I’ve been painfully sensitive at times, so intuitive it would tear me up, I hated it. At times I despised feeling feelings and the intensity of life I experienced.
I haven’t spoken out about Anthony Bourdain’s death because it just hit me too hard. As shocking as it might sound, it didn’t entirely surprise me. In fact, it didn’t seem like an impossibility for myself or for anyone I know. Because I know there is a fine line, a step away from death we face daily. I don’t mean we are all suicidal all the time, not at all — but our brains are unpredictable. Our brains do crazy things: they distort reality, they change when we go through pain.
Our society is more isolating than ever before. You can sit on your couch, alone in your 700-square foot apartment and never leave, relying on Instacart, Uber Eats, TaskRabbit. I support all of these companies. However, they can also have unintended consequences-especially if someone is already struggling with feeling disconnected. Some days just saying hello to the cashier at the grocery store makes my day. I try to make conversation with anyone I meet, if they are open to it, because social connection is why we are here. Even the two-minute conversation with the cashier makes a difference.
There are parts of us no one knows about. Those secret spaces where we know our deepest truth and fear telling others about them.
I have never spoken about this publicly before, but I’m doing so in an effort to shatter the stigma around mental health and to inspire hope.
I have been suicidal, depressed, and anxious. I’ve been in an abusive relationship. But today I get up in the morning excited about life. While I still certainly face challenges and pangs of anxiety or depression, I no longer fear those parts of myself. I love them and welcome them as signs— signs I need to rest or signs I need to see a close friend or family member. Signs I need to meditate and be present. Now I help my clients by applying what I learned and what helped me when I was deep in my own struggle.
If you need help, reach out. You never know, this could be the life-changing step you needed all along but were too afraid to take.
I urge you to move through the world with curiosity, openness, and love. Each and every human being needs love and care and attention (you included!).
Picture an animal at a shelter and what they look like. Then picture that same animal in a loving home for six months: they’re smiling, their fur coats are healthy, they bond, and are loyal to their owners. Why? Because someone invested in them emotionally. That right there is something we forget to observe in humans.
Why don’t we look at transformations of humans from the inside– how we grow and evolve– rather than solely focus on outward transformations?
My passion as a therapist is helping people to find internal acceptance, as well as to form meaningful connections with others. In a world of Snapchat stories, Tinder swipes, and Instacart, many people are left feeling increasingly disconnected and lonely. However, we all deserve true connection and genuinely fulfilling relationships. Every single one of us.
Elana Woolf, NCC, LCPC is an Adult, Couples, and Sex Therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland. Elana specializes in working with adults who struggle in their romantic and platonic relationships, with social isolation, anxiety, loneliness, and sexual issues. Elana’s office is convenient for people coming from Gaithersburg, North Potomac, Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, and Washington D.C. You can reach elana through her website at elanawoolf.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.