Hi friends. This post is going to be the most personal one that I’ve ever written. It’s going to be very personal and emotional and at times hard to write, but that is the exact reason that I wanted to write it. Because it needs to be talked about.
You see friends, for about a year and a half, I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety.
What?! DEPRESSION?!? No no NO! It’s not cool to even say the word depression, let alone admit that you might have it, right?
The word depression is a lot like the word Voldemort. People are terrified to even say the word. They cringe at even the slightest whisper of it. If you are brave enough to speak the word then you better beprepared to face the intense social backlash that comes with it. This is why I’m sharing my story with all of you. It’s time for me to talk about it. It’s time to end the stigma.
I know what you all might be thinking. There’s absolutely no way that Court could be depressed, right? She always seems so happy and chipper and always willing to make people laugh and always having such a good time with life! Well, that’s exactly what I thought myself. There was just no way that I could be depressed. It could NEVER happen to me because I’m Courtney Liebl and nothing ever gets to me or brings me down!
As it turns out, I was very wrong about that.
About a year and a half ago, I started feeling out of sorts. I didn’t feel like myself. I just attributed it to the stress of senior year of college and always worrying about classes or homework or the ever-impending doom of graduating and going into the real world. I just kept telling myself “don’t worry about it, you’re fine. All of the other graduating seniors are probably feeling the exact same way that you are so just suck it up and deal with it.” So naturally, the school year came and went and I graduated and all that jazz and I just swept it under the rug and sucked it up and that was that. I realized that the real world was coming whether I liked it or not and so I just put my mental health on the back burner for the time being.
But that’s the thing with depression; it will lie dormant and quiet for however the hell long that it pleases and then when it’s ready it will come along and show its ugly face whether you’re ready or not. Depression doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t give a shit how nice of a person you are or how much money you have or how great you think your life is. Depression just does not give a shit.
Recently, the depression has decided to creep back into my life and has slapped me in the face harder than anything I have ever experienced before. At first, I denied it. I ran as far away from it as I could. I was so far deep into denial that it wasn’t even funny. Because again, it wouldn’t be cool of me to admit that I suffer from a mental illness, right?
So for about the past few months or so, I’ve been really struggling with it. Add into the mix extreme anxiety and it was like a mental health tornado that I couldn’t escape from. All of the things that I love to do that would usually give me so much joy just seemed like a chore. I used to love to go to the library and aimlessly wander around and look at books because it was one of those simple things that made me so happy. Now just the thought of having to get up and go out in public to get to the library fills me with extreme dread. I used to love to go grocery shopping because it was weirdly one of those things that was very soothing to me. But now it makes me so terribly anxious that it takes me about three days to summon the courage to even make it into the store. Even answering texts back to my friends and family and talking with them, which has always been the thing that brings me the most joy, has lost the happiness that it used to bring me. I even joined a gym because Legally Blonde taught me that endorphins make people happy, but I stopped going after two times because my depression was saying “why even bother?”
My anxiety has gotten so bad that I am constantly in a state of panic and stress. When it seems that things are at ease and my anxiousness is at a stand still, that lovely little anxious voice inside my head rears its ugly face and brings up all of these completely irrational scenarios or things that could go wrong and then my anxiety just goes bananas. It has gotten to a point to where the only thing that I really look forward to anymore is sleeping, because it gives me a chance to escape the feelings of dread that my depression brings and to shut my brain off for a few hours.
I knew that I had a serious problem. I knew that I was dealing with an illness that wasn’t going to go away on its own. I knew that I had to reach out and get help. It took me almost an entire month to work up the courage to even tell a few of my close and dear friends what was happening. My anxiety told me that they would judge me and think that I was weak for feeling this way. One of my dear friends pointed out, “that voice of anxiety may be powerful but it is NEVER right.” So I finally admitted that I had a problem.
That was the first time that I had ever told anyone what was happening.
That was the first small step that I needed to take in order to move forward. Because this is a marathon, not a sprint. And any steps forward, no matter how big or small, are positive steps in the right direction. That one small step of reaching out to my friends and family has already helped tremendously, and it’s given me the courage to call and schedule an appointment with a professional. It took me about three more weeks to work up the courage to make the call to set up the appointment, so I would consider that about five steps in the right direction!
I know that I have a long and tough journey ahead of me. Hell, it’s already been a long and tough journey already. I know that there will be very good days and there will also be very bad days. That’s one of the most frustrating things about depression; sometimes I’ll have a week where every day is great and I feel awesome and then sometimes there will be a stretch where it will be nothing but bleak and grey days.
