One woman shares her inspiring story of overcoming depression brought on by a husband’s suicide, job loss by making small, mindful changes instead of relying on medications and self-pity.
For most of my life, I played it safe. I did well in school, I got a good job, I got married and bought a beautiful home. Everything I did followed a safe and predictable path. Until suddenly, life changed. At age 30, I lost my husband to suicide after just three years of marriage. Then I lost my job.
As a child, I was taught to take the straight and safe path in life. I didn’t go against the grain. I didn’t ruffle feathers and I didn’t take risks. And for the most part, it led to the textbook definition of success. I attended a prestigious college and later enjoyed a successful corporate marketing career, climbing the ladder at major entertainment companies.
My life fell apart seemingly overnight and the image of perfection that I was maintaining began to slip away. My job had become stressful and taxing, I didn’t feel like I belonged in my own body anymore, and no one seemed to realize the inner turmoil, feelings of disconnectedness and pain I was feeling.
I was on the verge of losing my home and my sanity. The stress that I endured was stifling and as a result, my health was the first to suffer. The long term sadness and stress manifested itself into depression, major digestive issues, chronic muscle pain, brain fog and more. For three years, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I was completely lost.
I sought help from various doctors, and found myself taking numerous medications, which did not help my ailments or in overcoming depression.
I vividly remember the beautiful crisp fall morning that I woke up and shuffled into the kitchen to take my meds. As I stood there, laying out my doses for the day, I realized I was probably taking more medication than someone twice my age. In that moment, the fog cleared a bit. I realized that if I didn’t start taking care of myself, it would be a matter of time before I would face even bigger health issues.
I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and start taking control of my health and my life. It was in the darkest times that the mantra, “Little things make big things happen,” began to ring true. For me, it was paying attention to the little things that actually saved my life, salvaged my health and lead me to a new and fulfilling career. The only steps I could begin to take were small, but crucial. I began slowly and so can you:
- Practicing daily breathing exercises and meditation. I gave myself space and quiet time every day, and it allowed me to begin to feel in control. I took a few minutes each morning and throughout the day to re-center myself, and be mindful. I worked to disengage from constant negative thoughts.
- Eating nourishing foods. Prior to this tragic period in my life, I rarely paid attention to my nutrition and consumed processed foods often. I knew that feeding my body nourishing foods would help me physically feel better, which in turn would boost my mood. I began to decrease my intake of processed foods and to eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
- Engaging in daily movement. Although I was athletic as a child, I never worked out as an adult. During this difficult part of my life, I laid in bed or on the couch, living a stationary life. By getting up and out, even for a brisk walk, I increased my serotonin levels regularly.
- Being present. During any difficult time, it is natural to dwell on the “what ifs” of the past or the unknowns of the future. I came to realize it was best for me to focus on the present and set myself up today for the best future outcome.
About a year into my journey of self-restoration, I stopped taking my medications. By recognizing the power within myself, and giving myself the attention, love, and care that I deserved, I was able to slowly heal my mind and body.
That initial period of overcoming depression and transforming my life was an amazing experience, and quite honestly, I am still on the path to healing everyday. I am a walking case study, an example for others of the ways that making lifestyle changes can reap amazing benefits.
My dramatic metamorphosis lead me to believe that I could help others seeking a similar path to health, and I became a Certified Holistic Health Coach. I channel my own life experiences, both positive and negative, into a profession that gives me the opportunity to empower and support others looking to make changes in their own lives. I am aware each day of the initial steps I took to take control of my life, which led me to happiness.
Today, my journey has come full circle: I continue to help others seek hope, health and happiness.
Want to read more about baby steps to changing your life for the better? Check out Jenna Wolfe’s Book Thinner in 30: Small Changes That Add Up to Big Weight Loss in Just 30 Days.
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