Navigating Depression: When Everything Feels Dark

“Overall, this is what I want you to take away the most from this. You get to turn your pain into your purpose. That is your choice and yours alone. And even in the depths of despair, I held on to the same thought I’ve always managed to grasp onto, like some sort of life raft in the darkness, which is: this is an opportunity for growth.”

Today’s episode is a little bit heavier than what everyone is used to, and we’re talking about depression.

This episode is very raw and I am sharing:

  • What has been going on with me
  • How I moved through what has definitely been the darkest period of my life, to date.
  • The importance of why I’m talking about this today
  • And so much more

Are you ready? Let’s go!

You can tap the play above to listen now, or you can continue scrolling to read the entire transcript of today’s episode! All references can be found at the bottom of today’s post!

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REFERENCES:

Mental Health Hotlines:

Canada

USA

UK

Australia

EPISODE REFERENCES

EPISODE 217: Healing Isn’t Linear: When home is no longer home

EPISODE 230: Slow Down to Speed Up: Burnout & the Inherent Vulnerability of Entrepreneurship

EPISODE 145: The Need for Closure is an Inside Job

EPISODE 260: How to Let Go & Recover From Loss

EPISODE 153: The Life-Altering Year of 32: Burning Bridges, Building Relationships & Facing Your Darkest Fears

EPISODE 130: Cancer, Depression & Strength: A Powerful Story of Hope & Resilience with Tom McClelland

EPISODE 117: The 9 Year Affair: Lessons in Infidelity

EPISODE 124: Affair Aftermath & Holding Space for a Friend in Crisis with Christina Montalvo

EPISODE 127: We Are Not Our Social Media Handles with Hafsa Rana of Happily Hafsa

EPISODE 112: Navigating Entrepreneurship: What Doesn’t Get Shared Publicly with Christina Montalvo

Episode 133: Stepping Out of the Chaos of Your Life & Allowing Ease with Emma Rose Tait

EPISODE 154: How 2 Nobodies From Canada Created Chart-Topping Podcasts with Sarah Swain of The Great Canadian Woman

EPISODE 192: [BIZ TIPS] COVID-19, Leadership & Your Online Business with Sarah Swain of The Great Canadian Woman

EPISODE 25: Dealing With Anxiety; Growing Through Taking Action

Questions?  Comments? Want to connect and chat about this episode? You can email me at info@emilygoughcoaching.com, or DM me over on Instagram @emilygoughcoach or Facebook at Emily Gough Coaching.  I would absolutely love to connect with you and thank you for listening in real life and here any takeaways you had from this or other episodes!.  It makes me day to see you listening to the podcast and fills me up with pure joy. Seriously.  See you on the ‘gram!

If Instagram and Facebook aren’t your jam, send me a good old fashioned email!  info@emilygoughcoaching.com

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Room to Grow Podcast

TRANSCRIPT

You’re listening to Episode 271 of the Room to Grow podcast. 

I’m Emily Gough, a human connection coach, speaker and mental health advocate with an insatiable sense of curiosity and adventure, always asking more questions and using the power of stories to teach, learn and grow. It’s about allowing for room to grow and this podcast focuses on three main pillars: human connection, personal growth and freedom. We cover topics like relationships and cultivating genuine supportive connections with ourselves and others, speaking your truth, shattering personal barriers, radical self acceptance and courageously leaning into your skill sets. Whether it’s a solo episode or bringing on highly curated guests with incredible stories, experiences and expertise to share, we’re leaning in and taking the entire idea of growth to the next level, all while still covering the uncomfortable topics that many of us like to avoid. There’s always more room to grow. Let’s do this.

Hey, Hey, welcome back to the Room to Grow podcast. Emily here and today is going to be a little bit heavier. We’re gonna be talking about depression. I’m gonna be sharing a little bit about sort of how I, what has been going on and how I moved through what has definitely been the darkest period of my life, to date. Why I’m talking about this is that I can’t encourage everyone else to open up about the hard shit and then not walk my talk. To be fully transparent, I do not enjoy doing episodes this personal. You may think that I just like love being this vulnerable. I do not. I definitely don’t. But it feels incredibly self indulgent and I have a moment or several of terror before I hit publish, things like this. But I do it for things like this because I take mental health seriously. I am committed to talking about uncomfortable topics, to give even one person out there permission to use their own voice and to ask for help or support if they need it and to show that you’re never as alone as you might feel on dark days. 

Here’s the thing, I try to be as open as possible, publicly because that’s one of my biggest core values is to show up in a genuine way, always, both online and off. If you’ve been hanging around this podcast a while, you know I talk about that all the time, every single thing I mention is usually prefaced with, this has to be done in a genuine way or don’t do it at all, basically. 

But I’m also an incredibly private person. I don’t enjoy or even think that it’s a good idea to process my emotions publicly. There have to be boundaries and this is where I have to try, I really have to try to sort of strike a balance as best I can, in a way that I feel comfortable. This is why, if you follow me on Instagram, I’m over @emilygoughcoach, this is why you’ll sometimes hear me say that I’m having a rough time or I’m dealing with some things. I’m trying to be super honest about where I’m at and not showing up falsely cheery, while also giving myself space and privacy to heal on my own time, no matter what I’m experiencing. I’m not about the good vibes only, we don’t do that shit around here, okay? Fuck that shit, we don’t do that. At the same time, I will also not discuss what I’m dealing with, in real time as a personal professional rule when I’m still processing things. When it comes to the online space, this is so nuanced because I also don’t love it. I’ve talked to other people who feel the same way. Feels super weird, when someone you follow online, comes out with a post where they’re like, oh, hey, remember, two years ago, when I seemed super happy, it was actually the worst period of my entire life. That feels really off putting to me in some ways. I get it but also it just feels ingenuine, which goes against one of my biggest core values. This is why I try to show up with this stuff in a reasonable amount of time, once I feel better prepared to talk about it. Another nuance to this, you also do not owe the internet a fucking thing. You don’t owe the internet, anything. 95% of my life will always remain behind closed doors. I would advocate for everyone to do that in a lot of ways just to maintain your boundaries. Still show up in a genuine way, still show behind the curtain and more the full picture not just the good vibes only bullshit because that’s not what life is. 

