How Therapy Has Helped Me Become a Better Mom

I knew being a mom was going to be difficult; crying babies, changing endless diapers, and getting little sleep is a given. But I didn’t know was how much my mental health would suffer. 

There came a time when dishes were piled in my kitchen. Not just in the sink, but on the table, on the counters, plus additional take-out containers littering almost every other room of my house. I had a baby feeding at my breast and another just barely old enough to walk pulling at my hair as he clawed for attention. My shirt had spit-up stains, I couldn’t remember the last time I showered, and I walked in a trance as the days all melded together.

 

I knew being a mom was going to be difficult; crying babies, changing endless diapers, and getting little sleep is a given. But I didn’t know was how much my mental health would suffer.

 

My husband helped as much as he could, but with a long commute, overtime, and no family or friends close by to hold out a helping hand, I struggled—even with the low-dose antidepressants the doctor had prescribed during my six-week postpartum appointment. She told me it would help and suggested therapy as well.

But it wasn’t until my prescription ran out and my doctor’s gentle suggestion became a requirement to get a refill that I mustered the strength to ask my husband to set up an appointment for me.

A few days later, he dropped me off at the therapist’s office with a barely 4-month-old baby in tow. Panic surged as I felt guilt, fear, and also relief at the small reprieve from watching both children at the same time. I remember walking into the office, diaper bag on my shoulder disheveled in my winter coat, full of shame at being there; for needing the help of a professional. For being one of those “crazy people” my family made fun of for needing psychological help. And yet, I stayed. I knew I needed to be there. 

 

I remember walking into the office, diaper bag on my shoulder disheveled in my winter coat, full of shame at being there; for needing the help of a professional. And yet, I stayed. I knew I needed to be there.

 

With the help of therapy, I could be the mom my kid’s deserved, and it’s now why I recommend therapy to all moms. Here are just some of the benefits I’ve experienced. 

 

 

You are listened to without judgment 

Having children had opened old wounds that I never thought would be there. As an adoptee, I couldn’t process the monumental loss and anger that I would feel at my birth mother for giving me up as I held my two children close. No one in my life understood those feelings, but my therapist listened without judgment.

 

You learn tools to withstand the hard times and recognize the good

My therapist worked with me and within my capabilities to set small obtainable tasks to help improve my mental health. She gently urged me on, while holding me accountable at the same time. With her help, I learned coping skills like scheduling time to worry, celebrating small victories, and eventually learning to be proud of myself. To be happy with all that I have accomplished, even if it was just taking care of my two babies by myself.

 

 

It’s like ongoing mental health maintenance

Even when I had wrestled out of the claws of my postpartum depression, I kept up with my therapy appointments and still go biweekly. Going to therapy helps me improve myself and talk about things that may seem insignificant but hold a weight that affects my daily life.

With my therapist, I am free to discuss my parenting strategies, relationship with my husband, and even my progress with work without judgment. I have a person in my corner with whom I can be 100 percent honest without asking for too much in return other than timely payment and respect. To have a relationship where the weight is not weighing me down and the pressure to be perfect or take care of someone is immensely refreshing as a mom who is used to putting herself last.

 

Therapy is more accessible now

Today, there are more affordable and accessible options available for therapy. Many therapists offer sliding scale payments where you can pay what you can, and more insurance plans are covering the costs. Before crossing off the option, look into programs available in your area, and make sure to support groups for moms that are run by therapists that will often be free.

 

Editor’s Note: If you, or someone you know, are experiencing postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, please seek help from your healthcare provider or reach out to a close friend or loved one. If you are having suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of hurting your baby, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 1-800-273-TALK.

 

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