I can't even tell you how many unpublished drafts I have sitting here of me pouring my thoughts out over these last many months but haven't felt like I was able to explain myself adequately enough or have just simply been too scared to click publish.
I keep thinking I need to explain myself because I've felt like I've been acting so different for quite some time now. That I haven't been myself.
And then I'm like, you don't have to explain anything. You don't owe that to anyone.
But then I just keep wanting to. And feeling obligated to explain and wanting to explain feel like completely different reasons somehow?
And now I think I've got you all worried, thinking something terrible is going on when in fact, life is getting so good. It's just changing. And I think I've been resisting change for so long that it's created a major inner struggle. I've changed a lot a lot a lot since becoming a mother, and I'm still trying to sort out who I am now exactly and what I want out of life now that I have this new beautiful little person filling up most of my days.
Anyway, to begin, I just want to introduce myself because I think I've officially been blogging for a little over two years now, which is so crazy to think about, and I don't know how many of you have made your way from that first post or if you've jumped in somewhere in-between or maybe this is your first time reading.
Regardless, welcome! I'm so happy and honored to have you here reading this little blog of mine. I feel like I should just come right out and say that this post is an extremely vulnerable one for me, perhaps the most vulnerable one I'll ever write, so please please please go easy on me. No hate or judgement is allowed here. Good vibes only.
So hello. My name is Megan. I'm married to an amazing man named Jake, and I'm somehow lucky enough to be a mama to a beautiful baby girl named Madison. I'm a total homebody and love days at home where I'm able to create things with my hands. I'm almost painfully shy (something I thought I would have out grown after twenty seven years) and I'm kinda nerdy. I have a weird sense of humor that only my husband can relate to, and gosh I'm so grateful that he gets me, and we can laugh until our stomachs hurt about silly things.
I've always felt like the hugest misfit to ever walk the planet, and I am just so thankful that God sent me Jake to help me feel like I fit in somewhere. He's amazing and supports my ever changing mind for what I want out of life and is my biggest cheerleader. I don't know what I'd ever do without him.
So to get down to it, I feel like I should give a little back story (well probably several back stories since I've been holding on to too many thoughts for way too long, but we'll start right here). For the last four years (gosh it's so weird it's been that long) I've been caught by the etsy bug. Etsy consumed every inch of my life and it was all so fun and exciting. I dreamed big dreams about working from home and being able to help support my family all while raising little ones. I worked hard every single day, weekends, nights, holidays, you name it, and I was always working on something. I posted to instagram as often as I could and somehow was lucky enough to build a sweet community of over fourteen thousand followers, something completely mind blowing for someone like me. After years, I finally felt like I found my niche, creating crochet patterns and tutorials and for the first time ever, was looking forward to daily sales. I even got to the point that I was actually able to pay myself rather than just pouring every earned penny back into my business. It was only like twenty or thirty dollars a week, but it made me so unbelievably proud to have my own money that I could do whatever I wanted with.
Whenever I'd meet people for the first time and they'd ask what I did, or if friends or family members would ask how things were going, I'd proudly tell them about all my accomplishments, about how I owned my own business and had a decent online following and was reaching over 600 sales on etsy. I'd tell them about how I was featured in a book recently that's being sold on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I'd tell them about how I've had the opportunity to work with Boye Yarn Crafts a few times, and that there are basically only two major crochet hook companies (that I can think of at least) and Boye is one of them so it was a pretty big deal. I'd tell them about how amazing companies like We Are Knitters and Wool and the Gang had also reached out to me and sent me amazing knit kits to work with and promote.
It was all so wonderful and exciting and was something I was unbelievably proud of myself for doing.
You see, I kinda feel like a nobody in real life. Just a normal, quiet girl who wasn't popular in high school or anything. In fact I never really felt like I had a set group of friends in school, I'd just kind of float around from group to group and lunches were mainly spent eating alone in my car. I've never been one who wanted attention or thought she'd accomplish big things. And to me, all those things I mentioned above are reeeeally big things.
Etsy and Instagram became parts of me, parts of my story. They felt like who I was and who I was going to be.
Fast forward to the moment I became a mom, the actual most amazing and important thing to ever happen to me.
