On Being Sensitive

reading at table

A few weeks ago I was told that I need to grow a thicker skin. I was battling a cold, a slow to creep up, sore throat, icky headache cold. I was scheduled to teach a workshop. The workshop was low in registration. I called to cancel the morning of. I was told that I should suck it up. And for a moment, I almost did.

The thing is, I have heard this type of thing my entire life. I have been called “too sensitive” from the time I was a child. I have been teased and ridiculed for my tenderness, laughed at for my lack of “strength”, and isolated because the world does not cater to sensitive people. In many ways, I have been told not to listen to my truest feelings, but instead to wear a mask and pretend to be something I am not, because that’s the only way I would “make it” in life.

I look at my son now, 18 months just around the corner. People already say that he is a “sensitive soul”. It’s true. He is gentle. He is slow to warm up to people. His voice is softer than most, unless he knows his audience well. He clings. He needs reassurance and the comfort of mom in many situations. My son, is a sensitive boy.

I worry for him. It was hard enough to grow up as a highly sensitive person, and be female. Boys… Men are not typically applauded for their sensitivity. They are all to often shamed, bullied, put-down, told to “toughen up”. I don’t want for my son to feel that his beautiful, sensitive heart, is anything to be ashamed of. I don’t want for him to feel the isolation that I felt, and often feel, from a world that does not value quiet, introspective, sensitive people. I do not want for him to learn that he shouldn’t listen to his body, his heart, that he shouldn’t follow what he knows to be best for him, even if it is different from everyone else.

I want for my son to show his strength, by standing up for his sensitivity.

So I stood up for mine. I made a decision that perhaps was “bad” for my business, because it was right for my body, and my heart. I am my son’s model, his teacher. I want him to value himself over any amount of money in the world. I want him to appreciate the gift of his tenderness, his gentle soul.

This world is harsh. This world can be unkind. This world is competitive, fast, demanding, loud, intrusive, and challenging. But who are we, and what are we creating, if we change ourselves to fit the mold the world wants us to fit? Do we not all love and proclaim Gandhi’s words “be the change”? And yet if we can not allow ourselves to be who we are, despite all pressures, what change will there be?

I want to teach my son that he can “be the change”, that he can love, and work, and be however he chooses. Choice. It all comes down to choice. I am choosing kindness, towards myself, towards my family, towards my neighbor. I am choosing to believe that this will make a difference. I am choosing my to stand up for my sensitivity, and his.

reading at table

Deep Breath, and Let GO… The Truth About Postpartum Depression

post partum depression

I imagine that’s what the leaves say just before they decide to fall from the trees.

They don’t know what they are getting themselves into. They don’t know how it’s going to feel, what is going to happen, what the outcome will be. They just do it, because they know they have to. That’s what I am doing right now. I am writing this post, because I know I have to.

I read an awesome post today by Renegade Mothering. And a month or so ago I read an awesome post by a fellow yogi mama and friend over at The Householder’s Path. And after months of conversation with my very good friend here at Crinoline Logic…. and a little inspiration from none other than this song… I am finally ready to do this. Deep Breath, let it go.

I have struggled with depression for much of my adult (and young adult) life. It was at bay, and under control without the help of medication for several years, until I entered into the postpartum world. Now it is back, and like a needy child it is tugging at me every day.

I haven’t hidden the fact that for me transitioning into mamahood has been challenging. It’s challenging for all of us. But I have yet to talk openly about the dark side of mamahood. The dark feelings, thoughts, shame, guilt, anxiety, and utter exhaustion of depression. Mostly I haven’t talked about it, because I haven’t wanted to believe it was true.

I was depressed as a teenager. Broken up family, an eating disorder, panic attacks, suicidal aspirations, a hospitalization, the whole bit. I got through that period of time, with support from counselors, my parents, medication, my now husband, and yoga. When I was 21 years old I weaned myself off of anti-depressants and anxiety meds. I committed to my yoga practice and meditation, and never looked back. The tools I learned in yoga allowed me to keep the darkness at bay. I became a yoga teacher because I wanted to share these tools. I have been teaching and sharing yoga for over 5 years now, but I have never openly talked about why.

When Robin Williams recently committed suicide, I couldn’t say anything about it. I literally had no words, written, verbal, or otherwise. All I had was sadness, and a need to look away. I wanted to say how I understood, and yet didn’t understand. I wanted to say how I was angry, how we all need to do more for those with mental illness, how no one should have to suffer these thoughts alone. But I couldn’t. Because it is the nature of depression, to be alone, to suffer silently. Why?

I have been reading many of Brene Brown’s books lately. She is a researcher and writer on the topic of Shame. If you have not yet read anything by her, I suggest you start here. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Only because that’s where I started, and it hooked me enough to read more. basically she talks about how shame keeps us in our neat little boxes, isolates us, and makes us feel alone, when the truth is what we are experiencing (no matter what it is) is human, and others are experiencing it too, and there is no reason to go through it alone. But in order to come together, we have to let go of our fear of what others will think of us. We have to risk being vulnerable.

I never really realized I had postpartum depression. I went to see my doctor when my son was 9 months old and I was still unbelievably exhausted. I had him check my levels of everything. There had to be something I was deficient in. Vitamin D, B, Iron, Estrogen, something… he said everything was within the normal range. He asked my some questions, and before I realized that he was screening me, told me he thought I was depressed.

The word made my heart sink. Depressed? No. No, I’m not depressed, I’m just tired. And I’m not interested in things I would typically like because my life is taken over by a baby right now. And I’m struggling to get out of bed because I only slept 6 hours because this baby doesn’t sleep yet. And I can’t fall asleep at night because I’m worried about the ever growing pile of things that don’t ever get done because of this baby, and….

Fast forward 6 months. I’m still tired. I still find it difficult to motivate myself to do things that I know I will enjoy. I still struggle to get out of bed. I still struggle to fall asleep. I still don’t want to believe that I am depressed.

But it’s time. It’s time for us to talk about this. It’s time for me to stop being afraid of what you will think. It’s time for me be vulnerable, and brave, and authentic. This blog is not a mommy blog about what products I love. This blog is not a mommy blog about humorous daily anecdotes of my child’s life. This blog is not a DIY craft show. (Although someday maybe it will be). This blog is a blog about the challenges of motherhood. This blog is about real life. This blog is about being honest, and sharing stories. This blog is about the workings of the heart, the heart of a mama.

Yes, my heart hold sadness right now. Really, it holds a whole lot of confusion. It doesn’t know what is going to happen, what the outcome will be, how everything is going to feel. My heart since taking the leap into motherhood, has been careening down through crisp air waiting to land on something soft (hopefully), just as the leaves do each fall. And even though many times I am scared, and many times I question why on earth I thought it would be a good idea to take this leap, and many days are simply a struggle, I am still grateful to be here. Because along with this sadness, and along with the darkest feelings, my heart holds love, the purest, clearest, most radiant love. I chose this journey. I wanted deeply to walk this path. I would not take back a day of it. But finally I am ready to vulnerable, to be honest, to be completely me.

I am a mama. I struggle with postpartum depression. I am not alone. And neither are you.

post partum depression