You can show the really beautiful positive parts and also show some of the harder parts too because that’s just simply life. That is real life.

Fortunately, I am not someone who is prone to depression. Very, very fortunate in that regard. Anytime I’ve ever ended up in any sort of depression, it’s been very situational and fairly short lived as this recent experience was as well although this was longer than what I’ve experienced in the past. I can get anxious sometimes, particularly when I’m under stress but I’m not typically depressed, that’s very unusual for me. Depression can happen because we’re feeling stuck, generally mired in the past or what we thought would be. When things change and look different than what we thought they would, it forces us to have to rewrite our entire narrative. Resistance to that change is when we can experience such deep emotional pain. Whereas anxiety is often around worries about the future. If you are going through some hard things, I’m going to get more into the story of this actual situation that I’ve been dealing with but if you were dealing with hard things, please talk to someone. Sometimes we have to borrow the beliefs and perspectives of somebody else, in order to find our way through the dark. Most especially someone else’s belief in us goes a really fucking long way, really, really long way. Sometimes we have to borrow that from people to allow us to move through whatever it is that we’re dealing with. The problem is that one of the many issues with depression is that we don’t want to burden anyone else. 

We keep it all in because we think we have to, we don’t want to bring anyone else down but we have to talk to the people in our lives and if they can’t hold it down for you, fortunately, we now live in a world where other options are available to us. There’s online support, there’s virtual therapy, coaches, friends you can meet online, there’s a whole number of different options, including help hotlines, which I will reference in the show notes. It’s way too easy to believe all of the lies that depression tells you, when you’re the only one speaking to yourself. When you’re the only one carrying the weight of what you’re trying to manage and you end up going down a downward spiral, often intertwined with shame, you’re going to have a really tough time pulling yourself out of that entirely on your own. And there is no shame in asking for help. None whatsoever. 

The last time I sank into a deep depression was when I found out about the nine year affair, the nine years of infidelity that my partner at the time had been having, with a knock on the door on Christmas Eve 2018 and the months that followed, when I ended things. That was a very, very dark time for me. For more on than that you can reference Episode 117. I’ve done multiple episodes that are all related to that but Episode 117 is one where I really go into the full story. So you can check all that out. Probably the last time I’ve done an episode quite that vulnerable as well. That is the most vulnerable episode I’ve ever done. This one is up there but how this period of depression varied for me from two years ago, was that I completely lost my sense of purpose and direction. After I ended my nine year relationship, I rapidly, within days, laid out a new plan to travel and all the things. This time I had no plan. I just felt like I was floating, aimless and I didn’t even have my work to ground me because that felt out of alignment too. Between the pandemic and other factors that were happening along with some necessary decisions I had to make, any potential of a plan, even including where to live, had gone up in smoke and my options were extremely limited by the pandemic, unlike before. This was a very different situation. I was also finding new layers of myself uncovered that I needed to work on and heal. A lot of this shit that I was uncovering within me was far deeper than what I had worked on before, specifically because I’ve done so much other inner work over the past two years. 

Of course, it’s helpful to reach these new layers but it was painful as hell to face those head on too. I was uncovering things I hadn’t even realized were within me. I felt really unstable geographically, not having my own space. I also had to really face the feeling that I’ve been dealing with about the fact that I’ve been in such a state of rapid, incredibly rapid but deeply painful growth for so long at this point, basically the majority of the last three to four years, that I pretty much hit a wall of being completely and utterly exhausted. Literally asking myself if I could find a way to have a day off from healing and growth, just to try and catch my breath. It almost reminds me of growth spurts when I was a kid and when you’re six feet tall by the time you’re fourteen, those growth spurts were a bitch sometimes. That’s what it has felt like at times. You know, it’s great, I like being six feet tall. Did I enjoy the process to get to grow into my six foot body, it was a little painful sometimes. You know those charley horses in the middle of the night, they’re not a great time.

To be clear, if we’re not growing, we’re dying, right. I’m grateful for every single experience that I have, that allows me the opportunity to grow, even when it’s painful, just doesn’t really make it any easier in the moment, unfortunately. I’ve also experienced many, if not the majority, of some of the absolute most joyful moments of my entire life in the past two and a half years, since I ended that nine year relationship. Although sometimes it has felt like a bit of an imbalance when compared to how much emotional pain there has sometimes been alongside those highs. But as we know, that’s also how we recognize the highs too. We wouldn’t know them or appreciate the beauty in them when they came along, if we didn’t also experience the lows. This is how, there’s always balance in nature, right? There’s always balance in nature. 