I’ve learned to just take everything day by day. I’ve also learned that those bleak and dreary days sure do make me appreciate the good days that much more.
I hope that by sharing my story with all of you that I’m able to help someone else who may be struggling. I hope that I’m able to give someone else the courage to speak up when they feel like there’s nowhere else to turn and they feel lost. Always remember that your mental illness does not define you. You are not weak. You are not a burden. You are not your mental illness.
I have depression and anxiety. My depression and anxiety do not define me. I am not weak. I am not a burden. I am stronger than this mental illness. I am not my mental illness.
As a growing online business, we love finding stories and online mentors who have created their own niche and re-invented their space! In a world of eCourses, blogging, consulting, and so much more, we’ve have been wildly impressed by the determination these women have to make their own way and run with it!
Here are five of our particular favorites, but there are so many more fabulously fierce women online… Make sure to let us know who you follow!
After trying her hand at finance, publishing, and fashion, Marie finally found her spark deep within a life-coaching article. Soon after, she created what is now a multimillion dollar socially conscious empire helping other people find their niche quicker than she found hers. She has even been interviewed about “her art of the creative hustle” by the likes of Oprah, Tony Robbins, and Sir Richard Branson. This is the woman you want to turn to for a more raw and unfiltered perspective on business and success! PS: check out her weekly video series for your new dosage of a positive pick-me-up.
A Success Coach and Business Mentor, Serena Sandstorm is a highly notable fierce female entrepreneur in today’s growing online business sphere. Her business is your business, and any marketing or technical skills she has, she wants to pass them along and see them blossom with you!
While working with her clients, Serena promises to pinpoint and breakdown any personal or business weaknesses that might be limiting her client’s potential growth. She works closely with her clients to ensure that they become the dynamic, fearless, and highly motivated leader they hope to be.
Just as most things do, Natalie’s business began with a huge existential kick from the universe. Off on a soul-searching adventure, Natalie quite literally stumbled upon both a song and sign, saying “The World is Yours.” Feeling emboldened by this sign, she vowed to move forward in a life of passion and purpose. For Natalie, this purpose was helping others channel theirs and aid them in taking their first steps in the direction of their dreams.
She authored She Takes on the World, created an introductory entrepreneurship program, and her website has been recognized by Forbes on “Top 10 Websites for Entrepreneurial Women” – this lady is a force! If there’s one thing evident throughout her work, it is to have the same pushing impact on her clients’ lives as “The World is Yours” song and sign had on hers.
Coming from a corporate background, Kathryn Hocking one day found herself in a rut. Although she had the life most dream of, she was unable to actually live it herself. She had no time for her family or her own interests, so she began to think of other options until it became abundantly clear that starting her own business was the only option. Recognizing her strengths, Kathryn decided to create an eCourse so that busy, proactive women like herself could also afford to pursue the entrepreneurial lifestyle. She went on to create the purpose-driven eCourses like the eCourse Launch Formula and the premium Mastermind Program, where her clients could access marketing and business advice. So, follow her lead, take the leap and check her out if you are in pursuit of some advice for starting up your own eCourse.
Last but certainly not least, Kate McGibbin honed a skill set gained from her previous career in beauty and fashion editorials and forged her online empire DropDeadGorgeous (DDG). The website aims to be the best fashion and beauty portal in Australia, but women all over the world love the site (she’s got 450,000+ new readers every month)! She and her staff work to provide some of the best style and beauty advice for women, and due to the blog’s success, Kate began various eCourses for women looking to do something similar. If you want to make your blog into something more than a shoe fund and turn it into a profitable business, Kate has designed three unique programs based on your present blogging abilities to get you started!
Look around your house today. Count how many things are NOT made in China, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, or Vietnam. Now, compare it to the number of things you own that are produced in those countries. The number will undeniably be astounding. It is safe to say that many of those products were made in factories which operate under abhorrent working conditions and its employees are paid next to nothing ($2 dollars on average for a 12-14 hour day).
It is important to ruminate on these things, but it is even more important to do SOMETHING about it. Whatever that means for you – supporting your local artisans, boycotting goods made in those particular countries, or trying your hand at making more of what you own – do it. For me and my lifestyle, it’s a bit of all of those things, but what I find to be most important is to focus on supporting brands that are socially and environmentally conscious. Over the years I’ve generated a list of companies and non-profits that work to divert away from fast fashion and instead embrace women’s empowerment and craftsmanship – be it from a different culture or place or somewhere familiar. Though the following few companies are only a small preview into the vast world of fair-trade, ethical production, it is a start!
