12 Transcript: Finding Your Bliss Despite Depression and Anxiety (with Whitney Lang)
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J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 12.
W: I identified that I needed to seek help because I could not keep functioning that way.
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
J: On our last episode, I spoke with Sara Gilbert and she shared her story of taking the leap, of making the jump and trusting that the net would appear. Specifically, she left her husband who had a massive gambling problem, she moved herself and her 2 girls to an entirely new house and location and eventually, she even quit her job and became an entrepreneur. Sara is so courageous and inspiring, so be sure to give that a listen if you haven't already. And today, I'll be chatting with Whitney Lang who talks to us about her experiences with anxiety and depression and how she has been able to go for it and find her bliss despite her challenges. We'll go ahead and get started.
Whitney is a balance and organizational coach who believes that finding balance is critical to living your very best life. Ever since she was a little girl, she's had a special interest in organization and order. Whitney now shares that passion with her team, clients, and the rest of the world. She lives in the Northern Neck of Virginia with her husband and their 3-year-old little boy .Whitney, welcome, I'm so glad you're here.
W: Hi, Jen, thank you for having me.
J: So I've given our listeners a little overview of your life, but go ahead and take a minute and fill in the gaps, tell us more about yourself.
W: Sure, yeah, lots of exciting things going on. So I've been married to my best friend for almost 6 years, his name is Arthur, we have a super energetic 3-year-old boy, his name is Jamie. So, yeah, I'm a toddler mom and that is the most rewarding and exhausting job I've ever had. Currently going on in my world, I just launched a coaching and consulting company first all brick-and-mortar business owners, I also partnered with a great direct sales company that specializes in organizational products, which is obviously in line with my passion and mission. Yeah, so I'm a coach for women who are like my former self which, you know, you guys will learn about later. My former self, I identify as completely and utterly unbalanced.
J: Aren't we all, right? Sometimes. (Laughs)
W: Right, everybody has their moments.
J: Right. So we'd like to start off the show for each episode with our guest’s favorite quote or life motto, what's yours?
W: Sure. So, okay, my favorite quote is, “Follow your bliss.” I don't know who said it, I'm sure lots of people have said it, but I've always loved that quote and it was actually even the quote that I chose to be next to my picture in my senior yearbook. Back then, I… I really didn't understand what it meant, I just thought that it sounded cool or maybe I like the word ‘bliss’, I don't know, but now, it totally means everything to me; it really does guide my life it… you know, my goal is to consciously choose to do things that make me a better person and then make me feel happy and productive and grateful and peaceful. So when I start to get frazzled, I… you know, I always try to remind myself, “Hey, you know, follow… follow the lead of my heart and my soul and follow my bliss.”
J: What would you say if you had to narrow that down? What is your bliss right now?
W: Oh my goodness, good question. Right now, I am just… I've recently kind of been on the upswing from a battle with depression and anxiety. So right now, my bliss is just all about being happy and feeling good and making healthy choices and just that feeling of overall good energy, like that's what I'm striving for right now.
W: And when I… yeah, when I'm there, I just feel so balanced and so happy and grateful. So that… that's my bliss right now.
J: Okay, okay. So you kind of hinted at your low moment, let's go there now, tell us more about that journey through depression and anxiety, I'm sure it might be a lifelong journey, but how it came about and what it's been like for you.
W: Yeah, it… it's something that I never really recognized as being defined as anxiety or depression. But, recently I kind of connected all the dots so I'm really happy to be able to share my story so that maybe other people can see similarities and make the changes that are necessary for them sooner than I did. So I have struggled with anxiety since probably 2005. I became ill with a really strange autoimmune disease, for all of you medical nerds, it's called a post viral demyelinization. I couldn't walk very well, I couldn't even talk very well, so I was mortified. I was 18 years old, I was completely mortified and frustrated and it just took me to a really low point. My recovery period from that was about 3 months. And ever since then, I've just been ridden with anxiety, like little weird quirky things um such as like avoiding left-hand turns or only pumping gas at certain stations or like never drove on the interstate by myself, and when I did a couple of times, I was like full-out panic mode; just weird little quirky things like that.
W: So I spent most of my 20s drinking away my anxieties to be perfectly honest and using like alcohol and cigarettes as a crutch.