But my therapist said to me at one point, about mid January, this past mid January, a few months ago, that she had become concerned about my mental health after watching me struggle to stay afloat, mentally, for weeks. For some context on that comment, she has never said that to me in the three and a half years we’ve worked together. I started with her, actually, with my former partner, we worked with her. She was our couples counselor for a year, we went to her basically just for maintenance, then that relationship ended very painfully, very painfully, dramatically, all the things and I continued to see her on my own. She saw me through that breakup, she has seen me grow into basically a completely different human in the years since. And when she said that to me, that she was becoming concerned about my mental health, that was sort of a oh, damn, I’m in this even deeper than I thought, moment, where I was like, shit, I’m really in deep here. Throughout this timeframe, I was just beating myself up for feeling weak and I like to think of myself as pretty strong, both physically and emotionally. I still always feel all the feels, you know, no matter what but this absolutely flattened me. Even with all of the tools that I have to manage really fucking hard shit, nothing was working to pull me out of it and I was being really, really hard on myself. Which was also made more difficult by the fact that some of the tools I’ve used in the past have not always been possible in a pandemic world. So there were no distractions, no distractions, a lot of those tools simply were not possible with all the lockdowns and all of that. And the irony here is that what I tend to be known for in my inner circle and with my clients the most is compassion. If you asked me my superpower, that would be it. In fact, many of my clients actually walk away after working with me, noting that one of the best things they learned from me is how to be kinder to themselves and to show themselves compassion. I always approach how I view others in all kinds of different situations, with a lens of empathy and compassion, it’s what I teach. Yet, I was showing myself very little of that same compassion and it was exhausting and making me feel mentally worse. I hated that I felt like I was allowing circumstances and emotions to just completely overtake me. I was having these moments of, you know, this shouldn’t be hitting me this hard or I’ve lived through worse than this, why is this crushing me? It was a lot. 

I’m also widely known, again, if you listen to this podcast, you probably figured that out, I am widely known for genuinely laughing all the time, often even at inappropriate moments. At one point, I realized that I basically hadn’t laughed at all in a couple of months. That was also a bit of a realization. I was like, shit, this has been going on for a while. I’ve been in this deep even longer than I think I realized. Yes, I am actually pretty good at hiding how I feel when I really need to. I wear my heart on my sleeve, the majority of the time, by far the majority of the time but being able to hide how I feel when I have to for short periods, is a survival instinct that some have told me I am a little bit too good at sometimes. While all of this, well this whole period of time came up for situational reasons, it was not because of just one particular situation or reason, it was a multitude of different things, stacked on top of each other, over a period of months and it sort of hit a point where the weight of it all just fell like more than I felt equipped to manage. 

It started in summer of 2020. I was deteriorating in the sense that I couldn’t handle being stuck somewhere I knew I didn’t belong for such a long time and the isolation and other uncertainties that the pandemic had both created and highlighted. It was taking a toll on me, as it has taken a toll on all of us. I was also dealing with insomnia, due to stress. I was only sleeping about three hours a night, for several months, no matter what I did. I was doing everything. I know a lot of good sleep, hygiene and all of these different things, I know all these things, I was trying all the things and none of them were working. I would have to take naps just to try and make it through the day, a lot of the time and that’s really unusual for me. Typically, I don’t really have major issues sleeping but it massively impacted my productivity and creativity with my work, which is also why I took a hiatus from the podcast and social media around that time as well. Not to mention, sleep is very closely correlated with our mental health. Then there was the uncertainty around that time too, just losing my entire sense of purpose in my business and just sensing on a deep level that I wasn’t doing what I was meant to be doing. I was searching for fulfillment in my work that I wasn’t finding. I felt directionless, I was unsure of my next move in nearly any area of my life. Again, I didn’t have my own space, the heavy, heavy loneliness, missing so many people and the complete lack of human connection, which again, same thing that nearly all of us have been struggling with. I have an extremely small handful of people that I have chosen to remain close with in Ontario here in Canada at this point very, very intentionally. 

I talked about that in Episode 153, all about burning bridges. So that’s where I have been staying for nearly all of the pandemic, here in Ontario, Canada. So very, very few people that I’m close to here by choice. The rest of my entire and fairly extensive network of my closest friends and favorite humans are scattered all across North America and the rest of the entire globe. The unknowns of when I would or will be able to see at least the majority of those people, again, has been crushing in a lot of ways. I’ve just had moments of being far lonelier than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. And there’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely. I’ve talked about that before, both on Episode 263, about the value of being alone on purpose and Episode 148, about how lonely and alone are not synonymous. I’m an introvert, I’m also an only child and I’m pretty sure I barely even know the meaning of the word bored and overall, I’m rarely ever lonely. I like my alone time and I require it on a regular basis to recharge. I have lived alone, I’ve traveled all over the world alone multiple times, I have very happily eaten at many, many restaurants on my own. All of those things with zero issues whatsoever. I’ve taken a great deal of joy in each of those things and I thoroughly enjoy my own company. But this situation with the pandemic has taken pure isolation to such extremes, that I was completely buckling with the total lack of social contact. You know, I’m an introvert but I am a highly outgoing introvert and I thrive on human interaction. Again, we are all dealing with this loneliness, this separation, loss in one way or another, I am not unique in the least, which is why I’m talking about this because we have all suffered immensely in this pandemic. And in more ways than I could ever even list here. I’ve also been incredibly privileged throughout this process, more so than many. I need to make that abundantly clear, between having a roof over my head, healthy food in the fridge, a support system, all of these different things, I’m so, so privileged. But mental health has taken a hit for nearly every single one of us throughout this process, privilege or not. Privilege certainly helps with our mental health but privilege does not mean that you will not struggle with your mental health.

So when all this was happening, the insomnia was going on for months, I was hitting the end of my rope. And I knew that I had to shift something, I had to change something in order to be able to shift my mental and physical state. I talk about this more in Episode 230 about slow down to speed up. I talk about burnout and stuff like that in that episode. What I ended up doing was I went down to the U.S. for a couple months to be with some of my favorite people and that helped so much, I cannot even explain to you how much that helped. But it also came with its own set of issues. I arrived back in Canada feeling even more lost and directionless in my business and about where to live more permanently and I was beginning to go into a full blown panic. I mean, full panic. I was waking up every day with a weight on my chest. I felt borderline sick to my stomach with anxiety. I was struggling and I was starting to fall into a deep, deep hole far deeper even than I had been before I went down to the States. And I also, always, no matter what, tend to have a harder time in the winter and around the holidays, as it is, for a variety of different reasons. So I left Canada when it was still warm and bright, long days and stuff and I came back to Canada in the cold and dark. So that did not help. Plus I was also coming back to Canada and going straight into two weeks of isolation in quarantine, which was even, it was even mentally tougher and more brutally taxing than I thought it would be and it absolutely sucked the life out of me. That was my choice. That was completely my choice, obviously, to leave the country and I knew when I left the country that I would be quarantining upon my return, it just didn’t make it any easier mentally. Then going into quarantine in an already fairly distressed state did not really help the situation a huge amount.

