I’ve been thinking about how easy it is to convince ourselves that our problems will go away. Or they aren’t that serious. Or that it’s someone else’s fault we have them. Or that they don’t even exist. Sometimes we end up being the biggest obstacle in our own lives because we refuse to admit when we need help.
How many times in life do we suffer because we aren’t being honest with ourselves? How many people nearly destroy themselves because they would rather believe in a fake version of themselves rather than look at who they really are or what’s really going on inside them?
What makes us think that being the fake person — pretending we’re invincible or that we’re doing okay or that we can handle this or that — while struggling underneath is such a genius idea? Do you know how hard it is to maintain the fakery, the facade AND deal with the struggle at the same time?! How much more work that takes?
I’ve seen this for so many years when it comes to maternal mental health. Women who know something is wrong but don’t want to admit it. Who don’t want to accept that maybe they need help. I feel like I’m watching them swim against a dangerous rip tide. I’m on the shore waving the warning flag back and forth wildly shouting, “Go this way! Go this way!” but they refuse my help because they don’t want to see they are fighting a rip tide in the first place.
If you are a mom out there in the proverbial water feeling like you are about to drown, what if you just stopped fighting against what you are dealing with or trying to hide it? What if you accepted that this is where you are right now? Accepted that as much as you are mad about it and don’t want it and don’t deserve it and are afraid of it, maybe you have postpartum depression. Or postpartum anxiety. And you’re probably going to have to say that out loud to someone and get some help.
I believe so strongly in acceptance. Radical acceptance. I may not be good at it when it comes to everything in my life, but I have definitely radically accepted that I have anxiety. I’ve had it my whole life. It’s part of who I am but not in any way all of who I am. I get the support I need for it. I’m okay with it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t really suck sometimes, but there are plenty of things in life that really suck sometimes and the majority of them have nothing to do with mental illnesses.
Anxiety is. I don’t have to pretend it isn’t. It is. So I accept it and I attempt to solve the problems it might cause me by being honest about how it affects me and getting help for it. A lot of the times that works. Every now and then it doesn’t. But this is what is real.
Radical acceptance is about realizing you don’t have to exhaust yourself trying to fight reality. Even if reality sucks. It’s about accepting the present moment. Recognizing what is. Figuring out which parts of the problem you have control over and which parts you really don’t. Radical acceptance is about going forward in spite of.
I’ve been in the middle of a divorce this year. It’s awful. Heartbreaking. But I’m trying so hard to practice radical acceptance. This stinks. I don’t like it and I wouldn’t choose it. But it is reality so I have to deal with it. I have to take care of myself. I have to be here for my children. Spending time thrashing against it won’t get me anywhere. So I’m focusing on really trying to accept it and focus on myself, and I truly believe it’s giving me more peace than I’d otherwise have.
Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward. – C.S. Lewis
Radical acceptance doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to be angry. Or grieve. Or be disappointed. It just means it’s okay to stop pretending. You don’t have to hide what you are going through. There is a beautiful freedom in being honest. In letting go and accepting where you are in this present moment and working with others to find a path forward. There IS a path forward.
There is always a path forward.
The worst thing for me with PPD is that when I think it is gone and I got it, it is there again. I am strong to live with it ( I think) but not strong enough to find the help that I need…
I LOVE you and I love that you are writing again. We are still here. You’ve got this momma.
Katherine, I found your blog in the fall of 2015 when I was absolutely reeling under the weight of PPA/PPD after the birth of our second child. This place was such a comfort to me as I obsessed about being normal and returning to who I once was. This space was a reassuring voice for me and helped me know there was light at the end of the tunnel when I couldn’t see even a glimmer of it myself. I’m happy to say now that my little girl is 2 and I am doing well – I’m not my old self, because just like you foretold….I’m actually a better version of myself.
When I randomly decided to check in on this old friend of a space tonight, I was sad to see your news. I felt like it was the best time to comment for the first time and tell you that you’ve helped me and many, many other mothers find themselves again. Thank you for using your story to light the darkness for me – I’m so glad you did. I have a feeling you will use this current storm in your life for good when you’re up for the challenge. Until then, let your community hold you and keep you. Thinking of you and your family, and wishing you well. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Amazing read. I was diagnosed with PPD, anxiety, insomnia, and PTSD. I loved reading “there is a beautiful freedom in being honest.” Since I was diagnosed I have been completely open about it. I’ve even told strangers! Some people judge or even don’t believe it’s a real illness, but no matter what being honest and real is making it a whole lot easier than faking it. I wish more women would not be ashamed of this horrible illness. We need to end the stigma and help each other!
LOVE this! Thank you for reminding us it’s ok to just be the best that we can be in any given moment!
This is a truly beautiful and honest read. How different things might be for all of us if we all practiced more radical acceptance and realness?! It’s amazing how powerful owning our own truth can be, for better or for “worse”. Sometimes we just have to be gentle with ourselves and meet ourselves wherever we are. Beating up on ourselves, or pretending we’re fine doesn’t help anyone.