On Monday, July 25th, I shared something extremely personal on social media; that I am suffering from anxiety and depression.
I contemplated sharing it and went back and forth with myself until finally something in me just made me hit that send button on my phone. I never intended to share this and it wasn’t this big elaborate plan to bring attention to ME. In fact, I don’t think I really came to the realization that I was suffering from anxiety and depression until very recently.
If you know me personally, reading this might have come as a bit of a surprise.
On the outside I usually always have a smile, I’m an extremely positive and optimistic person, I have a supportive family, a loving husband, and have amazing healthy kids that I am so proud of. I volunteer in my community, travel when I can, and have goals in life that I am working to achieve. There is nothing I can’t do if I put my mind to it and know that my future is bright. On the outside I appear to be a strong, confident woman. And for the most part I am. But even strong, confident people with seemingly perfect lives go through bouts of anxiety and depression. That’s the thing with this, is that it doesn’t matter who you are, depression can affect anyone. It doesn’t care how much money you have, what your nationality is, or what gender you are.
There’s a lot of guilt associated with depression. I question myself….A LOT. And I tell myself I have no reason to feel sad, I have an amazing life. I have everything I’ve ever wanted, a family who loves me and all the opportunities the world has to offer me right in the palm of my hands and yet…it’s not enough. Why? It’s a question I ask myself everyday and I’m on a journey to figuring out the answer.
When I hit send on my phone and my post got published, I put down my phone, got the kids ready and headed to the gym for a workout (sweating it out everyday is one of the ways I’m going to kick depression in the ass). A little over two hours later when I checked my phone I was shocked to see so many comments, direct messages, and emails from so many people saying, “me too”, or “thanks for sharing, I suffer from anxiety as well” or “I really needed to hear this today”, or “I can relate!”.
I am not alone.
I was at the gym when I started reading some of these messages and literally just started sobbing. Right there in the weights area. Not because I was upset or sad or whatever but because I felt validated, relieved and loved all at the same time. I was so surprised to hear so many of you (some I haven’t spoken to in years, even decades!) reach out and offer to lend an ear if I ever needed to talk or vent. Some said they went through the same thing and wanted to share with me their journey on how they overcame it. The outpouring of comments and messages made me realize that anxiety and depression is common and yet we are so ashamed to talk about it. Why?
I want to help remove the negative stigma around it. By sharing my struggles and my journey to overcome this common issue that all of us go through at some point in our lives, I hope to encourage others to share theirs. The more we talk about, the more we support each other in the process, the better we will all be. I believe that a strong support system is critical to getting back to a healthy mental state. I am lucky to have people in my life that love me and care about my health and well-being and will do what it takes to help me get back the joy I once had in my heart and soul. I know I will get there one day.
Life is hard. Being a mother is hard.
We have an incredible responsibility of raising children and ensuring their health and safety 24/7/365. There are no breaks, vacation or time off. On top of that, we work hard to be a good wife, a good friend, a good daughter, a good employee, a good everything. We cook three meals a day, be a chauffeur, clean the house, keep up with friends, and have a career! At the end of the day, we have nothing left to give to ourselves. It’s a sad fact but its true. We are left feeling drained, tired, sad, lonely and stressed.
A wise friend recently told me that “depression is the result of stress that has been suppressed for a very long time.”
Well, if you’re like me, when I get stressed I turn to food and I overeat. I sleep in and stay in bed as late as possible because it makes the days shorter. I don’t workout, I’m not mindful of my thoughts and I let the negativity spew and I wallow in self pity victimizing myself and not taking accountability for my behavior. I make excuses, put a smile on my face and pretend everything is fine. This can go on for days, months…But this ends now.
Vulnerability does not equal weakness.
We are all human and everyone is fighting some sort of battle we know nothing about. In a world where you are constantly told you are not good enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough, etc…we have to stand together, as people, as humans and support each other.
Let us remove the negative stigma around depression and anxiety. Instead let us openly talk about it, share our stories with others and take them on our journey of self healing. You never know who you are helping and who’s life you are saving by exposing your imperfections to others. The minute I hit the send button on my phone to post my message, I immediately felt a release. It was freeing and liberating. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, please check in with people from time to time. If you sense they are struggling or in pain, or just haven’t heard from them in awhile, reach out. Ask them if they want to talk, go for a walk with them, buy them a coffee, whatever. We were all put on this earth to protect and love each other.
We need to be less judgmental and show more kindness and empathy towards each other. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is battling something you know nothing about.
If you’ve made it to the end of my post, thank you for reading! You have no idea how much your support, kind words, encouragement, thumbs ups and hearts mean to me.
I am not perfect. I am perfectly imperfect.
Wishing you all peace, love and happiness.
I suffered from depression maybe 8-9 years ago. When I had a miscarriage, a week before my birthday…right around this time of the year. I thought I can handle my miscarriage alone coz I am a strong person, but I was wrong. I was so sad and blamed myself for everything. I slept a lot, ate a lot, gained weight. I left my job, and look for a new one, thinking a changed of environment might help. No one knows about it until one day, I told myself, you need to get up. I did snd end up at the gym. Found a Zumba class and joined. This gave me a different felling. And for 7 years now, I have been teaching a Zumba class my goal is to help someone through dance. Few months ago, my dentist told me I maybe suffering from anxiety due to stress. He prescribed me a night guard since apparenlty I grid my teeth a lot at night and they hurt so bad in the morning. During the day when I get anxiety, I can’t breathe, I feel suffocated. Life is hard, even harder when you are a mom and hardest when you are a stepmom. You are right, everyone expects us to be perfect, a perfect mom, a perfect wife, perfect boss, perfect friend, perfect daughter, perfect everything.
Thank you for sharing. It was only few years ago that I was able to talked about my depression and my miscarriage. That’s when I realized, I don’t need to always be strong. It is okay to feel weak, helpless and cry as long as you get up and do something about it.
Barbara Dionicio says
Michelle, thank you for sharing your own personal experience with me. It helps knowing that we are not alone in this. We are strong, capable women but at times life gets to be a little too much and it’s ok to say I’m suffering right now and need help. I’m so glad you found your happiness through Zumba and being a positive role model for others. We have to keep supporting each other. Its the only way we can all get through this thing called life. So happy we were able to reconnect after all these years. ❤️😘