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Be the Light

Opening a wellness business had been a dream of mine for years. I remember the first time the notion even entered my brain as an actual goal way back in the early 90's when I first moved to Alabama. I just had my first child and was really into getting fit. And I thought, wow, wouldn't it be cool to run a place that offered a gym, massage, and a health check up, all under one roof? Too cool. So most people that know me have expressed that they know health and wellness is my PASSION. And it is. But why? Why is this my passion? It is because I have been on the other side of health and wellness. The unhealthy side. The unwell side. And in many ways. Mind, body, and spirit. I have been on the complete other side of the spectrum. So I value my health. It took a long time to get here, and I'm still and will always be a work in progress. One of my mantras is "progress instead of perfection." The strive to be perfect is actually what sent me into the decent of being unwell, unhealthy. And that is my blog today. My mental health. And why it is as important to nurture as my body and spirit. Because all three are interconnected and balance must be maintained.

Bell Let's Talk is Canada's effort to bring an end to the stigma of mental health disease and disorders. It is a way to encourage people to have the conversation about the mental health issues they face. So that we may begin the understanding that mental health is as important as our physical health. That they are one and the same. Hopefully, we can develop more empathy and compassion regarding those around us that have mental health diseases and disorders. And those of us who do suffer won't feel ashamed anymore.

My own mental health story begins around the time I was 15 years old. My family background is one of dysfunction and addiction. As circumstances in my household escalated with the addiction of a family member, I was deeply depressed and riddled with paralyzing anxiety. My response was the only thing I knew at the time in order to cope. And it was all about control. The more the events around me spiraled out of control, the more I tried to grasp control. By not eating. By binge exercising. By being a straight A student. By being perfect. Now, over time, this behavior coupled with depression lead me to have problems with my friendships with my peers. I was embarrassed by my family. I was ashamed by my behavior because I couldn't hide how skinny I was anymore, but I was helpless to stop. I isolated myself. I pretended things were fine. I acted like I was ok. I put a smile on my face. But inside I was dying.

Eventually I did receive professional intervention. Off and on. I had friends that were beginning to see that I wasn't ok. But my mental health kept deteriorating. Anorexia became bulimia. Bulimia became binge eating without purging. Then came the drugs and alcohol. Then came the self-abuse. And I was lost to this for about 6 years. I did my best to hide it. That didn't really work.

I'm happy to say that my mental health did take a turn for the better in my early 20's. I worked very hard to stop the self-abuse. The binge drinking and drug abuse became less attractive as ways to cope. I started running and went back to college. I became a mother to a beautiful baby girl, and then later another beautiful baby girl, who I love with all my heart. Now that's not to say my demons were put to rest at this point. But I was slowly healing.

Today, I see a wonderful mental health professional who also has similar scars like mine. Which leads me to wonder how many of us do. We seem to hide them well, don't we? We put that smile on our faces, and power through. Fake it til we make it. Which isn't really a bad thing. But talking is better. Talking is when we can heal. And not be ashamed anymore. Which brings me back to the wellness studio. I wanted to provide a safe place for people to come, to feel appreciated, to be nurtured, to feel the interconnectedness of life. We are all in this together and together, we can heal.

This is just a condensed version of my journey. The long story is ugly, disturbing, and raw. But it is also beautiful. And it's who I am. I hope it helps.

"If you light a lamp for another, your own way will be lit." Nichiren

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