Megan’s Style: Managing Depression with Mindfulness & Mala Beads

MEGAN

“I am a person who likes to do way too many things at once. I need several outlets for my expression and creativity.”

Small business owner, blogger, PR manager, goal-coach, half-marathon runner, mental health advocate…the list goes on. Megan finds happiness in bringing her many bold ideas and passions to life with enthusiasm and courage.

However, embracing her talents has not always been easy. During her transition to university, Megan recalls a series of emotional events that led to an eating disorder which later resulted in a deep depression.

“I didn’t realize that my relationship with food was unhealthy,” she explained.  “I felt an uncontrollable compulsion and need to eat foods that were not nourishing. When I started looking into what I was experiencing, I also discovered that I had depression.”

On a daily basis, Megan focuses on her mindset. She realized that she has the ability decide how to respond to overwhelming situations when they occur; from walking past triggering foods in the grocery store to managing anxiety attacks on public transit. Today, she does her best to respond to challenges mindfully and intentionally.

Her main creative venture that combines her interests is called Inasequoia. It is composed of three parts:

  • Goal-coaching sessions: Megan hosts workshops and individual consultations with people who want to whole-heartedly align their current actions with their future ambitions.
  • Karuna Coffee Scrub: carried by local retailers in Metro-Vancouver, Karuna is a handmade, natural, rejuvenating exfoliant made with high quality ingredients. 10% of the retail value from this product goes towards the Vibrant Lives Foundation.
  • Blog: Megan honestly shares her thoughts, experiences, and event announcements with readers.

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Within the past six months, Megan has presented a talk at Pecha Kucha New Westminster, hosted a community based goal coaching session, and introduced Karuna to the world. Oh, and she is also developing the Vibrant Lives Foundation, which will provide scholarships for youth increasing mental health awareness and ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Over the years, Megan has found that her clothing style can contribute to uplifting her mood and keeping her grounded. She describes her style sense as a mix between bohemian chic and cozy. She loves to play with patterns, textures, bright colours, and accessories that express who she is.

“My depression has had physical side effects. I have a lot of scars, cellulite, and sometimes open wounds on my legs.  A lot of people have judged me for not hiding my scars. I try my best not to worry about what others think. If I’m feeling confident enough to wear a dress, I will wear a dress! Other days, I love yoga pants and big sweaters that give me a hug. My fashion also serves as a physical reminder for me.  Right now, I’m wearing the Rock Your Bliss Mala, which encourages me to focus on my goals. I hold on to it to check in with myself, to ensure that I take a moment to breathe, to assure myself I’m on the right path, and to deal with highly anxious moments quietly.  It carries a lot of meaning.

Quick Questions with Megan:

Why did you name your business In a Sequoia (short for Living In a Sequoia)?

The sequoia tree represents wisdom. Under ground, the sequoia roots intertwine and support each other for the tree to grow taller. The symbolism connected well to my business because my products and services are all about living mindfully, supporting one another, and growing together.

What were the most challenging and rewarding parts of starting your own business?

The initial barrier I had to face was putting myself out there. I had to encourage potential partners to see the value in what I do.  Initially, you think that everyone is bigger than you…especially in business.  I am still learning to take myself seriously as someone worth collaborating with. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, but I find it invigorating and fulfilling. I love what I do because it’s my own business.

In your opinion, how can we be a better friend to someone with depression?

Be careful not to add to the guilt that someone is already dealing with. It’s hard to have to cancel dinner plans or miss big events and celebrations…but sometimes, it’s what you need to do.  Sometimes, you just want to wrap yourself in blankets like a burrito, take some time to rest, and have a quiet night in. I appreciate it when friends can accept that, respect what I need, and sometimes join me in the cozy comfort of the blanket burrito.

Where do people stumble with their language about depression and what changes you like to see?

It sounds subtle, but every so often I hear the term: “I’m feeling depressed” when someone is searching for a synonym to ‘sad.’  It’s frustrating because it diminishes depression as a mental illness. If you’re feeling sad, say you’re feeling sad! It’s a very simple change that people can make which can positively impact the way we view depression.

What are you most proud of on this journey that you have been through?

image1I’ve had my ups and downs. I’m proud that no matter how many times I have faced obstacles, I keep pushing through. I am willing to try new things, think of bold ideas, explore new avenues to live purposefully, and help others do the same. Overall, I’m most proud of my attitude and that I don’t let challenges weigh me down. I give myself permission to feel what I need to feel, and move forward.

To remove the stigma of mental illness, Megan  reminded me that we need to go beyond sympathy by shifting our daily dialogue and bringing mental health into casual conversations.

As we wrapped up our interview, Megan shared an important statistic: “1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, but 5 in 5 Canadians have mental health.”