My Heart, Your Home: Reaching Out   

Friday, 1 February 2013

Reaching Out

Anxiety is just a feeling. It is not a physical problem. It is an emotional reaction. It is a feeling of worry, unease, fear and nervousness. It is internal and mostly, people don't know that you are suffering it. That is, until it becomes physical. Anxiety is real. It is strong. It effects your entire mental and emotional state and some times, it can become so overwhelmingly strong that it begins to effect your physical state too. Anxiety, and depression, can be caused by all different kinds of factors. It is never truly any one thing and mostly, sufferers are not even certain themselves of why they are feeling the way they are. They just know that they are. 

We suffer in silence. We wake in the middle of the night. We fight for breath. We swallow it down and we try to ignore it. All the while trying to prove that we are okay, that we are super Mum (or mum-to-be), we are strong and capable and coping. The problem is that we are all of those things, even when we feel like we aren't. Motherhood is hard work. It is not perfect, it is not clean, it is not easy and it is not always fun. It is the hardest job that we will ever have to do and it is a job that we will always do. No one expects us to excel at this job every single day. No one expects us to do more than we are capable of doing. No one puts these expectations on us, except for ourselves. So much pressure, so many expectations. Such disappointment and anger when we fall short. It is no wonder anxiety and depression is so common.

It is more common than you know. Than I know. Especially in young Mothers. In Mothers who are trying to be... everything. We need to loosen the reigns, take a step back, take some time, walk away. We need to learn to look after, not only our children and our families, but ourselves. It is time to take control. It is time to be honest. It is time to understand that anxiety and depression is not a flaw, it is an illness. An illness which can be fixed, if only we would admit to having it. All it takes is a little support, a lot of encouragement and a bucket load of strength. It is time that we reach out, that we speak openly to each other, that we tell our stories! It is time... to get better!

Yesterday I reached out. Yesterday was a big day, huge. Yesterday I made a step towards a better future... a better life. I went to my midwives and I said those very hard and very intimidating and very "disappointing" words. I said to my midwife, I am just not coping. Then I spoke to a counsellor. For over an hour. I cried, I talked, I shook, I smiled and then the best thing of all. I walked away and I survived. I came home and I felt lighter. 

Anthony said to me last night. "I have never heard of prenatal". He wouldn't say any more words than that, but I think his implication was that he has never heard of prenatal depression. Anthony is as supportive as a man who doesn't understand depression, or anxiety, can be. But he truly doesn't understand. Depression does not only occur within Mothers after the baby is born. It can start while you are pregnant. It can start months, even years after your baby is born. It can start when ever it damn well wants to. Because, postnatal depression is depression. Depression does not just show up at a text book time. It shows up whenever it pleases. It comes and it goes. 

The problem with "mental health" in today's society (which has come so very far) is that people cannot understand it. They can not see it. It is an illness of the mind, not of the body and so it can be hidden. How do you understand something you cannot see? How do you understand something that is not talked about? 

It is more common than we know and everyone has a story. Everyone has a story of suffering but they all have a story of surviving. We are survivors. I choose to be a survivor, I refuse to be a victim to this. I choose to talk about my story because I want to encourage you to do the same. The more we talk about it, the more we admit it, the easier it will become for you, or your loved ones, to reach out and take that all elusive first step to recovery.

We Mothers need to band together, we need to be honest and we need to give each other the strength, courage, support and encouragement to reach out!

I reach out to you... Are you okay? 

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