The Depressed Mom’s Guide to Disappointment

Disappointments happen. How you handle them can make or break your day, even your week. Learn how to work through feelings of frustration, sadness, and fear in the midst of motherly depression, exhaustion, and loneliness so that you can weather life's inevitable storms with strength and courage. Click the photo to learn more.


Disappointment happens. Sometimes it's a small thing, like forgetting about and missing a coffee date with a friend. Other times, it's much bigger, like unexpectedly finding out you're pregnant again. Big or small, those disappointments can feel all the worse, even overwhelming, when you're already in an emotionally depleted state. Exhausted, lonely, depressed Mamas have the hardest time with disappointment because we're already functioning on less emotional energy. It doesn't take nearly as much to drain us completely.
Emotional Energy: How Disappointment Affects It
Imagine that you wake up each morning with one glass full of emotional energy. As the day goes by, you pour some out for your kids, some for your husband, some on work or other commitments; neighbors, friends, housework, bills, meal planning, etc. And some of that energy is poured into hopes, plans, or goals for future things, like those coffee dates or the things you might do once your youngest is in school full time. Fear, frustration, and sadness from a disappointing event can rob the remainder of your day's energy. But it can also rob you of the energy you've poured out and stored in those future plans and expectations.

Take that same glass of emotional energy, but now it's only half-full. That's what your emotional 'tank' often looks like when you're wiped out, dealing with depression, trudging through the loneliness of motherhood, or battling anxiety. That half-full glass is much closer to running dry, so when disappointments happen, one big slosh drains everything you've got. In my experience, that's been the hardest part about my depression. One little thing can steal the rest of my carefully budgeted energy and leave me wanting nothing more than to go to bed and start the day over... by 9 am! But fear not, Mama! There is a solution!!
How To Retain Your Energy After A Disappointment
Step 1: Give Yourself Five Minutes To Feel It
It's okay to need to vent some frustration or cry a few tears. Don't try to bottle up those emotions! Let 'em out! I give myself five minutes if I really can't hold it together. Alone in my room or the car, I'll let everything bubble up and over and cry as hard as I need to for five minutes. Then I can dry my face and move forward rationally. Sometimes you just have to let yourself really feel it. By acknowledging your feelings, you're allowing yourself to move on. (Makes me think of Sadness in Inside Out... Anyone else?)
Step 2: Salvage Your Energy By Channeling It Into Something Else
The energy you've stored in future plans and dreams is like a storehouse for your lowest days, the silver lining or the bright spot to look forward to when you're really in the trenches. When those plans change or get messed up by something outside of your control, your 'rainy day' fund of emotional energy can slip away and be gone forever. We can't have that! Being able to channel all that stored energy into something else you can honestly get excited about will salvage some, if not most, of your energy.

This is something my therapist pointed out to me and it has really, really improved my ability to cope with disappointments. I have a page in my bullet journal where I record things I would like to do or get done. These are things that make me happy and fulfilled and which give me purpose. I'm a doer, so my list is 90% projects. Your list might include crafts with your kids or manicures or cleaning tasks or reading or vacation planning or... Fill in the blank for you. When a disappointment occurs, say you miss a date with a friend, you can look at your list and pick something else to channel your expectant energy into.
Step 3: Recognize The Root of Your Disappointment
Later, after you've had time to cope and reflect on the thing that caused your disappointment, take some time to dig into why. Why did missing that appointment affect you the way it did? What is it that scares or worries you about being pregnant again? I'm not great at recognizing my own triggers, which is why I love my therapist. She has a way of asking questions that lead me right to the answer. A good friend or family member who knows you really well can accomplish the same thing sometimes. Once you know what triggered your disappointment, you can work through those emotions and prepare for the next time something might hit you similarly.


Prepare For the Future
Mom life never really goes the way you plan it to go. It might be a spilled cup or a lost shoe right before you walk out the door, or issues in your marriage or with your job. But we're Moms. No one is as good as we are at anticipating worst case scenarios. It's time we start anticipating the worst case self-care scenarios. Little annoyances can quickly become major day changers when you're running on empty. Big things, like relationships and careers, can suffer a ton if you've got nothing left to invest in them after all your other mom duties. Self-care isn't just a bubble bath here and a manicure there. Self-care is a lifestyle that enables you to be the best mom you can be because your emotional tank is full and ready for anything. By taking care of your needs before they become NEEDS, you allow room for life to happen and for you to keep your stuff together on the rough patches.

Blessings,
Jessi

 
For more self-care ideas, click here.
For ideas on resetting with a weekend away, click here.
To find a therapist in your area, click here.
If you think life is just too much and you're considering suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255
 

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Why I See a Therapist (And You Should Too)

Therapy quite literally saved my life, but it's not a popular topic of conversation. I'm here to tell you I see a therapist every month. I pay cash to talk to her and I believe you, Tired Mama, should too. Here's why.
Why I See A Therapist
Once a month, I drive 30-minutes each way to meet with a trained professional who lets me talk for an hour and occasionally gives me advice or explains why I may be feeling the way I'm feeling. She hands me tissues when I cry. She listens as I pour my heart out, complain, and even brag occasionally. My insurance doesn't cover it. I pay cash to talk to someone. And it's worth every cent. By most standards, I might not even need therapy anymore, but I have no plans of ending our regular meetings in the near, or distant, future.

