It is here. It is real. And it’s not going away. – The reality of living with mental illness(es) is that it is here to stay, whether I want it or not. It is a part of me and my daily life. Finding balance and self-love can be difficult sometimes, even on the good days there can be bad moments. This is the reality. Being a mom doesn’t change that aspect of my life, as badly as I would like it to sometimes. I will forewarn the disorganization of this post. There are many things I wish to say, but I know I don’t have a lot of time to write before Addison is awake.
There is no experience in the world that I cherish more than being a mom. Every day, my daughter changes and grows more into herself. People tell me that I am raising a little angel – but I disagree. I am raising a little warrior girl. I will do my best to teach her to be strong, to be fierce, to love without reservation. There are so many lessons I hope I can guide her through, and so much fear I have surrounding the possibility that I may fail. This life is hers to experience, and my only hope is to help her love it. For now, I get to see her wake up to the world a little more each day. Everything is new for her, this morning – she was fascinated with the light changing colours on her swing. How blessed I am to get to share these little moments with her. She is just over 7 weeks old now, and she comes more into her own each day. How beautiful it is to watch the innocence. She only knows the love we give her, and the world as she slowly sees it.
My daughter is asleep on the couch next to me as I write this. Yes – she is asleep on the couch. Why? – Because that is where she FINALLY fell asleep after a long, sleepless night. It is 2:00pm and she is finally resting. Lord knows I’m not risking waking her by trying to move her to her bed. I love her more than life itself – and I will continue to try and find the balance, to find the love for myself that she needs me to have. She is watching the world wake in our home each day. And I will not miss it.
“I am hiding under the covers”
A working title of my future book
I am here to be your friendly mental health advocate: To share my experiences. Which is all this is really – my experiences. I will not hide my truth, I am not afraid of it anymore, and although it may tell me otherwise – I am not alone in this fight. Mental illness is not an easy feat. It is a battle you size up every day. Even with proper medication and support, it is still like being in a boxing match, and the opponent made sure not to bring a towel to throw in. It is constantly training, working, waiting for me to be tired. And lord knows, I am getting tired. Somedays it feels like I’m getting my ass kicked over here. Somedays, it is difficult and exhausting. It is hard work, to be at war with yourself. Anxiety is a constant challenger. It creeps into every task, making simple things seem impossible. Depression is a lying lover, shrinking the world with weight and darkness when it is least expected. Going to the grocery store is a huge challenge for me. Even more so now as I try to juggle the diaper bag and car seat. My heart stops in the condiment aisle, as my daughter begins to wail. In another instance, my heart races in the produce section as a stranger grants herself permission to touch my baby. I have never been comfortable in crowds, and to me – the grocery store is too crowded. Balancing my anxiety and my life as a mom is a constant challenge. I live on edge right now, trying to figure out how to keep her safe. My mind races with all the situations that could occur between my home and the store. The darkness in my head has always weighed my heart down. It is difficult to enjoy the small moments when the weight of emptiness lies inside your heart. It is an exhausting way to be.
Dear struggling mommas;
I see you. I see you juggling your cart in the store, with your toddler in tow. I see you, 3am and a crying baby. I see your desperation, trying to determine what the beautiful child you brought into the world needs. They are human. You are human. I see you.
It is not easy. Being responsible for another life is not easy. Sometimes, being responsible for my own life is not easy. But we are all they know. We are all they reach for, as they begin to experience the world one piece at a time. They are human beings, learning to be human beings – they are experiencing feelings and situations for the first time(s) and that is okay. It is okay not to be okay. I have been learning this lesson slowly but surely. I have been learning how to be a mom, and how to have mental illness. Mental illness is not easy – and neither is being a mom. The combination is an entirely different challenge to face each day. But let me tell you this: You are not alone. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to hide in the shower for that extra 5 minutes of sanity. You re allowed to be afraid, to be frustrated, to be overjoyed, excited, and happy. You are allowed to be sad – to feel empty, to be lonely. But you cannot give up. You are their favourite warmth – the voice they fell in love with. The comfort they seek. It is hard to know what they need sometimes, but they will always need you. Reach out. Seek help. Love yourself. Because they love you exactly as you exist. I see you. We are not alone in all of this.
“You, who’s voice is someone’s favourite voice. Someone’s favourite face to wake up to. Nothing would be the same if you did not exist” – Sierra Demulder