Sometimes it’s helpful to share a personal experience about healing to widen the lens for others to see the possibilities. As we approach Spring 2022 on Sunday, March 20, we hope that learning more about each of the founding members of Solstice Pacific will give you the encouragement you need.
Whether you or someone in your life is in need of mental healthcare, the founding members of Solstice Pacific know the healing path well, which led to their creating a resource for others.
The first in the series is by founding member, Britten Devereux, "Life After Depression". Next is “Life During Change” by Brianna Riddlebarger, followed by Narges Maududi, third founding member’s “Life After Death”. Each maintains a role as a clinical provider while steering Solstice Pacific.
Britten Devereux, 39, was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and given the name Colleen Clark. She was a go-getter, enjoying her schoolwork, but basketball, skating and running were where her love for movement began.
At the age of 22, she was asked by two members of the Arizona House of Representatives to run for what seemed like a small office, the Maricopa County Community College Governing Board. Elected to office as the youngest elected office in the history of Arizona, Britten’s leadership skills were being shaped under fire. Working as a project manager after her undergraduate studies and learning more about change management and needs assessment in the District, she found a way to serve her paid role in the nonprofit sector and her unpaid role (elected office).
As a conservative, also working in her church and working on her graduate degree, she was swarmed with agendas from both parties. The days grew longer and longer. Her role in politics started to take over her life. The events, 2-3 hours per night of board preparation materials, and the dislike from those who were now being shepherded for the first time in decades humbled her. After 2+ years of work weeks that exceeded 140 hours, Britten’s depression had come back worse than ever. She had been treated for trauma and depression at 19, but work took over at that time too.
In 2009, after a 5-hour dinner, she received a DUI and served the consequences under Arizona law while maintaining all of her professional roles. The next years looked like treating the depression and returning to graduate studies, setting business administration aside and pursuing a Master’s in Counseling, the Addiction Sciences. Britten relocated to California and took ample time for coaching, therapy, beach runs or walks, yoga, sleep, nutrition, and functional medicine. After seeing the results of integrative care in her own life, she focused her career on changing the landscape of psychiatry. Through studies and work with process addiction, she became a student of the power (good and bad) of screens and the related neuromechanics of screen stress.
From 2012-2020, she worked in subacute care for the treatment of mental illness and addiction as a case manager, then managing director, and finally CEO. As sleep was consistent, a small circle of deeply connected friendships bound together, and juicing became a daily practice, much like prayer and meditation, Britten’s health completely changed. Her mood, concentration, and routines reveal freedom from depression and a vibrance for learning and living. She thought her name was her mark, her signature. Today, it's being whole and open.
In 2020, Britten, Narges, and Brianna, came together to create an integrative practice in South Orange County: "It makes sense to share what I’ve learned. Resilience is about learning and innovating. But, mostly, it’s about asking for help. I’ve learned the most since I stopped trying to do it all on my own."
Here are 7 things Britten used to fight depression in her own words:
- Faith. Because I earned that DUI after years of pushing too hard, I had to step back and ask myself: "How big do I think God is?", "Do I trust what His Word says He can do?", "Do I trust what He has done for me?", "Is my faith being fed everyday?"
- Community. There was a time in my twenties when I thought I needed everyone to like me or be pleased with what I could offer the world. Then, when my depression got really bad and I wanted to fake happiness, I realized I would never experience real community if I didn’t let people know me. Experiencing life together means risk and beauty. That choice of vulnerability has yielded a full heart and a sense of adventure. Everything has been more beautiful since 2009, when the community took on the warmth of small gatherings with friends, family, and neighbors.
3. The outdoors. Whether it’s a walk at dusk or a workout as the sun rises, I make myself get out every day to move. It doesn’t have to be a fancy or rigid workout. It is usually very simple, a way of thanking God for health and grounding before I head into the scheduled events of my day.
4. Rewards. Every time I reward myself after I push through something uncomfortable, I feel better. It might be hot tea, seeing a friend, a latte, my favorite cedar candle, Gracie’s Theme by Paul Cardell, reading a page or two, dark chocolate, dinner out, mindful daydreaming, or playing with my dog. I purposely distance myself from the thing I didn’t want to do, taking the time to consciously reward myself for courage, staying present, or holding myself accountable for my least favorite things. Rewards help me sink into gratitude in little ways. That is medicine!
5. Opening up to my doctor. I grew up not being super interested in talking about myself. Naturally, I am more of an introvert, more pensive and quiet. When my depression led to feeling tired all the time and feeling like I was walking through mud up to my knees, I was open to suggestions. While western medicine did not have all the answers, it was part of the answer, and I met some incredible medical providers who showed me it was worth taking my time to share. Sadness, anxiety, or just feeling dull are part of a bigger picture of a person's whole health. I have continued to lean on both western and eastern medicine for my continued preventative practices. Depression was not a diagnosis for me, it was the beginning of something better, integrating.
6. Learning about my family. Once I noticed how many people in my family had untreated depression, I was interested in breaking the mold, even if it meant seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist and talking to mentors or those who are wiser than me. As I learned about what my family went through, on both Mom’s and Dad’s sides, and how many people never received relief, I was extremely motivated to find health and peace. I was validated by seeing the family tree of depression, but moreso, I was inspired to learn.
7. If it’s not working, don’t force It. To pay for school, the California cost of living, and to save money, I took on many hard jobs over the years. The cost of warrioring was tremendous. It was not until I was late in my 30s that I realized I never have to force anything or to push. By having self-compassion, I am free, I am creative, pushing turned into pauses. Today my mercy towards others abides. As a young adult, I learned to work really hard and do what was needed to be responsible. As an adult, nurturing my faith and self awareness, I don’t try to force myself to be super-anything. Fewer jobs have meant deeper relationships.
Being present and authentic is hard work, but I wouldn’t change the path to get here. I love my life after depression. You can borrow my hope until you find yours. It gets better.
More next week from Britten about the names we give ourselves!