Katherine Stone, the founder of Postpartum Progress, had a wonderful post recently about why asking for help is SO freaking hard.
Perhaps it's because mamas feel like they need to do everything to prove to the world (or themselves) they are good parents.
Or to keep up with that one crunchy granola mom who always seems like she has her shit together and makes organic gluten free muffins for for everyone's birthday at school and work, while we're struggling to shift around the mounds of unwashed dishes and old bottles of formula to cook a freaking freezer pizza.
Or because we don't want to be a burden. (Note: this is so me. I hate to rely on others. Surely I should be better than this? Stronger than this? What the fuck is wrong with me if I need help?)
But she forgot one point. Sometimes asking for help is so hard because we're afraid people won't believe us.
Or maybe it's just me who's afraid of that.
I see my therapist frequently, and I still worry that she might say I'm going overboard with something or playing it up. I get extremely anxious wondering if my psychiatrist will think I'm just a drug-seeking fiend. I worry that others will think, "But you have nothing to be depressed about!" if I even hint at feeling crappy.
Here's a hint--if I even hint at feeling depressed, it's because I've been feeling like shit for a while, and was trying to figure out if it was a passing mood or something more insidious.
I'm fortunate to have so many supportive people around even when I barely tell them what's up. (Except in writing. Somehow I am slightly more honest with myself when writing.)
Even then, I hear some insensitive things sometimes, which makes it even harder to ask for help. Why ask if someone is going to try to one-up you or minimize it?
- "I get tired sometimes, too."
NOT THE SAME THING. The tired from depression and the tired from getting off of a grueling shift on a few hours of sleep are entirely different kinds of tired. One is fixable by sleep, the other is not.
- Their reply? "My work has been stressful, too," after I say, ""I'm feeling stressed a lot by work lately."
Are we playing "Let's one-up each other and compare!" That's a futile game. Fuck that. Maybe I should actually scare this person with exactly how I feel. "I want to quit and just curl up in bed at home and do nothing because every minor correction at work is sending me into a tailspin of crying, self-loathing, and wishes of injury."
- "It sounded like you were trying to be a martyr," someone said in response to me trying to explain how I feel. Sounds like THAT person wants to become a martyr for all people saying stupid shit.
- "Are you PMSing?" (PS, husbands, NEVER EVER ASK THIS.)
- "I don't understand spoon theory." Sure you do. Spoon theory is super easy to understand. If you don't understand what it's like to try to manage your emotional and physical energy spoons to get through a day unscathed, you are lucky. LUCKY I tell you. May you be blessed with endless spoons forever!
It's this sort of thing that makes me very reluctant to seek help. Or to tell others that I "feel a little crappy" lately. (remember, "crappy" = "I feel absolutely terrible like I'm an outsider alien somehow pretending to interact with other people even though I'm not myself." )
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