may I represent you a friend I've met through the internet, we live on each side of the globe and still haven't met in real life, but that doesn't hold us back from connecting and sharing dreams.
Today she courageously shares her story. It's an honour to have her on A Wildflowers Home and I can't wait for you to read her heart.
Remember to show her some love in the comments below. I'll let you read on..
So first off, let’s get the basics down; what do you want me/us to call you?
“Rorie” (artist name, nickname) 😊
What decade were you born in & what do you love most about that decade?
I was born in the early 1990s. I love that I got the chance to have a social-media-free childhood. I spent hours in my room writing stories, listening to music, playing my instruments, dancing to cassette tapes and CDs (ha). Now that I’m an adult, I love using social media and feel that it’s such an amazing way to be creative and connect with people all over the world! I think it’s cool to have had a taste of both (even though there would have been benefits to having access a little earlier too).
Where/what do you call home?
Anywhere that family is. Sometimes this includes a few different places, but they all feel like home because it’s the people that matter most.
What are the things you do now, that you're the most passionate about?
I love to tell stories through music.
What was the last quote that really spoke to you?
“and when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.” – Francie Nolan, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn // I recently read this book for the first time, and I really identified with the main character (especially because I have crazy dreams both while sleeping and awake). I was so surprised that I hadn’t read it before!
If you could change one thing in the world to make it a better place - what would it be and why?
There are so many things that would be great to change, but as someone who has worked in the anti-human trafficking realm in the past, I definitely want to see that completely eradicated. Modern-day slavery, sex-trafficking, and any time that a person is taken-advantage of is completely unacceptable.
What's your favourite season and why?
I am a typical fall girl. My favorite part of the season is actually the second half (Halloween-Christmas). This is usually when fall allergies start to go away, and everything is so nostalgic with deep shadows, crisp air, and so much beauty. I coined this time of year “deep autumn” both because it’s further into the season, and because it’s a great time to think deeply.
What's the last photo you took on your phone?
My handsome and adventurous husband Steven by the Potomac River.
What does your name mean?
This seems like a good place to tell the story of my stage name! Erin Rea Ochocki (my real name) is kind of hard to pronounce and look at – so I was trying to come up with an alias that would really fit the sound of my music. Growing up, friends and strangers alike used to tease me (or approach me out of nowhere) and say that I looked like Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. This became a joke that prevailed to the point that groups of people called me Rory for fun. Not wanting to associate myself too closely with the TV character, I changed the spelling to “Rorie” – which ended up being a combo of the letters in my full name, and also a representation of the sound of my music!
So, we’ve gotten to know you a little more, now let’s take a dig deeper. How are you feeling right now? (let’s skip “I’m fine”)
I like the idea to skip “I’m fine.” 😊 I’m usually feeling multiple ways at once (guessing I’m not alone in this). Right now, I am hopeful because the season is changing – both literally and metaphorically. After a kind of rough season health-wise during this past fall and winter, I’ve been discovering new ways to be well and to embrace what I love to do. There is also some stress that goes into dealing with chronic health issues, so I have been navigating that and taking care of myself not only physically, but also mentally.
What's your "story” with mental health?
During my late teenage years (about 7 years ago), I dealt with a lot of chronic asthma, headaches, and other related issues, which contributed to what became a season of depression. It’s not unusual for physical health problems to affect your mind, especially when you’re first dealing with them. I noticed that my emotions felt very out of control, which seemed strange to me because I was someone who always wanted to work hard and excel. There were days when I had trouble getting out of bed or looking at situations rationally. Sometimes I would leave class or wherever I was to try and get a moment alone and calm down. My “achiever” personality had created a lot of pressure within my mind to excel at everything, when in reality I needed to give myself some room to rest. I had also moved pretty far away from my family to go to school, and I didn’t realize how much the transition had affected me.
How was your process of finding out that you struggle? When and What made you realize that this was more than just a bad day?
I was blessed to have loving family and friends in my life who listened to me and made me feel understood. This was huge because I could approach the situation from a hopeful angle rather than one of complete despair. I knew that there were people around who I could talk to (and some who could even relate), and that they would help me find the right outlet to get help. It made me feel like these problems weren’t the end of the world, and that I would be able to feel free from them again. I know that it doesn’t always feel like there are people around who understand what you’re going through, but I am sharing this because I think it’s a real testimony to why opening up is important and can help so, so much. You never know who will in turn reach out to you when they are going through a difficult season, and your story can be an encouragement to them.
What was one of your biggest "relief" moments in your mental health journey?
In addition to some of the above (and without going into TMI), I discovered that my doctor could help me through the process. It made me realize that what I was dealing with wasn’t strange or abnormal, but that there were things I could do to feel better. Being able to find help in that way made the rest of the healing process more effective, and I could put less pressure on myself to “fix” things.
Has your life changed because of your mental health?
