Let me preach a bit today, my friends, about honesty. Deep honesty is good for the soul. It deepens connections. It’s refreshing, like an ocean breeze. At times, brutal, but necessary. There is a certain peace that comes when you are honest with yourself. Often, our biggest challenges and joys are found when we are honest with ourselves and others. Honesty sets us free.
Honesty is crucial to the treatment of mental illness. I’m here to tell you I have not always been honest in my journey towards mental well being. Technically, I didn’t lie but I was afraid that acknowledging my feelings would tarnish my ‘perfect image’.
After my first child was born, I was in a pit of disparity. This was 18 years ago when people first started talking about post Partum depression. I knew I had it bad but I just knew telling would make me a bad mom. Part of the problem was previously diagnosed depression. Part of the problem was irrational rage at my ex. He seemed to take to parenthood like a duck to water. He could diaper better. She wouldn’t spit up on him so much. She’d blissfully fall asleep for him. I was a wreck with two thumbs. Not to insult children or dogs but both seem to sense your mood and respond accordingly. And boy, was my mood all over the map. Instead of being honest with my ex or asking for help, I let resentment and anger and self loathing build instead. Ultimately, I think that may have had a contribution to the divorce because it’s a pattern that we fell into as husband and wife. Instead, I went back to work early and dug myself out of the hole with a better job and lots of practice. However, in the spirit of complete honesty, there were times I had to distance myself because I was afraid I could harm her. Honesty would have eased my family’s burden. Nothing shameful would have happened if I’d shared how I was feeling. I would have gotten help sooner and been the mother I wanted to be faster.
Deception by omitting is not honesty.
Honesty years ago could have saved me from years of exhaustion. We all know growing families and being a working mom is hard. But, I can’t describe to you how tired I was. I can only say my bones were weary. I spent the first half of my 30’s trying to take the weight off, excercise, and eat every diet on the market. I was still bone tired and fat. During a routine physical, I apologized to my doctor for complaining but I was so tired and couldn’t lose weight. Turns out, my thyroid was no longer working. After some simple tests, I got thyroid hormone replacement and I feel better. Thyroid is also connected to depression!!
Brutal honesty can be a great thing!!
In my later 30’s, I was still being treated for depression. What I never told my doctors was I had these days where I was super-Tanya sprinkled throughout the month. It was perfect. I’d lay in a deep hole in the couch, unable to brush my teeth for days, then, poof, a high energy day where i could cook, clean, bathe, with energy to spare. I only needed a few hours sleep, like 5-6, and I was off again until the crash back to the couch. I know normal people don’t do that but I couldn’t tell. I knew, or convinced myself I knew, the doctors would take my good days. Y’all, this is bipolar disorder. No, I didn’t talk fast. No, I didn’t get promiscuous. Nothing Lifetime Movie Channel showed me, no Questionaire seemed to apply to my symptoms. Yes, I get irritatable. Yes, I had amazing energy at times. I have bipolar type II. I live in a more depressed state with infrequent bursts of lower level mania. Look it up, if you want more information. Suicide and suicidal ideations mark most of my journey through life.
Honesty could have eased today’s burden. If I had been honest years and years ago, I could be living a more normal life.
If any parts of my story sound like yours, please, be honest. Ask for help. Speak up.