June is Mental Health Awareness month! Chances are you or someone you love struggles with Mental Health on a daily basis. When July rolls around, How do we keep the awareness alive? We started the conversation, now how do we keep it going? This has to be a daily conversation, we have to keep the light shining on Mental Health Awareness.
As most of you all know, Lizzy, My best friend, my business partner, my hand and leg holder while I gave birth to my son, and my favorite creative, recently had to walk away from our daily lives and business to take some much needed time to take care of her own Mental Health and wellness. For the past three years of our business, Lizzy has struggled with the highs and lows of mental illness and she has “kept on truckin” her way through it, but she has always found a way to keep us all smiling and laughing so hard we nearly wet our pants. I will always see the strength she has shown to all of us. I have nothing but love and respect for Lizzy and her decision, and She will always be apart of my life and I will always be here cheering her on and holding her hand (or legs lol) whenever she needs me.
I personally struggle with Mental Health, I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and chances are high that I have undiagnosed Adhd. I choose to not share my dark days, like so many, I don’t want to burden anyone with my troubles. I put a smile on my face and “Keep on truckin” But the reality is, I too struggle. Over the years I have learned how to mask my feelings and not always by choice. For the first 7 years of my children’s lives, and after many years in a toxic relationship with domestic violence, I finally broke free. I was left to raise 2 babies, 8 month old twins at the time, as a single mom. I was going through the day to day just to keep a roof over our heads, working a full time job to keep the lights on and food on the table, just trying to make everyone happy. Thank the lawd for food stamps and public assistance.
When my boys were just 3 years old, they were both diagnosed with ADHD and Autism. With all of this going on and to keep my children thriving, I literally didn’t have time to deal with me and my own issues. So many moms can relate to this. We just “Keep on truckin” we put on that smile and tuck the pain. But it always comes back, we snap at the kids, we take it out on our loved ones, we stay in a constant fog, barely holding on half the time.
Because I literally didn’t have time or the know how to actually deal with my own Mental Health the right way. And yes I have gone through all the antidepressants out there and I would also go to therapy on my lunch breaks when I could, but it was never consistent. It was always just a temporary fix. As time went on, I started doing things on my own, because that’s all I could do. I didn’t have money to keep going to the doctor and seeing a therapist, I had to bills, bills that kept our lights on, water running, and a roof over our heads.
Over time, I had to figure out what worked for me and my well being. I started walking everyday, every evening after school and work, the kids and I would go walking. It didn’t matter what was going on, I always made time to go for a walk. The happiness and mental clarity I felt was unexplainable. I, myself couldn’t believe a walk could do so much for my mental health. I started losing weight, gaining back my confidence, and I finally started to love myself. For so long, I looked at myself as damaged goods with so much baggage, that an airport wouldn’t even want me.
I finally started seeing myself as the strong, independent, amazing woman I am and no one could tell me otherwise. At this point in my life everything started changing, in a good way. I realized I had just walked through a terrible storm and the sun was shining again. I feel like I literally walked my way right out of that storm. I laced up my tennis shoes every day, dug deep for strength and walked my way out of it. This was life changing for me! I knew If I could walk through that storm, I could walk through any other storms that may come my way and I carry that with me everyday. I didn’t get into all the details of what I went through over the years, but just know it was a deep dark storm that I will eventually share, stay tuned.
While I felt so much better mentally, I started thinking more about my purpose in life. I felt all this confidence but I was miserable in my job as a dental assistant, I felt like I needed something else. I kept hearing this quote in my head “find what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” But what did I love to do? Welllll it just so happened that at the same time I was feeling lost, and trying to figure out my purpose in life, I ended up losing my job, I literally was fired. Long story short, a woman that didn’t like me, lied to my boss and told them I was talking bad about my employer to another business, that wasn’t true, and it didn’t happen. So I got fired and fought for unemployment and I won. Getting fired definitely rocked my world and shook things up, I relied on that job to keep a roof over our heads. This ended up being a blessing in disguise. I prayed, I prayed hard and knew god had a plan and this was his doing, he knew I was lost, he knew I needed a push. Now what do I do? Find another job? No I didn’t want to be a dental assistant anymore, I needed something more. So I decided I’m going to School, and so I did, I rode out the unemployment as long as I could and I registered for school and started my way into becoming an EMT. I did finish school and became an EMT, but I quickly realized my stomach couldn’t handle the sight of blood. So that was short lived, but god had a plan.
