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This face was depression, darkness, hopelessness. This face had been lying in bed for days, in pain and crying.
This face is typically expected to uplift others, be resilient and push through.
But instead I was depressed, ashamed, mad my body, asking God: why why why?
Anthony asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. I couldn’t even get up to look in the mirror to see if my face was too puffy and sad to go out in public. So I took this picture to see myself.
It was.
And I didn’t care because I was too sad to move.

In my life I’ve experienced death of loved ones, abuse, parental divorce, addiction surrounding me, sexual assault, heartbreak, failure, codependency, unbelonging and a whole lot of trauma.
I think for many years I managed all of the above by my own ‘acceptable’ addictions such as work, food, extreme fitness, achievements, binge watching, internet, alcohol and drugs at social outings.
You too? I know. That is the human way. Using ’easy buttons’ to escape the pain.

In the last few years, therapy really helped me to release the need for a lot of this escapism. To invite the pain in and ask it what it’s here to teach me instead of running away and numbing.
Not always, but a lot more often.

Then we lost our babies.

“How are you doing?” they’d ask me in hushed tones and low voices.
“Fine, I’m better. Thanks! Looking forward to some answers.”

Even though this was a couple months ago, sometimes I still feel dark.
This isn’t my face anymore. On the outside.
But on the inside I still have days where I question everything, what the point of life really is and if I’ll be able to get out of bed ever again.

I get through it by continuing to confide my true feelings in very few really strong and empathetic friends who make me feel empowered and truly ‘get it’.
I get through it by talking about my shame and fears and pain (and basically everything I experience) with my best friend, rock, communicative, gift of a husband. He gets through it by talking to me, too.
I get though it with my spiritual tool belt. Meditation, prayer and faith in this journey being a part of my purpose and God’s plan for me.
Most importantly I get through it by seeing a therapist weekly. I have for almost 4 years and I will never stop. She has changed me. She holds space for me in a way no one else in this world ever could. She is trained to let me get it out – while being my biggest champion. I cry every session. Seriously. Usually for the whole hour, while blubbering out whatever I’m feeling.

Because our lifetimes of trauma might need a lifetime of support. There is no shame in that.
We all have dark times and I firmly believe no one is exempt from it. Most people wear a bigger mask or use more easy buttons to cover up the pain. Underneath the vices and masks, we really are all the same.

Mental health is part of your overall health. Seek help, confide in those who are supportive and don’t judge anyone else’s healing journey.
You don’t need to wait until times get tough to become more self-aware and loving towards yourself and others. You can start today.

For more information on helping end the stigma around mental illness go you can go here: https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/ways-to-help