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Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health

5 Facts About Mental Illness You Should Know, from Someone Who’s Been There

October 11, 2018

Woman suffering from mental illness

I still remember the first odd sound of anxiety that whispered in my ear and sat in my gut. It was 1989, and I was a shy skinny girl living in a small town in Georgia. I was supposed to go to my friend’s house that night, and I had packed a puff-paint t-shirt and was already wearing my pink jellies. I was the epitome of 80’s style with my short curly hair and large, peach glasses! When she and her mom arrived to pick me up, the fear that I would learn to know so well took hold of my mind, and I knew I couldn’t leave. I don’t remember if I cried and begged not to go or if my parents just thought I wasn’t feeling well. Either way, I sat on my bed that night feeling guilty about letting Kathy down, sad to miss a sleepover but relieved that my stomach wasn’t tight anymore. I was safe in my home with my parents I had nothing to worry about. I would be ok; next time would be better.

The truth is, I wasn’t better the next time. Or the time after that. And soon I could hardly be in a different room from parents without melting into a full-blown panic attack. My parents had to pick me up from school I don’t know how many times, and I began to see a psychologist, which brought on another round of panic since my parents couldn’t go in the room with me. Eventually, I was sent to a mental hospital in Atlanta where I stayed for two months, only being sent home because insurance ran out. There were no “Go Fund Me’s” in those days, and no online support groups for my parents to help them wade through this mess. It took years of struggle, therapy sessions, and a lot of fear to get to where I could live a more normal life after that.

Things have changed so drastically for me since I was that scared, unhealthy little girl. I got a degree, started a business, got married and became a mom. And I’m not embarrassed to talk about my childhood mental illness the way I was for over 20 years. In college, I finally dared to open up to others about it, and what I found was a tremendous amount of support, and surprisingly others who had been through similar things. My voice still shook as I shared, but slowly I got used to telling people I was once in a mental hospital.

This past year I have taken my boldest step in openly sharing by starting this blog. Even though my anxiety is not nearly as extreme as it was as a child, I still struggle with it and am now on medication that helps keep it at bay. I see a therapist when life gets too overwhelming for me to handle, I participate in small groups, and do my best to live as healthy as possible. There are good days and bad, as well as good and bad seasons, but on the whole, I feel empowered to work on my mental health continually. I also feel more empowered than ever to share my story in hopes to spread knowledge about mental illness and help break the stigma that surrounds it. The following are five facts that I believe are imperative for people to know about mental illness so that they have the knowledge and power to help themselves or others who are struggling.

1. You Probably Know Someone With a Mental Illness

You probably know several people, possibly even family members. If you can’t think of anyone, remember that you may not know that they have a mental illness because they are too embarrassed to share their struggles. Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans will suffer from a mental disorder in their lifetime? Out of those 1 in 5, only 44% of those who are suffering actually receive treatment. There are many reasons for this, and some of the most common are from stigma, discrimination, and lack of resources. Many people do not receive care because they are embarrassed or ashamed. They also may not know where to turn for help or have access to the care that is needed. This is why it is so crucial for the stigma around mental illness to end. We need to work for better care and access for those who need it.

2. People Who Have A Mental Disorder Can’t Just Snap Out Of It

I remember people telling me many times that I should just get over my anxieties. Sometimes it was out of frustration from those who loved me and wanted to help but didn’t know how. Sometimes it was from people I hardly knew saying things like “What’s so bad about (insert irrational fear)? I just think about (insert something happy)?” as if I hadn’t tried doing that a million times before. I’ve had people say that with more prayer, and more trusting in God, that things would get better. Can you imagine the shame that was felt when those things didn’t work? Would you tell a nine-year-old child, sick in a hospital, that if they simply trusted God more, they would get better? I’ve even had people tell me that they didn’t believe certain mental disorders were real, that they were just made up to try to get more kids on medication. The fact is, most people who have a mental illness have tried everything they can think of on their own to get better. And they really, really, really wish they could just snap out of it. Mental illness is complex and caused by many factors including biology, genetics, and trauma and can not be treated with three clicks of your heals and a wish to go home.

Additional Information on Causes of Mental Illness.

