How I Healed My Anxiety & Burnout
I lost myself, and became anxious and unsettled. But this led me to expand my wellness and levels of wisdom to new heights that I wouldn't trade for anything.
I’m going to tell you my story. And even though some spots are painful, I trust the wisdom of that pain can help others in their journey like it did in mine.
We all want to feel well, on purpose, and expansive, and I’m here to tell you that even through our biggest challenges we can get back to that authentic expression.
It’s about to be 2023. It has been 5 years since censorship began sending the business I built for 10 years into a tail spin - my own tail spin began shortly after - in 2018.
Through this experience, I spent several years feeling consistent low rate anxiety, a lack of purpose, and burnout.
For those that don’t know, I founded Collective Evolution, a media and education company, in 2009. By 2014 CE was one of the biggest websites on the internet (top 1000 reaching about 1M a day). We provided readers with content about consciousness, personal development, current events, and philosophy.
We were trying (and still are) to help make the world a better place by uplifting collective consciousness.
To be straight up, CE was a multi-million dollar business and, at least in my mind, I had been doing everything right to build a company that treated readers and employees well, while giving back to the world. It was evolutionary in my eyes.
I was creating a model for a company that I had always dreamed of. One that could model what was possible for creating a GOOD, flexible life for people without working them to the bone. A model that valued service and quality of life more than profit.
With the excess funds CE made each year I donated over $100,000 to various people and causes. We also built schools and water wells in Africa, and helped feed the homeless in Toronto.
But obviously this wasn’t ‘the right thing,’ so my ego has said, because almost everything we built was lost.
The Hand of Big Tech
Companies like mine began experiencing the era of censorship in 2018. We were removed from Google search, from YouTube search, and were ghosted in Facebook newsfeeds. We were demonetized by Google and YouTube as well.
A forceful handed taking away our revenue stripped our company from 14 employees to just 3. It was hard. It was chaotic, and it was exhausting.
Pivoting and pivoting and pivoting over and over again in a game completely rigged against us became life for 3 years. The ground beneath my feet was quicksand. And just when I would get to more solid ground it felt as though someone could just turn it to quicksand by design.
In 2018 and 2019, the amount of days I felt comatose, like I didn’t want to get up or do anything, is hard to count. I’d go to sleep and wake up feeling like I didn’t sleep. There was a slight anxiety in my stomach at all hours of the day, no matter what was going on.
From a logical perspective I had to ask: why did Big Tech, governments, and fact-checkers work so hard to shut down companies like mine and take almost everything that I had built away?
Perhaps it was because aside from our transformational and philosophical content we brought critical thinking to many subjects such as current events, UFOs, vaccines, government corruption, etc.
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Many things that are common knowledge today were not well accepted 9 years ago, but we talked about it anyway. (Interestingly, the same people who ridiculed us or didn’t work with us for talking about UFOs and vaccines years ago are the ones we know and love today who talk about these subjects. This is how change happens!)
Back in the early days, our work made a positive impact. We would hear things from our readers like “your journalism on Monsanto and GMOs helped me get my town to ban GMOs in our area, thank you!”
We’d also heard tens of thousands of stories about how people changed their lives for the better as they developed themselves via our work or courses. I’m not exaggerating. We reached 20 - 30 million readers a month for years, making a wide impact was a real possibility.
During those years I had built a great wellness practice focused on nutrition, exercise, and meditation. I had capacity to navigate challenges and hiccups. Even though there was push back, I saw my work as meaningful, valuable, and making a difference - even before it became popular. I was driven by my heart, and I followed it everyday.
When all I had built began being taken away, I started to feel myself getting weaker everyday. An anxiety was building. My sleep suffered. My clarity was lessening. My wellness routine wasn’t cutting it. I lose purpose and meaning in my work, and I was starting to operate on autopilot.
What Does It Mean?!
I guess one could see all this as ‘part of a bigger plan” that my soul brought on for my own growth. When I observe in those terms I think “I could potentially see that. There are certainly some things I learned, but did it have to be this extreme? Or maybe this was part of a bigger plan that shows the greater collective just how far powerful people will go to silence changemakers.”
I’ve always been very good at seeing the ‘silver lining’ in almost every scenario in my life. Learning the ways in which I made mistakes or was wrong about something. But with this, it was a bit different.
Although there are some things I’ve certainly learned, part of this journey is accepting the current nature of our world right now. Part of what happened to me comes with the territory of going against the grain.
How I Healed & What I Learned
As mentioned, I already had a fairly large toolbox in terms of wellness practice. Things like intermittent fasting, meditation, breathwork, exercise, journaling etc. But I realized something wasn’t quite complete. Then I came across nervous system health and trauma, and I became VERY curious. So I followed that impulse.
I started by learning more about nervous system health and healing from complex PTSD. That’s a technical way of saying healing from the effects of chronic stress. Maybe this is not where everyone needs to start but it felt right for me.