..if you don't struggle anymore: something you're aware of or do so you won't "struggle" again?
This is a really interesting thought, because something I used to say a lot was “what if this happens to me again!?” I think it’s important to realize how much strength you gain from moving through trials. As a Christian, I honestly can’t answer this question without saying that it is my faith that reminds me that I cannot worry about whether or not I’m going to struggle, because in reality it is through God’s grace that I’ll be able to find the strength to move through anything. There is always, always reason to hope. A few verses that were particularly important to me during this time are: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 1 Corinthians 12:9, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.’” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 and “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
From a medical standpoint, I still sometimes struggle with the physical/chronic illness that I did before. I am now really aware of what medicine I’m taking, and what kind of food I’m eating (balance is key). There are always going to be good days and bad days, so I find it important to remember that the low moments don’t last forever, and that they aren’t the end of the story. My song “Fall and Rise” talks about this in a general sense: “We rise and fall, we fall and rise.”
What things/experiences/memories etc do you feel like your missing out on or have lost because of your mental health?
I am super grateful for my life experiences, and don’t feel that I’ve missed out on anything in particular. I found this awesome (and yet very simple) quote on Pinterest that inspired me to keep being present when I just wanted to hide: “Show up, shine, let it go.” In the day to day, I’m often reminded that overthinking or doubting (something that I have a natural tendency to do) can really hold me back. So that is often something that I keep in mind!
What are some of the things you've gained from struggling mentally that you're thankful for?
My love for songwriting was initially a direct reaction to feeling things very deeply. I have been able to move through some of my lowest emotions by writing a song.
On the same note, I don’t choose to dwell in depression so that I can be a good writer. Honestly, a lot of my songs are about deciding to find hope and to believe truth over lies. Without the experiences that I’ve had, I wouldn’t have had that story to tell. And even on the good days, I still tend to feel things very deeply, so there’s always plenty to write about. 😊
I have also been able to have great conversations with friends, both new and old, about dealing with these issues in a healthy way. I remember having a Skype conversation with a childhood friend that I hadn’t really talked to in years. We realized that we had been dealing with very similar things, and ever since then we have reconnected and shared a lot of life together!
What tools, advice or help have you used to deal with and help your mental health? Anything you wish you knew sooner?
You don’t have to feel like crying makes you weak. Sometimes a good cry is exactly what I need to literally conquer the day. My mind is cleared and I’m suddenly way more rational than I was before. Sometimes: emotion means movement!
Also, something that my dad told me still rings true to this day: if you’re feeling really down, or crazy, or mixed up and it’s late at night…say a prayer and go to sleep. There is a huge chance that you will feel a lot better in the morning, and even if you don’t, you can find someone to talk to in the daylight and with a rested mind.
Something or someone you couldn't have done without in relation to your mental health and/or illness?
It sounds cliché, but family and friends! There are too many to call out individually, but we can all play such an important part in helping one another through the most difficult parts of life just by being present. Sometimes all you need is a completely unrelated hangout with a best friend, and/or a really good laugh.
What do you wish the world knew, did or didn't do or say?
That those who feel deeply are the weaker link. Being a quiet/thought-full (literally), and caring person can actually be your superpower! So often I think we’re led to believe that whoever is the loudest – or most entertaining - wins. Whether or not that is true, I hope that we can look at that through a different lens.
What would you say to someone who struggles with the same as you?
That there is always, always hope. It’s OK to see medical professionals, talk to someone, take a day off, challenge yourself, and to do what you need to do feel confident and restored. It’s when you are filled up that you are able to give the most to others. We’re all going through something, and you never know when you being you will help someone else feel less alone.
Also, in industries like the music industry, it can be really easy to get caught in a downward spiral of comparison. Constantly comparing yourself to others can prevent you from giving the beauty that you and only you can give to the world. Opening up to friends, cheering them on, and remembering that we are all a part of the same, larger story can give you confidence to shine so that others feel free to shine. I saw a good quote on the “A Wildflower’s Home” site: “A flower doesn’t think of competing to the flower next to it, it just blooms!”;)
What would you say to anyone who wanna help a friend who struggles with the same as you?
There is definitely a time and place for giving advice (and listening, and venting), but what a friend usually needs is someone who just wants to be present, whether it be making good food and watching a movie (especially when you just need to rest and not go out!), going on an adventure (hiking, day-trips to nearby towns, or exploring something new in your city are good ideas), working on a creative project together (my personal favorite), or laughing til it hurts.
Thank you for sharing! Before we wrap up, any last word of wisdom you wanna share?
I think it’s important to share our stories, because we not only realize that everyone has struggles, but that together they can be overcome. Also, thanks for the interview!
If people wanna reach out to you, follow you and/or know more about you where can they find you?
If you wanna spread Rorie's story you can use these posters to pin it to Pinterest.