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Serena: Hey Everyone, I’m Serena.
Tina: And I’m Tina and we are the Mental Health Mamas.
Serena: Welcome to No Need to Explain, we are so glad you’re here.
Tina: First, as always, a quick disclaimer.
Serena: We come to you NOT as mental health professionals or experts in the field, but rather as parents with lived experience who are on a mission to normalize the conversation around mental health.
Tina: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You’ll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website, NoNeedToExplainPodcast.com.
Tina: We often say to our listening friends that parenting is hard and, in our humble experience, not all parents admit to this. Right Serena?
Serena: That’s right.
Tina: In the social media world, it’s kind of a rarity for people to put on their “parenting is hard” hat in such a public arena. We usually just see all the smiles and cuteness. Today on the podcast we welcome Megan Eddinger, aka the No BS Mama. Meghan, welcome to the podcast!
Megan: Hi! Thank you so much for having me! I’m so excited to be here!
Serena: Alright. So, in your first episode of your podcast, you say that you had three kids before the age of 24 and were taking so much time being what everyone else thought you should be that you didn’t stop to ask yourself, “Is this who I want to be?” So tell us a little bit of your story, especially that piece about early parenting.
Megan: Yeah, thank you. So I had my first baby just a couple of months after I graduated from high school actually. So we graduated in June and then he was born in early August. So we were pretty much thrown right into adulthood and parenting while all of our friends were going off to college and kind of figuring out who they were, what they wanted to do with their lives. You know, all that kind of stuff. My boyfriend at the time who’s my husband now and I were…we went right into grind mode. We felt like we were behind somehow even though we were so young we felt like we’re not married, we don’t have a house, we don’t have careers, we need to hurry up and do all of these things so that we can fall in line where we’re quote, unquote supposed to be. And so we spent the first, I don’t know, ten years of our relationship working full time, going to school full time, buying houses, getting married, having more children, all of the things. So not only did I not spend time getting to know myself and really learning what I need as an individual person but we really lost sight of each other because there was no time together between all the jobs and everything else we had going on. So we were just very much in hustle mode, trying to live up to some kind of societal standard that we were never gonna meet anyway just because of the way things had unraveled for us.
Tina: Yeah, so that is a lot. That is a lot for young people. I think of my young people who are 28 and 24 and I can’t even imagine it. I can’t even imagine it. And what I guess what we haven’t dived into here on the podcast much is this is a reality for a lot of people in our world, right? A reality for a lot of young people. And yeah, there’s a lot of social stuff that goes with that, right? Like you are…I just think we had kids when I thought was young, right, at 25 and even relating to the people who we were relating to in our life who were our age, that was not a thing, right? We were like freaks of nature because we had this person we had to keep alive. Yeah, so there’s a lot to dive into. We’re gonna kind of dissect it a little bit. So you are 17,you were thrust into what you call abrupt adulting, I love that, you’ve finished high school, your parents moved away and you moved into a different household and that is A LOT. So what we know to be true from all the parents we’ve supported over the years, is that we are all doing the best we know how to do. So tell us a little bit more about young parenting and it had to have taken a toll on your mental health, for sure. Maybe you didn’t realize it at the time and I can imagine it did. And, yeah. So tell us a little more about that.
Megan: Yeah. So I am the oldest of five children and I’m the oldest of, I don’t know, I think we’re up to like 25 cousins now so I’m very familiar with babies and diapers and formula and nursing and all of that so I really wasn’t afraid of having a baby. I felt like, you know, I’ve been around babies my whole life. I’ve got this. This is going to be totally fine. But when it’s your baby that never goes back to someone else’s house, it is totally different.