3. Having a Mental Illness Does Not Mean You Are Weak

A huge misconception about mental illness is that it means you are weak. I have often found that those I know with a mental illness are some of the strongest people I know! Because of the stigma around mental illness, it can take a lot of courage and vulnerability to ask for help. It can take a lot of strength to even get out of bed sometimes. What can be easy for most people can require much more hope, faith, and power for those facing a mental disorder. We often hear about how strong and courageous people are when they are battling a physical illness. Those with physical ailments go to doctors, ask for help, and share with others what is going on with them without worry of being shamed for their sickness. However, in our culture, this same reaction is not typical for those battling mental illness. So many cultural factors can play into why mental illness is often seen as a sign of weakness, or worse, not real. However, the bottom line is that this view has to change, and it can start with you. Be aware of how you discuss mental illness in your home, with your friends, and in your community. Be open about struggles you have and affirm and believe those who are struggling. Seek help when you need it. Not receiving proper treatment because of stigma, fear, and lies can have dire consequences, including death.

Read more about ways to help end the stigma with how you speak about mental illness.

4. 50% of All Lifetime Cases of Mental Illness Begin Before the Age of Fourteen

Not only that, there is on average an 8-10 year delay between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis! I am forever grateful that I was able to get treatment early and that my parents did their best in advocating for me. Our children need us to work on creating an environment where they can receive proper treatment long before this kind of delay occurs. Did you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth ages 10-24? Did you know that 50% of students age 14 and older drop out of high school? Did you know that we can help make a healthier generation of kids through education, awareness, and resources for kids who have a mental illness? Let’s continue to spread awareness so that our kids have the best chance for a healthy life as possible.

You can find more information on helping your child with a mental health condition here.

5. Recovery is Possible, Never Give Up Hope

Amidst the troubling statistics surrounding mental health, I am happy to say there is good news. Recovery is possible, and we should never give up hope. What does recovery look like? It means that you can live a full life, make healthy choices, engage meaningfully with the world, and build relationships within a community. It can be a steep and winding road that includes many different aspects of care such as therapy, medication, and support groups. I think back to when my mind would not let me leave my parent’s side without dread and panic washing over me, and I see how far I’ve come. No offense mom, but I’m glad I was able to fly the nest! I wouldn’t mind a few fewer states between us though. I still think about what the man I grew up with told me, that I was the last person he had expected to do anything with their life, but his words have given me a different perspective over the years. We should never expect so little from those we know and love. Even when someone is at their worst and in the depths of despair, we should always have faith for a brighter future. Those fighting a mental disorder need people in their lives who believe in them and can carry some hope even if they can’t at the time.

If you or someone you love has a mental illness, or you suspect is suffering from one, NAMI is an incredible resource. They are a nonprofit and a leading voice on mental health. You will find referrals, support groups, and additional information on walking along with or through a mental illness.


NAMI Help Line: 800-950-6264

In a Crisis? Text NAMI to 741741

Whitney Leigh Carlson

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Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health

The Silence of Depression and Anxiety

June 6, 2018

*This blog post has been updated to reflect the tragic death of Anthony Bourdain by suicide which occurred four days after the death of Kate Spade, who initially inspired me to write this piece.

Tragically, within the past four days, we have lost two great creatives to suicide. Kate Spade, an icon in the fashion world, and Anthony Bourdain, a storyteller, chef, and inspiration around the world. I wrote the following during a bout of anxiety about what can happen to me and others when we are in the middle of our illness.

There are times I fall silent. The silence ripples throughout my life. My friends hear from me less, I miss social outings, and my world becomes small and inward. The silence also happens on social media, in my business, and in my heart. Silence doesn’t say much, and because of this it is a wearisome place to be and is hard for those I’m in a relationship with. The only person I consistently and honestly share this time with is with my husband Peter, and I am so thankful for his open heart and support. Today I will share a little bit about this silence that can be interpreted in so many ways. It can be seen as being flakey, uninterested, contentment, and snobbery. However, it is typically from mental illness taking hold, and the outward silence is caused by how loud things are inside.

My anxiety can pop up at any time, caused by an emotional reaction to something stressful, or it can randomly wake me up in the middle of the night while my heart starts pounding out of nowhere. I feel it physically in my chest and my stomach, often with waves of nausea that stress me out even more. I feel it in my head as my worry runs away from me and I start to live in the what may happen as opposed to the what is happening with all the love and light around me. If I have to miss something, Peter will often tell people I am feeling sick. Which I am, but a virus or an infection does not cause it. My mind does.