In and around all of this going on, I also eventually ended the relationship I was in. Neither one of us were happy about parting ways at all but I could see the writing on the wall. I recognized it wasn’t quite the right fit for a variety of reasons, even though I adore him and we continue to remain friends. He’s an extraordinary human being. Even though I was the one who ultimately chose to end it, it absolutely broke my heart to walk away and it wasn’t how either one of us had wanted it to go. By the way, for anyone wondering, no, you’ve never seen him tagged anywhere on my social media, which is very intentional. I am extremely protective of my private life and the people in it that I can hold closest to my heart, who could end up subjected to scrutiny of any kind, particularly when the other person also happens to have a public presence. So you have never seen him tagged on my social media for anyone wondering. I’ve just noticed that it sometimes feels as though there’s an unusual amount of interest in my love life. Maybe it’s because I’ve been open about my experiences with infidelity. I’m not really sure. But it makes me even more private and closed off about that aspect of my life except with my inner circle. 

So yes, you have never seen him tagged anywhere. I just needed to mention that.

So one point, mid January, so this is all going on, basically between, the heaviest part, I got back to Canada, beginning to mid November and went straight into quarantine. All this was happening, you know, November into Christmas, all the things and at one point in mid January, I basically didn’t get out of bed for three straight days, except for pre scheduled coaching calls. Ironically, that is where I come alive the most. I fucking love my clients and that is where I just feel so clear in my sense of purpose. It lights me up. I literally got out of bed, just long enough to coach, lit up on the calls and came to life and then it was like as soon as the calls were over, it was as though my own internal personal battery immediately powered back down as soon as zoom calls ended and I went back into my shell and back to bed. For these two or three months, I also wasn’t eating much and only really out of necessity. I had no appetite whatsoever, which is also when I know things are really wrong because normally I eat a lot, partly because I train hard and partly because I just really love food. But at one point I told a friend I was only eating to exist. Everything tasted like sandpaper, I could barely bring myself to eat anything. I was losing weight too and I don’t really have much to lose. Speaking of training as well, that also wasn’t happening much in this timeframe, which is also very unusual for me. I normally train five, occasionally six days per week and I was barely getting in one or maybe two workouts a week, tops, for a couple months. I also had no energy to train because I was eating so little, too. 

So I moved through it. I was talking to my therapist obviously, throughout this whole time frame and close friends and stuff. But in January, a really dear friend of mine didn’t realize just how deep of a mental hole I was in, mostly because I was doing my best to hide it from him. He knew I was struggling but I didn’t let him see how much. I didn’t tell him until about a month or so later, just how rough shape I had been in when we had that particular conversation. I reached out to him with a philosophical conversation about dealing with emotional pain. He’s sort of my go to person for those types of, really kind of intense discussions and in one conversation, he helped me start to turn things around and talked me through some really, really heavy issues. When I spoke to him, that was when I had, I was actually lying in bed when I talked to him on the phone. That was when I had been in bed for three days. I also don’t remember ever having another time in my life where I literally stayed in bed for three days. Again, even after the ending of the nine year affair, I still got up every day, for the most part. I don’t remember that ever happening. So that was very unusual for me. So after that particular conversation with him, I got up, I ate a meal and I went for a walk outside. If you’ve ever been in a deep depression, you know that sometimes that is the biggest deal ever. Truly. Showering, those types of things that seem so small on an everyday basis, when you’re in a really deep dark state, that is a big fucking deal to do even the smallest things like that. It felt like I was sort of halfway out of the hole at that point. Then another friend and mentor of mine reached out randomly in DMs, a couple weeks later, at the end of January and helped me to completely shift my entire mindset. 

I really think that I was ready to receive what she had to say in the exact right moment and it landed the exact way I needed to hear it. She’s so funny, she always seems to pop up in my life at just the exact most pivotal moments when I need her most. I swear to god, she has radar to tell when I’m at rock bottom. But by the end of that call, it felt like I had been catapulted out of the depression and I could feel hope for the first time in what felt like a really, really long time. Even though it had only been about two or three months of the really deep part of the depression but it felt like an eternity. Some of the things, just to give you a very general overview of some of the things I talked about with both of those friends, in those two particular conversations were things that I already knew and I already know and these are things that I teach as well. But I needed to hear the reminders and phrased in the exact ways that I was ready to receive them. Just being able to verbally process with both of them, about these things, they just framed it for me in ways that again, even though I knew these things before, I know them now too, nothing has changed exactly, they just framed it for me in a different light that made me be able to see through the darkness a little bit more. We talked about how sometimes we choose to suffer. And I’m not gonna go into a whole philosophical discussion about some of these things, we can get into these on other episodes. Let me know if you have questions, if you want me to go into these further. If you don’t do a deep dive into them, they can sound almost dismissive but it’s not the case at all. If you want to dig into these more, please let me know and we can definitely dig into these more. We were talking about things like how I was choosing to suffer in some ways. Talking about acceptance, exactly where you are in this particular moment, rather than fighting it. How you can make the best of your current circumstances rather than fighting it. Finding new ways to create meaning for yourself. I was already kind of part way there but I needed some help getting the rest of the way there. Another big one that I was talking to them about was surrendering to what life throws at me again, rather than fighting it, this resistance that I was having. I’ve been learning surrender throughout this particular time frame in whole new ways. I will have more to say on that in a future episode for sure. I have lots to say on this because I’ve been doing a deep dive into actual research around this. I’ve been experimenting with surrender in whole new ways, in my own life. I’m seeing some really interesting results. So we’ll be talking about that more. 

