Almost exactly a year into pandemic living; one pregnancy, one birth and an uncountable number of lows and today I finally asked for help.
Tomorrow I start anti-depressants for the second time in my life.
It’s not a decision I take lightly (though one I’ve vaguely threatened over the past few months) and knowing they will become a part of my life for realistically the next year at least has made it a tough choice to make.
Since my first sink into depression in 2012 I’ve felt immensely proud of myself for asking for help when needed. Over the years this has looked like that first round of fluoxetine, CBT, online therapy, face to face therapy, coaching, GP appointments – and more recently, working with the perinatal mental health team since I was 6 weeks pregnant with R. As a coach and someone who is constantly curious about ways in which I can examine my self and being in detail, I have a plethora of tools I can turn to when things are hard. Meditation, moving my body, journalling, tapping, yoga, talking to friends (remember being able to do that in real life?) – these have all helped me in the past. And I know they can and will again. But you know what I finally realised? I’m too damn tired to find the strength to do all these things. I need something that can balance me out and give my brain some space.
Because this last year has been a lot, hasn’t it? Whatever your personal circumstances, whatever you have experienced in the past twelve months, it has shaped you into someone entirely different. Of course you can say that about any lengthy period of time but I think it’s fair to say a global pandemic playing out against a backdrop of huge hate, pain and questioning of how the fuck we, as humans, have got ourselves into such a bloody mess – well, it was never going to make us all feel great, was it?
Personally, a pandemic pregnancy and birth; bringing a newborn into a small cabin with an *enthusiastic* three year old; watching my husband grieve the business he was so proud of when it went under in lockdown one; giving up my work just as I was getting started (to focus on baby R) – these have all contributed to me making that call today to my mental health team. Feeling hopeless and useless and worthless as I truly saw I could contribute nothing financially to my family and desperately, desperately missing my sense of purpose that life coaching and my magazine brought me last year.
Feeling – less than.
Because I find it impossible to fully give up on at least dreaming about how my business will look whenever I once again have time to grow it, I am currently doing a course about feminine, intuitive business. Whilst listening in on the live call this evening (amidst feeding R and watching CBeebies with E – the juggle is real, as they say), I heard the question ‘ what do you do so naturally, you don’t even think of it as an attribute?’. And my intuition immediately yelled at me ‘I ask for help‘.
I know through watching friends over the years that this is something many people struggle with. Whether it be your upbringing or the wider social narrative about the role of women and our ability/necessity to look after others before ourselves, it’s not something we naturally do with ease. Yet it’s the biggest thing living with depression and anxiety have taught me. Over the past nine years there have been many peaks in how I feel, alongside the far less frequent troughs – and each time I’m in the gutter I claw my way out. I can recognise the signs in myself, the patterns I get into, the behaviours and words I exhibit. I notice these things, slow down a little more, am a little more gentle with myself. I tell my husband and close friends. And then my usual appetite for life reappears and I carry as if nothing has happened. But this time – no. As I said, I’m just too bloody tired of fighting it this time.
Taking ownership of how I feel is the first step in healing myself and being there as a better mama, wife and human. Asking for help is the strongest thing I can do for the people I love and I feel in my bones it is the right thing.
So, my hope in writing this (other than a reminder to myself that writing really *does* help me clear my mind) is that you too have a think about whether you’re trying to soldier on through all ~this~ (waves hands wildly about at the entire world) or whether, perhaps, now may be the time time you hear the little voice inside silently screaming ‘Help me. Please. Help me‘. Listen to her, honour her and then take the smallest step you can in seeking support.
There is little strength in ‘just keeping on’.
But there is enormous bravery in saying ‘enough‘.