Good Morning friends. I hope this finds you well. I have fought with the idea for a while now, to write a very personal blog post and even as I write this my chest tightens and I am unsure if I should just press my delete button and keep my thoughts to myself. After the recent death of Charlotte Dawson, I have to say I have been troubled and so extremely saddened and it is with this emotion I write my ‘raw’ post.
My name is Collette. I am 35 years old. I am a proud Christian. I am happily married to Josh, we have been married for 15 years. We are blessed to have 4 healthy and happy children together. I have a successful business and 3 self-published recipes books, 2 of them are best sellers. I have almost 32,000 ‘friends’ following my page on Facebook. I live in a lovely home in Suburbia with a couple of pet birds and my vegetable garden. Both Josh and I don’t come from broken homes and we have loving parents. If you gave me a sheet with ‘boxes to tick’ for what I would like out of life, I would have to admit I am pretty blessed. On paper all looks great, if you are standing outside looking in, all looks great. I get told that often.
What you don’t know about me. I suffer depression and anxiety and too often feel alone and sad. I have cried myself to sleep more times than I care to remember. I have days where I struggle to get out of bed. I don’t get out of my PJ’s and I purposely don’t answer the front door or telephone. My 4 blessings of children are all IVF babies. Over 8 years of heartache combined, trying for them. I have been medicated for depression many times (the medication makes me too ill though), I have seen many different health professionals, I have read every positive thinking book and done every mind training exercise out there and, yes, I have even told myself to ‘snap out of it’, but honestly, when I am having a ‘bad time’ it just isn’t that easy. If only it was a matter of ‘getting over it’ and being positive (words of a person who has had nothing to do with depression), I would have done that years ago. Depression and anxiety is real, I can not imagine anyone would choose to feel this way if they could just click their fingers and feel better.
For me, it’s nothing traumatic that has caused me to be this way. I guess it’s my DNA. I was first diagnosed with Post Natal Depression after the birth of my first child and battled since then (she is now 11 years old). I have broken many things over the years due to fits of anger and frustration (plates being thrown and toes from kicking things). I have had times when I would drink too much to ‘get me through the day’ and where I felt alcohol was becoming my solution to happiness, when all it was doing was becoming an addictive problem.
In saying all of this, I actually believe that I am blessed with my mental health issues if this is at all possible. Thankfully, somehow, I can see when I am sliding down hill and need to seek further help. From others I have spoken to, this isn’t easy or common for everyone to do. I HATE admitting to my husband when I am ‘sliding down hill’, because I want to be ‘strong, independent and care-free’ all the time….not just some of the time. But I have 4 children to think of and I want them to have a happy Mum who will be there to see them grow up.
For me the slightest things can set me off which makes it difficult for people to understand and which draws the ‘pfffft just get over it comments’. Since having my twins (they are 3 years old) I could count on one hand the amount of times people have asked us to their place for a meal, coffee or even a glass of water! We love socializing and have people here often but never get the return invite. This affects me as I question myself as a person, which is just the most awful thing to do (be left alone with your own poisonous thoughts). Do people simply not want to be around me? Am I boring? Am I a horrible person and I don’t realize it? Is it because we have 4 children and people see that as hard work? Is it because I have so many intolerances and people are too scared to cook for me? (this would actually be funny if it were the reason as I have 3 books I can give them for ideas!) Is it that people are just so busy in their lives and we are not a priority? Is it that people see on paper our ‘perfect life’ and think we have plenty of friends?
In the last year or two I have lost touch with several friends. This hurts me more than words can express. I love my friends. They make me smile. One friend, who knew of my mental health issues and said she would be there for me as a shoulder to lean on decided to stop talking to me, deleted me as a friend on FB and refuses to reply to my messages to let me know what I did to make her no longer care for me. I honestly don’t know. I can only guess that I didn’t juggle being mum of 4, full time work and her friendship as good as she wanted. Hubby is a bit more black and white than me and says it is their loss as true friends wouldn’t do that. I just feel the pain they caused and struggle to not put myself down more because of it.
