THE ROAD TO FREEDOM
The feeling of hitting rock bottom is overwhelming to say the least. The last couple of weeks I've become so f*cking honest with myself on how far off course I am with everything that I want to be as a human. The crash and burn has been the most painful thing I've ever had to experience.
It has not been an easy thing to admit.
Rewind back to 2013. I was in the absolute worst shape of my life both physically and mentally. I had created this spiraling tornado of depreciating value of self worth. I had no idea who the heck I was, what I was doing, where I was going. For someone who struggles with anxiety and depression there was absolutely NOTHING that I was doing in my life to help that cause or contribute anything positive to my life.
I removed myself from a few relationships that were no longer serving me. One was a toxic, abusive and degrading relationship with my job. It took absolutely everything I had in me to quit that job. It was terrifying.
I also cut off communication with someone who, at one point, was someone I loved. But I finally had some sense knocked into me, I was giving whatever hope I had left in me to someone that had zero respect for me.
I felt that everything around me was crumbling. So I did the one thing in the world that was guaranteed peace. I booked a trip. I mean, Eay Pray Love, right?
I spent 6 months travelling around Southeast Asia, Dubai, Australia & the US. 6 months of absolute happiness. I felt alive again. My passion for life started to surface and I temporarily forgot what it was like to feel like sh*t all the time.
It was a quick fix.
As I landed back behind a desk of reality of my new job in Toronto, my walls started to cave in again. Most of my days just counting around the thought of "this can't be it..". The desk just wasn't the one I was meant to be sitting at in that point of my life.
3 months in, I had an opportunity to take on a trial contract in Vancouver for another travel company that I had met travelling in SE Asia. It was a seriously risky move, but for the first time in months I felt my heart skip a beat again.
I took it.
The trial went well, I was happy again. They sent me to Asia for 3 months for a photography project and then asked me to move to Vancouver permanently.
And so I did, and I took it as a challenge to change my life.
Mentally, my spirits were high. I hadn't felt my anxiety in a while. It finally felt that Vancouver could be the place where I settle my roots. Physically, I was still incredibly out of shape and not happy with my physical appearance which, of course, was not leading to any sorts of positive esteem issues.
I moved to a city where I knew no one by myself. No distractions, no excuses. The only thing holding me back from hitting new goals and changes would have solely been myself - so I finally took up the strength and joined a 60 day challenge. Most importantly, I made a commitment to myself:
Eat properly and workout for at least 30 minutes every day.
Something so simple that I would be angry with with myself for not being able to make half an hour for my own mental and physical well being.
That promise was the best thing that I ever did for myself. 2 months passed and I had lost almost 40lbs. Even better, my mental health had changed, I was happy, hadn't felt depressed or anxious in a while. I had create a new routine for myself and was finally starting to feel good.
Everything seemed like it was perfect - turns out perfect is just a relative term in comparison. I was sitting in a yoga class one day and my teacher gave the most beautiful talk that had inspired me to feel amazing. Before starting the class she asked everyone to calm their brain, "I want you to think of the first word that comes to mind when you think of why you came here today. What is your intention? What are you trying to accomplish?"
"SKINNY." - said me, sitting crossed legged, eyes closes, without any hesitation.
Oh crap, Ally. This was supposed to be a place for me to come to relax and feel good about myself and I was now fixated on a single minded image of being "skinny". I'm grateful that in that moment I was able to call myself out.
I told my friend about that after class and he dragged my ass into a crossfit gym. I was the most hesitant I had ever been. I mean, it was the most intimidating place I could have been. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't think I was capable...and I mean come on, it's CROSSFIT - I can't fall into the trap of this stereotype that everyone talks about.
Starting CrossFit was one of the best things I've ever done in my life. I saw the determination, perseverance and strength of the girls in here of all shapes and sizes. I saw girls that were strong, worked hard and ate to fuel their bodies.
I did my first class and signed up for a membership. My coached asked me what I wanted out of joining "I want to be healthy and strong".
Already feeling much better.
At this point I had been living in Vancouver for a year. I had finally felt that I had settled into a routine where I could nurture myself in a healthy and happy way. Up until this point I hadn't really taken the initiative to go out of my way to start building a network of friends here. The people I worked with were my family, I had my best gf and I didn't feel the need to go outside of that. It was a conscious choice I made as I really wanted to set myself up for success and not get distracted with anything else.
I wanted a solid foundation, routine, and a good understanding of who I was and, for the first time in my entire life, I finally felt that I had that. It was time to spread my wings and I couldn't have been more perfect of timing.
I'm really not heavy on this universe timing crap, but it was the weirdest thing. I went to bed one night last July after getting back from a wonderful trip to Costa Rica and said to myself: "I'm ready to meet people."
Two days later I went for a beach walk with someone who changed my life.
Fast Forward 5 Months.
The amount of life I had experienced in my own backyard was indescribable. I had grown so much as a human with the support of the people that had pushed me to become the best version of myself. They had done it with unconditional love and support. I was now working on 2 startups I was so passionate about, I was networking, speaking, taking more photos. I finally felt like I was on a path with purpose.
Unfortunately that path to purpose closed a big door in my life. It really showed that I was no longer meant for my job. I was this happy, excited person outside of the office but I was working in a role that no longer served me which meant that I could no longer properly serve my friends. So my boss and good friend sent me free.
It took me 3 months to find my new home at RYU Apparel. A place where I could share my passion for fitness, help build an incredible community, take on new photo campaigns and work with a really bad ass brand that I stood behind. It. felt. so. good.
So what the heck am I even writing about here?
Over the course of the last few months I felt my life crumble. I took on a injury in March that really messed with my ability to work out. My routine was shattered.
Once my routine was shattered, my mood significantly altered. Once my mood was altered I started to ignore signs that I should have taken seriously. My anxiety and depression came back banging on my door and I just wouldn't open it.
Every day I tried not to open that door. I forced myself out of bed for months. I didn't need help, I was fine. I took on more and more, worked through it, I just didn't allow myself to sit with anything I was going through.
And then, the guilt kicked in. How can I preach this lifestyle and inspire people to live their best life and I can't even live up to it myself?
I walked around every single day with a forced smile on my face. I was "fine".
Truth is, I was f*cking exhausted. I was the furthest thing from fine.
I was walking home on Friday night a few weeks ago after one of the hardest conversations I've ever had in my life and I just could not handle it. My world felt like it came crashing down around me and I just wanted no part of living in it anymore.
I tried to sleep it off - but hey, we all know how well that works. I woke up with a crying hangover, swollen eyes, and face and the only words that came to mind was "I give up".
I no longer felt any passion towards life and had lost full control of who I was. My depreciating value of self worth was back in full force and it was probably the scariest thing I've ever felt.
So I called my parents, and for the first time in my life said "I'm not fine".
After returning a week later I was welcomed home with a serious reality check. It was finally time to address my problems and find a solution.
I sat down with my doctor. I was burnt out, stressed, anxious & depressed but ready to take on the steps to fixing that.
I wrote this blog post because I get messages all the time from people telling me they wish they had my life. I guess I feel like social media has become this platform of inspiring adventures (which, don't get me wrong, is great) - but there needs to be more truth behind posts.
Do I do all of these amazing adventures? Yes.
Is my life perfect? Far from it.
I am finally happy to say that I am ready to take on this challenge with openness and honesty with myself - and if you struggle with this as well, I ask you to promise me you'll do the same.
Because like any adventure, it's always the best returning home learning important lessons and all the wisdom from having surviving the crash.