My Own Journey To Self-Love

A woman with her back to us is walking on a path, representing going on a journey to self love

Hi. Hello. How are you?

For those of you who don’t know me or my story, my name is Caitlin and I founded Creating Self Love in 2022. I have had several people reach out asking for more details about my story and personal journey to self-love, so this seemed like the perfect format for that.

I am so happy to have you here reading this, but I am sorry for the circumstances, as there is a good possibility you are struggling, or searching for more in life, just like I was at one point.

So before I get into this post I just want you to know that you are not alone, and it does get better.

You haven’t even met the best version of yourself yet. You will learn and grow and heal. And getting to know and love that version of yourself is so worth it. So keep going!

My ultimate goal with creating this website, is I wanted to make it the ultimate resource to help people learn how to love themselves, and to take better care of themselves, but while using methods that I’ve actually tried myself and tools that I know work, not just things that are “supposed to work”.

Are you:

  • currently struggling
  • trying to find ways to make your life better
  • searching for how to create the life you have always dreamed about
  • feeling trapped by your current life
  • trying to learn how to love yourself
  • in need of self-care
  • trying to create more happiness in your life

If any, or all of these sound like you, then you have come to the right place!

At the moment of writing this I am a one woman show, but I am planning on increasing my team shortly, so I can increase my reach and do all of the things that I have planned!

For now, at any given moment you can find me:

  • Planning out a post schedule for the blog
  • Hanging out with my adorable rescue pups
  • Researching new articles
  • Having water balloon fights with my stepsons
  • Strategizing how to increase the reach of this website
  • Having a dance party in my kitchen
  • Writing a new blog post
  • Trying out a new self-care activity to see if it actually helps
  • Updating past posts with more helpful information
  • Traveling with my husband
  • Replying to comments
  • Creating content for our many social media platforms
  • Engaging with our positive and helpful community
  • And so much more!

The start of my self-love journey

There might come a time in your life where you are forced to admit that you are not okay, and that you haven’t been okay for a long time.

For me, that moment happened in June of 2021. At that point, I had been married for four years (but together with my husband for thirteen). We lived in a beautiful home that we had purchased in 2013, with my two wonderful stepsons.

I had obtained a dream career in the health and wellness field that I had battled through years of intense schooling, and so many other obstacles, to obtain. My husband was a successful business owner and had been running his own company for many years.

However, with all that good there had also come the bad.

We had finally “won” a high-conflict custody battle over the lives of my stepsons that had been dragging on for over ten years. We had drained our savings, dealt with false allegations and slander, existed in what felt like a warzone, and almost given up everything (including our sanity) to ensure that the boys were finally safe in our home.

People who know the entire backstory can hardly believe what we had to endure for all those years–and honestly neither can I. Looking back on it now, I can say it was complete hell, and I don’t know how any of us made it through that intact.

But I think that is the point… I had been so deep in survival mode that I hadn’t paid enough attention to myself to know if I even remained intact.

I had spent the past ten years so focused on my husband and my stepsons. Planning and strategizing who else we could turn to for help. Supporting my husband and making sure he was okay. Documenting every awful thing, every insult hurled our way, every incident of neglect and abuse that the boys disclosed to us. Preparing thousands of pages of court documents. Organizing our proof. Helping the boys catch up in school because of how much they had missed in their mom’s care.

I had been so obsessed with saving everyone else, that I forgot to throw myself a life raft–and I was drowning without even realizing it.

Someone is struggling in a large body of water.

There was also the issue of what was happening in the world during those few years and how that had negatively affected my job. As most healthcare workers can tell you, it exponentially increased stress and burnout everywhere.

There had been so many changes at my work, that it felt like the second I finally figured out what was happening ten more things had changed. It didn’t help that many of those changes had happened to my job against my will.

But the pandemic was finally “over”. The custody battle was finally “over”.

You would think if I was going to be having issues it would be while it was happening right?

Wrong.

Once things were over and everything had the chance to calm down, my anxiety and level of stress didn’t decrease.

In fact–they continued to increase.

Before long I noticed things were not okay with me. I was so overwhelmed that the thought of having to add one more tiny task onto my plate that I began having panic attacks.

At work when I felt one coming on I would go and hide in the bathroom so that no one knew I was struggling.

I was able to hide my struggles from everyone except my husband, and he convinced me that I needed to go see a mental health professional.

