From the Ritz to a Padded Cell: A Workaholic’s Lesson on Love and Loss
***I must share that it took me a week to click “publish” on this article. I ultimately ended up deciding that vulnerability wins because of Brené Brown’s TED talk I recently watched and decided that vulnerability would be my new mantra for 2017. This article is a follow-up to a recent share I posted on LinkedIn regarding my nervous breakdown in December 2016 ***
I guess you could say from the outside looking in, I had it all. The career, the house, a loving husband, beautiful healthy kids, the M Sport BMW, the spa membership, and the audience (including you) to get affirmation of my “perfect” and envious lifestyle on a daily basis.
The problem was that it was all a facade. I was actually in a deep, dark depression that was progressively getting worse and didn’t know it until I was committed to a mental hospital on December 14, 2016.
The start of 2016 looked incredibly promising; I became obsessed going on LinkedIn to see that I was the “Top 1% viewed profiles” (what does that even mean?) and seeing my posts soar with hundreds of thousands of views. The fame of being recognized as having the “Highest SSI Score” at LinkedIn’s annual conference and shooting the infamous free throws with Shaquille O’Neal took me far — further than I ever expected, and I capitalized on that on a daily basis to grow my newfound consulting business, Lindsey Boggs Consulting.
The work poured in. I was on a plane weekly traveling across the world to speak on social selling, lead generation and how to grow pipeline. Occasionally I was hired for motivational speeches surrounding career growth and how I went from opera to sales. It was a high; I loved being on stage and I was in my element.
My Snapchats and Instagram posts were consistently showing mimosas in first class, the Ritz-Carlton suites, and expensive wine at glamorous restaurants. What they didn’t see was missing my daughter’s birthday, layovers of doom, an addiction of sleeping pills (due to time-zone issues), growing friction with my husband, and missing every single extracurricular activity with my daughter.
My life was presented to the outside world like this, bliss:
But it came with a price.
The summer brought an incredible opportunity to be a keynote with Gary Vaynerchuk at the Cisco/Avnet conference in San Francisco. That same week my husband and I were to celebrate 9 years of marriage, so I brought him to the conference and we were put up at the Ritz-Carlton for the 3 days during the conference, and then left for Carmel, CA. Since I felt I had to capitalize on the recent Gary Vaynerchuk encounter (real-time, folks), I ended up working on our entire anniversary trip. Friction escalated greatly and to this day I cannot look at the fake smiling photos we took in Carmel.
From there, travel got even more frequent and from mid-August to late September I was gone every single week. I hardly knew what my children were working on in school, my husband and I grew further and further apart, and I was home long enough to do my laundry on the weekends and then head back to the airport early Monday morning. I didn’t even make an effort when I was home because it became too exhausting to try. My photos that I put out there were sure fun to watch, though — always had a smile and a witty statement on my Snapchats.
Then, on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 my life changed forever. I was in Dallas at a trade show and I got a call saying my sister Melissa was taken to the hospital for a suspected brain aneurysm. I took a 5am flight to D.C. the next day and was told upon arrival that there was a 90% chance she would die. 90% chance. How could this be? I just talked to her earlier that day.
Here we are just two weeks prior. I had an unexpected layover (which now I consider a blessing) in D.C. and we grabbed Starbucks (my favorite) really quick. This is our last photo together.
It took me 3 attempts to even enter her hospital room upon arrival. All of the machines, wires, tubes — things I want to erase from my memory — scared me to my core. Once I was able to physically walk in the room, I sat with her the next three days and played her favorite music — Pink Floyd — while we (my parents and I) waited for her to be matched up to people for organ donation. She was a nurse and it was her dying wish to help others, so we helped fulfill her wish.
On October 1st at noon, my sister Melissa saved 8 people’s lives by donating her organs.
What I realized (and probably the most important lesson I learned this year) was during those days of sitting with my brain dead sister was that surgeons and doctors go home every day and think about the patients that they lost — people that died in their care. In *my* world, I was obsessing over losing a software contract or speaking gig. It put everything into perspective for me.
Life spiraled downhill quickly from that point forward. Planning a funeral for my one and only sibling was something I never expected I would have to do at this point in my life…she was only 38. On top of all of that, I had just started a new and exciting software sales job at Medallia and me, the Type A #Overachiever, expects top notch performance and to win right out of the gate. I wasn’t functioning at full capacity, not even close. I was still traveling a ton and I missed even more special events at home, and became a stranger to my children; my son would cry when I tried to read to him or put him to bed. My husband and I began to question if we were going to be able to sustain the marriage, or what was left of it.
It all became too much and in early December I went to a hotel’s 22nd floor balcony and called my husband saying I couldn’t do life anymore.
On December 14th, I was hospitalized for severe depression and located to a mental hospital for 6 days. They took my shoelaces, my hair brush, all hardcover books, my hoodie sweatshirt, my shampoo, and yes, my coveted iPhone. It’s exactly how it’s portrayed in the movies, unfortunately.
Not having any access to technology for 6 days was one another one of the biggest blessings and lessons for me this year. I highly recommend everyone reading this to do a technology detox, and often. And not just your phone… all technology.
So, where am I today? Today, I’m in a lot of counseling and working with doctors to find the right combination of medicine to aid in depression and get me back to full capacity. I’m working to mend and understand personal relationships and continue to remind myself that I don’t have people’s lives in my hand like a surgeon. I’m selling software…not trying to save a person’s life…perspective, people. If you start thinking this way I promise you’ll start evaluating life differently. I know I do.
Here are the most important lessons I’ve learned this year after love and loss:
- Hug and call your family members often. You never know when it’ll be your last time. Sometimes unexpected layovers happen for a reason.
- Work can wait; on your deathbed you’re not going to wish you had spent more time in the office.
- Remember when you lose a deal or a customer cancels a subscription that doctors and surgeons lose patients daily — PERSPECTIVE.
- Sometimes people are put in your life and you don’t know why; be cautious and evaluate if they’re a blessing or a lesson. This is something I continue to evaluate.
- Work and value your real-life relationships, not your digital relationships. Your real-life relationships are who shape you as a person, not the digital facade you portray.
- Detox from ALL technology often.
- Be authentic and more vulnerable. Don’t just share the good, share the bad, too.
“Most people believe vulnerability is weakness. But really, vulnerability is courage. We must ask ourselves…are we willing to show up and be seen?” ~Brene Brown
My experience living with depression and seeing firsthand what goes on in a mental hospital has created a passion and fire to do more in the mental health community. Once I recover more, volunteering my time to communities in this arena will be a top focus.
I want to thank everyone for reading my story and for the support I’ve received along the way. I never imagined the post I shared about my nervous breakdown would receive the outpouring of support and encouragement I’ve gotten. That share has also reconnected me with so many people and it’s been incredibly humbling.
Here’s to a healthy 2017 — both mentally and physically — and to a more authentic, vulnerable self.