My Everest.

Fall down seven, get up eight.

If you follow us on Twitter, you’ll see that once or twice I’ve tweeted about my own anxieties.

To get the upper hand on my anxiety I work very hard at the gym flipping between Cardio and Weight related work outs to help balance out my moods. I work with a personal trainer and I’ve been working with him for over six months now.

Together he has helped me build into a small routine, but also to have accountability to myself, and to him. Unfortunately, I found myself hitting a hump a few weeks back, and my accountability to both of us failed. In turn, I broke down. At the gym.

I can not tell you how mortifying this experience was for me in so many ways. Firstly, I should mention, my trainer has seen me break down multiple times. This is nothing new. I’m not sure how often he actually see’s this happen, but I am a basket case and he knew this right from the start.

But other people in the gym, and other trainers, were around, and there I was balling and heaving and trying so very hard to get on top of my breath, get over the moment, move past it and keep working out.

After all of it happened, still being mortified, I asked myself – “what the hell set me off?” Obviously it was a combination of things, mounting to the moment when I broke down, but there had to be something else that had been grating on me to get me to the point of a full on anxiety attack in a middle of a crowded gym.

It came back to the concept of accountability. I had stopped holding myself accountable for my failures of not making it to the gym when I needed to go, and I was letting my trainer down because he knew I could do more.

It had become my Everest. I wasn’t willing to push myself to train anymore, even though I knew I could do more, and he knew it too. I was making excuses, and I wasn’t trying. I was dropping down to base camp after making it 1/3 of the way up the mountain properly, and that falling down was causing my anxiety.

The session started off normal enough, but my trainer was asking me about my work outs on the weekend, which didn’t happen and I gave excuses for, and he snapped. He told me that I was letting myself off easy. I wasn’t putting in effort.

This gutted me. Not only was I failing my trainer, but I was failing myself. I wasn’t working toward climbing, instead I was working my way back to Base Camp.

This is what broke me, the disappointment and anger I felt in myself for letting myself down. The next thing I knew I was hunched in on myself, hands to my face, sobbing.

I’m lucky that I do have a really understanding Personal Trainer, who has evidently, seen me at my worst. He’s also pushed me to get better, stronger, and to reach my Everest.

So even though that moment might have been one of the hardest, and most embarrassing, it was also the best. Why?

Because you can’t reach Everest without first pushing past base camp. Like the age old adage, fall down seven times, get up eight.

Keep pushing forward, you will reach your goals.

Anonymously Yours Unwrapped.

 

‘Tis the Season.

To Be SAD.

It’s after Halloween, but it’s that month in between. It’s that month when the days become shorter, the nights are getting colder, and we find ourselves with an excess of melatonin in our system.

We’re fatigued. We’re exhausted. We’ve got Seasonal Affective Disorder, and if you have any other type of Mental Health Issue or Illness, it’s the worst, and scariest, time of year.

What is SAD?

You might know Seasonal Affective Disorder as that time of the year you get stupidly depressed for no reason. You’re the type of person who is happy, and active all year around, and you don’t have any known mental illnesses or health issues. Yet every time around this year, you find it difficult to get through the day. You’re over tired. You’re emotional. Downright depressed.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a known disorder that, in short and simple terms, means your body isn’t getting what it needs that it normally gets through the summer months, so you find yourself more depressed than normal.

Although this is the standard, and reasonable thought process of what SAD is, we still actually don’t know that much about it and how it affects other mental illnesses outside of Bipolar Disorder.

Does having depression mean that I’ll be worse in winter? Or will I find myself in a less manic episode come summer but more manic in the fall? How do I prepare myself for what something like this could bring?

You And SAD

It’s dark out at 4 pm. You’re heaving through the slickened streets of ice and snow to get to your families house for a Christmas dinner. You’re heaving a couple of last minute gifts with you, and you are not looking forward tonight.

It’s not just the usual amount of pain of family get togethers that has you all anxious and wanting to dip out, but you know that you’ve recently had a heavy depressive manic episode, making it all the more troubling and painful that you’re pushing yourself to be with family.

