I like to give insight into my life from time to time. I think that the best place to write from is the heart. I write about a very sensitive subject: healing for birth mothers who have chosen adoption. If my reader cannot relate to me, and I cannot acknowledge that I am only human, then how will either of us get anything out of this? So here I am, about to reveal something that I have held very personal to me recently.
Mental Health Issues
For the past three months, I have been struggling with some mental health issues. Every day, I have woken up not knowing what mood I would be in, not knowing what would cause me anxiety that day, and feeling like I will never know peace and calm in my mind again. I have been working with a health care professional closely to find an efficient and appropriate treatment plan. I have been afraid of what tomorrow would hold every day for three months. I have felt lonely and hopeless, and have continued to push through every day hoping the next day would be better to no avail. I am happy to report that today, for the first time in months, I finally feel alive again.
Mental Illness is NOT Who I Am
I want to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on mental illness and encourage you to never give up if you face some of the struggles that I do and have experienced. Mental illness is not who you are. One of the greatest struggles for the past few months for me has been feeling as if I am my diagnosis. I have been trying to remind myself daily that I am not how I feel, but never felt relief from claiming that statement. I have been watching motivational videos, listening to brain wave stimulation music, and following a treatment plan, despite how down I felt about all of it. I really felt like my character was what I was going through. In this moment, I can tell you confidently that I know I am not my diagnosis.
This Is Only Temporary
Having a mental health diagnosis feels like being given a life sentence of misery when you are in the worst of it. It feels as if the symptoms will never go away and you will never get back to yourself again. I understand this on a very intimate and personal level. I have also talked to others who struggle about their shame associated with a mental health diagnosis, or even symptoms of a potential diagnosis. The shame of a mental health diagnosis only worsens when facing mental health stigmas and stereotypes.
Shame and Guilt
As a birth mother with a mental health diagnosis, I know the depths to which shame can crawl. It can leech onto your mind and suck every ounce of hope out of you. As a birth mother who has experienced shame, I can say that adding a mental health diagnosis on top of it can be the breaking point. The key here is to know when you are at your breaking point and when to ask for help. I hit my breaking point a few months ago, and only recently began to seriously ask for help from the appropriate people. I am blessed to have the support that I do at home with people who encourage me to ask for help when I need it.
Throughout these past few months, I have known quite a bit of shame and guilt. I have felt guilty and shameful for struggling to get through my day. I have dropped a few more balls than I would like to admit, and to make matters worse, I am my own worst critic. Yet, I sit here and claim today that I am not my diagnosis. I am not what is happening to me. I am not what I am going through. What I am is yet to be revealed. Who I am is what I learn more about every day. I know that I am a strong woman, and I know that if I can get through this, it’s possible for anyone to get through something similar.
I have hope today. I have hope for myself. I have hope for my family. I have hope for my endeavors and goals as well. If you find that you are struggling with a mental health diagnosis, or suppose that you are, please be encouraged by my words. You can get through this, but it’s important to ask for help.
If you don’t know where to turn, and you feel as if you cannot trust yourself or the people around you, or even if you just want to talk to someone, please seriously consider getting in touch with someone who can help.
I have seen a lot of posts recently about mental health awareness on social media sites. Every time I saw those posts, it really made me think: maybe I’m not as alone as I feel. So please, don’t give up, fellow birth mothers. Don’t identify with what you are going through, fellow women. Ask for help if you need it. And whatever you do, don’t give up. Remember, healing is a journey, not a destination.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.