Today we’re talking about a really, really important issue in the world of mental health and how to see the good in your mental health journey, which is so much the opposite of what we normally are taught to think about when we think about mental health problems.
We often think about how we’re broken or how we’re wrong or how something’s not right in us, and we need to fix ourselves. But there’s rarely a discussion. In fact, I googled today about the good things that come out of anxiety, the good things that come from depression. And I couldn’t find any. And I think it’s that dark cloud that hovers over this mental health world that keeps us locked in just this trap of feeling bad about ourselves because of mental health issues. And so I really want to talk today about the gifts that come from anxiety and depression…or at least, the gifts that at least came into my life from anxiety and depression.
But before I do that, I wanted to remind you guys that Freedom From Anxiety, my online group course, is officially open. The doors opened two weeks ago and the program has been amazing. It’s an ongoing program so you can sign up whenever you want. There’s live calls where I coach people actively through issues that they’re struggling with around anxiety in particular and the tools that I teach. The course really shows you how to combine mindfulness and nutrition and yoga and all other real natural modalities into one lifestyle system that can help you cure anxiety and live free.
So with that being said, go check out Freedom From Anxiety. And now let’s get started in talking about mental health and the good things that can come from dealing with anxiety and depression.
I’m really going to talk about my own story here and hopefully it will give you some clarity or inspiration in terms of how this can be relevant for you too.
My life story with anxiety and depression
And so the first gift that came from my 15-year battle with anxiety and depression … And for anyone who doesn’t know me by the way or are watching my live for the first time, I had a 15-year battle with anxiety and depression. It started when I was 14 years old. I spent 10 years on medication, all different kinds of medication, going to many, many different kinds of therapists and ended up hospitalized in my freshman year of college because of not wanting to live anymore.
And so I really understand the darkness that can take over the mind and without feeling like you have any hope or sense of control. I really lived that for a very long time and I didn’t really get to start healing until I turned towards more natural ways that were not just about numbing an anxious or a sad feeling in the moment but really, really revamping my mind and my body and my spirit. And that’s why I’m so passionate about sharing this stuff with you guys because again, so much out there in the world is just about telling you to take a drug in order to fix something that’s broken about you. And I actually see the world of mental health and the journey of anxiety and depression as something that’s much, much deeper, much more beautiful, much more powerful than just this broken part of you.
Gift #1: Love
The first gift that came from my journey with anxiety is love. When I say love, here’s what I mean. My theory is that life is made just hard enough so that we have to rely on other people. And so whether you struggle with anxiety or whether you have another mental health condition or whether you have a physical element or disease or you have a difficult family growing up, we all have our stuff. And sometimes it starts early in life, sometimes it starts later in life but we all have our stuff. People are always saying, “Why would a God or any God create a world in which people can be such monsters or there’s so much suffering or there’s so much pain?” And it’s a good question.
And my answer to that is because life when it’s difficult, it’s made just difficult enough that we have to rely on other people. And if we have to rely on other people, what that forces us to do is go through the journey of love. And so specifically, I think about my journey with anxiety and there would be people in my life who were so intolerant of when I would get locked in fear. I remember one of the boyfriends I had when I was in high school and I was really struggling, we were about to head out to the New Year’s party and I couldn’t go. All of a sudden I got incredibly anxious and I was vomiting and my whole body was shaking. And he was pretty intolerant, he was like, “We got to go to this party. Just get over it, just have another drink, just move past it.” He was really intolerant.
As you can imagine, that’s not the kind of love I wanted in my life sustainably and long term. And so being able to turn to that and say, “Hey, you’re just making me feel more anxious. You don’t make me feel better, you don’t bring healing in my life, you don’t help me get past this. And in fact, you make me feel guilty and bad and just add on to the levels of anxiety I’m already feeling. With all due respect, peace. Like this is not going to help me heal.”
And slowly but surely, I learned to rely on people and turn towards people who were compassionate and genuine and understanding and sympathetic and wanted to help. And really, it was such a beautiful experience because I finally got to turn to people. I cut out all the people from my life who didn’t want to love me in my worst state and brought only people in my life who were really interested in taking care of me and loving me and respecting me in my most vulnerable times. A lot of people say, “Well, I don’t want to be a burden to others.” Or, “I don’t want to hurt other people.” And all I have to say to that is, how does it make you feel when you get to help someone? How does it make you feel?
