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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Me.... on a giant dimmer switch

So I read this story today…just now….about a lady who has postpartum depression and wanted to speak out to shed light on Postpartum Depression Awareness Month…(the month of May).  She posted very candid pictures of her good days and her bad days…side by side.  Transparent and vulnerable...love her!
this shot represents how I felt all those years of living
in the dark...in the prison of inexplicable depression
In her story Kathy DiVincenzo says "We need to break the stigma and #EndTheSilence by sharing our stories and letting others know they're not alone.”   Read her compelling story here.   Her talented photographer friend, Danielle Fantis, who took all the pictures, also shared her heart wrenching story.  Read it here. It was her May 3rd post. 

So to Kathy and Danielle I’d like to say…..thank you … so very much with sugar and sprinkles on top for sharing such a moving story and not being ashamed to the point of silence!!!  You inspired me to tell my story.

Soooooo….that leaves us here….you and me…

Before I dive right in to whatever story parts we’re going to discuss in this post you should head over to the blog and read the first depression confessional I posted.  It was my first time EVER stepping out and admitting I had a problem. 

Depression….anxiety….mental illness in general has such a stinky stigma.  So few people ever have the nerve or wherewithal to tell their dark stories.  I have some dark stories my friend.  But it wasn’t like a light switch went off right after I had my first child…it was more like the overhead lighting was on a dimmer switch and it just kept getting darker and darker.  Harder and harder to face life.
illness in general has such a stinky stigma.  So few people ever have the nerve or wherewithal to tell their dark stories.  I have some dark stories my friend.  But it wasn’t like a light switch went off right after I had my first child…it was more like the overhead lighting was on a dimmer switch and it just kept getting darker and darker.  Harder and harder to face life.
After my second child is when it really hit me.  

Utter dispair. 
I decided I was NOT cut out for this mommy thing.  It didn’t matter that it was too late to go back, I felt miserable and I wanted out.  Once I asked my husband to leave and take the kids…go anywhere just leave.  Sweet man, had no idea what to do with me.  I just knew something wasn’t right.  I always had to have everything in place and if there were toys strung all over the house it would send me into a frenzy.  Always picking up after someone...I was always losing my cool.   Wait...I had no cool!  I also had no clue this was OCD manifesting itself.  When the house was in disarray I would go into panic mode….hello anxiety…welcome to the mix.   

Let’s see now…we have Bipolar and PTSD added to PPD, OCD and Anxiety…these five make for a dangerous cocktail which I had no clue I was even suffering from at the time.

Once I reached out to one of my closest friends.  I couldn’t put words around it.  I had no idea what I was experiencing or that it even had a name (or five).    She clearly had no clue what I was going through.  I remember the look of bewilderment that overshadowed her face.  
I knew then I couldn’t talk about this.  
No one would understand.  I don’t even understand.
I’m on my own.  
Suck it up.
here I should've been at my happiest...my two boys in my arms but I
remember trying my darndest to be there for my kids as the loving
mother they so deserved.

I remember feeling ashamed.  I mean, I had a supportive husband, an awesome home, the coolest friends and two healthy boys.  What did I have to be depressed about?  Life was picture perfect.  Oh but it wasn’t.  I didn't choose this for myself.  I wouldn't wish this on anyone.  

Around the time I decided no one could be trusted with my pain and devastating reality, I received the heartbreaking news that my father, who was in and out of prison my entire life and suffered from some form of depression but was never diagnosed as well as alcoholism and drug addiction, committed suicide.  
SHOOK me to the core.   
My world was rocked in a way that is indescribable.  
I remember not being able to get up from the kitchen table.  

Family surrounded me, with no clue what I was already facing.  I finally said “I can’t go forward.  I can’t bear this.”  Holding my hair brush in my hand I screamed at the top of my lungs "I CAN’T DO THIS!  I’M NOT STRONG ENOUGH FOR THIS!!!”  As I tell this story I’ve never told before tears once again flood my eyes.  I had no idea hurt was still there.  It is.

The truth is that the prayers of my friends and church family literally carried me through this time.  I remember feeling like I was floating on a cloud, not even moving my own feet.  It was grace, I’m sure.  
And the powerful love of God.

Before I finally got professional help I was trying to balance my emotions and fits of anger on my own.  Too many times to count, I drove up to my kids’ school in a puddle of tears.  For no reason.  Trying (to little avail) to dry my eyes and flash a smile as I walked past all the pretty-perfect moms wearing their stylish clothes…their hair all in place…wearing the biggest grin as their kids as they were reunited with their kids coming out of class.  I envied them.

