The biggest thing that I learned from the Warrior Mom Conference was that I am not alone. This may sound silly to you since I’m the one who is usually spouting statistics and admonishing my readers to reach out because we’re all in this together. Or you may completely understand how even though you know all of the numbers you can feel this marrow deep loneliness in the middle of your day.
Depression lies. I don’t remember where I heard this the first time, but I do remember my therapist saying it to me. “Yes, but it lies really well!”, was my reply. Anxiety lies too. OCD lies. Psychosis has a PhD in lying. They each make you think that you are alone, that you are the only one for whom it is this bad, for whom it is like this. Other mothers can do all of the things you can’t and they do them expertly. Other mothers are worthy and their children love them.
Suddenly I was surrounded by mothers JUST LIKE ME. We had all been lied to and betrayed by our own minds and bodies. It is the deepest betrayal there is. Suddenly you lose all faith in yourself at the time when everyone is telling you to trust your instincts. How can that not make you feel alone, alien and cast out? And yet there we were.
In this corner a mom talked about how she was still unsure that her six year old loved her. Even though they said it every day.
At this table women were laughing about the intrusive thoughts that used to leave them shaking and crying. Yeah, I said it, THEY LAUGHED.
Upstairs a woman sought solitude after a session really hit home and was comforted by a stranger who became a sister.
Before I went to Boston so many people asked me why I was going to spend a weekend talking about depression. Wouldn’t that be, you know, depressing?
I took the time to educate them – there is a spectrum of Maternal Mental Illness that includes Depression, Anxiety, OCD and Psychosis. And I tried to laugh off the idea that the conference would just be sad.
Honestly? I cried. I cried A LOT. I cried more than I had let myself cry since weaning from my medication. I cried more than I had let myself cry since Depression had robbed me of the ability to cry without the fear that I wouldn’t be able to stop. It felt so good. It felt so good to be able to let it all out. It didn’t scare or worry anyone when I cried, not even me. No one judged me or thought that maybe I was sick again or that I needed to be back on meds. People understood just how damn hard it is to cry when crying becomes a ‘symptom’ instead of a natural release. Hell yeah I cried. Usually I was held by more than one woman as the tears came down. Someone held my hand, someone hugged me tight, someone smoothed my hair and all of them offered me their strength even as some of them cried their own tears.
|I’m actually not crying in this picture!|
And that is the feeling that I take as I move forward. I will use the statistics that I learned. I will use the practical exercises and I will use the advice. They were all wonderful and worth the time and money. What was priceless and what can never be fully understood by those who were not there, is the depth of the hole that loneliness had carved into me and amount of love and strength that these women filled it with.
It means something else now when I say, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. What I mean is that I know, for sure, that there is a tribe of women who will open their arms to you, lift you up and hold you with wit and wisdom and love and strength. We will not let you fall and we will trust you to hold us when we need you. Mental illness lies. We are truth.