I do not enjoy talking or writing about the specifics of my illness even after thirty years of learning not to be ashamed. Feelings of shame come rushing in when I’m in the middle of not doing well. My illness can get old and be tiring for those around me. I miss out on a lot because of it and friendships can more easily fade because of this. There are no rules, and there is no guessing when my anxiety might pop up. Depression, which I suffer from as well, has a similar pattern, with waves that go up and down never being sure when it is going to crash.

Last night, after a beautiful and productive day, after an inspiring and encouraging week, the tightness in my chest settled in again. As I type, I want to be silent, and I don’t want to share. However, I know that I need to. I know there are others out there that have days, weeks, months and years who are overcome with sadness and worry along with the guilt of being silent. I know there are others who have friends and loved ones who they are frustrated with and hurt by, and then feel guilty because they know their companions can’t help it. To our loved ones, keep showing up. Keep letting us know you are there for us. Keep calling and texting even if you know it may be another “no” to your invite. Keep letting us know we are loved. Ask us if we are ok. There are some of you who have been ignored and shut out by a friend, and you don’t know why. Maybe this silent, invisible illness is why. For everyone who loves someone with a mental illness, keep pursuing us. Since the passing of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I have seen many people share encouraging those who are suffering to reach out. This is incredible difficult and often impossible for someone who is sick to do. Check in on us, let us know you still love us and can’t wait till you can hang out with us again. Show up our houses to see if we are ok. Please do not disappear. To everyone out there affected by mental illness, you are not only, you are loved, and there is hope for brighter days.

Do you want to help a loved one who is contemplating suicide and don’t know where to go? Do you need help? Are you in a crisis?  Visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline and call 1-800-273-8255.


Whitney Leigh Carlson

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Anxiety, Motherhood

Why I Never Wanted to Be a Mom and How I Became One

April 9, 2018


Monroe’s 6th birthday party.

A couple weeks ago was my son’s 6th birthday. It was a day filled with activities and a party that he invited almost every kid he knew to. Monroe LOVES people, and he loves parties, so a birthday celebration with just a “few close friends” makes no sense to him. He is so full of excitement about life that I am often overwhelmed with the fact that he is my son. It amazes me that my body carried and nurtured this creature for nine months, and here he is, six years later, still the most beautiful gift I have ever received. What amazes, even more, is that nine months before his birth, before I knew I was pregnant, I would have told myself that gift was something I didn’t want. I simply did not want a child.

It’s an odd thing to read those words out loud, words that when put together sound so bad. Saying that you don’t want kids stirs up so much for people, and many are judged harshly for speaking frankly about it. When people asked when we would have kids, I would reply with “I’m not sure right now” or “We’re not ready, maybe someday.” It is the well-known story of childless couples. Friends and family asking about kids, the couple awkwardly trying to answer in a way that keeps additional questions at bay. I always left the answer up in the air and hinted at the possibility of kids, because the truth was something too hard to share.

What was the truth? The truth was that I was terrified of having a child. I was terrified of being pregnant and birthing a baby. I didn’t want to vomit from morning sickness. I didn’t want to be in pain. I was terrified of being responsible for a newborn. I was terrified I would be a bad mom. I knew what having a child truly meant. I didn’t see squishy feet and tender moments when I thought of taking care of a baby. You tell me they are sweet and cuddly and oh so cute? Rock them and fall in love and live happily ever after? Oh no, I knew the truth. There would be crying and screaming and no sleep. My life would change. The amount of worry and fear that I already carried would have no end. What if I didn’t love my child? What if they hated me? What if I passed on everything I didn’t like about myself to them? Did I want to have a child only to give them this burden of fear that I have carried throughout my life? Would I pass on my anxiety disorder or another form of mental illness? Who was I to think that I could give something good to a child? I couldn’t share any of that with someone just trying to make conversation about children. If I did, I knew that the protests would start, “Oh, you’ll be a great mom! You are missing out on the most wonderful love you can imagine!” But they wouldn’t know. They didn’t know that I couldn’t do it and that I would fail. They didn’t know the REAL me.

Then it happened, I was going to have a baby. After Peter and I began to tell people, we had a family member ask us, “Were you guys so excited when you found out? Did you jump up and down yelling? That’s what we did when we found out about our son!” Peter and I just looked at each other and smiled, remembering that fateful day. We were not excited. We were scared.

