To begin with, I am so grateful that you’ve joined me here and are interested in what I have to say.
I thought I would start off by sharing a bit about myself, and fill you all in on what motivated me to start Candid Wellness.
I have been a registered massage therapist since 2015, but my journey into wellness began well before that.
I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 6 and was put on Ritalin to deal with the symptoms of my disorder. Soon the Ritalin effected my sleep and I was put on sleeping medication to remedy that which increased my depression so I was put on medication to deal with that. After a length of time feeling like a zombie and not acting myself I was taken off medication and put into art therapy and organized sport, started seeing a therapist regularly and a diet change was implemented (limited processed foods, sugar, caffeine and food dyes, basically just all the fun stuff).
Now growing up with these life style changes definitely did not seem fair to me then. I mean what kids wants to see their lunch lined up on the kitchen island with their other siblings only to see that everyone else’s lunch included dunkaroos and capri suns, while theirs had carrot sticks and water? Or have to be pulled out of class to go see their therapist? On top of the ADHD I come from a family where both sides have a history of mental illness. In fact I lost my mom to suicide when I was a month shy of 3.
Needless to say my mental health was made a priority by my Dad, I’m assuming out of fear of losing me the same way he lost my Mom. Despite my Dads best efforts, I still struggled with my mental health growing up and into adult hood. Now that I am on the other side of it, (though still working on it daily) I can confidently say a lot of my struggle was rooted in the shame I felt around anything surrounding mental health. That in admitting to anyone (including my therapist) I was anything but thriving would make me crazy. I can remember lying to my friends about where I was going when I was at therapy, because I thought that if they found out what I was really doing, they would judge me and think there was something wrong with me. But most of the time I blatantly refused to go.
It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom at the age of 20 that I truly started to see the value in taking care of myself. I was in a very dark place, hurting everyone around me and partaking in endless reckless activity. I didn’t think anything was wrong until my life started crumbling from under me. My finances were a mess, I was losing friends, my closest sister stopped talking to me and I had constant anxiety that I refused to address. Until one morning when I woke up feeling like I had an elephant sitting on my chest. I had so much trouble catching my breath, I ended up taking myself to the emergency room where I saw a doctor who diagnosed me with a severe panic attack and directed me to the psychiatric nurse on call that day. That woman was the best thing to ever happen to me.
I finally let someone in because I had no other options. I went to a free clinic the next day and started seeing a counselor once a week. I slowly started putting my life back together. It wasn’t easy. I had set backs. A ton of ’em (and still do) But I never wanted to go back to being that selfish and unaware person. I never wanted to hurt anyone like I had, ever again. Or to let my life spiral out of control to the point where I thought my only solution was the one my mother “chose”. What took me the longest to realize is that despite all the mistakes I had made in my life, I was still worthy of happiness.
For most of my life I struggled with not being good enough.
Good enough to make my mother want to live.
Good enough to deserve to be loved.
Good enough to make a sports team for a reason other than being 6’1 and left handed.
Good enough to find success.
And that’s where massage therapy came in. After about a year of really hard work, I decided I wanted to be more than an actor with unstable pay cheques who waited tables to barely survive. I wanted to do something real with my life. Massage just seemed to fit. I always felt the most at peace with myself when I was helping other people and working with my hands. I was never one to excel academically, so a two year program felt doable to me. When I began school it felt like the beginning to a really positive chapter in my life. I still struggled academically and definitely wasn’t completely focused on school, because despite the work I had been putting in on myself, there was still a lot that I had to unpack.
I met the love of my life within the first month of starting school and though things between the two of us started off as friends, I had never met anyone who I felt so comfortable with and made me want to be better just by being around. The transition from friends to more was slow, but I would never change that for anything. So although I still struggled with commitment as a student, things in my life were more stable than they had ever been in my adult life.
Then in 2014 Mitch’s Dad was diagnosed with cancer and our rose tinted bubble burst. The cancer took him within a matter of months and despite having dealt with my fair share of heart ache by that point in my life, this was something I could never prepare myself for. The process of watching such an outstanding human lose a battle that I had to be on the sidelines for was a difficult and triggering experience. It made me angry that while such a good and decent human was taken from us against his will, my Mom made the decision to go. It brought back all those feelings of helplessness of not being able to help someone live. To not have the ability to help the person I loved so deeply heal from the grief he was experiencing, just like I felt growing up with a Dad who’s sadness never seemed to fade from his eyes.
I felt guilty that I let Darren’s death affect me so profoundly, instead of being a pillar of strength for Mitch and his family. But it also taught both Mitch and I that life is unpredictable and can throw curve balls that you can’t prepare yourself for. That you’re time on this earth is not guaranteed, so you must grasp every opportunity you have to fill your life with joy. So we vowed to fill our time together with as many memories as possible and stop waiting for the “right time” to do the big things in life.
After graduating Mitch and I got married. We decided that instead of a trip for our honeymoon we would take a year long “honeymoon sabbatical” on Vancouver Island. That year was one of the best years of my life. We viewed everyday as an opportunity for adventure and put all of our focus on what made us happy. Our days were filled with hiking, ocean side beers and long bike rides with pals. I had always been involved in sports and have considered myself to be an active person my entire life, but in my year on the island I began to take a different view towards exercise and food. Instead of exercising to look a certain way, I did it because it felt good to move. I found empowerment in the capabilities my body had to heal others, take me up mountainsides and through countless kilometres on my bike. Instead of categorizing food into good or bad, I started to take note on how it made me feel. That although pizza or chocolate may not nourish my body with nutrients, it nourished my body with joy. I stopped apologizing for the space my grand form took up and started feeling pride in all that it did.
So here I sit ruminating on all of these events and circumstances that have brought me here, writing this, pursuing my passion. I could have went on for much longer, but I don’t know that anyone will even make it this far. (Trust me that this post is the condensed version, I could have babbled on for much longer.)
But basically my mission is this: I want other people to find the love and respect for themselves that I have found, but on a much easier route. I want to provide a community for those of you who may be suffering in silence with a mental illness and feel shame in their hardship. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I want to help others find as much empowerment and joy from movement as I do. To love their bodies for all it does, instead of hating it for how it looks. I want people to find respect and love for themselves exactly as they are and see strength in their vulnerabilities. Yes, my journey may include some change and growth, but it wouldn’t have started if I hadn’t been vulnerable and begun to feel worthy, as I was, in all of my imperfections and faults. We are all apart of a flawed, beautiful and complicated species and the sooner we stop judging ourselves for that, the sooner we will stop judging each other for those same reasons.
We are all good enough.