Let me back up a year or so. Before I started seeing my therapist, I was in a really, really dark place. And I mean dark. I would often stand in the shower crying because I just knew my husband and daughters would be better off with someone else as their mother. I felt as inadequate as it is possible to feel. Hopeless, misunderstood, spiteful, and irrationally angry were a few of the dominant emotions from that time period. I hated myself. But I didn't understand why.
At First, I Was Too Afraid To Admit That I Needed Therapy
I tried calling a helpline to find a therapist. He started to make me an appointment with some counselor in my area, but I got really freaked out and hung up. I don't hang up on people, but I did that day. I hung up and I cried.

Why did I cry? Because I was so worried about what people would think. I couldn't swallow the idea that someone would know that I had to see a therapist. The label, Mental Illness, terrified me. I was sure that I would show up and sit on some dingy chaise with a condescending, pen-in-hand psychologist who would give me a load of drugs to make me numb.
So What Changed?
One day last August, I lost my $#!&. I don't mean that in the cutesy way that moms Instagram say it. I mean, I totally lost it. Basically, what happened (and this is pretty embarrassing to even talk about) was I wanted, no, needed to get out of the house but felt like we were broke. We weren't. I asked my hubby if we could go to Costco. Long (and irrational) story short, the conversation devolved until I screamed at one of my kids and stomped up the stairs like a fourteen-year-old girl, huffing and puffing worse than the big, bad wolf. As soon as I closed the door behind me, my violent anger turned to wracking sobs and I hit the floor of my closet on my knees. That's where my husband found me. It was the first time I realized how much my emotions controlled me.


Therapy Wasn't What I Expected It To Be
The very next day, I called the therapist my best friend sees. Six days after that I found myself on a comfortable couch in a relaxed, even cozy, room in a historic building a few towns over. She didn't write a single thing the whole time I was there. She smiled, she listened, she assured me that I didn't have to continue to see her if I didn't feel like we clicked. She sent me in for blood work to see if there might be something chemical going on. (I secretly hoped there was because that meant the solution was a pill a day and I would be 'fixed'.) She asked me questions when I ran out of things to say or didn't know how else to continue. And she never once made me feel like my problems were smaller than they appeared to me. She also never diagnosed me. My blood work came back normal, but she didn't make me feel like it was all in my head (like I told myself upon getting my results). In short, she was nothing at all like what I expected. And I couldn't have been more happy to be mistaken.
Therapy Isn't Just For 'Crazy' People
In my darkest days, when I wanted to wander out in a blizzard and never come back, I told myself I was just tired, that life was too busy, and I just needed a small break. I was lonely, I felt like I didn't fit in my body anymore, like the life I'd built around me was somehow too narrow and too roomy at the same time. So, on this side of my healing journey, I'm here to tell you that therapists and counselors are NOT only for crazy people. They are not only for those who have a diagnosable mental illness. A therapist may not be for everyone, but I am convinced that a therapist can help EVERY mom. I mean it. We are a lonely, exhausted bunch. Parenting advice is slung in our faces at every single turn and mom guilt served up each time we open our eyes. We give our entire beings to the tiny humans we co-created and then sacrifice our time, energy, attention, emotions, and mental space to the care and development of these little people.
Therapy Is For Every Mom
Add to that the fact that our children are nearly incapable of self-regulation and we are, essentially, training them to not need us anymore, and you have a recipe for burn out. So how do we combat all that wear and tear? We need to deal with it.

The way you deal with your burnout and the way I deal with mine are going to be completely different, even if they look the same from the outside. We might both need 'alone time' but how you spend your time and what helps you cope in the midst of anxiety or depression is going to be unique to you, to your personality, to your history. I can't blog about how to help you help yourself. I'm not a trained professional. I'm just a mom who's spent the last year healing with the help of a trained professional.
Therapy Is The Most Undervalued Tool In The Self-Care Arsenal
My journey has shown me that therapy is an incredibly undervalued tool in the self-care aresenal. I don't shy away from telling people I see a therapist because a year ago, it's what I needed to hear. I needed to know that therapy didn't make me a bad mom, that talking about my feelings wouldn't risk losing my kids to the state, that having a mental illness didn't mean I was broken. My depression and anxiety are just as much a part of my journey as my poor eyesight or my weak hip. I don't feel ashamed to see a chiropractor every month, so why should I feel ashamed of seeing my therapist? She helps equip me to fight the battle going on in my mind. She handpicks the most applicable weapon for the job and teaches me how to use it properly so that when those blue days overcome me, I can keep swimming, I can keep fighting, I can keep living.

Blessings,
Jessi
For help finding a therapist in your area, click here.
For help choosing a therapist to work with, click here.
For the national suicide prevention hotline, dial 1-800-273-8255
 

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6 Times Moana Said (or Sang) Exactly What I Feel

There's no doubt about Moana being a fantastic movie, and it's every dreamers anthem as well. Here are 6 times Moana said exactly what this dreamer was feeling too.

