Passionate About Des Moines
and the Moms Who Live Here

Self Care and Mental Health Awareness

As moms we may feel like we are constantly pouring from an empty cup. We are stretched thin and sometimes feel as though we are being pulled in a hundred different directions. It’s easy for self care to get bumped to the bottom of our priority list.

Taking care of ourselves becomes a foreign concept until one day we wonder, “How did I get here?” 

 

As a mom, admitting you need help may bring to mind words like failure and ashamed. Even with advocates working to destigmatize mental health, there is a sense of shame and reluctance to seek out help.

For moms, there can be a certain standard we hold ourselves to that emphasizes perfection and Pinterest-worthy homes and recipes. 

As a therapist, I understand the importance of mental health wellness. I believe it is just as important as physical health.

Just like you go to the dentist every six months for a routine cleaning, or take your kiddos to their yearly well-child appointments, taking care of your mental health is just as important!

But as a mom, I also understand the struggle and weight that may come with asking for help. 

Myth: If I seek help, I am weak 

If you had severe, reoccurring headaches, you’d go to the doctor to get checked out, right?

Or if you had diabetes, you’d do lots of things to manage this, right?

We don’t usually tell someone with diabetes or chronic migraines that they’re just weak or not strong enough, do we?

It’s the same for someone coping with mental health problems. They aren’t weak. It is absolutely not the fault of the person who has a mental health condition.

Fact: Mental health problems are caused by environmental and biological factors. They are not a result of personal weakness. 

Many factors contribute to mental health- including a stressful job or significant life changes (divorce, birth, or death) that may make someone more susceptible, as well as traumatic life events, such as a victim of a crime or natural disaster. Even the structure of your brain may play a role! (NAMI)

Asking for help as a mama can make you feel like failure or even worse, that you are a bad mom.

I’ve been here before, trying to keep up the appearance that I had it all together, when in reality, as moms, we’ve all been to the point where we don’t have it all together. And that’s totally ok!

We wouldn’t change anything about being a mama or wife, but let’s be honest, it can be so hard, am I right?!

There are days when running away sounds like a very viable option. Asking for help can be humbling and difficult, but hear me when I say, it doesn’t make you any less of a mom! 

Fact: 1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness in a given year (NAMI)

You may have seen this statistic before and not really paid attention to it. But more than likely there are other women, just like you, who are going through similar situations. You are NOT alone.

When we are going through significant emotional distress, it can be isolating and frightening and we fear we will be judged.

Experiencing mental health struggles is common, especially in women and moms, we just don’t talk openly about them! 

Mental Health Awareness Des Moines Moms Blog

From symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety to life situations, like divorce or a significant life transition, these are all great reasons to see a therapist. If you’re experiencing any kind of symptoms, getting extra support can make a huge difference in the way you feel! 

You’ve decided it might be worth it to talk to a therapist. Now what?

I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve talked to who tried therapy in the past but didn’t like the therapist and decided to never go back. If this is you, I strongly encourage you to try someone else!

The therapeutic relationship is very special, so being able to build trust and feel comfortable is extremely important. If you don’t feel that connection with your therapist, therapy isn’t going to work.

A therapist will not have hurt feelings if you decide that it doesn’t feel right. This is YOUR story and you have every right to be picky about who hears it.

Every therapist is different. Their approaches and their personalities are different. Ask about their approach and most therapists will talk to you or meet with you before you decide if you’d like to continue with services with them. Have a conversation with them to determine if you could see yourself working closely with that individual.

As busy moms, adding another appointment might seem impossible. Many therapists have flexible schedules are accommodating within reason. When you’re talking to potential therapists ask about their schedule and flexibility. Many can offer appointments outside the normal 8 to 5 business hours, with evening or weekend appointments. Some can even meet with you on your lunch break! 

If you’ve been thinking about talking to a therapist, I encourage you to do it! Take the leap and make the call.

Ask around. Chances are someone you know will know someone and can give you a great referral. Sometimes, your primary physician can also provide you with a referral. You can also turn to trusty Google and look for local therapists through Psychologytoday.com

Whether you are experiencing struggles yourself or know someone who is, please know you are not alone. Help and support is out there! 

Mental Health Awareness Des Moines Moms Blog

Additional resources:

National Institute of Mental Health

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

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6 Responses to Self Care and Mental Health Awareness

  1. Lisa February 21, 2017 at 1:57 am #

    I’m guilty of thinking I will appear weak if I ask for help, although I know better. I would give a friend or a sister better advice than how I treat myself sometimes. Self-care is so very important. Thanks for the reminder and the great information.

    • Shay
      Shay February 22, 2017 at 2:23 pm #

      Hi Lisa! We’re in the same boat! It can be SO hard to ask for help! You’re very welcome! Thanks for visiting!

  2. Lindsey February 22, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

    Love this article, Shay! I wish I lived in Des Moines so I could hire you to be my therapist! 🙂 As someone who has both anxiety and depression, I’m so thankful that the stigma isn’t what it once was. We still have a long way to go, but we’re getting there slowly but surely! I especially love your tip to not lose heart if you don’t gel with a therapist right at first…I’ve felt guilty for leaving therapists in the past, but it makes me feel better to know that they probably didn’t take it personally! Thanks for all you do for mental health awareness!

    • Shay
      Shay February 23, 2017 at 3:18 pm #

      Lindsey- thank you so much for your comment! I’m thankful for people, like you, that share their story and voices. Every story, every voice helps lift the stigma, one by one. I’m so glad that even if you didn’t gel with a therapist that you kept going forward to find the perfect for you! Thank you again friend!!

  3. Jennifer Corter February 24, 2017 at 10:42 pm #

    THANK YOU for this post! As someone who struggles with mental illness myself, it is refreshing to read about it on other’s blogs as well, getting the word out there, erasing the stigma!

    • Shay
      Shay February 27, 2017 at 5:43 pm #

      Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for visiting! I’m SO glad that you are out there yourself, raising awareness for mental health! THANK YOU!

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