Being a mom often comes with this false expectation that we should be able to do everything and be able to BE everything for our family. The sad reality though is that those kinds of expectations only help to reinforce poor mental health care in mothers. According to the CDC, 1 in 10 US women has experienced symptoms of depression and only around half of those women have been treated. These staggering numbers leave us to wonder how can we moms take better care of our mental health?
One way for us to start is to manage our own expectations of ourselves. There are only so many hours in the day and so much of us to go around. Everything doesn’t have to be “Pinterest Perfect” all the time. Some days the house might be messy, we might cancel on a playdate, or dinner is nothing more than boxed mac and cheese. If that’s what we can manage and everyone goes to bed safe and loved, then the day is complete. Maybe tomorrow, we’ll have a little more to give and our “success” will look a little different.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
Often, one of the biggest barriers to mothers taking care of their mental health is the stigma surrounding mental illness. In our society, there are so many negative connotations about mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Those who suffer are made to feel as if they are somehow “less than” if they cannot just make the choice to be happy or shake off feelings of anxiety. We need to understand that it is okay to admit when we are struggling and it’s okay to ask for help.
Seek Professional Help
Speaking of help, if you are having feelings of depression or anxiety and are struggling to care for yourself and manage your responsibilities, please make an appointment to speak with someone. It can be your primary care provider or you can get a referral to a mental health professional, if necessary. There is absolutely no reason to feel or embarrassment at needing professional help for a mental health issue. Easier said than done, I know. You wouldn’t hesitate to see a doctor for a physical concern and you certainly wouldn’t hesitate if it was your child, so treat your own mental health with the same respect and care.
Follow Through with Care
Your doctor may offer several different treatment options to help you take better care of your mental health. For some, talk therapy helps work through anxiety and underlying issues that may contribute to depression. Others may need prescription treatments to balance the chemicals in the body. It is important to keep up with any suggested therapy or counseling and to consult with your physician before stopping medications.
The most important thing for us to remember as moms is that we absolutely must take the time to take care of ourselves. We need to let go of that guilt, lower our expectations nd ask for the help we need. When we take better care of our mental health, we are able to take better care of their families and other responsibilities.
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