When you get inside the house it’s warm and welcoming, and everything that the holidays should be, but you’re feeling drained. You feel unwelcome. You feel like a burden on those you love, and frankly, you cannot wait to leave.

It’s hard enough to push through the holidays, but harder still to do it with a relapse.

One of your family members though, makes a comment. They hate this time year, but they do things to help themselves… and so you ask them what and they tell you.

Sometimes it’s the little things.

It’s easy to get caught up in the work day, and it’s easy to sit in the lunchroom at work and talk to co-workers. But by the time you leave the office, it’s getting dark. By the time you get home there’s no light.

So take that 15 minute walk outside during lunch. Even if you don’t go far, and all you do is sit on a bench in the cool air, it will help to get that sun on your face. Sometimes buy a light lamp is helpful as well.

While walking for fifteen minutes is great outside, sometimes it just can’t happen. So make sure you kick up and keep up, with the exercise routine.

It’s important to keep those habits cemented and strong. We know exercise is a great alternative to some medication for some people, and for some people it just helps, even with medication, so keeping it up will help yourself.

Talk to someone about it.

Make sure you talk to your doctor to find out what your options are. You don’t have to suffer SAD alone. You don’t have to fight through the tide of your normal mental illness and that of SAD. Make sure you reach out for help and try some preventative measures. The more you can do now, the better you’ll be later on.

 

Work and Mental Health.

What would your workplace mental wellness program look like?

It’s 9 am Monday morning. We’re huddled by our desks while our Communications Director gives us information on this weeks Communications to our Members. She says, it’s Mental Health Awareness week, and so we will be doing different posts on Social for our Members.

I start thinking about how someone who has a mental illness, and how for them it’s always mental health awareness week. Not a single week looks different to them, because a mental illness is still stigmatized, especially in the work place.

At one brief period of my life I became immersed in the Tech Start Up Industry. After visiting several workplaces, I found myself curious about the balance of mental health in their work places as they seemed to really promote environments that weren’t your standard work environments. They were hip, fun, there was beer in the fridge, conversational after work events, and you had access to the lounge 24/7, so you could take a break and hang out with a co-worker, maybe play a video game together, before heading back to your desk to get work done.

While they seemed to promote a culture of well being, I wondered if that concept and idea of well being in the workplace, actually succeeded. And how did individuals who didn’t want to consume alcoholic beverages feel about having them easily accessible in the work place?

I remember reading several articles in the past that talked explicitly about this, raising the concern about facing addiction and the work place.

It becomes hard to pinpoint what you want to see in a work place when it comes to mental health, especially your own. Conversations are all abound with ideas of what mental health and well being should look like, but no one really has any clear concept of it because, well frankly, it’s a new concept with a large stigma still attached.

Start Up industry has a culture, and by default a toxic mental wellness culture, for individuals working with, or through an addiction. Their culture includes the imbibement of alcoholic beverages, often at a high consumption level, and is known to be far from inclusive of individuals who choose not to par-take. Yet, that isn’t just exclusive to Start Up’s.

My own workplace does something called “Wicked Wednesdays”, where once a month after work we get together and have a drink. Some of us don’t drink, and we don’t pressure them, it’s a relaxed environment and usually a small get together, but it’s always around the idea of alcohol.

I previously worked in a place that was so toxic, the only way to get away from the feelings that the place brought on was to go and have a drink after work. Working previously in the restaurant industry, I can tell you that a knock of drink is a pretty standard routine.

What about other forms of health and wellness that are good for mental health as well?
Some workplaces believe that mental health and wellness in the workplace happens when you have the whole office involved in a lunch time Yoga and Meditation workshop/event.

Yet, I personally find that concept more of a pigeon hole effect.

I myself don’t feel comfortable doing yoga. I’m a bigger girl, and I have some mobility issues. I work with my personal trainer two days a week, and while I am becoming more confident, that doesn’t mean that doing Yoga would make me feel mentally healthy at my work place.