I will never forget my first night home from the hospital. I did go to my mom’s house and Drew came with me and we give the baby a little bath and we put him in his nice new diaper and nice new pajamas and we put him up in his little bassinet in our bedroom and we don’t hear a peep. I’m like, oh my God, I have the best baby ever. You know and a little while later the rest of the house settles down and we all go to bed. And not fifteen minutes later this baby is screaming bloody murder, screaming bloody murder. And I’m like, we take him out of the bassinet, I’m nursing so I try to nurse him. That is not going well. This goes on for quite some time and now I’m crying. And my poor boyfriend, who is an only child and has like one other cousin his age. He has no experience with babies. He’s watching this all happen and he’s like, oh my God I don’t know what to do. So he goes to leave the bedroom and I say, do not go get my mom. Like don’t you dare. We have to do this. And he’s like, no no no, I have to go to the bathroom. And he comes back with my mom. Who I didn’t realize until later, she’s hearing all of this happen and she’s in her room and her husband is telling her the same thing, like you cannot, you have to leave them be, they have to figure this out. And she’s like, no, but all new moms need their mom. This is a very normal thing. It’s not just because she’s young. And so it was total chaos but she comes in and she unwraps him from his little swaddle and she takes off his pajamas and he had blown out his diaper. There was poop all the way up his back and I’m there and I’m like, I cannot believe I did not check his diaper. That is baby 101. How did I miss that? And so from that point on it was very much like I felt like I had to hold myself to a different standard because all moms, let’s face it, all moms are being judged by society whether it’s by other moms, people that don’t have children, your parents, whoever it is, you are at risk of being judged when you’re in society. But I felt like as a young mom it was ten fold. Like I would take my children to a doctor’s appointment or parent teacher conferences and it was always assumed that I was like a big sister, not their parent. And that still happens. And it’s hard to kind of find your place when you are not fully confident and don’t have the life experience to kind of be like well, what they think of me is none of my business and I know I’m doing the right thing for my family no matter what they say. I think all of that comes with more experience and if you have other friends that are having children, all of that. We’re talking about a time that social media wasn’t a thing, like I know I’m dating myself but there was no Facebook, there was no Instagram, there was none of these things so I felt really isolated in this experience.
Serena: I can totally relate. Yeah. You know, hearing you talk about bringing the baby home. So I was not as young as you so I can’t even imagine at the age of 17. My husband and I had been together since high school and I had my first baby at 23 and yeah, and I thought I was prepared too, right? You know I had done all the…I’d babysat for years. I knew it all but you’re right, having that baby that doesn’t go home is such a different thing.
Tina: Well and let’s throw in, I heard a little guilt around the diapering issue and I think, OK, you probably weren’t sleeping all that well, you probably were not nourishing yourself in ways that were helpful and we have a thing called a brain, right, that really does shut down when we’re not well. So I don’t know why we put these hard, hard judgments on ourselves. And you’re right, we feel like we’re being judged by others. So we talk a lot about the fact that mental health is normal. That’s just something we normalize on our podcast. It’s just as normal as any physical health. We all have mental health. Are you well? Do you need support? More tools in your proverbial toolbox. So tell us about your experience with mental health, specifically through the pandemic, because it’s looming, still around and how your view of mental health has shifted from that young person to now. Not that you’re an old person, but you know.
Megan: Yeah, it’s such an important topic and I think one that we’re getting more comfortable talking about but I think there’s still a lot of room here for more conversations, especially when it comes to motherhood. My very first experience with depression came after I had my first baby but I lied about it. You know, when I went back to my six week appointment and my doctor asked me the questions, even though they gave me all the literature and explained to me before I even had the baby that this is a very normal thing. You know, make sure you ask for help. All of the things. I lied and said, no, everything is great, I feel great, baby’s great, everything is super in my house.
Serena: So Megan, why? Why did you lie about that?
Megan: Yeah. Because I felt like if I told the truth that people would think I was a bad mom. And I know now that is a hundred percent not true and I thank my lucky stars every day that it was very mild and I was able to recognize it in myself and change some habits and pull myself out of it. But that is not everyone’s story and asking for help, not only does it not make you a bad mom but it makes you a really good mom because you’re able to be there for your baby and your spouse and your family in ways that you can’t be when you’re struggling.
So that was my first experience and then I didn’t really have too much experience with any mental health challenges until 2017. I recognized that I was dealing with anxiety and the more I learned about anxiety, the more I understood that, oh, I’ve always had anxiety and been an anxious person. I just didn’t recognize it. We had other ways of talking about it in my family. We were tightly wound people. We were very excited. We used that kind of language to describe anxiety symptoms. And so in 2017 I started to have really regular panic attacks and I was really losing my temper with my family a lot. And I recognized, like I can’t, this is not fair to my children. There’s something wrong here and I need to go seek help. So I went to my regular family doctor and just basically cried. And she gave me the little…it was like a fifteen or twenty question test. How often do you feel this way? How often do you feel that way? And I was shocked at that appointment to be diagnosed with both anxiety and depression. So I went there for help with anxiety. I told her. I have anxiety, I need help. And I left there with anxiety and depression and a Zoloft prescription.
I took the Zoloft and I wasn’t having panic attacks any more so that was really great for me. But I also wasn’t feeling like myself. I wasn’t feeling super happy. I wasn’t feeling sad when sad things happened. I was just kind of like…just existing in this space and didn’t really have access to the whole range of human emotion and I really did not like that because that’s not who I am. And I was struggling because I was like, I’m not having panic attacks so that’s really good but I’m also learning a lot about anxiety and so I think that I can live without this medicine now. And so that was late 2017 that I was diagnosed. So I take the medicine until late 2019 and that’s when I’m like, mmm, I can’t live like this any more. I have to get off of this medicine.