We all need people to help us on our journey sometimes. We all need people. No one does life alone, okay, no one does life alone. If somebody tells you that they’re doing life alone, they’re lying to you. No one does life alone. And no matter how far along you are, no matter how much you know, no matter how many tools you have, it’s so easy to get caught up in our own shit and we all need outside perspective sometimes, every single one of us. No matter how much you know, someone else always has something else that can teach you something, that you can learn from. I was just so fortunate to have a number of these different experiences, even in terms of my business. My friend, Sarah Swain, she’s coming back on the podcast for, I think it’s the next, if you’re listening to this in real time, it’s the next episode. But she’s been on the podcast several times before. She held a VIP day with me to help me get my business sorted out and get me more in alignment. She just helped me point out the new direction of my business and just gifted me with this renewed sense of purpose and gave me clarity on a lot of things, that this is why my business is now in human connection and relationship coaching. When I started telling people that this is what I do, that I was gonna do, everyone around me was sort of like, yeah, we’ve been waiting for you to get there. You’ve kind of been doing this a little bit the whole time but you’re really talking about it. So you can check out Episode 240 for more on that and kind of the switch that I made. I also had different friends checking on me regularly. I was really, really fortunate, so incredibly fortunate. 

I was also pushing myself to open up more to the people close to me than I ever had before. 

It was kind of a practice in receiving love, which I am historically not great at. I’m so good at giving it but I have a tougher time being on the receiving end. And we’re going to be talking about that more as well because a lot of people actually struggle with that. Sounds weird sometimes, why would we struggle receiving love, everyone wants to receive love but there’s some big blocks that we can run into with that so we will be talking about that more. That has been a really beautiful practice. I’m really trying hard to carry that through and being better at opening up to people a little bit more to receive what people offer me because this is how the flow of life works. It’s a back and forth, it’s an ebb and flow. 

On a business note, part of entrepreneurship is showing up when you don’t want to sometimes because that’s the job, especially when you’re a personal brand. This is something that I’ve struggled with in the past. I was still having a hard time with that throughout this but it really woke me up to some harsh realities because I love coaching and working with my clients throughout anything and it gives me life. Coaching and this podcast are the two things that I love the most. Coaching, number one, podcast number two. But having to show up every day on social media is the part that I can find incredibly draining when I’m having a rough time. 

But marketing and showing my face almost every day is a huge part of what I do and what my business requires, as well. Don’t mistake me, it’s an incredible privilege that I am able to have the freedom to do the job that I do. I never take that for granted, especially as someone who spent so many years feeling trapped in a corporate job I was miserable at and I worked so long and hard to make this happen. It also means trying to find ways to put systems in place so that your business can run without you for a couple of days. I was launching a new program in December and January and I completely crashed and burned with that launch, in a lot of ways because I was having such a hard time mentally that I was struggling to push through it. One of many things I learned throughout this process was that I also had some realizations about working with my mind and body rather than against them. For that reason, I won’t be pushing myself to actively launch in December or January again, at least not for the foreseeable future. I’ve uncovered more of the reasons why I seem to struggle that time of year, consistently, which no matter what I do, no matter what tools I put in place, I always seem to struggle around that time of year so I’ve figured out some more reasons why, which has been really helpful. 

I realized I have forced myself to try and launch every single year around that time, since I went into business back in 2017. And every single year, I struggle in that timeframe, though this year was the worst yet. It just gave me some really important lessons in that place, in that light. 

I’m also putting some really significant systems, automations, different things into the back end of my business to make things run much more smoothly, both just in everyday normal life and if things start to go awry and I need to step back for a day or two, I will be okay to do so, which is really, really helpful as well. 

But depression and just really dark, painful periods of time, there can be incredible transformations that can come out from moving through the darkest depths of yourself. 

This period of time was honestly, it might sound like it cliche but it was the catalyst to growth that I didn’t even know I needed. Depression can be the storm that clears your path and provides actually a ton of clarity. You can’t see it when you’re in it. And when everything seems dark, you can’t see the forest for the trees, right? You’re so deep in it that you don’t even know yet what parts are happening for you.

My relationship coach, Emma, I brought her on the podcast on Episode 133 and we talked about this on that episode. She has talked about the fertile void. She taught me this, I don’t think that she came up with it but she taught it to me and I always associate it with her. Basically what it is, is that some of the most beautiful changes can grow from the darkest periods of time in your life. So when everything seems dark, it seems like there’s nothing happening, everything is dead, it feels like winter, it’s the fertile void. But it’s called the fertile void because there are seeds being planted that you don’t even realize, that are growing roots. Then spring comes and all of a sudden, you start to see the fruits of the labor that you didn’t even know you were putting in. It’s really, really beautiful. Emma explains it so much more eloquently. So go check out Episode 133, it’s been a really popular one. But this whole entire time frame for me, changed my entire business and my life, in a lot of ways. I can feel the energy shift, especially because my business is so closely tied to my life in a lot of ways. But I can just feel a completely different energy because of this. Even the trip down to the United States, for example, was the best decision I could have made for more reasons than I could ever even list here. It was the best for me, it was not for everyone. I stayed fairly quiet about it when I went down there because I knew that there was going to be some people who would not have agreed with my decision to travel down there during a pandemic. But it was a choice I made very carefully and deliberately after weighing out all of my options. I took as many precautions as I possibly could. Maybe one day I will share some more reasons as to how that trip came about in the first place because it’s actually a pretty interesting story. It was a massive gamble on my part and I mean a massive gamble, even unrelated to anything to do with the pandemic. But just the most beautiful things came out of it in so many ways. So maybe one day, I’ll share more about that. 

