My husband said the nicest thing ever to me the other day. He said, “My first client cancelled tomorrow, if you want, I can get up and watch the kids so you can take a shower.”
It was like music to my ears. To someone who doesn’t have kids, that may not sound like much, but I think most mothers will agree with me that there’s nothing better than being able to take a shower in the morning all by yourself.
Then he said something even better! He said on Wednesday he didn’t have to start work until a bit later so if I wanted he could get up with the kids and I could go grab some coffee and spend some time to myself. So this is what I’m currently doing as I write this blog. I am sitting at my favourite coffee shop, Apartment 3, with my laptop, an Americano, and a vegan muffin. I can breathe and I can hear myself think. It means more to me then he could ever realize. I love my kids, but to have a healthy state of mind, I need time to myself. I need to be more than a mother. I need to still be able to be myself.
On my way to Apartment 3, I wondered what I should write about when I worked on my blog. As I opened up my Instagram feed I realized that today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. So it seems fitting to open up a bit and talk about mental health.
I went to Podcamp Halifax on the weekend and I was so inspired by the last talk I went to see with Ruth McMullen who has recently started Optimistically Depressed. I had actually sat down in another room to listen to another talk and my gut told me I needed to go listen to what Ruth had to say. So I did something I should do more often. I followed my gut. I left the room and went over to see the talk Optimistically Depressed.
Ruth was incredibly brave to be so candid with her struggles with depression and before I knew it the room full of people opened up and revealed that they all too, struggle with different mental health issues. I think there is so much shame felt around mental health and that needs to change. I think sometimes opening up about things takes the power away from the shame.
Something that Ruth said her grandmother always told her really stuck with me. She used to tell Ruth “Everyone has a story.” Her grandma was right. Everyone has their own story. Most of the time, we don’t know what that story is. We don’t see the struggles that people have, we only see what they want us to see. We only see the pretty pictures they post on Instagram.
I feel like often the people who are struggling the most are the people who appear the happiest. There was a man who worked at the airport who I was friends with. He was friends with everyone at the airport and he always seemed SO happy and was always cracking jokes. I remember when I told him I was pregnant for the first time. He was so happy for me and opened up to me that he and his wife had tried for a long time to have kids and when they finally did, he said it was the biggest blessing in his life. He congratulated me and gave me a big hug. I would have hugged him even harder if I knew that was the last time I would ever see him. A few days later he hung himself.
It showed me you never really know how people are feeling. I too, went through a really dark time when one of my family members was struggling with their own mental illness. I cried every day for almost 6 months straight. I stopped working out and stopped taking care of myself. I was consumed by guilt and shame, but every day I went to work and plastered a smile on my face and pretended like everything was okay. Thankfully my husband stood by me and supported me and helped get me through the hardest time in my life. One day, I would like to be able to open up about this a little bit more, but I’m not ready yet.
I don’t believe that people look at my Instagram and feel like I have it all together, but if you do, I want to let you know that’s not true. Actually, I recently went on medication for Postpartum Anxiety, which, to be honest, I didn’t even know was a thing. I had been feeling really anxious and I remember telling Carlos that I just didn’t feel ‘right.’ There were a few times where I had been grocery shopping and had to leave the store because of the anxiety I felt and was worried I was going to have a panic attack for no reason at all.
I didn’t think I had postpartum because I wasn’t feeling depressed, but when I went to my doctor for the flu shot, she asked me how things were going and I just opened up and told her I had been feeling anxious, overwhelmed, irritable and angry. When she told me it sounded like postpartum anxiety I actually felt relieved. It gave me a reason why I had been feeling so off. After pregnancy, your hormones can be so out of wack, that sometimes you just need a little help balancing them out. And that is okay.
I encourage you to talk to someone if you are not feeling right. You are not alone and there is help out there. Maybe if we all start talking about it we will help others in knowing it is okay not to be okay. I would personally like to thank Ruth and Arthur and some of the other people I met the other day. Your openness was very much appreciated.