Life is messy, isn’t it? Things can be going well and then all of a sudden, shit hits the fan and you feel like you’ve fallen down a hole you’ll never have the strength to climb out of. Now, add anxiety and depression to the mix and you feel like you’ve fallen even further, drowning in hot magma at the centre of the earth.
Like so many others, I have struggled with anxiety and depression throughout my entire life. This came to a head when I experienced my first panic attack at the age of nineteen, just as my first year of university was ending. From that point on, I defined my life as ‘pre-panic attack’ and ‘post-panic attack’. The way I lived my life for years after that first panic attack completely changed. I became fearful of any sensations that would resemble those of a panic attack and orchestrated every moment of my life to avoid certain feelings, places, and situations in hopes of avoiding another attack. I sought help from my family doctor, who prescribed a common anti-anxiety drug. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any benefit from this drug and even suffered a bad reaction to it. I also sought counselling through the free service provided by the local hospital, however, I felt like these practitioners were just scratching the surface, and I wanted to get to the root of the emotional issues that had plagued my life, as I knew this would be the pathway to true healing.
Depression crept back into my life, and I found myself completely void of motivation or desire to even get out of bed in the morning. My creativity flew out the window, and the more I tried to do what I love - paint - the worse I felt. I couldn’t access my passion and my talent anymore. I wasn’t in ‘the flow’, so the work I was producing wasn’t up to my standards. A nice way of saying, my work was shit! At that point, I gave up painting.
My intuition was telling me that there was something about my diet that was contributing to my emotional disturbances. I sought help from a Master Herbalist and acupuncturist who also had extensive nutrition knowledge. Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together. My intuition was correct - underlying digestive issues were at the root of my problems, and by adjusting my diet to fit MY body’s unique needs, I began to experience incredible improvements almost immediately. I was now supporting my body’s unique nutritional needs through healing foods and cleansing my body of accumulated toxins through herbs. As my body continued to heal, my spiritual and emotional wellbeing improved as a wonderful consequence.
Emotional wellbeing is truly a holistic experience. As I worked on returning my body to balance through foods and herbs, I started the process of working on the mind and spirit. I began to practice yoga and meditation, which have helped me to become more mindful by bringing my mind and spirit back into my body, into the present moment. Those with anxiety and panic are often ‘living in the future’, and those with depression are often ‘living in the past’, so learning how to be present is an essential aspect of healing.
At this point in my journey, I felt like I needed more external support, and sought the help of an incredible holistic psychotherapist who guided me through the very difficult and ongoing process of adjusting my negative thought patterns. This has been my greatest challenge thus far!
I returned to painting (yay!) and developed a meditative painting practice. Art became a powerful therapeutic tool for me, which led me to develop workshops that combine all of my passions and gifts together - art, meditation, restorative yoga, and holistic nutrition!
So where am I today? I’m finally living my life again! I still have fears and anxiety, and still, deal with stress. Lots of stress! Like I said, life is messy and things get fucked up. People think that because I am an artist who is spiritual and who does yoga, that I must be this perpetually happy, optimistic, ‘zen’ individual. I’m not! I complain I have a temper, and I say ‘fuck’ a lot! However, anxiety, stress, and depression no longer dictate the course of my life. I have been able to do things I never thought possible, like speak in front of large groups of people, hike on mountains, go on very long international flights alone, and even live in another country for a year! There is nothing more liberating than floating above anxiety, panic, and depression to live the life that you were destined to live!
After graduating from York University with an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Art, I went to college and obtained my Registered Holistic Nutritionist certification from The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and completed Restorative Yoga teacher training in 2012.