Overall, I’m sharing more about all of this in general, to hopefully give even one person some hope that you will not always feel this way. If you are having a hard time right now you will not always feel this way. When I’m having a really rough time, it’s something I remind myself of all the time, I always repeat it like a mantra. You have made it through all of your darkest days so far and you will survive this too. You also never know how quickly things can begin to shift and turn around. Truly I mean that. Think about how many emotions you can experience in a single average day. Not a day where you’re in a deep depression but just a single average day, you can go from happy to joyful to sad, to depressed, to frustrated, to angry to annoyed at the driver that cut you off and then back to happy again, you can experience all these different things. 

In particular, these two specific conversations that I had with my two different friends, in January, when I was really in the depths of it, completely changed my entire mood to my core. I felt like a different human being, as though I was sort of like my own walking before and after Billboard but in terms of mood and overall mental health with those two conversations. 

I saw Glennon Doyle put up a post on Instagram about how one week she felt awful and the next week she felt great and for no particular reason, one way or the other. You have to keep going because you’re stronger than you think you are. Reach out to the people closest to you. I know I mentioned this at the beginning as well but please talk to your people. I have to say when I was talking to my people and trying to be better at receiving help and love all those things, my people paid particularly close attention when I finally admitted that I felt in even worse shape than I had two years ago when my entire life fell apart. Again, I did not end up in this state for one reason. This was multiple reasons and situations that were all happening at the same time and over a long stretch of time, when I finally hit a wall. But all of this forced me to examine some big issues within myself, head on and to surrender in huge new ways, like something that I think the pandemic has done for so many of us. It was incredibly necessary as part of my own healing and growth. But even after pulling myself out of this state, I was in an almost constant state of fear for weeks afterwards that I would slip back into a depression. 

I could literally almost feel it nipping at my heels, especially on days when I didn’t stick to my routine or get enough sleep. To be clear, I’ve still had low days since, just as we all will, that’s normal, that is expected, that’s part of being human, especially a human in year two of a pandemic. But it has been nothing, nothing like where I was.

Something my therapist said to me, that I think is really important to note here, be careful of the lies depression tells you. Depression can be the clouds that paint over everything. Depression can alter your memory and the way you remember certain events happening, the way you remember certain people making you feel. You can even fall into the trap of always or never type of thinking, both towards yourself and towards others. So, like, he always makes me feel this way or she never does this or if it’s yourself, you always fail or you never do this right or whatever that looks like. Depression can just create more extremism as opposed to the reality and it can fuck with your concept of time as well. I was noticing that where I was like, where have the last like three months gone but everything also felt like it was dragging. That might also be just the pandemic too, I’m not sure. I feel like my concept of time is becoming warped lately with this pandemic because it’s almost like Groundhog Day, every day. Normally certain days would look a little bit different for different reasons but because we’re all home all the time, it’s like, what day is it? I don’t even know anymore. But it can, depression can really fuck with your concept of time. And depression is inherently selfish. I was very self aware of that, even while I was in it because I know that about depression. It’s very self centered and you’re focused only on yourself because it’s so difficult to see beyond your own pain in those moments. That’s why one of the best things that we can do for ourselves, to help pull ourselves out of it, is to root ourselves in helping someone else because it helps to regain a sense of purpose even momentarily. I think that’s why the coaching calls that I had with clients were so life giving to me, even if it was only while I was on the call with them, it brought me back to life even just for sixty minutes and then I would shut back down again. It was so important because it almost gave me slivers of light to hang on to in between calls. 

Some of the best things that have helped me both throughout this process and have helped me in other moments in time when I’ve been having a really rough time, first and foremost is routine. Seriously, without it, everything starts to fall apart for me, I have to have some sort of a routine in place. That can look different for everyone, obviously. One example of a routine is going to bed around the same time and getting up at the same time. Now, that part of my routine, I’m not normally super strict with myself on that, especially about what time I go to bed but when I’m struggling, I know that it can help me mentally in a big, big way. Huge way. So that can be a really important part of your routine. Something else is to just get up, get up, get out of bed, get dressed. Again, I know I had those three days there where I was struggling to do that and I felt the difference. But get up, get dressed, put on a little makeup, do your hair, whatever that looks like for you, it can make a really significant shift for you mentally. Drink lots of water, eat nutritious foods as well, that make your body feel good. If you don’t have an appetite like I didn’t, make a smoothie or something that will go down really easily to get some nutrients in you. Even when I was barely eating I made sure to have at least a protein smoothie every day to make sure I was getting some crucial macronutrients into me. It’s easy to pack something like a smoothie with some nutritious ingredients that can go down really easily. Moving your body, this is  another big one. Even just walks, just walks, that’s one of the biggest ones. Even when I wasn’t really training much I was still doing my best to get out for walks most days. Normally that’s a constant, everyday thing for me, non negotiable, but I was still doing it most of the time, which was helpful and once I started forcing myself to lift weights again on my regular schedule. I cried my way through most of the workouts for the first few weeks and I was incredibly frustrated at how both mentally and physically weak I felt. But I forced myself to do it because I knew that it would feel better than not training. Moving our body, whether it’s walking, zumba, lifting weights, whatever, it changes your physiological state, especially when you’re stressed or ruminating and it moves emotions through you. It helps me process things, honestly, I consider it sort of a moving meditation. Moving your body is so important. I also want to remind you when you are moving through the toughest shit, is often when you feel your weakest but it’s actually often when you’re your strongest. To continue to show up, even when you feel that depleted, it takes massive strength to show up at all, when shit feels that hard. Try to give yourself a little bit of credit there too. Turn on some music, dance around your room, if you can, make a date with a friend of some kind, even if it’s a zoom date and you cry the whole time, just something to put in the calendar. Animals as well. I have friends who very, very generously kept lending me their dogs for snuggles and walks throughout this time frame. It’s scientifically proven to help mental health, not just dogs but animals in general. I’m very biased for dogs but why do you think so many people have gotten pandemic pets? There’s a reason. Sunshine as well. If it’s sunny out, even if it’s cold, make sure you go soak up as much of that as you can. I swear to god, I’m basically a solar powered battery. I am a different human in sunshine. 

