So often I am asked how I have dealt with my postpartum depression and anxiety. I have been nervous to speak out because I don’t want anyone to feel shame for their choices but I do feel like sharing my journey is really important. This has been a multifaceted healing for me. There are three critiacal points that are all linked that have to happen for me to overcome the suicidal feelings and hopelessness. NONE of them come easily to me and ALL take work and discipline. Ultimately discipline seems to be the common theme in my life lately. I am learning to trust the process and wear blinders so that I can stay focused on my own journey.
Because I know balancing out my internal chemistry and hormones is crucial to a happy mental state, staying dialed in on my nutrition and my workouts every single day is vital.
Do I still love sugar and junk food? YES
Am I still naturally lazy and want to lounge around in my pajamas? OF COURSE
Do I know better than to do those things in excess? YUP
I am not programmed differently than other people. By nature I love to eat treats and binge watch Netflix like the rest of the planet. I just know that doing those things is destructive for me and I have had to develop habits that serve me better. So much of what I have done in my own life has come from what I try to teach my children. “Camden are you making good choices?” “Let’s make better choices Cam.” I swear I say those things on repeat to my preschooler and finally realized I need to say it to myself. Sometimes we all need a little gut check.
MAKE BETTER CHOICES MELANIE!!!
The other crucial part of all of this is DELIBERATELY changing my thoughts. When you are anxious and depressed you feel like you have no control of your thoughts sometimes. Why does the dark stuff creep in? How can it go from high to low so fast? Why do I wake up feeling completely hopeless and lost? Well so much of that is the chemical imbalance that I am fixing with my food and fitness choices, but the other factor is breaking old thought patterns. I have to CHOOSE to stop dwelling on those thoughts. When they creep in I have to make a choice to engage with them or change them. Instead of spinning in a world of thoughts where I tell myself I’m a terrible mother, or I’m worthless, or unlovable and there is no hope, I literally have to stop that. Yes it can be that simple. When a negative thought comes in, let it pass, don’t entertain it, say something good about yourself even if you don’t want to and move on. I don’t care one ounce if you are lying to yourself! One day you won’t be. Destructive thoughts do nothing but tear you apart. I now tell myself I am an AMAZING mother. I am a WARRIOR. I am a SURVIVOR. I have not come this far, gone through the shit in my life that I have to just give up now. The world needs me because I am strong. The world needs strong, real women who aren’t afraid to be seen, or to be imperfect. My children NEED me. I am a role model and I need to show them what real beauty and strength looks like. So what if things aren’t going as planned, I can change that plan. I can rewrite it and I can ALWAYS choose how I react to what is happening in my life. I have that power. This is MY life and I can make it anything I want if I’m willing to do the WORK! So much of that “work” is mental. We have to get really real with ourselves and call our own bullshit sometimes. I know this tough love seems harsh and unfair but what is the alternative? Wallowing in depression and self-loathing? I did that… and it sucked. I’ve decided to move on.
I have talked quite a bit about how I have changed my eating habits and my fitness and that is without a doubt so so so critical in all of this healing journey. What we feed our bodies and how we care for our bodies directly affects our minds so please know this is all linked and part of the same whole. I just feel like this mental shift, this BATTLE to be happy hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention and it is probably the MOST important part of all.
THIS IS HARD WORK!
This is the part you will do over and over and over 1000’s of times all day long before you see or feel anything change.
Don’t let my positive posts and choice to share the good bits on social media fool you. I am busting my ass every single day to fight for joy. My life is no different than any other life; bringing with it joys and challenges that push me to my limits every day. (#motherhood right?!) I’m trudging through the muck too, but I’ve decided to find the good in it all, the funny bits, the triumphant bits, the parts that I know are making me stronger and happier.
Choosing joy is just that… a choice.
I wake up every single day and choose what I allow into my mind. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t, but I keep working at it. How have I overcome the darkness? By INTENTIONALLY filling my mind with positive personal development… books, podcasts, mantras that build me up instead of tear me down. By filling my body with food that nourishes and keeps my body and brain running strong. By giving my body the gift of fitness and strength so that I have energy and stamina to face whatever comes my way. By combining all three of these elements to make me stronger physical and mentally, to shape me into a woman I am proud of and want my children to look up to. I can’t ask them to do things or be things I am not willing to do. If I want to raise amazing, hard-working, kind, strong, free-thinking, love-givers, I must be that FIRST. I must practice kindness first…. to myself and to the world around me.
Mental strength is a battle… you choose what you put in your mind and what thoughts you allow.
Fight for good. Fight the darkness.
Never forget that you CAN DO hard things!
If you want to talk more or learn more about what I do day in and day out email me. I will be sharing more tools and tips that help my mind and body here on the blog but I also run monthly fitness challenges where I share much more of my daily life with my challengers on their own health journeys.
Please know I am not a mental health professional. These are just my personal experiences with severe depression and postpartum anxiety and how I have found healing. Every journey is different, but I know we can all benefit from eating well, staying active and filling our minds with positivity. Do not be afraid to seek out help if you are struggling. Also do not fear your own ability to be strong and heal. Empower yourself!