So I made an appointment to speak to the amazing psychologist that we had found for my stepsons. I figured she knew our entire complicated story and what I had been dealing with. We had built a close relationship with her for over five years, so I trusted her.

It turned out to be the best decision I ever made.

She told me she had been patiently waiting for me to be ready to come see her. That for those five years that we had been bringing the boys, she was so shocked that I had seemed like I was holding it all together, because no one who went through the amount of conflict we did would still be okay.

It was so easy to talk to her. I began to tell her everything.

I could feel myself falling apart but once I started I couldn’t stop it.

I told her things that I didn’t even realize I was feeling or thinking until it came out of my mouth. I hardly let her get a single word in during that first session.

And once I had finally finished word-vomiting all over her—she basically told me she wasn’t letting me go back to work and was putting me on instant stress leave from my job because she was extremely worried about me.

I was devastated.

I felt like a failure.

I left her office feeling so empty and lost.

I’d thought I had been holding everything together, but instead I had just been in complete denial about how bad I was hurting.

I didn’t know what to do.

It just so happened that all of this came crashing down at the beginning of summer, so I had co-workers messaging me telling me how nice it must be to be able to be off work soaking up all that summer had to offer.

They didn’t know that I only left my bed to go to therapy and doctor’s appointments, and other than that I had not been outside once.

I spent all of my newly found free time sleeping and watching an unimaginable amount of Netflix. My body and mind were in complete shutdown after being in survival mode for so long that didn’t have the energy for anything else.

During therapy, I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and ADHD— yes all at basically the same time.

We tried many different treatments, medications, and strategies to get me feeling sort of okay again–or at least out of bed.

But one of the first realizations to come out of therapy was that I had not been taking proper care of myself. When she asked me what my self-care routine was like, I told her I didn’t have one. With everything we had been going through, I felt like I didn’t have the time or energy for self-care.

She said that because of what we were going through I should have been devoting even more time and energy to self-care.

She also asked what I loved about myself. And again, I couldn’t list anything.

But I had a lot going on at the time, so self-care and self-love were at the bottom of my priority list.

Once I was finally feeling sort of okay and like I could function again, and was given the okay to return to work, nothing really changed.

I figured all the problems I’d experienced had been pretty situational and that many of my symptoms could have been attributed to the anxiety, depression, PTSD and ADHD. And now that they were under control, and I was taking medication, things would be okay.

But that is the thing.

Things were only ever just okay.

I still didn’t feel happy. Or content. Or fulfilled.

And I began to notice things about my life that I had been blind to, or in denial about, before.

My marriage had been sort of put on the back burner for so many years because we had been so focused on saving my stepsons, that it wasn’t nearly as strong as I thought it was.

While other people that had been in my shoes might have turned to something like addiction to cope with the chaos, I hadn’t. I didn’t drink. Had never experimented with drugs. I didn’t even smoke or vape.

However, I quickly realized that I had used food as a coping mechanism to comfort myself when things were stressful for many years.

I had gained over a hundred pounds from when my husband and I had first gotten together. I was out of shape and my physical health was just as bad (if not worse) than my mental health.

I realized I had an unhealthy relationship with food.

And my job was no longer making me happy.

When I first started working there, I was so excited to be able to help people. I loved my coworkers and loved the work I was doing every single day. It felt like my work was important. I felt valued. I was making a difference. I was ready to work there until it was time for me to retire.

But politics, conflict, and a shortage of trained professionals had changed everything and before long it no longer resembled the job it was when I first started.

I was so lost.

I didn’t know how to fix my broken life.

And honestly, I felt trapped by the shattered pieces of it.

I was no longer having panic attacks, but I could finally admit that I wasn’t happy with anything at all.

Slowly, I found myself circling back to the topics of self-care and self-love.

I knew I needed to finally put myself first for once by changing my mindset and learning what would actually make me happy and what I needed to do to get there.

So I fully committed this time, and I dove head-first into all things self-care and self-love. I love to research. And I also become very hyper-focused (thanks ADHD). So I listened to podcasts, devoured blogs, stalked social media accounts, inhaled books, binge-watched countless videos and so much more.

I learned a lot in school about psychology and health and wellness topics, but I had never applied them to myself before and I had never participated in anything you would classify as the more popular self-care activities.

For example: I had never done yoga, never meditated or never journaled before.

I was a complete beginner.

