I’m honored once again to have my good friend Tracie guest posting on the blog today. She is my partner for the Out of the Darkness Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I’ve learned so much from her courageous openness in sharing her story of mental illness, the loss of her sister to mental illness and suicide in 2009, and the inheritance of her teenage niece.
When Tracie sent me this post last week, I have to say that I was SO sad to read that a simple word from me could have facilitated so much pain. But then a few days later, a similar thing happened to me. A small incident threw me for a loop that I wasn’t expecting. I’m not ready to write about it yet, BUT I think that her post came at just the right time.
I’m happy to share it with you, because I think often times those who have not experienced depression or anxiety (or other mental illness) may not realize how easily a simple thing might throw you into a tail spin. Not because you want it to, but because the depression and anxiety is “taking control.” John and I sometimes call it “projecting.” Basically when I project my own insecurities or anxieties on a situation, when in reality if I were in a better mental place, I may not have had any problem at all.
GUEST POST By: Tracie Mason Holton, Purposeful Practices Project
A few weeks ago I called Cristi to chat. As we were catching on families and lives, she asked me something along the lines of how my practice was going. I’m a Life and Holistic Health Coach. I’m part of the complementary or alternative healing field. Using coaching, EFT and yoga therapy I help people explore their depression and anxiety and find tools to help them better manage it.
At least that’s what I was doing until about two months ago when my depression flared back up and my anxiety attacks kept me from seeing clients. Talk about a tough way to run a private practice. Anyway…
Cristi asked how my practice was going, and I shared that I wasn’t currently able to see clients because of my depression and anxiety. And she asked “Really?” As I think back, I’m pretty sure that was it … She asked “Really?” with sympathy and kindness.
But I heard ‘REALLLYYYY? Huh… All your years of battling depression and anxiety… All these yoga therapy training you went through… Huh. Thought you had it all together didn’t you? Clearly you can’t help anyone else; you can’t even keep your own self together.” Continue self loathing internal dialogue for two days…
Okay, if you know Cristi Comes (and I assume you know a bit about her since you read her blog,) you know she didn’t say any of that. You know she probably didn’t even think any of that. Cristi knows what its like to battle depression and anxiety. She’s really not a judger when it comes to mental illness. But the shear act of my sharing my struggle with her, unleashed some of the most hateful, judgmental self-talk I’d experienced in a long time.
My emotions ran the gauntlet. I was really kicking myself for having failed to keep my depression and anxiety under control; even though this was one of the grayest, rainiest Seattle winters many people have seen (even the natives were struggling this year). My guilt kicked in; what if I’d spent all this time, energy and money on completing my training and wasn’t able to work with clients.
Then there was pure sadness. I cried and cried over the thought of not being able to do work that helps people. Wondering if not this work, then what.
Currently I’m taking a break from my private practice and from clients. Working closely with my ND and counselor, I’m taking care of me and exploring where I am with my depression and anxiety. As a team, we are examining if mind-body coaching is a good fit for me in gray Seattle. I don’t know what the answer is, and I don’t know how long or short my break will be. While that makes me really sad, I’ve at least found a little more compassion for myself.
In the meantime, taking inspiration and encouragement from Cristi, I’ve launched my own blog. The Purposeful Practices Project is about my journey of finding peace and purpose while I battle against depression and anxiety. It’s about how I’ve beat mental illness before and how I’ll find a way to do it again.
Please feel free to stop by for a read.
Health, Healing and Happiness.