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The smile to cover the pain.

The smile to cover the pain. A smile through the pain.

This post isn’t an easy one to write today. But I have noticed many talking about how worn down they are and how their mental health has been struggling lately. I am one of those currently experiencing this. And I want to be open and raw and write about this today in case any other women are out there experiencing this. You are not alone. And you are not any less of a mother. We are living through a time like nothing we have ever experienced before and our main goal should be survival. But as women, we feel like we have to do it all. And it all is so much.

I’ve read all the books. I’ve worked on the positive affirmations. I've tried soaking up the sunshine and getting my Vitamin D. I’ve completed the anxiety and depression ACT workbook. I’ve done all the therapy (and still continue to). I’ve taken the medication (many medications in hopes of finding the right one). I’ve put in the work and continue to do so. Mental health doesn’t have a specific look. Most people that are smiling are struggling deep down inside. To some, mental health is a constant battle. And some that “look” like they have it altogether, are the ones hurting the most.

I have been working on managing my anxiety and depression through medication for many years. In addition to the trial and errors of medication for my anxiety and depression, I also rely on daily medication for my autoimmune disease too. I had always heard that it can take a long time to find the right medication and let me tell you, I still haven’t found a medication that I feel is beneficial to me. In recent months (at the start of all of this actually) I was put on a new combination of medications. It seemed to help me minimally. I mean, it was better than the medication I was taking that we were paying $250 monthly out of pocket that helped with the depression, but made me feel emotionally numb. It was better than the medication that made me feel like I had no control over my mind. And it was definitely better than the medication that made me so ridiculously agitated for no reason. So I continued to take it and notice the positives and the negatives of the medication. But I “hit a wall” with it and decided to stop taking it. Now, if you know anything about taking medications like this, it’s that you are never supposed to abruptly stop taking these medications. You go through withdrawals. And I knew this, but opted to just stop one day because I couldn’t take the side effects any more.

Pair the abrupt stop in medication with the fact that I hadn’t slept in weeks. I mean, yea, I’d get an hour here and an hour there, but definitely not anything that was beneficial to my physical or mental health. I was taking high powered medication every night in the hopes of sleep … and most nights, I still couldn't sleep. Daily functioning became the tallest mountain to climb each and every day.

I am eating less than I ever have before, but the weight just keeps on coming. And I'm eating less, not because I'm starving myself, but because I just don't have much of an appetite. I know the importance of eating foods that make you feel good and strong and healthy. So when I do eat, I'm making those choices to eat well. And I'm drinking plenty of water. But the weight keeps coming. It doesn’t matter that I start every day with Yoga. I go on daily walks/hikes with my daughter (when weather permits). And exercise 20-30 minutes a day. It doesn’t matter. The weight doesn’t care! The stress can be very overwhelming and at times feels unmanageable. It seems that the medication, the lack of sleep, the amount of stress have much more of an influence on my weight right now, than anything else. I try to stay positive and focused on the good that I am trying to do for myself, but the weight is still there. And then come the negative thoughts and the negative self talk. It’s this horrible perpetual cycle.

My friendships and relationships struggle through all of this too. I just want to shut down. All I want to do is be by myself. It is nothing that anyone has done. I am so fortunate and blessed to be surrounded by the most wonderful and beautiful women. And I’m sure they’d understand, but I don't want to burden them or to pull them down with these all consuming feelings. I write out so many messages that I end up deleting because I don’t want to burden anyone with knowing how poorly I’m feeling. I don’t want them to know how much I’m struggling. And there are times where I feel like all I can focus on is my mommy duties. My four year old is my priority. And I certainly don’t want her to know or see or feel like anything is wrong, so I give every bit of effort I have to ensure she’s happy and I’m being active and engaging with her. But that takes a lot of out of me. A lot. And it makes me feel like I have nothing left to give others. (So if you are in my life and we go through periods of time that we aren’t talking much or I have withdrawn temporarily … please know it’s not you, it’s me lol. But seriously, sometimes I just need space and time to get “right” again).

Then the mother’s guilt came in. My focus isn’t entirely on my daughter. Because I’m trying to get through everything I am and some days I really struggle. Feeling like I'm not enough and not doing enough for my child during a pandemic. I feel so bad for her. I feel like she has had to spend part of her childhood, not getting to be a child. She misses her friends. She misses her family. She misses going to school. At least once per day she is telling us that she misses one of those things. The weather in the northeast hasn’t been totally reliable and even simply getting outside every day has been difficult. Even if we do get outside, we can’t go to the playground. I just want her to spend her childhood years, getting to live like a child. But it’s been so hard these days. She watches too much tv, she eats too many snacks, she doesn’t get enough sleep. I wish I could do better and be better … for her and for me.

I wanted to write this piece today because I know so many others that are currently struggling. This time is hard. It’s like nothing we’ve gone through before. Coping with all the changes of the world has proven to be challenging for most.

Life is beautiful, but it can be tough! And you never know what battles someone is fighting. Most are really good at slapping on a smile and putting on a brave face to hide their pain and suffering. Let’s show more compassion. Show more understanding. Let’s support those we love most. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I am blessed to have my “hood”. They understand my struggles and the daily battles I’m fighting and they give me support and compassion and kindness. I am blessed and I choose to focus on my blessings. But as much as I can make that choice, my disease can be more powerful sometimes. And during those times I struggle. But I struggle because I’m fighting to find the good and be the good. Thank you to all who continue to stand by my side. I love you all you give me the strength to keep fighting every single day.

Mental illness is not a personal failure. No one has to struggle in silence. There is help available to those who may be struggling themselves.

Crisis Text Line - Text “HELLO” to 741741

Veterans Crisis Line - 1 800 273 TALK

Disaster Distress Helpline - 1 800 985 5990 or Text “Talkwithus” to 66746

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1 800 273 8255

Eating Disorder Helpline - 1 800 931 2237

Drug and Alcohol National Helpline - 1 800 662 4357

Sending you all love xo.

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