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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How To Deal With Blue Days: Not If, But When They Happen

How To Deal With Blue Days | Sad, blue days will happen in motherhood. How you deal with them is up to you. Here, we share our most basic and applicable advice for shrinking that day down and still living your life.

Today was a blue day. Yesterday was a blue day also.
Even though I see a therapist every month and I make time for self-care every day, these blue days still sneak up on me occasionally. Yesterday was even worse than a blue day, it was a numb day. You know the kind. You don't feel sad or weepy, but you don't feel happy or excited or anything else. You just want the day to end so you don't have to NOT feel anymore.
How To Deal With Blue Days
The first thing you HAVE to do is give yourself grace. Don't heap mom guilt on top of that already towering pile of yuck. Let yourself lay in bed if you can. Allow your kids to watch a movie. Let yourself cry. Usually, my numb days are made worse when I try to fight them or keep myself from going blue. But sometimes going blue can actually help me get out of the funk and back into the right mindset.

If you've seen Disney Pixar's Inside Out, you know what I mean. When Joy steps aside and lets Sadness control things, Riley is able to get those feelings out in the open and let them go to some degree. My husband came in today to find me with half-dried tear stains on my cheeks. He asked if I needed a hug and I did. And you know what? It didn't make the sadness go away immediately, but it did enable me to get out of bed, go downstairs, and eat dinner with my kids.


Prepare For The Days Before They Happen
My therapist gave me this excellent advice: Prepare ahead of time for the return of your sad days. Depression isn't something you deal with once and then never again. Like clouds across a sunny sky, it will come back. Hopefully not as intense, but it's good to be prepared just in case.

The ways you prepare for a blue day are dependent on you and what makes you most energized, fulfilled, or relaxed. Prepare a playlist on Youtube or Spotify with music that makes you feel like dancing. Have essential oils on hand which you can diffuse to improve your mood or energy levels. Talk to your spouse about what helps you so that he can partner with you. I can't tell you how many blue days have been shortened by my husband recognizing them and sending me out for some self-care. You know the things that make you feel better. Make a list and keep it handy, because it's not a matter of if you'll need it but when.
Choose One Go-To Thing
Hands down the most difficult part of a blue or numb day is to peel yourself off the couch or out from under the covers and do that first thing. Once you're up and moving, it's often a lot easier to drum up the motivation to do another thing on the list. So find one thing that's easy to do that will help you start. Maybe it's the music playlist, and you can pull it up on your phone and feel the good energy flowing through you. Whatever one thing you can do, do it and move on from there.


It's All About The Baby Steps
Your mental health is a delicate balancing act. Start small. Take one tiny step. Then another. Then another. You can do it! Even though you will fall back again sometimes, it's okay. If you have to take that very first baby step over and over again, it's okay. I've been there. I am there. You are not alone.

None of this advice will help if you haven't managed your mental health. If you have more blue days than not, please reach out to a doctor for recommendations on a good therapist in your area. Therapists are not for crazy people! They are for hurting, exhausted, lonely moms who need someone to talk to. Don't allow anything to keep you from getting the time and help you need.

If you find yourself thinking suicidal thoughts or wondering if your family would be better off without you, please ignore this whole list and call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255. 

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