The antidote to technology is nature.
Put your hands in the dirt.
On this lovely day, I wish all the mothers a wonderful day but I’m also thinking of those that are in a different head space:
-Those that have tried very hard but can’t have kids.
-Those that don’t want kids yet everyone keeps asking and pressuring.
-Those that don’t talk to their moms.
-Those that have lost their moms (I’m in this group).
-Those that are loving moms to furry children.
-Those that are stand in for moms yet don’t hold the official title.
I appreciate you and wish you a magnificent day too!
If we all stood up to bigotry, we could change history.
Imagine a world without hate.
Soul Pancake’s “Take a Seat, Make a Friend”. People are closer than most people realize. Truth in a ballpit.
I am prompted by the loss of an environmental advocate, a client, and a former classmate to talk about a very personal subject. Jonathan Glass and I did not know each other well. We went to the same high school and when he hired me to help LandPaths reconcile their social media strategy, I realized how long we’d run parallel in this city we loved. I did not know how much we had in common.
I don’t need to tell you what a societal taboo it is to discuss one’s own mental illness. It’s scary for the individual because it is so often viewed as a weakness. Recently Jeremy Hay, a Press Democrat reporter, wrote about his journey as a bipolar individual and I was awed by his courage to self identify. My childhood best friend wrote a very honest piece about her own struggle in response to her grief over Jonathan’s passing. Her bravery, that of Hay, and my own position of visibility have made me realize it’s my turn to speak.
I live with depression and anxiety.
I am a driven person, with boundless amounts of energy, passionate about doing what’s right and getting it done. I am Type A with a capital “A”. My mother was very accomplished against many odds and I have always felt that I must live up to the standards her memory have set for me and to make her proud. I am regularly referred to as a superhero or superhuman due my ability to achieve. Though these are meant as compliments, they are also polarizing to the extent that now I feel as if perfection is expected.
I am not superhuman.
I started my own business in 2006 and in my desire to excel and succeed, I took on many tasks, jobs, and volunteer positions to learn, grow, and demonstrate my abilities. This past spring/summer, I started to fall apart after many years of an arduous schedule. One can only maintain that level of performance for so long before the wheels start to fall off. I knew when the tears wouldn’t stop, things that should make me feel happy simply didn’t, when anxiety attacks woke me up in the middle of the night every night, that I needed help.
I believe in therapy.
My father majored in psychology. He didn’t become a psychologist but he used those skills in his work. After the first traumatic experience of my life, the death of my mother when I was 6, my father put me in a grief support group and it began a cycle of therapy in my life. I’ve consistently entered counseling every 2-3 years to help me deal with one issue or another. It wasn’t until this last term that I realized, therapy needs to be ongoing in my life, not just when I feel bad. I would start it up when it was bad then stop when I felt okay. I decided I wanted to feel even and not just like I was “fixed”.
I am not alone.
Everyone gets sad and everyone gets scared. Almost no one is willing admit it. Sadness to the point of utter despair and fear to the point of feeling like you’re going to die (the most common way people describe a panic attack) shouldn’t be normal but they are. When you get married, everyone asks if/when you are going to have kids. Once you have one, they ask when the next is coming. I’ve had one child and I’m honest with people about having experienced postpartum depression. Sometimes I’m honest about why I don’t think I’m having any more. But when I hear celebrities (and normal women alike) waxing poetic about motherhood being the most blissful and amazing experience ever, I feel broken. I did not enjoy a little baby screaming all the time, pulling on my body, or needing 24 hours of attention. I did not find it blissful or fun. I felt like there was something wrong with me because I didn’t look or feel like moms quoted in the news. I love my child and wouldn’t do anything different but I give great pause when pondering the idea of having another. Asking me if I’m having more kids is probably a more emotionally laden answer than people want to hear.
I’m experimenting with avenues of treatment.
This summer when I felt the worst I’d ever felt, my aunt said, “If they give you medication, make sure you take it.” I told her I’d never been offered anxiety or depression medication. She told me that I could ask for it. I spend several days exploring how I felt about that. The need for medication is often the line that those that have mental illness don’t want to cross. “If I need meds, then there’s really something wrong with me. I should be able to do this myself.” That sounds like an addict to me, the belief that one should be able to solve the problem all by themselves. My doctor already knew that anxiety was a problem for me and that both it and depression ran in my family. So when I asked her to prescribe me something as a trial, she felt comfortable doing it because we’d talked about it when I wasn’t in a dire state. I tried one but it was too heavy for me, I tried another and I like it. I’ve been on it for about 4 months and in about another week I’m going to have a trial and observatory period where I go off of it and record my reactions. Ultimately, I want to learn how to live and deal with stress naturally. But if medication is required, then that’s the case.
I am just like you.
I may look polished on the outside. You can see my face on billboards, brochures, websites, and in lecture halls looking and sounding like I have it all together but I am human and I break down. My baggage isn’t more than your baggage. This isn’t a game of topping people with pain. We all experience it. I am lucky in that I haven’t experienced depression to such a degree that suicide is something I’ve contemplated. But the pain that people hide is very real and affects everyone in their lives. Understanding, compassion, support, medical assistance, and sincere relationships are what will help many of us out of the dark. When someone you trust asks you how you are feeling, please don’t lie because you don’t want to talk about it. Establish a buddy system, as my friend Jake says. Find the buddy that you can talk to even when you are bawling, one that won’t judge you, and will listen any time of day.
You and I are loved.
When suicide happens, those that are left behind are often angry. I never understood that position. I feel sad for the families because they loved the person and will miss them terribly. But I have always identified with the person in pain. Rather than rail against those that could carry on no longer for “being selfish”, try to understand that they felt so horrible that they simply couldn’t continue. They frequently feel as if the world is better off without them. Instead, get angry that there aren’t enough mental health resources. Get angry at mental illness the same way others do at cancer. Please don’t perpetuate anger towards those that felt they had no other option. They simply wanted to alleviate unending pain. That misplaced anger is heard and felt by those that are still with us and in the midst of their own struggle and they become more isolated as a result.
Today I feel good.
Truthfully, my life has never been better. But I know without my buddy system, counseling, medication, and honesty about how I’m doing, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My goal in speaking out about my own journey is to encourage others to do the same. If we all talk to each other about it, maybe those that feel all alone will realize they aren’t.
EMERGENCY 24hr County of Sonoma Mental Health Services 800-746-8181
Sliding scale cost counseling clinic: Chrysalis Counseling Center 707-545-1670
An amazing art project “To This Day Project” by Shane Koyczan. Describing pain, bullying, reality and truth.
“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see he need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” Fred (Mr.) Rogers
True friends are people that treat you like you deserve to be treated. They call you when there’s exciting stuff to talk about and also when there’s nothing to say. They feed your soul and make you happy. They love and support you through the good and the bad.
I hope that if there’s someone in your life that makes you feel like crap or treats you like shit, cast them away and wish them good luck. You are worth more, my friend.
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” ― Robert H. Schuller
I can do anything. I come from a family of superheroes!
“You may think the grass is greener on the other side, but if you take the time to water your own grass, it would be just as green.”