(This post was originally written for and published at KristinFunston.com. It has been re-adapted for Memphis Moms Blog.)
Anxiety and depression.
Two separate sides of the same coin and very, very real. Those who suffer feel them as acutely as if they were holding that small coin in their hand - if not more so.
For some of us, the root of our emotions and reactions are hard to identify, to name, to call out ... until given a little nudge.Maybe the nudge is a hushed conversation with a friend or a hard shove into a complete breakdown.
Hi, my name is Kristin and I suffer from mental health issues.
Wow - that was hard to write. Confession: I deleted it a couple times before finally retyping. Writing that down officially labels what I thought were "simple feelings" as a real issue ... and I did it where the world can see. (Lord, have mercy on my over-sharing blogger soul.)
But I've had too many private conversations with other moms to know I'm not the only one. Some things can and should be thrown into open discussion, despite the risk of a label.
For me, it took months to recognize my lack of sleep, racing mind, outbursts of anger, obsessive tendencies, unhealthy impatience, and busy-ness were rooted in mental health and hormonal imbalances. Besides a short bout with postpartum depression almost five years ago, I never had a history of mental health issues, so I didn't recognize these specific symptoms for what they were. It was different this time.
Where did it finally click? Over a bowl of chips and salsa.
About a year ago, a few girlfriends and I sat down for MNO (mom's night out) at a local Mexican restaurant. The conversation flowed to a point where a couple of them said - out loud - they used to suffer from some of the same and similar things I secretly battled for months. They shared how they screamed unnecessarily at kids and husbands, how they couldn't relax or settle down, how they couldn't sleep and how they reached out for help from their doctors who prescribed anti-depressants.
And - gasp! - these friends are strong, faithful Christian women who seem to have it all together. From the outside, they looked patient, loving, and engaged with not just their children, but spouses and other friends and family. They were always smiling and seemed ... well, happy and at ease.
But that evening, they shared the everyday things that sparked their anxiety and depression. They also shared how seeking help through medication and counseling became the daily rocks to ground them. And now, they are better moms than they used to be.
The truth of the matter is, they are better moms because of their willingness to reach out for the help they needed.
And now, so am I.
Since seeking help from my own doctor (who recommended a low-dosage of antidepressants and counseling), life makes more sense and feels better. The chaotic and confusing fog of emotions has cleared and my racing mind has slowed. I let the little things go and have the energy for the important things. I can hug my sweet kiddos without fear of them getting struck by lightening (or some other bizarre and unlikely scenario). I can relax even though I don't have Pinterest-perfect Halloween goodie bags at the school party. I fall asleep more easily, don't restlessly pace, and enjoy my husband and kids more.
I'm a better mom because my hormones are in check and I am able to function without emotions controlling every detail and thought.
I'm a better mom because I asked for help.
I don’t know how long I will take medication, but for now I'm closer to "myself" and farther from overwhelming emotions.
Sure, there are still bad days, but the good days outnumber the bad by a long-shot.
Whether it's from counseling, medication, or a new diet and lifestyle, there are options for us with in the all-consuming fog of unrest, worry and/or sadness.
Friend, hear me when I say, there is NO shame in getting outside help for anxiety and depression.
Sometimes it’s a temporary relief to kickstart our joy again. And sometimes, it’s a more prolonged effort of deliverance through counseling and medication.
If you feel seeking help is the best option for you, then do it. Maybe this is your nudge to seek help.
Anxiety and depression will not win. Because we have too much depending on us to be the healthiest version of ourself. (I'm looking at you, family.)
So, mama, if you suffer from any symptoms anxiety or depression, don't hesitate to ask for help.
Your everyday life is waiting for you to get back to yourself.