From Pain to Empowerment: Libbie's Story

mental health mind body Mar 15, 2024

Most of us have or will experience grief in our lifetime, but very few of us are prepared to know how to navigate the healing process, which is often life-long. Libbie is a testament to resilience and finding joy through suffering. After meeting with Libbie, we decided her story is so impactful that we want to share it with you! Libbie Vaughan founded the Dance Yourself Home Program after experiencing the devastating loss of her husband to suicide.

Libbie's journey began with the heart-wrenching realization that her husband was battling severe anxiety and depression. As his condition worsened, he found it increasingly difficult to cope with the demands of daily life, eventually reaching a point where he could no longer work and had to go on disability. Events leading up to this included a major job layoff during the pandemic, total isolation and abandonment by friends, and increased anxiety. Libbie found herself being the only support system for her husband, while working full time. She mentioned how difficult it was for her to have to leave him at home to go to work as a therapist, then come home and try to be there for him. "I had to be where I was at my job to support us. But he needed me at home, and it was just so difficult," she shares.

As the stigma surrounding mental health prevented her husband from seeking support from friends or other sources, Libbie became his sole confidante and caregiver. "His only outlet was me. Even our sons, he could talk to them a little bit, but he put on a front for them because he didn't want them to see how he was really feeling," she explains.

Due to his worsening depression and a lack of mental health resources, Libbie notes how awful it was to have to commit him to a psych center seven times. Usually when he came back home, he would feel worse than before. They had tried to address healing his depression and anxiety through physiological tools, addressing his mental health chemically. However, this failed to promote adequate support, did not address the isolation he was experiencing, and he eventually felt that his family would be better off without him. 

The isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated her husband's struggles, leaving him feeling more alone than ever. "There were some times during that period where he went back to work. Part-time, and I think one of the triggers that put him into depression in the first place was some upheaval at his job," Libbie recalls. One of the most painful aspects of her husband's experience was the sense of exclusion he felt at work, which deepened his sense of isolation and despair. "His coworkers would get up and they'd go somewhere for lunch and they would never invite him to go. So he would sit in his cubicle with the sandwich that he had made for himself that morning in a full-blown panic attack every day," Libbie shares.

Despite her husband's tragic passing in 2020, Libbie found strength and resilience in her journey toward healing. Through the Dance Yourself Home Program, she discovered a transformative outlet for her grief and a supportive community where she could express herself through sacred movement. She discovered dance and movement to be a powerful tool during healing retreats in Costa Rica. When she returned home, she could not find any place that offered this so she decided to start the program to help others heal! "The Dance Yourself Home Program has been instrumental in my healing journey. It has provided me with a safe space to explore and express my emotions through movement, allowing me to find a sense of peace and connection," Libbie reflects.

As we honor Libbie's courage and resilience, we are reminded of the importance of supporting those who may be struggling with mental health challenges. Let us extend kindness and compassion to those in need, knowing that our actions can make a profound difference in someone's life. Libbie believes that it may have made a major difference in her husband's life if someone had made the decision to reach out to him. Let this be a reminder of how important community is, but also reaching out to those who may be struggling. You never know how impactful that may be! 

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please know that help and support are available. Reach out to our team at Texas Center for Lifestyle Medicine to learn more about our programs and resources. Together, we can create a community of healing and support where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued. 

Check out Libbie's website here for more information about her and the Dance Yourself Home Program! 


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