Hi there. My name is Angela.

“I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell, and I don’t have time
To go ’round and ’round and ’round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is
You think I should”

I drove to my photoshoot with Tamara singing this Dixie Chicks song at the top of my lungs. Not sure why this one, but it helped with the nerves and made me feel courageous enough to meet her and share my story. It was the day after my 39th birthday and something about the shoot felt like it was going to be a powerful moment in my life.  

Anxiety and depression have been a part of my life for as far back as I can remember. Insomnia for always. Laying there, my mind spinning, replaying everything I had done or said that day, wondering if I had done it right or wrong. Or consumed with fear of the next day, week or month and what was going to happen. Hours in bed spent trying to imagine each and every scenario so I could somehow be fully prepared for anything that could happen. Then the terror that I had done something wrong or missed imagining something that might happen would set in and take me to my knees.

The first time I thought about suicide I was 13. I didn’t tell anyone. The first time a doctor mentioned medication to me I was 18. First year away from home, in my first year of university. They didn’t say I had anxiety or depression, but I remember being given a prescription for an antidepressant. I didn’t take it. I went on with my life. I assumed that everyone’s brain was like mine, I hadn’t lived in anyone else’s. I didn’t know that the overwhelm and panic and suicidal thoughts weren’t “normal”. My first full-fledged panic attack, on the floor sweating with my guts being twisted like the wringing out of a dishrag, was at 26. No idea what was going on for me just kept doing life…

I was a worrier always, an overthinker, a perfectionist and so damn fiery. I’ve been called crazy many, many times in my life. Told not to stress and to just get over it, nothing in my life was that bad. So I did. Sort of. I shoved everything down, tried not to think so much, do everything right and keep everything to myself so no one would know how crazy I was.

When my first marriage was coming to an end, I started therapy. But even then, it was talking about the story and not really my feelings about it.  I didn’t even have a clue what they were and god forbid anyone actually found out I was crazy. Less than 6 months later my husband moved out and I started to crack. The suicidal thoughts were back, insomnia got worse, depression and anxiety started to rule my every waking minute. Zopiclone and Ativan every night for two months straight two years after we split and I still wasn’t sleeping.

From 2010 to 2016 I was in one of the darkest places I have ever been in. There were moments of happiness and love, but it was overshadowed by this darkness so deep inside of me that I struggled to see the light. I got remarried, blended a family, fell deeply in love with a man and his two children. I went to therapy regularly, read every book I could find on healing myself, yoga and meditation, supplements, diet changes, exercise…give me all of the things to fix myself because I am so damn broken. Crying that there weren’t enough hours in the day to fix all of the things that were wrong with me.

I hated myself. I wanted to be anyone else but me. I didn’t want to be highly sensitive or passionate, I didn’t want to be intense and empathic, I didn’t want to be bad with paperwork and a terrible housekeeper. So I set out to fix each and every part of me. Because then maybe I would be ok and normal and worthy of any kind of happiness and love.

When I read that our thoughts create our reality I almost vomited. That had been my savior from all of the fear…to think of every scenario so I could be prepared and safe. From then on I desperately tried to control the thoughts in my brain, for fear that everything happening in my life was being created from my thoughts. In yoga, I would hear “let the thoughts float on by” and I would cry on my mat because I couldn’t do what they were asking of me.

Through all of this, I realized that my brain was not only NOT the same as everyone else’s, it was actually completely broken. And then the shame set in…deep and devastating shame. With it came suicidal ideation. Believing on many occasions that those around me, who I loved deeper than anything I could have imagined, would be better off if I was dead.

It wasn’t until I came across a woman who spoke about trauma and PTSD that I started to see my struggles in a different light. That regardless of how big or small the trauma was, that it could have a real detrimental impact on my mental health. Over the next four years, I started to accept the thoughts, instead of trying to shove them down. I started medication, I found EMDR, I balanced my vitamins and minerals, I spent time with energy healers, I was diagnosed with severe adrenal fatigue and eventually left my second marriage summer of 2017.

The last year has been the most life-changing of anything I have ever experienced. I have healed in ways that I never knew were possible. By beginning to accept the thoughts in my head instead of fighting them, by eventually loving them and seeing that they have actually been trying to protect me…I have been able not only to stop hating myself but truly fall in love with myself. I never, ever believed that was possible.

My life isn’t perfect. I have days where I struggle and I’m low. I’m in the middle of my second divorce and somedays it guts me to my core. The grief over my stepkids knocks me out. Being healed from anxiety and depression doesn’t look like sunshine and rainbows and joy in every single moment. It doesn’t look like a peaceful and calm yogi either. I’m fiery and deep, passionate and empathic, and I feel all of the things all of the time!! For me, it has been shifting into acceptance of my humanness and my flaws. Remembering that no matter how many times the world tells me to “look on the bright side”, my feelings are valid and they’re a guide. They need to be loved instead of shamed. And NONE of this happened overnight.

I have spent almost 20 years working with women, hearing their stories, creating a safe place for them to share and heal. It has been an honor and a gift. I write on my IG and share my story so that maybe one person will read it and know that they’re not crazy and that they’re not alone. I have channeled my passion and fire into fighting for mental health and supporting as many humans as I can inside of their struggles. Everyone deserves to be heard.

Years of going around and around, trying to be who I thought the world wanted me to be. Shrinking instead of speaking, hiding instead of asking, pretending that everything was ok…I truly got mad as hell and knew that it was fight or die trying. I couldn’t bring myself to do what the world thought I should anymore, what my brain told me I should do anymore. And today, I am in a place I never thought I would be. Where I live anxiety and depression free 99% of the time. Where I get to support others in finding their way to do the same. Grateful that somehow inside of the deepest darkness, that it didn’t take me over and I was able to find my way out.

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