Running a handmade business is hard. The most challenging part is motivation, especially when you are struggling with a mental illness.
I have talked about growing up feeling lonely and thinking there was something wrong with me. As an adult, I understood those feelings had to do with being gay and growing up without a positive representation of the LGBTQ community. (This is why I make look-alike dolls, to help my customers tell their loved ones "you are beautiful just the way you are.")
What I haven't talked about openly is that I struggle with PMDD. For years I swore I was Bipolar. I was a complete emotional train wreck during high school and college. But then, I started noticing a pattern. Twice a month, I would become depressed, overwhelmed, self-deprecating, and irritable. It felt like the end of the world, and sometimes it even felt like I didn't deserve to live in it.
You see, PMDD stands for premenstrual dysphoric disorder. When my body produces estrogen, my brain has trouble managing it. The result is debilitating depression and anxiety. It happens when I ovulate and right before I get my period. It feels like being whacked by a wave, getting tossed around, and then finding shore again. It takes time to find your bearings only to have it happen all over again.
Through therapy and medication, I'm managing my symptoms and feel more in control. But still, sometimes, it's difficult to find motivation and do the things I love, like making art and running a business.
So, I decided to set a goal for myself: Make 200 embroidered greeting cards. The kinds of cards that I love making the most are those with positive and encouraging messages.
Many people look happy on the outside but are privately struggling with mental illness. Many people need encouragement, recognition, or just be reminded that they are loved. You never know how important a small note can be in someone's life.
I hope my openness brings awareness to PMDD. To learn more visit www.womenshealth.gov
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression reach out for help: www.helpguide.org
Or, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.