So we work with my doctor. We wean off under the supervision of a medical practitioner. I need to highlight that point. Never, ever, ever just stop taking a medicine. And I felt fine. Not great but fine. And then 2020 hit and I went down fast. I was not getting out of bed. I wasn’t showering. I wasn’t brushing my teeth but everybody everywhere was saying like the same things and it was like a funny joke. Like, oh you took a shower today? Like I didn’t know we were doing that. Ha, ha! And so I was in denial. I was like everyone’s feeling like this and the world is on fire right now and no one knows what’s happening, so of course we all are feeling this way and we’re not out in the world so we’re not actually interacting with other people so we don’t… It was just such a weird way to see the world. And so I lived like this until…so things shut down in March 2020 and I didn’t get help until August of 2020. And because I had a bad experience with medicine in the past, I was like OK, well this time I’m going to go to therapy. And my therapist who I met with very regularly would kind of mention medicine every now and then and I would shut her down. I’m like Sasha, no, I don’t have time for medicine. I can’t be experimenting on my brain right now. I’m already a mess. I just need you to give me the tools. And it came to a point in December that I was not progressing the way I had hoped I would be progressing. And she finally explained to me (and she might have said this to me ten other times but in this session for whatever reason it hit me when she said) Megan, a medicine can bring you up to a baseline so that you are not experiencing these low lows and staying there for extended periods of time. If you come up to a baseline with the help of medicine then when you’re implementing the things that we’re talking about here in therapy, they’re more likely to work long term because you have this other kind of buffer and it’s not something that you have to take forever. It’s something that we can try and maybe you do take it forever. Who cares? But for right now it might be a good idea to try. And so I did and I have been taking it ever since and with the help of the medicine and the therapy I feel better than I probably have ever felt. And I definitely have much better coping skills than I ever have in the past.
Serena: That’s awesome.
Tina: Yeah, that is awesome. And I would say that we are not doctors. We are not…we don’t have any credentials like that. We have made up credentials. So I just want to say that upfront but the fact is we’ve had some good experiences and some not so good experiences in our parenting lives with this and in our personal lives with this and the idea that you…I don’t know. I just want to emphasize the part of you taking the power to ask the good questions, to think about what you need, to know that a medicine doesn’t make you feel good, to know that a medicine makes you feel better, to know that therapy makes you feel better. We know the gold standard is medication and therapy together and we would say lots of other toolbox building opportunities. Yeah, so I appreciate you being super vulnerable about all that and normalizing it because that’s what we’re here to do, right?
Serena: Yeah. And I can…I can totally relate to the, you know, what you’re saying your therapist was saying to you. I actually had that same experience of, you know, while I was pregnant with my third child I was just paralyzed with anxiety for a number of different reasons and it was actually one of my kid’s therapists who sat me down and said, you know, I can teach you all these tools but until you’re in a state where you can sort of hear what I’m saying, they’re not gonna do you any good. So yeah, she talked me into…and that was a tough thing to make that decision while I was pregnant, but yeah. I’m glad that I did make that decision. But I want to back up a minute because I think there’s something here that we need to kind of bring out as an important conversation to have. The idea that during the pandemic there was messaging, right, about everybody’s having a hard time, right? Everybody’s in the same boat. We’re all experiencing depression or whatever but what I hear you saying is you were experiencing debilitating anxiety and depression and I think people need to hear that there’s a difference, right? There’s a difference between, you know, feeling kind of blah and not being able to get out of bed in the morning, right?
Megan: Yeah, exactly. I mean, having…again, we’re not mental health professionals here but I think that to have a day or two where you’re feeling depressed is a normal part of the human experience. But when you’re talking five days in a row, ten days in a row, fourteen days out of the month every month, those types of things, and again when it’s preventing you from daily responsibilities. Like I was having trouble going to work and I work from home and even when I was able to sit down at my computer, I wasn’t able to complete tasks. When it interferes with your day to day, with your relationships, with your work, with your hygiene, all of those things, that needs professional help and it looks different for everybody and it’s not something that needs to be a shameful experience.
Tina: Yeah, thanks for that. That is important messaging for sure. And I think we throw around those terms all the time, right? Like, oh I’m so sad, I’m so depressed, I’m so this and that and those are clinical terms and it’s important to just, you know… It is normal. It is normal and really to know when you need more support. I guess that’s the thing, right? So we appreciate you sharing all of that and it is a story we have heard before. It is not…we like to highlight these stories because I think people think they’re alone and one of our strong messages is, You are Not Alone. So in a perfect world, what supports would be in place, not only for the young mother in you but you know, the current, again, you're not old, but the current mother in you, right?
