A Florida mom and reporter’s raw Facebook post is offering a glimpse into the pain of anxiety disorders.
Kristen Hewitt, who works part-time as a television reporter, has two daughters, ages 5 and 8. On Saturday, she posted a selfie in the midst of a challenging day.
“Today has been a rough day. I’ve been feeling well lately, taking care of myself, and been relatively calm. But today anxiety won,” she wrote in the caption.
Hewitt explained that her anxiety made her feel like she couldn’t leave her kids to go on vacation with her husband because the plane might crash, caused her to cry for hours, and led her to hide in her room so that her children wouldn’t see her so upset.
“Since suffering from a traumatic birth, PTSD, perimenopause, and postpartum anxiety disorder I’ve never talked about this emotion,” she wrote. “I was afraid others would think I was weak. I was afraid people would know I’m broken. But I’m not, just a little banged up.”
Hewitt described her bout of anxiety as a “monstrous wave” and “emotional fueled by [her] thoughts.
Addressing her fellow mothers, she wrote, “We change after having kids. Sometimes it’s depression, sometimes anxiety, sometimes both. But we need to confide in others and get help. Process what’s happening. Find the root and try to heal.”
That day, Hewitt turned to writing to make herself feel better and remember that she is not alone in her struggles.
“What we see on TV, the internet, the news, it’s not real. Every person you know has something,” she wrote. “We show our best on social media, carefully curating the content we want the world to see. Hoping not to soil our ‘reputations.’”
However, she added, that is not real life. “It’s messy, it’s hard, it sometimes is too much to handle, but even at its worst it’s still beautiful.”
Hewitt told HuffPost she’s been dealing with mental health struggles since the birth of her first daughter eight years ago. “She had a traumatic birth, and I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety disorder. It’s been an up-and-down battle, and something that’s been hard to cope with,” the mom said.
She posted the selfie “on a whim” and decided to speak out about her experience. “I had never really opened up about it, but that day was awful. It was a new low and after I dug myself out that post just poured out of me,” she explained. “I was tired. Tired of ignoring how I felt. Tired of pretending to have it all together when everything felt like it was falling apart.”
To cope with her anxiety, Hewitt saw a therapist for awhile and tried medication, but now she opts for natural treatments, including acupuncture, meditation, essential oils and keeping a gratitude journal. “It all works pretty well, but sometimes I need more help, so then I reach out and see someone,” the mom said.
Hewitt’s Facebook post received more than 860 likes. She said the reaction to her post has been really helpful, and she’s enjoyed reading encouraging words from women who offered their support and shared their own stories.
“We aren’t alone, it’s so incredible to learn how many women deal with this after childbirth and sometimes for the rest of their lives,” she said.
Hewitt hopes people who are struggling can read her post and realize they aren’t alone and that this is a common experience. “Anxiety doesn’t define you,” she said.
She added, “I’m really glad I opened up because already it’s helping people. I think we all need to break the stigma and talk about mental health more. There’s no shame in asking for help.”
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.