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Meet Maryann Clark

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maryann Clark.

Maryann, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Seven months after I gave birth to my son (the last of my five children), I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I had dragged myself through three major holidays with no joy. I realized that by the first of the year, I was dreading the “new year” motivation and knew that something was wrong. I am a very goal-oriented person and this was not normal. So, I decided to consult “Doctor Google” to confirm my gut feeling. While I do not encourage consulting the internet for every little problem — and maybe becoming a little bit of a hypochondriac in the process — it confirmed to me that I needed help.

It took me an entire month to muster up enough courage to talk to my husband about feeling off. I was so anxious about telling him that I told him while he was in the shower because I felt the glass between us would not allow him to feel my shame, anxiety, and guilt. After I muttered the words “I think I have depression”, I sank to the floor of our master bathroom and cried myself into a ball. It was the lowest I have ever felt in my life. My sweet husband stopped his shower, dried off, and picked me up off the floor and gave me the biggest hug. He asked sweetly if I was sure and I nodded still hysterically crying. “Ok,” he said, “we will get you some help. Don’t worry we will do it together,” he said assertively.

This positive response to my need for help is not always the norm, especially in the Filipino community. Those with mental health issues are often mocked, laughed at, ostracized, or decide to hide their feelings in fear of dishonoring their family. Soon after that conversation, I threw myself into learning how to manage my depression and anxiety through individual therapy, group therapy, and medication. A year into taking care of my mental health, I felt like I had a handle on what worked and what didn’t.

At the beginning of 2019, I decided to fill a need that I yearned for when I was first diagnosed – a blog that was geared towards 1st generation Filipino Americans that struggled with mental health. I had searched and searched in the early days of diagnoses. I wanted to connect with someone who looked like me, understood my culture nuances, and can support me through my mental health journey. I couldn’t find it. That’s when The Filipino Mom blog was born.

Today, this passion project has brought so much fulfillment in my life. This platform has allowed me to reach beyond my local community and most importantly, those who suffer in silence. I am thankful for this opportunity to share my life experiences in hopes to support my Filipino community.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been a smooth road. Creating a blog and social media presence is no easy feat. There was a steep learning curve. The biggest struggle I had was with myself. Because of my Filipino culture, it was so hard to not feel shame while talking about my depression and anxiety. I had to shift my thinking and let go of the past beliefs that were no longer serving me. It is still a struggle today but I am proud of the progress I’ve made thus far.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
The Filipino Mom blog is geared towards the Filipino community with a focus on mental health, motherhood, healing generational trauma, and cultural nuances. The goal of this blog is to change the narrative about mental health by sharing my personal experiences. I want to help those suffering in silence, shame, and fear. We Filipinos must extend the “bayanihan spirit” no matter the circumstance.

The objective of my blog is to share my story in hopes that it will help others. It is not easy to be vulnerable and because of my transparency, I have received numerous private messages on social media from those who need additional support with their mental illness. Moments like this confirm that my story needs to be heard. What sets this blog apart from others is my unique experiences as a 1st generation Filipino American, Christ-follower.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My #1 supporter is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Through His Word, I have found strength, courage, and hope. Without Him, I wouldn’t be here today.

My husband is my biggest cheerleader. He was the very first person I told about my depression and without his unconditional love and support, I don’t think I would have gotten professional help. On my darkest days, he encourages me to keep moving forward even if it is difficult. He reminds me that I am stronger than my thoughts and most importantly, that I matter to him, my family, and to the world.

My kids are my world and push me to be the best version of myself. On my really hard mental health days, they help me get through the day with such grace.

My sisters, brothers-in-law, parents/in-laws, and friends have been a great support for me to talk through feelings, negative thoughts, unrealistic expectations and just plain loving me on my darkest days.

My friends, Amanda and June, were the first people I “pitched” the idea of The Filipino Mom blog. They were instrumental in helping me learn how to create content and build a social media presence. Without them, I would probably still be sitting on the idea.

Nicole Cruz of Nicole Cruz Life Coaching has helped me move through beliefs that no longer serve me. Her work serving the 1st and 2nd generation Filipino Americans has been instrumental in giving me the courage to be seen, play big, be fearless, and build a life that serves me most amazingly.

My acupuncturist, Danielle Dickshinski. She helped me through some pretty dark times when I first moved to the East Valley. I believe her passion for women’s health and Eastern medicine are one of the main reasons I have peace – mentally and physically.

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