I lived in a fish bowl, so to speak.  Our house was situated right in the heart of the historic district smack dab in the heart of town…EVERYONE drove by our adorable house.  I would get texts from friends commenting on the dress I was wearing or the table I was painting in the driveway or the art on the front porch … constantly.   No joke…everyone knew our business.  My half decorated, part storage facility, part art studio, part paint shop, part Craigslist bay front porch got loads of use and a plethora of comments from passers by. 

I would lay on my front porch sofa (my runaway place) of my amazing 100 year old home (this is probably accurate) with tears streaming down my face.   Inconveniently, the neighborhood girls would ride up in their bikes …again… expecting the 'creative Blu' to come out to play.   Truth is that girl wasn’t always home and couldn’t always carry on a conversation  (yes they came by everyday).

After school I'd spend hours (or minutes that felt like hours) lying on the trampoline in the back yard trying to play with my boys.  I tried so hard not to let them see mommy in a big heap of muck….I think sometimes I succeeded.  My oldest would throw me the ball ... I would move my arm slightly and if I couldn’t reach it from my prostrate position he would have to get up and get it for me I would throw it back with the little energy I could muster.  
It was pathetic.  
I felt like the WORST mother in all of creation!!! 
I remember praying … asking God that my boys would only remember the good times.  That the period I was going through would be erased from their memory. 

To top it all off, the pain in my tooth (from ignoring a bad root canal for over a year) was passed unbearable!  {Enter emergency tooth elimination team}  Oh, I LOVED my dental experience as much as one can love horrendous oral surgery.  The waiting room was decorated well, not totally up to date but the service was impeccable and the aids were friendly….and the view from their office was breathtaking!  So off I go on a wicked random rant…how unnecessary. 
Anyway…I was in crazy amounts of pain from the extraction and it seemed like my world was closing in on me.   

All the while I was snapping pictures of real moments that inspired me…organic moments when the kids were being angels or the chickens’ feet looked oddly interesting or the paint color on that vintage vanity was perfect with the freshly painted gold hardware.  Catch my drift?  There were moments of beauty to capture.
my honey bun and I ... all smiles ...
in no way letting on that I was a mess inside.

Considering the state of mind I found myself in during this post birthing stage I was still able to create.  Thank God.  Some of my best work came out of that period.  Art gave me joy.  Decorating gave me joy.  Buying and transforming things gave me great joy….I gladly posted away when those times were at hand.   We all have that Facebook worthy side.  The side we want everyone to see.  We stage the photo, crop, set the filter, write a catchy byline and post…bam!…look at me and my fabulously decorated life.
On the other side of the coin we have the messy, chaotic, how-do-I-get-out-of-this, I-hope-no-one-ever-sees-me-like-this side.   This is what we hide behind closed doors, never to be talked about and certainly not shared on Instagram.   Ain’t no filter strong enough to make that side presentable.  Cover it up, sister.   

The point I’m trying to get at is this, if you’ve experienced any form of anxiety, depression, OCD or any other mental illness it’s ok to speak out.  Own your voice.  Be unashamed.  You are NOT alone by any means.  #endthesilence #youarenotalone #itsoktotalkabout #mentalhealthawareness #theresnoshame 

It wasn't until I sought out professional help that I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The right help is essential.  Reaching out is the first step.

Tell it.  Tell your story to a close friend…a trusted family member…a pastor…even a neighbor….allow people around you that will help hold you up when your own strength fails you.  But MOST of all….MOST OF ALL…..invite God in to heal and transform your life.  He has good plans for you regardless of how things look in this moment.
You CAN do this....a great book by Dr. Henry Wolmarans

Don’t give up!
Do not bow down to insecurities and fear.  

One thing is for sure:  I am free!  
I am free to speak my heart to someone out there listening that needs to know there is HOPE.  You will make it through this.  You are more than enough.  God has a special purpose for your life and He’s not finished with you yet.  Your story will help people as I hope this story will.  We all have a divine purpose and one of mine is to spread awareness, hope and love.  

Friend, I hope you heard my heart today.  Even though this is only about 27.3% of my story it’s quite enough for now.  
This remains the MOST DIFFICULT subject to approach for me!!!!!  
I have much love and compassion for you, you have no idea.  
Keep it real….live well, live authentically, LIVE DECORATED:)

Blu Wyatt

Matthew 11:28-29   “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Oh, and PLEASE keep praying we get an RV for this yearlong adventure we're heading into starting in June...and thank you.  Nothing is impossible with God and we are believing big for this to come.  If you haven't heard read it here.

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