This past year has seen heavy changes to both my professional and personal life. After years of being comfortably positioned behind a brand, it was time to step out on my own.
These types of shifts come with excruciating decisions. It’s one of the reasons we often choose to stay right where we are instead of taking the leap.
My life quickly became a daily balance of hanging on by a thread and reaching for the Sun.
I burned through months pushing past fears and dealing with a wicked case of self doubt.
I stared up at the ceiling at night, heart racing, full on panic.
I put on weight.
I hit levels of sadness I hadn’t felt in over a decade.
And then one night I broke up with God.
It just all took its toll.
This is the thing people don’t understand. When you are depressed, you constantly ask for help.
(They just don’t always hear you.)
And so you get to a point where the pain is too much.
Emotional pain, negative thoughts, fear and anxiety can all create very strong and very tricky neural connections.
This leads to a negative reactive response that becomes automatic and natural, and the more you strengthen these negative connections, the harder it is to find your way back.
I made a promise to myself many years ago that I would always push through the pain, no matter how dark.
It’s not an easy promise to keep, and if you’ve dealt with depression, you know this.
God and I made up early one morning when He gave me the tiniest sliver of light.
It wasn’t some magical rainbow or enlightened spiritual event.
I wasn’t fixed. I wasn’t even ok. But I had a reason to hope again… something to at least hang on to.
I’m not a doctor or a therapist, and I don’t treat depression. I am going to share what has helped me, but it really is important that you work with a good therapist or physician (or both).
1) I live in the desert, so summers are brutally hot. I started waking up much earlier so I could spend time exercising outside. Taking in the Sunrise as it comes up over the mountains is fuel for the brain. The more we notice the good, the more we strengthen the positive neural connections. (Thank you Rick Hanson.)
Sunrise, Scottsdale, AZ
2) I recommitted myself to my meditation practice and taught my first mindfulness workshop. It still amazes me how quickly I see changes from consistent sessions.
3) I revisited an old practice of catching my negative thoughts, thousands of them, and countering them to get them to slow. That is an extremely simplified explanation and a cognitive behavioral therapist can help you with this.
4) I used supplementation to help me counter nutrient deficiencies. See your doctor for this.
5) I leaned heavily on people who were strong enough to reach out their hand and pull me through.
I had to stop worrying about bothering them. Think of it this way… if you were caught in a burning building, and your friend was walking by, would you really care if they were busy or on their way to something important?
When you are depressed, you are caught in a burning building. Don’t forget that.
6) I found out I wasn’t alone in this. God, am I not alone in this.
We don’t just snap out of depression even though people would like us to. It takes time.
My purpose in my work has never been more clear, and I am back to making decisions with ease.
(Always my sign that I’m headed in the right direction.)
One of the oldest friendships that has come out of my work is Alex Doman. He reached out within just a few weeks of my start in blogging 8 years ago when no one would give me the time of day. (Thank you Tori Deaux.)
Alex is the CEO of Advanced Brain Technologies, and this past July he invited me to speak about digital marketing at his conference for The Listening Program (TLP).
As I sat in the audience, I watched case study after case study of transformations from children and adults struggling with stroke, brain injury, trauma, autism, developmental issues, depression, insomnia, anxiety and more.
I always knew how helpful the program was for children with Autism, but I had no idea of how powerful it was for everyone else.
On the flight home, I kept thinking how many people could be helped by this if they knew it existed.
So I called Alex and told him I wanted to go through the program, publicly on this blog.
I would like to get my brain back, and sharing this process might help you or someone you care for do the same.
In full disclosure: I am going through this training free of charge. Alex and his team have provided my equipment and their time.
[Update: After 5 weeks on this program, the changes and results that I experienced were so profound that I decided to go through training to become a certified provider.]
A typical training program is 20 weeks. I will be posting daily updates over the next 10 weeks. Sometimes a blog or a video. I will also update on Instagram and Facebook.
If you are a TLP provider, I would love for you to follow along and add your comments too. You have an understanding of this process that I don’t possess, and your expertise can help all of us understand it better.
If you are currently going through TLP training, or care for someone who is, please also comment. I am very interested in your personal experiences and the changes you are noticing.
Hopefully together we can crowdsource a better brain.
