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Overcoming Shame and Depression by Turning My Life Around With Therapy

“In the span of 6 months, I lost my dad, was forced to move out of his house by family, and also ended a years-long relationship with my partner at the time. The pain that I felt was so deep that I spiraled into the deepest depression yet.”

Hello! Who are you?

My name is Amanda Haro & I am an intentional single mom to 4 amazing girls aged 12-6 & the founder & owner of F*ck It Mothering. I am a life coach for moms, teaching them tools to liberate themselves off the backburner so they can break free from the cycle of burnout and overwhelm. I live in Wisconsin & have a shi-poo named Chewbacca.

I used to think that only certain people struggled with depression; and that you had to be genetically predisposed to it. I never identified as a person who struggled with depression, even though I had experienced it in my life before.

I didn’t want to be labeled as someone who was depressed because there was a subconscious thought that it would mean that I was weak; that I was sick.

But now that I have been through major depressive seasons 3 times in my life, I now have a much different perspective and relationship with depression.

My work as a life coach has taught me that our brains are always trying to help us; they just don’t always do a very good job all the time. Very much like a toddler wanting to “help” you around the house: their intentions are pure and they truly want to be helpful, but they oftentimes do a really horrible job.

I now believe that depression is another way that our brains are trying to help us. Depression is a sign that there’s a deep pain that we haven’t processed yet. Our brains see the pain and try to protect us from feeling it by numbing out.

Going back to the toddler analogy, the toddler sees a mess on the floor & covers it up with a blanket as a way to “help” us avoid stress because if we can’t see it, then it can’t hurt us. But of course, it is hurting us.

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What is your struggle and when did it start?

As I said before, I have struggled with depression 3 times in my life.

The first time was when I was 16 years old. I had been diagnosed with Guillian-Barre, which is a very rare autoimmune disorder that attacks the nervous system and causes temporary paralysis.

I went from being a healthy, normal teenager heading into her junior year of high school to being laid up in a hospital bed unable to move anything except my head. The recovery took me out of school for the entire year, which was very isolating for me. I was angry, lonely, and subsequently depressed.

The second time was when I was in my 20’s. I was a new mom, had moved 1,800 miles away from all of my family & friends & found myself in a very one-sided marriage.

My husband at the time was completely unavailable to me emotionally & practically, leaving me to raise our 2 kids completely on my own with no support system. 2 kids later, nothing had changed.

I was very depressed but also riddled with shame over my situation, so I pushed through & made excuses for my husband to cover up how bad things had gotten in our home. 

The third time was a year and a half ago when I lost my dad to Covid that he had gotten from me. He had moved to Wisconsin to be with me and my girls and was the only family I had out here.

We were living with him because the pandemic had left my girls and I displaced. After he passed, I became the personal representative of his estate and was suddenly thrust into learning the politics of death as I navigated probate court.

In the span of 6 months, I lost my dad, was forced to move out of his house by family, and also ended a years-long relationship with my partner at the time. The pain that I felt was so deep that I spiraled into the deepest depression yet.

But being a single mom, I had to keep going. So I went on an antidepressant for the first time in my life, and it was the best decision I could have made for myself.

How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?

Depression always comes hand-in-hand with shame. Shame says that there’s something wrong with you as a person and makes you want to hide.

Shame is the feeling that keeps you from reaching out for help, from talking to other people about what you’re going through and how you’re feeling. Depression also makes you feel really hopeless. Like you will forever be stuck in whatever circumstance you are currently in. 

But speaking as a woman who has risen from the ashes and created a new life for herself more than once: you are never stuck. Those thoughts are just sentences in your brain.

They are just what your brain is offering you. They are not the absolute truth. You get to create your truth for yourself & you get to make new decisions and change your circumstances whenever you want to.

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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?

I have always been a person interested in becoming the next best version of myself. When I got to go back to school during my senior year of high school, I stopped caring about what other people thought of me.

I had just lost an entire year of my life & I decided I would never waste time holding myself back from what I wanted to do out of fear of other’s opinions or fear of failure. I had always wanted to act but had been too nervous to really go for it. But my senior year, I went for it & got lead roles all year long.

When I was depressed and lost in my marriage, there was a time when my sister was visiting us. “What’s your favorite flower, sis? I don’t think I’ve ever known”, she asked. At that moment, I realized what a ghost of myself I had become, because I didn’t know either.

I was a pot that had been left on the backburner for so many years that when I looked inside I didn’t recognize what the contents were supposed to be; it was a molten mess of black tar that resembled nothing.

I had already been going to therapy, but I started actually showing up for myself in my daily life too. That was the turning point that led me to complete my marriage, which was the biggest act of self-love I had exercised to date.

When I was struggling again last year, I was sobbing to my therapist because I was so frustrated with finding myself at rock bottom again. “It has to be me. I’m the common denominator in my life. It has to be something with like how I make decisions or something because I keep hitting rock bottom”, I said.

My therapist responded, “I don’t think it’s you. I think you’ve always handled situations & made the best decision at each moment with the tools you had at the time. I think sometimes suffering just happens in a silo.”

I know she meant this to be comforting, but it left me feeling even more depressed & completely helpless. Because if it was true and life was just happening to me, then I was completely powerless to change any of it. I felt like I would be a victim of my life forever.

But then I discovered thought work & life coaching & it gave me the tools I was looking for. I was right: I am the common denominator in my life. Or rather, my brain is. I needed to learn how to change my thoughts in order to change my life.

What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?

The first thing I did was go to therapy. The biggest thing my therapist helped me with was realizing that I wasn’t stuck, that I had options, and that I didn’t have to be sad and miserable forever.

The second major thing I did was to start taking care of myself. I started by making a commitment to doing my hair every single day for an entire month.

Then that progressed into waking up before my kids every day so that I could have time to pour into myself before being pulled in 50 different directions.

This step of learning how to take care of myself and making it a priority every single day was the most important step. I would not have been able to make the necessary life changes to improve my happiness if I didn’t first love myself enough to do it.

The third major thing I did was to go to the doctor when I recognized I needed medical intervention. 

The fourth major thing I did was I never gave up. I chose not to stay in the belief that I was stuck. I kept searching, I kept growing, I kept going. Which I was only able to do because I was committed to the work of loving myself.

Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?

I have become a very open book. It started with just my inner circle, then grew to acquaintances I had in real life, and now I freely share all of my stories through my podcast.

If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?

It’s never too late to make a new decision. It’s never too late to be who you might have been. You are not stuck.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?

  • Unf*ck Your Brain Podcast: This podcast literally changed my life by teaching me thought work tools and introducing me to life coaching.
  • Untamed, by Glennon Doyle: This book helped give me a tangible example of the power of loving yourself & having the guts to go for happiness, no matter what it took.
  • Rising Strong, by Brene Brown: This book helped give me tools to keep going when I get knocked down.

Where can we go to learn more about you?

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. My podcast, F*ck It Mothering, can be found anywhere you get your podcasts.

Specific podcast episodes that pertain to what I spoke about here: 

💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I’ve condensed the information of 100’s of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇

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Hugo Huijer AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Founder of Tracking Happiness, with over 100 interviews and a focus on practical advice, our content extends beyond happiness tracking. Hailing from the Netherlands, I’m a skateboarding enthusiast, marathon runner, and a dedicated data junkie, tracking my happiness for over a decade.