The first time I experienced depression was when I was a teenager. That’s a pretty common experience, right? A time when we’re learning what it means to be in this world.
The teenage experience is often isolating. Confusing.
We don’t know how to talk to our parents anymore and even our friends may seem alien to us. And so we wonder, what’s wrong with us?
Then there’s freedom. A sense of autonomy that helped to pull me through this challenging time. I found my voice, though still small and uncertain.
And then fast forward to 21. I am pregnant and over the moon excited for this new little life I have the profound privilege to nurture and love.
But at the same time this experience feels tainted. I move through illness for the majority of my pregnancy without the support I so long for. Isolated from friends and family who don’t know how to be there for me during this extremely important time.
Let me just say that women becoming mothers for the first time need a goddamn tribe of support around them at all times! While a new life is being created, a woman is also being formed. She NEEDS people to f@$king show up for her!
So PLEASE, be there for her. Sit with her. Ask her how she’s feeling. Bring her nourishing foods. Don’t let her do this alone!
Honestly, the lack of support I received during this time created the majority of the trauma I experienced as an adult and resulted in severe postpartum depression. At that time though, it felt taboo to talk about how sad and depressed you were. So I didn’t. And honestly, no one asked.
‘You just had a beautiful baby. What is there to be sad about?’
A lot. And it’s beyond just the fearful thoughts. Often, it is physiological. As women who become mothers, we step into a whole new way of being in this world, and in our bodies.
I SOOOO wish someone had stood at bat for me during this time and helped me get support. A counsellor, my doctor, anyone! Feeling like there’s something wrong with you as a new mother is extremely difficult to manage.
Honestly, this wound is something I’m still moving through and feeling into for forgiveness. Forgiveness of self, and for those who didn’t know how to help.
That was probably my last major experience of depression. Likely because after that I created a distance from my emotions. Turning away from my sensitive heart and focusing solely on getting through my children’s younger years believing that I couldn’t rely on anyone else for support.
It really wasn’t until 5 years ago when I felt a stirring begin. A deep need for all the parts of myself to be reclaimed.
All of the structures in my life I had build to keep me safe and separate needed to be dismantled. This was not a gentle process. Though I imagine it could have been if I had tools and resources to help with the transition.
I left my marriage and business. And began the essential journey from head to heart. Learning again what it means to be sensitive and vulnerable.
It was rocky. And so incredible! I had realized that living in isolation and with a constant fear of abandonment was no way to live at all. Rather, it was slow suicide.
I knew that I had a choice. To allow depression to take over again, to move deeper into my fears and isolation, or seek help.
During that time I had incredible lifeline friends! They were everything to me. People I could call at any time and helped draw out my truth.
**If you are moving through depression or anxiety, I STRONGLY encourage you to reach out to a friend that you trust. If this isn’t available, seek the support of a counsellor. Better yet, do both!!
What I began to see (with the help of many guides and teachers), was that depression and anxiety showed up when I was separated in some way from my Self. With a capital S - my truest Self.
When I wasn’t speaking, living or being my truth, there was turmoil. Confusion. A desire to retreat and distance.
Anxiety taught me this lesson greater than anything else. For a period of time, a failure to speak openly and honestly resulted in severe panic attacks.
It’s funny. During this time I went to my doctor to talk about how to deal with the anxiety and panic attacks. While she was sympathetic and kind, she lacked the experience to know how to offer support.
My doctor’s best suggestion was to go on meds. No referral to a counsellor. No ongoing support or inquiry into the root of the issue.
I sought a counsellor on my own. Thank goodness!! Honestly, this more than anything else, helped me move through and process so much of what lay behind the anxiety.
And here I am today. Happy, loved, supported, and fulfilled in so many ways. A testament to the truth that we ALL experience struggle with mental wellness and a true believer in the importance of seeking support.
I may experience depression and anxiety again. Who knows? But it’s ok. I now have tools. And I know where to find support.
PLEASE, reach out. Please keep talking. Don’t let your fears, sadness, grief, trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety hide in the dark.
Reach out to a friend. AND a counsellor. And whatever else you can get your hands on! If the first person doesn’t get you, keep trying. You matter. Your presence here is SO important.
Crisis Services Canada
Alberta Mental Health Helpline
Online Counselling - Better Help