Jessica S. on Motherhood, Mental Illness & Medals: “That Desire for the Medal Pushed Me Forward.”

Before I became pregnant, I had these big plans about what was going to happen. I already planned how everything would go during and after the pregnancy. 
 I was going to continue working out just as always. I planned to track my food, eat only as much as I was supposed to and be UBER healthy about it. I was determined to experience all the good stuff, and none of the bad. I planned to put on minimal weight and be this awesome, fit pregnant lady that women would look up to and I would document the entire experience on Instagram.
(The year before I became pregnant)
And then life happened…. 

Less than one week after my first Spartan Race, I went to the doctors for
un-explainable stomach pains. All day and all night, my stomach would hurt to the point that I couldn’t do anything but lie on the coach and watch TV. And so, the doctor ran some tests, including a pregnancy test and hey guess what, 
I was pregnant!! 
I was so happy, my hubby was happy, my family was happy! I decided to hold off telling other people until I was into my second trimester. No big deal right? Right.
Then life once again happened.
(During my baby showers)
(At about 7 months pregnant)
I had been applying for a local museum job for years. I had been volunteering there for 3 years, putting in over 200 hours every year. I had quit my other job so I was able to start ASAP when the opportunity arose. So when this position opened it was right up my alley. The thing was, I was pregnant and I was scared that it was going to affect me getting the job (insert blah blah blah legal mumbo jumbo blah blah blah, trust me I know). 
So I felt the need to hide my pregnancy at the museum and on social media. Add that to the fact that I couldn’t work out without my stomach getting upset and  the only food I found appetizing was pizza with mayo on it (don’t judge me). I was having a VERY difficult time. This was a complete 180. It affected me emotionally and physically. Oh and I left out the best part, 
Preeclampsia!  (A pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys.)

So really when you get down to it, it probably should be no
surprise that I ended up with the end results that I did. I ended up
putting on 70 lbs. My life was thrown completely out of balance and I didn’t know which way was up and which way was down. I didn’t think I was capable of caring for my son. I thought he
wouldn’t be okay with just me. I thought I wouldn’t be able to feed him or change him or comfort him by myself. I felt trapped, incapable, completely dependent on my husband. I couldn’t function or take care of myself let alone take care of my son. 

If you have never felt like that before, you have no idea how heartbreaking that feeling is. I was not myself.

At about 4 weeks postpartum, I went to my OBGYN and told her something was wrong. She diagnosed me with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. I started seeing a therapist a few days later to help me work through my issues. One of the things he focused on was me going to an almost completely sedentary lifestyle. He knew that if I could just get back to training, it would be easier to control my anxiety.

I had always enjoyed OCR racing, and eventually, it became my reason
to train. The gym became my sanctuary. When I stepped into that weight room, all the other worries went away. I could de-stress and relax. My husband has supported me in every way he could. He came with me to the gym and raced beside me in our first Spartan Beast. The support I see from the community is amazing and makes me feel wonderful. 

I know there will always be someone there to help me up and keep on moving.

At the start of the Ohio Spartan Beast, the MC told us
his story of becoming part of the Spartan family. How the
support and perseverance he saw at every race was moving. He knew that every person was fighting a personal battle to be there. That this race meant something different to each person. For me, this battle was that of depression and anxiety. My mental illness affects me every day and this race meant for me to overcome these “mental obstacles”. Each time I took a step and thought I couldn’t go forward, that my anxiety was going to overtake me, that desire for the medal pushed me forward.

The Spartan Race always wants to know why you race. 
For me, I race for all those women who are moms. 
I race for those moms who juggle 8 million different things at once. 
I race for the moms who can’t seem to get a single minute to themselves. 
I race  for the moms who feel like they can’t go on one more day, who feel defeated, who think they cannot  take care of themselves, let alone a child. 
I am racing for those moms who find it hard to get out of bed in the morning. 
I race for them because I know how it feels, and it is one of the most horrible feelings in the world.
It is important for these moms to know they are not alone. There is nothing wrong in asking for help nor going to see someone. They are there to help you and there is nothing to be ashamed of in asking for help. 
Depression and anxiety are illnesses, just like diabetes and cancer and that lovely preeclampsia.
If there is something wrong with your physical body, you would fix it. So if there is something wrong in your mind, you can fix that it too. Do not be ashamed of how you are feeling.