Hey everyone, Erin here! I know I mentioned this in my last issue, but I’m really looking forward to connecting and sharing with you through this platform. And again, like I mentioned, we’re going to dig into everything here, the good, the fun, and the challenging. You all know me, I’m an open book, and I want to bring that same transparency to these newsletters. So, how about we start off with something personal that I’ve been working on and has really become a focus in my life – mental health.
I’m no stranger to a challenge. Working in the sports industry requires a level of grit and tenacity. I’m motivated by this pressure, always have been. I truly love what I do! Because of this, that drive extends outside of my work life as well. I have dealt with plenty of adversity off the field. And always thought I was handling it the right way. Don’t let these issues sideline me, get back on the field as soon as possible, smile, and throw yourself into the game. To an extent, this had been the best medicine for me. I find great safety and comfort while working on an NFL field. I can be me and do what I love doing. It’s always worked for me before, so I decided to stick with the process. I thought I was “doing the work” to take care of my mental health. I was seeing a therapist every now and then, exercising regularly, spending time with family and friends. I was working, I was good, and was getting along just fine.
But then this summer, I realized I wasn’t ok with just sweeping it all under the rug and ignoring it. “The work” I was doing…wasn’t enough. What made me discover this? In May, my husband and I suffered a major loss and it hit me like a freight train. I couldn’t get myself to feel “fine”. I’m pretty high energy/high strung as a baseline, but with this I felt a tightness in my chest that I couldn’t get to go away. I couldn’t sleep. My thought process was affected, I couldn’t form sentences. I felt slow, sorry for myself, nothing was exciting – like a dark cloud was hanging over me. I couldn’t just “get past it” like I had with previous challenges. I finally had a close friend say to me, “You seem so sad.” I hung up the phone and started to cry. Afterwards, I realized I needed help and so I asked for it.
A girlfriend connected me with an osteopath named Vicky Vlahonis. The first time I met Vicky she could instantly read in my body that I had years of trauma that needed to be addressed. She pointed out how important it was for me to unpack them in ways I had ignored before. She was able to walk me through that with previous challenges, I had never actually grieved or fully processed them. That with each situation I used my go-go-go attitude and lifestyle as a distraction from really dealing with the traumas I had been through. She also worked with me on the fact that I never gave myself or my body credit for dealing with everything I had experienced in the past. I needed to start loving on myself and sending myself gratitude.
With this loss in May, I didn’t have football to distract me. I had to sit with it. I was forced to slow down. I needed the fear, anger and sadness to leave my body. I needed to send love to myself, and I needed to focus on a new beginning. Through the body work and spiritual healing with Vicky, I found the space and time to actually process, to allow myself to grieve, and found strength in my vulnerability.
Building on this new foundation of strength in vulnerability and connection, I’m continuing the journey on my own. I’m reading up on mental health and mind/body connection. Currently on my nightstand is Vicky’s book The Body Doesn’t Lie and Untamed by Glennon Doyle. I’ve fallen in love with meditation. Every day I try to meditate, even if I can only get 5 minutes in. Peloton and Calm both have great meditations that help to center me, focus in on myself, and prepare me for my day. There are times when I’m meditating that my mind wanders, and I start to worry about my schedule and what errands I have left to run and if we’re out of milk. But I just keep in mind something a friend told me, if you are trying to meditate that means you are meditating. So, while it may not always be perfect, I remember to give myself credit and gratitude for the time I’m setting aside to be present in my meditation practice.
In our culture, busyness is a badge of honor. And while I thrive in the crazy schedule, this loss also taught me that I need to slow down as well. That stillness and vulnerability are just as powerful as striving and climbing. This is an on-going journey for me. Some days are better than others and I’m still learning. So, I’d love to hear from you, what do you do to prioritize your mental health? How do you find peace in the chaos? And how do you celebrate yourself? Any book recommendations, meditation tips, or other grounding activities that have really worked for you – I’d love to hear! Like I said, I’m still learning on this journey, and I know you all will have vital insight that can help me grow.
Until the next issue…
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