Hayley White Bell
I was done hiding in the shadows of my depression, allowing it to rule my life. I was no longer going to let my day be determined by how I felt, instead let what I did every day define me.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is the presence of strength.
I was pregnant with my third child, my four and a half year old had done something (to this day, I don’t remember what) and I was seeing red. I became so enraged that I picked up a plastic yellow chair and threw it at the opposing wall as hard as I could. It cracked and splintered, while the patter of little feet ran up the stairs in fear.
That was the moment I realized I needed help. My depression and postpartum rage were such that I was afraid of myself. I wanted to be safe, but more importantly, I wanted my children to be safe. I felt my brain was fracturing under the weight of everything I was carrying. This third baby was a surprise, and I had only 2 semesters left of school before I finished my bachelor's degree. My oldest had just been diagnosed autistic with ADHD and ODD to add to it. I was exhausted and needed help.
This first real experience of fear of myself prompted me to speak with my midwife. I didn’t even know how to go about talking about it. Who did I talk to? Everyone in my life always said they were there for me when I needed them, but I felt like such a burden. I had talked to people over and over about the same things. I was beginning to bore even myself. So how do I bring it up? Essentially, I just blurted it out. I told her of the episode and asked, “How do I know if I need help?” She gave me a sweet smile and said: “Oh, honey, you’re there.” She gave me a prescription to a very low dose of antidepressant, and once I started taking it, I felt like a new person within three days.
But, I had to ask. The help wasn’t going to come to me even if I wanted it . . . no, I needed it. There are so many times, so many instances where we need help. We need a hand up, a comforting word, and someone who will help you make the hard decisions. But many times we are afraid, too afraid to ask for it. What does it say about you if you ask for help? What would the neighbors think? Would my children be in danger of being taken away if I admit I need help? What about my job? if I admit to being depressed or bipolar or anything else, will I lose it?
There are still so many blocks in western culture preventing people who need help from actually getting it. I got set up with an emergency nursery where I could take my boys for respite care and my first thought was not, “Wow, what a great service!” it was “If I use this, will it be used against me if someone goes after me?”
It took me a very long time to get over these thoughts. It took counseling, lots of writing, looking into myself and finding the strength to say enough was enough. I was done hiding in the shadows of my depression, allowing it to rule my life. I was no longer going to let my day be determined by how I felt, instead let what I did every day define me.
The top things I would say to anyone who needs help is:
1) Find someone, anyone you trust, that you can send a text or call and know they will be there for you. This is such a valuable thing. Sometimes just knowing someone will respond if you text them is enough to keep you holding on.
2) Get dressed EVERY MORNING, all the way down to shoes. For most stay at home
mom’s, this is a very hard one to do. We excuse it by saying “No one will see me, I’m just with my kids, I don’t need to wear jeans, let’s be comfy today etc . . . “
3) Move. Physically. When your lymphatic system is inactive, your muscles pump toxins from the body and you sweat it all out. Moving will help get your body and mind into a better state of equilibrium.
The beginning of the road of recovery from any hardship is asking for help.
Remember that strength comes from asking for help, not sitting in the darkness alone.
Hayley Bell is the host of the weekly podcast Finding the Valkyrie, and owner and operator of Valkyrie Podcast Solutions. She is the mother of three beautiful boys and has been married to her best friend for 10 years. She is a fierce advocate for depression awareness and suicide prevention, having experienced severe depression herself and family who struggled with suicidal thoughts and desires. Haley is also an opera singer and performs regionally in Utah and surrounding states. Find her on social media platforms @findingthevalkyrie. You can find her podcast, Finding the Valkyrie, on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and Podomatic.