Suddenly, etsy and instagram didn't fit anymore. At least not the way that they used to.
My life revolved around sleepless nights, non stop scream crying (Madison had really bad colic for the first five or so months), and lots of tears from me and Madison as we were adjusting to this new life together.
I kept trying to squeeze in my business because honestly, being a new mom with a constantly really upset baby was rather difficult for me. Instagram and etsy were a place of familiarity and comfort. It was something I could control, something I could make look pretty when my life felt anything but. It was a way I could connect with other people and escape when I felt on edge after doing everything I could all day to keep Madison from crying. I desperately needed a place where I felt like I fit in, a place where I felt like I could do something right, be good at something. Because being a mother to a baby who just is never quite happy no matter how hard you try, really wrecks your self confidence. (I feel like I should mention real quick that Madison is a hundred percent better by the way. Easiest and sweetest and happiest kid ever so anyone going through colic and reading this right now, there's hope. It all gets so amazingly good and is worth absolutely everything.)
It all worked out really well at first. I could squeeze in taking instagram photos during the little twenty minute naps that Madison would take while I wasn't holding her. Then breastfeeding became the biggest comfort to both me and Madison during those early months so while she happily cuddled and ate, I'd work on my laptop or my phone and edit pictures and share on instagram. I even got creative and got to the point where I could get her snuggly on my chest so she could settle in for a nap while I knit and crocheted around her. Life became peaceful and happy and we found a rhythm and everything was good. I still wasn't sleeping at night because as a new mom, I was absolutely terrified to fall asleep with Madison on me and if she wasn't snuggled on my chest, she'd just scream. Looking back, I don't know how I pulled so many all nighters (and all dayers to be perfectly honest).
Anyway, after a while, Madison started to grow out of her colic and became more content to do things like play with her play gym and eventually even sit up and play with her toys on her own. It was around this time my business started to make less sense in my life. And as she got older and more independent, it just got plain stressful to try to get any work done in the day. And now that I type that, it seems strange, the less Madison needed to be in my arms every second of the day, the harder time I had finding moments to work? You'd think it'd be the other way around.
But you see, being a small business owner had been a dream of mine the second I first opened shop, but being a mom, taking care of my family, now that is my ultimate dream, one that I've had for as long as I could remember.
I thought I could somehow make both work. I'd snuggle with Madison in the mornings and we'd play until she got sleepy, and I'd settle her in for a nap. Then the next forty minutes to an hour and a half would be an absolute mad scramble to do the dishes, get a load of laundry going, set up instagram for the day, edit photos, respond to emails, messages, comments, pick up the house, clean a bathroom, anything and everything. Nap times became so stressful for me when it shouldn't have been that way. They should have been a time for me to unwind and refresh, but instead they became a marathon sprint to try to do it all. Instead of cuddling with my husband at nights when Madison would go to bed, I'd be furiously crocheting, trying to finish an order or design a new piece. Or I'd be on my laptop editing the never ending photos and fighting a program that wasn't really designed for the way I needed to use it in order to create crochet patterns.
It was just too much.
I was trying to do everything and be everything to everyone.
And I was so miserable.
The anxiety got so bad that I started to feel as if I was living in a nearly constant panic attack. Have you ever experienced one of those? I remember my first one, it came out of the blue while I was sitting in my high school Spanish class my senior year. My chest felt unbelievably tight, constricted, heavy, almost as if an elephant was sitting on it. My heart raced frantically. I felt as if hands were wrapped around my throat, choking me and making it hard to breathe. I felt numb and tingly, could barely feel my hands. I wanted to bolt right out the door, try to find a place of safety even though I had absolutely no reason to feel like I needed to escape. I honestly thought I was dying, having a heart attack or something. I remember telling a friend about it later because I thought it was so strange and she shrugged it off like I was crazy because I mean obviously I wasn't dying.
Thank goodness for my high school psychology class that taught about me a little about anxiety and panic attacks. Which then lead me to take all the psychology classes possible in college where I went on to get an actual bachelors degree in psychology ha ha all the while I was mainly just self diagnosing my mental illness.
I haven't really told many people that's the whole reason I ended up with that degree.
And I'm not sure who actually reads this blog. I like to pretend no one does when I write posts like this because it's easier to write the real stuff when it's almost as if it's just for myself to read.