This education was super helpful in being able to track and understand what I was feeling in my body, why I was feeling it, and how to ride the waves of various emotions without them getting ‘stuck.’
That said, that really is the first thing, to be able to notice, sense and feel what is going on in your body, especially when you become activated.
With this knowledge and some of the practices that go with it, I started building a solid foundation that my other wellness practices could be built upon.
Next comes something I was already good at but had to re-develop to some extent: increasing your consciousness throughout everyday life. That is to say, becoming more aware, present, and in tune with what you’re doing. This gently moves you out of autopilot mode.
I made a commitment to go slow with myself. Instead of trying to make changes all at once with my diet, sleep, meditation, breathing etc, I made small commitments to myself that did not create overwhelm but gently moved me forward. This is called titration.
I healed by focusing deeply on breaking patterns that were slowly built from overwhelm and survival stress.
Once I had a better sense of this awareness again, I was able to tackle background anxiousness, negative programming, and patterns that had built up from consistent survival stress over many years.
With more capacity in my system, I started by journaling again each day to get my thoughts and feelings on paper.
I made a routine out of checking in with myself consistently throughout the day to slow down, connect with my body, and sense my surroundings. These small check ins use our senses to send a signal to our nervous system that we are in a safe environment. With practice, this brings about more feelings of safety and regulation.
Over the course of time, I went on to re-build by hydration habits, exercise habits and sleep hygeine. But I tackled these one at a time, with titration in mind, and being patient with myself.
Outside of that, I was able to take my knowledge of wellness to a whole new level.
I spent many hours in somatic therapy sessions learning to deeply connect with my body again.
I decided to become a somatic and breath coach, and now have more training in the trauma and nervous system regulation field than I ever thought I would have.
Sure, since 2009 I was reading about and teaching these techniques, but not at this level. Now my work is more powerful. And I can be a better coach with my clients as well.
I also learned how to let go when I need to. I learned how to set better boundaries. I learned how to navigate stress and decision making through consistent chaos. (That part took some time.) I learned my meditation and breathwork routines were not enough when things get really chaotic. That was a big one to learn too.
I learned that having the best of intentions doesn’t mean things will ‘work out as you think.’ Do what’s in your heart, do what you love, do what’s important to you - but be careful with believing success is acceptance from others and stability in what you build.
As I’ve always felt, we co-create our reality. It is NOT about our individual creation. We are all part of a collective story.
What I’m Still Working Through
The whole experience of losing the old nature of Collective Evolution, and virtually all our employees, made me feel a huge level of disapproval for what I helped create. Disapproval of my voice, my efforts, and what was important to me.
The pain wasn’t about the money, even though that hurt, it was primarily about losing something I put my entire heart and soul into and wanted to spend all my time doing with others. It was a loss of meaning, community, friends, and my voice.
I was shocked by how many turned their backs when my platform no longer reached 20 million people, but only “a mere 3 million.” Suddenly those friendships dissipated and I wasn’t important enough for their time. That hurt.
Those wounds are still not fully healed, but I am actively working through them.
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Does this mean you shouldn’t go against the grain in life? No, that’s your choice to make. Me personally, I still go against the grain, and likely always will. But I do it with more care, more strategy, and with an expanded awareness of how not to get burnt-out.
I feel like I know what it feels like to fly close to the hornets nest. And to get stung 1000 times.
Because I got stung, I took what I learned over the years about personal development and spirituality to a whole new level. I learned about trauma, the nervous system, and am on my way to certification in these fields. Did I need to lose everything I built to get here? No, I am a curious explorer.
But what happened happened… and I can’t change that.
A Great Shift
Some will say we are in a war on consciousness. A war that is seeking to shut down that which exposes corruption in our world. Perhaps that’s true. I personally see it more as a shift in consciousness.
A moment where we are working to transcend worldviews built on separation, fear, guilt, shame and competition. That may look like a war, but to me the ‘fighting’ comes in the form of connecting to ourselves and each other. Bringing more consciousness to who we are. Communing with nature and improving our critical thinking. Questioning why we do the things we do and whether it’s possible for humanity to truly thrive.
I believe that ‘fighting’ this ‘war’ is not about violence or attacking, but about exposing the shadows within ourselves, society, and culture. It’s about seeking wellness and expanded states of consciousness and then creating a new society to match those beautiful states of being.
If you' feel so inspired, check out my latest version of my free 5 Days of You Challenge. It’s the same classic challenge I’ve been running since 2012, but with more expansive updates that include what I’ve learned in my recent training.
Finally, if you want my personal break down of what I feel is going on in our world right now and what I feel can move us forward toward a thriving future both individually and collectively, check out episodes 1 - 7 of my podcast called The Collective Evolution podcast.
Thanks for reading.
I stumbled across Collective Evolution in 2016 while immersed in a tumultuous period of introspection and spiritual discovery and have been a fan ever since. People ARE listening so keep up the great work and stay curious. 😉
Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable.