27 Sep Squidgy Feelings & The Honest Truth About “Living the Dream” ~ Personal Post
This year has been a year of chaos for me. It truly is the word I would use to sum up the last 9 months and though I know that there is always chaos before the calm, it has been playing with my mental health quite a bit. I have never been one to have dealt with depression, anxiety, etc. to the extremes that I have this year….and it’s not even close to as debilitating as others, but it has been constant and it has been there and it has infiltrated everything, from my personal life to my work. Those of you that know me, know that I am not one to stay in one spot too long, which is probably one of my saving graces when it comes to this cloud of depression that seems to be hanging on, because I don’t like to stay in one MENTAL STATE very long either. So, within this chaotic tornado that has been this year, I have been trying to ground myself and cling to whatever science and data I can find to get me back to “normal”. The interesting thing about this low grade depression that I’ve had since probably November of last year, if we are being honest, is that it wasn’t like BAM! YOU ARE SAD! Instead, it is a creeping worry, a heaviness on my heart, and a feeling of treading water instead of swimming forward. I’m not sure what brought it on, but to be honest, I am not too concerned with that….rather, I am concerned with how I let it go this far. The answer is easy: ignorance & busyness. Yes. I didn’t believe that I could get depressed because I am “living the dream” and I assumed it was for people that were sad all the time. So there’s the ignorance and well, if you follow my social media in any capacity you know that I have been like a frickin’ inept bumblebee, flitting from flower to flower before being able to sweetly pollinate one flower fully. As a result of this, I find myself caught between 3-4 different worlds, but not actually fully present in any of them.
In an effort to erase the squidgy feelings that permeated my soul, I tried to move to new places, hoping it would shake loose and I would be able to be “TERI” again. 2017 Teri. 2016 Teri. Hell, I’d even take 2015 Teri (though she was still stressed out from learning business stuff). But it didn’t happen. If anything, my zipping around took even more of a toll…not just on my mind, but also my body, my relationships, and my foundation-ME. With this treading of sludgy water, I feel my feet crumbling my foundation away….but I hope that is happening because I need to build a new foundation – a stronger one.
It sounds silly, but I’ve kind of “written off” the rest of this year. I’m done forcing everything and I am going to ride this wave of chaos, while planning a strategy for 2019. And while part of me acknowledges that that might be as smart as someone going on a diet on a Monday, it is what is keeping me grounded and moving forward…inch by inch. Just use the rest of this year to make your plan.
Part of this rebuilding is going to involve a stronger foundation, as up until now I have been trying to build an upside down human pyramid, with me on the bottom. It’s now time to flip it and make a foundation comprised of more people to help me do the heavy lifting. I am pleased to announce that I have brought on 2 new associates who are going to help me take Teri Hofford Photography to the next level: providing our community with boudoir at all levels and for all budgets to impact as many people as possible and introducing new session experiences (portraits – yay for keeping your clothes on! personal branding sessions – woot for having a personality! and couples sessions – woohoo for connection!) My intent is that my associates will be able to help me empower the people in my home community of Winnipeg and the surrounding area and this will allow me to travel to do my workshops, talks, and invest more time in Body Image BootCamp without sacrificing the impact that I want to have on the clients in front of me. Anyone who goes into business by themselves knows that the thought of passing the baton to other people is scary AS FUCK…..will they love this as much as I do? Will they care as much as I do? Like I ask all of you to do….I have to trust. If I am going to survive and get back to empowering women with the ferocity that I used to, I know I can’t do it alone and for that I have to trust. Fuck that’s hard.
Another part of rebuilding the foundation of me, is to get back to social connection. Going back to school was the best decision I ever made, but the content is even more impactful. Originally I went into studying positive psychology in an effort to further the impact I had on my clients…but I can see now, that it’s no coincidence that it is to help me first. The fact that I learned within 1 day that one of the leading causes of depression is loneliness made me reflect inward. “But, Teri, you work with people all the time!” Yes. WORK with people….I give so much of myself emotionally and mentally during sessions, workshops, and talks that when I am done I am an empty shell….now, this isn’t a bad thing….I LOVE to give myself to people, but I haven’t been taking the necessary precautions to fill my cup. You see loneliness isn’t eradicated by giving to people all the time…..it’s eradicated when it’s a 2 way street, where you can give AND you can receive. What I was doing, however, was staying in my studio for all hours to stay caught up, blowing off friends and family members to work on “just one more picture” or head off somewhere to teach or shoot….and with that came immense guilt, but also loneliness. Now, don’t get me wrong…I still love to be alone: my Teri Time is the shit and I am VERY productive and love it because I don’t have to wear pants….I just also have to make time for family & friends on a more constant basis (once a week or a few times a month). Again, this may not be the answer to anyone else’s depression, but I know it was something that changed from 2016/2017 and 2018. I used to take my nieces and nephews on “dates” every month, I would go up to my brother’s farm every 2 months, I would hang out with my bestie at least once a month and this year I have barely done any of that….I realize that part of my “success” needs to involve family/friends time, even if I have to work at it.
The last bit of the foundation that I need to build upon is my physical health, because without physical health I don’t have mental health and vice versa. This means moving more, fueling myself with actual food and less Skip the Dishes. It means resting, sleeping in, napping, drinking a shit ton of water, and going for regular “maintenance” check ups (which I avoid like the plague…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? WRONG….because it WILL break if you don’t attempt to prevent it!). It means going for massages once a month (or more if necessary) and investing in the things that are meant to help me function optimally and taking time for self care.
The biggest struggle a lot of entrepreneurs face, is not being able to discuss our mental health issues. I think we feel guilty because we know other people always tell us “what do you have to be upset about? You are LIVING THE DREAM!” and “You chose this path.” But while this may be true, what they don’t know is that living your dream comes with a price if you aren’t careful. When we come forward to talk about the struggle of “living the dream” we do this in hopes to inspire conversation around mental health in the entrepreneur-world so that we can help one another succeed and understand they aren’t alone. Also, if you actually know anything about depression it has nothing to do with being upset (as I realized after confronting my ignorance)…its more of a dullness that covers the usual brightness of possibility…it’s not intense enough to be really sad or angry….it’s just existing, floating, and neutral. So, I am giving myself to the end of this year to embrace the dullness like a thick-ass blanket fort so I can get back to work planning world domination and build my empowerment empire for 2019. Thank you for those that continually lift me up, allow me to do what I do and believe in my mission to help women progress beyond their body image…thank you for trusting me to help you recognize your brilliance and your power and for letting me hel you co-write the new story of the person you want to be.
**And thanks to Tori for donning my vintage frocks and playing with me in the forest**