But let’s go back a second, we have ideas abound without the ability to pin point what works, and what is economical to a work place. Let’s say the rec room may be beneficial, but in promoting health and wellness in the work place, it may be more economical to do Yoga and Meditation Lunch events and after work gaming sessions. Yet, what about the other 20 percent of the office who aren’t interested in either?

It’s hard to tailor these events to individuals while keeping it economical to the workplace. It’s also hard to find events that might truly be beneficial in promoting health and wellness in the workplace.

As the conversation about Mental Health in the work place continues to grow, and the stigma continues to be challenged, we need to start trying to understand what shape we want to see mental health and wellness take in our offices and places of work. We need to start having those discussions, because we know very well that one size fits all just doesn’t work when we talk about mental health.

But, the first step of course, is breaking that stigma and getting into the heart of the matter by helping people understand the problems of a mental illness, and sometimes all that needs is a safe and healthy place for someone to express themselves. Now that’s economical for the workplace, isn’t it?

Do you want to contribute a discussion piece? Do you have a story to tell? If you want to continue to the on going discussions and have a personal story, thought, or discussion you want to share, then feel free to write to us at contact@anonymouslyyoursunwrapped.com . We look forward to sharing your stories. #MyStoryMyStrength.

 

My Post Partum Dream.

What they don’t tell you; Pregnancy and Depression.

Welcome to Anonymously Yours Unwrapped.
In today’s popular use of social media it’s hard not miss the buzz around pregnancy, expecting mothers, and the glamourous world of celebrities who are able to do it all. It’s even harder to not look at the social media pages and feel a twinge when you realize, that’s just not me and may never will be. You compare yourself to these glam fam mother’s, thinking that you will never be able to do it all while wearing make-up and keeping your whites white. But the truth is, real mother hood isn’t like that and anyone who ever tells you otherwise, or posts to social media, is lying to you. But with society telling to be that Mother, the one who can do it all, what happens when you’re faced with motherhood for the first time and post partum depression?

In this post we’re joined by a contributor who experienced just this, and shares her story with us in this post – The Post Partum Dream. sad-mother-with-baby

Let’s start with some background. You give some of it in your own personal blog post (and feel free to double up on that), but can you talk about the realization that occurred when you became pregnant? You make a comment about how it wasn’t your intent to be a mom, so with your husband were you happy and elated? You said you went off the Zoloft before that voluntarily, what made you go off of it, and did your Husband know/agree with the decision?

When I first became pregnant my husband and I were very happy. I actually had a miscarriage previously, right after getting married, at the 8 week mark. We had just gotten married and I didn’t expect to get pregnant so quickly. When I became pregnant again we had been trying, which is why I had gone off the Zoloft.

You talk a bit about the experience of actually being pregnant. Can you go into that in a little bit more depth? What was the high point for you of the pregnancy if there was one?