It makes you feel amazing. Like you feel like you’re doing good in the world, you feel like you’re making use of your gifts. It makes you feel amazing to help people. So in your vulnerable times, why would you not offer that gift to somebody else? Of course you should. And so that’s one of the biggest gifts that came from anxiety and depression was learning to only turn to people and I really created relationships with people that were real, that were authentic and that were truly based on love and understanding rather than wanting the other person to fit in a picture of what we should look like or how we should be.
And again and again and again, that’s how I made my friends. And so all my relationships now, my family, my friends, my community and my marriage, they are all based on this fundamental principle in a mutual way of I love you no matter what, I love you unconditionally. I’m fully here for you. And I don’t have to pretend to be in a certain mood or be able to feel a certain way or like a certain thing, whatever, in order to be in those relationships, in order to see those people. And there’s a realness in that that is so powerful and calming in it of itself.
And so love, a commitment to deep, loving relationships came out of my journey with anxiety and depression. And again, like look how lucky I am. I meet people all the time who have all these people with expectations of them who treat them like crap, who don’t treat them well, who don’t honor them, who don’t let them be imperfect, who just make them feel bad about things they’re already feeling bad about. I’m sure you have people in your life like that. And I want to invite you away from those people and that’s what I did. My mental health did not allow me to have those kinds of people in my life ever. And so it was a real gift that I was blessed with this experience so early on in my life. It created the most beautiful relationships. So that’s the first thing.
Gift #2: Authenticity
The second gift that has come from my long journey with anxiety and depression is authenticity. So this is along the same lines in many ways as love but what I found as I was learning how to heal my anxiety, I would go and try this therapeutic technique and I would go and try this oil and I would go and try this meditation technique. And I would go to this new place and I would go and work on certain energies in my body in a certain way. And every single time I did that, I found out more about who I was and what worked for me.
And so I feel like it was like sharpening the the tool that is me, like sharpening the pencil that is me. Every time I was rough and scraggy as I started to go through this mental health stuff. And every time I went and I figured out something that made me feel better, something that served me. And then simultaneously, the things that didn’t serve me or didn’t make me feel better or whatever. I felt more aligned and aware of who I was, what I needed, what I was called to, what I was drawn to.
And again, I just authentically honored that. I didn’t listen, I stopped listening after quite a long time of listening to much but I stopped listening to this is how you should feel, this is how you should heal, this is who you should be, this is how it should look like. Which is why I have a coaching practice which everyone tells me is the most unique coaching practice they’ve ever encountered ’cause it’s mine. It’s something that authentically speaks to me based on the tools I know work, that I’ve sharpened around me.
And so I am so much in my skin, so authentic to who I am. I know that people places things, feelings, everything that bring me joy, that uplift me, that give me access to my higher self and align with that consistently. Which means I get to really live in my authentic skin and that is a beautiful journey. I would not have gone on with the same level of commitment had I not been trying to heal something very difficult inside of me. So it was a really, really, really beautiful experience to learn who I was. And again, I’m only 31 years old and I coach people in their 50s and their 60s. I mean, I also coach people in their 20s and 30s but there’s always this sense of who am I? What do I want? Where am I going? What am I meant for? And I know those answers deep down buried in my soul because I had to figure them out along this journey.
So anxiety and depression and all mental health issues are an invitation to align with your authentic self because if you’re in authenticity and you’re not scared of trying to prove that you’re something else, then there’s nothing to be scared of. And so that was the second really, really, really beautiful gift that came from my mental health “issues” as they call them.
Gift #3: Physical health
The third benefit of anxiety and depression was physical health. And so again, nobody ever told me that my physical body had anything to do with depression unfortunately. Now we live in times where that’s much more common knowledge but when I was growing up, it was a neck up way of treating mental health issues. It’s just, let’s talk about your feelings, let’s talk about your feelings, let’s talk about your feelings. And nobody ever told me that I might have a nutritional deficiency or that I might be exercising in the wrong way or that I might have a massive hormone imbalance. And in fact, I had all of those things going on.
I was exercising in a very high interval intensity way and what that was doing, that was throwing off my hormones, kicking my hormones crazy therefore I couldn’t get my period. Or when I got it, it was really painful. I mean, it was causing all kinds of issues. And all along it was like those were signs that not only did I stop feeling anxious when I stopped exercising that way but I lost weight quicker, I felt stronger, I felt more powerful in my body when I started doing more slow strengths exercises.
