by Jessica Linedmood Nosek
Originally published in Midland Mom's Blog
Hi there! My name is Jessica and I am depressed and anxious virtually everyday of my life. It’s true. My first episode was my junior year of college and everyday since then has been wrought with some degree of depression and anxiety.
“Hold up,” you might be thinking. “I’ve seen your pictures on Facebook and Instagram and you don’t look depressed. At best you look like a doofus who’s go-to picture pose is a weird hybrid of a child who got a puppy for Christmas and a cheerleader.”
Fair enough. That’s the blessing/curse of social media, though. It’s there that we are the masters of our own universe and can manipulate our public image by presenting ourselves in whatever light we choose. I choose “Puppy Receiving Cheerleader” for my public persona, but to each their own.
“A puppy!” – I was probably thinking
The truth is, I have a grand buffet of issues that took me the last decade to learn to live with with the use of learned (and legitimate) coping skills. I have social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (in my case, think broken record, not ritualized behavior), and chronic clinical depression. I’ve been in talk therapy for a decade, out-patient therapy for a particularly bad episode, and have been medicated off and on since my first episode in college.
“Wow. That’s a lot of personal information that perhaps you might want to keep to yourself,” you might be thinking.
Again, fair enough. However, I’m not exactly sure what compelled me to be so open about my struggles, but I am. It is actually one of my coping mechanisms.
If I think and talk about my mental health in the same way that I think and talk about the fact that I have asthma, it helps to keep it from getting the better of me. I certainly can’t help the fact that I have asthma. It can’t be cured. It can only be managed. So, that’s how I think about my variety pack of mental issues.
Furthermore, there is a certain stigma that still lingers in our society about mental health. In generations past, it was wholly unacceptable to reveal any emotional or mental problems as they were (and still are) seen as weaknesses. That, in and of itself, is unacceptable. I’ve had the benefit of meeting hundreds of moms in the short time that I’ve owned this website. Many of them revealed to me their own struggles with mental and emotional issues such as postpartum depression, feelings of isolation, and general malaise. I wouldn’t describe a single one of them as weak. On the contrary, as they wrangle their children in the grocery store or speed across town to deliver forgotten lunches or take the few moments at the end of the evening to read to their kids and find the courage to admit to themselves they that are overwhelmed mentally and emotionally, they show immense strength.
Some days are bad and there are no puppies
I talk about it because I know people can relate. I want to open the door even just a crack to let others know that it’s ok, normaleven, to feel overwhelmed. I talk about my issues and, more importantly, the fact that I seek help on a monthly basis to manage my issues, to encourage others to do the same. I want the stigma of mental illness to be eradicated so those who need help are not scared to pursue it.
I should also clarify that feeling overwhelmed or down does not necessarily equate to mental illness. If you cannot decide whether your feelings are worth a trip to the therapist’s office, I can tell you right now that they are. It’s like my mechanic says, “If there’s a strange noise coming from your car, bring it in because it ain’t goin’ to cure itself and it’s prolly only goin’ to get worse.” Wise words from a man in coveralls. I cannot diagnose what is happening in my brain any more than I can diagnose what bazaar grinding noise is coming from the hood of my car. Sometimes it’s good just to get some reassurance from a professional that these feelings are perfectly normal or that your car is fine and it’s simply a dead squirrel lodged in your grill.
This is not a sponsored post, by any means, but if you or someone you know needs help or someone to talk to, I always recommend Centers for Children and Families because, not only have they helped me, but they do so much for the community, veterans, and children. I believe in their work and they believe in their patients.
If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255