During pregnancy I remember feeling fantastic – excited, glowing, and happy, and like I was special. In hindsight, however, I can say there were times during pregnancy that I did feel overwhelmed and stressed. I was working and commuting on the bus and it was hard. Also I remember feeling angry at my husband for no reason. I would get so angry I’d start shaking. However I didn’t seriously consider having issues after the baby was born – it was just something that never occurred to me.
Continuing a bit with that, as you mention in the post that you didn’t have the support network, or felt like you didn’t, afterwards. Did you have that support network of expecting mothers during pregnancy? Did you find that the expecting part of the pregnancy easier to connect with mothers?
I had no mom friends, and I was the first of my group of friends to be pregnant. Growing up I was the youngest of two, and I had zero experience with babies. I had no idea what I was getting into. The expecting part of pregnancy was definitely easier to connect with people, because everyone loves to touch your belly and give you cutesy baby gifts. After the baby I felt completely isolated. I was ashamed and guilty at how I was feeling, and super scared, yet afraid to share that with anyone.
You said that during the birth you were going to do natural and then at the last minute choose to do an epidural but felt like you would have been judged for it if you told your family. Was this something that when you spoke about later to other mothers and friends, you still felt the same about, even after you moved through the PPD?
Yes I still feel guilty about this, even though I’ve talked to other mothers now and I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with having an epidural. I’ve even had people tell me “omg get the epidural, don’t even consider not getting it” yet I somehow felt weak for getting it, like I was less of a woman.
You talk about being in a fog after the birth of your daughter, can you describe that for us again, walk us through a day in the life of you at that time. 
I would wake up after a fitful, dream filled sleep, and for a split second forget that I had anxiety. Then after that half second passed, all the feelings would rush back. It’s almost like I could feel the rush of chemicals in my brain. My heart would constrict and it would take massive amounts of energy to pull myself out of bed. Showers and teeth brushing were non existent. The minutes would literally drag. Small things like going for a stroller walk were all I could look forward to. The minute the baby started crying I’d panic. I would wear sunglasses everywhere, for fear of getting a migraine. Also I felt like there was a fog around my head and I had no peripheral vision. The worst part was not even being able to look forward to sleep at night because the nights did not guarantee sleep.

You mention that you didn’t have the support of people around you at that time, or felt like you didn’t, can you tell us about that? Maybe discuss the lack of support groups that exist for women with PPD.
Finding help was horrible. I could barely focus and take care of myself and my daughter let alone go through the effort of seeking help. My mother in law was close by and did what she could, but I felt too guilty to share my real struggles with her. My own mother came up to help for a few weeks but again I felt guilty having her around because I was such a mess. After about two months I talked to my gynecologist about my struggles, then was referred to a mental hospital (outpatient). After another few weeks I had my first appointment. During this time I was also googling trying to find support groups, but could find only one; and they were just starting up and never had a set meeting, so it was very disappointing.  I really felt alone.
When did your doctor and/or you realize what was happening and how did the next steps to come out of it come about?
At my postpartum checking (about 6 or 8 weeks after baby) I told my doctor I was having problems. He gave me a phone number of an affiliated mental hospital (outpatient). I called and made an appointment. My issue with everything was how long it took. I didn’t actually get to speak to a psychiatrist until about a month later. I needed help now! Turns out she was amazing, but I wish everything wasn’t such a process because the last thing I needed to deal with at that time was paperwork and scheduling. Don’t even get me started on the paperwork associated with my leave from work. I had to fill out massive amounts of paperwork in the days after baby was born to start on FMLA.
How do you feel that your PPD defined you as a new mom? Do you think you’ve moved away from that definition of being a new mom with PPD into now a mother of two who is happy about being a mom?
I think I will always feel sad for my daughter that she had such an ill mother the first years of her life. I can never get that time back, and although I know it was not my fault but rather a chemical imbalance in the brain, I can’t help the guilt. I was so afraid to have another and go through the same thing again, and  now that I’ve successfully had baby #2 with no popstartum I am on cloud nine. Although I still struggle with guilt and parenting in general, I finally feel like I thought I “should have” the first time.
Can you talk a little bit about what you see society labeling moms as, how we underprepare them for motherhood, and what you would like to see the future bring about in regards to the conversation of PPD and motherhood?
This is the best question. I think society sees moms in very two dimensional terms. We are either working moms or stay at home moms. Soccer moms or hippie moms. Breastfeeding moms or bottle moms. Good moms or bad moms. Our role models are celebrities who have nannies and access to many support resources.   Social media has created this idea of “super mom” who does crafts, makes organic gluten free baby food, potty trains their toddler in two days, and has all the answers. THIS IS NOT REAL. I want to see less social media moms and more real moms. I want to stop labeling each other and just accept that we are each individuals doing the best we can. I want to shatter this idea of the perfect mom. Social media is just a highlight reel!
Lastly, what would you tell those who have depression, are on medication but want to become moms? What advice would you give to new mothers in general?
I can only speak from my personal experience. Medicine or not, I think the most helpful piece of advice to prepare for motherhood is be realistic. I didn’t have any clue what I was getting into, and I think that was part of the problem. Self-care is important. Get hired help if you need it (or budget for it in advance). Don’t look at social media if it’s going to upset you. And don’t be afraid to talk about how you are feeling. I know it’s cliche, but there are others out there feeling the exact same way and you truly are not alone. I stayed on Zoloft during my second pregnancy, with my doctor’s approval, and my son was born healthy. Do what you need to do for you. A healthy mom is the most important gift you can give your child – not toys, not organic homemade food, but you.

