**Disclaimer || I’m not a medical professional. This is my story. This is my truth. I’m sharing what worked for me. That’s all.**
I start this with an audible heavy sigh. This one feels gritty. This one feels unclean. This one feels dark. But the only way to get through the dark is to shine a light. So here we go. Let’s get out the camping flashlight – the one with megawatt brightness and massive battery power and shine some SOUL on this darkness. It’s time.
*Shake it off, Jonte. Shake it out, Jonte. You can do this. This story is a gift. Write it as such.*
I’ve felt the pull to write this one for months, but simply haven’t been able to pluck up the courage. But this story is crashing onto this web page like an avalanche. Maybe that reflection time — those months of avoidance — was necessary?
Can I ask you a favor before I go? Please don’t crucify me. You might not be ready to receive this. And that’s ok, my lovely. But maybe you ARE ready. You might even NEED to receive this. So check your body•mind•soul right now : where you at, boo? If you’re in a deep, dark state, then close this tab. Go into the sunshine. Come back when you’re ready to be objective, scientific, factual. Don’t come at this from a super emotional state. Promise? Ok good. Love you.
You’re entitled to your opinion. You’re entitled to your story. I’m entitled to mine. I have so many women come to me each week saying these words : depression + anxiety. To be fair, it’s because I’ve attracted you to me. Thoughts are things, and vocabulary is POWERFUL AF. So, my lovely, the fact that I’ve been using these words so openly in social media with regard to my story… it may have led you to believe that living in this space of anxiety and depression is ok. And for that, I am forever sorry. Because *puts on empowering coach voice* you don’t have to. Now I’ll share what I mean. I’ll tell you my story.
Here’s the quick timeline. Let’s get a framework.
- September 2012 :: Weird that I can be so open about it now, but this is when I was suicidal.
- Spring 2014 :: I was out of the deep dark, but still what I quantified as “depressed.” I went to a therapist.
- August 2014 :: I adopted Juniper. I found that I was still depressed.
- December 2014 :: I was on anti-anxiety meds (though still felt a bit ‘depressed’ + ‘anxious’). The meds killed my appetite. I passed out in a bowling alley because I hadn’t eaten for days.
- January 2015 :: I signed up for my challenge. I transformed.
My therapist was great. She was a friend when I needed a friend. She filled my need for connection at a time in my life when I was isolated, or rather, when I isolated myself. As therapists are taught… she gave me a label. She gave me an identity. I remember the moment when she said those words out loud, “It sounds like you’re suffering from compassion fatigure, depression, and an anxiety. Especially separation anxiety.” I remember the moment when I looked at them written on the page.
I just nodded my head in a state of determination. It was so relieving to have a word for what I was feeling, because I couldn’t fit in a box. I had been through ibs and that whole figgin’ mess, but this… compassion fatigue… depression… separation anxiety… were all new. And now I had 3 shiny new boxes with which I could name my emotions. And that’s what I did. Day-after-day. Month-after-month. I swirled these words around my brain, spoke them aloud to co-workers, and explained them to family. And EVERYONE validated me.
- Oh, that sounds right.
- That makes sense.
- We all go through that sometimes.
- It’s ok. Depression is hard.
- This too shall pass. In time.
FUCK.THAT.SHIT. THIS SHIT NEEDS TO END. RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.
But I didn’t know there was a way that it could end. Right the fuck now.
identity vs. pattern
The key to understanding this : I had adopted these things as my identity. I classified myself as someone who suffers from anxiety, depression, compassion fatigue. And when I took them as my identity, it just strengthened them within me. They were now me. I was now them. One in the same. Rather than feelings or states that I would have every once in a while. Rather than a pattern of behavior that I could snap into AND BACK OUT OF.
***Teacher friends : It’s just like when the kid who makes bad choices sometimes decided to take the identity (whether prescribed by him/herself OR by the world) as the bad kid.***
I should have first been using time to recognize my pattern of what it looked like to go into that state by asking questions… what was my body doing? how was I standing? what were my thoughts? where was I focusing my attention? what were the words I was using? in my mind and out loud?