I still don’t know what caused me to take the one pregnancy test that had been sitting in my bathroom closet for months. I was on birth control. Peter had been out of town for several weeks besides one short weekend so we could see U2 in concert. Thank you Bono. I hadn’t missed a period. I wasn’t sore. I didn’t feel sick. It was a whisper that stirred within me. The thought ran through my mind, “I think I’m pregnant.” I pulled out the test, peed on the stick, and bam. Two blue lines. I stared in shock. Is this real? The second line was faint, so I wanted to take another just in case.

Peter was at work, and at the time we only had one car. The only place close enough that I could walk to was a tiny grocery store down the street. As I started walking down the busy street, our dogs’ incessant barks rang in my ears. I could hear them taunting me the entire walk. The few short blocks felt like miles. The suspense was overwhelming.

When I arrived, I wandered the aisles looking for the pregnancy tests. Pads. Tampons. Condoms. No pregnancy tests. Maybe they were at the front. I couldn’t find them. I waited in line, nothing to buy in my hand, and finally asked the cashier where they were, my face blushing realizing this stranger was the first person to know what was going on.

“We don’t carry them, sorry.”

My mouth said “Okay.” But my mind said, “What kind of grocery store doesn’t carry pregnancy tests???!!!”

I walked back, sweat running down my face, trying to figure out what to do. I was sure every car that passed by me knew I was pregnant. It was the strangest walk of my life. There is no way I could wait five hours for Peter to come home. But I didn’t want to tell him over the phone. I decided to lie. As I neared our house, the dogs still screeching, I phoned Peter to say I was feeling sick. “You have to come home; I feel awful, and I need you here.”

He rushed home; I told him the second he arrived what was going on. He was stunned. We rode to Walgreens together in silence, grabbed the tests, and soon confirmed it was true. I was pregnant. Life as we knew it was over. With the grit and determination of Rambo going in for war, we would do whatever was necessary to get through the next eighteen years. It had to be done.

Slowly, excitement took over. We told our family and our friends, and we dreamed about what it would be like to have this child. It was a steady process and how this happened is another story for another day. By the time my water broke, I was like a kid waiting for Christmas not sure when Christmas day would be.

Our 2011 Pregnancy Announcement

Image by my sister, Jessica Mull.

Now, six years after my son was born, I can’t believe how many ways I was wrong. To be clear, it wasn’t the not wanting kids part that was wrong. I have friends that don’t want children, for different reasons than mine and have lovely and fulfilling lives. Where I was wrong was the belief that parenting is only a chore to get done with after a long 18 years. That child raising is hard work, and drudgery, and fear. That I could never be a good mom. That I wasn’t “motherly” or strong enough to raise a child. That once again, I would fail.

Photo by Peter Carlson

I look at my joyful son and my heart bursts with love. Seeing him grow and learn and love others is among the most remarkable experiences I have ever had. Knowing that when he is sad, he wants me to hold him and that I bring him comfort, security, and love is life-giving. I never knew how much FUN being a mom could be and how my heart could love so much. I had no idea I could be so strong, and do something that I never thought was possible.

Monroe’s Birth Story from Krystal Mann on Vimeo. The strongest I have ever felt.

Many of my fears have come true. Mothering can be hard and brutal and scary. I still struggle with anxiety every day, and I know that I am not and will never be perfect. Parenting is incredibly difficult. Even so, I would never give up being Monroe’s mom for anything.

Whenever Monroe’s birthday comes around, I think about how things used to be. I think about how things would be if Monroe never came into our lives. If I still believed that I couldn’t be a loving mom. Pondering his birth, I feel such gratitude. God gave me a chance to be a mom despite my fears, and I am so incredibly thankful. It has taught me that I am stronger than I ever imagined. It has instilled in me empathy and compassion for others who want to be mothers and can’t, and for those who are mothers but had to make the brave choice to trust their child’s care to someone else. It has helped me learn to see children, all children, through the eyes of parents the world over, no matter how different their circumstances and families are than mine. It has opened my eyes to the sorrows of families who experience oppression, marginalization, and who live in fear in our country. It has changed my heart’s desire not just to want what’s best for my child, but to want what is best for all children, listening and learning from their parents. It has humbled me to my core and has filled me with a love I could never have imagined. Being a mother has taught me that often what we don’t want can be the most incredible inspiration, teacher, and joy that we have ever had.

Simply put, Motherhood is the greatest surprise of my life.

Image by my sister, Ansley Orr.



