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!
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.