But I was determined, and I had nothing to lose, so I started experimenting with self-care, working it into my routine and making myself a priority. No–not just a priority, but my first priority.

I really focused on learning to love myself.

I reflected on what I had learned in my education, and then experimented with every single tip, resource, theory, and tool I could find.

A picture of me and my classmates at our graduation.
A picture of some classmates and I at graduation, obtaining my education.

And slowly things began to change. My mindset began to shift. And I really did start to become happier as a result.

The weight began to come off. I started to get in shape without even thinking about it. I started to sleep better, laugh more, and overall I went from feeling okay, to better, to pretty good, to amazing!

I was shocked.

I had tried every diet (keto, low carb, paleo, counting calories) and exercise I could find over the last ten years, and I had found some success, but before long something stressful would happen–like my husband’s ex would try to run him over with her car–and I would gain all of the weight back–and then some.

But now this was suddenly just happening for me?

And then opportunities began to happen for me professionally, which changed the entire trajectory of my career for the better.

My marriage and other relationships have become so much stronger too.

Self-love and self-care has literally changed everything for me. (And continues to change everything for me on a daily basis)

I have come so far in that time, and am in such a different place, that I don’t even recognize the person I used to be anymore.

And if this is just the beginning… I am so fricken excited for the person I am becoming.

Everyone around me has already noticed a difference in me. It isn’t just the weight loss, or the positive attitude. Every single day I have people telling me that I am “glowing” and asking for my secret.

And that sparked something in me.

This shouldn’t be a secret.

The start of Creating Self Love

So many people have started asking me about the changes that they see in me, that I quickly found myself telling my story and sharing the resources and tools I had discovered with other people every single day.

That is when I realized (sadly) how many people out there are struggling in life, and/or simply searching for something better for themselves.

I realized my story, education, and experience could help so many people. And if I could help even one person not end up in that dark place I was, then it would be worth it.

I also realized I am in a unique position. There are plenty of blogs and resources out there that cover self-love, self-care, mental health, happiness, stress management, self-improvement etc. from professionals and people with education in health and/or wellness, like me.

Starting a self-care blog, or the self-improvement niche has seemed to become even more popular over the last few years. There are tons of articles and lists of things you can try, which is great. The more resources the better!

However, how many of them have personally experienced all of those things PLUS shared their own personal journey about how they needed that same help they are now offering to others?

How many of them have personally tried the same things they are suggesting?

When I was beginning my own journey I couldn’t find a single one.

A lot of the content I consumed when I was researching and experimenting was so unrelatable and unhelpful and sounded like it came straight out of a textbook.

I knew I needed to share what I’d learned and what had actually worked for me (and what does not work) with as many people as I could. And I wanted to share it in a relatable way, with real steps, real stories, real tools, real tips, and real solutions.

So I returned to something I have previous experience in– which is blogging and writing.

Writing has always been a passion and outlet of mine, and I started two other blogs (on other topics) years before this one, so it felt like a perfect match.

And the rest is history as they like to say.

Some fun facts about me

  • My favorite self-care activity is taking a nice hot bubble bath.
  • I have three adorable rescue dogs that I am obsessed with (2 Jack Russell Terriers and a German Shepard).
  • I love animals.
  • I tried every activity I could growing up [singing, dance, drama, volleyball, badminton, track and field, guitar lessons] but could never seem to find something I was “naturally talented at”
  • I don’t like the taste of tea so I don’t drink it.
  • I don’t like coffee either, but that is because my grandma used to give it to me when I was five so I got sick of it.
  • I have a younger sister. We used to hate each other, but now she is one of my best friends.
  • I LOVE to travel. Wanderlust is absolutely a thing and I travel as much as possible.
  • I am an ambivert.
  • I broke my tailbone on the very first day of my first ever job.
  • I love to read, write, and watch movies.
  • My dad bear sprayed both me and my sister in the face by accident when we were younger (talk about childhood trauma am I right?!)

My dog, a black and white Jack Russell, running through a field

Connect with me

So that is a tiny bit more of my story, but I will be sharing so many more fun stories, valuable tips, and amazing resources all over this blog and in my newsletter. Please reach out to me on any of our social media platforms with any more questions you have, or so we can be friends! I enjoy hearing from you.

And you are welcome to subscribe to our newsletter if you so choose, where you will become the first to know about new posts, resources and tools!

Take care of yourself!

Scroll to Top