Broadcast reporter and content creator
Living with anxiety

Ellen’s mental health conditions may have given her sleepless nights and intrusive thoughts, but her life is also filled with work as a television reporter and the love and support of her family and friends. Struggling with anxiety and several pivotal moments of realization led her to seek out therapy, resources, and medication. Ellen believes that living well is taking the twists and turns as you go and finding joy in the little moments.

Ellen’s Story

How has your condition impacted your life? 

Anxiety has impacted my life in a myriad of ways, some big, some small. It’s offered me sleepless nights, irrational fears, unnecessary worries, and intrusive thoughts. It’s given me acid reflux, headaches, tense shoulders (according to a concerned masseuse) and an excellent sense of humor.

However, while having a mental health condition is an overwhelmingly negative experience, it’s also offered me the chance to devote myself to a worthy cause: educating people about mental health and banishing the stigma about mental health conditions.

When were you first aware of your condition and what was your most difficult time?

I remember it so clearly: I was in high school, tucked into my bed and trying to get some sleep. A plane passed over my childhood home with its familiar far-off rumble, and I was immediately sure the plane would fall out of the sky, crash into my house and kill my entire family. Fear seized me.

Mental health conditions run in my family, so bringing it up to my mom was easy. I’m grateful for her understanding and support as she helped me navigate therapy for the first time.

The most difficult time in my mental health journey came years later in my mid-20s — an incredibly stressful time in my life. One month in the dead of winter, I became convinced that I had a chronic, fatal illness. The anxiety that came with it quickly morphed into obsessions and compulsions.

After realizing this was a new and alarming facet of my anxiety, I quickly found a fantastic therapist who helped me work through my fears. I’m happy to say that this element of my condition has, for the most part, passed.

What is your life like now and what does living well look like for you?

My life is wonderful. Yes, I wish I had a billion dollars and a mansion in Cabo, but all things considered, I’m extremely lucky. I have incredible friends and family, a warm home, and access to healthcare. I work in a challenging but creative field, and I fill my days with friends, travel, and writing. I’m immensely grateful for what I have.

While living with a mental health condition can be challenging, I’m thankful to have an excellent support network. To me, living well is taking the twists and turns as you go, and finding joy in everyday moments.

What do you do to manage your condition and stay healthy on an ongoing basis?

The usual suspects: exercise, nutritious food, social time, and therapy when I feel I need it. Over the years I’ve developed an “Anxiety Toolbox”, as I like to call it, that has dozens of little tricks and methods to keep me healthy and happy.

I’ve undergone both CBT and ERP therapy to treat different facets of my anxiety, and both have been incredibly helpful in filling my Anxiety Toolbox.

Are there positives that have come from having a mental health condition?

The only true positive of my mental health condition is that it’s inspired me to educate and uplift others who live with mental health conditions.

What words of encouragement would you give to someone struggling with a condition similar to yours? 

This too shall pass is a beautiful phrase that speaks to the ephemerality of life. I use it when I’m feeling anxious, but also as a gentle reminder to myself when I’m in a moment I want to remember. Both bad and good passes, and it’s a reminder to weather the bad and cherish the good.

What motivated you to join The Stability Network?

When I first started my career in television, I was convinced that being open about my mental health condition would get me fired or blacklisted from the industry.

Once my career stabilized, I felt comfortable enough to be open about my anxiety on social media — and I realized that I didn’t want anyone else to feel the burden of stigma that I did. Even though it was a lofty and almost impossible goal, I promised myself that I would use my public speaking and writing skills to help at least one person.

Hopefully by now, I’ve helped more than one people — and The Stability Network is one of the organizations that helps me do that.

What resources have helped and/or inspired you on your journey?

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk really opened my eyes to the connection between body and mind, and the way trauma interacts with both. And My Age of Anxiety by fellow Stability Leader Scott Stossel allowed me to see a fellow anxiety-haver succeeding in a field very similar to mine.