Anonymously Yours, 

Unwrapped.

Rocky Jayne is a mom with two kids, speaking up and fighting for visibility on Depression and Motherhood. You can find her blog here, as well as linked in the post above. She can also be found on Twitter with the handle @rocky_jayne.
FLMA is the Family and Medical Leave Act which is part of the United States Labor Laws. Rocky Jayne is located in NY, United States.

When She Say’s Die.

Understanding Suicide; World Suicide Prevention Day.

While scrolling through Facebook one evening I came across something someone had posted in regards to suicide and mental health.

It read like this,

“If someone were to die at the age of 63 after a lifelong battle with MS or Sickle Cell, we’d all say they were a “fighter” or an “inspiration. But when someone dies after a lifelong battle with severe mental illness and drug addiction, we say it was a tragedy and tell everyone “don’t be like him, please seek help.” That’s bullshit. Robin Williams sought help his entire life. He saw a psychiatrist. He quit drinking. He went to rehab. He did this for decades. That’s HOW he made it to 63. For some people 63 is a fucking miracle. I know several people who didn’t make it past 23 and I’d do anything to have 40 more years with them.”

As we come into World Suicide Prevention Day/Month, this comment is worth more than anyone can image to someone who might be contemplating suicide.

I have a close friend of mine who has been struggling against the tide for several years. Every year I wonder if I will get the call from someone, telling me it’s time.

While I have mentally prepared myself for this as much as I can, I know that when it actually occurs I will be devastated, but until then, I cherish the time I have with her, because like an incurable disease, I don’t know when her end will actually come.

Over the past two years I have found myself writing personal stories, short stories, and plays that asks why we begrudgingly accept the loss of friends and family and hold on to the anger and pain that we feel about them and the circumstances surrounding their death.

We often don’t accept the loss of the person, urging other’s to seek help instead of even contemplating suicide, but if this is our way of thinking, is it the right way?

Consider a person who is suffering from a life long illness and wishes to die on their own terms. They call that Assisted Dying, which is now legal within Canada. No matter their age we wouldn’t want to tell them to change their mind, to seek help, to find a way to live better. We know that they are in pain, constantly every day, we know that they are terminally ill and that they are fighting hard to stay alive but perhaps it is time to let them go.

This thought process is socially acceptable, but when it comes to someone who is battling a Mental Illness, this thought process is not socially acceptable. Instead we urge them to seek help, we ask them get better, we ask them to not be like everyone else.

While we do need to be urging our friends, our peers, and our family to seek help, we also need to change the narrative of our stories and the way in which we tell the stories of those who committed suicide.

In order to do this we need to change the way we think about, and consider mental health. Unfortunately this is a battle that we are continuously fighting against and a tide that is hard to win.

So while it is Suicide Prevention Week, and the topic is important, and one to really remember to have with those who we are thinking are in need of help but aren’t reaching out. We have to remember we need to reach out to them, but also to remember that Mental Illness is an illness, and we need to change the narrative we have around the topic of suicide.

We need to remember to step into the shoes of those in need and question them. We need to understand if their mental illness is terminal, or if it is something that can be “cured” at least to the point to allow them to live and live well.

Remember, the narrative of mental health is not a simple one. It’s complicated and nuanced, and in order to continue to fight the good fight, and help those who need it, we need to remember that not everyone is the same, not all illnesses are equal and that sometimes we need to understand that letting go is better than holding on.

My Grief, My Pain.

