Hello! Who are you?
Hi, I’m Kelly, and I reside in Grand Junction, Colorado, where nature is my playground. As a full-time professional wedding photographer, I’ve combined my passions for the outdoors and bringing joy to others by specializing in adventurous outdoor weddings and elopements.
I share my life with my incredible husband, Alex, who I’ve been fortunate to spend the past decade with. Our two beloved dogs, Olive and Hamilton, constantly bring happiness and laughter to our home. When we’re not working, our free time is spent exploring the great outdoors – hiking, paddle boarding, camping, and snowboarding are just a few of our favorite activities.
At the intersection of my love for the outdoors and the happiness I bring to others, I’ve crafted a career as an adventure wedding and elopement photographer who captures the magic of outdoor celebrations. I can confidently say that I am genuinely happy with my life. Surrounded by the people I love and doing what I’m passionate about, I feel incredibly blessed and grateful for every day that I get to live this beautiful life.
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What is your struggle and when did it start?
In the summer of 2021, I was diagnosed with depression and general anxiety. These mental health struggles emerged a few months prior when my husband and I made a significant life change – relocating from Pennsylvania to Denver, Colorado during the height of the pandemic.
Alongside the move, I transitioned from a stable accounting career to starting my own photography business. The combination of these changes and the pandemic-induced isolation left me feeling lonely and overwhelmed.
As time went on, my depression and anxiety worsened, manifesting in weeks where I could barely get out of bed, a loss of appetite, and various health issues. The struggles were pervasive, affecting my daily life with stretches of depression followed by brief periods of relief. I found it difficult to focus and felt increasingly isolated in our new city.
Adding to the stress, we moved quickly and settled into an apartment complex that wasn’t ideal for our needs as a couple with two larger dogs. Our downstairs neighbor worked nights and slept during the day, leading to several conflicts. She repeatedly called the apartment management with false claims in an attempt to have us evicted. The tension from the living situation compounded my anxiety, leaving me feeling constantly on edge.
In summary, the drastic life changes, the pandemic, and a challenging living situation all contributed to my mental health struggles. My depression and anxiety significantly impacted my life at the time, making it difficult to navigate both my personal and professional spheres.
How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?
During the darkest moments of my struggle, I felt invisible and worthless, as though there was no reason to even get out of bed. The sense of defeat weighed heavily on me, making each day an uphill battle. The severity of my mental health struggles had a profound impact on my happiness, overshadowing what should have been an exciting period of personal and professional growth.
Despite my best efforts to maintain a facade of normalcy, it was abundantly clear to my husband that I was grappling with these challenges. Though I may have tried to hide it from others, the intensity of my struggle was impossible to conceal from someone so close to me. It was in these moments that I realized the importance of support from loved ones when facing such significant mental health hurdles.
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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?
The pivotal moment when I realized I needed to turn things around came when I started receiving bookings for my new business. Despite battling depression, I had still been actively working behind the scenes to grow my venture – designing a website, developing marketing techniques, and tackling other necessary tasks. Although I wasn’t yet photographing clients, my efforts were laying the groundwork for future success.
When my hard work began to pay off and bookings started coming in, I understood that I couldn’t let depression hold me back any longer. I knew that if I could double my efforts, my business would grow even more rapidly.
I’d estimate that 75% of the positive change in my life was due to my own determination, while 25% was circumstantial, as I was fortunate enough to have access to therapy and doctors who could prescribe medication to help me cope with my depression.
Although therapy and medication helped lift the fog after a few months, I believe that my struggle with depression is an ongoing battle that may never be completely resolved. Nonetheless, the progress I’ve made thus far has allowed me to emerge from the darkest depths of my depression and better manage my mental health moving forward.
What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?
The first step I took to overcome my struggle was reaching out to a psychiatrist and starting medication. Initially, I had reservations about taking medication, as the idea seemed daunting.
However, with the support of my doctors and therapist, I came to understand that there’s no shame in using medication to improve one’s quality of life. I had been fearful that I would always be trapped in my depression, but my therapist helped me see the beauty in all stages of life and how each phase contributes to our future selves.
One of the most effective strategies for me was talk therapy. One key piece of advice I received was to “think of the benefit” when struggling to find the energy to accomplish something. While it may not work every time, this positive mindset can provide the necessary motivation during difficult days.
Another important aspect of my healing journey has been incorporating self-care into my routine. Engaging in activities like painting and reading allowed me to decompress without distractions.
Incorporating physical movement into my daily routine has also been immensely helpful. Additionally, spending time outdoors has been crucial for my well-being. During my time in the apartment, the lack of outdoor space weighed heavily on me, so adjusting our living situation to include a private outdoor area has made a significant difference.
To anyone facing a similar struggle, I would recommend seeking professional help, exploring medication if necessary, and engaging in talk therapy. Embrace self-care by finding activities that help you unwind and prioritize spending time outdoors, if possible.
Remember that every stage of life is valuable and contributes to the person you will become in the future. By putting in the effort now, you can work towards a healthier, happier version of yourself.
Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?
I have been open about my struggle with my husband, as it’s nearly impossible to conceal such difficulties from someone you’re so close to every day. My family is also aware that I’m taking medication for my mental health, and I’m not ashamed to share this information.
By discussing my experiences and challenging the stigma surrounding medication, I hope to potentially help others who may be grappling with similar concerns.
However, I do hesitate to share my mental health struggles with those who don’t believe that depression or anxiety is real. Some people may view those facing mental health challenges as weak or lazy, and I don’t feel comfortable discussing my experiences with such individuals. I recognize that changing their minds or opinions is a task beyond my abilities, so I prefer to leave that endeavor to professionals in the field.
Overall, I believe that openness about mental health issues is essential in breaking down the stigma and fostering understanding. By sharing our experiences, we can support and empower others who may be facing similar challenges, creating a more compassionate and informed community.
If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?
If I could offer a single piece of advice to someone else facing similar struggles, it would be to seek help as soon as possible, whether through professional counseling, medication, or support from loved ones.
Don’t be afraid to consider medication as a viable option in your journey to recovery. It’s essential to understand that you don’t have to face your mental health challenges alone, and there’s no shame in reaching out for assistance or using medication to improve your quality of life.
Looking back, I wish I had known the importance of acknowledging my struggles and seeking help, including being open to medication, earlier. I now recognize that embracing vulnerability and opening up about my experiences can lead to a path of healing and self-improvement.
By sharing our struggles, seeking support, and considering all available treatment options, we can better navigate life’s challenges and work towards a healthier, happier version of ourselves.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?
For me, Taylor Tomlinson’s comedy special “Look at You” has been truly refreshing. She’s got this knack for tackling mental health topics with humor, making you feel like you’re in good company and reminding you that it’s totally okay to have these struggles. Watching her special, I’ve found myself laughing out loud and thinking, “Hey, I’m not alone in this!”
Taylor’s unique way of blending humor with genuine insight has been super helpful for me, and it’s made talking about mental health a whole lot more approachable.
Where can we go to learn more about you?
💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I’ve condensed the information of 100’s of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇
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