Even inside darkness - there is light.
I started this blog to talk about maternal mental health and how the process of conceiving, delivering, and raising children effects our mental health as mother’s. I felt by sharing my specific journey I could help other women that may be facing some of the same challenges I have over the last eight years.
In this post- I want to switch the focus from my personal journey of bringing twins into the world and talk about maternal mental health in the year 2020. ( I’ll pick back up on my birth story in the next post- promise.)
Mama, how are you? I see you- I know this feels SO hard.
This year has been a wild ride for all of us in so many ways. ALL the worries- Am I right? Will my family be sick, is it ok to see my friends, remote learning, working from home with your kids in toe...
It has all been SO much. Put a major presidential election in the mix- wow!
I have re-written this post so many times- because there is just SO much I could talk about on being a working mom, inside of global pandemic, who suffers chronic anxiety and depression. But I think the most important thing to speak on to ANYONE or any MOM is selfcare.
How are you taking care of yourself when the world is falling apart? Where are you prioritizing yourself- when your family needs you more then ever?
Listen, I certainly do not have it all figured out. I am riding this rollercoaster right along with you. I have good days, and weeks- and I have horrible moments, hours, days, and weeks. My anxiety and depression have most definitely gotten the best of me over the last nine months.
Below are some things that I am doing that are helping me get the selfcare I need. To be honest, I had many of these things in place before the pandemic hit, to help me cope with my anxiety because I decided 2020 was the year I would feel better. I would live unapologetically as my best self, first for me- but so that I could show up each day as the best wife, mom, friend, employee that I could be. I hope you can take something away from my list- to help you too!
1. Therapy: It’s nonnegotiable. I talk with my therapist every week on video chat. She helps me unpack what is going on in my life. She talks me down, she helps me to see what is real and what is anxiety. She gives me tools to cope with my anxiety so that hopefully one day, my anxiety will be so small it will almost no longer be a part of my life. 18 months of weekly therapy has been so beneficial for my mental health- I could write an entire post on just this! If you are feeling overwhelmed- therapy- do it- you will thank me later.
2. Exercise: OK this one I could do better on. BUT it is proven that when you move your body you change your mind. Take your stress out inside of a workout and I promise you will feel better. 30 minutes a day should be the goal- even if it’s a dance party with your kids in your kitchen, a walk with your dog around the neighborhood, a bike ride, a free you-tube workout video, yoga, Pilates, meditation, if your gym is open-GO.
3. Finding something just for yourself: In September I signed myself up for a Monday night adult jazz dance class. It is seriously the best hour of my week. I laugh, I move, I socialize with other humans who love dance, I listen to the best music. Mama- you need to find something that is just yours alone that brings you JOY. I can’t pick it for you- but I bet deep down you know what it is- go do it!
4. Faith: I will be the first to tell you that I am not or was not a religious person. I was raised Catholic and went to church for weddings and funerals. This pandemic had me searching for something larger than myself. Something to lead me through the dark hours. I am a personal and professional development junkie- I love learning new ways to make myself better. But this year- these last five months- I needed something more- I needed God. I was invited to do a bible study and I have learned so much about my Christian faith and I have leaned on it. I have a community of women who do not judge me on any level, who pray with me and for me, and just genuinely love and care for me. This community has been so nice- a true breath of fresh air. If you need something larger then you- you can always find your faith.
5. Be present: I literally had a bracelet made that says, “Be Present” and I wear it every day. If you are living in the moment, you will not worry about yesterday or tomorrow. You will not “what if” yourself into a panic attack. If you are OK in this moment right now- you are OK! Enough said.
6. Gratitude: Living inside of a global pandemic has us focusing on all of the things we can’t do, the people we can’t see, the experiences our children are missing, etc. That list could really get long! If every day you find two minutes to be grateful for the things you DO have- you won’t feel like you are missing the other things so much. I’ve learned that focusing on small things to be grateful for are more rewarding then the large ones. Example: I am grateful for my home, my children, my family. Those are all great- but be more specific to really soak in the little things that make your heart happy. I am grateful for seeing my boys giggle when my husband tells them silly jokes, I am grateful for snuggles on the couch with my dog, I am grateful for laughing with friends in dance class, I am grateful for the conversation I had with my sister a few nights ago. See- it makes it more meaningful and brings you back to the present! Rachel Hollis has a wonderful daily gratitude practice that you can do inside of your own notebook. Google it!
As I am writing this, my last few weeks have felt really hard. Homeschooling my kids SUCKS! Seeing New Jersey’s daily Covid-19 numbers sky rocket is SCARY. I’ve let my anxiety run me most days. I knew I needed to write this and put it into the world because I NEEDED to hear these things- things that I already know. I needed to remind myself that I am not alone. I needed to remind myself that I am a really good mom and wife even though I have been short tempered with my kids and husband because I am STRESSED OUT. I needed someone to check in on me- so I am checking in on you. I’ve said this so many times over the last nine months because I do truly believe it- we will be better, stronger, resilient people for living through Covid-19. There is light on the other side of this darkness- in fact- there is light inside of it. You just have to look for it.