When Grief becomes;

In 2005 I lost both my paternal grandmothers, and recently I lost my grandfather.

They were such important people in my life, and throughout my childhood, so when they past away I found myself slipping into a depressive state that was previously unknown to me.

I remember parts of the end stages of my grandmother’s life, vividly. I remember when I visited her in the hospital, when she had been released, and when the paramedics and some family members brought her home. Those were the moments I remember the most vividly, but the rest tended to be a blur. I remember singing to her, at her beside, and I remember the night she passed.

I was laying in my bed, everything was quiet and the hall light was still on. My mom walked into the room I was in, and carried me to my cousins house next door. Everything after that was a blur as I was in fourth grade at the time, but I remember the feeling sadness.

As for my Grandfather, I remember visiting him and my step grandmother before and during the times he was on dialysis. As time went on I could see how he was getting weaker and weaker, even before I knew to worry about him.

I was living in Austin, Texas by myself at the time, and I remember sitting in my chair in my apartment talking to him on the phone.

I consider those good moments, and good conversations, but I knew in my gut that his time was almost up and I grew more and more worried up until September 16th. A Saturday. That was the day my father called me to tell me that my grandfather had passed away.

The college program I was in at the time wouldn’t let me take any time off to grieve, and I still feel that I somehow predicted his death, but just not when, and that is something that will always bother me.

In my grief I went through the acceptance stage, but I skipped everything else, the denial, and the bargaining stages, because a part of me knew that it wouldn’t help me. You could say I am on my own path of grief. Feeling depression and struggling through.

The most difficult part of the journey has been the feeling of being numb.

But, my faith in God, my family, and my friends have helped through tough times, and even the grief. I don’t blame God at all for my Grandparents passing.

I have reached out for help and I tell others, no matter the cause of your depression or pain, to reach out, preserver, don’t give up and reach out for help.

I think someone can benefit from me sharing my experience, and by reaching out for help, even when it seems difficult. You can preserver, and you don’t need to give up.

Anonymously Yours, 

Unwrapped 

Back to School

The Bully in the Yard

Gearing up to go back to school is always hard. It’s worse when you know you’re going to walk into the school yard and come face to face once again with a bully.

I have a memory of being bullied as a young girl, in Grade One, by other girls. All because I did not have the newest clothes. I didn’t know the latest fashions. I didn’t know how to be popular. I was to strange. To weird.

But that was before the internet. That was before cellphones with photo capabilities, that was before, and this is now.

The internet is full of stories of those who have gone before, battled down, pushed down, torn down, and eventually they could not handle it so they gave in to the temptation. They ended it.

So, we push each other. We tell each other it will get better. We tell everyone it will be okay. But we don’t address the bigger question. We don’t ask about the bigger picture. Why are these bullies there? What has lead them to be bullies? What is driving them to do what they’re doing?

The other question is, how do we stop it from happening?

These are simple questions, but they’re strangely profound.

And they’re not asked enough.

As we go back to school this month, we’re reaching out to you dear readers. We want to know if you have a story about being bullied, and why you think they may have done it, or if you did the bullying, what caused you to do it?

Send us an email, or send us a tweet. It’s back to school tomorrow, and we want to know, what was the school years like for you?

 

My Mother and I.

Was she Toxic? images

I grew up in Calgary in Haysboro a block from Glenmore landing*. I have a brother who is five years older than me named Craig. I don’t have much else in the way of background…

You know, I did a google search, and based on that, I wouldn’t describe her as toxic in the way that articles describe the idea, well, mostly.

Except for the “demands to be your BFF”. Growing up I was her (my mother’s) confidant, for as long as I can remember. She was/is, overly dependent on me (boundaries are better set now than when I was a kid).

When I was a teenager my therapist had to work me through making it clear to her that SHE is the parent, and a child should be dependent on their parent, not the parent depending on the child.

