LIFE // Strength and courage

First, I wanted to give a special thanks to my friends who have gone out of their way to extend their love during this phase in my life which has felt so incredibly dark. There are no words of gratitude for what your presence has meant to me. 

Often times when people say they are going through some form a depression, the easiest thing for those around them to do is give them space. Although some people may find that distance from others helps them process their emotions, I, on the other hand want people around me to help me feel like I'm not alone and that I can seek comfort in them just being a present force in my life. The last few posts on Instagram I’ve spoken very openly about my depression. People who suffer from depression, suffer in silence. They don’t talk about it because we have placed a public stigma on depression. People bury these emotions deeply because keeping it locked inside feels the safest. People think depression is sadness, crying, feeling dark, moody, laziness, or apathy. Depression is the constant feeling of being numb. Being numb to emotions. You wake up in the morning just to go back to bed again. Often times those who are suffering from depression can sort out the feelings and become overwhelmed with trying. It truly is a hard battle.

It’s not always about feeling sad about what you don’t have and I can’t explain what triggered this particular episode. Depression can be short-lived, pass within a couple of days others suffer from more sever cases of depression and live without treatment.

My first onset of depression happened when I was 14. I remember at that time feeling very alone, confused, and the best way I can describe my feelings was that I was different. I felt very misunderstood by my parents when I would tell them what my mind was trying to process. I grew up in a Filipino household and my parents were raised in the Philippines where mental illnesses were something you simply did not discuss. I used to cut myself to relieve the pain and hurt inside until I was 15 and attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on pain killers. My dad found me in the bathroom passed out on my own vomit and quickly rushed me to the emergency room. I remember waking up handcuffed to the bed with a tube down my throat and the taste of charcoal in my mouth used to absorb the painkillers from my stomach. This was just the beginning of a years of family therapy, anti-depressants, and coping with the the mental illness. Over the years my parents and I would attend therapy sessions twice a week, once with them and the other session was my time with my therapist. Often times during these sessions I still felt misunderstood by my parents. They had the hardest time accepting that I was depressed, overwhelmed, and sad. I remember the phrases, "Why is she sad, she has a roof over her head, family who loves her, friends. It doesn't make sense." Hearing this multiple times on multiple occasions made me feel even worse, but I understood why my parents had that point of view. They were raised in the Philippines and weren't taught that self expression or talking about emotions was okay to do. If you understand the Filipino culture you will know that a lot of their faith is based on religion, the things that often guide their day to day beliefs are driven by religion and faith. My parents love me now and loved me then I knew that growing up; they just didn't have the capacity at that time to take a step back from all that they were raised on to see something different was happening to their daughter. It wasn't a stage of adolescence, it was something out of my own control. The full story runs deeper than this and one day I know I find the courage to share it.

When I look back at some of the past experiences I've had to overcome I know I could've been a different person, I know I could've not existed had I really allowed myself to drown in my pain. But I fought hard to overcome depression time and time again. I've learned to move forward and to not dwell in the past for long periods of time because that would only allow myself to be buried by disappointment, anger, and pain. These were experiences that were meant to happen, they were there to build strength, courage, and love. These experiences are my symbol of hope and reminder that I can accomplish anything. 

“Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right using of strength.”
— Henry Ward Beecher

Redefining Me in 2014


So here's my first blog post in a long while. It wasn't long ago when I used this blog to talk about my personal life and career as a stylist. Today I'm relaunching it with a new purpose, to share my story.

I had my first daughter at 21. At 24 I was marrying my best friend Jonathan, it was our wedding when I first started to become more active. However I was still 24 and had no idea how food affected my body or had no desire to change how I ate. I hired a trainer to get me in shape for the wedding and yes I lost some of the baby weight, but I still not giving me my best. Shortly after the wedding I went back to eating like a 25 year old does and continued to eat Taco Bell, McDonald's, and fried chicken and rice! Over time I started to cook more and as a family we began to eat healthier and better. We started to eat healthy choices, but still made some extremely horrible ones.  Then I got pregnant with Olivia in 2009 and I knew i had to start making some better choices as a mom for myself and my family.

Over the years I still struggled to lose the baby weight gain. I pretty much just said "F@#$ it! I am fine with where I am at and I am comfortable with how I feel." I was constantly finding myself in between size ranges and then one day nothing fit. I remember that day vividly. I was getting ready upstairs in our bedroom and ran downstairs to my daughters' room to take one quick look at myself in their full length mirror. I said out loud, " I am fat and ugly." My 9 year old replied, "No, Mom you're not." Quickly I snapped, "Yes, I AM!" The look on her face was heartbreaking. It was like I crushed the truth she knew, that the on woman she thought was the most beautiful thing ever, was a complete lie. She quickly left the room because she didn't want to upset me and at that moment I knew I had to make a change. I was tired of feeling disappointed in myself. I felt like I let myself down over the years.

In July 2013 I started a fitness/health journey with a coach. I became inspired by a friend's journey who went through a transformation that blew my mind. She went from a size 12/14 to a size 2 in one year. My friend Jaye has two daughters, a husband, and a full time job. Seeing her balance all this while embarking on a life changing journey made me believe that I too can do the same. I won't lie, I had my reservations and doubts. I remember worrying about all the things in life that I would be missing out: the wine, the cheese, the cupcakes, the sweets, the late night snacks with the husband, and the list went on. I had to keep telling myself that this was only for 12 weeks. Just commit yourself to 12 weeks and that's it. What's 3 months out of your life? This journey hasn't been all roses. There have been moments that I was ready to give in. If it wasn't from the support of my husband telling me that I only had a few more weeks left and how much progress I have made from day one I could've walked away. Throughout my program I remember feeling more energized, happier, and a fighting spirit within me started to burn brighter. I began to see the progress in my own eyes and I was amazed to see what I accomplished in a short period of time. This journey was about eating healthier, cleaner, and to view food as a way to fuel my body and nourish it for the workouts and cardio sessions I was putting myself through.

It's been well over 2 months since the end of my 12 week transformation program and I am still continuing on to live a healthier and stronger life. I'm using 2014 to redefine my life. Thank you for being a part of this journey. Here's to a healthier and stronger 2014!