Cierra Fortner didn’t even put her groceries away that day.
The checkout lady at Wal-Mart had said something to her that she thought about all the way home. After she put the baby down for a nap, Fortner got out her phone.
Tears streaming, she began to write.
“Today I was at Walmart doing my weekly Friday shopping when the cashier says to me ‘I see you in here all the time, your kids are always dressed cute, behaving and you just seem to have it all together’ at the time I just thanked her and giggled because that’s far from the truth but as I drove home there was more I wanted her to know about me.”
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What 21-year-old Fortner of Oak Grove wrote next has resonated strongly with women around the world.
Her essay about raising two little children while dealing with depression and anxiety has been shared nearly 93,000 times since she posted it to Facebook on Jan. 20.
Mommy blogs applauded her. NBC called her, too.
“I want her to know I battle a personality disorder everyday with anxiety and depression mixed and I’m a two times suicide survivor.”
Fortner walked through fire to get where she is today — married since last October to Brett Fortner, mom to Jayce, 4, and 10-month-old Brenton. She works as a patient care technician at Centerpoint Medical Center.
Depression swallowed her up after her mother died in 2010. Postpartum depression nearly killed her after Jayce was born. A month after he came into the world she tried to commit suicide.
A few years later, when she tried to take her life again, she was diagnosed with a personality disorder, she said.
“I want her to know that I can’t always get myself up off the couch to feed them anything more than frozen pizza and cereal.
“I want her to know that my son is late for school 3 out of 4 days because I regularly forget what day and time it is, despite the toddler size calendar in my kitchen.
“I want her to know I have those ‘I’m losing my shit’ moments when I have to lock myself in the bathroom and cry.”
She’s not a writer. But that day the words poured out. It was a bad day. She couldn’t sleep the night before. “I have nightmares a lot,” she said.
Jayce was cranky.
So when her favorite checkout lady at Wal-Mart told her, “You just seem to have it all together,” the compliment rang hollow. At home she wrote:
“I want her to know that once we got to the parking lot the “well behaved” child decided to stand up in the cart and I wasn’t paying attention and barely caught him as he almost hit the concrete.”
Later that day at work, her co-workers watched her essay begin gobbling up likes and shares on Facebook. They teased her about becoming famous and “going viral.”
And she did. She’s been contacted by people in Pakistan, Belgium, the United Kingdom and many other places around the world, many of whom have left messages of thanks and praise on her Facebook page.
The one line that clicked with other moms: her confession about locking herself in the bathroom to cry.
“Mommies feel it a lot,” she said, “like they have to keep it together. Like if we don’t keep it together we’re failures. But it’s OK to have your moments to break.”
She has no regrets in sharing such intimate details with the world. She needed the release that day.
And when she finished writing, she put the groceries away.