What does mental health mean to a mother? Ask any mom what her daily worries consist of and she will, with no hesitation, spit out a list that probably includes her significant other, children, the family pet, bills, what to make for dinner, laundry, and trying to figure out the one thing she always feels like she is forgetting. What’s missing you ask…THE MOTHER!
As a mother myself, we can all agree that our needs come last, from getting our nails done, taking a shower in peace and maybe even shaving our legs, to our annual well-checks at the doctor. You can pick up any “guide to motherhood” or Google the world’s most random questions to make yourself feel better about some of the choices you make as parent, but when it comes down to it, there is no instruction manual.
Whether you’re a stay at home mom or a working mom, let’s be real both have a constant job to do, your mental health matters. One day you wake up and your baby is graduating high school, you have no idea how time flew by that quick. The same goes at the end of the night when we get to kick off our shoes, peel off our workout leggings that haven’t seen the inside of a gym ever, and sit down for the first time since we rolled out of bed that morning. Struggling with mental health and actually seeking mental health services are two very different things. As the mother there is no one that sets up our insurance, calls the doctor’s office, or makes the appointments for us, it’s just another thing added to our never ending to do list.
All mental health Stigmas aside, asking for help is as tough as getting a toddler to “come here” when there’s an unknown object in their mouth. Mental health counseling aka “talk therapy” is the first step. This begins with a therapist that fits your needs (yes you can ask for a different therapist if you don’t feel comfortable), consistency is key which means dedicating time every week for a 50-minute session, and being open and honest. Putting on my therapist hat now, we are there to give YOU the tools to work through and process various stages of your life, the good and bad, a therapist should never force you to sit through their session and will never beg you to show up weekly because that in itself is part of the “seeking help” process.
Once you’ve found the right therapist for you, learning to unload your problems can feel like a whole lot of complaining because that’s probably what others have told you when you were trying to vent about something. However, this is your time to shine, its 50 uninterrupted minutes of talking about YOU, what YOU need, what YOU have been through, and what goals YOU aim to accomplish. Every good thing takes time, which goes for your own mental health as well. Just like those precious babies we raise it takes love, support, and whole lot of nurturing for them to grow, same goes for your own mental health!
Brittney Sicklinger, MS
HBS-Child and Adolescent