Ask Me Anything: Vol 1

I recently did an anonymous “ask me anything” on Instagram and these are the questions I got. If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I’m an open book – especially when something in my experience can help someone else feel like they’re not alone. As always, I love hearing your thoughts and you can join in the conversation anonymously (or using your name) in the comments!

How are you planning on teaching Hadley to love her body no matter what? And can you be my mom too?

Well…I’ve learned in therapy for OCD that there’s no such thing as “no matter what”. As much as my brain craves certainty, there’s no way for me to control how Hadley responds to societal norms and expectations. The things I have control over are the way I talk (about my body, about clothing, about food, and about movement) and the way I act (how I treat my body, how I show up in my clothes, how I eat, and how I move). From my own experience as a young girl, I wish that I had seen the people around me show themselves more love, or at the very least practice body neutrality. I’d like to be for Hadley what I wish I had seen growing up.

The other thing I have control over *right now* are the experiences that she’s exposed to and making sure that she sees people of all body types, abilities, races, genders, ethnicities, etc doing all types of things – swimming, dancing, running, being mathematicians, you name it. There’s no right way to be in the world, and in fact the best thing we can do is to show up and take up space doing the things that light us on fire. (Would anyone be interested in a book roundup? Drop a comment below if you’d like to see what we have in our home library on this topic.)

Darrell’s answer: By doing super cool things with our bodies and emphasizing that’s what bodies are for.

What’s your goal for this account?

I have approximately 900 goals for this account but the reason I show up here every day is because I want to create a space where people can be themselves, however messy that is. Secondary goals in no particular order include:

  • to share openly and honestly about my journey with narcolepsy and OCD to reduce the stigma surrounding parenting with a chronic illness and mental health issues
  • to show that it’s possible to adventure and live the life you want after having kids.
  • to share the joy of motherhood – it’s honestly my favorite thing I’ve ever done
  • to share that it’s possible to continue having a positive relationship with your dog even after a baby (or two). @expeditionwilder is one of my absolutely favorite accounts for this!

Tertiary goals:

  • to share my photography
  • to make money through branded content. IG is my creative outlet and I love coming up with photoshoots to help brands reach their goals. That said, if it doesn’t align with the things above, then it’s not going to work for me. I’ve been extremely picky about brand deals, perhaps to my detriment. That said, I have a partnership coming up later this month that I *cannot* wait to share with you!

You’ve mentioned in the past that trying to conceive took a year. How did you stay positive during that time? We have had no luck despite doing everything “right” and getting tested for any issues.

LOL positive?! I didn’t. Omgosh it felt so dark. After a few months (and after losing our first pregnancy) I cried whenever I started my period. I also cried when I saw pregnancy announcements on social media so I left social media for a long time, until we had gotten pregnant and were happily in the second trimester. Trying to conceive can be so freaking challenging. I was in therapy and Darrell and I were very communicative about everything. We prioritized having fun, moving our bodies in fun ways – for us this meant hiking and sailing – and pursuing adventure as a couple. We had a call with the fertility clinic a few days before we found out we were pregnant with Hadley and were prepared to start going down that road. I guess I would say: prioritize the things that make you feel most like yourself and the things that bring joy to your relationship. It’s really fucking hard. Sending hugs.

Darrell’s answer: It was really hard. We did fun things as a couple, we invested in fun activities, and we bought a sailboat.

How do you manage your open mental health and anxieties that come with being so open about your life on social media?

I started my blog 5 years ago when I was at rock bottom. (First ever blog post here!) I had just been in a horrific ski accident and was recovering from two knee surgeries and a concussion with loss of consciousness. I was 5 years into my PhD in economics and things were going to shit because I had undiagnosed narcolepsy. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up but I knew I loved writing. I started a blog so that I would have something to show for myself when the dust settled and I started applying to jobs.

I was diagnosed with narcolepsy shortly after starting my blog and was inspired to share that journey in the hopes that it could help other people like me who had gone decades without a diagnosis. I got really great feedback early on, that sharing about the process was helpful to others navigating their own struggles with sleep. The more I shared, the more friendships I made online, the more my community grew, and I’ve been lucky that I’ve only ever gotten positive feedback.

While I’ve shared that I have OCD, I haven’t shared what that means for me. I’m still really learning how it impacts me and sharing feels too vulnerable. In time, I’m sure I will, but I don’t feel ready yet.

I’ve somehow wound up in a truly incredible community and have never had a troll – but I imagine that could happen any day and I’m not totally prepared for it!

What is something people asked you more about or wished were more interested in?

I’m not sure! I’m rarely asked about sleep but it’s something I could talk about for hours upon hours. About how we glorify people who brag about how little they get, about how we will treat a person for every single health issue under the sun before doing a sleep study, about how parents are lauded as “better than” if they have more sleepless nights. But what if we glorified rest? And a good night’s sleep? I think that could change the world. By the way, how sleepy are you?

If you could live anywhere and have any occupation what would it be?

I decided to answer this question from different phases in my life because it’s been such a fucking journey to get to where I am now.

10 year old me: Astrophysicist in Europe answering questions about black holes and quantum mechanics OR a fashion designer in New York City designing haute couture collections

18 year old me: Economics professor solving inequality (whatever that means) at a top research school like MIT

23 year old me (in grad school working on my PhD in economics): A farmer in San Jose, California

34 year old me (getting ready to start my MSW in the fall): A therapist on the coast of Maine

I love being in the weeds with people – whether that’s talking about philosophy, black holes, the effects of early childhood education on later life outcomes (hello, economics) or the impacts of societal norms on our sense of self. It’s taken me a long time to realize that working one on one with people is where I thrive and I’m so excited to be starting my MSW journey this fall!

Would you like to have more children and pets? If so, how many?

We would love at least one more kiddo! As for pets, I think our hands are full right now with Olive and our two cats, Misty Bear and Nimbus.

What are other baby names you liked and were debating on using for Hadley?

Hadley was the only one! Fun fact: I went to Mount Holyoke College (a women’s college) and she’s named after the town that it’s in – South Hadley, Massachusetts. A few years ago I met someone at a women’s mountain biking clinic in Charlottesville, VA and she introduced herself as Hadley. That was the first time I heard it used as a name and not as a town and my immediate reaction was “OHMYGOSH YOU HAVE THE ACTUAL COOLEST NAME!” I think she was totally weirded out by my enthusiasm but that day I decided that I would have a kid named Hadley. And it just so happens that Darrell was on board with that!

Do you want more kids?

Yes! But not right away. I’ve been off of some of my meds for narcolepsy for 2.5 years now (pregnancy and breastfeeding) and am going to back to school for my Masters in Social Work in the fall. I miss meds – they’re going to be crucial to being successful in school – and I can’t wait to start taking them again!

Thanks, as always, for hanging out! Feel free to ask anything in the comments or over here! And if you have any advice to share with the community on any of the topics above, I’d love to read it! What would you say to someone who is struggling to conceive? What are you going to do to raise your child to love themselves and their body? How do you handle being open about your mental health – or what would it feel like if you *could* be open about your mental health?

Xoxo, M

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