World Mental Health Awareness Day

Photo by Rustic White

Photo by Rustic White

To even begin to explain the whirlwind the last month has been would take ages. It has been an emotional roller coaster. We embarked on a THP project in LA that has been over a year in the making; I have been working to wrap Season One of the beautiful, dream job that is Sweet Magnolias; Nick has been busier than ever with the end of regular season and beginning of the post season (I thought we retried! Although I thank God he still has a connection to his dream); and we have been in the midst of a major health scare in our family. To say I’m emotionally and mentally depleted is an understatement. I share all of this because it has brought up some serious realizations that feel very new to me and smacked me in the face with emotions. Ones I have been trying to pay extra attention to as I navigate this moment in time.

I have always suffered from anxiety. Something, until very recently, I have silently ‘managed’. But the truth is, anxiety has robbed me of enjoying some of the most precious moments in my life, distracting me from truly being in the moment. I actually spent a solid ten years of my adult life proudly wearing the badge of ‘worry wart’. A label I now know was a cop out. A way to deflect what really was happening inside of me and an excuse to not do the ‘work’. It may sound like I’m being tough on myself, but it was this realization that allowed me to finally get real about taking ownership of my mental health. It was also the beginning of taking back control over the moments in my life that felt very far from being manageable.

Over the last 9 years I have learned to identify and navigate that tiny voice in my head and my heart that wasn’t making space to simply be ‘free’. The voice that was not very kind as it was screaming worry and fear. And with the help of some incredible therapists, healers, and friends, I have been able to integrate that voice that is undoubtedly a part of who I am, but no longer allowed to take up negative space in my life.

Over the years, I have become more comfortable with the tools I have been given to help work myself out of the crippling moments anxiety has brought to my life. And with that confidence I have even been able to see how it has fueled the intense motivation I have to be successful. I have learned that in order to really be open to receiving the self love I work daily to give myself, I have to be able to see and love all parts of who I am. Sure, my anxiety isn’t my favorite part of who I am, but it’s a part of me nonetheless. It doesn’t have to control me, but it cannot be ignored. 

I share this with you on World Mental Health Awareness Day because I think it’s so important to talk about mental health without feeling like it should be a silent part of me. And MY anxiety is the tip of the iceberg of how mental illness has affected me and my family. I’m not afraid to tell you I have the cold or the flu and the same goes with the health of my mind! 

I also decided to share this on The Happy Place because it has been such a beautiful part of my journey to self love. The joy I get from sharing what brings me happiness is the greatest medicine and in many ways an homage to one of the most important people in my life who struggles daily with their mental health. Someone who would be the most proud of what The Happy Place has become. Maybe one day I will share more about that, but for now it isn’t my story to tell. And with each celebration, styled ‘shelfie’, recipe, homemade gift, Boss Babe, or ‘Can’t Get Enough’...I find healing, I find joy, I take time celebrating the small moments that were once difficult to enjoy.

I always tread lightly when offering ‘advice’...especially about something as important as mental health. It is my hope that simply starting the conversation and being vulnerable to those willing to listen that maybe, just maybe, we all feel a little less alone. Often times just verbalizing our fears and anxieties takes away their power. I’m so grateful to my village that is filled with strong and fierce and humans that are always ready to get real about the daily struggles we all experience. If you have that village, use them. If you feel alone, reach out...we are never alone as we sometimes feel we are.

Thank you for allowing me the space to share the things that fill my head and my heart.

Xx,
Jo