I haven't really told many people this, just a small handful of individuals, but I've silently struggled with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression on and off for almost ten years now. I'm really sorry I've never really told anyone. To keep my fragile and tender hearted self safe from possible judgement, misunderstanding, or ridicule, I kept it buried deep. And then eventually, time passed, and I grew to slightly better understand myself and what I was going through, and then I met and married the sweetest man alive who supported me through everything and helped me grow past those illnesses and see the light. Life was so good and so happy, and I was so content. I thought I would forever be free from those dark feelings.
Fast forward back to this last year, right when I thought I had grown past ever feeling that type of anxiety or depression ever again, it was getting bad. I was entering the darkest place I had ever traveled to, having thoughts I honestly don't feel comfortable writing even though I'm currently pretending I'm the only one who will ever read them. There were days that I'd cry all day and feel crippled with heavy anxiety, the likes of which I had never known. It got so unbelievably bad that I did what I had always been too scared to do, saw a doctor.
I felt in my gut that I was dealing with postpartum depression/anxiety and from what I could read online, I knew it was most likely something I wouldn't be able to tackle on my own. And Madison was getting older, and I was so worried that if I didn't fix it, didn't seek treatment and get feeling better, she'd have memories of me being sad when I shouldn't be sad or she'd worry alongside me, and I just couldn't handle the thought of doing that to her. She deserved so much better. My family deserved to have a happy mama. I deserved peace and happiness and contentment during what I like to think of as the golden and best years of my life.
I tried to tell my doctor what was going on, but my appointment was later in the day and he seemed to be in a hurry. Without hardly asking me a question about how bad of a situation I was in, he gave me a quick school lesson on anxiety and depression and how they are linked (which I obviously already knew). He told me that medication wouldn't help much, to just change my lifestyle, quit my business if necessary, to eat better, sleep more, and I should feel better. If not to come back and see him.
All my brain heard though was, "This is all your fault, Megan. You created this busy and chaotic life of yours. Your anxiety and depression are all caused by you. You're the only one who can make yourself feel better and since you've been unable to make yourself feel better, this is just how you are going to feel for the rest of forever. It's all your fault that you feel this way. Medication won't help. No one can help or save you."
Dramatic? Yes, most definitely.
And I'm sure my doctor didn't mean to come across the way he did, and I was in such a bad place that I kinda shut down the second I felt like I was being dismissed. I mean, I really like my doctor. He's always been so good to me. But I still feel like when talking to an unbelievably broken individual who wasn't in her right state of mind, telling me to just change my lifestyle and figure things out on my own for another month or two is not what I needed. I don't know what exactly I needed at the time, but it wasn't that.
(I feel like I should mention the obvious, that my doctor and people in general are not mind readers. I'm sure if I had been more forceful and more forward about what was going on and how badly I was doing, the entire visit would have gone differently. I'm just as much to blame.)
I'd been struggling with a steadily growing wave of depression and anxiety since Madison's colic had set in a week after she was born so by that point, I had already been trying to "fix it" on my own for about eight months. I mean obviously all the things he mentioned are all good things I needed to do. But I already was going on daily walks and trying to eat as good as I could. I was exercising with my husband in the evenings, and I could only get so much sleep with a baby who up until 9.5 months of age was waking two to four times a night to feed. I felt like I had already cut way back on my business and instagram and didn't feel like it was fair or a good idea to just give it all up completely. I felt like I was doing all I could, and it just wasn't enough.
I was so upset, and I'm incredibly stubborn so after a little while of feeling sorry for myself, I got angry and I was like, "Welp never ever going to try to see a doctor about that stuff ever again. What a waste of time, money, and energy. No one can save me but me so I'm going to figure this out gosh dang it."
I felt like my doctor had told me to just fix it on my own so that's exactly what I set out to do. I did a lot of soul searching and tried to create a more positive mind and energy. I've been listening to uplifting podcasts like crazy and trying to take control of my life and turn things around.
I have pondered and questioned things like never before.
What do I want out of life?
What is my ultimate dream life?
If I could do anything and not have to worry about money, what would I do?
Money is insanely tight, but I don't have to work if I don't want to. I'm barely bringing in money as it is.
