Depression. Anxiety. PTSD. Eating Disorder. Suicide. I am a survivor, and I am here to share my story with you.
It is a dark and lonely place to be when you are an imperfect mom who has mental health struggles. The world seems to be falling apart. Every turn you take there is a roadblock. Getting out of bed in the morning is impossible. Falling asleep is a nightly battle with your brain to shut off.
The more women talk about the difficult moments, the easier it will be for the stigma to reduced. There is power when moms stand together and display unity and showing the perseverance that only a mom can do. This is not something that comes easily for me. Talking about my struggles and taking the mask off of my face took years to happen.
Being vulnerable is hard.
And hard things are the same things we push away or try to diminish in our life. I pretend I don’t get anxious. That I don’t have a racing heart every time I see a small black car. As a result, that means I don’t have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Likewise, I can cut up my food into tiny pieces and move it around the plate. I tell myself then no one will notice I have not eaten for the last 5 meals. These are ways of coping when you are trying to hide the reality of your mental health struggles.
I do a tremendous job of hiding what is happening in my life. So that on the outside, I seem to have it all together. Wow! That is the farthest from the truth. As I sit and write at this moment I am anxious and feeling unsteady. My anxiety kicks in as I reveal my truth. Mental health struggles come into my daily existence in some form each and every day. Some days are better. Others I can barely get out of bed.
Don’t Be Ashamed to Seek Mental Health Help
I started my journey to getting help after a failed suicide attempt. Being taken to the hospital and facing the consequences of my actions was a wake up. I had to recognize that if I did not accept the help that was being offered I may not live much longer. This put me in intensive outpatient therapy. Consequently, my family was then informed of the seriousness of the situation. I made the decision to go to a residential facility out of state. It was the lifeline I needed so desperately so I could focus on getting help. I found the broken pieces and started understanding how to put those pieces back together in a new, healthy way.
However, the focus is now on me. That is a scary place to be.
I can no longer ignore the reality of how my choices and actions directly affect those around me. I now recognize stress and worry I put on my family. I felt that life was not worth living because of the pain and hurt I had caused other people. But in reality, I was mortified that I had allowed myself to be put into different situations. For example, when I was physically assaulted. Times alcohol was how I coped with the pain. Because that was better than feeling rejection and loneliness. Feeling that if I looked a certain way, maybe I could be happy. But how can you be happy when you are living a lie on the outside?
The answer. You can’t.
For instance, I can’t be a great mom if I am unable to get out of bed in the morning.
How can I expect to function if my battery is empty?
By allowing myself to be open to treatment, I was given the tools to see what my life could be. How I could achieve my goals in life. I can have a family and change the direction my path was heading towards. This included counseling, medication, and art therapy.
I have been in counseling for 6 years. I continue to go once a week to help verbalize my thoughts and feelings. To talk about how I am an imperfect mom who loves her family. I am intentional in prioritizing the appointment because I know how important it is. It was not an easy journey to find a therapist who was a good fit for me. It takes time to build the trust to fully open up to someone new. I encourage moms to be grace-filled and patient as they find someone who they fit with.
By taking care of my mental health, I am better equipped to be a present and available mom and wife for my kids and husband. I use tools therapy has brought into my life. More importantly, talking with other moms who have faced similar mental health struggles and paths has driven me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
My kids deserve a mom who is happy, engaged, and present in their daily life. That is only possible if I first take care of myself. Each and every day. When I take my medication each morning. Especially on the days that seem to never end or the ones where both kiddos have spilled their cereal all over the carpet. Twice. And I just want to crawl into bed and sleep the depression away. It will be that morning and each morning after; that I make my mental health a priority.
I am a work-in-progress mom. A mom who loves my kiddos and would do absolutely anything for them. That means I will talk about my mental health struggles to help diminish the stigma that has been created.
I am proud of the journey my life has taken. Without it, I would not be who I am or where I am. A mom of 4 kiddos with a husband who accepts my mental health struggles and loves me unconditionally.
If you struggle with mental health, please know you are not alone!