I started a Facebook and Instagram account to tell my story, document my reality, and to find my voice. I tried everything out there. I started using wellness supplements, I started meditations, I looked for a counselor (no easy feat when dealing with American health insurance), I tried using apps....but come the fall of 2019, I got lost and I spiraled. I was juggling too much and put too much pressure on myself. Again, I ended up feeling like I was failing in every aspect of my life. I ended up in a deep depression and then lost my momentum and motivation.
Little did I know that within a year I would end up finding success, finding resources and strategies that work for me. Here I am now, feeling more physically and mentally fit than I have felt in years, and I was able to do this during an unprecedented global pandemic. This isn’t to say I don't feel the weight of it, in fact the weight of it at first was so extreme, from losing work, losing theatre projects, having to be responsible for schooling my kids...it was all too much! I felt I was on verge of a full on mental breakdown back in April. In an act of desperation I started seeking out help and I needed to figure how how to handle all this with immediate results. I was scared to go back on my medication for personal reasons - mind you, I am very much pro medication, if you find what works for you, but that has been a difficult journey for me that could be its own separate post - I had to make changes in my routine, or non-existent routine, and I had to find help.
I started using a web-based app from Orpheus Mind Technologies, a mental health app that launched in the UK and was doing some great things for the front line workers of the NHS. They had just added a module specifically targeting the stress induced from Covid-19 and so on a whim, one Saturday morning, I was struggling to get out of bed, I subscribed. I told myself I would give it a good month and hoped it would help get me through my new role as a homeschool mom for the last few weeks of distance learning. I couldn’t believe the difference it made just in the first weekend of using it. I was able to get through the rest of the school year and I soon found this inner determination to continue my wellness mission. I added daily exercise, yoga and meditation into my routine. I found that for me setting small daily, attainable goals was key to helping me take control of my life back. They were simple tasks like making my bed, starting a skincare routine, learning something new, taking a shower...a hard feat some days! It was all about small things I could control, helping me change my mindset and focus. I kept the momentum going through the summer. I signed up for a ten week course on the Science of Wellbeing: The Psychology of Happiness by Dr. Laurie Santos, from Yale University, and with that I couldn't get enough information on the science of positive psychology. I started reading, listening to podcast interviews, watching TED talks, and streaming lectures about the science making huge strides in mental health. I decided I wanted to do more to help others. I registered for wellness and coaching classes through the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, and began finding my new purpose. I can say my life and mindset is completely different now, with it being much more positive than where it was in April.
It hasn’t been an easy road to get here and we're all still suffering the burdens of this pandemic and political and civil unrest, but all the hard work and perseverance has given me so much hope. I finally put together a toolkit for myself and found successful strategies that have been life changing for me. I am back on track with my wellness goals and with more motivation than ever before, with more confidence in myself, and I now have an optimistic outlook for the future. I have spent the past seven months learning about how my mind works, how to gain control of my negative thoughts, how to overcome the limitations I have put on myself, and I have decided to change the trajectory of my life and maybe help someone else find the confidence to change theirs.
This is why I share my story. Thank you for reading and coming along for the ride!