Do I want to work?
Does it make me happy?
My job is something I'm proud of, but is it currently filling up my cup or is it just depleting me?
Am I doing the things I do out of fear (fear of disappointing myself/others, fear of being different, fear of trying something new, fear of the unknown etc.) or is it something I do out of love?
I really do love my business and everything I have created, and I have so many fun and exciting ideas constantly buzzing in my head. I decided the only way I'd ever know was to jump all in and become the business mama I wanted and hoped to be. I tried really hard to commit a hundred percent to my business, give it all I had just to see how things went, to see how it made me feel. I posted to instagram daily, something I have never been able to do before. I tried to respond to every single comment which is quite a feat when you're constantly distracted by such an adorable squishy baby. I planned out new patterns and came up with a business plan. I found a way I could realistically post to instagram every day of the week, sharing a few progress photos of pieces I was working on and a few photos of completed pieces to promote my patterns. And then I was going to have an inspirational quote on Sundays and feature another person's talent when using my patterns on Fridays. I was going to use white backgrounds out of simplicity and ease for taking quick photos and also because they are visually appealing, and I was going to feature the pretty areas of my home, showing off my baskets and how I use them. I had it all planned and it felt rock solid, like I was going to make it. I was going to be a successful business mama and the money would start pouring in and I'd be able to actually contribute to my family and then I'd feel so good about myself and life would be so good and I'd be happy. And it actually was starting to work, I mean I was making a little bit of money again, something that had slowed way down when I was sick and trying to figure things out.
And you know what? I was more miserable than ever.
I just felt so fake, so not myself. And I think everyone on instagram could see through my show that I was putting on because I have never in my life received such poor engagement on each photo I posted. It got to the point where I'd just laugh at night because of how badly my photo was received that day. I was just in complete disbelief by how things were going.
I have this belief that things in life can and will be hard, but they shouldn't be that hard, if that even makes any sense. It was like I was fighting to open a door that wasn't meant for me to open.
I prayed to God every night to please give me direction. Do I walk away from it all? Everything I had grown for so long? The person I thought I was? The business lady I was so proud to tell people about? Do I just stop being her? Do I give up the chance to make money, even though it's only a little, and instead embrace a life of constantly having to be very financially frugal?
And I change my mind almost everyday because it's so hard to let go and change, but honestly, I think the resounding answer is, yes. It's time to completely re-focus and figure out who I am now and what I want out of life.
For two weeks, I made the conscious decision to embrace motherhood and homemaking with wide open and loving arms everyday, to just focus on myself, my family, and my home. This last week I've been spending my nap times listening to uplifting podcasts and happily scrubbing my kitchen and catching up on laundry for the first time ever. I've been just peacefully sitting on the floor in the mornings, sipping coffee, watching my beautiful little girl explore the world around her and crawl around like a mad woman. (She's so fast now it's crazy!) I've been rocking in my rocking chair and crocheting just because I enjoy it, not because I need to have something ready to be able to post a photo to instagram. It feels so good to make just because I want to make. I've been cooking homemade dinners every night and finding free or cheap ways to improve our little home and make things feel better. I've been having dance parties with Madison and reading her lots of books and laughing and being fully present for probably the first time in a really long time.
And you know what? This time around, life feels soooo good. This is the life I want. It's the little things, and I'm easy to please. I don't have to be anything fancy. I don't have to make it big on the internet or try to make a million dollars. I'm so excited to have time to try new recipes and read books and go for walks and soak up every moment with my beautiful little girl without worry that I should be attending to something else or that I'm not doing enough.
I'm definitely not ready to let go of my business completely, but I'm realizing more and more that there are different seasons in life. There will be a time once again where I can focus and work on patterns and making sales if I choose to, but right now, being a mama and getting to hang with my little family is more than enough.
It is everything.
I do see myself still working. But it needs to be different. And it needs to be turtle speed and sloth speed slow. It needs to be more authentic and flow naturally. I don't ever want to force it again. So I'm just having an open heart and seeing how things go and where life takes me.
I've still got more healing to do and more to figure out, and I possibly maybe need to get brave and try to see my doctor again, but for now, I'm just taking it easy and breathing for a bit.
I'm enjoying just being.