This post inspired a segment on NewsChannel 8, which is the NBC affiliate in Tampa. Scroll to the bottom of the post to watch the video.
It’s hard to know where to start this post.
Because I honestly don’t know how it happened.
I can’t tell you when it started, or why.
A few months ago, I found myself waking up every morning feeling hopeless. Dreading my life. Hating the things I used to love. Feeling weak and defeated and not myself.
You might know I’m generally a very upbeat, positive person who thrives on activity and busyness, and life in general. Normally, I love life and everything about it.
But somehow, I found myself under a dark cloud. And I couldn’t get out from under it.
It might have started with the husband working so much. He started his own company about 8 months ago, and now works almost 60 hours a week.
Or maybe it was that I now had 3 kids to manage. And the things that I used to accomplish during a day were simply no longer possible.
Maybe it was that, after a long, stressful day, I would ease my mood with a cocktail as I made dinner. Just a little bit to drown out the baby crying and toddlers fighting and the husband’s text saying he’d be late.
Maybe it was that the baby weight just wasn’t going anywhere. Despite my food prep and 5am wakeups to get to boot camp 4 days a week. I was following the exact same steps that had helped me lose the weight with babies 1 and 2, but I still just couldn’t kick it this time. And so, every morning, I’d pull on my “fat pants” yet again, and shame myself for still carrying this extra weight when our baby was almost 9 months old. It was demoralizing. (You may have noticed I stopped posting my post-pregnancy updates.)
Maybe it was that I just started feeling lonely. Even though I have lots of wonderful friends, I didn’t want to continually burden them with my “funk.”
I need to just deal with this. It will be fine. I need to just keep going.
And so I did.
The days turned into weeks. And the weeks turned into months.
And no matter what I did, I just couldn’t shake it.
I got a housekeeper. I got a nanny. I kept working out and tried my best to stay positive.
But every single morning, I still had this invisible burden that I carried on my shoulders. My own dark, heavy, terrible secret.
Why can’t I be happy? What’s wrong with me?
Most days, I kept my suffering bottled up. I wanted help in the worst way, but I couldn’t bear to share my struggle with anyone except my husband, sister and a few close friends. The truth was, I felt foolish. I have 3 healthy kids, a husband who loves me and we live a comfortable life. What the hell do I have to complain about?
Of course, most of my close friends and family knew something was different. “Yeah, I’m in a funk,” I’d say flippantly. I knew that if I went any further, I might cry and expose my secret. I can’t burden them with my pain. No, I just need to deal with it myself.
I just wanted it to be gone.
And then, one afternoon, for some reason, I was feeling particularly vulnerable. And something inside of me just wanted to reach out and grab someone… anyone who would listen. I didn’t plan it out, or even think much about it. It was a visceral reaction to my pain. I needed relief, and I suddenly had an urge to expose the darkness I’d been carrying around. And let it go.
And so, of all people, I reached out to my boot camp instructor. One Friday afternoon, I came to her house.
I sat down on her couch.
And for an hour, I just broke.
And, all those feelings of less-than… and why-can’t-you-get-it-together… and you’re-a-failure… rolled down my cheeks.
I started with the baby weight and told her how demoralizing it was and how unfair and how stupid that I’m so upset about it. And then I got into my mom stress and the loneliness and the afternoon happy hours. I went through it all.
And you know what she did?
She just sat there.
She heard me.
She received it.
The crazy thing was, I was at the point that I just needed someone to hear me. Besides my husband, besides my friends, besides my sister.
She heard me.
She received all of it. My tears and my shame and my darkness and my guilt and my suffering.
And after I was done, she told me she believed in me.
And she knew it was going to be okay.
She helped me come up with a few concrete things I could change to get out of this funk. She encouraged me to do more for myself, and to believe that I’m capable and beautiful and important and special.
It’s not that no one else had told me that before. But she didn’t know me quite as well. And so for some reason, her words carried a different kind of weight. And that day, it stuck.
As I walked out of her house, I felt light. It might be possible for me to be myself again. I couldn’t believe that I was actually thinking it.
The shame, doubt and fear were gone. I made the choice to close the door to those negative thoughts. To those lies that I had started to believe about myself. Because they’re simply not the truth.
And then, I remembered a few more things.
That I was created to be a Conqueror. A Warrior. Someone who’s fearless and loving and positive.
And I made some big decisions.
I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself about the baby weight.
I decided to start doing yoga.
I decided to save the cocktails for the weekend.
I decided to engage with friends on nights the husband works late.
I decided to be grateful for everyone in my life, even those who hurt me or frustrate me.
Most importantly, I decided to start loving myself again, no matter how many mistakes I make each day.
And I also decided to thank God, right then and there, for giving me someone who was there to hear me. At the exact moment when I needed it. To listen. To be a receptacle. To properly dispose of all the dark, heavy, disgusting trash that I needed so desperately to never see again.
And now, it’s gone.
Thinking back, I still don’t even know what it was.
Was it depression? Was it a funk? Was it loneliness? Was it just all of it?
I almost don’t even want to define it. Because it’s over. And I’m back.
And so, I wanted to share this very honest and personal journey with you.
I’m not a doctor or a therapist. But I am a stay-at-home mom with a laptop, who is capable of writing down her journey and sharing it.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell you about this. Because I know that when I expose something like this, I open myself up to critique and opinions and comments and diagnoses. (Please, keep the comments constructive.)
But then I remembered that powerful truth.
That I am a fearless warrior.
That I am a mother who is strong and capable and beautiful and important.
And that sharing my pain might help some of you who are also experiencing a dark time.
You aren’t alone.
Did you know that women are 70 percent more likely to deal with depression than men? If you’re struggling, there are some excellent resources out there, including Postpartum Support International, which offers free phone chats for moms and dads dealing with anxiety and sadness. Get the help you need. There’s absolutely no shame in it. #justdoyou