Growing Pains – Steps to Taking Overall Wellness to the Next Level

Know yourself and your motives for true transformation.

Shannon Kaiser – ‘The Self-Love Experiment’

There are a lot of reasons that I shouldn’t struggle with depression and anxiety the way that i do.

I am becoming a mother, FINALLY have a career that I love, have a husband and dog and home that are full of love, and I have amazing friends.


This is the question that I have been asking myself for the past year as I embark on this journey to find my joy and end my depression. I have taken action, I have read all the books, I have made new and better habits, and I have removed negative “basement dwellers”* from my life. Yet STILL I am struggling with crippling depression and anxiety on a daily basis. I have been in a cycle of doing great, waking up early, being productive, feeling happy and then crashing and self sabotaging and having to start all over again. This has been really discouraging for me at times, but mostly it has challenged me to really look at why I stay in these negative thought patterns when I know that I can be free from them.

The Following are reasons and thought patterns that I discovered within myself (that apparently a lot of people deal with) that are keeping me from my potential:

  • I have inherited a lot of self deprecating, negative thought patterns from my family – this is a topic for another time.
  • I have not taken the ACTION needed to change my negative though patterns. This takes work and intentional daily affirmations and practice.
  • I have a powerful OVERWHELMING feeling of unworthiness – this has been called the “impostor syndrome”**
  • I have a tendency to wallow in self pity and blame my state of mind and circumstances on those around me – this was an early adopted coping mechanism for me and has been very difficult to overcome.

I have up until this point in my life not taken any action necessary to overcome these patterns. I have certainly noticed the roller coaster that I’ve been riding. At the bottom instead of thinking “what can I do differently to not go through this again” I have simply acknowledged the pattern and then proceeded to try and ignore it again.

Here is what I have done in the past year to overcome my habits of self sabotage and depression:

  • Counselling! I was forced into a lot of counselling and other such nonsense growing up and was extremely reluctant to pursue this option. Once I hit rock bottom about a year ago and decided I was willing to try anything to feel better, I hopped on and got my stubborn sad ass into therapy. This is first on my list because it is arguably the most important step that I have taken on my journey to overall wellness and happiness. My therapist is literally a life coach – teaching me how to overcome the craziness going on in my brain. She also is someone that I can process through my PTSD with – some things are just to much to process on our own! Or with your closest girlfriends over coffee for that matter, let’s be real.
  • Exercise! This one may seem so OBVIOUS and annoying but here me out! Getting out of my comfort zone and into the gym on a regular basis has really helped me in so so many ways. 1) I feel sexier 2) I feel proud that I have done and am mastering something WAAAY out of my comfort zone 3) Exercise releases “happy chemicals” (endorphins) which my brain is not very good at making on its own 4) It gives me a place to grow and push myself outside of my mind, career, or relationships. If I can do 25 burpees after running 15 min then I can do anything!! This has been HUGE for me.
  • Being ok with not being ok. I kept my depression and anxiety to myself for a long time, even my husband didn’t know the extent of my mental battle. As soon as I was open with my husband, friends, and counselor about what was going on inside my brain all day it helped more than I can put into words. Especially with my husband. Once I was honest with him about what was going on, it explained a lot of my behavior and I was able to educate him on how to support me through my healing. This has helped our relationship dramatically! I still struggle with being honest about my journey, but strive to be honest about it as much as I can.
  • Reading all of the books ! I have committed to consuming one inspiring or self-help article/chapter/youtube video/ etc everyday. This has really helped me change the dialogue in my head from destructive to constructive and positive!
  • Taking action!! I have ACTUALLY been doing the things that I have been talking about doing for years to advance my career and become the woman I dreamed I would be as a girl. The key here is that I have been taking action and moving forward WHEN I DIDN’T FEEL LIKE IT. I still struggle with feeling qualified and “ready” for all of the wonderful responsibility that I have now. However, whenever I feel like that I just look at where I was a year ago, at all of the beautiful people and things in my life, and am reminded that I can handle it and that I do deserve it.

Well, I hope this has been helpful. The only reason I am sharing my story is to let someone out there know that not matter your background, circumstance, mental illness, or past you CAN have a life that you love. It will never be perfect, but you are worthy of the dreams and happiness that you were born with.

That will be all!

*basement dwellers: comes from an analogy that I learned in my time as a Mary Kay consultant. The analogy is to imagine life as a very tall building. Many people find themselves in the basement – a place where mediocrity, complaining, and being broke are all things that are common place. Once you decide that you want more for your life and start climbing to the balcony – where all the wealthy, happy, helpful, awesome people are – other basement dwellers will try to bring you back down to their level. Mostly because you moving forward brings acute awareness to their miserable or mediocre way of life and they don’t like that! Getting from the basement to the balcony is hard for a lot of reasons but especially because of people that you know and love that try to keep you in the basement. It is really really important to respectfully remove these people from your inner circle, especially if they don’t support your growth or grow with you. An example of this would be if you decided to stop smoking and your friends all continually teased you about this and said things like, “Well it’s only a matter of time before you cave and smoke again” or “Want a cig? Oh wait that’s right your too goody two shoes for us I forgot. We’ll be outside” (Lame example – but I think it illustrates this concept well)

**impostor syndrome:  “can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. They seem unable to internalize their accomplishments, however successful they are in their field. High achieving, highly successful people often suffer, so imposter syndrome doesn’t equate with low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence. In fact, some researchers have linked it with perfectionism, especially in women and among academics.”