A couple of weeks ago, Micheal Stone, renowned yoga teacher and meditation leader died from taking a street drug in Victoria, BC. Although I didn't follow him or his teaching, I know colleagues who did and they were deeply shocked and saddened by his death. In a statement from his wife she reveals....'As versed as Michael was with the silence around mental health issues in our culture, he feared the stigma of his diagnosis. He was on the cusp of revealing publicly how shaped he was by bipolar disorder, and how he was doing. In the silencing he hid desires he had for relief....'
All deaths are sad, but somehow this one feels tragic.
I wonder...would his followers have loved him less or felt his teaching were less authentic if he had talked earlier and openly about his bipolar disorder? Personally, I doubt it.
I was thinking about this while walking my dog in the woods and the title of this blog post hit me...
Yes, I am a Life Coach. And no, I don't have all my sh*t together.
You see, I've struggled with OCD my whole life. I spent the better part of my younger years straightening things...towels, pillows, papers, items in the cupboards, pictures on the walls and jars in the fridge. It felt really weird, but I couldn't stop. It wasn't until I was an adult that I figured out I have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I have the type that has a need for symmetry and exactness. As I often joke with my clients, my bills don't need to be paid on time but they must be arranged in a nice, neat pile.
I also only use pencils during coaching sessions, because I can't stand crossing out words (they need to be erased) and the pencils need to be sharp. I had a client who used to bring a sharpener to sessions, in case I forgot mine.
I do not flow through life, seamlessly, taking it all in.
Each and everyday is a struggle.
My need for exactness can get in the way of deadlines, leaving the house on time, getting blog posts written (!), even getting out of bed. Because my brain makes me very, very tired.
This is also one of the first things I tell my clients, because I think it makes me relateable. I believe deeply in my work and profoundly in the clients I work with...brilliant individuals, most with a silent struggle of their own. They know that I will never judge them - and that I instantly 'get it' - and them.
I also talk about my OCD to groups that I present to when I'm a guest speakers, or leading a workshop. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 1 -3 individuals have some form of mental health issue, with anxiety being at the top of the list... so if we are out there trying to look perfect ---- who, exactly are we doing this for?
I've also always talked about the anxiety and depression that co-exists with this condition. If fact, it was horrifying to my ex that I would stand on stage and share all of this. He once asked me...."You are a CEO (I was at the time), aren't you worried about what people will think?" The truth is, I never, once worried what people would think. I wanted them to know my story.
I was a CEO. I had been a Director and Manager before and started off as an assistant 25 years earlier. I had worked my a** off to achieve what I did. And yes, I had battled demons along the way. I wanted people to know because maybe it would help them to battle their own.
As I look back, I feel that I have lived my life outwardly and inwardly always choosing to challenge the status quo. I liked and still like, being the contrarian. I worked hard to rise through the ranks to CEO, while struggling with mental health issues. When I decided to become an entrepreneur and Life Coach, I knew I would visibly and intentionally own my OCD and all that goes with it. It has never lost me a client --- and made many more clients feel instantly understood.
My condition, my life and my children (my first 2 were born at a pound each and 26 weeks) have always made me modify my life. I haven't been in an office full time since I was 30....and no, I wont hit freedom 55 -- but I've lived each day the way I needed to, while still pursuing and achieving my dreams.
I have cursed my OCD, my anxiety and my depression. Too many times to count. But I've also honoured it all. I have figured out how to do good work, both because of it...and despite it.
Pure, raw acceptance - and honesty - has served me.
So what about you? Do you ever think that you are 'less than' because of a hidden struggle? Do you push it down into the dark? If so...what do you think might be possible if you let it out into the light?
It won't be easy, but maybe you should try - and see.
Judy Mouland loves to challenge the status quo and chip away at the word ‘normal.’ Over the years, she has learned to embrace and use her own quirky brain to succeed and is passionate about the power of self-awareness. She became a CTI(Coaches Training Institute) Life Coach for people with ADHD, LD, OCD, aspergers, autism and other conditions after serving for 25+ years in local, national and international settings, most recently as the C.E.O. of the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada. She works to empower her clients to live life on their own terms - no excuses - and to uncover their brilliance so they can shine. She is aTrueTilt Certified Practitioner, a team member at Psychological Services Associates (PSA Ottawa) and a member of the International Coaches Federation. She advises team leaders and senior management on how to create truly meaningful accommodations in the workplace. She also freely admits that most everything she knows she has learned from her exceptional children, who never let her brain become idle. You can write to Judy at email@example.com and her empowering blog posts can be found at: www.judymouland.com/blog