By Naomi van Jaarsveld

I’ve come to realise that I’m pretty good at wearing armour .

It’s done me well.  

It protected me and kept me safe.

But what happens when you realise that the armour you’ve been wearing is in reality preventing you from receiving what you need to embrace?


It was only the other day I was talking with my amazing counsellor and trying to understand why I was doing what I was doing - when clarity occurred.

You see, I've been recently diagnosed with depression.

Not a journey I ever thought I would have to walk.

I remember having the most eye opening chat with another mama one night and was blown away.

As she shared her journey I felt like I was looking in a mirror, like she was describing me.  She went on to share her journey with postnatal depression and what she does to cope with it.  I am so very thankful for her willingness to open up her life and share her struggles because for the first time in the journey I didn’t think I was the only one.

The next day I booked in to see my doctor.  

I’ll never forget the moment, as I sat in the doctor's office - I must have looked a sight. 

Exhausted, emotional, tears running down my face, trying to answer a few simple questions as my three little kiddos jostled for attention  trying to escape the room.

“You have a score of 16/20” my doctor said.  

In my competitive mind I was like “that’s impressive”, until she revealed that 12 or more was a sign of depression and 16 or above was severely depressed.

“I’m not depressed” I quickly replied “I’m just tired”.


So armed with the need for rest and some much needed selfcare, I left ready to turn things around.  

I’ve come to realise that I’m pretty good at wearing armour.

It’s done me well.  

It protected me and kept me safe.

But what happens when you realise that the armour you’ve been wearing is actually protecting you from something you actually want to embrace?


Have you ever had those moments where you are confronted with something that doesn’t fit your ideal life?  Depression was one of these.  I’ve had family, friends and clients walk this journey.  I was amazed by their strength and determination.  But that was not my journey to walk.  I was just tired and needed rest….right?

But as the weeks followed and emotions continued to spiral,  no amount of long hot baths, childless moments, positive podcasts or extra naps was making a significant difference.  My husband, mum and family were the most incredible supporters.  But I came to a point where I realized that things weren’t shifting.  I needed help.  The final straw was calling my husband to come home from work early because I couldn’t handle anything and was a crying mess on the couch with my youngest two wondering what’s wrong with mummy.

So I called my doctor and I began a small dose of antidepressants.  It’s fascinating, even now I can feel my heart beat rise a little as I feel a hesitancy in sharing this.  Why is that?   If I have a migraine I take a panadol.  If I break my leg I put a cast on it to help it heal.  Why is there a stigma around medication for depression?

Initially my husband helped me remember to take my meds until I got into the habit.  It was a weird feeling at first, needing medication to help me function better. But that was my new reality.

I also began counselling.  There is something absolutely empowering about being able to say everything and anything to another person without the fear of judgement or bias.  This was a space where I could unpack my thoughts, my struggles, my mindsets and my behavior.  Where I could take my armour off and be vulnerable and face the realities without the need to be strong or have it all together.

As my counsellor put it, “this is a safe space and we work together to sort through my life's challenges.  Like the jump rope monitor at school - their job was to take the box of classes skipping ropes - the tangled crazy mess and dump them on the floor.   They’d then sort them out so they were a bit more manageable before putting them back into the box.”  Sometimes my ‘skipping ropes’ have been horribly mixed up and tangled and other ones have been a lot easier to deal with.  It became a safe space where I could express my grief, sadness and trauma that for too long had been confined to a portion controlled amount.  An amount I thought was acceptable.

But what I’ve realized is that it’s ok not to be ok.

It’s actually normal.

So what do we do when we can’t handle life?

Who can we turn to when it’s overwhelming or just too much?

Being a person means we will have challenges in our life.  

Some challenges we can make a plan and be determined and positive and turn things around.

Other challenges we need support and help from loved ones to take the kids for an afternoon, cook a meal, clean our house, give us a shoulder to cry on or wisdom to move forward.

Still Other challenges we need to learn new skills like breathing techniques, coping skills or how to communicate.

And there are those  challenges we need extra help like medication or counselling.  

I’m so glad that as I walk this journey that I’m not alone.

I’m so glad that I have people and tools that I can use to help me take another step towards a healthier, stronger, happier me.

It’s ok not to be ok!

It’s normal.

Asking for help can be humbling and can feel a little or a lot scary but it’s worth it.

You deserve to feel fully alive, loved and supported.

This takes time.

There is no way to rush the healing process.

If you are facing a challenge right now, please know that you’re not alone.

You deserve to give yourself time to heal.

I’ve come to realise that I’m pretty good at wearing armour.

It’s done me well.  

It protected me and kept me safe, for a time.

But what happens when you realise that the armour you’ve been wearing is in reality stopping you from  embracing what you really need. And want?

Bravery is being scared and doing it anyway.  So I'm on a journey of learning to be more vulnerable.  This is part of that journey. 

Here's to being brave - who's with me?


Resources to help your depression journey

 


Naomi van Jaarsveld

About the author


Hi I'm Naomi, Founder of Birthmark Sisterhood. I'm a wife to an awesome husband and mum to three energy filled boys

As a qualified personal trainer with over 10 years experience I've journeyed with people of all different walks of life and helped them achieve their health and fitness goals. I'm a certified REHAB trainer and Pre & Postnatal Specialist.

I have experienced both an emergency c-section and two VBACs, a miscarriage, minor prolapse, horrible perineal tears that took hours to stitch (yikes), reflux/collic bubs, back injuries, knee injures and the list goes on. I never thought I'd be grateful for these however the reality is each one of these journeys I've had to walk (some over months, some over years) - has made me a far more effective, strategic and compassionate personal trainer. I'm on a mission to lift the level of postnatal care for woman and especially for c-section mummas!

I believe every woman deserves to have a healed, restored and strong body from the inside out! I'm passionate about taking the guesswork out of their recovery so they can enhance their recovery and get on with living their best life!
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