So I now literally don’t have to do any work to stay thin. It’s the same thing with food by the way. I learned what foods inflame my body ’cause I learned how much inflammation causes not just inflammation in your gut but in your brain and causes anxious ways of thinking. I not just gained a physical … Like I didn’t just learn what foods help with my anxiety, I learned what foods help my overall body and they’re the exact same thing. So the foods that could help me with my anxiety and depression are the exact same foods that made me lose weight, that brought down I … Like I never get sick, literally never get sick. I haven’t been sick in years. And that’s because the same foods, the same dietary regimes, the same exercise plans that heal your anxiety also make you the fittest strongest version of yourself. And I became that.
And so for years, I was trying to handle my anxiety over here and on the other hand over here, I was trying to lose weight, stay beautiful, stay sexy, look strong, whatever it is. And then I learned it’s actually the exact same thing, when you learn what foods bring down the inflammation in your body, nourish your hormones, nourish your vitamin levels and you will learn that those are the exact same foods that keep you thin and treat anxiety and mental health issues. So oh my goodness, that was a massive benefit or this winter that just passed, it felt like one of the longest winters in New York. Everyone was sick and I was just riding high and I don’t do anything special. I just attend to my mental health. So that’s amazing, that’s such a special and precious gift of anxiety and depression.
Gift #4: Courage
All right, let’s talk about the fourth gift I believe I received, and that’s courage. When I say courage what I really mean by that is that if you want to heal from anxiety, you have to learn how you face the things that make you feel afraid. And sometimes those are big heavy things like traumatic events from your past and sometimes they’re lighter things that you don’t know why they make you feel anxious like driving in a car or going in a plane. It’s just that way. So there’s tons of different causes for anxiety, entire subjects for anxiety. Whatever it is, it’s the same.
So for me, like I had social anxiety, tremendous social anxiety. My family was a massive source of anxiety for me my whole life. And what I learned through this journey was how to approach those things that make me scared. And so I learned how to work with my energy to calm myself down in those situations. I learned how to rearrange the way that I was thinking around those triggers and rearranging my thoughts and rearranging my body’s energy allowed me to slowly go and approach those fears and really change my relationship with them. So now I can go to a party and I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite place to be ever but I don’t get anxiety about it anymore. I can just like walk in feel cool, feel relaxed, not have expectations of myself or other people, let my body be calm, no need for drugs or alcohol in those situations.
So I gained the power to be anywhere I want to be, do anything I want to do without fear and that was amazing. Not only did I learn to face the things that made me anxious and I learned how to really work with my mind and body in that way, but then what that did was like it built a crazy courage. Like nothing is going to get to me now. Those things that used to make me so anxious can’t make me anxious anymore. Nothing’s going to get to me anymore. And that’s why I was able to become an entrepreneur.
And I remember when I came home from India to New York and I wanted to start this coaching practice and I had been in India for six years. So I wanted to start this coaching practice and everybody was like, “The market is super saturated. Like you’re not going to fit in. Hell, you don’t even know people here anymore, you’ve been gone for such a long time. How are you going to launch your business? You don’t have any savings, you were in India the whole time. Like what are you going to do?” And I was like, “Come and freaking get me world. Like I have faced this crazy sensations taking over my body when I’ve been anxious before. I’ve felt like I wasn’t going to be able to survive. Like that was my life when I was anxious and I’ve learned how to work through that. I got this, I can take a risk in the entrepreneurial world.”
And just generally speaking, I feel that way everyday of my life. People are like, “Oh, are we going to be able to manage this? Are you going to be able to do this? What if it has this consequence?” And I’m like, “I got this. I can work with this.” So I have this never-ending source of courage because I learned how to work with my thoughts and my body. So it’s really, really, really beautiful.
The natural way to fight anxiety:
So Amanda you said one more thing you want to know more about the natural way to fight back.
Well, the short thing I’ll say about changing your energy in a circumstance and a thing that makes you anxious … Obviously I have a whole unit on this which goes like three weeks long in my course Freedom From Anxiety so definitely check that out if you want or you’re really, really into that support. But what I’ll tell you right now is this, is that your body gets hijacked because it has these patterns of relating to a certain environment. So it’s not like your body is not choosing to be anxious or registering an active threat but what our bodies always do is they take shortcuts. And so they always teach us …
So if you go to one place and you have a bad experience and you go there another time and have another bad experience, your body in order to stop having to do all the hard work of saying is this a scary thing? Should I be afraid of this? Should I not be afraid of this? It just creates a habit and it says, “Okay, we decided this is a scary place therefore we are hardwiring this anxious feeling of reactivity to this environment or this person or this place. Similarly thought patterns around a place or a space get hardwired.
