end the stigma

The Wedding That Never Was…

Photo credit:  MIO Photography

Photo credit: MIO Photography

7 years ago I would have gotten married today. It's something I don't talk often about, but today, I will. I thought I was in love and found the one. I had a wedding planned, a venue booked, a wedding dress purchased. I was pretending to plan this fairy tail wedding, but things were far from perfect. Even though I didn't want to admit it at the time, I was being taken advantage of, for everything I could possibly be. My home, my stability, financially. I provided a responsible home for him to have visitations with his son. I supported him financially, all the while I thought he was working, when in reality he was "pretending" to go to work, just to return home after I left. I put all the deposits down for the wedding. I spent years upon years dreaming of being a wife and a mother, and looking back now, it was apparent I was more “in love” with my dreams coming true then I was in love in that relationship.

And, after I learned he was cheating on me, and called off the wedding, I lost everything. Not just the relationship, and the money, but I lost myself. Having to call of a wedding was embarrassing. I felt like it reflected negative on me and the type of person I was. I felt foolish, unworthy, unloveable and heartbroken. As if it wasn’t hard enough to end the relationship and deal with what comes along emotionally with a break up, I had to cancel the venue, the photographer, the dj. I had to continue making payments on a wedding dress that I no longer had a need for. And… I had to tell everyone.

How could someone cheat on me, when I had given them everything. It wasn't long that I spun into a pretty dark depression. A depression that literally had me detach from everyone and everything I once enjoyed. I remember days where I would feel like a zombie, just staring off into space. I disconnected from family and from relationships. I felt empty. I felt alone. And, for a period of time, I remember turning to wine in an effort to literally drink myself to sleep. I literally wrapped up my entire view of self worth based on someone who was using me and didn’t deserve me. I know it now and knew it then, yet somehow let being cheated on completely define who I was as a person- completely unworthy of love.

When I finally went to a doctor, and started medication, my family had a lot of mixed emotions. My father wasn't supportive of me being on anti-depressants, simply because of the negative stigma that mental health has. My father, also uneducated, thought that because I was on anti depressants, meant I was suicidal, which was not the case. If you’ve read “A Cry for Help Meets A Broken System”, you’ve heard me talk about just how difficult it is for a person experiencing mental health to take the step for help. So imagine, working through my own stigma and barriers to go get help, to accept medication, and then hearing my father disapprove, it made things even harder.

I share this today for one of two reasons. Firstly, if you are struggling, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And, it will get better. Had I gotten married, I'm fairly certain my life would be very different. I wouldn't have Bluebelle, I wouldn't have so many amazing people in my life that came after, and I wouldn't be here in California. Life happens for a reason, a reason we may not always be able to see or understand. His path leads you to where you are meant to be. You know the cliche expression “Faith Over Fear”. It’s not so cliche when you think about it. Sometimes we just have to trust. We don’t have to know the when, or the why… but know that things happen for a reason and that reason tends to lead to bigger and better things far beyond our imagination.

Secondly, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it's time we NORMALIZE mental health, and accept that it is everywhere. If it doesn't affect you, it affects someone you know. People aren't choosing to be depressed, to be anxious, to be psychotic. And, many are afraid to get help simply because of the stigma. We need to ban together to support one another. Smile more. Be kind. Say hello. Reach out to a friend, just because. Say I love you more.

You not only need to take care of others, but you also need to take care of yourself. Self care is not optional. It needs to be a priority. If you are like me, and struggle to make yourself a priority, then I urge you to begin scheduling self care into your calendar. Studies show you are much more likely to do things written down and scheduled, so if that’s what it takes, grab your pen and planner and get to scheduling! Positive self talk (positive affirmations) is another great way to take care of you. I have some subtle, and not to subtle ways to affirm myself on a daily basis. Reminding myself of my worth became so important to me that I got it tattooed on my wrist as a permanent daily reminder. Other days, I stack on my Sanctuary Girl “I AM Collection bracelets” to remind myself messages like “I am Loved”. Whatever it takes, take the time to affirm yourself and those around you.