// My Mental Health Journey

Navy Kensie Dress with Crochet Lace Detail - #OOTD via KaelahBee.com
The last half of February was really difficult for me. Not so much in my daily tasks or anything, but just my overall mental wellbeing. The days felt longer, harder, and just overall more psychologically exhausting. I haven't really discussed it (my mental health) on the blog because, well, I didn't blog for a while. And because being open and vulnerable on the internet is scary. The past 2 years have been full of personal transformation, but all of it started by finally getting the courage to put myself into regular therapy in April 2015. 

I had spent the previous 3 months barely able to hold on - sometimes finding the task of existing to just be too much. This blog is somewhat telling as my posting frequency and enthusiasm was at a steady decline. I was at home with an infant 24/7, trying to juggle Linden's needs alongside Toby's, watching my marriage start to slip away. I struggled for months before having the strength to do something about it. It was when I realized that I was incapable of trusting myself, despite my intuition never faltering, that I knew I needed someone else's help. In a desperate attempt to salvage my family, I convinced Mike to go to therapy with me. At least for a few months. He obliged, though it didn't always produce the positive results I was hoping for. After a couple of months we felt like our relationship was "okay" enough and that it would be a more productive use of time to focus on myself during these appointments, so he stopped going with me. I spent the next several months in weekly appointments, poring my heart out, grieving my marriage that was unraveling still. We were happy intermittently, and we really did love each other, but it wasn't enough to sustain us. Even on days where we were affectionate and in love, I still often felt an emptiness. It was through my therapist that I started practicing how to be mindful - mindful of all things, all decisions, all situations. And with that I learned (eventually) how to be mindfully unattached. I found freedom in letting things be the way they were, rather than the way I thought they should/could be. I started accepting peoples' actions and intentions without feeling like I needed to fix them simply because I knew they could be "better" - or simply more like how I wanted them to be. And I finally stopped looking at my relationship as if it were the same as it had been in our earlier years. I found peace knowing I could accept whatever was ahead of me - even if I didn't quite know how just yet. 
Navy Kensie Dress with Crochet Lace Detail - #OOTD via KaelahBee.com
It was almost a year to the day after I started therapy that our marriage finally ended for good. I had spent the past 12 months preparing myself mentally and emotionally for all of this. I knew it had to happen because 1 full year of counseling later and I still couldn't accept where we were and what all had happened. I couldn't trust him and I still couldn't quite trust myself. It had been such a long journey - an exhausting one full of tears and midnight phone calls to best friends across the country. I was tired, and I was still hurting despite every attempt to bandage the wounds. It all came to an end one afternoon when the disconnect was finally too much to bear. "Our marriage is over, isn't it?" was all that needed to be said. We were calm, we didn't cry, we simply accepted. It felt (and still does feel) like the biggest defeat of my life. It hurt, but I also felt free. And just like that we started to construct our lives apart from one another. I spent the next 4 months in therapy still, navigating my new role as a single mom, and waiting with baited breath for Toby's adoption to go through. Once Toby's adoption was finalized it was like my entire world opened up again. I had learned to start trusting myself again, knowing I wasn't "crazy" and that my intuition had never failed me, no matter how many times I refused to believe it. It was during this time, when everyone expected me to be broken, that I started to flourish. I had spent the past year mourning the death of my marriage, and finally closing that chapter meant I was free to grow and explore and experience new things. The truth is my marriage ended in April 2015, but it took both my mind and heart that long to let go and be okay with it. For some outsiders it may look like I didn't grieve long enough - that I went straight from a marriage to dating - but the truth is rarely as it seems. Finally ending my marriage felt like I was giving my heart permission to move on. 

