Living with the blues. Part 2 with Julia Rohan
I got a bit distracted with...you know...all of things going on. But I'm continuing our conversation around mental health and bringing other voices into the discussion. I received so many kind notes from many of you after sharing my story. Thank you. I know that we are better together. Here's another point of view from Julia Rohan.
Julia Rohan founded and runs two businesses: Thanks, Julia which specializes in household project management, and Rover-Time Dog Walking & Pet Sitting, which is entering its eighth year serving Chicago’s best and busiest pet parents. She has two children, Archie and Lou. And one dog, named Chauncey. When she's not working or parenting, she loves snuggling her dog while watching nearly anything on Bravo.
Photo credit: Jennifer Kathryn Photography
My life with anxiety and depression began in middle school. For years I self-managed the symptoms I felt and paid the consequences as they rolled in. While I can’t recommend others try this approach, it became my way of living this life and I worked with it. Through building a pet care business, anxiety pushed me towards success. My never-ending worries and panic always kept us running safe, which was the single most important core value behind the entire operation, really.
But when I became pregnant with my first baby, anxiety and depression manifested their ways differently. While it was easy to give in to long stretches of sleep for the first time ever, when I woke it was normal for me to feel like the entire world was against me, hated me for existing, hated me for carrying this child, and that I was alone. After he arrived in April 2015, I tossed around and considered different stretches of time as “baby blues”, writing them off as a phase that would pass. They didn’t pass, though.
By the time he was a year and a half, I had a handful of suicidal thoughts. My husband had made calls to help lines each of those times. I remember many of those moments just as well as the days my son hit another developmental milestone. Things weren’t really getting better but I felt a break from the darker times by my son’s second birthday.
It was about that time I self-diagnosed things as postpartum anxiety and depression. I was also able to declare that I was never having more children, blaming my postpartum years as too hard on all of us, causing me way too much fear to do it again. My first business was about five or six years old by this point. I had hundreds of customers trusting my team of fifteen employees. While it wasn’t self-care by any stretch of the imagination, work was a reliable distraction from my depression because my anxiety would get me out of bed and would push me to my desk to get started each day.
In February 2018, I accidentally became pregnant again. I was furious. That time is hard to write about because I imagine my kids reading this one day and I would never want them to feel unwanted. I’ll try to summarize: I was ashamed and resentful. But again, anxiety kept me waking up and pushing me through. It reliably showed up and insisted that I figured out a solution to “this problem” and for the first time ever, positively changed my life.
I’d even go as far as thanking my anxiety for saving my life, back then. Anxiety was the reason I bought the book, “The Fourth Trimester.” Anxiety was the reason I designed a postpartum plan. Anxiety was the reason I wouldn’t take no for an answer when I ran the numbers and knew we could never actually afford implementing my plan. Anxiety got me everything I wanted, it helped me find the words, it kept a lot of fight in me, and it got me to where I am today.
So where am I today? I’m alive.
That might read a little anticlimactic after everything I just shared but I’ll assure you, it’s heavy with meaning.
Photo credit: Melissa Salvatore, A Little Photo Studio
It's pretty obvious that most of us have had to pivot a bit due to the current pandemic. Priorities have changed. Motivation comes and goes. Many things are unknown. Need help? Julia has tweaked her business offerings to help others during this specific time. Here's more from her:
I’m a household project manager who serves working families that feel overwhelmed by day-to-day life, including this new way of life! I can help you create a plan of action for everything that still needs to be done so you can delegate with ease and communicate more openly with your partner. During the outbreak, I'd love to lend a hand so you will:
- have a clear, strategic plan of action for how to work while fitting in time for your children, so you can help them with their schooling, but still have fun together.
- learn to set healthy boundaries to create some pockets of privacy, quiet, sanity, and calm for yourself.
- pickup better habits for turning off work while working from home so you can feel less guilty about how time is spent.
Learn more about Julia HERE.
And just to remind you, I'm donating 25% of the purchase price from all sales in March to NAMI. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
NAMI HelpLine: www.nami.org/helpline or 800-950-NAMI (6264)