Embracing the Breakdown

I believe we have to hit rock bottom before we ever really powerfully decide to change.  Rock bottom comes in different forms in different aspects of life. For example, you might get pissed that you are living paycheck to paycheck and become intensely committed to getting out of debt, and changing your financial future. Or maybe you have one wildly emotional day, realize medical side effects have taken over your body, and you can’t tell if what you are feeling is you…or one of your daily medications. (read more about – The Day I Chose to Stop Taking Pain Pills) Whether its financial, relational, physical, mental, spiritual, or health oriented, for me, I’ve noticed the big changes only come after hitting rock bottom. I feel the weight of the world lifted, and a complete 180degree about face after a downward spiral. I feel a light and airy confidence about moving forward.

Rock bottom doesn’t have to be a life altering trip to rehab (although its possible). I hit rock bottom recently trying to keep my health problems tucked away, isolated, and compartmentalized from the rest of my life, and especially from my photography business.  I strongly believed my health and my business were very separate. With the assistance of a photography business coach I discovered my camera is my way to celebrate life and celebrate my health. Photography is my celebrate!! Yay! (read more about – Why I am a Wedding Photographer)

I was at a workshop when the suggestion of helping women heal with photography came up. My worlds collided. Talking about my health and helping other women is NOT celebrating. I walked away from the workshop feeling very empty. The emptiness turned into upset, and the upset into anger. And anger into a fiery fit of tears and confusion. I had to sit with my shame and anxiety for about 3 days before I realized it was a breakdown. The worst part was living through the breakdown is not understanding my own thoughts and emotions.

At the time I was just getting into Brene Brown. I had seen her Ted talk on Vulnerability, but nothing more. I absolutely agreed with Brene, and truly believe that a breakdown is a spiritual awakening, and that vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change. Intellectually understanding this idea is one thing, living it is a whole different experience.

Colorado Wedding Photographers, Audrey Michel Photography

So, here I am, being tested. Do you truly believe a breakdown is a spiritual awakening? Or is it just a lovely quote that makes you smile when you see it on Facebook?

I exhaled, and thought to myself… “ALRIGHT, FINE! I am in breakdown about my journey to health and wellbeing. What am I scared of?” I realized bringing health and wellbeing into my photography business would take my celebrate from me. “What else is possible?” I thought. In the past I (ever so momentarily) entertained the idea that – wouldn’t it be cool to write a book, or speak about my experience? “Well, wouldn’t that be cool?”

I decided to simply try on the possibility of maybe writing my story. Maybe writing it for just me, or maybe doing something bigger. In order for me to see past the breakdown, I had to live in “what if” for a while. No expectations, no pressure. If I hated the experience of sharing, then I hated it. At least I tried. But if I TRULY believe in vulnerability, creativity, and change, I owed it to myself to try.

This story is from mid December through early January of this year (Happy Holidays!). I began writing and sharing my story, and more importantly I began connecting with other women. Sharing has become easier thanks to the many women who have reached out and said, “Your story gives me hope that there will be an end to my struggle too.”

In the last year I’ve begun to welcome and accept “breakdowns” and “rock bottom”. I’ve learned so much about myself, and am becoming quicker at recognition and recovery.




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