W: I could easily put back like 2 bottles of red wine and wake up and feel normal the next day, right, because I had trained my body to feel terrible. And there were just many occasions where I would just drink myself into comfort, I guess, and, yeah, that's pretty much how it was for quite a while. So then, I guess fast forward to when I had my son, which was March of 2013, my first few months were great, I obviously wasn't smoking and drinking and things like that, and I got very active and I had never felt better. I was in the best shape of my life, I was super happy, and then somehow I started going downhill again and I went back down the path of drinking and smoking again and it all started off as a social thing it worked its way up to being normal. I was really hating on myself for it, like I knew that it was a terrible decision, not only for my own health, but for my entire family, yet I consciously did it.
W: And sometime in the middle there, I transitioned to full-time work/ I went from being a stay-at-home mom for 6 months to part-time, and then about a year ago, I transitioned into full-time. And I wasn't nearly as active, I was gaining weight, I was eating junk food because it was convenient, I was binging on sugar, I generally just felt exhausted and just overall crummy; I was physically and emotionally just depleted. My low point came around November of last year. I ended up just completely melting down because I had put myself under so much pressure at work. I'm the type of person that… I'm sure there's so many people who can relate to this, who you put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect or to… you know, to do everything perfect, especially at work. So, yeah, I was kind of in that situation, I had a lot on my plate and I was just I was feeling the… the effects from just putting a lot of pressure on myself and it was not a good place. I was responsible for so many things at work, I managed a jewelry store,
W: So when our busy season hit, you know, November, December I was losing it. I was putting every single ounce of good energy that I had into work, and when I got home to my family, I had nothing left for them. So I was just… my life was revolving around my job, and when I would get home, I wasn't patient and necessarily kind, I was just crying all the time and just it… it was not a good place for me.
J: Okay, so you were super depressed and a lot of that was brought on by the perfectionism and…
J: … and stringing yourself out in too many areas, and how did you move through that?
W: I decided that I needed to get really honest with myself about what my… what my issues actually were, and that was just 2 things. I identified that I needed to seek help because I could not keep functioning that way. And the second thing is, I had to get really honest with myself about like the choices that I was making and how that was making me feel. And I was choosing to put all of my effort at work, which was leaving me with nothing when I got home. And it's not that I didn't want to be… you know, it's not like I wanted to give my family the worst part of me, it's just that I was so worried about doing such a great job at my job…
W: … that that's just… you know, that just sucked the life out of me.
J: Right. So identifying that perfectionism was part of the formula, what else did you have to learn about yourself to start relaxing and finding more joy inside?
W: Well, I finally mustered up the courage to go see my family doctor and… and tell them about what I was dealing with. And it turns out that I was… they diagnosed me then was being severely clinically pressed and…
W: … and having anxiety. And so I got on a very low dose of medication which, I am so not a medication person.
W: I… I don't even like to take Tylenol for my headaches, but it honestly just changed my life. So sometimes you just have to do things that you're not necessarily comfortable with…
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
W: … in order to, you know, help… help yourself find balance. And that… that was a turning point for me.
J: I like that. And so it's so interesting that all those… those risky behaviors you were engaging in with the smoking and drinking and you were clearly in pain, but you hadn't identified that that was actually depression, would you… were you surprised to learn your diagnosis?
W: I was sort of surprised. And something that, yeah, I really want to touch on is that I have a great life. I have a wonderful family, a wonderful husband, a healthy, super energetic, awesome little… little boy. There's nothing bad about my life, but I still struggled with this; I still struggled with the anxiety. I think the anxiety led me into depression. So, yeah, I was a little surprised to hear that I, happy-go-lucky, miss like ‘put on a smile, no problem’ Whitney is depressed; that just didn't make sense to me.
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. So you started on the medication, and what did you notice after that? How did that help?
W: Oh gosh, the first thing that I noticed was my patience. I was way more patient with Jamie's little toddler tendencies. (Laughs)
W: Yeah, so that was definitely… and that was just within days like… and I was way more patient with myself too. And something else that I noticed when I got on the medication was that I… it was much easier for me to speak my truth, and if I had a problem with something or if I didn't believe in something or, you know, whatever, it was easier (not easy, but easier) for me to speak up for myself.
J: How did your life change once you started figuring out how to speak up for yourself? And you mentioned your job, how did things improve there at your work?
W: Oh it was great. You know, I mentioned having a little meltdown at work one day and all of my co-workers, I… first of all, I worked with just a fantastic work family, very close-knit group, and so all of my co-workers were just looking at me like, “What! What are you doing right now?”