A lot of growing up I was somewhat afraid of her moods, and would always ask “what mood is she in?” to myself. She could be a saint, or an angry demon. She would more often lash out at my father or brother, I was her favourite. But then, I would be expected to always be on her side in any conflict, and if she got mad at my father, she would take me to a restaurant with her (not my brother).

It’s hard because now that I am living with her again she seems to want me to never leave and she said she is going to leave the house to JUST me. (Note: I have a brother!).

She has said, when I try to get her to make new friends, “Why do I need to make friends when I have you?”. She always wants to plan for me to go on vacations with here, she gets tickets to events for me to go with her, without asking me, and I basically can’t say no.

I remember, growing up, I was afraid to tell her how I was feeling because she’d GET SO UPSET. Anything bad hat happened to me was devastating, like it happened to her.

You know, I was primarily raised not by my mother, but a nanny. My mother worked 6 or 7 days a week as a lawyer. But, as an adult, I worked for my mother for around five years (during university and summers) until she retired early for mental health reasons.

I moved back to my parents’ house two years ago after the end of a relationship. So even though I am 30 I am still with them everyday. I believe we get along well.

For the past year I was my father’s primary caregiver because he had an immune disorder, which is now under control (Rheumatoid arthritis, we discovered, eventually. Healthcare is slow).

When all is said and done, I think for the most part I have forgiven her for the past. She did the best she was able to. She wanted to be a mother and did what she felt was best, and I know that I am who I am today because of both my parents.

Yet, when all is said and done, I know that while some of my friends know about my mother, I don’t think people truly understand. I am lucky in that some of my closest friends also have parental issues, although in entirely different ways.

When Mother’s day comes around I’m lucky in that I don’t feel any special bond or need to do something for her. My brother often doesn’t do anything, so I end up planning something for her.

I hear about people having made families. But I feel like an outsider usually and always have my whole life. I never feel apart of social groups or friend groups, like i’m adjacent or an observer. Like I don’t belong in with anyone and never will.

I don’t have any good advice, other than just keep going. Like I said before, my mother did the best she could and that’s what I know.

Anonymously Yours,

Unwrapped.

*Editor’s note; this is a suburb in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

There is no room; For Arm Chair Activism.

Suicide is not your chair to sit on.

In the past month we found ourselves losing two influential artists to our society. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade.

What followed was a few weeks of various posts, on Twitter and Facebook, that informed people that their friends were there for them. All they needed to do was reach out.

At first I believed this was a good thing. I thought, “Yes. People are becoming aware of the stigma that exists this is good.” And then I started to realize, this is utter bullshit. If you’ve never been in a situation of feeling suicidal, you don’t get to sit on your armchair and tell the world you’re here for someone who is, all they need to do is reach out.
That’s not how this works.

We don’t hear our friends say things like “oh, you have cancer? Have you seen a doctor yet? No? That’s okay. I’m here when you need you me”. Yet, we think that this is an acceptable sentence to say to our friends if their depressed.

So when Bourdain and Spade passed, I kept seeing all these arm chair activists raising their “voice” against suicide by proclaiming that they were “always there for you (friends)”, when in reality, this is not how things work, let alone should work.

Yet, with the rise of Facebook, this is exactly how more of us are thinking these days, and we’re thinking that this behavior is acceptable. Not only being an armchair activist, but an armchair friend.

For the uninitiated, into the realm of depression, anxiety, and any other mental illness, the lines between being a good friend and a great friend is the same.
For those of us who face the same battles every day, between our minds and the navigation of reality, a great friend is someone who is not only trust worthy, but someone who is willing to go the extra mile when you need it.

This means, not sitting on your couch and proclaiming to the world around you that you will be there when your needed. This means taking initiative. Recognizing that your friend may need help but feels like to much of a burden to request it.

So instead, don’t ask, or wait for the invitation. Just do it.

Show up at their house and take them to dinner, or cook their dinner for them. Take the time to ask what’s wrong. More importantly, take the time to listen to what they have to say.

Everyone experiences these symptoms differently, and it’s important to ask and listen and help, not just sit on your phone scrolling through Facebook and Twitter proclaiming your sadness and your willingness to “be there for anyone if they need help.”

