I Used To Be A Wreck.
When you first glance of this picture of me, you might naturally assume that my life has always been great and that maybe even things have come easily for me. I know I've assumed that about people lots of times. It's natural to assume based on what we see on the outside.
People have told me they think that I have it all together. They assume that I haven’t experienced struggles and challenges like they’ve experienced.
That’s likely because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and a people pleaser, and I care too much about what other people think. So, even when life has been really, really hard, I haven’t let many people see that. I’ve always wanted everyone to think that I have it all together and can handle everything that comes my way.
What I want to share with you is taking a lot of vulnerability and openness on my part. It’s really really hard for someone who has cared way too much about what other people think to be transparent. If what I’m sharing helps anyone to feel like they’re not alone, and that there is hope, then it’s worth it.
The reason I’m choosing to share these things with you is because the times that other people have been brave enough to openly share their challenges and struggles, it has really helped me. It helped me see that I’m not alone and the things that I’ve gone through, others have gone through as well.
Over time, I’ve learned that no matter how perfect someone else’s life might look, no matter how flawless their appearance, there’s always more going on behind the scenes that the rest of us don’t see.
Life for me is good now, and I’m grateful for the challenges and struggles that I’ve gone through because they’ve helped me to grow, and they’ve helped me to help others. But it wasn’t always that way.
Anxiety has plagued me my entire life, for as long as I can remember. Anxiety, depression and panic attacks were so bad in my early 20’s that I had to quit my job and go on disability for a year. I had been fulfilling my dream of modelling with an agency in Toronto and had just finished my reign as Miss Metropolitan Toronto - and I had to give it all up because I couldn’t cope.
Anxiety, low self-esteem and a distorted body image were no doubt the cause of a lot of really bad choices that I made over the course of many years. I won’t go into all of the details here, because it’s not necessary and because truthfully, they sound too much like soap opera material.
I’ve watched a loved one go on diet after diet for as long as I can remember, and when I was younger, I mistakenly came up with the distorted thought that I needed to be thin to be accepted and loved.
I teetered on the verge of anorexia in my teens and practically starved myself for 6 months when I was 16, and at 5’7” and 113 lbs, I still thought I was too big. My view of myself and my worth was completely distorted. I looked sick and I felt even worse.
Partying was something that temporarily made me feel better, and I partied all the way through my teens and into my twenties (even though, the next day I would feel a whole lot worse.)
When I was 35, I became a mom for the first time, and although I was ecstatic at finally being a mom, it was bitter-sweet. I was a single mom from the time my son was born until he was 5 years old. That was not the plan I had for my life, to raise a child completely on my own, and that part of it really, really sucked. I faced a loneliness that I wouldn’t wish on anybody.
I worked full-time with my son in daycare from the time he was a year old, and I felt like life was passing me by. It felt like all I did was work, pick up my son, get dinner ready, spend a bit of time with him, put him to bed, clean the house and drop dead-tired into bed by 9pm. And then repeat it all the next day.
My son rarely slept for more than 2-4 hours at a time until he was 2 years old, so needless to say, I was a walking zombie for years.
Physically, I suffered with IBS and digestive disorders, adrenal fatigue caused by stress, extreme tiredness, moodiness, candida overgrowth, food sensitivities, and I continued to battle with anxiety and depression on and off.
I can’t tell you how many counsellors and doctors I had seen in those years and how many medications I reluctantly took for anxiety and depression, and some of them did help temporarily.
The real changes and the lasting changes took place over the course of several years.
Like I said, life is not perfect now and I’m certainly far from perfect, but looking back at everything I just wrote now, it all seems like a lifetime ago.
Although I always had a passion for natural health (I grew up on a farm in the country where we basically ate off the land), that passion was hidden in the background while I was in the depths of everything I was going through.
When that passion did resurface and I had the chance to go back to school to study natural nutrition, I used everything that I learned from my course, from naturopathic doctors and from my own experiences of what worked and didn’t work and put them all into action for my own healing journey.
Through that journey and with the help of certain counsellors and pastors, I was on the way to health and wholeness.
Along the way, I had hoped for a magic pill or supplement to make everything better, but I came to realize that it wasn’t one specific thing that was going to help, but a tool kit of many things, including changing how I ate, making lifestyle changes (sleep, stress, exercise), changing my mindset (with daily declarations, prayer, relaxation techniques) and in my case, a counsellor to work through issues that needed to be worked through.
It wasn’t until I started feeling better that I realized just how awful I felt before, and that it really wasn’t how I was meant to feel. I had thought it was my normal.
Even when I do indulge now and then (which does happen), I notice a huge difference in how I feel afterwards, because now my norm is feeling good.
I no longer believe the distorted lie that I need to be thin to be accepted. I ‘choose’ to be the size I am now because it makes me feel good.
Regular exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, reducing stress and Mindset are huge for me when it comes to how I feel physically, emotionally and mentally. They all work together, and what affects one part, affects the whole.
Looking back, I can appreciate every lesson I learned and every challenge that I faced, because they helped me become who I am today, and it’s blessed me with a compassion and understanding for what other people are going through, that I may not have had otherwise.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you.
May Anne xo
P.S. If any of what I shared resonates with you, please share it in the comments below. You may help someone else reading this. Or, you can send me an email HERE.
This time of year can be harder for some people than others, and it’s usually because of something called Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D.
It’s generally worse in that period of time between the end of Christmas and New Years and the beginning of spring.
If you struggle with winter depression, this time of year is not filled with joy and fun winter activities. Instead, you probably feel like hiding under the covers until spring arrives in a few months.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Everyone has the blues now and then. But SAD is a depressive state that occurs seasonally, year after year, usually in the fall and winter. If you suffer from SAD, you may feel perfectly normal during the spring and summer months, but starting around October or November, symptoms begin showing up.
Because this type of depression come and goes with the seasons, you may wonder if it is all in your head. It isn’t. This is a real condition and can have a devastating impact on your life.
Researchers still don’t know the exact cause of SAD, but there are some factors that seem to be involved, and they involve the decreased amount of sunlight that fall and winter bring.
SAD will often manifest itself as feelings of sadness or depression. You may feel as though you cannot get enough sleep—struggling to get out of the bed in the morning, feeling drowsy during the day and going to bed earlier than you usually do.
Your energy and concentration may also run low, and this can affect your productivity at work and at home. Of course, not having the energy to ‘get things done,’ only leads to frustration and more feelings of depression. You may also notice weight gain. Typically, SAD sufferers will crave foods high in carbohydrates and can gain between 9 and 30 pounds each year.
Finally, your social life may suffer. If you are depressed, you just won’t enjoy being around others as much as you used to. This can turn into social withdrawal which makes your feelings of depression and sadness even worse.
Now for the Good News – Ways to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
If you think that you may be one of the millions of people who are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, you will be happy to know that you have many treatment options available. Try experimenting with different treatments until you find one or a combination that works for you:
You are not alone if you are beginning to feel depressed with the shortened days that we are experiencing.
Experiment with some of the treatment options and especially start exercising. Before you know it, the days will begin lengthening out again!
If you haven’t been taking Vitamin D throughout the winter months, I highly suggest purchasing a good quality brand and start taking it, to improve your mood and mental health.
Don’t forget, you have access to practitioner-grade supplements with specialty pricing through my account at Fullscript.
Simply click HERE for access.
Until next time,
May Anne Jordens-LaFlamme is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and the owner of "Wellness with May Anne." She is passionate about helping women look and feel their best, so they can live a more fulfilling life - without dieting, deprivation, relying on willpower or cooking separate meals for the family.