My regular therapy sessions became a bit more spread out - every week turned into every other. Then came our very last session as my therapist was moving practice and I had finally completed a full appointment without crying. It was a bittersweet ending. I grew to truly trust and appreciate my therapist. There are no words to express how much she helped me overcome. I was, and am, so grateful for her still. The past year of being a single mom, navigating divorce and parenting plans, coming to terms with another woman loving my children, has been a rough one. Literally nothing about the process has been easy (for any of us). But it feels like we've finally found a rhythm that works for us all, at least for now. Despite the obstacles I've felt myself grow and transform and actually be happy. It's amazing how different your life can be when you're not chained by depression and heartache. That's not to say I don't still hurt - I do, regularly. That's probably why it's taken me so long to even talk about it at all. I told myself I might discuss it once I was over it, but I've since realized I'll never quite be over it. There will be days where I can tell my story, in its entirety, even the really really messy parts, and be fine. Then there are days where not having "my family" feels like a dagger to the heart all over again. That's not to discount the three of us being family, because we obviously are, and the four of us are still a family in ways, but I just never thought we'd be where we are, so some days it's still a bitter pill to swallow. It's a strange line to toe... being the happiest I've ever been (because I'm happy with myself for once), but some days still falling into the pit of "what could have been." Depression is one of those tricky beasts... often like a bear in hibernation, tucked away for a while, totally unassuming. However it's when the beast is woken the destruction begins. That's kind of where I've been the past few weeks. Feeling a little defeated and broken and lost and just overall tired. The triggers are often different - this time being partially attributed to body image - but they often produce the same results. I retreat inside myself, often abandoning the blog/social media, and sometimes finding it hard to even function. It's something that I've been able to recognize though, and that's in no small part thanks to my therapist. Once I recognize what's happening, I'm often able to mindfully navigate my way out of it, or at the very least make it more tolerable. But sometimes it's just too heavy of a burden to bear so I have to simply wait for it to pass. That's where I've been the past couple of weeks. Just waiting for it to pass. 
Navy Kensie Dress with Crochet Lace Detail - #OOTD via KaelahBee.com
I know talking about it sometimes helps, so here I am... talking about it I guess. Mental health is something we often overlook or stigmatize, but therapy has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. My physical transformation could not have happened without my mental transformation first. Both of these are things I have to work at every. single. day. but I realize that with time, patience and perseverance that things really can look quite different in the end. I've replaced regular therapy with regular gym time, and that often gives me the chance to just be with my thoughts - or not. Sometimes I think about nothing at all. But I don't think my mental wellbeing will ever be something I can just let be. I think it's something I will have to be mindful of for the rest of my life - for reasons just like the past couple weeks. Contentment comes and goes, but now I finally know I have the strength to face it head on. I let the fear of judgment and the unknown stop me from seeking help when I first needed it. Could/would things be different had I sought out therapy earlier? Who knows. I'm okay with not knowing. Right now I'm simply focused on today. One day at a time. And in an effort to best address the emotional turmoil Toby must feel, I started him in regular therapy a couple of months ago. He loves going to his appointments and I truly feel it has helped him open up and understand some of what he's feeling. I know I'll have a long road with ahead with him, but I've promised to stick by him every step of the way. Mental health is something that should be prioritized for everyone, in my opinion. Even children. (Though I absolutely see the privilege in that - It's simply my wish that mental health counseling was easier for folks to access - both literally and figuratively.)

Not sure what the point of all of this was, to be honest. But it feels good to get some of it off my chest. I know there are a lot of questions and theories floating around so, maybe this will address at least a couple of them. And yea, these outfit photos have absolutely nothing to do with this post, but hey, that dress is cute, right? Ha.

xo KB



26 comments:

  1. Love you for having the balls to share all this! Rooting for you!

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  2. Thank you for being brave enough to share what you are going through! For all the people who judge, like you said, the truth is rarely as it seems.

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  3. Thanks so much for sharing. I struggle daily with anxiety and depression and being open about it has helped me so much. I'm glad things have been getting better and hope they continue to do so, in spite of the hard days.

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  4. I'm glad therapy was so helpful for you and that it helped you find a way to trust that you could get through things. I wasn't in the exact same situation as you, but it also took me a long time to realise that a relationship was over and to finally end it, so I can understand how hard and how long it takes to mentally process that. Like you, some people might have felt I moved on too quickly but as you say, things aren't always as they seem.

    Also, that dress is definitely cute.

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  5. This is such an "open," article. It's rare to find folks who are willing to be so open, honest and vulnerable. Your story will undoubtedly help others. Congratulations on the steps you have taken for yourself and your family.

    http://wesisters.net

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing this! My depression has been flaring up lately as well and I think you phrased it beautifully--sometimes you can mindfully manage it, but sometimes you just have to hold on and wait for it to pass. I can definitely related. I've missed your more personal / "here's what my life is like REALLY" posts, and so thank you for being so brave and sharing this! xo

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  7. Just wanted to chime in and say thank you for being honest and sharing your story. I went through a similar situation a few years ago, and it can be very isolating. Kudos to you for seeking help, and continually staying mindful to the realities of your life. If that means stepping away from social media, embrace it! If that means posting more, and posting honestly, embrace it! If you are at all into practicing Mindfulness Meditation, my favorite app to use is Buddhify. A ton of good guided meditations that I have found helpful when I'm feeling overwhelmed or upset.

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  8. Kaelah, thank you for sharing. It's a lot to share and it take bravery to do it, but I hope it has helped you. I've found whenever I open up about my own mental health on my blog I feel relieved afterwards and it is cathartic in some way, especially if you've been trying to maintain the impression of "holding it together". Best of luck xx

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing this Kaelah - although our circumstances are different, I recognised a lot of myself in this post. It's so true that working on your mental health allows you to work on your physical health. Without therapy I wouldn't have been able to run a 5K race! Thank you again for sharing your story - it's wonderful to hear how much has improved for you :-) xx

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  10. Good for you and thank you-- for going to therapy, for sending Toby to therapy, and also for talking about it. Therapy has saved my life and I truly think it's as important as going to the doctor after you crash your motorcycle or whatever--those broken things don't just fix themselves, that's not how it works. But thank you so much again for sharing all of this.

