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Sad camp

Lessons from Sad Camp: A Mom’s Reflections on Trauma, Healing and Asking for Help

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Casey from Moosh in Indy has bravely documented her struggles with mental illness, bipolar disorder and a suicide attempt in A Pregnant Mom’s Overdose. Scroll down for extra resources.

My first week at sad camp we were blindfolded and taken into a warehouse with a rope maze. We were to keep our hand on the rope at all times until we found the end.

When you thought you had found the end, you were to raise your hand.

A staff member would ask “What do you need?”
“Is this the end?”
“No.”
And you’d continue on.
It started to feel like a trick until a voice said “One of your sisters has made it out, so can you.”

I doubled down.

I was smart and collected, I could find my way out.

Something about the cryptic way they kept saying ‘need’ stood out but I continued to stubbornly putter around the maze.

Out of frustration, I raised my hand again. When asked “What do you need?” I took a chance and said “Help.”

They took my hand, and led me to a circle of women who reminded me of the bravery required to ask for help, and the certainty that help would always be out there in some form if I only asked.

I took off my blindfold and saw there was no exit to the maze, the only way out was to ask for help – or give up.

I watched the women who were left in the maze, the strongest-willed stragglers.

I couldn’t help them, no one could until THEY asked for help. Once they did, they were swept away in support.

The maze was our addictions, our thought patterns. Stubbornness masquerades as strength and stubbornness will keep many in the maze forever.

The anchors on the wall that felt like the end were simply our unhealthy coping mechanisms – and until we asked for, and accepted, help we would endlessly ping-pong between them.

No one ever asked “What can I do for you?” at sad camp. No one interjected in anyone else’s business, and if you did you would receive a stern lecture.

It was only “What do YOU need?” and if you didn’t know you were expected to figure it out (with 20+ various therapy sessions a week figuring this out was still a terrible process, but efficient.)

“What do you need?” can sound cold, but when asked and answered in earnest, can change old patterns and spark new confidence in navigating life.

Help is ALWAYS out there if you need it, but sometimes it can take a maze to find it.

Read more from Casey on Instagram @MooshinIndy.

Other Resources on Depression

If you’re in distress, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 1-800-273-8255.

Depression in Women: 5 Things You Should Know from the National Institute of Mental Health

 Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts: A Healing Guide to the Secret Fears of New Mothers.  

Stop Overthinking: 23 Techniques to Relieve Stress, Stop Negative Spirals, Declutter Your Mind and Focus on the Present

Pregnancy-related anxiety and depression: keeping up my happy mama facade

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