Hello, my name is Jessi and I am a dreamer.
Raise your hand if that's you too. I knew it, I knew I wasn't the only one! I bet you've felt just like I have at some point (maybe even every day), that you're meant for more. I love my kids and I love being a stay-at-home mom, or rather I should say I love the idea of being a stay-at-home mom. I really do love being with my kids, but so many times I find myself bored or grumpy because I feel like I'm never going to achieve my dreams in the midst of the never-ending laundry, dishes, and diapers.

Maybe it's just me, but the first time I watched Moana I cried like a baby. I'm talking streams of tears down my cheeks sobbing. I felt so... so... understood. Now, I know the Disney giants want us to feel just like that (and let's just take a second to appreciate the power of their storytelling abilities... remarkable) but this movie struck something in the core of my being that nothing else ever has. So let's take a look at those moments today, shall we?

***Spoilers Ahead!!! If you haven't seen Moana yet, stop right now and watch it! I'll even give you the link to it: Watch Moana here. Ready now? You may proceed!***
6 Times Moana Said (or Sang) Exactly What I Feel
1. I'll be satisfied if I play along / But the voice inside sings a different song / What is wrong with me?
How many times have you heard the phrase 'fake it til you make it'? I don't know when I heard it first, but in the early days after both my babies, it was like a chant; Fake it, you'll make it. The idea behind it is that acting happy about your circumstances will eventually result in true happiness. I definitely think there is some truth to that, however, other times you just gotta move on, try something else, or ask for help.

When Moana stands on the top of the mountain and cries out to the wind, "What is wrong with me?" it was like my heart rose with her. Thankfully, the truth, and the point of the movie, is that nothing is wrong with me. Just like nothing is wrong with you. We don't all fit one mold or one lifestyle and that's more than okay, that's good. Embrace who you are and dance to the music inside.
2. Every turn I take / Every trail I track / Is a choice I make / Now I can't turn back / From the great unknown / Where I go alone / Where I long to be
Moana sings this haunting line as she sets sail from her home all on her own (and with her mother's blessing -- I love that!!!) She's setting out to finally answer this call she's felt for her whole life, despite her father's disapproval. Now, I'm all about respecting my parents and I was decently good at it growing up and still today. However, her father's rules were based on fear, not on Moana's best interest (see #6).

This line resonates with me so much because I didn't go to college right after high school like literally everyone expected of me. Instead, I joined Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and moved to England on my own. I remember talking to God about it and I knew He meant me to stand alone, that this was a journey that only I could take and only I was meant to take. Some things in life are like that. We don't get to go into holding the hand of someone else because if we did we'd miss out on some incredible personal development. So if you prefer to wear your baby in a sling 24/7 and so-and-so is telling you not to, do it! You do you, Mama!


3. They have stolen the heart from inside you / But this does not define you / This is not who you are / You know who you are
No one else can define who you are. That is up to you and you alone, Mama. Whether we're talking parenting, career, life, or anything else, you know who you are. I spent a lot of my life struggling to know who I was meant to be. And the incredible thing I'm coming to realize now, in year 30, is that I already am who I'm meant to be. I just keep trying to force myself to fit in a mold that someone else sets for me. You know who you are.
4. And the call isn't out there at all / It's inside me / It's like the tide, always falling and rising
This one... Gosh. Just thinking about this line again makes my heart kind of twist inside my chest. Like I said in the last one, this year I've finally started to settle into my identity and let myself be who I've always been. For so long, I thought my soul would rest if I could just land on that 'thing' I was meant to be doing. But, like Moana, I have learned that it's not something out there. It's my heart, right here, telling me to be me. If that's you too, Mama, let it go (not to mix movie references here...) and be who you are.
5. All the time wondering where I need to be / Is behind me / I'm on my own / To worlds unknown
I don't know what the future holds. I thought next year would be spent traveling the U.S. with my kids and hubby in an RV, but it's looking now like I might be teaching middle school science instead. (I'll let you know when I know for sure!) And I've found that like is like that more often than not. We make our plans and hold to these arbitrary expectations and then life happens, opportunities open up, things shift and we're suddenly heading in another direction. Rather than get side-tracked and constantly question whether I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, I've learned to embrace the change. I know who I am, what I do is just that: what I do. My activities don't define who I am any more than what I had for lunch does.
6. Mind what he says but remember / You may hear a voice inside / And if the voice starts to whisper / To follow the farthest star / Moana, that voice inside is / Who you are
Okay, this one wasn't Moana at all, but Gramma Tala. First, can I be real? I want to be just like Gramma Tala when I grow up. For real. That woman is the real hero of Moana. She is fearlessly true to herself. She loves her family deeply and isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes to be right. On top of all that, she sees Moana for who she is, not for who she thinks Moana should be, and Gramma Tala gives Moana the tools she needs to be true to herself without labeling her according to what she sees in Moana. There is a balance in seeing a strength in someone and forcing them into a box according to that perceived strength.
What Would You Add?
Were there other moments from Moana which really resonated with you? I'd love to hear them in the comments!
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