This mum is sick of being looked at in a certain way.
Mental health: How to talk about it with someone who needs help
Mental health: How to talk about it with someone who needs help 00:17:26
There's this look you get when you tell someone you have depression.
Well, actually there are a few looks you get - at least in my experience.
There's the 'let me take your hand and hug you because you're broken' look.
There's the 'oh my gosh! I finally found someone I can talk to this about' look.
And then there's the: 'oh, I didn't expect this person to be mentally unstable, this whole conversation makes me uncomfortable' look.
"It wasn't all that long ago I was navigating motherhood with pieces of my heart broken and pieces of my mind in disarray." Mental health: How to talk about it with someone who needs help Mental health: How to talk about it with someone who needs help 00:17:26 I'm writing to you, the mama with the broken heart, from the healed bits of mine.
I got the last one yesterday.
One look can say it all. Image: iStock
Not the first time
Actually, I've gotten the last one a few times since I've started sharing my story and life with depression.
Once I see that look cross a person's face, I feel immediate regret for sharing my diagnosis.
I know what's to follow will be some hums and haws, as the conversation awkwardly trails off into something more suitable to talk about.
Because depression isn't always suitable chit-chat for some people.
I get that, but I hope we see that change.
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Anneliese and her baby son. Image: Facebook/Grown Up Glamour by Anneliese Lawton
"We're not there yet"
Because here's the thing - since having my tumour removed in September and with my new, beautiful scar down my neck - I get a lot of questions about where that came from.
And as I share the story of my scar, I get questions and genuine "that whole experience must have been so hard" or "you're so strong" or even "holy shit, you've been through a lot," and people want to know more.
But when someone asks me how I'm feeling, or how motherhood is going and I respond with a "you know things have been tough" or "I had to start meds to help depression" sometimes I find the conversation comes to an awkward pause. Sometimes I see that person looking around for an out. And I give it to them because I know we're not quite there yet.
In a place where the scars that can be seen and the scars that can't, can be talked about with the same level of comfort, or compassion, or understanding.
Even though scars, both visible and not stem from a story worth telling.
I'm not ashamed of my scars - both internal and ex. And I'm not ashamed to share my story, should the opportunity arise.
Anneliese and her husband. Image: Facebook/Grown Up Glamour by Anneliese Lawton
"We have to keep talking"
But I know for now, to some, one of my stories makes me a strong while the other makes me weak.
"With kids, the days are long, but the years are short." - John Leguizamo
I know for some, a scar from a surgery is a sign bravery - while an emotional scar is a sign of a broken heart.
With time, I hope people stop seeing mental health as conversation they need to dart out of.
I hope over time, I stop getting that look.
And in order to make those steps, I have to keep talking. We have to keep talking. We have to make conversations about mental health comfortable even though getting there will be uncomfortable at times.
Because in all honesty, I get way more looks "Oh my gosh, me too!" than I do those looks of horror.
And because of that, I can't bring myself to stop talking.
If you or someone you know needs help, call:
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
- MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
- beyondblue: 1300 22 46 36
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
This post originally appeared on Grown Up Glamour by Anneliese Lawton and has been republished here with permission.