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Mental Health Breaks

I’ve been pretty open about the struggles I’ve experienced in 2023 and I think it’s important to continue to be transparent especially considering the holistic approach I take when teaching freediving. It’s coming up on one year since I lost Vicki and the healing journey has been a roller coaster. When Vicki was diagnosed with cancer I told myself when she passes away I’ll leave Utila for a long time. I didn’t. I think there were several reasons. Part of me was too attached to the business I worked to the point of nearly irreparable burnout creating. Part of it was fear to leave the familiar despite the pain I was experiencing. Instead I kept working while slowly unraveling at the seams. Finally when things were getting too dark I left for a break from the island and traveled to Iceland with a friend. It helped but it didn’t heal. I came back and fell right back into the darkness. I decided to stick it out for a while to complete some courses I had planned and then take a longer break. I booked a trip to Colombia to be alone in the mountains and work with my therapist through the grief and other traumas that were brought to the surface with Vicki’s passing. This was going well until the end of the trip when I slipped and fell and broke my elbow. My mental health was improving but my physical health took a hit. I returned to my parents place in Florida to heal. Shortly after my cast was removed my parents dog that I had been fostering after Vicki passed had to be euthanized unexpectedly. It was so painfully similar to Vicki’s euthanasia. Both done in the comfort of their homes which was an absolute blessing but triggering nonetheless. A few days later I dropped a boiling cup of coffee on myself and was rushed to the hospital suffering deep second degree burns. My return to Utila had to be delayed by a few weeks to recover. Despite the injuries I was still improving with my work in therapy and I started to feel optimistic to return to Utila and work busy season before taking a sabbatical from June 8 until December. Very shortly after I got back this time the same darkness swept over me and I felt myself losing grip. My passion for teaching wasn’t enough to keep my head above water. I needed help and I decided to leave the island a month earlier than planned. I teach freediving for mental health and meditation because of the amazing changes I noticed in my own life. The fact that I was able to surrender to my circumstances and ask for help and leave when I knew I needed to despite how that would effect One Breath, the business I created from nothing and cherish, was an act of self love. It was because of the work that I’ve done already that I was able to do that. But there’s much more work to do. It was this time last year that Vicki’s lymph nodes all began to swell. That was the indicator that despite my naïve hope that Vicki would be a miracle dog that would outlive her diagnosis by years she was in fact going to die and very, very soon. Exactly on the timeline I researched when I learned she had malignant melanomas. It was this month last year that I was faced with the fact that I was going to soon lose my best friend and most stable and unconditional love I ever experienced. From the very beginning of my time in Utila Vicki was with me. Being in the house where I held her in my arms as she died is still too painful. Living in Utila when I am trying to heal has proven, despite my many efforts, too difficult. The vision of One Breath will live on. I do plan to return with my best friend and instructor to teach seasonally in the winter. For now I am dedicating my time to myself so that I can come back and have the most to give. I am respecting my needs. I am choosing myself.

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