W: Right? Because I'm so good at, you know, hiding my feelings and stuff like that.
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
W: So everybody was shocked and everybody came to me and everybody was just asking, “What can we do to help you? How can we take some of the stress off of you? Like, we want you to communicate with us a little better about this so that we can help you?” like, so supportive. So it worked out a lot better because of them knowing what I was going through and helping me and also because like the medication was helping me kind of balance things. So, yeah, I got through Christmas in a jewelry store without like going completely crazy, so it was great. (Laughs)
J: That's great, that's great. That kind of leads me to my next question; what are you doing currently today to live a vibrant happy life? Or, as we could pull in your motto here, what are you doing today to follow your bliss?
W: So I've learned that when I surround myself with positivity, I'm just overall a happier person. And so something that I did that I highly recommend for everyone to do is to go… I spend a lot of time on social media, so I go and follow positive people, posi… you know, the pages that post like cute funny little quotes or, you know, it's stuff like that, stuff that's good, and I unfollow the people who are just the… the Negative Nancies, if that's what you want to call them…
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
W: … and that type of thing. I just… I really try to make my surroundings and like my news feeds just full of good stuff; so that's what I'm doing. And also, like I… I found your community, Vibrant Happy Women, because I was searching for communities like that to join, and so that's something else that I've done. As I'm participating in your group, I'm participating in other groups where I feel connected and… and that's just been a really great way for me to stay focused on the positive.
J: Tell us a little more about your businesses, that… that's interesting.
J: You shifted from the jewelry store to having a business, that's a big leap, how did that happen?
W: Wow, huge leap. So I decided that I wanted to start a small business. I live in a very small town in Virginia, it's called Kilmarnock, and it's precious; there's so many really awesome stores, boutiques, restaurants, things like that. And so… but we're also kind of like a little bit stuck in a… in a different age, and so there are a lot of businesses in my area that just need a little boost, a little bit of coaching with, you know, the social media or having a website or, you know, “What are ways that we can engage with our customers?” and things like that. So I decided that, since I love doing these things so much, you know, with my job at the jewelry store, that I'm going to make a business out of this for myself, and that way, I'll be able to work on my own schedule and really be able to spend more time with Jamie. So, yeah, that's what I'm doing now. I'm also a clever container organizing consultant and building my team with that, and within that, I'm coaching women specifically on how to find balance in their lives and through organizing and order and getting rid of clutter and things like that.
J: What would you say is the biggest hurdle that women have in getting rid of their clutter?
W: Ah, you know, we don't want to get rid of anything; we have to hang on to everything. We have this, you know, sentimental connection to things, which is fine and I… there are tons of things that I've hung on to too. But I think… I'm reading that book about the KonMari method, I can't remember the name of the book right now, but it's the KonMari method and it's about holding each item in your hand and saying, “Does this make me happy? Does this a spark joy? You know, is this serving me?” And you really have to have to do that in order to be able to get rid of things.
W: And so that's… long story short, that's one of the biggest things is that people just don't want to get rid of stuff, they just want to hang on.
J: Okay, okay. So they need to find out what sparks joy and then let go of the things that don't.
W: Right, yeah. Absolutely
J: Nice. So what's one thing that's really exciting you about life today?
W: Well, I'm just super excited with my businesses and where they're going, the changes that are being made, just evolving and meeting new people through those communities that I mentioned. Gosh… oh, so here's something super exciting; I'm building a house.
W: Yeah, my husband and I (and Jamie's building it too), we're building a house so that's super exciting. So I… you know, I've got big plans. I've got plans for like my office space and I've got plans for, you know, organizing and being able to use my house to be an example for my clients, right? So there's just… I don't know, it's a full circle thing, I'm excited about so much right now. Life is great, I've finally gotten on track as far as my managing my depression and anxiety, so I'm just overall a much happier person, I'm able to relax and enjoy life so much more and that's what I'm really excited about right now.
J: Yeah, you're reminding me when you talk, I've worked with some clients that have depression and anxiety issues, and it's so interesting, but when people find something that really excites them, it helps so much with those mental health issues; just finding something that they're passionate about and that brings them joy, and it sounds like your businesses and also now your house building project are doing that for you, would you agree?
W: I do agree 100%. I got on the medication mid-December, and by mid-January, I was meeting with my life coach and business coach on how to start a blog, which then very quickly evolved to a whole business. So this all like happened superfast, but because my focus was on doing something that was making me really happy, I… that definitely helped pull me out of my dark place, I guess.
