I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog lately. I’d love to say it’s because I’ve been vacationing somewhere tropical, or traveling the country as a professional “90’s boy band trivia” expert. Alas, the real reason is not that exciting.
I said from the start of this website that I’m not going to go into detail about JB’s diagnoses and health history, as that’s his story to tell (or not tell). But my story? I’m finally ready to share a bit of that.
I’ve been dealing with my anxiety and depression these past few months.
OK, technically I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression for more than half of my life. But lately, it has been a far greater struggle.
I feel like most of the depictions of parents are one of two things: Either they are flawless superheroes, or they are ungrateful whiny monsters. However, I think most of us, at least in my experience, fall somewhere in the middle. We all have our own baggage from before becoming parents, and that doesn’t magically disappear the moment we become “Mom” or “Dad”.
My mental health issues were not caused by becoming a parent. I want to make that clear. Certain factors – lack of sleep, isolation, transitions, time and financial constraints, hypervigilance, frequent medical uncertainty, etc. – have made existing issues harder to deal with on a daily basis, however.
That’s where my amazing support system has come in. I am fortunate enough to have an incredible group of both loved ones and professionals looking out for me.
I am relieved that there is far less of a stigma now than there was even a decade ago. Celebrities from Kristen Bell to Lizzo to Selena Gomez have publicly shared their experiences with depression and/or anxiety. Heck, this year’s Emmy for Outstanding Choreography in a Scripted Series went to a song-and-dance number from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend entitled “Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal!” (Side note: I miss this show so much.)
I’m feeling “better” (which I define as “feeling more like myself”) now, but I know there’s still a ways to go. I’m nowhere near joyful, brave or awesome at the moment, but I’m sure trying.
So why am I telling you all this today?
Next week is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. (Sorry, Canada, I’m too late for yours!) The holidays are crazy stressful as it is; mental health issues or extenuating circumstances (loss of a loved one, change in employment, health crisis, etc.) can make this time even more challenging. If someone seems a little “off” during this time, give them the benefit of the doubt instead of talking about them behind their back when they go to grab seconds. They may be going through something – whether big or small.
Little acts of kindness can go even further this time of year. Surprise the person behind you in the drive-thru by paying for their order. Send a funny .gif to your college roommate. Fill a teapot with sentimental stuff like a tiny pencil and a high school photo of yourself and give it to the receptionist at your Office. (Then again, do not do this. You are not Jim Halpert, and you never will be. Accept this.)
Finally, I’m obviously not a medical expert of any kind. But if you aren’t feeling like yourself, please let someone know and ask for help. There are people out there who genuinely want to help.
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