Meet Erin Boyle!
Erin Boyle is CHOW’s Executive Director, friend, sister, wife, daughter, dog momma, potter, reader, crafter, walker, nanny, and chef. She trained as a chef at the Culinary Institute of America and went on to work in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Denver.
Erin has watched staff, family, and friends in hospitality struggle with mental health and substance abuse; she, like many, struggles with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In 2019, Erin decided to dedicate her energy toward improving access to mental health and wellness resources for all in the hospitality business. As Executive Director, Erin focuses on outreach and aims to normalize mental health conversations in the restaurant industry.
I’ve been in therapy for about a decade. I decided I needed it because I looked around me and didn’t like the people I was with. I looked for a therapist to teach me basic adult skills. Like how to be in a friendship, a family member, and a romantic partner. While in this pursuit I learned a lot about myself including that I was someone recovering from depression, anxiety, and ADHD. I have struggled with depression since I was 16. At that time I didn’t know what it was, only that I couldn’t live the way I wanted or feel like myself. I considered self harm. I never wanted to die. But some of the things I considered were dangerous. What I want folks to know who are in this place is that the feeling passed. It took time, it always does. I think the longest was a month. But it passed. I’m grateful my thoughts didn’t get to the physical world. With therapy and a support system I have a purposeful and good life. I also cultivated meaningful and robust relationships with my family and made new intentional friends. And I met and married my husband (who’s a catch, he’s my biggest fan and a rocket scientist!)
All that goodness and something was still missing. I listened to a podcast about loneliness with Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Brene Brown about loneliness and connection.
“Intimate loneliness is what you feel when you lack really close relationships with people who know you truly for who you are, with whom you can be fully yourself, and that often is a best friend or a spouse.
Relational loneliness is when we lack friendships, and the kind of friendships where you would spend time with people during weekends or evenings or you have a friend you would have over to a dinner party or go on vacation with. And collective loneliness is when we lack a sense of community-based or shared identity. That could be a community of parents who have kids who go to the same school. It can be a community of people who have a shared mission or it could even be colleagues who have loyalty to their organization and are committed to the mission.”
All my effort paid off in intimate and relational connection.
Before CHOW I was missing the collective connection.
CHOW has given me a community with a collective mission and shared background. We all know what it’s like to work a double or to ClOpen. We all know how hard it is to get a shift covered. We all know how expendable we used to be to the places we worked.
CHOW has also provided me with a brave space to be vulnerable and share my hardest moments, giving my depression and anxiety less power over me. Having the group hear me and what I’m going through helps me feel seen. Even if there’s no help to be offered; none of us are professionals so advice isn’t always given. I always leave a meeting feeling less heavy, less burdened. It’s the group’s power to allow each person to come, share, and be seen and heard.
I support suicide prevention and mental health support because I want everyone struggling to take the chance to wait and see if the feelings pass. I still have episodes of depression and anxiety. I continue with my therapist. I have a journal full of coping skills and conversations with myself. I have also found a supportive community in the group discussion with Culinary Hospitality Outreach and Wellness.
Talking about my problems has given them less power.