my journey of creation through motherhood, mental illness, and a global pandemic.

William Terry
2017

“I was emerging from the dark depths of PPD/PPA and for the first time since my son was born I felt passion, joy, and happiness.”

Lillyanna Rose
2020

“I was freshly postpartum, in the middle of a global pandemic, suffering from PPD for the second time when my nurse manager alerted me that, because of COVID, I would return to work at a mere 6 weeks post the birth of my daughter.”

“We’re all human. We all make mistakes. We are beautifully flawed…”

Welcome to JLcreative. The “business” I have been dreaming of since I first set eyes on the Cricut Maker machine. Just 2 years ago my son was nearing his first birthday and I was emerging from one of the darkest times of my entire life. Postpartum depression and anxiety swallowed me whole. Crafting was there for me at a time when I needed something to save me. My pride kept me from getting the treatment I needed: therapy, psychiatry, and antidepressants. These are topics that we do not talk about openly enough so allow me to break the ice. MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT EMBARRASSING! It is necessary. 

We’re all human. We all make mistakes. We are beautifully flawed, I like to believe. This is why I have made it a priority to break down the walls of my existing bias around the idea of good and evil in terms of human behavior. Of course, we are capable of acting with malicious intent but a resounding amount of our decisions are actually driven by our fears and anxieties: MENTAL HEALTH!

To understand fully what I am trying to explain we will need to distinguish the difference between fear and anxiety.

In his article, “Anxiety vs. Fear What is the difference?” Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. says, “In general, fear is seen as a reaction to a specific, observable danger, while anxiety is seen as a diffuse, a kind of unfocused, objectless, future-oriented fear (Barlow, 2002). Thus, fear is anxiety that is attached to a specific thing or circumstance (Horwitiz, 2013)”. 

So… “I am afraid of that spider that I can see and is tangible.” is FEAR. 

And… “I am afraid that the spider might bite me and if it bites it might be poisonous and then I might die.” is ANXIETY about an anticipated event or situation.

We all, as humans, experience both fear and anxiety but if there is too much of either one it can be debilitating, interfering with our daily life tasks, relationships, or even our jobs. That is mental illness.

(MOMS READ THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH MORE THAN ONCE!)

I want every mother or soon to be mother to know that PPD and PPA come in so many shapes and sizes. There is no one fits all list of symptoms and experiences so PLEASE, if you’re wondering if you should get help then the answer is most likely a resounding YES! My experience with postpartum depression and anxiety was different each time. The symptoms were different, the way I responded to the illness was different, my thought process was different and I WAS DIFFERENT. (If my own experience can be different twice than yours can and most likely will be different than your friend’s, your mom’s or even your sister’s.) My second time experiencing it I had already gone through it once so having that deep level of understanding, “I could go through that again.” helped me to be aware of when I needed to seek help but you see it’s hard when you’re IN the illness. On the other side looking back I can easily see that I desperately needed help but when your brain is sick it finds ways to justify and explain away the thoughts in your head where you question, “Am I okay?” Because deep down everyone wants to believe that they are but depression and anxiety can challenge that. And if you are EVER asking yourself, am I okay? Or if people around you are asking you, assume you aren’t and seek help right away. Mental health is way more important than the average person gives credit. And that goes for ALL not just new or seasoned mothers.

*Deep inhale + exhale*

Let’s get back to when I got my Cricut Maker in October of 2018. I was emerging from the dark depths of PPD/PPA and for the first time since my son was born I felt passion, joy, and happiness. It was SO hard to bond with my son in the beginning weeks following his birth. All I ever thought I wanted in life was to be a mother so imagine my surprise when MY ONLY JOB: to love my son, felt impossible. I wanted so hard to love him. I remember feeling pain from how badly I wanted to feel love for him but I could not connect with him: severe PPD/PPA + exhaustion. I literally slept in 10 minute chunks for months. I knew I never wanted to feel like that again so I vowed to take care of myself from then on out. I started crafting more and more. I opened an Etsy shop making custom tumblers. I made project after project after project with my Cricut Maker and I fell so in love with the process of creation and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. The crafting community gave me a place where I could feel like I belonged. I love helping others. It’s the reason I became a nurse in the first place but suddenly a field I once loved was getting in between me and what I hold most precious and dear to my heart and that is my children. At the time, of course, I only had my son but separating from him was so tough for me. Fearing what would happen with my eyes off of him, struggling to trust him in ANYONE’S care, which has put a serious kink in my relationship with my MIL but that’s a post for another day. The point is, PPD affected me, it affected my family, and I am so sure it affected my coworkers when I called in a thousand times my son’s first year of life.

