Depression and anxiety have no face. There is no look to it. There is no one way. No one size fits all. You can’t (and shouldn’t!) look at someone and say ‘oh they don’t have a mental health issue.’
This selfie was taken the other day with my 2 beauties. I said cheeeeeeese big smiles and this is what we got; Lily with a gorgeous grin and Elijah looking like what the f are these 2 ladies up to? I love it.
To look at it, you may think she doesn’t look depressed? She doesn’t look anxious? I’ve had someone actually say to me (previous to this photo) you look happy, you don’t look sad.
But depression or anxiety doesn’t have to look as sad. Or down in the dumps. Or frantic. Or messed up. Or what ever other ‘look’ people think it should look like.
I internalise it. I do look run down and tired. But I’m not moping around my life sucks kind of thing. It might be like that for others, or it maybe completely different. But for me, it’s that old hamster wheel of thoughts whizzing 10000x a minute. And they build and build until BAM! I flip and want to break something. Actually.
The day this photo was taken I was a wreck; I was trying to decide if I was going to stop breastfeeding altogether or give expressing milk and feeding him that a go. Or mixed feeding. We have had feeding issues from day dot. YES, we have tried it all, before you ask ‘Have you tried this..?’.
So what was running through my mind during this photo? (Jog on if you can’t be bothered reading as my thoughts are ridiculously boring!!)
“I dont want to stop bf. I enjoy the bond. Yet every feed is a struggle with screaming unlatching, not feeding. So what if I express? How do I that? Do I feed then express or at the same time? That means buying a double pump because my single isn’t fast enough and I have Lily to look after too. But that means $ so I’ll have to ask Josh but finances are tight. So maybe I could go back to work soon? Or at least start more night of bootcamp instructing. But then how will Josh be with 2 kids at night? What time would I start BC? Ok back to the feeding. So if he has a cows milk allergy then how can I feed him formula? Goats milk? But do I really want to do this? I feel pressured to but maybe he will be more settled? Do I that if I say this, who will I offend? What will people think of me? What if I did this with Lily and it had this effect? Has me eating a tiny bit of dairy upset Elijahs tummy so much that I am the cause of his tummy pains and issues? Therefore I am a bad, unfit mother! Therefore these kids are better off with out me!
See, ridiculous right??? And it continues. 24 fucking 7. But you can’t see that. You may think ‘huh well that’s just called being an adult and making descions.’ That’s life right? Yup. But It’s when those thoughts don’t switch off and they start to cloud your better judgement, that’s when alarm bells sound.
I had a friend ask me what was my trigger for me to seek help. I wasn’t too sure, as it was a culmination of things; sitting on the couch with Elijah crying in my arms and me just staring into space, feeling numb and not responding to him. Or when both kids were soooo super tired, as it was nearing nap time and I said ‘Right let’s go to the library!’ Total irrational thinking!! But I think the biggest red flag was being swamped with feelings and thoughts that I knew weren’t healthy. Thoughts of leaving. Of walking away from my family. Thoughts of ending everything to stop the bullshit inside my head. That is what it is; It’s bullshit.
I’ll be honest and say I don’t want to die, I am not suicidal. I just want it to stop. Yes, I’ve thought about driving my car into a ditch (talking to my psychologist, she says this is a VERY common idea with mums with post natal mental illness. Something about the notion that then someone will take care of YOU?). I’ve thought about running away to some foreign country. To walk out the door and not come back. Not because I don’t bloody love my family. I do my god I do. I just want the noise to stop.
Shit is getting better. Talking helps. Writing stuff down in the middle of the night helps. Reading helps. Meditation and bits of exercise help. I am now expressing breast milk for Elijah instead of him being at the breast. That was tough to decide but since doing so, it is like a weight has been lifted mentally.
Taking each day by day.
If you are ever feeling a bit off and not liking how you are thinking, PLEASE PLEASE talk to someone. See your doctor. Ring lifeline. Shit you can even message me! (And thank you to those who have done so, you are braver than you think). Please. You are never alone.
And please, never judge someone who you think maybe suffereing with a mental illness. And never assume they are ok. Mental illness has many faces.