What is a Role Model? Not too long ago, we decided that it wasn't enough to cast fashion models based on comp cards and height. We wanted to showcase the stories of real people, who are brave enough to wear their label. Katie is one of those Role Models. Here's her story.
WYL: Tell us a bit about yourself
K: My name is Katie Bell and I’m a born and raised Saint Johner currently residing in Charlotte County, NB. I have been a veterinarian for three years but I’m currently on maternity leave with my five week old beautiful baby girl, Maria.
WYL: What's your connection to mental illness? Why is it important for you to share your story?
K: This time last year I was in the midst of battling both depression and infertility. I would have found it very hard to believe that within the next year I’d be sitting here with my sweet baby girl. Due to compassion fatigue/job related stress (probably an under-recognized problem that many people in helping professions experience) I was in a very low place mentally and finding each day very difficult to navigate. This was all greatly amplified by the fact that my husband and I had been trying for a year and a half to get pregnant with no success and no obvious end in sight. The compassion fatigue was enough to make me feel like I was drowning, but the added thought that this could potentially be the way things would be forever, if I was never able to conceive, had me feeling quite literally like a shadow of the person I had once been. People had always seen me as this happy go lucky positive person, and I felt like an anxious ball of moody darkness and stress day in and day out.
People had always seen me as this happy go lucky positive person, and I felt like an anxious ball of moody darkness and stress day in and day out.
The feeling that you may not be able to do what a woman is supposedly biologically programmed to do, while you’re watching it happen seemingly effortlessly to people around you every day, is more damaging to your psyche than I think anyone who hasn’t experienced it could ever understand.
WYL: How did you overcome your struggle with mental illness?
K: During this difficult time I sought counselling to try to cope with all of the things causing me stress and anxiety in my life. I learned techniques for “mindfulness” and coping with moments of extreme anxiety, and focused a lot of energy on appreciating all of the good things I always knew I had in my life, despite the things that were plaguing me.
I focused a lot of energy on appreciating all of the good things I always knew I had in my life, despite the things that were plaguing me.
It is always easier said than done, but really making the effort to take advantage of what was good in my life and trying not to spend each day dwelling on the hard things made all of the difference. That entire time could have been spent being unhappy that life wasn’t unfolding as I wanted it to, but instead I made my focus enjoying the time that I had with just my husband and I going on adventures together (both near and far). I had many weak moments, and every day I felt the pain and sadness of worrying that I may never get to be a mother, but I figured out how to live my life at the same time instead of letting it stop my life in its tracks like had been occurring for a long time.
WYL: What would you tell someone who might be going through something similar to what you experience? Words of advice or encouragement?
K: It is incredibly easy to become fixated on the parts of your life that aren’t going how you want them to, and there will always be parts that aren’t how you want them to be. It can make an incredible difference in your happiness to make a concerted effort to focus on the things that ARE what you want, or to make things that you CAN change what you want when there are others that you can’t change. Struggling with infertility was incredibly humbling for me in regards to teaching me how little control we have over life in so many ways. I’m the type of person who is very determined to make things happen, and this was something I could not control at all.
I would not wish this struggle upon ANYONE, but I do think that it taught me a lot about myself and legitimately changed my outlook on life for the better.