After you dump that recycling into the bin, do you ever think about where it heads off to? Is it being used efficiently? Luckily, Eric Hudson asked himself these exact things; he was curious if these valuable materials available from recyclables were being used to their fullest potential. From this initial phase of exploration, he and his father opened a company, Preserve, and began with one product: a functional, well-designed toothbrush made from all recyclable materials. After this design and intent gained some popularity, the company added more sustainable and functional products to their roster, everything from razors to kitchenware. These products are not only manufactured from recycled and environmentally-friendly materials, but they are also all made here in America. The company also encourages all of their customers to recycle these products once they are done with them, giving them packaging materials or information about drop-off locations. Preserve is an awesome company with sleek, stylish products that will have you confident in the future of recycling!
Matt & Nat
A little different than the others here, Matt & Nat is a accessories-focused company which explores the synergy between MAT(T)erial and NATure, i.e.- they refrain from using leather or any other animal-based materials in their products. Instead, the company is committed to exploring the possibilities available through recyclable materials, such as bike tires, cork, plastic bottles, and cardboard. In fact, 100% of their linings are made from recycled plastic bottles. What does that actually look like, you might ask? About 120,000 recycled bottles a year. Talk about a doozy. Looking at their bags, you wouldn’t even be able to distinguish the difference between a bag of theirs (no animal products used) and another leather bag; the quality is high and the aesthetic is beautiful. So, next time you are trying to decide what your next handbag might be, opt for the sustainable choice and try Matt & Nat.
*To be totally transparent, some of their production has been recently sent off to China, but they have made great strides in building personal relationships with each and every member on their production team.
After her years plugged into the high fashion world, designer Carol Miltimore decided that it was time to step away from that world. She knew that more could be done to steer the world of fashion towards socially conscious practices, and additionally, there were artisan communities with who could be employed to make shift this happen. And, Seek Collective was born. The company works with artisans skilled in hand-block printing, hand loom weaving, and natural dyeing both in northern and central India. Carol works diligently to ensure the groups she works with earn a fair, dignified income and that the communities these artisans come from are also prospering from this work; with the help of Seek Collective’s production, the artisan communities have set up various health and education initiatives for those in the nearby area. A major bonus point — the majority of the silk and cotton fabric and dyes used in their production is organic and non-toxic!
You’ve definitely heard of them before, but including them here is to just hammer into your head just how good they are. Warby Parker is a transformative lifestyle brand and one of the world’s leading socially conscious businesses. The brand offers designer eyewear at an affordable cost and with each pair purchased, a pair will be distributed to someone in need. Each month, the number of glasses is tallied up and then a donation is made to their non-profit partners to source the glasses. Partnering with VisionSpring, Warby Parker trains low-income men and women so that they can then offer eye-exams and sell ultra-affordable glasses to their local communities. They chose this initiative instead of simply donating the glasses because the company wanted to ensure it was a sustainable mission so that a culture of dependency would not develop within the communities they were working in. Cheers to the new wave of aid and development!
“Can we heal the world without healing ourselves?”
This question made me stop and ask as I continued to read the rest of a beautifully reassuring article written by Jason Garner entitled, “Radical Selfishness.” I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief throughout the several minutes I spent with his words on feeling the need to save the ones around us.
Yes! Agreed. Oh. This is so me.
As I spent more time with his insight and the concept of what it means to be selfish, I unveiled the hero complex we so often create as a defense mechanism to our reality. For example, I have always been astoundingly aware of the emotional states of my friends and family. As good people, we make it a point to be emotionally available, to offer a listening ear, a hug, or what that person may need in any given moment. But somehow Garner’s words truly struck a chord when he wrote, “You, exactly as you are, sitting there reading this article, deserve to be loved. You don’t have to save or fix or change a thing.” And admittedly, the aforementioned has lent itself to the present moment of cultivating my own healthy and radiant radical selfishness.
We spend time worrying about things that are things. We worry about the future. We worry about having enough time to call our parents back on our lunch break that is only “x” amount of time today because there is a lot to do. We worry. What if we worried about the inside just as fiercely?
I began to explore the word heal. As an artist, I have experienced and felt what it means to heal and to be healed. I have gone to the theatre and been moved in a very personal way because that was what I needed that night. As a daughter, I have rubbed my parents’ backs as we said goodbye to my childhood home this holiday season. As a friend, I have understood that having my hand held and my own back rubbed is human. Healing is a two-way street.