Alex and I decided to break my daily training into 2 chunks of 15 minutes each. This is supposed to allow me space to ease into all of this. I am dealing with major transition in my life and my workdays are currently clocking in at 14 hours.
TLP is capable of creating profound changes in the brain so I’m hoping that by giving myself the time to lay a secure foundation I won’t lose my mind in front of everyone. (No promises though.)
I will train 5 days a week. Monday through Friday with weekends off.
One session is to be just after Zoey and I head out for our morning walk. Around 8am my time. The other will take place just after a mid day break that I take each day. This varies but is usually around the 3 o’clock hour.
The Listening Program Online Training with WAVES Headset
Session One: 12:31pm
So, it’s Monday. The car went into the shop. A client had an emergency. The email box was flooded. Phone was on fire and the morning disappeared. I officially started my listening a few hours late. As a recovering perfectionist, I am telling myself that I’m ok with this.
Wasn’t sure if the bone conduction was working so I placed my fingers on the sensor. Yep. It was working and I could feel the vibration go straight through my hand. It’s very subtle on your head which I guess is a good thing. I don’t need to feel my brain vibrating.
The music is beautiful. I am supposed to chill out while listening. Casual art work is fine. Working, email and surfing the web is not. So I sat next to Zoey on the bed and decided to take the time to be still.
The 15 minutes goes fast. Ridiculously fast.
TLP isn’t magic so I don’t have much to report just yet, but I did feel calm after listening.
Session Two 3:10pm
I was looking forward to my new built in break. 15 minutes zips by. My head felt heavy after this session.
Note: I checked in with Alex regarding the odd feeling in my head and it turns out that some people feel the bone conduction more than others. I am one of those who doesn’t feel too much. So… during my listening I adjusted the bone conduction level to 10 (the max). Don’t do this.
Work with your provider to set the initial level that is right for you. Tomorrow I will be training at a bone conduction level of 5. See you then.
This morning I headed out to Pinnacle Peak for my first hike of the season. It’s like the world knew I was taking a little time for myself because the crazy went into full effect once I returned home.
Pinnacle Peak, Scottsdale, AZ
Next thing I know, it’s 1pm. Seriously have no recollection of where the morning went.
So, my first session… I was looking forward to it but also extremely distracted. I do remember closing my eyes for a couple of minutes and just trying to breathe through it.
Felt amped after this session, although it could have been from the 4 cups of coffee…
Second Session: 3:53pm
I think I dozed off during my second session today. The music was beautiful, and it’s been a very long day. I definitely feel calm which was needed.
Bone Conduction officially set to 5 (not 10!) and it was very comfortable. No heaviness.
First Session: 6:55am
Zoey decided to sleep in today, so I went ahead and did my training first thing with my coffee. The morning was beautiful, and the music feels like it’s easing me into the day.
Second Session: 4:41pm
Typical Wednesday. Not enough minutes in the day. Spent the afternoon writing, so I pushed my training back until I was finished.
I can’t say I looked forward to this session. Too many things on my mind. I am now six sessions in and this one felt like a workout. I don’t feel tired, but I can tell my brain was up to something.
First session: 7:25am
I can’t say that I feel much yet in the morning sessions, but I look forward to them. It’s becoming a nice way to start the work day.
Second Session: 10:00pm
This was a long, intense day. One of those days that refuses to end. At least the training is relaxing or I don’t think I would have done it today.
Frist Session: 8:52am
I look forward to these first sessions. The music is beautiful and crystal clear. I feel centered.
Second Session: 5:27pm
A little late in the day for a Friday, but it’s been a busy week. This session was a nice break from the grind.
First Week Recap.
I met with Alex for our weekly 30 minute provider session. Here’s how the week went:
1) Maxed out the bone conduction because I thought I couldn’t feel it. Ended up overtraining and making myself nauseated. Can’t stress this enough. Don’t set your bone conduction to level 10.
2) Thought I broke my headset on day 2. Turns out I plugged the cords in wrong. No words here.
3) Got the bone conduction piece figured out and now have it set to 5 which works nicely.
4) Made it through all 5 days of my first training week without missing a session…barely.
5) Feel like I’m getting into a routine with all of this. Alex and I made some big changes to my program and I will fill you in on those next week.
(Includes 1 Year Followup)