#wearenot9to5 is a series of mental health & addiction stories from people in the food & beverage industry to fight the stigma & shame.
My name is Rachel + I love fashion, food, travel + LIFE. I spend my days creating recipes, building social media (myself + others), writing content + I'm about to be a new mom. Oh yeah, and I have terrible fucking anxiety.
Some of you might know me from my public persona, fashion or chef/nutritionist life stuff, one of my students OR you have never heard of ME. My job(s) can be very consuming, public driven + very open as far as I tend not to hide much (my personal life mostly stays pretty private lol).
Mental health, is something I’ve always been an advocate for and especially the last few years using any platforms I have to speak candidly + freely about anxiety, depression + that its okay. I have struggled with anxiety as far back as I can remember but there are three major timelines where I tried to not let it dictate my life completely.
When I was younger I had a tumultuous relationship with my mother (still do) in which she pushed me so hard to be great at so many things. I think that WAS a defining moment when I connected LIFE = STRESS. Being perfect at piano, which meant coming straight home from school to practice for 2 hours (no friend time). Being involved in school clubs + academia, again less child social time. Being the perfect daughter with long hair, volunteer work, etc etc. It was so forced at times that I STILL have the drive because of BUT it makes me panic if its not perfect.
Being in fashion for years, in front of the camera + behind was a new anxiety for me. It was superficial + this is when I learned to hide it. I mean throw some heels + go to a “be seen” party + you could be anyone YOU wanted. I got to curate that I was so popular, independent + important. Don’t get me wrong, I loved fashion + still do. BUT those years of being “ON” for so many people + with people left me drained. Throw in an abusive partner, too much drinking, mother issues AND hello therapy. *I love therapy!
Last major, major role was when I went a bit nuts for academia but also made peace with anxiety and that it was as much a part of me as my love for shoes and brown eyes.
Deciding to leave fashion + GO BACK TO SCHOOL IN MY 30’s. Fuck me. Ha! Not just any school, to get my degree in Applied Nutrition. This was the best 2 years of my life BUT let it be known (all my alum IHN can attest to) it was a rigorous + gruelling program.
Think pre-med with a huge co-op, no breaks and ALL OF THE MATH, SCIENCE, BIOLOGY, PATHOLOGY + MORE. Let it be known I’m not a left brain person, always been more history, arts, literature etc. I was terrified. Also enter mothers voice of being perfect. So while we all were crazy stressed for YEARS, I was behind the scenes doing three practice tests, before a group practice test, before the 30 page exams. Ha! Like think of this, my class started with 37 of us I believe + we graduated as 7. People would leave from stress or go down to part-time. THAT KIND OF PANIC. Also, of course, I wanted to finish with high honours (duh) so that brought on a whole other sort of anxiety and self-manifested STRESS.
BONUS: Because I was with amazing new friends/group, we had support. Ate amazing things together, had drinks, went on co-op road trips + WE WERE OPEN about anxiety + remedies + what to take. SO I made peace. Learned to journal. Made friends with a naturopath who introduced me to GABA (all natural amino which helps with anxiety). Which leads me to the good stuff...
Its okay to not be okay.
I still have days where I forget self care and have crazy panic attacks BUT now being public and having an audience where I’m able to speak, teach and hopefully inspire others to reach out, TALK + keep this conversation OPEN helps. This is why I love ‘Not 9-5” so much, they're being brave and using a platform to change + move forward with mental health awareness.
SO WHAT DO I DO?
TALK. LISTEN. When you’re ready share your story. Anonymous or publicly. Personally I have some tricks up my sleeve. Take GABA. Do yoga.
SLEEP is crucial (I’m currently not getting much due to pregnancy + have had so much anxiety.
JOURNALING - getting your thoughts out of your head and on paper will help you make sense of your thoughts + fears. Baths, superficial but using a calming space to yourself also helps clear your brain.
THERAPY - this one is tricky as it takes time to find someone you connect with. Its another type of relationship that is built on honesty, trust and it does take time to FIND YOUR MATCH. Its like finding hair stylist.
EXERCISE - Group sports, running, yoga - ALL GREAT options. ITS free therapy + fills your body up with the FEEL GOOD HORMONES.
HONESTY - tell your friends, your partner + your community when ready. THEY will be there for you and you will come to rely + need that. My husband doesn’t always get it, but doesn’t shy away from my panic attacks or breakdowns that come + go quickly to for NO reason (that might be immediately obvious).
If I could pass on anything to younger me, it would be to TAKE a breath. Don’t be embarrassed by your mental health or speaking about it. ASK questions - find a therapist, see what works for you, ask what you can take or not take.
EMAIL me or ask RBN anything + maybe we can help.