This is How A Writer Mental Healths

We all go through periods of grief. How you respond to it is what matters

Welcome to January. This month we will be exploring the interconnectedness of Mental Health & Authenticity.


If you’re grieving the loss of someone close to you, you may find solace in today’s newsletter. I hope you enjoy it.

In an attempt to make my readers feel seen in the realm of mental health, I’ve been having conversations with women on subjects that fire them up—namely pertaining to their struggles and successes tied to mental wellness.

I believe in the power of unfiltered storytelling, and I believe everyone has a story worth telling.

That said, today’s story is brought to you by Laura Gariepy, 35 years old. Laura owns a creative online business, and lives on a lake in Florida with her man Brad, whom she has been with for 18 years. They don’t have human children, but they do have a feline fur friend.

Here is our conversation on how Laura is finding reprieve during a difficult time.

Tell me about the 3-month sabbatical you took. What prompted you to do this, and what did you do during the 3 months off?

I took a 3-month sabbatical from my business at the beginning of 2020. My dad had just passed away, and I wasn’t in a good mental place. The weeks before he died and the first few months after was the darkest point in my life. My dad was my biggest cheerleader, and recovering from his loss will be a lifelong process.

During my time off, I saw a grief counselor a couple of times. She helped me process the emotions and trauma associated with my dad’s passing. I also went on a week-long road trip around my state for a change of scenery and to distract myself with some fun.

For the rest of the time, I just did what felt right at the moment. That often meant doing nothing. There was a lot of napping, TV watching, and just vegging out.

By the end of March, my sabbatical was coming to a close. I was starting to get itchy to make progress again. But, I’m so grateful to have been able to step away.

What did you discover about yourself in the process? How has it changed you?

I discovered that no matter how depressed I was, I still had a spark inside, a hunger to achieve. That spark just needed some time to rekindle.

I also reflected on how lucky I was. I got to prioritize my family and then my mental health above all else. If I had still been working a traditional job, my story would be a lot different, a lot more emotionally difficult. The gratitude I have for this has led me to want to help others forge a similar path.

Do you look at life differently since your dad's passing?

Yes. My dad was only 61 when he died. Unfortunately, he left this Earth with some regrets. His passing has motivated me to have fewer regrets when my time runs out. It has also motivated me to keep my priorities straight.

Our biggest treasures in life are time and relationships. We must always keep that at the forefront of our minds as we make decisions.

Can you tell me a bit about your business, and who you help?

Before You Go Freelance is a resource hub for new and aspiring freelancers. It features a blog and podcast about all things freelance.

I’m adding different products designed to help folks make progress on their freelance journey. Right now, I offer a private coaching program for those that are ready to start freelancing and want to build a solid foundation for their business.

My goal in 2021 is to help more people go freelance. I can see this happening as more eyes and ears consume my content, as more folks enroll in my coaching program, and as I find new ways to meet people where they are with various products and services.

If anyone reading this has any suggestions about what would help them go freelance — I’m all ears!

What advice do you have for women on the mental health front?

Don’t ignore the warning bells! If something doesn’t feel right, please address it sooner rather than later. There’s no shame in needing and seeking help. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

Hopefully, society will soon view seeing a therapist for anxiety the same way as seeing a physician for the flu. 

And although you’re busy, it’s important to practice self-care regularly. Even if that means taking 10 minutes for a cup of tea in between the moments of chaos. Doing so will make it easier to get through the really tough times.

What do you do for fun?

I listen to music, mostly rock and jazz. I read, usually business-related books. I go for car rides, find new parks and gardens to explore, and travel.


Thank you for reading today. I hope you enjoyed this post.

PS. If you know someone who wants to share their story of overcoming a mental block, let know know. And if that someone is you, all the better. Have a great day, everyone.

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Be you.

XOXO,

Ashley