My Mental Health Battle
I am not sure when we stopped teaching others about kindness. I think we are so used to seeing all of the craziness on television that we forget how kindness looks in action, or worse. When I say “or worse” I mean we think someone’s genuine kindness is a joke or insincere. If you’re anything like me, this thought has crossed your mind a good time or two. Thanks anxiety.
This post is more so about me than it is about Mark and I hope that is okay. I feel like I cannot be the only person who has stood in the position I am in now and if I am… then let’s dissect this like they would in an undergrad anatomy class, shall we?
So what exactly do you need to know about me? Other than, of course, everything already in this blog. Well, I suffer from depression and anxiety. I fear I am not doing enough for my son. I am afraid I am not doing anything right. I have very low self-esteem. I don’t trust compliments- I feel they often have a double meaning or are being made as a joke. Especially ones about being a good mother. I suffer from severe body image issues and have been on both extremes on the eating disorder spectrum. I am a recovering people pleaser and in Perfectionist Anonymous (not so anonymous anymore though…).
After typing that out… I took a deep breath and said out loud “Jesus, I really hope no one else feels this way.” That is the first time I’ve written these thoughts down, all together, like this. In my journals, you’ll find pages upon pages, one entry after another of these thoughts, and the feelings associated within them. I’ve never been able to share them with anyone other than my therapist so this is making me…. vulnerable and I hate it so much.
Depression and anxiety is the toughest, most debilitating game of tug of war happening in my head. The fear of not being good enough, the fear of not doing enough, the people-pleasing, the lack of trust in compliments… all of that is my anxiety. So you may see my high functioning anxiety in the forms of being highly organized, a control freak, always 30 minutes early, over-preparing, picking at my nails, and having the need for constant reassurance (it’s annoying, I know). The depression is basically the opposite for me. I will have no energy. I will struggle to get out of bed (but I somehow manage to do it). I will cancel plans and make excuses for why I won’t join (most of the time I will be on my couch or in bed). I will struggle to find joy in things that once made me light up with a smile, but I will still laugh. My mind is telling me that no one is kind to me or rather I am not worthy of other people’s kindness. I am not worthy. My mind will tell me that my body is torn to shreds and will never be fixed. After all, who would want to be friends with someone like me? How can they say I am doing a good job? Don’t they know its a constant battle? It was an act of congress just to type this out. I even tried to stop this one from getting published 4 times.
The self-esteem issues… well, they stem mostly from my body issues, but there is another side to that as well. I don’t put all of my value in looks. I once told my therapist I am not smart. She asked me what I meant by that, and I explained further. I don’t see myself as smart because I think differently than others. For the longest time, I used to think there was something “wrong” with me, because of my thought process. In a conversation with my therapist, I had to explain that I am educated, not smart and there was a difference. This sounded silly to say out loud but as usual, she helped me work through it.
When it comes to my body image, let’s just say I am cursed. I care entirely too much about what others think of me and how I look. I have never been skinny. I think the smallest I’ve weighed (that I can remember) was 120 pounds as a sophomore in high school. Cue the eating disorder the summer before 10th grade. I didn’t eat much and when I would eat, it was what everyone else was eating. What also makes this unique is we had just started 2-a-day practices during the summer for cheerleading. I conditioned in the Florida heat wearing shorts and a black hoodie. I did just about everything I could to sweat any and all my weight off. In the second half of my 10th-grade year, I got into a relationship with the man I would eventually go on to marry. I became comfortable and eating became my coping mechanism when any major (or minor) inconvenience took its toll. As my comfort level increased so did my pant size and scale number.
Pregnancy didn’t help the body image issues either. Everything one was supposed to feel during pregnancy, I was experiencing the opposite. I didn’t glow. My skin dried out. My hair wasn’t long, thick, or shiny. It was falling out. I was prone to acne and I was swollen everywhere but in my stomach region. Eventually, I had a moon face (thanks to my good friend preeclampsia).
When I said I’ve been on both extreme ends of eating disorders, I mean I’ve binged and I’ve purged. It is never a good feeling to feel that these are your only options. It plays into how others see me. It goes back to the standards we’ve set for ourselves. It goes back to the standards society sets for us. This post comes with so many additional thoughts and I have so much more to say about it. If there is anyone else who is going through something like this, no matter how big or small your fight is, I have something to say to you:
“You are not alone. Regardless of if you are a mother or not, I have stood in your shoes. You cannot let society determine your beauty, your worth, or your ambitions. You set your own standards and you exceed them.”
I don’t want anyone to ever feel the way I have. I think or at least I hope that much is clear. I know that some people will read this and will judge me for it or say I am doing it for attention. Others will tell say I am just a negative and toxic person for going through what I am going through. I don’t really know how to combat these things (the judgment, the comments, etc.). I can only tell you that this is me being very vulnerable right now. I mean this entire blog is me being vulnerable. It is hard. It is terrifying. It is stressful at times and relieving at others.
I didn’t start this with the idea of hiding behind a keyboard. I wanted this to become somewhat of an open book. I wanted this to be as transparent as possible. Post-Partum Depression is real. Post-Partum Anxiety is real. Both depression and anxiety are very real without being postpartum. Both can be debilitating and life-threatening. I can only tell you how I feel. I can only tell you my story.
If you or someone you know is going through their own mental health battle, please consider contacting the following resources for immediate assistance:
**This post is not a paid endorsement. There are no funds or benefits of any kind being shared between myself and these programs/companies/ services.**