A Mother's Mental Health Is EVERYTHING, So Stop Ignoring Yours

A Mother’s Mental Health Is EVERYTHING, So Stop Ignoring Yours

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Your kids are fine. Your husband is fine.

You? You’re fine too. Great as a matter of fact! You’re good. It’s all good.

You’re fine, remember?

Go ahead and just keep telling yourself that. It’s easy to keep just being “fine.” You’ve mastered it.

You’ve perfected masking the panicked and anxious feelings and the massive mood swings, the suffocating and physically debilitating depression, the manic highs and lows, and all those frazzled in-betweens.

You’re fine, remember?

It’s all just normal stress anyway, right? I mean, you’re a modern mother, of course shit is hard. They’re just kids! Hell yes, they’re gonna be needy and suck the life out of you. That’s just what they do, so why are you surprised? Who said you’re supposed to enjoy any of this anyway? And joy? What the hell is that?

So you keep just being fine. It’s been several years of “fine,” of treading depression filled waters and scaling mountains of anxiety, and you’re still alive. The kids are fine. Your husband is fine.

You’re fine, remember?

Except when you’re not. And you’re not, a lot. But it’s just the blues. You’re fine! You haven’t been sleeping well is all. You’re mentally exhausted, but who isn’t? It’s nothing a pedicure and a long nap can’t fix.

You’re fine, remember?

You missed a moms’ night out last month. Said your kid was throwing up, and you had to stay home. Lie. Lies help a lot lately. They come in very handy when you can’t anything. What were you gonna say? That obsessive, obtrusive, and hypervigilant thoughts have been playing on repeat in your head all day, and you can’t make them stop long enough for 2-for-1 margaritas? That’s not a valid excuse. It’s not like you can actually say that.

You’re fine, remember?

You called in sick to work last week. Said you had strep throat — another lie. Can you tell a superior at your job, the same place where you need to remain highly professional, stoic, unstoppable, efficient, and smart, that you’ve been weeping for days (or years) and can’t seem to shake it? Hell no. They’re strangers. They’ll think you can no longer do your job, and you need your job, health benefits and all. You know, the ones you’ve never used. Oh, you’ve looked at them before — the mental health and therapy — in a moment when you really thought, I need help, but you never sought help. There are the copays. And where would you find the time for therapy sessions? And would it help anyway? Probably not.

Because you’re fine, remember?

You almost let the cat out the bag a few days ago. Oh, you were so, so close. Routine blood work at your primary care doctor. You sat there on the table, the tissue paper crinkling underneath as your heart raced and you repeatedly told yourself, “Just tell her. Tell her! Say something. Tell her you don’t feel right. There’s something wrong in your head. You don’t know what, but life is getting harder and harder, and you know it’s not supposed to feel like this. Maybe she can fix it. Can she fix it? No. There’s nothing that needs fixing.”

You’re fine, remember? 

You tell yourself today is not the right time; you’ll feel better soon. Then out of the blue, right after a question about your calcium intake, she pauses and looks through your eyes, and asks, “Are you experiencing any depression? Sadness? Anxiety?” Why is she asking me this? Does she sense it? Nah. She’s just doing her job. Doctors these days. You know, they have to ask this now. You smile widely, shake your head back and forth, and say, “Nope. I’m fine! I exercise and don’t drink and take really good care of myself.”  You handled that brilliantly.

And then you got in your car and drove home — crying, swearing, screaming. You need help. You know you do. You had your chance to finally get it, and you didn’t take it.

You’re fine, remember?

If you see yourself in any of these sentences, I want you to know something. First, know that you’re not alone, and you’re not a failure. Second, the hardest step in seeking mental health care is going to be the first one. But you know this already, because you haven’t taken it yet. Yet. Why is it still so hard to take that step? For everyone, the reasons are different. Perhaps it’s shame or denial. Maybe you’re wired to think the way you’re feeling is actually normal. Could be it’s time, money, or guilt from telling yourself it’s selfish to get help when you have kids who really need you to be there all the time and to be strong.

I also want you to stop suffering in silence. Yet is today. It’s not tomorrow, or next week, or next month when you tell yourself you’ll get help. Yet is today. If you simply can’t find or don’t have the strength to take the first step today, show your spouse, your best friend, or a family member this article and just say, “This is me.” Tell them to make the appointment for you, to drive you there, to talk with your health care provider with you, and to make sure you don’t leave without the beginnings of a treatment plan or a referral to a therapist.

You can do this. I know you can. Because I know from experience, that your “fine” can be so much more. 

Go get your joy back. You’re worth it.