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Using Photography to Combat Stress, Anxiety and Isolation

February 27, 2018

It has been a hard couple of months for our family. We’ve survived the flu, my husband Peter has been out of town and working a lot, plus we’ve had several professional and personal issues to confront. During this time we also marked the one year anniversary of our move to Minneapolis from Nashville, Tennessee. My great Northern migration! I was so stressed and flustered over the date of our moving anniversary all I could think about was if we were still where we should be. My heart reassured me we were, but I was feeling lonely, tired and discouraged, so the doubts kept creeping through my mind. In this last year it seems like so much has changed, but so much has stayed the same. I still don’t have a stable career path, I’m still working through the difficulties of making new friendships, and I’m still figuring out where I fit in this new city.

When stressors like these come up, one of my first lines of defense is to isolate myself. I make excuses to keep from seeing people and being in situations that may, possibly, cause me more stress. My insecurities rise to the surface, and after a while, I’m convinced that others are just as content with me being inside as I am. I am safe when I am alone. No one can hurt me there. That’s the lie I continue to tell myself. Though I may feel safe at the moment, I forget that I’m the one that hurts myself the most. Very counterproductive, right?

Snow covered stream and woods

Even though I can identify this negative pattern, getting out of it is incredibly difficult. If you recognize this in yourself, which is very common with anxiety and depression, you know that you can’t just snap out of it. There have been times in my life where nothing but therapy or medication has helped me overcome it, and it is OKAY if you need this help. However, since I’m already on medication, and my stressors haven’t been as heartwrenching as others I’ve gone through, I’ve been able to work on coming out of this funk. There are several tools that I use that help me. Today I want to share with you my favorite, one that I have used my entire life. The act of creating.

Over the last year, one of the most significant changes in my life has been how I use photography. For twelve years I took photographs for other people, and since I moved, I now mostly just take photographs for myself. It has been such a joy and has helped me love photography again. I photograph what I see and find beautiful, I experiment, try new techniques, and I don’t do it to please anyone else except myself. The amazing thing about shooting this way is I have found that people still like what I do! By making images that I love, others can continue to relate to my artwork, and we can discover a commonality that we may not have had before. It is beautiful!

This past weekend I knew that it was time for me to start exploring with my camera again. Even though it is one of the best things for me to do when I am in a funk, I tend to put off creating. It had been months since I created for myself so on Friday morning I packed up my gear and decided to start driving until I found a place I wanted to photograph.

While I drove down Minnehaha Parkway, I remembered that Lynnhurst Park had a beautiful trail I enjoyed walking in the summer. It leads to Lake Harriet and is full of large trees and a small stream that feeds into Minnehaha Falls. I pulled into the empty parking lot and stomped through the snow to the trail. It was stunning with the trees covered in snow. I noticed that the stream was flowing even though most of the water here in Minnesota is still frozen. Then I saw a few mallards playing in the water and began to photograph them. As I strolled down the trail, the sound of the ducks became louder and louder. I looked up and in front of me was a fantastic sight! The whole stream was full of mallards! They were flying and bathing, sleeping and fighting. It was so incredibly picturesque and peaceful.

Lynnhurst Park, Minnehaha Parkway

I continued to walk down the trail and noticed that people had made beautiful ice lanterns that ran along the path. Some holding flowers, some with different colors, and some built into stunning sculptures. I walked until I reached the Lake, and again, a remarkable site of fresh snow and quiet on the frozen water. It was a time of prayer of thankfulness for me, a time of creativity, and refreshment for my soul. On my walk back I spoke with a gentleman for a while who had helped make the lanterns along with his wife and others. He shared that they would be lit that night and said I should come back to experience it.

Peter, Monroe and I returned with our pup Wesley and seeing the lanterns lit was stunning. It was an entire neighborhood event, and many people were there along the trails with their families. There was a fire and hot chocolate and cookies. Afterwards, we went home and spent the evening together, and my heart was full.

I keep thinking about what I would have missed if I hadn’t decided to go out if I had continued in my isolation and not taken the step outdoors to create. For me, having a purpose for journeying outside my comfort zone is a big motivator. Sometimes it is the only thing that will get me outside and active when I just want to be alone. It is often the time my mind is quiet enough to feel God’s presence, and sense my resilience after being in a dark place. It is healing for me.