W: Yeah, that's great. It's so important to have something you feel passionate about; follow your bliss, like your motto says. So, Whitney, we have reached my favorite part of the show where we’ll… we’ll be talking about a few of your favorite things. Are you ready?
W: I'm ready.
J: Great. First question, tell us a personal habit that contributes to your success.
W: I meditate and pray daily. I force myself to take a few moments throughout the day to regroup and focus on the big picture, which obviously is following my bliss, so, yeah.
J: So, when you meditate, some of us are experienced meditators and some are not, what does that look like for you? What are the steps to your meditation?
W: Mm, such a good question,
W: Wow. So my meditation is all… often a guided meditation because my brain does not stop, so I need to hear someone's voice like telling me what to think about, you know, telling me which body parts to relax and, you know, the beach to envision and all the stuff. So I use guided meditations and, yeah, that's what looks like. Or those brief moments that I was talking about where I just like, I'm feeling frazzled or I feel like I need to breathe for a minute, it's just silence and… I'm going to tell you this because I think it's so valuable. (Laughs)
W: My friend, her name is Annick, she does custom meditations for people and she did one for me, and she uses very unique analogies, I guess, for her… for her meditations. And so instead of saying like, “Oh, you know, envision a bright light, a bright white light and this, you know, cleansing light or whatever,” no, she says, “Alright, you breath in and you envision a Hoover and it is sucking all of the dirt…”
W: “… and grit and the nastiness and the bad vibes and the stress and chaos and all of that bad stuff, it's sucking it out from down to your toes and your fingertips, and then you breathe it all out,” right?
W: And I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is great! I can totally relate to that.” So…
J: Yeah, that's nice.
W: Yeah, so that's what I'm doing and in my couple of seconds where I'm like just taking a moment, I'm… I'm hoovering my soul. (Laughs)
J: Ah! Hoovering your soul, ooh, that's a good quote.
J: Hoover your soul today.
W: That's right.
J: (Laughs). That's nice. And… and what's her name, the custom meditations?
W: Her name is Annick and she… I will have to give you her…
J: Yeah, well, we'll link…
W: … if you want it, yeah.
J: Good, we’ll link to her website in our show notes.
W: Ah, so good.
W: Perfect, she's amazing, yeah.
J: Okay. Well, our next question is, tell us your favorite easy meal.
W: Mm, okay, current favorite easy meal, it's kind of a random one, we invented it on our own I guess. We've been doing like hamburger patties, and instead of putting it on a bun, we put it over a sautéed Portobello mushroom and we put smoked gouda or whatever cheese on top and we just serve it with veggies or quinoa or brown rice or something, and it's pretty yummy.
W: We're trying to stay away from the gluten and stuff, I think I've got a little intolerance with that so we're really trying to stay away from that, so that's one of the really satisfying meals that we can quickly throw together that the whole family likes.
J: Oh that, sounds really yummy.
J: Portobello mushrooms, mm. What is your current favorite household possession?
W: Yeah, I have so many, I guess, favorite household possessions. Right now, I'm pretty obsessed with my essential oil diffuser, I… I like to use it in the bathroom when I'm taking a shower and I diffuse like lemon or citrusy oils, they help wake me up; I love that I'm such a smell first thing in the morning it really gets me going. So, yeah, my diffusers; my current favorite household possession. (Laughs)
J: Mm, love essential oils. Okay, so next question, your favorite book that you'd recommend to the Vibrant Happy Women community and why.
W: Mm, okay. So I haven't finished this book, but I loved it so much that… that I think that this is what I want to share with you guys; and so it's ‘The Desire Map’ by Danielle Laporte.
W: Yeah, I love her creative like staccato kind of writing style, but more importantly, I really like the content. I love how she kind of guides me to just look inside my heart and my soul for the answers and really to kind of focus on how I want to feel. Feelings are so important, I've been reading just so much about that and honoring myself and my core desired feelings. And I feel like that kind of comes around so, you know, following your bliss, but really get in touch with how you want to feel and this book helps you get there; it's fantastic, I highly recommend it.
J: A favorite item on your bucket list and why.
