It’s pretty cool that you made it here! So, thanks for that! There’s some big messages behind self-care/self-love and mental healthiness that I think are monsterously important in our lives. We all deal with it to some degree; but it’s not until it really hits you that you fully understand the capacity of what it can do to you a life that you thought was going pretty damn well. I’ll start by sharing my story - bravo if you read through!
My husband, Dylan, and I have been married for nearly 7 years (June 23, 2012!) and have been together as a couple since the end of 2006. So, by this point, we know each other pretty well. I would say that the first 10 years of our relationship felt kinda…effortlessly happy. We got on super well, like all the time, figured things out together with what we thought was pretty good communication skills, and just had a lot of fun in eachother’s company! We love each other tremendously. I’m not sure what really flipped, but now, a few years into the unstable part, I can look back and notice points where I can now see what was going on. And things sure did flip.
Over the last 2 years it’s been a whole lot of ups and downs. We’ve been navigating waters we never really thought we’d ever have to, and learned A LOT in short periods of time, had to piece things together, and decided on pushing through, together, when neither of us knew what was around the next corner. When the one you’re with suddenly takes a turn and you’re not really sure who they are anymore…that’s super fucking tough. I don’t know how many times I said “What is going on?!” out loud and to myself…among other things. We were now dealing with a mental illness that never showed face like it had before. And it was unexpected, super confusing, frustrating, scary, unnerving, complicated, all-in composing, and so on. I went through all of the emotions and sometimes just didn’t know what to think.
We have the most amazing families and friends, and they stepped up. Big time. Being in the midst of a busy season in my photo business, over holidays, etc., I had to keep a happy face…meanwhile, I was having trouble focusing while sitting in my office because of how much personal stuff I had on my mind. Thankfully, I have the best clients in the world that understood there was hard times…and this is life. And I’m a human, with real problems.
Long story short, too late…
…mental illness is a beast. It affects people that you think have their shit together, it affects your friends, neighbours, lawyers, sports players, actors, basically anyone it can get it’s hands on. I speak of it like it’s own being, because it is. It does not define you. One more time for the people in the back…MENTAL ILLNESS DOES NOT DEFINE YOU. That’s one of the many things that I’ve learned about mental illness. You can’t be mad or frustrated at the person, because they have no control. Be pissed off at the illness. That’s actually one of the most helpful tips that I came across in one of the articles I researched. In the beginning, as a caregiver, I basically did everything “wrong” according to the helpful tips. So, if you’re reading this, and you’re caring for someone going through a tough time…read up on how to deal. And don’t be tough on yourself if you just don’t know what to do. I had to learn not to be hard on myself because I don’t know all the answers or how to be a fix-it in the situation, unfortunately. Be kind to yourself, and make absolute sure that you take care of yourself! This is super important.
IT REALLY IS GOING TO BE OKAY!
So, because we had spiraled a few times, been through the hospital stays a few times, I started to get a little down myself. Now, I’m pretty in-tune with my emotions and can read people pretty well. I’m also a pretty strong person, and stubborn =P So, I decided that I would do what I know best, and be as strong as I could, then a little bit stronger and refused to give up. I also learned to give myself the space to be sad, scared, frustrated, angry and confused. And to my surprise, I learned to be vulnerable. I thought I was before..but I really wasn’t. You have to be honest with yourself in order to start the healing process. If you did something shitty…it happens. We all “screw up”…just observe it, don’t judge it, and move on. You have to embrace your emotions and acknowledge and observe them…but without judgement. (THIS IS KEY!! And the answer to MINDFULNESS!) These emotions are not “bad emotions”, they are emotions just like being happy, excited, joyful, etc.. So let them happen, and know that they are totally normal and okay to feel. But also, don’t get stuck on the lower frequency emotions. I know that some days are harder then others. I would sometimes wake up pissed off…and couldn’t say exactly why. That was frustrating in itself. I knew that I really hated living and feeling like this. I know that I’m better then that and being pissed off is a choice. It’s all about your PERSPECTIVE on the situation. And you have all the power in the world to change that. It’s not up to anyone else how you react to any situation, except for you! So, I used the power of being angry and exhausted to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. I just knew that I could create good out of this situation. Helping others through my own discoveries, experiences, vulnerability, and now, creative art work, creates an amazingness beyond words.
HOW I GOT AND AM GETTING THROUGH
I stood and stand in my TRUTH. I know who I am. I went through some pretty shitty things, but always remained true to myself. I could see the silver lining in all of this, believe it or not. I trusted that this was all meant to happen. You can’t possibly have a life of sunshine and rainbows - how would you ever fully appreciate the “good times” without knowing what the “bad times” are. I trusted that we were going through all of this as a chance to embrace change. To recognize what wasn’t working for me/us and this was a massive wake up call. With this mindset, I was able to hold myself together. Even though it does feel like sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to get back up. I started doing a lot more research on how I can get out of this funk. How I could help myself and my partner return to a happy life. Because this was getting exhausting. We’ve talked to therapists, counselors, multiple doctors, family, and friends. We’ve both taken a few classes, but I can only speak of my experience. And it’s been life-changing.
The first class I attended just this past January was called “Mindful Based Stress Reduction” and it runs out of Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba It helped to mindfully be aware of my triggers, what stress is and how it’s caused (on ourselves) and then some tools about how to deal with that. It was a smaller setting, and it was a good introduction into this type of therapy. I was then given the option to take another course, one that I’m currently in the midst of one about dealing with emotions…and I really can’t tell you how much this one has literally flipped my mood, perspective, and overall life within the first class!! I wish that everyone could take this!! Seriously. So, after the first class I was really inspired to spread the word about mindfulness, how to be mindful, and how imperative it is to your mental health. I’ve always said one day I’d create a shirt/clothing line. And I’m telling you, this came fast and fierce. When the wave of genus comes, you must snatch it up and ride the waves. Everything feels so damn right. I’m usually pretty indecisive about stuff, but I found myself easily making decisions and sticking to them with full force once they were made. I didn’t even think of another name..this one came to me while driving, I said it out loud (then sang it..) and I was like, yep, okay. It’s also about checking in on yourself. Where is your head at? Each piece has a super special and important message behind it. I plan on doing a blog post for each design over the next little while so you get the full story of the process and choice of design.
For now, please enjoy enjoy enjoy! I’m so grateful that you are here, and that you share in the importance of being mindfully healthy. Peace and Love and keep on keepin’ on you magical souls. And, leave space today to be kind to yourself.
Much Love, Nancy
MakeUp by the talented Stass @stas _ wpg _ mua | Hair by the lovely @steph.wall | Model Connie!…and me and Dylan =)