Not everyone has an unconditionally supportive biological family.
When a friend offered to cook, I'd politely turn them down. When a family member offered to pitch in, I immediately rejected their offer.
I can ask for help in the office, on the street and at home with no problem at all. But I struggle with asking for a hug when I need one, for understanding and patience, or for emotional support when I'm dealing with an issue I don't know how to deal with.
Looking back on my life, I never would have guessed how important my everyday joys and routines were to me. Now that my husband and I have experienced life without them, I understand the significance of cherishing life and what you have; living in the moment. This was especially clear to me when I was diagnosed with cancer.
There was a time when people were encouraged to hide their mental illness from the world, due to stigma and shame. Now, there are hundreds of online support communities that want people to share their mental health stories and show them they are not alone.
It was 1991 and my first Christmas in my new home after my emotionally draining divorce. We lived in a depressed area. My family was 400 km away. I was struggling financially with a small business, helping in the community where I could, while nurturing my four-year-old who had some health challenges.
Writing a memoir has forced me to expose all the areas of my life that are painful, humiliating, embarrassing that I had chosen to keep hidden from the world. I've had to acknowledge the areas of my life that I was ashamed of and realize the many (many!) mistakes I've made along the way.
I believe we need to shift in how women -- and society -- classify giving birth. We need to spend more time encouraging women to embrace their unique experiences. We need to concentrate on educating women on what the body actually does as well as different methods of birthing and various outcomes -- without judgment.
I hear this same deeply unsettling story again and again from women who experience loss. Women who are left with a profound sense of loneliness and isolation. So, let's talk. If you know someone who has experienced a miscarriage, later pregnancy or infant loss, here are three things you should do.
When living with a mental illness, you feel scared and alone. You might have the best support system around you but you still feel like there is no one. It feels like nobody understands what is going through your mind and you are living in this dark scary world. You end up pushing away your family and friends. You become selfish and you don't care how you treat other people and how your actions affect them.