W: So I don't actually have like a real bucket list, and I think that's kind of crazy, I guess. But I… I want to take Jamie to Disney World and I want to take him with my whole family because I think that my parents would probably have just as much fun as… as he will down there; so that's on my bucket list, I guess. And then like larger-scale, I really want to travel to Australia and New Zealand one day, I don't know…
W: Yeah, I don't know why, maybe it's because it's like all the way across the world and, you know, I've seen the pictures, it looks beautiful there so that's something I've always wanted to do.
J: What's the best advice you've ever received?
W: Okay, so this is coming from my dad. The best advice that he has… or that anyone's ever given me is him, and he always would tell me when I was younger and I didn't get it, “Don't put off until tomorrow what can be done today.” And, yeah, I never really started to understand what he meant until I got a little older, but I'm just in general a pretty big procrastinator. I… I used to tell my parents that, “Hey, I work well, under pressure, okay? That's why I'm waiting until the last minute to do this project or whatever.” But in reality, I… I hate being a procrastinator; I've gotten so much better about it now. But back to the advice part of it, yeah, “Don't put off until tomorrow what can be done today.” If you can do something today, then do it because something else is going to come up tomorrow. So…
J: So tell us the tools and strategies that help you not procrastinate now that you're applying that advice from your dad.
W: Mm, yes. Okay, so I use a planner, like it's my job. I love the Erin Condren planners and I also have ‘The Desire Map’ planner. And then, I also use my… I have an iPhone so my reminders.
W: That keeps me up to date and, you know, you can program it to remind you certain times or you can just have a running list of things you need to get done. So I reference my calendar and my planner and my reminders all the time.
J: Great, great. So final question, looking back on your life so far, share your happiest moment.
W: Aww, this is going to sound so cheesy, but my happiest moment ever really was when I married Arthur. I knew from the moment that I laid my adult eyes on him that he was my match; I say adult eyes because, as kids, we… I think we knew who the other one was, but we didn't go to the same school or anything so I didn't really meet him until we were older. And, yeah, but I knew that we were going to live an amazing life together, he's my favorite person, he's an awesome person. So saying, “I do,” to him was my favorite moment ever.
J: I want to remind our listeners that they can find everything we've been chatting about by going to jenriday.com/12. Now, we're to our final and most important question, if you had to create a 3 to 5 part formula of actions that maximize your happiness, what would that include?
W: I am happiest when I wake up before my kid and I get to have quiet time and to wake up and gather my thoughts. And I am happiest when I pause to have moments of gratitude, meditation, soul hoovering; things like that.
W: I am happiest when I am eating pretty clean and I'm an active… you know, I'm getting some exercise in, I feel good. And I'm happiest when my home is in order, it is organized, it just tidy and it is clean. So all of those things kind of set me up for success, they make me a happy person.
J: Thanks for sharing that.
W: You're welcome.
J: I would love for you to share a parting challenge with our listeners.
W: I want your listeners to try my soul hoovering; I love that that's the name of it now.
W: It feels like a new thing. But, yeah, I really encourage all of you to make time for yourself throughout your day; I don't mean once a day, I mean like just 30 seconds, a minute, 5 minutes whatever throughout the day, take a few deep breaths, think of what you're grateful for. Gratitude is seriously like the biggest mood booster ever and taking those moments to focus on the good in your life will seriously just transform your entire day; so take moments throughout your day to do this. And you can even set a reminder on your phone like 3 to 5 times a day, you know, here and there or align it with like when you're eating or whatever, like just figure out a way, but make sure you take time to consciously just really think about what you're grateful for and to focus on your big picture.
J:That's beautiful, and I want to thank you for being here. Again, I'll remind our listeners that they can find links to the things we talked about by going to jenriday.com/12.
Thank you so much for joining us. And if you (like Whitney) experience depression and anxiety, don't be afraid to get help. The medication and changing her thoughts and priorities made all the difference for Whitney and now, she truly is living a vibrant and happy life. Whitney created a free worksheet for us called ‘The balanced flow’ worksheet and I checked it out on her site at whitneylang.com/vibrant, and it's great; and you don't have to do anything, it's free. You can look at ways you can find more balance and organization and flow in your life; so ‘The balanced flow’ at whitneylang.com/vibrant. Be sure to join me next time when I chat with Kris Vaughan. Kris tells her story of being a workaholic, finding her worth through working, and whenever she tried to slow down, that felt lazy to her, but all of that came crashing down when she developed an autoimmune disorder and she had to slow down. Kris is amazing and she'll inspire you with her story of being who you were created to be. Join us next time and take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.