Not an Island.

No man is an island...

Four years ago I took pride in being an island. I wanted to be self-governed. A rogue nation, population: ME.

“Me? Need help? No.”

“Do you think I’m incapable? Not strong enough? I don’t need help. I AM COPING.”

But rather than strengthen me, this self-imposed isolation had me on the fast-track to a crushing burn-out, only I didn’t know it yet.

Strung out, worn down, angry, resentful, a shell of my true self. I was in tears daily, shouting at my family and barely getting by.

Then, things got really bad. I got very dark. Started talking to myself. HATING myself.

One day I found myself staring in the mirror saying, “I hate you. I hate you,” over and over again. And a tiny voice spoke up and said, “Hey, you know this isn’t normal, don’t you?”

That night, I did the hardest thing I could have done at the time. I asked Ben for help. Thank God.

The next day was the beginning of the uphill battle to save my sanity. (Seriously.) Diagnosed with post natal depression, the process was: Doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, medication. Rinse. Repeat.

 

Why Am I Telling You This?

Truth be known, I am terrified to tell you this. It is raw and close and brutal. And you may judge me for it.

But the lessons I learned over the past five years are what have led me to where I am today – a place of contentment, joy, purpose, love, acceptance and happiness – and that is absolutely worth sharing. Even if it prompts one other person to ask for help.

 

The Most Important Lesson?

No matter what your story, your stage in life, your struggles, your support network:

Ask for help when you need it.

Don’t be too proud. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t put up with battling along by yourself. People care about you. People are there to help. Let them.

I care about you. If I can help, let me. Tell me what you’re battling with, because sometimes simply sharing what’s on your mind lightens the weight you carry. (Via email if you would prefer!) xx

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

26 Responses to Not an Island.

  1. Michelle says:

    I’m so proud of you, my brave sister. Love you lots xx

  2. Dee says:

    This post took a lot of guts Brooke. I’m sure a lot of people will relate & hopefully take some positive steps as you have. You’re awesome!

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      Aw, thanks Dee. I must admit, I held off publishing it for a little while. But I know that my story is not unique – I hope someone else finds it and gets comfort/strength from it. xx

  3. Lulu says:

    Thank you so much for your courage in sharing this Brooke. I’ve just had my third beautiful child and it’s only really now that  I’ve felt comfortable even accepting the help that had been offered
    ( let alone asking for it). Previously, I felt like I had to do it all, by myself, on time, perfectly (or as close to as possible) without any feelings of guilt or inadequacy or complaining – and with style. Now I accept offers of help with a “yes that would be great, thanks”  and a big smile. 
    Thanks for the reminder that people are there to help and to let them. I’ll carry that with me from now on. : ) 

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      Lulu, first of all – hats off to you with three littles. Nice work, lady!

      And second of all – I love to hear that message of not having to do it all A) alone and B) perfectly.

      That is (obviously) something I have struggled with a lot, and continue to struggle with, but I feel stronger in myself since I started asking, “Who owns these expectations?” Oh, right. Me.

      And that’s led me to dropping the comparison game (for the most part) which has also helped A LOT. Because inevitably, we compare our insides (the worst, uncensored parts included) with the outside of others (which is only what they choose to show). Not a fair comparison, really.

      Thanks again for reading and leaving your lovely, warm comments. x

  4. Tam says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I feel like I’m reading my life story, just add a drug habit I’ve had since I was 15 that none of my family, except for my husband and a few close friends know about, I even have a 2 year old named Isla too. There is something about your blog Brooke that really connects with me, Thank you for sharing and please, please don’t stop. Kia kaha (n.z maori for be/stay strong)

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      Tam, that is incredible. What an amazingly strong woman you are.

      And I agree – there is some kind of cosmic connection going on there. You also have impeccable taste in childrens’ names. ;)

      Thank you for sticking with the blog and sharing some of your story here – it keeps me going and makes me stronger. More than you can imagine. xx

  5. Shannon says:

    Brooke, Thankyou for sharing. It takes courage to say what you’ve said and I find myself sitting here thinking you and I have more in common than even we realised! I really do think we should catch up for a picnic with the kids, a coffee and a chat. We could compare notes for what works and what doesn’t! xx

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      Thank YOU Shannon! Would love to catch up over a picnic one day soon. Let me know when/where works. I’m always up for swapping ideas! x

  6. Katherine says:

    I just found your site via planning with kids. You can be very proud of this post. Amazing, honest, brutal, hopeful! If only all of us were so brave! I am sure it will touch – and help – many people struggling in isolation. I will forward it to a mama I know. Thank you – i look forward to reading more if your blog.

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      Katherine, thank you so much.

      It was a tough one to write, but when I decided to do it, the words came pouring out.

      I know there are people struggling, ans my hope was that one person may get some comfort or inspiration from my words. I hope your friend does. (And if she wants someone to talk to some more, she’s always free to email me.)

      Welcome to the blog too! And thanks for taking the time to comment. xx

  7. [...] Ask for help – people are there for you. [...]

