About My Warrior Project

Most of us don’t want to be in the situation of asking ourselves, “Am I happy enough?” but the reality is, a lot of us are. I feel guilty when I think about myself as unhappy. I live in a beautiful neighborhood in a great city, with a man who loves me and two dogs to follow me everywhere. I have a steady job with growth opportunity that pays me plenty to pay my bills and buy me the things I want and need. Yet, still I find myself entrenched in moments of loneliness and sadness.

Happiness, though, isn’t our surroundings or our circumstances, it’s our perspective on them. Depression is a disease that has the power to shadow our perspective and skew realities, and while others may not be able to see your illness, it is real. For me, this quote has always embodied what it means to be alive, and living your fullest life.

 “At the end of the day your feet should be dirty, your hair messy, and your eyes sparkling.”

For too long, I ignored my mental health issues, and suffered for years through a roller coaster of emotional episodes. I pushed myself, persisted forward because I was sure that I could simply move beyond whatever was happening to me. I blamed my body, and my physical appearance for my unhappiness, and felt shame around food for years. I was chubby, but certainly not fat. I was athletic, but not very talented. I was pretty, but not gorgeous. I was average, and I felt like a shadow of a person.

I first learned to love yoga in high school, when I started going to a hot yoga studio in Portland, Maine. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I loved that I could sneak into the back of the dark studio and disappear into the group. No one knew me, and I wasn’t worried what anyone there thought of me. Time passes, though, and when I went to college I lost touch with my practice.

It wasn’t until I came back to yoga after college that I began to truly understand this battle of mental health and wellness cannot be ignored. Finding the internal strength to rise above my mental illness was one of the most powerful and empowering experiences of my life. For me, this understanding came through my yoga practice, when I discovered I could cultivate emotional strength through a physical practice, on my own and with others. Yoga is independent, but also communal.

In the Spring of 2015, I was living in Atlanta, Georgia with my now husband. I knew nearly no one in the city, and I was desperate for connection, and community. I was so alone. I went to the same studio several days a week to sweat out my anxiety. One morning, as we began to wind down the 6:00 AM class, I was standing in Warrior II, dripping sweat onto my mat below me. Staring into my own eyes in the front mirror, feeling my arms shake, a simple thread of clarity came to my mind “you are a warrior, just keep battling and keep breathing.” I began to cry, but it soaked together with my sweat, and I suddenly felt this harmony within.

A year later I had the word “warrior” tattooed on my right forearm, so I would constantly be reminded of that moment. This mental clarity, this physical and emotional strength is available to everyone. Commit to finding your own. Become a warrior with me.

This journey isn’t one of weight loss or yoga or meditation or anything else I may mention, write about, or share. The journey I’m on is about finding yourself and loving yourself unconditionally, and the tools and methods I share are what I use to continue along this path of self-acceptance and self-improvement.

I spent too much time in the first 21 years of my life trying to make other people like me or treat me right, and all along I was ignoring the most important relationship of all.

The one I have with myself.

Peace,

Emily

About Emily Louise

When I graduated from college in 2014, I had a really great sense of who I was and what I wanted, but I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living. I studied Journalism to hone my writing and channel it, in what I thought would be, a meaningful and productive direction. By the time I graduated, my heart was calling me to non-profit work and I had to listen. My then boyfriend, Aaron, and I moved to Atlanta to be near his family and I shortly found a job with a non-profit entity of Coca-Cola.

For almost two years we tried to make Atlanta our home. I joined a yoga studio to try to make friends. We chose a nicer apartment complex in hopes that we would find community there. We tried, but between the high cost of living, my small salary, and the city’s non-inclusive culture, it just wasn’t the right fit.

In early 2016 we relocated to Pittsburgh, the city where Aaron, now my husband, was born. I found a great job doing fundraising for the University of Pittsburgh, and we moved into the home Aaron’s grandparents had called home for 50+ years. Immediately, this city felt like home. Every day I feel blessed to feel so comfortable in my day-to-day. The yoga community here is vibrant, welcoming and warm. I’ve made friends effortlessly, and so has Aaron. We’ve finally found a rhythm.

IMG_0176Getting here wasn’t easy, and I don’t just mean because moving trucks are rickety! Aaron and I have both battled with emotional disorders throughout our lives. I first had a therapist tell me I was “depressed” when I was 16. Since then, I’ve tried, failed, tried again and truly battled my depression to live the life I want to live. The life I deserve. For the first two years of college, I floated and followed my peers. I partied and went with the flow without defining myself. When I stepped back, I saw the misalignment in my life. What I said I was, who I thought I was, was not reflected in my behaviors.

My transformation started with my physical body, and has spanned all the way to my spiritual nature. Losing 25 lbs through thoughtful diet and exercise gave me the confidence and strength to recommit to my yoga practice, overcome my self-conscious nature, and blossom into the radiant woman I am today. I started blogging when we got to Pittsburgh, because I realized how much easier this journey is with amazing voices and faces constantly cheering me on. If you’re still reading, thank you for being one of them!

Contact

Join the My Warrior Project community and participate in the conversation on Instagram & Facebook
Email Emily Louise anytime to talk about something you’re going through, your goals in mindfulness and mental health, or whatever may be on your mind!
If you are in crisis, please reach out to the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you are having thoughts of suicide, reach out to them. Someone will be there to help. CALL: 1-800-273-8255 or CHAT ONLINE: Click here

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While the site is not currently hosting an open call for writing submissions, we are always here to find new ways to connect and talk. If you want to share your personal story or your creative writing with the My Warrior Project community, use the form below.*

 

*All messages will be replied to within 48 hours. Writing submissions will be reviewed and published at the author’s discretion.