From Full-Time to Freelance
Accepting my pursuit of purpose, ‘Life Out Loud.’
TODAY, Monday, May 6th, 2019, marks the official launch of my website, Life Out Loud - Mental Health Consulting & Creatives! This is such a proud moment for me seeing another layer of my business, my vision, unfold. If you were to ask me last Winter, what I would be doing a year from now, I would be lost for words.
For one, I was in such a deep state of depression that even just thinking about how I would prepare food to eat that day was the most challenging question to answer. And secondly, my sense of identity and career goals were dim — as the unfamiliarity of my future was overwhelmed by the anxiety that flooded my mind.
I thought my world was falling apart.
January 17, 2018, I left my office at Futureworx, with the support from management and my colleagues, I acknowledged that I needed to take some time off work in an effort to manage some challenges I was facing due to my mental health. I assumed that I would return to work within a week or two, but that did not happen for me.
Two weeks became three, then four, and then more. My doctor had extended my medical leave as it was determined that I was not fit to return. My symptoms worsened —experiencing symptoms of burnout that had been present for some time. I was diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder, Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and quite honestly, I felt like life had deceived me, and burned me. I had given so much of myself over the years to people and to my work and now I was left in a state of feeling helpless for myself. And even after years of therapy work, I was still in this position of feeling defeated.
I was angry.
I was angry that I had allowed myself to get to this place of burnout. I was extremely anxious about my future, in terms of my career, because at that point, my medical team’s professional recommendation was that I find other employment. How do I move forward from a 10-year career which was all I knew (or so I thought), and was a large part of my self-identity — while at the same time, finding myself in the midst of what felt like a sh*t storm!
The mounting waves of various emotions were strong — forcing shear panic and pushing over any feeling of stability. My foundation had crumbled beneath whatever structure I felt I had built over the years.
First of all, I recognize now, that the challenges that I was wrestling with were from years of unconscious avoidance — covering up cracks in my life with mud. But those ‘mud structures’ I used to cover up ( such as perfectionism, busyness, and overworking myself) would only hold up temporarily and over time would weaken. I realized that I had to lean into those challenges and face them with love, gentleness, time and care.
“This is a moment in time,” — a line I often recited to myself.
One day as I was scrolling online, looking at everyone’s highlight reel (because that’s what you do when you’re in a depressed state … *that’s sarcasm) … I was laying in bed as I had been doing for weeks — looking for connection, and inspiration to help process what I had been going through. I know it sounds bizarre that social media would be a place to do that, but I also follow loads of inspirational accounts. On this particular day, I came across something that truly changed the trajectory of my journey and my perception of life.
A picture of a child who was terminally ill appeared on my Instagram feed. I’ll share in another blog the depth of impact this had on me but for now, I want you to understand one thing:
This was a defining moment of truth within my life. I had been given life when I woke up that morning. I had been given another opportunity to try again. And while I laid there in bed feeling sorry for myself, I acknowledged that there was still time left to do something different. I didn’t know exactly what that would be or how it would look but I knew I couldn’t go back, it was time to move forward.
Continuing with therapy, and seeing my life coach and also incorporating alternative health and lifestyle options, such as naturopathy and massage therapy, exercise and nutrition, I made a decision to take action. Over time, I was better able to operate from a clearer headspace. By finding encouragement in life through little moments that would happen; embracing shared inspiration and celebrating small victories, made me realize that the power that lies within me is there to help move me.
Life will continue to throw us challenges, that is inevitable, but if we seek the wisdom that exists within those challenges, the difficulties we face have the power to strengthen us.
Life Out Loud has been birthed from this experience and the idea that life will continuously evolve, change, and happen all around us, and it is up to us to respond to it. I continuously ask myself these questions to help guide me through this journey:
My pain has brought me purpose.
It has opened the door to an opportunity to create work that is purposeful and meaningful. It has provided me with a platform to be creative and a connector — by way of addressing challenges that impact our mental health and other areas of our lives, so that we can show up to our fullest potential.
Of course, this journey of building a business has been FAR from easy, but I love how I can look back to January 2018, with grace and gratitude because that difficult part of my life, was meant to be there.
So I challenge you to ask yourself this: “What will YOU do with the time you have left?” Maybe it’s being more present in someone’s life. It may be that as a parent with many responsibilities, that you intentionally plan time for your own self-care. Maybe it’s a career change, or perhaps you have been thinking about starting a business or going back to school, but you keep telling yourself, “maybe next year …”
When you make your decision and accept the journey, it may feel scary, unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But push through it! Take one step. What will it take to invest in your future? Then take another step. Acknowledge the value it has within your life. Step again. And own journey that begins to unfold. It may not be exactly as you had planned it to be, but don’t forget to show up for it — because sometimes what we don’t plan turns out to be far greater than what we expected.
Life is our journey where we can build resiliency, experience incredible growth make beautiful connections with others and improve our overall mental health and wellness, as we travel through this journey together.
My friends, this is Life Out Loud.
Founder of Life Out Loud
Martina has over 10 years’ professional experience working as a Personal Development Counsellor and Instructor and holds a diploma in Social Services (Addictions Counselling concentration) from the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), as well as a BA (Hons) in Psychology from Mount St. Vincent University. In addition to her education, Martina is a certified and active Mental Health First Aid trainer, a national, certificate, training course through the Mental Health Commission of Canada.