While I was in school I decided to repurpose an old dresser, I just wanted to repaint it and make it match my style better. It was then, right then, that I realized I LOVED the process of repurposing furniture. Taking something old and damaged and bringing it back to life, hmmm sound familiar? The entire process of repurposing and painting furniture was so therapeutic for me. Much like walking, I could be alone with myself and my thoughts. I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT IT.
So I started trying to figure out how I could turn this into a job, I still had bills to pay. So I did my research and found a booth space in an antique marketplace and now I was running my own little furniture painting business. It wasn’t work to me, it was my passion, this was exactly what I wanted and needed. Honestly my work wasn’t that great, I was learning along the way. All I knew was I loved what I was doing and I had to make it work.
While I was figuring out my new venture of painting furniture, I ended up meeting my Husband. I was out celebrating my sisters (Aunt Criddy’s) bachelorette party, all dressed up in the club, doing my thang with all my new found confidence. When Mr. Erin literally ran into me and spilled my fancy dry ice adult beverage. I love telling this story and he denies all of this by the way. He ended up replacing my $10 fancy drink with a $4 vodka and cranberry drink. I wasn’t impressed at all, but he was persistent and I ended up giving him a chance and I’m so happy I did. He is my best friend, my rock, he understands me and all my quirks, he supports me and all my crazy ideas, crazy ideas that sometimes don’t even make sense to me, he believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself, he brings the stability to my not so stabile life. Most importantly he has stepped in as Dad to my boys, he was exactly what we all needed.
All of these roads have led me straight to where I am now, Lizzy and Erin. Lizzy and I met in Colorado, when both our husbands, who were active duty in the United States Army and stationed at Fort Carson at the time. We became best friends and ended up sharing a successful booth space together while in Colorado. The Army eventually took us both different directions, but we always remained friends. We decided to start a business together, an online furniture painting business and blog. We just wanted to teach people how to paint, we wanted to share the joy and passion we found in painting furniture with everyone. Over time our business and social media platforms grew and grew and our page quickly evolved into a crafting page, crafting on a budget actually. We have always crafted up our own home decor on a budget out of necessity, so that came easy for both of us. We find crafting to be just as therapeutic as painting furniture. I now get to craft and laugh my way through my dark days and call it my job, all at the same time.
We are just 2 girls with a passion for what we do and we feel the therapeutic benefits we get from crafting, and we want to pass that along. If something feels good to me and it works for me, I want to scream it from the rooftops, In hopes that it’ll help someone else and thats exactly what we get to do here. We have both worked hard for what we have, but this was all in Gods plans. Sometimes you just have to walk through the storm to get to where you are meant to be, to appreciate it that much more. This is my purpose and this was his plan.
This is what I do on a daily basis to take care of myself and my own mental health. I start each day with a cup coffee of course, I take my antidepressant, then after that I get myself dressed for the day, I put on makeup, brush my teeth, and lastly, the most important part of all, I put on my shoes, I lace up my tennis shoes and start my day. My tennis shoes stay on all day, even if Im not leaving the house. My tennis shoes keep me going throughout the day, who’s gonna go lay back down in the bed with tennis shoes on?
My tennis shoes keep me pushing, keep me ready for whatever may be coming my way, they keep my body in motion, they keep me climbing, walking, they keep me fighting for what I want in life. Everyday my tennis shoes walk me through my own mental health struggles. It’s not always easy to get up and put my tennis shoes on, some days are darker than others, but I know if I can get to my tennis shoes, they will walk me through the day, they always have.
While I am not “fixed” and I will always be a work in progress, everyday I will “lace up” and keep pushing. This will always be apart of me and I will continue to put in the work everyday for my own mental health and well being, but one thing I know, is THE SUN WILL ALWAYS SHINE AFTER THE STORM, I PROMISE, HANG IN THERE FRIEND!
If you or someone you know and love is struggling with Mental Health, I first encourage you to seek help. Secondly, talk about it, let’s keep the conversation going and the awareness alive.
If you are able to “LACE UP” let’s “LACE UP” for those that can’t, those that are in the darkness so bad, they can’t even reach their shoes. Let’s be the strength they can’t find right now. KEEP MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS ALIVE, LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!
I LACE UP FOR MYSELF.
I LACE UP FOR MY BOYS, JEREMIAH AND WESLEY.
I LACE UP FOR MY NEPHEW TYLER.
I LACE UP FOR LIZZY.
I LACE UP FOR YOU!
With all my love- Erin Phillips-Stailey