In the quiet military community of Fort Irwin, CA, there lived a young mother of twins. Her days were filled with the laughter of her newborn sons, the warmth of her budding family unit, and the soothing routine of caring for her little ones. However, beneath the surface, a storm was raging—a storm called postpartum depression.


As she navigated the tumultuous waters postpartum, the weight of expectations, societal pressures, the wild shifts of personal change and the sheer exhaustion of sleepless nights bore down on her. In the midst of nurturing new lives, she found herself neglecting the most crucial aspect of her existence—her mental well-being.

My story is not unique. Many of us, who live a life that appears peaceful on the surface, are enduring violent storms beneath. This was true for me through many seasons of my life. Along with my makeup I would often put on my alter ego-the one that came with a seemingly effortless smile. Why? Because polite society demands that people play by the rules. And the unspoken rule for many generations has been: You need to convince others you’ve got it all together today.

Certain emotions are deemed impolite and therefore we cannot entertain the idea of admitting they exist let alone expressing them. This stifling box of emotional oppression is the same one that is closeting off many adults into unhealthy mental isolation. Sure we are physically at the party but are we really at the party? Our bodies are occupying spaces that our minds were not invited into. So we leave our full emotional selves at home under the sheets and show up with the skeleton instead. Because we fear people would rather see the fake skeleton of our emotions than deal with the business of trying to help us through the darkness.

The Family Nexus: When Mental Well-Being Anchors the Home

I was in my mid 30’s when the realization of my skeletal emotional self struck me. I had been operating on the few “necessary” emotions a working mother could afford. Or at least this is what I thought. It came not only from a place of personal struggle but also from the profound understanding that my well-being was intrinsically linked to the harmony of my family. It became evident that to take care of my family, I first had to take care of myself—physically and emotionally. My joy was reflected in the faces of my loved ones. I felt their peace when I allowed myself to fully deal with my own emotions. I began to ask “why” questions.

Why do I think…? Why did I do…? Or even Why don’t I understand how___ feels? Why am I upset about___that has happened?

There are a myriad of questions I began asking myself as I moved from confusion to understanding about my mental well being. I transitioned into a deeper place that I didn’t think existed- self advocacy. As a sibling of 7 children, it never dawned on me that I could advocate for myself in the area of mental health. Doors slammed frequently in our home, emotions ran high just as often and so I found solace in being a quiet presence. The trouble with quiet presence is that sometimes the noise beneath is louder than the noise above. It is like a silent drowning until the person completely disappears and only a skeleton of the former self is left. Danger lies in becoming your shell, skeleton, whatever you want to call it. It isn’t fully you.

Finding the Voice Within: Advocating for Your Mental Health

Is it a surprise to find out that we must fight for the right to be fully ourselves? And by fight I mean advocate for oneself. My journey took a transformative turn when I discovered the power of my own voice. The solution to my  struggles lay all along in acknowledging them and advocating for my mental health.  I began to embrace my vulnerability and give my emotions a voice on the inside first. I began to journal to sift through the swells that rose and fell on a daily basis. The ability to advocate for one’s mental well-being is an essential life skill.  It involves breaking the silence surrounding the signs of struggle, and seeking support without fear of judgment.

The Ripple Effect: Radiating Well-Being Beyond Yourself

As my mental well-being improved, the positive impact echoed throughout my family and extended into my community. I found myself visiting the younger moms in our military housing community to check on them and ensure they had settled in well in their own postpartum. A ripple effect had begun for me and for the ladies I embraced into my circle of support. We knew we could call on each other to support child care challenges, doubts about emotional resilience and managing sometimes year long deployments without immediate family members nearby. I wanted these ladies to understand that they could give voice to their inner struggle.

My postpartum journey serves as a poignant reminder of the vital connection between mental well-being and personal empowerment. To show up well in the world I believe starts with showing up well for yourself first. It requires honesty, courage to be vulnerable and the ability to trust others with what might be the most difficult for you to explain. I know today that it is a process that may take years, but I also know that it’s never too late to start seeking the “whys”. My final word of encouragement today in advocating for your personal mental well being is to push past the fear of asking the “whys”. The answers don’t make you any less or more of who you already are. They simply explain how you got here. Take courage and show up well for yourself.