Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future. ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy
When my kids were younger, I was a Leader for La Leche League. La Leche League is an incredible international organization that educates, promotes and counsels breastfeeding women. I had the privilege of leading monthly group discussions, organizing fundraisers/events, speaking at different workshops and counselling new moms one-on-one. I did it all and I loved it!
But, I had a secret that was eating me up inside. When I was pregnant with my third child, I began to suffer from depression. It got to the point that it was necessary to go on medication for the first time in my life (more on that here: Depression and Pregnancy – My Story.). I was utterly ashamed. I had women open up to me about their personal issues. I helped educate women on what medications were safe to take while pregnant and nursing.
Throughout the year and a half that I was medicated, I told NO ONE! I felt as a leader, I needed to show that I had it all together. New moms were looking to me for advice and wisdom on nursing, parenting and breastfeeding. Didn’t I have to pretend that I was “ok” to help them? Wouldn’t they want a leader that could handle life? I look back now with sadness, as I realize how much more I could have helped, had I been able to share openly.
Fast forward to 2009. I had recovered from the bout of depression I suffered throughout my pregnancy and my baby’s first year. I was off my medication and thought I was “healed”. Then, little did I know, I was about to suffered the worse, debilitating depression of my life. Again, I was consumed by shame.
I couldn’t walk my kids to school, for fear the other parents in the school yard would look at me and know. I couldn’t go to church because I just couldn’t talk to anyone. I couldn’t even go to the grocery store because “everyone” would know. It became easier just not to leave my house and face the world. Being a people-person, my behaviour and actions were obviously affecting my family. I couldn’t parent any more.
I finally sat down with my oldest daughter one day. I told her that mommy has been very sad lately and hadn’t been around much. Then she looked at me wide-eyed with her beautiful brown eyes and asked simply,
I said I don’t really know. I said my brain was sick, but I was getting help. I said I would be going to the doctor and the naturopath. I said I’d been praying about it. I wanted her to know that it had nothing to do with her, her brother, her sister or daddy. She reached over, gave me a hug, and said these 7 words,
“Don’t worry, Mommy. I won’t tell anyone.”
I. Won’t. Tell. Anyone. Ugh! I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I was deflated. Where does a 9-year-old possibly learn that we are to hide this?? Oh, right…, me.
I looked at her and told her even though mommy was not here for her right now, she could talk to whomever she needed to.
My daughter taught me a life lesson in those 7 words, and I am forever grateful. It was at that moment that I made the commitment to myself, that if and when I got out of this pit, I was going to share my story. I wouldn’t hide behind the embarrassment – not only for myself, but for the sake of my kids.
God speaks to us in many ways. That day, He spoke to me through my daughter.
As a mom, an outgoing leader and an active member of our community, I realized that I could make a bigger impact and help many more people (not to mention my very own children) by being authentic, open and vulnerable. Do you have to share with everyone, shout from the roof tops or even start a blog? Nope. It could be as easy as having a conversation with just one person and saying…I understand. I’ve been there.
What’s holding you back from sharing your story? It could make the difference in someone’s life!