Today is World Mental Health Day. I’m so grateful that people are beginning to have more conversations around mental health and that the associated stigma is starting to diminish.
If you’ve been following my blogging journey, you may know that earlier this year I struggled with my own mental health issue after the birth of my daughter. Like most new moms, I loved my baby so much. She was a complete joy, but something felt off on the inside. I didn’t really have words to describe what I was feeling. I just knew something was different. I was tired, irritable, sad, and disconnected from those around me. Long story short, I decided to seek the help of a therapist so that I could start sorting through my feelings. In my first session, the therapist asked me about postpartum depression (PPD). I didn’t think I was depressed because I wasn’t exhibiting what I thought were the “typical” signs of PPD. I loved my child. I didn’t want to hurt myself. But as I read more about the condition, I realized that what I was feeling and experiencing was actually indicative of PPD and anxiety. I later talked to my doctor and she confirmed what I already knew to be true. To work towards healing, I decided to continue therapy and invited my husband to join me. We’ve been doing couples therapy now for about 6 months and it has made a huge difference, primarily, helping us navigate through some of the challenges of life with two young kids.
Here are 3 lessons I’ve learned through therapy:
Lesson 1. Perspective matters.
One of the first things we talked about in therapy was perspective. The lens through which you view the world matters. Your thoughts matter. What you think about will eventually manifest. Focusing on negative things brings about negativity. Positive thoughts bring positivity. I’m learning that in order for positivity to flow in my life, I need to fill my mind with positive things. One Bible verse that speaks to this is Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” I keep a plaque on my desk at work with those words to keep me focused.
Lesson 2. You can only change yourself.
I realize that while there are things that I would like to change about my spouse and vice versa, we can only be responsible for our own actions. I don’t have the power to change him. He can’t change me. We both have to be willing to do our own work to better ourselves, which in turn will benefit our relationship with each other and those around us.
Lesson 3. Let yourself be seen.
Be vulnerable. Often times vulnerability is equated with weakness, but in reality being vulnerable is one of the bravest things you can do. I am learning that in order to experience true connection, with my spouse, children, family, and friends, I have to let my guard down and open myself up. I have to let myself be seen, all of me.
If I’m honest, these lessons are definitely easier said than done, but therapy has given me the opportunity to learn practical steps for living out these lessons. I feel more empowered than I ever have in my adult life.
If you’re struggling in anyway, need help sorting through your emotions or a difficult life change, I would encourage you to seek help. Talk to a trusted friend or family member. Seek the help of a therapist. Even if you may not be experiencing a major life crisis, counseling can be a very effective preventive measure. Just as we see a doctor to maintain our physical health, seeing a counselor or therapist is a great way to be proactive in taking care of your mental health.
Need help finding a therapist?
1. Most employers include an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in their benefits package that provides access to a variety of resources to help employees with work life issues, including counseling. Through an EAP, an employee and any dependents can confidentially be connected to a therapist and receive several counseling sessions free of charge. This is the method I used to find our therapist.
2. Look online. Psychology Today has a section on their website where you can search for providers based on location, area of concern, insurance carrier, etc. A simple Google search may also be effective.
3. Ask others. If you have a primary care doctor, you can ask for a referral to a licensed mental health professional. Friends and/or family members may also be able to recommend someone.
4. Local churches often have pastors available who can help you or can make recommendations of licensed professionals in the area.