I have a story to share I always have. I have a big heart and a big vocabulary and I’m always up for a honest, open discussion. Yet the one thing that always silenced me was my depression. To speak of it meant a horrible feeling of shame that washed over me. I have struggled with the stigma of it since I was very young. I was four years old when my parents separated and with that brought an immense sadness.
I had no control of it but I was glad to see the fighting stop in my daily life. There were still tears, prayers, and long heart to heart talks but the hurtful words thrown about so carelessly were gone. My Dad took on another life and family and my Mom was forced to make a life as a single parent to two little girls who needed her. She struggled with mental health too, sleeping at odd hours of the day, angry outbursts, tear filled days and nights as her heart was broken over her failed marriage.
I saw it all, heard the stories, and did my best to comfort her. Being empathic I could feel every emotion and it was like a double edge sword living with this pain. I was so young and impressionable and yet I was growing wise to the ways of the world. I grew up like any other typical kid living in this existence as I fought with the sadness and anger that would overtake my heart. The world was too loud, confusing, chaotic, and busy. I didn’t know how to cope so I turned to prayer, songs, and my faithful books.
I grew into a sullen teenager and battled with anyone who would talk to me. My poor Mom didn’t know what to do and so we attended family therapy. I soon started having nightmares as triggers from my childhood came back to haunt me. I would go days on end not sleeping which means my Mom did do. I was finally diagnosed with clinical Depression and Insomnia
I refused medication as I had such a fear of being drugged into what I call the “Ritalin generation.” It seemed like any child who couldn’t sit still, thought outside the box, and expressed a volatile opinion was put on the token drug of choice. I wasn’t going to be a statistic so I chose to take a more natural route.
My Mom supported me with this as I changed my nutrition plan, got more exercise, and took Valerian and other herbs for my lack of sleeping pattern. It was a dark and confusing time in my life and I coped with it the best I could. I soon matured into an adult and had years of journals that commemorates that confusing chaotic time in my life. As I grew older graduated and attended college my mental health issues came back full force. The stress of deadlines, securing a student loan to attend school, and maintain a relationship took it’s toll. At the age of twenty I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
I also experienced a lot of death in my life losing both my Grandparents, parents, and my step sister all before I was the age of forty. I suffered with Post Partum Depression which I had with both of my babies and it was dark, devastating tunnel of grief and despair. What I hadn’t know that it was being overshadowed by Sensory Processing Disorder. I would come to know that when I took the journey with my children to a diagnosis. Who both have two types of SPD, (also known formerly as Sensory Integration and Sensory Dysfunction Disorder) Sensory Defensive Disorder which means avoiding all sensory input to the central nervous system and Sensory Modulation Disorder which is the opposite, it’s the seeking out of all sensory input to the central nervous system.
I’ve learned a lot as a Mom to children with complex needs and I’m now referred to as a walking medical dictionary by my therapist. I’ve come to know from my experience that being a special needs parent is not for the faint at heart. We’re all struggling in our ways with parenting, making our marriages a priority, and trying to carve out some me time. Some of us struggle, swear, drink, and eat too much. I believe others do too they just hide it better. I still have another leg of my journey to take with my children as more letters of the alphabet are discovered with each diagnostic test and assessment. Since I’ve introduced therapy with a psychologist, a psychiatrist, occupational, physical therapists, and speech and language pathologist their future is looking brighter with early intervention.
I advocate strongly on their behalf and my own and I share this glimpse into our lives for #Bellletstalkday. This is a mental health initiative in my country Canada and for every talk, text, tweet, and share Bell will donate five cents to Canadian Mental Health. Last year the campaign raised over $500,000 and I had the fortunate experience of meeting one of the spokespersons former two time Olympian Clara Hughes.
Please share, talk, text, and tweet the hashtag #Bellletstalkday to erase the stigma of mental health and bring it into the spotlight than having it shrouded in darkness and fear. One random act of kindness can do so much to help others like one ripple across the water that can create a wave of understanding.
It’s time for #Mondaymusings and all you have to do is this list of things.
Write a post sharing your thoughts with us – happy, sad, philosophical, ‘silly’ even. Make it as personal as possible.
Use the hashtag #MondayMusings and link to this post.
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