My personal path to healing from mental illness brought me to a major junction and I was wary of going ahead.
Pre-panic attacks, I was a confident and competent player in the world of business, but now The Demon of Self Doubt was the star of the show.
Seeking to downgrade the demon, my husband and I decided to make a new start and we chose the sunny shores of Florida. That is when I contacted Samantha about her course and shared that I wanted to sign up, but wasn’t sure if it was good timing. Nibbling at my nerves, my demon said, “maybe not now”. Samantha took my back as I faced the demon down and made that crucial first step to returning to the world of business with panic attacks as the last entry on my resume.
Listening to Samantha giggle, (and she giggles A LOT) it is hard to envision her suffering from depression. Her giggles helped me connect to her and see her as a real person not just all her many accomplishments.
From early childhood she was acting: in plays, theater camp, college. Then on to L.A. where she got gigs acting part time, some time, last time. She was always busy juggling her auditions, and work – but her bank account was way too anemic. Samantha began wondering – “How do creative people make decisions? They are talented, can do this and that, but how do they decide on what to yes do?”
“All my research led to my giving a class ten years ago in a church basement entitled, Get It Done and it started to grow from there. I fell in love with business, entrepreneurship, and creative people.”
Outward appearances can deceive. Samantha smiled, laughed, giggled and had friends. But her inner world was dense with gloom. People said she was sad & sensitive; an old soul. From an early age she was seeing therapists, but no one gave her inner misery a name.
“Getting through those years I read a lot. My theater teachers saved my life when I still didn’t know what was wrong with me. I kept myself busy. So busy that the only thing I could feel was tired. And I was distracted by the high of whatever project I was working on”. She never allowed herself the chance not to show up at an appointment or to not follow through on a commitment. If she would, she felt that would be the end of everything.
Then I read Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon. I told myself, ‘ I’m not crazy. I’m insane! What a relief.”
Being an actress, Samantha lived by the motto, “the show must go on”. If you felt dreary, that didn’t matter. You put on a face and you performed.
Samantha had, what is known as, “atypical depression”. It isn’t the type where one sits on the sofa and cries and can’t get up and out. She would force herself to go and function with other people. It was her inside that was always in darkened shadows.
What makes depression so unbearable, Samantha reveals, is that it tricks us into believing it will never end. It isn’t the pain; we withstand all types of pain in our lives. It is the belief that it is forever.
“When a person suffers the typical type of depression, and is closeted away, crying, afraid to deal with life, people realize you need help. I had created a cheerful persona, working, dealing and no one knew what was happening in my inner dungeon. Once I read “The Noonday Demon “, I knew it had a name and it was treatable.”
With medication, Samantha was able to unlock the door to her dungeon and release her shackles. She got to a place where she felt so good that she asked her doctor if she could lower her dosage. He was amenable, but her body wasn’t and she quickly resumed her former dosage.
Life is full and rewarding for Samantha. Aside from her books, courses and coaching, she has a website TheRealSamBennett.com. Samantha is a business coach, the founder of “Organized Artist Co.” and the author of “Get It Done” and “Start Right Where You Are”, and a lifelong veteran of depression.
In contrast, I spent two years giving myself permission to cop out on things. I would reason that I didn’t sleep well at night, I was too anxious, too nervous. What I didn’t understand was that facing the challenge would actually help me heal.
Samantha has been my very own guide to navigate life with mental illness. With Samantha’s direction, I have jumped into the pond of podcasting to pay forward all the help that I received during my attacks.
Thanks for your tuning in and I hope that our sharing will make your own journey an easier one.