In Depression, there is no room for Arm Chair Activism, only Action. So take some.

 

My Shameful Emotions

Trigger Warning: Abortion. Miscarriage. Depression.

Continued from My Shameful Pain.

So you can understand, I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety for quite a few years. At my worst, I took a year off of school and moved back in with my parents to get my health in order. I went on several medications and eventually found one that worked well for me. Since then my mental health has been pretty good all around, aside from the odd low feeling day.

I am lucky that my husband was fully involved in all the decisions making that lead up to my TA, and that he was incredibly supportive. However, I think he had a hard time understanding how everything was affecting me because, understandably, he doesn’t know what it feels like to have all of this happening in your own body. Between the TA and my surgery our sex life was at a low, I think he felt unwanted and I had to explain to him quite a few times that the whole ordeal made me feel like I had no control of my body, sex was definitely the last thing on my mind.

Deciding to get a TA wasn’t something either of us wanted but we knew it was the smartest choice. My husband was only working part time, I was finishing my degree and about to start a new program. We were living in a house with several roommates, temporarily, until our finances were better.

We knew that it would be irresponsible to try to raise a child when we were both financially unstable. Both of us want to be able to plan ahead before having a child so we are ready. The first few weeks of my pregnancy I had been occasionally drinking and smoking, both of us were aware that damage may have already been done to the fetus.

It’s interesting to think that while I understood some of what was to come, all the complications that followed are so rare that I didn’t expect this to be such a long process. The TA itself went fine, and the nurses at the clinic were amazing. The aftermath of the TA leading up to the emergency room visit and surgery was much harder and overwhelming. I was constantly concerned about if the bleeding would ever stop, if my future fertility would be effected, etc.

You know, finding out I was pregnant was a pretty hard realization. I’ve always been very careful because I’m aware that an unexpected pregnancy would be emotionally traumatizing. I found experiencing the physical symptoms of pregnancy was very emotional, knowing that the pregnancy was unwanted and would eventually be terminated.

Although, after the TA I rebounded quickly and felt emotionally ok, but after the hospital visit everything changed. I felt very depressed and out of control of my body from the time of the hospital to the surgery. After the surgery and my recovery, I felt mentally much more stable.

 

Since writing this, I am no longer bleeding and got a report from my doctor saying my uterus is very healthy – it’s been a little over a month since surgery 🙂 the doctor also said they didn’t find an AVM in my uterus, what they though was an AVM was just some blood clots, which were removed.

As I mentioned, there was those thoughts about my future fertility and there was some concern that my fertility could be effected if I contracted any infection, and if the infection were to spread to my Fallopian tubes. But, after the final surgery I had no signs of infection, and since there was no AVM found in my uterus, the likelihood of me having any complications with future pregnancy is low.

You know, I feel great now. It’s still really hard when I think about the whole process, and I think I have an irrational fear of getting pregnant again, but I’m on a new birth control now which has been a much better fit for me

I’ve avoided telling anyone that wasn’t necessary because abortion is a touchy subject. Other than my husband, I told two of my closest friends and my mother. We agreed not to tell my father because he’s a big softie and the whole thing would probably overwhelm him and have him extremely worried. I eventually told my manager and the head nurse at my work (I work in healthcare), because on several occasions I had to miss work for a “medical emergency”.

I know that legally I had no obligation to tell them, but I’ve known them for years and are very understanding. Health care workers tend to be very non judgmental about such topics, and ultimately I’m glad I told them. My husband works with me, and my managers know him as well, they’ve been really supportive to the both of us.

In the end, the best advice I could give someone in a similar situation to mine, even someone just going through an unplanned pregnancy without the same medical complications I had, would be to tell someone. Talking about it with my husband, friends, and mother was the only thing that got me through this. Not everyone has a strong support system like I do, but even reaching out to some other resource, like a councilor or therapist, makes all the difference. Keeping all of this bottled up is too hard for one person to deal with.