This story was originally posted on Unsinkable.
I have struggled with depression and anxiety for about 15 years. In the past couple of years, this has grown to include social anxiety which that has been intensified with the COVID-19 lockdowns. This is an ongoing battle I fight that is generally managed through medication and exercise.
I was 9 months pregnant when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada. I was scared that my three-year-old daughter or my husband would get COVID, that I would get it and pass it on to my baby, or that my baby would get it once he was born. On top of that, I had an extremely traumatic delivery with my daughter. I didn’t even realize how much it had affected me until I was a few weeks away from giving birth again.
At the time, it was uncertain if you could bring a support person with you to the hospital. Everything was changing so quickly that you had to call the hospital daily for an update. It was extremely hard to cope. I couldn’t exercise and my medication only took me so far. I had plenty of baths and a couple of intense crying sessions with my husband.
I was so scared.
In the end, I was fortunate to have my husband with me - some hospitals did not allow partners in for the birth of their child. The delivery went well, my son was born healthy, happy and we went home the next day. Once home though, things didn’t get much easier. Caring for a newborn brings its own anxieties and stresses. Don’t get me wrong, being a mother is wonderful, but it is HARD. I was not getting much sleep, I was healing from my c-section, my daughter was home from daycare due to lockdown and was practically climbing the walls, and did I mention we were in the midst of a global pandemic?!
In the very little spare time that I had, I started painting, a hobby I hadn’t had any time for since high school. It became my way to escape being “Mom” and to become “Alex” again. As many mothers come to find out, motherhood makes you lose a sense of who you are as an individual. You get so wrapped up in this tiny person who was once physically part of you that it becomes hard to identify where the baby ends, and you begin. Painting became a way for me to channel my thoughts and creativity and to create something positive from the negative. It was an
outlet that I was in desperate need of. Whenever I had a spare minute, I was painting. I was churning out a picture a day, so I decided to start sharing my art online. I am a very private person, so this was a big step for me. At first, it was hard to put myself out there; I posted all my works under an alias to protect myself from any negative feedback. Fortunately, I was lucky to have such a positive reaction to my work. People began reaching out to me, telling me how they also used to paint or draw and how I have inspired them to pick up their brushes again.
Over a year later, I realize that through painting I have finally found my voice. I am no longer just a mother, a wife, daughter, sister, employee, etc. I am so much more confident, and most important, happy. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my struggles with depression and anxiety, but I have found a new way to take something ugly, scary or horrible and turn it into something that is beautiful of inspiring.