I would never have described myself as an anxious person prior to 2 ‘episodes’ of Post Natal Anxiety (actually Post Natal Anxiety, Depression and OCD if you pay attention to the official diagnosis). The first time my GP told me “it was just the hormones”. The second time was somewhat more perplexing. How could this be? I was successful in everything I put my mind to. I could project manage the design and construction of a $17 million botanic gardens, but geez why couldn’t I get my kids to sleep? Why did I feel so out of control? Why did I feel so incapable?
I call myself one of the ‘lucky ones’. It’s true that the most incredibly difficult circumstances teach you the greatest lessons, and whilst I wouldn’t want to be back in those most difficult times, I learnt more about myself in 2 years than I had in the sum of my 38 years of being. I learnt that throughout life I had developed the most unbelievably failsafe amateur. I over prepared for EVERYTHING. I worked EXCRUCIATINGLY hard to make sure I was in control. As a result I was incredibly capable in most areas of life, except the ones I could not control. Those things I could not control I avoided my whole life. I retreated to the garden, grew vegetables and made preserves. I still do. Uncertainty is still one of my greatest fears, but slowly I’ve learnt through the almost obsessive repetition (I never do things by half you see) of my mantra ‘so what?’ that I can exist within the unknown.
So what if my child won’t sleep? What’s the worst that can happen? They will fall asleep eventually. They can’t stay awake forever. So What. So what if I don’t know people at this gathering. So what if I don’t know how to start a conversation? So what if I’m shy? So what.
These days sometimes I catch myself saying “so what” before my brain even has a chance to think it. What started with the old adage ‘fake it until you make it’ has allowed me to raise 2 extraordinary little people with love, empathy and resilience. It’s also allowed me to be open enough to meet some amazing people and find a beautiful community. Everyone has their sh*t going on; some people are just better at hiding it. I finally feel I can share my story.
A conversation can make a difference in helping someone feel less alone and more supported in recovering from anxiety and depression. Don’t underestimate the importance of just ‘being there’.
Join the conversation with Baking our Blues Away