I then began to challenge myself with a seemingly large abstract idea – what if I was my own best friend? What would I say to myself? Stepping outside of what we know and looking objectively at our current situation helps to end errors and make edits in large ways. I looked in the mirror. I studied my face, body language, and exhaustion. I immediately thought, “Oh my gosh. You need a hug.” And this is where the switch from saving the world to saving yourself triumphantly comes.
As our day-to-day stresses and obligations need to be taken care of, our inside work is just as pertinent. A large part of being selfish is in the delivery. The acknowledgement of what makes us feel alive, what nourishes our mind and body, and what will professionally advance us have become priorities.
What makes you, you? I have spent years knowing the idiosyncratic nuances of my loved ones. It wasn’t because I was assigned to care; it was because I was designed to care, to study, to observe my surroundings. This is a trait that makes me, me.
Give me a quiz on anyone. I’ll ace it. This is always a thought in an attempt at validating my friendships in a joking manner. My one best friend always lets a specific surprised laugh escape as he says, “You’re incredible,” in response to exhibiting any sense of having an active memory. For instance, the outfits we wore five years ago during that specific day talking about that specific thing. I have trained myself to focus on these small details, not only out of genuine intrigue in knowing people and my surroundings, but because this took the pressure off of learning about myself.
By exuding a certain self-sufficient lifestyle, you begin to notice people coming to you for opinions and advice. You establish a certain strong foundation that is appealing to others. And this practice of “being selfish” is rooted in such a way that offers others to do the same for themselves because it is healthy.
It is 2016 and I am deciding to be an active healer. For myself, for the world, and for the time I have here. Why else would we be generously given an opportunity to be alive? In healing ourselves, we heal the world around us through our passions and work places. In creating inner peace, we exude it. It is a practice as simple and complex as breathing. I invite all of us to enjoy the opportunity of honing in on our hearts and finally meeting ourselves.
Let us not be afraid to truly say, “Self, it is so nice to meet you. Welcome home.”
Nicole Clark is a recent graduated of Stockton University holding a BA in Literature/Theatre. She enjoys theatre, singing, drawing, and is an endless work in progress. As she is a babysitter and lover of dogs, children, and writing, she has taken a keen interest in traveling abroad to work on international conferences in Cyprus and Greece. Nicole is thankful to be inspire and be inspired.
Trying to buckle down and get a better grip on our productivity, finances, and schedules? Thanks to these apps, things seem like they could be a little more manageable.
Here are five apps we have found to get you moving in the right direction…
You know that new work habit you’ve repeatedly put off trying to master? Well, now you have a monetary incentive to get moving on it! To begin this make or break habit app, 21Habit requires you to hash out $21 dollars, and for each day you succeed with your respective new habit, you’ll get one dollar back! However, if you miss a day, you’ll lose a dollar, and if the habit-making falls to the way-side, all of the money will be given to charity. Sustained productivity always seems to be best executed with a little incentive!
If you find yourself continually frustrated by your scattered work station, give Evernote a try. The app brings all of your work to one place and syncs between all of your devices so that you can access it wherever you want! No more excuses for not having your work with you or not knowing where it is.
Wunderlist, the to-do list app of all to-do list apps! You have finally found it. Organize it, task it, prioritize it, set a reminder or due date, make a list, AND share it all with friends or colleagues! To top it all off, it links up with Google Calendar and Evernote, two other handy resources to help you maximize your productivity. Do it all with Wunderlist.
The iPhone note app always seems to be a good in-the-moment go-to for note-taking, but after a few hours, or days even, it’s hard trying to find those small, important bits of information you had quickly jotted down. Luckily, now there’s a different app that helps you more efficiently sort back through those important (and undoubtedly cryptic) messages you write yourself throughout the day: Letterspace. With the usage of the #hashtag and @mention, Letterspace indexes and organizes your notes based on the symbols, making it much easier to find the information you are looking for.
Alright, so now you are probably thinking that this list has covered all the main bits possible in a productivity app — you’re wrong! Zippy dives into the nuts and bolts of your productivity. With some pretty graphics, the app charts out how often and when you succeed with the tasks you had previously set for yourself, giving you deeper insight as to how you might better tackle your responsibilities. Additionally, it breaks down what time of the day you’re most productive, which tasks you repeatedly snooze, and how far ahead of time you complete things. It’s time to finally face the cold hard facts and see what you are good at and when!