If you’re reading this, you know that life has a habit of throwing us curveballs. Mine came when I was 25 and became a mother to my first child, a son later diagnosed with autism. My daughter arrived 15 months later and she was born with Down’s Syndrome.
My excitement and plans for motherhood crumbled. I had pictured baking cookies in the kitchen but instead I faced two children with profound special needs and challenging communication difficulties.
I slipped from being an extremely positive and strong-willed young woman, to suffering from unrelenting anxiety and moderate to severe depression.
Depression comes in different forms. I suffered with it for 17 years and didn’t even know it, reasoning that I was too highly functional: I had three more children including twins, wrote two books and set up a nationally award-winning project where I educated mainstream children about special needs.
In reality, all of this was just my way of avoiding the pain I was feeling.
Part of what makes anxiety and depression so insidious is their ability to go undetected. We can become proficient at hiding them from not only other people, but ourselves too. We get dressed, put our make-up on and host friends. We bake cakes for the birthday parties and generally do everything expected of us because we have to look like we’re okay.
We push away the feeling and subconsciously choose specific behaviours to keep us away from negative feelings - even though in doing so we imprison ourselves and expand our avoidance until we can’t even remember how we got to where we are.
The eventual outcome feels a long way from what started it all. This is the danger of hiding the truth of how we’re feeling.
These behaviours affect every aspect of our lives, even the quality of our marriages. They influence the way we parent, the way we communicate with our children and spouses, and our family's overall sense of wellbeing.
This is my story. Yours will be different, but we will share the same symptoms. I know what it’s like to wake up feeling helpless each morning. I know how depression drains, exhausts and debilitates, and I know how negative self-talk reinforces the problems.
There is no need to suffer in silence. I have overcome, and so can you.
Your story matters to me, and I’ll help you get into the driving seat and take control of your life,
to let go of what’s been holding you back,
and own who you are.
Just one step at a time.