I’m not ok, and that’s ok: When it’s time to ask for help.
I like to see myself as a strong woman who is the one who helps everyone else. I struggle with recognizing my own needs and reaching out, and this year has been no exception.
I started this year extremely pregnant and went into labor 2/14, Valentines Baby!! However, labor did not go as planned and we ended up with an emergency C-Section. After my perfect baby was here I started what is affectionately known as the “baby blues”, essentially Post-Partum Depression (PPD) but that only lasts a few weeks. By the time I went to my initial follow up appointment I was feeling MUCH more myself and ready to take on the world!
I started back FULL FORCE into work after 8 weeks, and I was so excited!! I love what I do, and I love being a career mom. I had an amazing situation for my baby, my big girl was finishing school and had summer camp, life was settling in. Then the bottom dropped out. My oldest hit a super hormonal stage, my husband’s anxiety went through the roof, I lost some people very close to me at work, and I was dealing with the stresses of wanting to be able to fix everything myself and hold everyone and everything together. I remember very clearly one day thinking that everyone would be so much better off if I was not around, and that’s when I knew. I had slipped into a full-fledged PPD and had been ignoring it. Pushing it down because I believed it was my job to help everyone else, even at the expense of myself.
I am 100% sure I am not alone here. I talk to women almost daily who are dealing with some form of anxiety and depression and they push through it or hide it because we are scared or prideful or even just fully oblivious to the situation. I am here to tell you, IT IS OK TO NOT BE OK. It is ok to need help. Here are the steps I personally took to begin working my way through the fog.
1: Admit it to yourself
This was probably the worst part for me. I have built my own personal identity on being a strong independent woman who takes care of everything solo. I should be able to handle this on my own right? WRONG. We deserve to not just barely make it through every day. We deserve to be the ones that are helped sometimes, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
2: Ask for help
The second worst part for me was admitting to my work family that I was struggling. One aspect of anxiety/depression is the propensity to fixate on one task and make that task such a mountain that we absolutely cannot climb it. I had one of those that every time I went to complete I had a full on anxiety attack. I reached out to a friend within my company and explained what I was dealing with and she immediately offered to jump in and catch me up on that task. Without question or judgment, she was there. I then called my boss and explained what was happening and who was assisting me and we made plans for what the next few months would look like. I am EXTREMELY lucky to be with a company that is so incredibly supportive and helpful. I do understand though that you might not be! In those cases, know your rights! Anxiety, depression and PPD are real and recognized, and you have rights to accommodations. If you are being discriminated against due to any of these things, please consult your HR or an attorney (or both) and know your rights.
3: Talk to your doctor
At my 6-month checkup, I began explaining my symptoms and what I was dealing with on the day to day. Immediately my OBGYN began discussing treatment plans for me and I walked out of there with a prescription, a treatment plan, and hope. I have heard so many women say, “I don’t want to be reliant on a pill” or something similar, but truthfully ladies, STOP PILL SHAMING. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a prescribed medication from your doctor that assists in correcting an imbalance, so you can function as your normal self. I do not plan on being on medication forever, but I will absolutely take the assistance so that I can be the best version of myself for my family. It is ok to not be ok.
And ladies, give yourself grace. We are so quick to jump in and help others when they are dealing with similar things, but when it happens to us we are our own worst enemies. You are not required to be perfect at all times, and those expectations that we put on ourselves are sometimes keeping us from getting the help we need. Needing help doesn’t mean you have failed, it means you are human. Let’s all recognize the beauty in our humanity.