In the past year alone I have been criticized and belittled as a wife, mother, friend and human being in general, in my own home by someone that I thought cared for me. When I am having good days I can try and turn these situations of heart ache into positives and learning experiences and tests of Grace. Sadly though, I don’t have good days all the time and I don’t understand people’s nastiness, hurtfulness and judgment.
It was social media bullying which made me first know who Charlotte Dawson was after she attempted suicide back in 2012. I wonder how those people feel now? The ones who told her that her life wasn’t worthwhile, amongst other nasty comments. I wonder if they sleep of a night?
Social media is amazing for so many reasons, please don’t get me wrong, however, social media can and does cause much heartache. Expression cannot be seen across the computer. Jokes can be taken the wrong way. Assumptions are too often made. Arguments can get out of control and relationships lost, broken and hearts hurt. This scares me in many ways with my 4 children growing up with this being the ‘normal’ way of life.
I need to ask something of you and please read this carefully. Please know I am not having a ‘pity party’ and doing this for personal attention. As I get to the end of my writing I am still unsure if I will actually even post this. I KNOW that there are many people out there worse than me. The reason I am doing this is for awareness and to perhaps make you think.
I KNOW that I am blessed and I know with the help I am getting (I am on Chinese Medicine for my depression and working through a health program and natural supplements for my gut and my anxiety) and with the stubborn fighting streak that is within me, that I will be ok. I also am blessed, as I have reasons to keep me going. I have my children who I love so much it often hurts. I have a loving, supportive and encouraging husband who does his best to help in anyway he can, it is difficult on him as his natural instinct is to ‘fix it’ and it’s just not that easy. He knows now that sometimes all he can do is hug me tight, as I lay inconsolable on the bathroom floor and tell me I am loved and that it will be ok. I have supportive family who are just a phone call away and I have a handful of close friends (and to be honest some of this might even come as a shock to them). I have a business that I love (99% of the time!) and I feel encouraged that because of my journey with my physical and mental health issues, that perhaps I might be able to help people. Even just one person. I pray that what I go through on a daily basis is for a reason, that someone, somewhere will not feel alone because of me speaking up.
On top of this and most importantly, I have my Faith. I don’t believe that I am meant to have a ‘perfect and pain free’ life because I am a Christian. I find solace in knowing that I have a God that loves me unconditionally. That even in my darkest moments he is there and won’t leave me.
There has been a lot of information in the media over the past few days for those with depression or mental health issues to reach out for help. Lifeline and Beyond Blue are two great places. R U OK is another wonderful contact.
The problem is though, so many people with depression don’t reach out for help, or do and don’t get heard. They might be speaking but they may not be listened to. This is the entire purpose of my message today. Are you listening? Think about your friends, acquaintances, family members, school mums, work colleagues…. has anyone tried to reach out to you for help and you have shrugged it off as they are ‘being sensitive, over-reacting, being a drama queen, just being negative?’
What about the Mum that sits by herself at school waiting to pick the kids up in the afternoon, whilst you chat to your group of friends, have you asked her how she is doing and listened? What about your husband, have you asked him how his day was and truly listened and allowed him to get his daily stresses off his chest? What about the friend that seems perfect and has it all together, that you assume is too busy to catch up for a coffee or play date? Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. What about the friend that you have been ‘meaning’ to call but keep putting it off because you couldn’t be bothered or you don’t need something from them at the moment?
I urge you, if anyone you know has sprung to mind, pick up the phone and call them. Send them a text message to say “hi I was thinking of you”. Contact them in anyway you can. Make it your daily or weekly plan to tell someone you are thinking of him or her and have them know they are not alone. Let’s stop comparing, belittling and judging and, start listening, caring, uplifting and encouraging.
As for social media or bitching behind friend’s backs, I am sure you have heard it all before. Think before you speak. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Have a great day, bless you all and go and make that call or send that message .
Take Care of You,
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