Recently, I shared a personal experience in a Facebook group dedicated to educating and increasing awareness about breast milk donation. Over the past 17 months, I have donated over 13,000 ounces (yes…over 200 gallons!) of breast milk. During this experience, I also have noticed that talking about topics such as breast milk donation and public breastfeeding has helped increase people’s comfort around topics that are traditionally taboo to discuss openly. As a psychologist, I believe in communication. It builds awareness and increases tolerance. So, I knew sharing my personal experience would be validating. However, I underestimated the effect of sharing with strangers on my own emotional health.
So far, there are over 1,800 likes and over 200 comments.
I have cried twice due to the support, kind words, validation, and the witnessing of support that is given. It has created a tremendous amount of humbling pride to have the support of my “sisters in arms” (so to speak) in breastfeeding.
So, putting on my professional hat, here is what I have learned and been reminded of today:
- Support from others is encouraging not only for actual success, but also for emotional success. My core group of “breastfeeding moms” and my family know my sacrifice and have been so very supportive in me not quitting or giving up. The support I received today has been emotionally amazing and tremendous. I cried when I realized my “journey” had come to an end because I had planned to continue for a few more months. However, my body has other plans. While I was disappointed initially, this support from FBers has validated me and helped me FEEL much better about being at the end.
- Sharing your gifts creates emotional wellness. Donating has been a healthy experience for me. And, today, sharing the lessons I have learned to increase supply and store has also been therapeutic. Sharing knowledge is a gift in itself.
- Supporting others just feels plain good.
I have tried to use this blog (the few times that I have blogged…and, yes, I will to do it more frequently) to bring light to mental health issues. As a doctor and a human being. I wish communication about all types of mental health issues was easier and more often done, supported, and accepted. While I did not see donation as a mental health issue, per se, today, I’m reminded that all issues have a mental health component.
Thank you for your support. Y’all know who you are!