I couldn’t stand up. I did not want to stand up. I did not want to get dressed or eat or leave the apartment.
I just lay still on the floor as tears rolled down my face. I was paralyzed by something I just did not understand.
I was afraid if I left to go anywhere, I might die.
The car might crash, the night club might blow up, I might get mugged and murdered in the street.
It was irrational. I was 23 years old, living for the month with my very best friend in the world, Kerr,… in France none-the-less. But instead of being happy in the moment, I was sad. And so strangely obsessed with dying.
The thoughts were so confusing. I did not want to die. I was afraid of dying. And yet, there were many times I found myself thinking that everything would just be easier if I was dead. There would be no pain if I was dead.
My friend Kerry had to work every day, so she left by eight or nine in the morning and I was alone in the apartment all day. Often I would not get dressed until about thirty minutes before I knew she would be coming home. I thought I was hiding it, but she knew. She could see right through me, and she did her best to pull me out of my dark place. Because she knew me so well, and because she was such a close and understanding friend, she helped me get past that terrifying moment in my life.
But it was not the last time it happened. And I imagine it will happen again.
Depression is a scary thing. It can hit out of nowhere. It is something I do not talk about regularly on this blog. The depth of my sadness and anxiety is something I have never shared, even with my closest friends. It is not at all the same as grieving, although grief can lead to depression. But I know the difference between them. I have lived them both. Grief is for a time. Depression is a long term battle.
Thankfully, I knew enough to ask for immediate help after Kathryn died. I knew I risked falling back into this black hole of depression, and I immediately asked for help. Drugs made coping easier. They made life easier. The anti depressants made my return from the land of the broken hearted a much easier transition.
My grieving was far different from the depression that I have felt, and luckily pulled myself out of, over the past few years.
Mental health is something worthy of talking about. I want to be a part of the discussion, and to let others know it is okay to talk about it and admit it if you have a problem. It is good to seek ways, even if you do not struggle with depression, to keep yourself balanced and not only your physical health in check, but also taking the time to keep your mental health in a good place. I know I am not alone in this. I have read other bloggers share their stories of depression. Lady Jennie of A Lady in France and Erin Margolin of the Road to My Writer Roots have both greatly touched me with their posts on depression. When I read their struggles, I know that I am not alone in this. In fact, one in every four people suffer from it.
Mental health is an important topic to me, and it should be to all mothers. Not only is our own mental health important, but so is that of our children. Besides the fact that it is so difficult to care for small children in the middle of your own battle.
As luck would have it, I read a post last week on a blog I visit regularly, That Cynking Feeling, and I felt charged to take action. Her post, “Chilling Thought” provided an insight into her own struggles with depression, but also introduced the world to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Campaign. I knew immediately that I also wanted to take the pledge and participate in the 2014 Blog for Mental Health.
Blog For Mental Health 2014
Here is the pledge, based on the words from the project founder’s initial call to action in 2012:
“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”
If this is a topic of interest to you, I urge you to check out the campaign and participate too.
So, what is the status of your mental health?
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that cynking feeling saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 10:33 am
I’m glad you have taken the pledge. Together, we can help each other.
that cynking feeling recently posted…Hairy lies
katbiggie saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 10:43 am
Thank you. And thank you for sharing your own journey.
Janine Huldie saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 11:15 am
Wonderful that you have taken the pledge. My hat is off to you in knowing after Kathryn passed away to actually ask for help. Some may not have been as strong as you to realize this. Thanks for always being so forthcoming and sharing her Alexa! 🙂
Janine Huldie recently posted…90s Beauty Nostalgia from Byrdie Brought Me Back
katbiggie saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 11:21 am
Thank you Janine! It’s important that people never feel alone!
another jennifer saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 11:25 am
Thank you for sharing your story, Alexa. Anxiety and depression are extremely common for women. At the substance abuse treatment facility I work with, almost all of the female clients have some form of depression or anxiety disorder. It’s common and it can be beaten. Unfortunately, there’s way too much stigma. I’m happy to see you part of the discussion and showing others they are not alone.
Kerry saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 11:35 am
How brave of you to share your story. I know I have had dark periods too – but not sure what those periods would be classified as. Mental health is so complex, and I think many doctors struggle with diagnosing properly – especially for busy mothers. You’ll get the, “you’re just tired, or stressed, or this is what it’s like during this stage of life.” I hope we can continue to make strides in the mental health area and remove the stigma of talking about it openly.
Kerry recently posted…Two Easy Crock Pot Meals – My Saving Grace for a Busy Week
katbiggie saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 1:24 pm
Yes, it is true. The stresses of having small children and balancing work, life, family, etc can be overwhelming enough to put anyone into a depression! It’s unfortunate that right now, insurance companies don’t cover a lot of programs to benefit mental health, which is crazy. I hope big strides will be made too!
Tamara saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 3:16 pm
Wonderful to take the pledge. And very brave. I’m glad that more and more people feel they can talk about it. Depression isn’t my particular illness. Situational anxiety is, though, and it can be very debilitating.
So my current mental illness status is not so bad, but I’m always aware it can be a lifelong series of battles.
Tamara recently posted…Something So Simple.
katbiggie saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 4:17 pm
Isn’t that the truth? I guess that’s pretty normal though. We go through good seasons and bad seasons, ups and downs. Yes, situational anxiety is no fun either!
