The Long Journey to Here

I guess it all started in 2012 when I took a teaching job. A job that fell into my lap and I accepted.

In about a year, my hands started to shake and I could feel that I wasn’t myself. This situation became very stressful and my emotions started to run wild and sadness sunk in, but I held my head high for a long time. I tried very hard to cover up the darkness until I couldn’t keep my head up any longer and I emotionally collapsed after two years of working the job.

I remember driving home one day and my whole body shaking uncontrollably. I recall phoning my husband and reporting that I was going home early from work. I remember crawling into bed and falling asleep. After that, the world goes blank.

Time seemed to stop during this time and my mind shut down. It powered off. My memory goes fuzzy like an old tv trying to get a signal. I can recall going to the hospital and receiving medication to make me feel better, I remember being labeled with PTSD, I remember laying in bed for days as my family continued to function around me. I remember taking a few too many. I remember nights and days blending and the flashbacks, obsessively journal writing and praying the nightmares didn’t come back. I remember the therapist just telling me to eat, to move, to find me again. I was 34 years old, a recent graduate from college, and in a deep depressional state.

Every week, I heard my therapist’s words, I took the pills, I walked my local mountain. Every day was like Groundhog Day. I would get up. Then, run the mountain, read a book, take the pills and try to function. Eventually, I ditched the pills and set a goal to run a 10K in the fall.

Every day, I slowly picked myself up. My healing took over 4 months. Almost a whole summer. I say it took 4 months but I always say I am still recovering. You will see why a little later.

In the fall, I went back to teaching. But it wasn’t the same. The trauma from the first teaching job pulled at me. Sadly, even walking into the school was a lot for me to process, but I did it. I did it over and over and over again.

Until I said, I must try something new.

When school was ending, I took a new job. And I was challenged with a client who was struggling with anxiety and depression. Since I just survived depression, I repeated what my therapist told me.

In a few days, she was moving, smiling, and feeling better. Everyone at my work thought I was amazing, but I knew it was my personal experience that helped me tackle the case and break through her sadness, too.

That story even hit a high point when my client and I met Rachel Platten and together we were awarded best team at a big corporate meeting. It was pretty cool to be recognized for this amazing accomplishment but at the same time sad because I healed her through my deepest wound. A wound that scares me every day.

Yes, even today, as I type this to post my anxiety, heightens with fears of the darkness returning.

As I ended that job, I started a new job and again my understanding of depression and anxiety pulled my client through and miracles happened again. Again, everyone was astounded by my abilities, but to me, my healing abilities were just part of me. I could feel someone’s sadness and heal it with my personal understanding and apply the right treatment. I had a system and it worked.

In the fall, I returned to teaching as a sub. I enjoyed each day, but I noticed my hands would shake, my mind would be exhausted, and I would be ready to go to bed by the end of the school day.

I started to talk about the effects with my therapist and she explained it was related to my PTSD. All of my previous jobs were not in a school environment and this one was.

As I struggled to emotionally stay in teaching, my son fell ill. Very ill. We knew he wasn’t feeling well for awhile but we didn’t see the darkness coming. No, the darkness is sneaky like that. It hides for a while than creeps up and says SURPRISE!

During the fall of 2016, the darkness hit us hard and we had to go into emergency response mode. As a mom and a survivor of depression, I couldn’t believe it. I remember crying out, “Not my son. Not him. Please. No.”

I remember pleading to the darkness to take me instead.  As if, the darkness would listen to me. But it doesn’t. No, it comes and takes what it wants and until you fight back with all your spirit. I believe the darkness almost laughs at you like an evil character. Yes, it asks for a fight.

At that moment all I could do was what I knew how to do, reboot him like I rebooted myself and everyone else around me. I wasn’t going to let the darkness win this fight. Not with my kid. No way.

Of course, I questioned why the darkness wanted him. I cried for nights knowing how painful and lonely the darkness can be, but after a while, it didn’t matter what I felt about it or my emotions toward it. I needed a strategy fast and I was going to have to figure it out once again.

Professionals told me their theories and how to treat his sadness. Medication, therapy, etc. The typical stuff.

I listened, but then I stood my ground and said, I have lived through this and I am going to do it my way.

Many were upset with my refusal to listen, but in about a month my son was back, his reading scores began to excel, and he came back to us.

What did I do?

I took him outside.

Yep.

Every time I have found someone not feeling well, I take them out into woods. There is a ton of research based on this simple theory. You can read all about it, but for me, venturing into nature works like a charm and I wouldn’t share if it didn’t truly believe it.

Over and over and over again, nature has come through for me. I can’t thank nature enough for my life and my son’s because I truly believe its powers healed us and others I have worked with.

For a whole month, I took my son to the woods near our home and walked.  Yes, every day we would hike. And every day, he would look better. Some doctors said, “Medication.” I said, “Nope. He just needs to find his balance again.”

In about three months, he was back to us and feeling so much better.

Today, he is a happy kid who we homeschool.

What did you say, homeschool?

Yep. I left teaching and I homeschool my youngest son and cyber my oldest.

It has been about four years since I fell ill and fought back the darkness and sadly addiction, too. Yes, I am very proud of being sober for a year and 6 months now.

Oh yes, about 6 weeks ago, my husband and I sold our home of 17 years to pay off our debt to live small to make our lives easier in a small space.

So you ask why drive across country and care about this generation?

It just feels right.

After our personal journeys through the darkness, I feel we have something to say and give back.

Also, this generation and their parents need help!

There are so many kids like my son struggling to fight the darkness and I believe that our family can help through this epic road trip by providing simple techniques to heal, advocating for alternative ways to overcome anxiety and depression and sharing out how leaders, youth programs, and professionals are making huge impacts on this generation so others can follow.

So today, I am so excited to be here and super ready to take on this amazing road trip to help our youth find their happiness through simple Pop Up Events, amazing experiences and so much more!

Sharing my adventure,

Allison

 

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