As Mental Illness Awareness Week comes to a close today, I feel I need to do my part to #stopthestigma
It’s hard to talk about my own mental health, but I saw @kevinhinesstory speak a few weeks ago and it was so powerful that I have been thinking about his strength ever since.
“But you have ‘everything’ how could you be sad?”
I have heard that often from others… too often from my own voice.
I am working on learning that it really is all relative to me and my life. Some people may have it worse or be physically sick but having depression and anxiety is still an illness… most likely caused by a chemical imbalance in my brain.
I have been on the rollercoaster of depression for many years now. Sometimes it is hidden deep within for a long time and then decides to show up at what I think are random times.
After the birth of my first daughter I had heard about Post-Partum Depression and the effects it could have on me and all those around me. I thought like everyone else, having a child is a wonderful, happy time. But low and behold when she was about 8 months old I still wasn’t feeling myself and having issues with anxiety and symptoms of depression. With the help of my husband and my parents, I reached out. I was seeing a counselor for a few weeks and felt I was getting back on track.
There were days when I felt I was circling in my thoughts during my conversations with the therapist and I would never get a hold of it all. In hindsight I should have looked for someone else to talk to, she wasn’t a good fit, but on the other hand I thought I was “healed”. Knowing deep down, I may never be healed, I may have many moments of depression and anxiety throughout the rest of my life.
When I was pregnant with my second child I had moments of anxiety thinking “how could I handle another baby?” “how will I love them just as much as I did my first?”.
On the day we were to be released from the hospital I was told that due to my past history with PPD they wanted me to speak with the social worker before I discharged. Ironically, knowing that made me anxious, especially when we were just waiting on that ‘check mark’ to leave with our new baby.
In full defense mode when the social worker came to talk with me, I cried and felt I was already being “labeled”. She attempted to reassure me that it was just to let me know that “if” I felt I needed someone to talk to, to reach out sooner than later.
Well this time around when my baby was just a few weeks old I felt I was anxious all the time. Trying to raise two young girls, keep them fed, healthy and do the same for myself as well was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Post-partum anxiety is something that isn’t talked about and is generally lumped right in with PPD.
I spoke with a friend of mine who was my labor/delivery nurse and she told me I should reach out to the social worker I had spoken with in the hospital. I had kept her card with the hospital paperwork and I knew that was what I needed to do, so I contacted her.
I didn’t tell too many people I was going through this. I felt ashamed, scared and weak. I think to this day many people close to me and in my life in general have no idea I am dealing with PPA and PPD.
I don’t know when it turns from Post-partum issues to everyday anxiety issues. My youngest is almost 15 months and I am still meeting with the social worker twice a month to work on how I can get through the days and weeks with my anxiety that triggers my depression.
So no matter what “category” we lump my mental health struggles under, they are still my struggles and I am working every day to be able to manage them and go forward and #beheretomorrow
Thank you to my “rocks” for helping me up and getting me through each day… or more honestly taking the brunt of my episodes and still loving me no matter what!
Struggling with your mental health ??? Reach out!
There’s no shame in asking for help!