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I know anxiety and depression, intimately.
These are not topics I discuss from a distant, philosophical place.
And while I never succumbed to medication, I came close a couple of times in my life.
My introduction to depression came in my senior year of high school. It took me almost a decade to realize what that experience was; paralysis brought on by fear.
Fear because I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and because I doubted I was ready to take that next step into adulthood.
That depression was so debilitating that I essentially stopped going to school. It wasn’t that I was skipping school and having a great time hanging out at the beach with my friends. I wasn’t having fun, and I wasn’t hanging out with my friends. In fact, I wasn’t even getting out of bed.
While I was able to somewhat pull myself out of that just in the nick of time, I barely managed to graduate and immediately dove into classes at my local community college.
Not because I was particularly inspired, but because I had absolutely no idea what else to do next.
A couple of years later, that debilitating depression mostly behind me, I was still operating under a fog… living in a cloud of fear and self-doubt.
That’s when my journey deep into the world of emotional intelligence began, as I sought to understand my emotions in an effort to better understand myself.
My “aha” moment came when I learned to listen to and trust the messages in my emotions. And to actually be grateful for them. For all of them.
That was the moment the cloud fully lifted for me and, for the first time in my adult life, I experienced actual JOY.
Now I have come to respect and trust my emotions as powerful messengers, and see the gift in all of them.
So when life hit me hard again twenty years later, letting me know I’d never be able to have children of my own, I felt that familiar tug of depression.
But this time, I knew what it was.
I saw the gift in my grief and was able to work with it in a completely different way. I gave myself lots of room and permission to feel what I needed to feel, but that emotional energy never incapacitated me, and it didn’t turn into a debilitating depression that hung on for years.
For almost two decades now I’ve been an emotional intelligence educator and coach. Because whether we choose to fight them kicking and screaming, or embrace them as the powerful messengers they are, our emotions are not going anywhere.
They are there for a reason. They are there to tell us something…guiding us in a way we were never taught to pay attention to or understand.
When you realize your emotions are there to tell you something, you come to understand the truth about anxiety and depression and start to have a completely different relationship with your emotions.
If you or anybody you know has ever struggled with this, check out my latest video, The Truth About Anxiety and Depression, where I share three things we all need to understand about anxiety and depression, and how to overcome them.
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