  8. [...] I was going through the peak of my post-natal depression therapies, I was told by a very wise woman that if I really, really, desparately didn’t want to go out [...]

  9. Mariel says:

    No judgement here! I applaud you for the courage you have for telling your story like it is. It’s tough, I really truly know that and for a long time you just want to keep it in because you feel ashamed. But our pasts are not shameful if we learn lessons from them. Your a wonderful and powerful human being full of courage to show your weakness. Now that is true authenticity and I totally applaud you for it! xx

  10. Liz Smith says:

    This is beautiful and inspiring.

    Thank goodness for your bravery in writing this Brooke. Mothers of young children especially need to hear this. The early years with kids under five is such a blur of tears (mine) and thankfully lots of reaching out for help.

  11. You certainly won’t be judged, Brooke. I know far more people who have faced emotional issues, than not. And I’ve had my fair share of punching matches with myself, as well. It’s been a LONG journey for me, and therapy has been a godsend.

    Piggy-backing off of your advice, I would like to add that there is more than one avenue to healing, and not to give up if trying one thing doesn’t work. In my case, medication and traditional talk therapy didn’t help at all, and were actually a little counter-productive. For me, doing mindfulness-based cognitive therapy with a therapist who works via e-mail, brought a lot of relief.

    We beat up on ourselves when we misunderstand ourselves. And it’s important to know that there are so many paths to understanding!

    Thank you for sharing, Brooke. It takes guts to be vulnerable, but sharing is the way to help other people find their way out. I hope you continue to heal. :-)

  12. Maude says:

    Thank you for writing it. I send you all good vibes as I can from the other side of the Atantic ocean.

  13. Debra says:

    I regularly check in with your blog because it resonates with how I eventually learned to live, focus my energy on my family, and maintain our home to support our days. My three children are now teenagers/young adults. However, when they were 4, 2 and a newborn, I vivdly remember feeling overwhelmed and taking ‘mommy time outs’ for a few seconds by standing outside the front door for some deep breaths of fresh air. Thank you for sharing your story and insights!

  14. Nan says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I sincerely hope that no one will judge you, as they should not. Depression is a very real thing, and not at all the individual’s fault. And vulnerability in the form of not being an island is difficult for many people. It is even taught in some cultures (that one should not “depend” or “rely” on others for assistance – one should take care of oneself alone).

    I have found it is always easier to give help (I love to help others!) than to accept help (I am reluctant to accept help from others). It’s so funny, though, isn’t it? When we think about how we love our friends and family and love to give help and love to them, we never sweat it. But when it’s our turn to accept, we think we are a burden or weak. Did we think those things about our loved ones? No. Then why do we think that about ourselves? I’ve come to realize that accepting help in times of need is just as much about letting my loved ones love me through little acts of service as it is about getting the help I need. I don’t want to deny those who love me the opportunity to express love and feel good about their contribution. But it’s still difficult to accept help sometimes!

  15. Rebecca says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I am sure you helped others who needed help, are too afraid to ask for it or just too proud to.
    I went through a dark period myself and with the help of friends managed to get through it. It was after my divorce I was soo down financially, mentally, and even spiritually. I blamed everyone without seeing that I was partly to blame as well. I was very depressed. If not for good friends I do not think I would even be here today. I tried taking an herbal supplement to help boost my mood and it helped for awhile. What finally changed for me was really looking into my own eyes and seeing that I had lost or broken a part of myself and from that day forward I was going to be myself no matter how hard it was a lot of days and to get my spark back.

  16. tiffanie says:

    Your honesty is inspiring amd so is this wonderful blog. kudos!

    Signed Tiffanie,
    A proud mama of one.

  17. Hi Brooke,

    Thanks for sharing your story. People are more powerful when they’re vulnerable. But I think we get scared and think we’re going to get hurt when we open up.

    I had a lung transplant about nine months ago. I didn’t want people to know when it happened because I thought it would be too revealing and that it would hurt in some way. My wife encouraged me to tell people. So I wrote about it in my blog posts and I got tremendous support.

    I think everyone is hurting in some kind of way and feel very alone about it. I think when we share, we connect with others and realize we are not alone.

    Thanks for connecting!

    Brooks

  18. tess says:

    You are brave and amazing Brooke.
    It’s not easy being honest like this and opening your soul. But thanks so much for sharing your journey.
    I must admit it is a big surprise to me as you always seem so lovely, and confident and together, but I guess that is the thing the inside you was different from the outside you.
    Hugs.

  19. Beth says:

    I am a regular reader of your blog and it has had a profound influence on my life over the last year. My first time of commenting as you were so brave in posting this and I just wanted to reach out to give you a vitual hug and pat on the back for your honesty and bravery!

  20. Tamara says:

    What a lovely genuine post. Brooke I visit regularly and find your honesty and openness refreshing and encouraging. I have not experienced depression myself, but so many friends and family have. It hurts those of us who love you too. So thanks for your genuine post – it’s very timely for me and my relationship with a loved one in a tough time.

Leave a reply