And have some compassion for yourself. I know that I mentioned that before and this was a part I was struggling with. But have some compassion for yourself. That is different, however, then feeling sorry for yourself. Having compassion and showing yourself kindness, that’s really important however, you can find ways to do that. And if you need to, again, I’m going to mention this again, call a mental health hotline if you have to. I will list numbers in the show notes. 

Overall, this is the biggest one. I’m going to bring this up again because I think it is worth hammering home, please reach out to someone you trust. Please reach out to someone you trust. On the other side of that, if someone tells you they’re struggling, please take it seriously. Check on them, call them, offer your support. If you’re anything like me, I don’t tell people I’m struggling unless I am really, really struggling. It’s very vulnerable and can be incredibly hard to admit. Most of us actively avoid asking for help. So if someone does reach out, please pay attention and give them the benefit of the doubt, believe them. Not only that, we remember how people made us feel in those moments. If you’ve ever reached out to someone in a low moment and been brushed aside, you know how shitty that feels and how much that stays with you. Especially if it was by someone close to you and you reached out to them in search of connection only to be met with indifference, regardless of how pure their intentions may have been. That is not a good feeling. At the same time, I also fully recognize that sometimes we can’t hold space for others and we’re trying to hold things together ourselves. I’ve been in that position myself, it’s a difficult balance. But I can’t tell you how much it means when someone gifts you with their most precious resources, their time and their energy. Those are the kinds of moments and relationships you never, ever forget. It’s a sort of kindness that stays with you. 

I had one really dear friend basically drop everything to jump on the phone with me when he sent me an audio message asking me how I was doing when I was in quarantine. When I responded, I ended up breaking down in tears from pure stress, even though I was using every ounce of my energy to try to not cry when I responded to him. He had people over at his house and it didn’t matter to him. He called me immediately and was on the phone with me for forty minutes. I will never, ever forget that level of kindness and generosity. I also happened to feel about 1000 times better after our conversation. Another friend, during this whole time frame, reminded me every single week to message or call him if I needed anything, even if it was just to have someone to talk to or cry at. These are just two examples of many that I could give you of the support that I received and the kinds of humans I’m just so fortunate to have in my life. The reason why I keep mentioning that is because I am so deeply aware all the time that not everyone has the kind of support system that I am so lucky to have. That’s why I come out with episodes and stuff like this because if maybe you don’t have quite the level of support that is ideal, I want to show you that there can be other ways to deal with this as well, that there can be other avenues for you. 

You know, it’s interesting, in one of the sections of the book that I’m writing, yes, there is a book coming out, basically a memoir, I’m coming out with a memoir. I never thought I’d be in my 30s and writing a memoir but so much shit has gone on in my life, ten years, ten to fifteen years, that apparently I have enough to fill a book so you can sit tight on that one, it is coming. But in one of the sections of the book I’m writing, I talk about how in the months that followed the ending of the nine year relationship and the infidelity and all of that, there were only a very, very small handful of people that I even told about that whole situation, what was going on at the time. 

I would regularly find myself just completely overcome with emotion by being so entirely overwhelmed by the kindness and compassion that those few people showed me. What’s interesting is that they always mistook my display of emotion for grief or sadness over the breakup but 99% of the time, it had nothing to do with my grief. It was actually because I was so overcome at how massively generous they were to me with their time and their kindness and their compassion, to the point that it moved me to tears. I also cry easily, but that’s a story for a different day. But still. I always remember those moments and I want to make sure that that stays with me so that I can pay it forward whenever I can, to others when they need it too.

So what’s next for me? Whoa, things have changed and shifted in a dramatic way. My entire business has shifted, all the things. I now do human connection and transformational coaching, that would never have happened without all of this, all of it. The trip to the U.S., the depths of depression, all the things truly, that is why I am now doing what I’m doing. It has been the necessary niche pivot that I can sense I’ve been moving towards for years. And all of these things collectively, basically shoved me onto the path of total alignment that I’d been searching for, without even realizing it. The pandemic as well, all of this, played a role. None of this would have come about without the pandemic. So that’s, I guess, one reason to be grateful for the pandemic. We can hold two truths. We can hold a huge amount of grief for a situation and for the loss that people have experienced in every possible way, both in terms of losing loved ones, to financial difficulties, missing major events, births, funerals, all the things, we can hold the grief for that. And sometimes we can also see where there can be things that can come out of a dark time like that, that there can be gratitude for certain aspects of it as well. But that is not to dismiss the immense and deeply felt grief at the same time. We can hold both of those things. And everyone has had a very different experience throughout this whole process as well. I also have plans in the works for some shifts in geographical location soon, finally, that I am very excited about. And there are some incredibly cool projects coming down the line related to relationships and human connection that I’m working on that I can’t wait to share, including a couple of collaborations that are going to be extraordinary, actually extraordinary. So stay tuned for that because I’m excited to share more about that. 

