I can safely say that right now, at this point in my life, I am the mentally healthiest I’ve ever been. This is for a multitude of reasons, including fewer major life stressors, healthier coping skills, a true and earnest pursuit of my passions, and a strong support system. I also owe much of this personal growth to simply writing about it.
Writing about my struggles with mental illness, particularly anxiety, since starting Brimming almost a year ago has been like a life raft I didn’t even know I needed. It has been my ultimate lifeline back to myself.
By writing about it, which in turn gives me time to reflect, process and employ my coping strategies, I’ve taken all the wind out of my anxiety’s sails. My low days and moods do not own me. My random rising panic does not steer me. Because I’m living in the truth that the landscape of my mind is vast and varied. It includes mental illness, but it isn’t only mental illness.
I feel free of it in a way. Because I’m owning it in a way I never have before. Claiming it as true about myself. Not “I feel anxious, sometimes,” but “I have anxiety.”
But the thing about mental illness is that it is rarely simple, and it rarely strikes once. More often than not, we, the afflicted, are often carrying co-morbid disorders, meaning two or more mood disorders at once. I don’t just have anxiety, I also have depression.
But you know what I don’t write about much? My depression. And you know what I’ve never written about? Postpartum depression.
As freeing and beautiful as this journey navigating my anxiety has been for me, it has had this dark pull to it. One that I have been ignoring for so long. The one that holds a mirror up to my own initial postpartum experience when I see beloved friends and family genuinely not struggling the way that I did in the early months of motherhood.
The one that tells me now that I’m feeling mentally healthy, it’s time to confront what I know is true, even if only in retrospect: I had postpartum depression and it’s time to write about it.
My undergraduate degree is in Psychology and Social Behavior. My Master’s is in Social Work. I worked in the mental health field for ten years. I have an above-average understanding in, first-hand experience with, and personal crusade around advocating for those with mental illness. Why has it taken me almost three years to admit this to myself?
The burning shame fueled by stigma. Stigma is indiscriminate, even for those of us who have worked in the profession. Maybe even especially.
Thankfully, I can do something about this now that I’ve partnered with The Green Button Campaign.
EVA EDIT: UNFORTUNATELY, THE GREEN BUTTON CAMPAIGN HAS ANNOUNCED AS OF TODAY (APRIL 24, 2018) THAT IT HAS SHUT DOWN. PLEASE READ MY POST ON THE MATTER HERE. I WILL STILL BE POSTING A BLOG EACH DAY OF MENTAL HEALTH WEEK (MAY 14TH-MAY 20TH) ON A DIFFERENT ASPECT OF POSTPARTUM ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION.
I have changed the information below as well to reflect this change.
What WAS the Green Button Campaign?
A team of bloggers on a mission to destigmatize mental illness, particularly online. Our aim was to spread awareness, discuss our personal experiences, as well as coping and treatment options available for disorders like anxiety, depression, personality disorders, PTSD, and postpartum disorders.
When WAS this GOING TO TAKE place?
May is Mental Health Awareness month all over, so this campaign HAD aimed to be particularly active up to and during the month of May, and specifically active during the UK’s Mental Health Week (May 14th- May 20th). I will still personally be posting a blog each day that week on a different aspect of postpartum anxiety and depression.
Why Green Buttons?
Green is recognized as the color of awareness for mental health issues, and buttons hold everything together.
There is so much more to my postpartum story that I will be sharing throughout my posts during mental health week. It feels unbelievably vulnerable, but if by sharing my story, I help one mom who is experiencing something similar, then it will all be worth it.
Stay tuned, and take good care of yourselves.