Masks off

Let’s talk Mental Health. It’s a subject that often gets tossed around A LOT in the last few years and it’s often misunderstood. The last few years I have struggled to come to terms with my own mental health issues, it started with postpartum depression after Joshua was born but it was never diagnosed because, well, it seemed pretty normal to be deppressed with everything we faced in those early days of his life. Then, just 19 months into Joshua’s life and crazy medical journey I delivered Kaleb while suffering from pre-eclampsia and the postpartum got worse. This time, thankfully, I had people watching me closely and Tim and my Mom made me seek help. It was a tough, very tough admission to make that I needed help. I wanted to be seen as strong, courageous, and capable. I didn’t understand the chemical side of things, I just viewed myself as weak and a failure. Being a Mom should be a joy, and I must suck to feel the way I do right? Those first 10 years of being a Mom were the hardest years of my life, and almost 3 years ago I finally had a doctor who saw through my plastic smile, she asked the right questions, and she got down into the nitty gritty of my feelings. She diagnosed me with PTSD following the medical issues with Joshua, and Kaleb too really. We were always waiting for the next shoe to drop with those two; nothing was ever the best case scenario so the anxiety was always there in the background, waiting like a bomb to go off and blow our lives up again. It had become so normal to me to feel that way that I hadn’t even known I was ‘off’. I knew I was different, I just didn’t get that I had didn’t have to do it alone. Keeping my head above water was all I was focused on, that and keeping the boys alive.

When I went for actual treatment I began to digest all that worry, all that fear, all that pain and it totally sucked. My emotions were turned back on and where I had once been totally numb I was now feeling everything and it hurt, really hurt. It didn’t happen over night, but slowly, with time and yes, medication, I began to normalize what I was feeling. I addressed the issues that had gotten me to where I was. I started to talk about my feelings, I spoke up when things hurt me, I stopped being so afraid to speak up that I preferred stuffing the emotions. When I started that, I started to see change, I started to have good feelings mix into the yucky and scary ones. I started to feel alive again. That journey changed me, I understand now what people mean when they say that getting out of bed takes all their daily energy. I understand the fear that keeps them from making a decision, going somewhere, seeing people, talking openly. I understand what hiding behind a mask feels like and I understand that this is not abnormal. It’s a process, a journey of it’s own and there are good days and bad days and days where you are learning new things and days when you feel like you are relearning stuff you have already learned. Life really sucks sometimes and it’s okay to not be okay. That was the biggest thing I got out of this whole experience. I don’t have to always be smiling, I don’t always have to be ‘fine’ or ‘okay’. Sometimes life deals you a blow and you need to sit in that pain for a bit, feel it, think it through, and then rise again.

This year has been a tough year for everyone, globally we are all suffering a grief that in our lifetimes we have never faced. The fear that is being thrown at us every time we turn on the news, or turn on social media is something that is palpable. You see it on the faces of the people you pass on the street, you see it on the faces of your kids, your friends, your parents, and you feel it deep inside the pit of your stomach. It’s been a hard year for so many reasons for so many people. Mental health will be a huge issue in the years to come as a result of this pandemic and we need to normalize it now, get help now so that we can deal with it in the future in a healthy and respectful way.

One of the things I worry about the most these days is my kids, these are vital years for them socially, and to be stuck inside all day long watching a screen and not seeing the actual faces of the friends they love at school or church is tough. They get down just like us, but they don’t have the words or maturity to really understand it yet.

This week, it finally snowed and it gave us the excuse we were looking for to hook up with some of their friends ‘in person’. We are allowed to go sledding, so off we went to the hill and we met up with their buddies and let me tell you; the smiles on their collective faces was something I haven’t seen since September and it was so beautiful.

These kids are all so resilient! I am so impressed with how they adapt and change, how they grieve all of this so much better than we do as adults. We could learn a lot from them. Kaleb put a sign on his door in March when this whole thing started, and it remains there to this day “Covid Sucks”. That’s the truth of it, there’s no hiding anymore, we tried to make it fun at the beginning but everyday for almost a year wears thin and being in lockdown again, with real life problems that need addressing, with medical issues that need addressing, with social problems that are landing on our door that need addressing, with mental health issues that need addressing… it’s all getting to be too much, for all of us and then I stop and remember where I was a few years ago and I take a moment to feel the grief, the loneliness, the worry, the fear and then I throw the tissues in the garbage and stand up again.

You have read this far, you’ve stuck with me, so here this. You aren’t alone, you are NOT alone. There is help out there, there is hope out there and there is healing out there. I am here for you. You can email me at Here. There is no need to hide anymore, when you allow others to see you, really see you, you will discover the beauty that God created and continues to create in you.

L

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Published by lauriehaughton

Author & Photographer

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