If you don’t have something like this in your life, I encourage you to find what it is. Whether it is photography or some other creative endeavor, find something that you love that can motivate you to journey outside of where you may be floundering. Don’t worry about if others will like what you do. You don’t even have to share it with others! Make something you love, bake, write, paint, whatever reminds you of your worth and value. If you don’t have something yet, try going for a photo walk as I did! You don’t need a fancy camera; just your phone will do. Walk around your neighborhood, drive to a park, and look carefully at what is around you. Beauty can be found everywhere. Especially in you!

What creative endeavors do you have that bring you peace? Do you find it hard to create when you are deep in depression or anxiety? Does creating something help you process what you are going through? If you are a photographer, do you take time to create just for yourself?

Much Love,

Whitney Leigh Carlson

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Anxiety, Insecurities, and Finding Hope Through Community

February 14, 2018

“Even the battered and bruised have a light inside them that can help others find their way home.” -Whitney Leigh Carlson


Have you had a day like this before? Your anxiety spikes and all of your insecurities come to the surface. Your mind ruminates on the past, the decisions you’ve made, and the ones that still need to be made. You berate yourself for your mistakes, and a voice creeps in that tells you that you are unworthy, and even sometimes unlovable. Maybe you can’t get out of bed because your anxiety or depression feels so intense and real that you can’t face the world. Perhaps everything is going well in your life right now, and you are confused with why you can’t seem to shake this. And maybe you know exactly why you feel like this, and you wish things could change.

This was me the other day. It was beautiful out even though the temperatures are still in the teens here in Minnesota. The sun was shining, and I was able to spend the day with my family. I knew I should be thankful and happy, but still, my chest was tight, and I wanted to lock myself in my room and cry. It was exhausting to get through the day with a smile on my face, but I did it, and thankfully slept soundly that night with a brighter morning.

I have had days, weeks, months, and even years like this through my entire life. As a child, I suffered from a severe anxiety disorder that landed me in a mental hospital when I was 9. At the time no one talked about mental illness, and along with my anxiety, I developed an intense sense of shame. After years of hard work, the anxiety is not the defining aspect of my life anymore, but it is still there and most likely always will be. I had gone through periods in my life when it was just a distant memory, and times when it overcame me again. Sometimes it has come out of the blue, and at others, it has been related to life events, such as marriage, having a child, and the change of a career.

Since being on this journey for so long, I have come to realize that so many women can relate to what I have gone through and continue to. For some, it is through the anxieties and fears that come with being a mother, a spouse, a friend, or even the expectations placed on us as women. It has come from a culture that often wants us to be perfect and happy in all we do, and media that consistently feeds us images to compare our lives to. For some, it is a mental illness, like mine, and we are ashamed to admit to it. We’ve been told we are broken, or odd, or that we should just get over it somehow. And for some, it has stemmed out of being hurt and abused by others, in a place we should feel safe such as home or the church.

In this blog I will be sharing more of my journey with you from the time when I was a child living in a mental hospital, to now as a mom, wife, artist and Christ follower with often more questions than answers. I will be sharing openly and honestly about my struggles with anxiety and depression, the stresses of being a mom, and my many failures that have often come before some of the happiest times in my life. I’ll share what I continue to learn about accepting myself as a strong woman after believing my calling in life was to be meek and mild, and my continuing journey of faith that “religion” often got in the way of.

Along with this, I will be sharing some of the many ways that I have found healing and hope over the years. As you can tell from above, I do not have everything together, and I know I never will (it has taken me years to accept this!). I have learned so many beautiful lessons that continue to teach me how to love who I am and see the joy that is around me now. One of the most incredible gifts that I have learned to use to heal is the gift of art and creating. I often use photography for expression, and I will be sharing not only some of the work that I produce but how you too can find a voice through the creative process.

If you have read something here that sounds familiar to you, I invite you to join me here. I want to hear your experiences and create a community where we can stumble forward together. I know some of you may not be in a place to share yet and my hope for you is that even just listening can help you feel not as alone.

I have been going through a beautiful book and class called Journey to Freedom by Scott Reall. Today’s section reminded me of why I have had the pull on my heart to share my journey with anxiety and depression, and why I am drawn to those who share their painful stories as well. “It’s so freeing to hear that other people struggle, too. We realize that we aren’t alone- and that’s universality. We begin to open up and feel hope. We feel a sense of companionship and community with others. We’re in this together.”

With much love and welcome,

Whitney Leigh Carlson