Alright, this week I thought I’d bring on a guest blogger who is just as fabulous as can be and when I read this post I thought “Everyone needs to read this post.”
What is Love Will Voices you ask? Well, great question (said in my best salesmanship voice). It is a blog series featuring those who are or who have struggled with mental health. It is helping us open the conversation and break down that fucking stigma. If you want to share you story, click here.
All that to say: Please welcome Aubrey from Wonders of the Woodland to the blog and I hope her story inspires you the way it has me!
If there was a song that could guide this post it would be Master Pretender by one of my favorite artist groups, First Aid Kit. When I first heard a note of their music, something inside of me finally felt recognized. While their music is absolutely beautiful to the ears, it is also a vivid story in your mind as you listen. It takes me on journeys, leads my mind astray and sends me into a sacred space, allowing me to feel like I belong.
This growing process for me the past few years has been a tale of twists and turns. Just when I think I am catching my bearings, my wheels hit a rock and I go tumbling into a concrete barrier. The darkness that can seep in at times has been bringing on new challenges, ones I am only familiar with as a spectator. A few years ago my husband and I were thrown into the pit of mental health despair as I watched him quite literally fight for his life. Nothing could ever compare to the feeling of the fear that you may (or are) lose[ing] the one you love most, the one that has been the safe haven for your heart for years. I can’t express the gratitude for how fortunate I am to be able to embrace him each day. I know so many people are lead to an outcome that brings me great sadness, and I deeply and truly pray for those families to find peace in the suffering.
I found my darkness in 2020. Or maybe, it found me. Hunted rather. It tiptoed quietly, peeked in for the winter, breathed down my neck, and as the sun came back to grace us for summer, the darkness seeped away. I never know where it hides when I find quiet in my brain or when it may say hello again. In the beginning months of 2021 and of course in the dark of winter, It came back slightly louder. Roaring at night while I tried to sleep, knocking on my windows and doors during the short days, trying to break in. It was reluctant to leave come summer, but as it had before, it did. Only this time I didn’t have a sense of relief on my shoulders. I still carried the bricks because I knew it wasn’t truly gone.
Returning in 2021 the darkness came on even stronger. This time it didn’t breathe down my neck or watch me from the corner of the room. It barged in, stole from me and hoarded what belonged to me within its grasp. From the month of about August, it began to rob me of joy. It made me doubt myself as a creator, as a grower, as an artist, a mother, a teacher and a wife. It told me that these days were too long to remain strong. It whispered to me how everything that I wanted to do was foolish and fake, and taunted what energy I had left. I stepped back from some of my duties as a homeschool mom to lighten my load (bringing me extreme guilt), got stuck and stopped creating, logged off of social media, responded and reached out less to friends, and stopped doing things that I loved thinking that if only I could face the darkness alone and brace it head on- I might win. I know that I am strong deep down. I know that I was raised to be a defender of the weak, and that I am inherently a fighter. Yet, no matter how many times I tried to face the beast against me, I fell.
It took me courage to understand that this time the darkness would not likely seep away and that even if it would, enduring the deep, dark, winter alone as it was would be a terrible path to take. I grew tired of fighting and even though most days I can gain traction beneath my feet, my spirit goes through periods of dormancy. I began therapy in October and in just the few short months, I have been able to quiet some of the chatter in my brain and channel it into some energy that keeps the dark at bay (for a few hours anyway). I am learning to finally be proud of what I do and what I am capable of. I know that must sound silly because naturally, why would I be ashamed for doing what I love? That’s just the thing about depression and the darkness I face, the shame. I am learning that shame isn’t exactly a “stigma” that is paired with depression and anxiety. For me, shame is a trait that I have threaded into my being. I found myself questioning my reality to the severity of my depression. Am I really a candidate for someone with this illness? How can I, even though I have so much, still feel drained and diluted? I didn’t even believe myself, as if my struggles weren’t valid enough to be justified or shared. Do you ever type up a Facebook story or post and then immediately hit backspace a hundred times and clear it all away? Do you ever daydream of doing something spectacular and wrap it up with the thought that you just aren’t good enough? That’s is what I found myself doing in all walks of life. Letting the shame and the embarrassment of being different shadow over the possibility of being unapologetically me.
So here I am. Learning to face the monsters of my darkness. I am learning to heal some of my relationships that I have found difficult to tread over for years. For those relationships that I have poured my soul into and found to be empty, I am letting them go. I know that my journey has just begun and I have pledged for myself and for my family that I would give myself grace and patience to heal. That I would discover what truly lies within my walls to show not only myself but also my children that the life that our soul desires is never won easily. We can always get back up and try again.
You are not alone, my dear. As I like to say thanks to my good friend Dori, “Just keep swimming.”
If you or someone you know is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free 24-hour hotline. In the case of a life-threatening emergency, please call 9-1-1 or visit your nearest emergency room.
About the Author
“I could say that I started this journey years ago. I began seeking natural ways to treat my skin, my body, my babies and was drawn to nature and doing everything from scratch. So I did just that. I attempted many at home self-made “businesses” that because they weren’t my true identity, have since tapered off.
So ultimately, I think that even though my practice did begin at the very first time I put a drop of essential oil in my diffuser or baked my very first custom cake, my real journey starts now. This is the moment. When I have stopped focusing on going big with small business and trying to fit into a niche that wasn’t my own, I realized I could truly find myself and stay honest with who I am. This is my attempt at putting myself out there and staying true to my heart.
My only wish is that I wouldn’t have waited so long to do so.”