Megan: Yeah. I would really love for mental health resources beyond medicine to be more easily available to more people. I think that especially in that postpartum phase. If you go to like (I don’t know if the hospitals still even do this but when I was having babies they had) the pre-birth classes you could take at the hospital and they focused a lot on what was going to happen during birth, how to take care of your baby. But there was not a big focus on you. And you know, they warn you about postpartum depression and what it looks like but they don’t really talk about how you can handle it or what mental health hygiene you can have in place to kind of combat those feelings ahead of time. Or, I don’t know, I just feel like it was kind of just thrown out there, oh yeah, whatever the statistic is, this amount of mothers have postpartum depression and it’s a very normal thing. Make sure you get the help that you need. I wish that they would take the time to dive more into that. You know, of course we need to know how to change the baby’s diaper and nurse them and all of those things are really important too but I just think that the experience of mom in early motherhood is really glossed over and we’re expected to, at least in my experience, I felt like I was expected to go home from the hospital and be up walking around, cooking, providing things for my family and that’s just, that’s incorrect.
Tina: Well and again we’re normalizing the physical part of this and not the mental health part. Like wouldn’t it be awesome to hear about, specifically about what postpartum, like what does that look like for people and what are the implications of it and how… I love that idea. People have heard it here first.
Megan: Well and when you hear about it in the news, for example, it’s always a very, very extreme case and so when you’re in, you might feel like, well, I don’t feel like hurting myself or my baby so this must not be what they’re talking about. And it doesn't have to be something so extreme that you can get support for.
Serena: Yeah. That’s a great point. Thank you. And so we wonder, from all that you have learned, you know, sort of figuring this out as you go, what are your go to’s for yourself to take good care of yourself while you’re raising your kids?
Megan: I love that question. I have a couple of things. So I’m a huge journaler. I journal in all different kinds of journals and all different kinds of ways. I like to track my habits, I like to practice gratitude and I really like to free write. And I know that journaling is not for everyone but that’s huge, huge for me. I really prioritize getting outside. I try really hard to prioritize my physical health. I’m a big proponent of, like you mentioned earlier, medicine and therapy really need to go hand in hand. I’m a big proponent of yes, those two things and how else are you supporting yourself outside of those things because as moms, we’re very likely to put everyone else’s needs ahead of ours and you know, at the end of the day we’re totally depleted and we’re like, I’m one hundred percent not going to the gym or I’m one hundred percent not eating a vegetable right now. Like I’m tired, I don’t feel like it and I feel like if we be a little bit selfish with our time and our own needs, it really does trickle down into the rest of the family. So I just wish we would not feel so guilty about doing that.
Tina: Mmm. Love that. So we mentioned earlier, you have a podcast. Tell us a little bit about your podcast, maybe why you got it started and how people can find you.
Megan: Yeah, thank you. My podcast is the No BS Mama Podcast and you can listen probably wherever you’re listening to this podcast. And I started the podcast to really normalize all things motherhood because I mentioned earlier that I felt very isolated in my own experience and I was constantly comparing myself to people on social media, people in the PTA, my neighbors, people at work that I worked with and everyone else seemed like they just had their stuff together and I was just very chaotic and I felt like there must be something wrong with you Megan. Why are you such a bad mom? Why can’t you get your life together? And the more I shared about that just in personal communication, I realized, oh we all feel this way. And wouldn’t it be great if there was a place where people were bringing these conversations to the forefront so that if these conversations are not happening in your circle, you have a place to come to know that this is a very normal experience and especially if you’re listening to a podcast about parenting or motherhood, you one hundred percent are not a bad mom.
Serena: Mmhm. That’s right. So Megan, before we let you go today, is there anything that we did not ask you that you want to put out there to the world?
Megan: Um, no. I really just would like to drive the point home that you are not alone in whatever it is that you’re experiencing and you deserve to take the time and the space to get the help that you need and/or prioritize those things that you know make you a full, complete, happy person.
Tina: Mmm. Awesome. Thank you Megan for this No BS Mama conversation. We appreciate you. And so podcast friends, we are, as always, grateful for all of you listening and supporting us. You can help us out by visiting Apple podcasts, leave us a review, subscribe and please share with others. You will find lots more content on our website NoNeedtoExplainPodcast.com. You can also connect with all of our socials on our website as well! And…we have a very, maybe not so new thing which is…
Serena: Yeah. So we have a new way for you to call us and leave us a voice message. We will share that information in our notes and we would love to hear your stories, your ideas, your thoughts or just call to say hi! We would love to hear from you. And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you are also taking care of your people.
Tina: Thanks so much for listening!