My first guest for the new year! A special thanks for this very detailed blog from a new friend, Stephanie! You can find her at the following links: Facebook Instagram and Twitter. I’m just going to let her take it away and share her story!
Hello! I’m Stephanie Robbins. I’m a new blogger over at A Red Hair Girl. I am a mental health, family, travel, and education lifestyle blogger. I have 4 kiddos. Mr. E is 7, Miss L is almost 5, Miss S is 3, and Miss N is 1. I am a stay at home mom. I taught first grade for nine years before I stayed home. I have worked full time, part time, and stayed at home with kiddos. It’s all hard.
I wanted to start a blog for a long time before I got the courage and strength to go for it. I found some great resources by way of another blogger couple that was very helpful in getting things set up. I have learned so much but have a LONG way to go.
One of the main reasons I started blogging was to help my depression and anxiety. I kept a closed lid for so long, it was tiring. The more I started to open up about some of my mental health illnesses I realized so many others were also going through the same or similar things.
For a long time I tried to deal with it on my own. I was teaching part time in a less than ideal situation. It should have been ideal but I was struggling. I was not a good mom. I was not a good teacher. I was not a good wife. That’s what I thought and certainly felt.
I was being pulled in too many directions. It was overwhelming and I was not happy. I had to work for a few years to help provide for our family while my husband (Eddy) was in school full time. Having to work took out some of the fun. Eddy was in pharmacy school, it was not cheap. So we choose to have me work part time (making the big bucks teaching part time… haha!) to not have to take out as many living loans.
We decided that the last year Eddy was in school I would take an unpaid leave of absence from teaching. I was pregnant with our third, we had to purchase a van to get to fit three car seats in, and we moved out of our tiny basement apartment into the house we bought. It was a lot of change at one time. Good change though.
The first year I wasn’t working after having kids was great. It was super weird to not go back to work when school started. But it was also amazing! I loved being home with my kids. It was great to be able to get to know other families in the neighborhood and get to play with them.
I had depression after each of my babies. Looking back before having kids and being married I had depression. It was different from after having kids. I just felt lonely or down at times. With each baby my depression became worse. After I had Miss S (baby number 3) it was a game changer.
She was born in November 2015. I wasn’t just depressed, I was angry. I would be fine and then would snap. It was the sheer number of kids. I was totally outnumbered and out handed. Miss S was our best baby so far so I was confused.
It took me until about May before I decided to go get help. Eddy was super supportive. That was huge and very helpful. I called my OBGYN to get some names of therapists. I was so scared. I was terrified to admit that I needed help. I thought I was a failure. Why couldn’t I control what was happening to my body?!
Guess what? My negative thoughts were SO backwards! I was not a failure. I was a hero for myself to realize I needed help and that I was taking the first step to get help. I made some phone calls and found someone close to me that insurance would cover.
I called and left a message. I thought I was going to throw up or explode with nervousness. She soon called back and I had an appointment. There were a lot of mixed emotions going on. Again, when the day came for my appointment I was nervous.
It was June or July of 2016 and I was finally doing one of the best things that I could have done to help save myself. Save myself from a life of misery. Save my children from having a sad mom all the time. Save my husband from feeling helpless.
It wasn’t overnight that things started to get better. It wasn’t easy. But little by little I started to have better moments, better days, and then weeks. Am I 100% depression free? Oh heck no! I doubt I’ll ever be. However, now I have more tools to help me. I have a better support team. I now see my therapist about every 2 months. I have to be realistic that depression will always be a part of my life with highs and lows.
The follow are some steps I took to help myself.
Admit You Need Help
This was the hardest thing for me to do. I like to think I can take care of myself. But in reality I’m better when I let people help me. I may have an issue with control. So not being able to control myself was scary. Ok, I have an issue with control. 😉 I’m willing to bet that this might be the hardest step for you too. I’m here to say you CAN do it! You are not weak or silly or crazy. Well, you may be a little crazy… haha! I sure was! My point is that once you can say you need help you might have a huge weight lifted off of you. I did.
My challenge for you is to go look in the mirror and say out loud, “I am not happy. I need help. I am not weak, but strong. I am WORTH it!” Now you may not need to say those exact words. Whatever you are struggling with I want you to say it out loud. You may cry, you may laugh, or you may get pumped up. I hope you feel some relief. Then you will be ready for step number two.
Talk To Others About Your Struggles
It can also be hard to admit to others you don’t have all your stuff together. But let me tell you a little secret (or maybe you already know this…J). No one has their stuff together! If they say they do, I’m calling their BS! Haha!
You just might find yourself connecting and becoming closer to those you talk about your struggles with. Or you might find out that they also struggle. What a great way to build a deeper relationship. This new knowledge might be so helpful in the future when you need a lifeline and they can give you one.
Since I have been more open about my depression I have had great conversations with some friends where I find out some of the things they struggle with. Just the other day I ran into a friend that I haven’t seen for a while. We chatted and had a great time. She must have seen my blog or social media posts where I have been more open about my mental health. She was very open and forthcoming about some of the things she has been struggling with. I felt our relationship get stronger and my love for her grew.
Why wouldn’t we want that? Why would I want to keep my mental health a secret when it can be shared and then strength can come from it?
I challenge you to think of at least one person you can share your mental health struggles with. Think of someone that you feel will love and support you. The goal is to not have this person feel like they need to fix you, because they won’t be able to. Maybe that needs to be said to them. This should be the beginning of a more open relationship.
Get A Therapist
At this point I had admitted to myself I needed help. My husband, some of my family, and a few friends knew. I mentioned it was super scary to call the therapist and leave that message. To have to admit to a total stranger was hard. I’m glad it wasn’t in person.
I want you to think if talk therapy might be helpful for you. Let me give you a hint, it probably will. I suggest you just try it for a little while and see what happens. Let me answer a big question for you… Yes, it’s pricey. But can you and should you put a price on your happiness? No way! You are so important that you need to do what you need to help yourself. So go pick up your phone and make that phone call! Call your insurance to see who is covered and close to you. Then start calling therapists to see who is taking new clients. You may need to make a few phone calls and shop around for a therapist that you feel comfortable with AND trust. Again this can get pricey. I’m still going to answer the same, JUST DO IT ANYWAYS!
I was blessed that the first one I met with I instantly felt calm and comfortable with. Years ago, before I was married, my mom suggested I go talk to someone because she felt I wasn’t as happy as I normally was. (I told her about this a couple days ago and she has no memory, haha!)
The first therapist I went to I didn’t feel that connection. So I went to another one. She was better and I met with her for a little while. I tried to find her when I decided I needed help back in 2016. I couldn’t find her and I’m glad. I really like my therapist that I have now. We have a better connection then I had with the other therapist.
So now that I have rambled on for what seems like forever I am going to challenge you to find a therapist (or counselor, social worker, any health or medical professional). Give it a good try to see how you like talk therapy. You just might find a winning connection.
I still have a ways to go. I always say I take a baby step forward and some big steps back. Haha! At least I’m getting those baby steps forward. Those small victories are the ones we need to celebrate and grow from.
You also need to celebrate the small victories. Don’t be hard on yourself. You can do this one baby step at a time.
I have a post where I talk about some of the steps I’ve taken while in therapy that have helped me. Head over to my blog to find it.