Overall, this is what I want you to take away the most from this. You get to turn your pain into your purpose. That is your choice and yours alone. And even in the depths of despair, I held on to the same thought I’ve always managed to grasp onto, like some sort of life raft in the darkness, which is this is an opportunity for growth. And in some situations, not all, you know, things like tragedies and deaths of loved ones and stuff like that, again, I’m not dismissing any of that. So separate from those types of situations, the other thing that I tell myself, in these types of situations specific to me, was that I kept telling myself, this is an opportunity to make a shitty set of circumstances into the best thing to ever happen to you. I said that back in Episode 117, as well, a couple years ago and it stands true for me today in these types of situations. 

But it’s up to you, what you decide to do with what life hands you, that choice is yours. No one is saying it’s going to be easy, it might be the hardest shit of your entire fucking life. Resilience is not born from sunshine and rainbows. It is forged in the darkest moments of your life, through pain and suffering and hardship and eventually through acceptance of change. But the longer you resist change, the more you will continue to suffer. Change is the only thing that we can be truly certain about in life. We can be certain about uncertainty, that’s one of the only things that we can be certain about in life. But that can also come with necessary grief and mourning and all those things and that’s okay. That’s part of the process, grieve and mourn and feel all the things. Sometimes the universe has to force us to move otherwise we would stay in one spot or go down paths that were never intended to us. And sometimes pain of staying the same will also become too much to bear. That was what I was experiencing too. All of this pain that I underwent during this timeframe forced me to see the path that had been right in front of me all along that I’d been avoiding. I talked more about that on Episode 259 about following the path of least resistance. That’s actually one of the things that one of my mentors and I talked about in one of those two main conversations back in January, too. So go check that episode out because it was just exactly what I needed to hear in that moment and it might be what you need to hear, maybe, hopefully as well. But the dark moments, this is also where courage and empathy and compassion come from. If you don’t allow your circumstances to harden you. 

This is a really important distinction. Because I made a commitment to myself following the very painful ending of my nine year relationship, that I would not allow those circumstances or any other situation in the future, to take away what I consider to be some of the best parts of me.

So think about things like your sensitivity, your compassion, your kindness, your empathy, your ability to trust. Do not give anyone or anything the power to take those amazing qualities from you and protect them at all cost. Hang on to them and recognize the stunningly beautiful humanity in those parts of you. Pain can harden you in some really necessary ways by gifting you with things like resilience or making you smarter and more discerning. But allowing your circumstances to harden your heart and to make you cynical, bitter, angry, resentful, any of those things, that is also your choice. So instead, you can allow the pain to crack you open and to expand your capacity for growth and love, compassion and joy, courage and hope, if you let it. You can learn how to lean in even deeper into all of those things, to depths that you didn’t even realize you were capable. You can create a sense of meaning from your pain that you can carry forth with you and it will make you a better, stronger, more empathetic human being. Without fail, the most resilient, courageous, most loving people I know, are also those who have been through some of the absolute darkest suffering. But you get to choose, you get to choose what you do with it. Again, I am not saying it is going to be easy, absolutely not. It’s not gonna be easy. But you still have choices, even in the darkness. 

So I hope that whenever you listen to this, that it’s hitting you at the exact moment that you need to hear it. I hope that you’re able to take even one little thing away from this episode that can help you in some small way. If you know somebody who would benefit from this, please pass it along, send it their way. It doesn’t have to be shared publicly because I know that something like this can be a little bit more of a sensitive topic. So if you just have somebody in mind that you think could benefit from it, send it over to them and hopefully they might get something out of it as well. But again, I don’t really enjoy coming forward with episodes this personal but I felt obligated to talk about, I felt my own sense of obligation to come forward about something like this because this past year in particular is something that has hit everyone incredibly hard in a variety of different ways. Mental health has taken a hit in a really, really significant way. So I hope that this finds you when you need to hear it. I’m also going to encourage you to, I don’t typically talk about this but to sign up for emails from me. I’ve actually listed how to jump on my subscriber list to receive emails from me. I have been notoriously terrible at sending emails in the past but I’ve made a commitment to both myself and my amazing assistant to change that this year. I will never overwhelm your inbox at all. It’ll mostly just be like one time per week notes with extra education and tools. Personal updates that don’t get shared anywhere else, little extra stories and goodies and stuff that I don’t share on the podcast and also end up sending offers once in a while to anyone who gets emails from me, that I don’t talk about anywhere else too. Basically you’re going to be joining my inner circle, other than my actual clients that work with me. 

If you’re not already subscribed to the podcast, it would mean the absolute world to me if you would do that and please, please, please leave a review as well. That would go such a long way to share, leave a review, subscribe, all the things. Make sure to grab, sign up to grab emails from me. I also have a number of different episodes that I think you would really benefit from if you got anything out of this one as well. I’ve listed them all in the show notes. There’s several of them. There’s ones about When Home is No Longer Home, Burnout, Closure, Burning Bridges, The Nine Year Affair, The Affair Aftermath. I have a number of different guests some of whom have talked about depression, mental health, all these different things, one’s about anxiety, please go check them out. I think that you’ll find them really, really helpful if you got anything out of this one. They’ll help sort of support everything that I’m talking about here.

So, thank you so much for listening, this is a longer episode than usual. I really appreciate you. 

I am so appreciative that you have taken the time to tune in and I’m honored to be in your earbuds, truly, that is an honor that is never ever lost to me. Thank you so much for being here and I appreciate you so much. 

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast today. It means the absolute world to me and I’m so grateful. For any references in the episode and all show notes, be sure to jump over to RoomtoGrowPodcast.com and if this episode touched your heart, it would mean so much if you would take a quick second to hit subscribe, write a review and share on social media or with someone who really needs to hear today’s message. It makes such a difference to keep this podcast going so I can continue to bring you amazing content and absolutely incredible guests. Be sure to tag me over on Instagram @emilygoughcoach so that I can thank you in real time for listening and connect with you. We’re back every Tuesday and Thursday with new episodes and I’m looking forward to growing with you.

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Vulnerability is my strength.

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