In short, picture a depressed person, and you had me. 🙂 I was slumped over. I never smiled. I looked at the ground as I walked. I never ‘got dressed.’ My focus + thoughts were something along the lines of… I hate my life. I hate this job. I hate my kids. I resent them for making me come here.
Yeah. It was bad. That example right there ^^^ was just the tip of the iceberg. It was bad.
But I DIDN’T do that metacognition. I DIDN’T think about my thoughts. I just let them aimlessly wander in and out of my gorgeous garden of a mind, which was completely overgrown with weeds at this point. Boo. I am worthy peonies and tulips and lavender. Somewhere inside me I KNEW that, I just didn’t know how to cultivate that garden. So instead, my pattern of letting weeds grow became my identity. #screwed
one pattern shift
The only time I DID shift my pattern was in front of the kids. In front of the kids, I had to have a different identity. You don’t teach without putting on your ‘teacher hat’ and assuming a new identity. I was Ms. Jonte. The problem came when that became my whole identity, on and off stage. I felt like I couldn’t be more than that, which led me to shitty depressed//anxious patterns, which led me to the decision to take on a shitty depressed//anxious identity. I didn’t think I had another decision to make at that moment — when my therapist gave me those labels.
But you know what. I’m not resentful of that. If I had to go through that shit to sit here and write this to YOU and help YOU snap out of it right the fuck now. Every sob into my pillow. Every shaky shower moment. Every excruciating drive. Worth it. Cause I fucking love you. So fucking much.
who cares where it came from
Here’s what I don’t want you to do right now. I don’t want you to start reading my story and start searching for where your problem came from. Don’t go looking for where this identity or pattern originated or how it developed. Because, lovely, that isn’t helpful. As you start to search, you’ll start seeing it everywhere. You’ll start creating stories. You’ll reinforce that as your truth. Don’t do that. Your truth is that you are a masterpiece. Your truth is that you have something to give to the world which is uniquely your own. So it’s time to break the illusion that you are depressed//anxious//suffering and free yourself to live your purpose.
how i broke that identity
Lovelies, when I say that the first fitness challenge I did changed my life… I’m, like, really really not kidding. It changed my state over and over and over until I developed an empowering identity. Becuase the TRUTH is that I didn’t have to change “who I am”… I just had to realize that wasn’t who I am… It was just a pattern that I had to break over and over and over. The challenge gave me the framework to do that.
Physiology. My body shifted because I was actually using it consistently. Endorphins make you happy. I felt stronger. I felt like I was doing something for myself. I walked taller.
Focus. My focus shifted to g r o w t h. Physically through workouts + nutrition. Emotionally through this little book called The Compound Effect that my coach told me to read. #ifollowdirections
Language. My language shifted because I made this commitment to do something for me. That one decision to saying YES to me turned into more decisions of YES… of saying I’M WORTH IT. I CAN DO IT. I HAVE SUPPORT.
It didn’t happen overnight. It took lots and lots and lots of conditioning. It took me becoming a coach for extra accountability. It took finding resources of other times in my life when I did things well (like discipline in band or leadership in the classroom) and using them to reinforce the real me. I wish I could say I designed the pattern, but it’s one that I naturally fell into when I started this whole fitness thing. But it didn’t stop there. It’s been expansion ever since.
everything is mindset. mindset is everything.
This reflection and these ideas. They all come back to one guy. The vehicle of fitness got me to this place, but I didn’t make sense of it until I met Tony. Here’s one of his videos. I highly recommend you go on a YouTube binge on his channel. Your mind will be swimming. And you’ll LOVE it. Cause you’ll feel freed by something that makes so much s e n s e.
I hope that you took this in during that state — the one where you’re feeling like making sense rather than letting yourself fall into the depth of emotion. You promised, remember?
I’ll leave you here. For now. But please, oh please, drop me a comment // a line // a message with any and all thoughts. I’m open to receiving. <3