After each baby I reduced my hours at the hospital, praying to GOD that PRN would be the answer to my SERIOUS burnout and separation anxiety. And then my daughter was born in February 2020 LITERALLY days before COVID protocols started going into place. 

I was freshly postpartum, in the middle of a global pandemic, suffering from PPD for the second time when my nurse manager alerted me that, because of COVID, I would return to work at a mere 6 weeks post the birth of my daughter. I wholeheartedly believe this was the catalyst that lead me to where I am now, unemployed and soaking up every bit of my children. I NEVER planned to fully let go of my position as a nurse. I loved my postpartum unit and my coworkers. I had no idea the spark that would ignite from that extremely LOW point in my life. I was beside myself with fear, anxiety, depression, all of it. Once the fire was lit it BLAZED inside of me.

Once I returned to work I started calling in sick. In my daughter’s first 6 months of life I had only worked 3 twelve hour shifts. My therapist described this as my way of “inaction” to get out of my job. Instead of taking action to resign I was letting my job slip through my fingers by making risky decisions that jeopardized my position. My anxiety is what lead my behavior. I almost felt like a robot unable to make my own decisions because my only focus was NOT having to go into the hospital.

With the weight of the world on my shoulder’s and vibrating with enough anxiety to paralyze an elephant, on September 1st 2020, I resigned from my nursing position at the hospital and I became a SAHM. We may not have a ton of money but we are rich in snuggles! Happy wife happy life, right? My husband has always stressed about money so there’s no doubt that will continue. Our relationship has felt the strain of this life change but I am doing my best to remind myself of what I know to be true:

Anxiety/depression and fear can SERIOUSLY manipulate us into doing things we never thought we would or could do.

This realization is what lead me to reconsider my relationship (or lack there of) with my dad whom I had been keeping distance from because at the time that is what my mental health needed. So if you’re struggling with someone or something and you’re hurt and confused, remember this: you have to do what you have to do to protect yourself and your mental health. It has been different for me throughout the years but right now, at this time in my life, that consists of getting proper treatment for my depression and anxiety (psychiatry, pharmacy, and therapy), healing my broken relationship with my dad (which I have been avoiding for over 2 years now), being home with my children, and CREATION. It is the perfect mix of what I need to heal my brain.

So what is it that I do here at JL creative? Most people think I “sell” something but I don’t. I offer some digital files in my Etsy shop but it’s still small. I have big plans for expanding that but mostly I create for FUN. The income is only a bonus. I have no expectations for it but I do have a goal. Regardless of where this journey takes me, in a year from now, the worst case scenario is that I got an entire year to explore myself and my creativity and be home with my babies and I return to nursing somewhere new. Not many women are blessed with the opportunity to be a SAHM. God bless my husband for bearing that cross for our family. I will never be able to repay him for the gift he has given to me.

If you’ve made it through this entire blog post make a comment and let me know what your favorite part was. Did I inspire you? Did you learn anything about me? I am in a giving mood and I would love to send a gift to one person who gives me some feedback.

Welcome to my journey of creation through motherhood, mental illness, and a global pandemic. Happy crafting, friends!

End Notes

A huge shout out to my husband for his “reluctant support” as we navigate through this huge life change together.

A special shout out to my therapist. SERIOUSLY! She is the MVP of my life. She has helped me SO MUCH this year and if you do not currently see a therapist I am a firm believer that everyone could benefit from talk therapy so whoever you are and whatever you’re going through, I highly recommend you make an appointment asap.

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. When you click these links, I may get a small commission. It won’t cost you anything, but it helps me run this site. I only promote products and services that I think are great. I am an experienced crafter with a BSN degree, and I use my experience to judge whether a product is good enough or not.

4 Comments

  1. You’re an amazing mother, wife and advocate for your own mental health. I’m so beyond happy for you and your new journey of being a SAHM. All the love to you!

  2. Joanna—THIS! I seriously can’t wait to meet in person!! I feel like we have SO many similarities, but I can already tell the characteristics that I so admire in you are what I envy to have. You are brave and strong and creative and filled with LOVE! Thank you for this. ❤️

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