And so in order for us to be able to undo the thoughts, we first have to work on our body. And so when you go in those places, don’t try changing your mentality or thinking positive, don’t do any of that, your body will be too hijacked, it won’t be accessible to you but work on your body. So the most basic things I can share with you on a Live today would be around taking that deep belly breathing to really calm yourself in that space. And if you do that again and again and again in a place that used to make you anxious or used to trigger your anxiety, what that will do is that will retrain a new habit within you which says, “Oh look, I feel safe in this environment and my body is calm in this environment.” Over and over and over and over. And then eventually that becomes your new muscle memory associated with that place and then you can start working on the thoughts.
And when you transform those two things, then you completely transform your relationship to that trigger. So I hope that was a little helpful in the middle of this and I’m really excited to see that you’re going to try that out. Let me know how it goes Amanda. I love hearing people’s feedback.
Gift #5: Spirituality
Alright, I wanted to get on to the fifth gift. And some people will love this and some people will say, “What the hell is this?” But the fifth gift of anxiety and depression or a good thing that came out was a sense of spirituality. I grew up as a millennial and millennials are known for people who have kind of said bye bye to a form of religion in many, many cases. And yet where the famous phrase is I’m spiritual but not religious. I was never really anything. I was like, “What kind of a cruel God would make me feel this way? What kind of a cruel God would bring so much suffering in the world?” All this kind of stuff, not to mention I just had a very religious family and didn’t resonate with what that looked like for them.
So I always felt alone in the world. Like I always felt like I’m by myself, I got to fight to survive, I got to fight to make this work, I got to do it all myself, I got to … I really felt alone. Like nobody had my back, like I couldn’t trust, I couldn’t have faith, I couldn’t relax and just let life show up for me. And that’s a scary way to live. That in itself contributed to my anxiety and I never had this sense that there was a larger purpose or a larger meaning or a larger force behind my life.
And because I went through anxiety and depression and I was able to experience all these other gifts that came through it, like incredible health, real love in my relationships, courage that I could only dream of having developed, authenticity, a clear knowing who I am, compassion with other people, connection, because I got all of these gifts, I was something that seemed so dark and difficult. I started to believe it was a crack in my heart that opened me to believe that there’s something bigger about the world that’s there to support me.
And not to mention, of course, I spent six years in India learning natural ways of healing. And the Buddha and many of the stories in Hindu mythology, teach a lot of the most powerful practices that I know. And so those two things really cracked me open to believing that there’s something divine about my struggle and not that I would have necessarily chosen it but that there was something divine about it, that there was meaning and purpose and value in it. And that fills my soul and that wakes me up everyday, that energizes the hell out of me. And the more I look for it, the more I experience it, the more I fully open to that trusting and that spirituality, the more that it feels real for me.
Those are five things that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I couldn’t imagine who I would be today without them, I wouldn’t want to be anybody else. And so despite how difficult it seems at times, that you’re on this battle of anxiety and depression, remember this, the goal here is not healing, the goal is not to get to some end state where you never have anxiety or depression again. It’s kind of like the goal of writing a poem is not to get to the end of the poem, the beauty is in when you’re trying to write the poem and you’re coming up with the rhymes and you’re erasing and going back to scratch. Like you are never more alive than when you’re working on a goal, than when you’re working towards something, than when you’re trying to create progress.
So turn towards your anxiety, your mental health issues with that. I am alive and I am ready to receive the gifts of this as I progress down this path. And everything will change for you in terms of the way you heal.
P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you embrace self-love and build bulletproof mental health:
1. Grab my free video training on the holistic 5-step approach to let anxiety lead you to your best life
For 15 years, I needed prescriptions to quiet my inner critic and keep my fear to a dull roar. But I finally learned how to heal my mind, body, and soul through natural methods. In this training, I show you exactly how I did it – and how you can too! — Click Here
2. Practice self-compassion with me and feel loved
Love is the most healing energy in the world, and it’s here waiting for you. This 20-minute meditation will make you feel loved and at ease. — Click Here
3. Join Freedom From Anxiety and create bulletproof mental health through nutrition, yoga, mindfulness, and lifestyle design
Do you need to learn how to silence unwanted, intrusive thoughts and redirect that energy to self-love and aligned living that feels amazing! Then this program is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. A four-month, mind-body-soul reboot with rave reviews. — Click Here
4. Work with me privately 1-on-1
Are you ready to build a wildly joyful, fulfilling and successful life? Working with me 1-on-1 is the way to go. We’ll nurture your ability to love yourself, make bold choices, dissolve your fears, and deliberately design your career, relationships, and daily habits to achieve what really matters to you. — Click Here