The first half of 2019 has been one of turbulent challenges, both on an emotional, financial and professional level.
I have this concept of myself, where i normally consider how i feel to be something i can control and generally feel comfortable being open about my current journey or circumstance. How easy it can be to be pious when things are mostly going the way you anticipate and there is a semblance of control about everything.
But that all changed and i retreated into myself.
At the beginning of this year my husband and I decided we would start trying to expand our family beyond us and our pets. The decision for me was a deeply rooted shit show, to say the least. I normally reflect on my intuition and logic to help guide me through any decision i make.
But as someone pointed out to me, this was “A soul decision.”
I have never written from a place more raw or vulnerable than during that time. It felt like my heart was literally cracking open. Like every ounce of fear, heart break and part of me was at war with each other, leaving me to feel exposed and naked.
Perhaps it was because of how quickly the universe made the decision for me, but when the “positive” news told in the simple language of two pink lines was translated into my dialect, every iota of the intense feelings i had been dragged through, exploded with force and it became too much for me to process.
I felt like i was stranded in a fog, that had no logical or methodical process. Of-course, i know there is the option of acceptance – but the internal battle wouldn’t allow that.
For whatever reason, business didn’t follow its usual pattern of up-turn come mid-February and i was stuck in this holding pattern watching my numbers deteriorate and having no ability what-so-ever to think my way through it.
Then came the morning – or better described – “all day” sickness. It was the constant nausea, exhaustion and feeling of isolation that weighed on me. But it was the intense fear of the unknown that consumed me.
My body has been a work of fortification over the last few years. I relied on it not to betray me. In turn, i cared for it with all the knowledge i curated from on-going self-education and it got me through hard slogs of physically demanding work and mentally draining management.
And then, suddenly, i could throw up at any given moment, fall asleep like a cat and had no idea if anything i was now doing was “right.”
I didn’t realise, but through all of this i was beginning to welcome anxiety and depression into my day.
Hello darkness my old friend.
I have had my struggles with the anxiety monster in the past, more so than depression. Anxiety is living in anticipation of the future, depression dwelling in the past. Understandably, given all the question marks of my future i was facing, anxiety was somewhat inevitable.
When i visited my first obstetrics appointment, they asked how i managed my anxiety, as i was more prone to it during pregnancy since i had tangoed with it in the past.
But no-body warns you how intense it all becomes. It would be easy to blame hormones or pregnancy for how i started to feel, but i don’t believe anxiety is that simple. Because almost every person i speak with on a daily basis expresses feelings of anxiety.
I chose to retreat to a “safe” place within myself.
It isolated me, but as i learned from previous experience, it doesn’t actually protect me from it. I imagine it would be like someone turning to substances as a form a of retreat. It just numbs you and then there’s nothing more than a hollow feeling that engages more unwelcome feelings.
“Just be grateful.”
That was the advice i was given by a few people trying to help me through this roller-coaster of emotions. But gratitude is somewhat difficult to wrangle when there’s so much uncertainty.
Hats off to those who thrive in situations of the unknown. I am not one of them. Although, i wish i was.
And i am writing this, in the hope that i don’t sound like i am ungrateful. Because underneath it all, i reflect that i have had some of the most wonderful opportunities given to me in my life.
I also recognise that i am going through a huge life transition, which i think many people are at the moment (maybe not the same as mine) It’s been lurking in the “future” for a while and every time the prospect arose, i would deny it.
Every day, i wake up, still scared that i am going to do something “wrong.” It’s no longer just me i have to consider in anything i do. I struggle with my self image and embracing a body shape that i don’t relate to as my own. That’s not a vanity thing either, its just a truth that i have had to slow my body down and with that comes a modified version of myself. It’s difficult for me when people “notice” a little bump – i don’t want to acknowledge it.
I am scared of how having a new born will affect my ability to nurture my first love – my precious community based business. I have seen the challenges that come with trying to be a working mum, without the added pressure of being a business owner mum.
How will i have enough love to give everyone?
And then the scariest thought of all – what if i don’t have enough love to give?
Someone said to me –“When you focus on fear, you deny love. The two are on opposite sides of a spectrum.”
I hit breaking point. I kept enduring the fear and then decided that the way out was to ask for help.
It’s far from easy, but i also have an awareness of what works for me. The more women i speak to about their pregnancy journey – especially their first one – the more i realise that how i am feeling is actually very common. I thought it was just me and i asked myself why more women don’t feel comfortable to speak openly about how they were feeling through-out their pregnancy (or life struggles in general).
All i know, is that i didn’t fully comprehend the weight of everything i was feeling (because i was hiding from it) and i think this has an undertone with so many people out there.
Its f**king hard to confront difficult emotions, especially when you feel unsupported or isolated. But i am also aware that its the only way through it.
I am far from any sort of authority on how to over-come anxiety and depression, but i can with reasonable authority say that retreating and hiding from it alone, is not the answer.