Dana saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 3:25 pm
I have been moved by how many bloggers I have met are so honest and open about their experiences with depression, anxiety, and addiction. I’m sure it’s a scary thing to share, but letting other women know they are not alone is so important. Thank you for having the courage to share, Alexa.
Dana recently posted…One fierce mama (guest post)
katbiggie saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 4:16 pm
Thank you Dana. I appreciate the positive feedback. It’s easy to share with such a receptive and kind audience!
Lisa @ The Golden Spoons saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 7:42 pm
Good for you! I think it’s so awesome the way you – and many others – are willing to put your stories out there in an effort to help others. I admire your courage and honesty!
Lisa @ The Golden Spoons recently posted…Tuesday Ten – Things I Love and Hate About Winter
katbiggie saysJanuary 15, 2014 at 8:47 pm
Thank you Lisa.
Galit Breen saysJanuary 16, 2014 at 7:25 am
This is such a brave and important topic.
I’m so proud of you for writing this, for putting yourself out there, for helping someone else with your words.
That’s just how your heart rolls, yes? Love.
Galit Breen recently posted…Listening Ears
Katie @ AMotherThing saysJanuary 16, 2014 at 11:19 am
I am checking it out and will be participating in the pledge, as well. I’ve struggled so long and so hard against depression and anxiety, and last year was one of the worst of my life. But I got through it, and I keep working toward being better. Thanks for writing this and helping to be one of those who help end the stigma.
Katie @ AMotherThing recently posted…Share and Share Alike
thedoseofreality saysJanuary 16, 2014 at 12:44 pm
Thank you so much for your honesty in this post! I have no doubt that you have helped people with being so candid about your struggle. Hugs to you.-Ashley
thedoseofreality recently posted…You Ate WHAT?!?
Darlene saysJanuary 18, 2014 at 2:17 am
Hi Kat, Thanks for sharing your story. It is so wonderful to know there are other women out there with similar experiences who are willing to share them. I have struggled with depression and anxiety all my life. The first time I was prescribed anti-depressants, I was five years old. It took over a year for the doctors to figure out what was wrong with me. They thought I had a skin condition but it turned out that the hives that covered my body were caused by anxiety and depression. My mom says my skin cleared up quickly once I started to take the medication. Why I was depressed – is another story.
Wishing you the best, Darlene
Darlene recently posted…Today I Choose To Live With Gratitude
Alison saysJanuary 18, 2014 at 7:52 am
Alexa, thank you for sharing your story.
Know that your words will help another, even as they fight to come out the other side. xo
Michelle saysJanuary 18, 2014 at 5:56 pm
I’m glad you shared your story. I have suffered through OCD and anxiety over it for most of my life, and I have had my share of dark spells too. Once when I mentioned my OCD to my mom (and I had it when I was a small child as well), she made the comment that I had done that to myself. It wasn’t meant in a mean way, but I think the older generation just didn’t know what we know now. It has actually gotten better since having children, but it flares up when I am stressed. Very few people know though. It’s not something I talk about much, although I think I mentioned it once on my blog.
Michelle recently posted…#AskAwayFriday with Beth from Structure in an Unstructured Life
katbiggie saysJanuary 21, 2014 at 7:48 am
Thank you for sharing that Michelle. I think the benefit of writing about it and sharing (beyond personal release) is that sense of community and realization that we aren’t the only one struggling with the issue. I look at other people and think “well, she has the same struggles, and she makes it through each day.” That gives me hope.
Angela Gilmore saysJanuary 20, 2014 at 3:19 pm
I have a hard time writing about depression and mental health. I’ve been exposed to it my whole life, though different members of my family and myself. Reading what you’ve written here is very inspiring. There is a stigma about mental health, and there shouldn’t be. I am clicking over now to check out the campaign. Thank you for sharing this.
katbiggie saysJanuary 21, 2014 at 7:44 am
Thank you Angela. I appreciate the comment, and am happy that you are going to look into this as well. It’s freeing to be able to admit it.
Christine at More Than Mommies saysJanuary 20, 2014 at 10:29 pm
I have a friend from Aruba who currently lives in PA (my home state) and she told me once that she was very surprised by the stigma surrounding mental health here in the North. She said in her hone coy try it is openly talked about and accepted that you would see a therapist and seek help for mental health issues. I wonder why we are so less open about it?
Christine at More Than Mommies recently posted…They said What?!?
katbiggie saysJanuary 21, 2014 at 7:43 am
It is a good question. I know in my case, I could never admit depression, nor seek any medical help, because I had a security clearance. Isn’t that sad? The people with the clearances probably need to be open about their mental health more than anyone else! I wish there were so many things we were open about in this country. Right now, we look at people like they are “broken” if they admit depression and anxiety. It shouldn’t be that way.
Jennifer Butler Basile saysFebruary 18, 2014 at 4:07 pm
Yes. Yes. and Yes. To feeling it. To speaking about it. To living and mothering despite it. Great post and great spreading of the word!
Jennifer Butler Basile recently posted…Education and Learning: A Mutual Understanding or Mutually Exclusive?
katbiggie saysFebruary 19, 2014 at 7:02 am
Thank you so very much! It was not easy to write, but I hope my words bring comfort to someone.