    This part of what you wrote>> "Depression is one of those tricky beasts... often like a bear in hibernation, tucked away for a while, totally unassuming. However it's when the beast is woken the destruction begins."

    Have you ever seen the Babadook? It's a "horror" movie but has a great unexpected plot of single motherhood, depression, and how it can be so lonely, isolating, terrifying. I wouldn't recommend watching it when you have a heavy heart, but it's one of those so-honest-it's-cathartic films if that's your thing.

    Anyway, you just keep doing you, you are doing fantastic. Bad days and weeks and even months are a part of it.

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  11. So glad you shared this, takes a lot of bravery! (Looking beaut too)

    www.thewonderlanders.com

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  12. Such a brave and beautifully-written post. Kudos to you!

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  13. Thank you for sharing your story. I have so much sympathy for you. I recently went through a very similar timeline of events regarding the end of a marriage and I too had a very strong and focused first winter followed by an overwhelmingly dark and listless second. I attribute it to the backlash of adrenaline that got me through the first year wearing off and a new reality settling in? Also, the grieving process is a very long and twisty road.
    Stay strong and above all else, be kind to yourself!

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  14. You are SO strong to post this and literally pour your heart out onto "paper". I think when a lot of people see blogs they think that said person is perfect but in all honesty, as you showed through this post, no one is perfect. Depression is a bitch and always loves to rear its ugly head when we least need it or expect it. But you are a strong, kind (from what I can tell from your blog & insta posts) and wonderful women. Reading your post really resonated with me in the sense that I have struggled with depression and have been seeing therapists off and on since i was 13 and I know how some days/weeks/months can be great and others not so great. I have been following your blog probably since the beginning and it's so awesome to see someone grow into themselves. You got this momma!! Continue to stay strong and make each and every day your bitch! Sending you lots of love and positive energy as well love

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  15. Thanks for sharing and highlighting this important issue. Mental health and physical health often go hand in hand which I think a lot of people don't realize. You're words go forward to breaking the stigma associated with this. Good job on taking care of yourself and getting into therapy!!!

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  16. You couldn't have posted this at a better time for me to read. I have been going to therapy for a while now and while sometimes it feels like it has helped there are days or episodes that make it feel like no progress has been made at all, that it was all a farce. Thank you for sharing.

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  17. After 6 months in therapy, two weeks ago was the first time that I stopped crying.
    It felt like an accomplishment.
    Everytime I leave my psychologist's office, there's a crowded restaurant right in front and I see people laughing and it's so weird to think that the world keeps turning, but you left a huge part of yourself in that therapy session.

    I am happy to see that you are fighting for yourself and your kids. I have been following you for years and you have always been so honest with your readers.

    Love from Montreal <3
    Romina

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  18. I started therapy in December 2015- about 15 years late lol. I should have gone when I was a teen, and I wish my parents could have realized the importance of acknowledging mental health issues and dealing with them. My mom had unaddressed mental health problems while I was growing up (still does to this day) and I know firsthand how they pass on to children, whether that's genetically or through just being around the person. So it's awesome that you've started Toby in therapy! It's definitely nothing to be ashamed of and I wish mental health care was more accessible to the world as well. Thanks for sharing your story... you are not alone and it helps others to know that they are not alone as well.

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  19. Thank you so much for sharing your mental health journey. For everyone of us who talk about our mental health, that is a little bit of the stigma that gets wiped away. Also, you wear the hell out of that dress!

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  20. KB it has been an absolute pleasure to watch you evolve, grow, and thrive over the past four or five years. I know it hasn't been easy, but I have been SO PROUD OF YOU. Stay strong, mama!

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  21. I've followed you and your blog a long time, and although I used to read many blogs, yours is now the only one I keep up with. You have always struck me as an intelligent, caring, REAL person in the midst of an internet culture where we try to only show our happy times. Your vulnerability in sharing your pain and struggles with the whole world is incredibly admirable. It's obvious that you are in a happy place, and I'm glad you've gotten there. You deserve it!

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  22. I love you so, so much and am always so proud of you.

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  23. This was so refreshing to read. Thanks for being vulnerable with us, and making some ofus us feel less alone when it comes to the mental health journey.

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  24. I'm so glad that you're in a better place! You're an amazing person. <3

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  25. Good on you for sharing these thoughts! I know it's difficult to sort them out, and even moreso to put them out there for all the world to read (and judge). Cheers to keeping on!

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  26. Hello, sharing what we feel with others is very important. We all need support and feel that other people also go through the same difficulties. Thanks.

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HEY! Thanks for dropping by. xo KB