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I am Anne, I am Marilla

Anne gives herself freely to each emotion as it passes through her psyche. Surrendering completely, into the depths of despair or the heights of ecstasy.

Marilla is afraid to feel. A life of hard experiences has taught her not to expect too much, lest she be disappointed.  Her moments of passion have led to some of her biggest regrets.

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Sometimes I am Anne and sometimes I am Marilla. Often I am nervous to give in completely. In some ways this is good. As an adult I need to function on a day-to-day basis and one can’t do that very well in the depths of despair. In other ways it is terrible. I struggle to give in to the sweet moments that come, moments saturated with love and safety.

When I get excited about something, echoes of “next time dad gets paid” ring through my head and I remember all the “next times” that never came. The clothes that didn’t fit, the activities I didn’t even ask to participate in. Other times I remember being on the giving end of a Secret Santa and I struggle to express how excited I get to be able to do the same for another struggling family.

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The blessings of being a mother to daughters that feel deeply are not lost on me. They show me every day that you can give in to those feelings and still be worthy of love. I know this because they have my love. Every day I find it easier and easier to give in to my highs and lows, to feel them fully. During these times, I am Anne. Feeling the delights of extreme happiness and the depth of sorrow or grief.

Where do you find yourself? Are you mostly Anne, mostly Marilla, or somewhere in between?

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Charlottesville: We Cannot Wash Our Hands of This

Open Thought Vortex

The year after my son was born, my husband had a wonderful job opportunity in Charlottesville, Virginia so we moved our life and newborn to this lovely location for a few years.  We bought a little house that I adored in a suburb outside of “city limits” and settled into the gracious living the place is famous for; a bustling university town full of culture, diversity and history.  It was a happy place for us, now full of good memories.

We were moving from Durham, North Carolina, another diverse university community and before that New York City and Los Angeles.  I mention this because on top of the privilege our college-educated, white, Christian heterosexuality affords us, we also existed in quite a convincing progressive bubble.  From our vantage point we were seeing integrated, thriving communities and we proudly voted for President Obama in Virginia in 2008, the year the state…

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The unsexy side of self-care

When I started talking about my own self-care as it relates to mental health, I had no idea July was minority mental health month. I am not a minority, but I can definitely empathize with the challenges associated with getting help if you feel like something is wrong.

In that spirit, NAMI has some amazing resources and I hope you’ll check them out. If you want something a little more accessible to kick off with, Emilie and Bridget did a fabulous podcast on this topic recently.  Stuff Mom Never Told You is not a new podcast, but I recently started listening to it religiously when Emilie and Bridget started hosting, so it’s new to me. But I was on a roll with the mental health piece so I also listened to this old episode about maternal mental health the other night (it does make washing dishes a little more exciting) and I really got me right in the “mom gut.” Talking about mental health during and immediately following pregnancy is hard. There’s such a thin line between normal and not normal.

Please, please, please – talk to someone if you feel like something is wrong. It can be discouraging if you can’t find someone to listen. But we are out there, people who love you and want to hear your story.

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To my own “stuff”, I had my first therapy appointment on July 26th. It was such a relief to be with someone who started out by saying I wasn’t crazy for feeling overwhelmed and emotional. It was a relief to be with someone who said we would take some actionable steps to deal with stress. While I am not at all opposed to medication, it was nice to be with someone whose first instinct wasn’t to medicate me. A wholistic approach is exactly what I want and need.

I also recognize that as a white woman, being in therapy is such a privilege. I am not faced with social stigma that comes from seeing a therapist. I am better able to pay that co-pay. If it does come down to needing some medication, that is something that can be managed. In unpacking my invisible knapsack I can arrange to see a therapist that shares my racial and socio-economic background. If you are looking for someone who looks like you (representation matters so much!) please check out Ourselves is Black. They offer a state-by-state directory of mental health professionals of color. You can also visit the Black Mental Health Alliance for state-by-state resources.

Sometimes self-care takes on a sexy veneer. There’s something very chic about having a bubble bath, getting a mani/pedi, or having a facial. There is almost never anything sexy about crying in an office because you feel overburdened and like you’ll never feel like yourself again. But this part of self-care is way more important than soaking in the tub or having pretty nails.

What can you do to commit to taking care of your own mental health? What can we do together to help you get there?