Katie Reed, a blogger and mom of four from Salt Lake City, spent many years living with “quiet” borderline personality disorder before getting a proper diagnosis. Before that, she was misdiagnosed repeatedly — with bipolar disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and anxiety disorder — none of which ever felt “right.”
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been a caretaker. When I was five and our father left our family, I became my pregnant mother’s little helper, rubbing her feet and bringing her snacks and tea. I took care of my sister when my mother was busy working or tending house. And when my sister couldn’t sleep during those nights we’d stay at our dad’s house, I’d lie with her until she drifted off. Somehow, I was the one in our family that everyone relied upon — the responsible, wise, compassionate one.
I see now that this wasn’t the most appropriate role for me to take, since I was only a child, but it’s the role I seemed to naturally gravitate toward. And it’s a role I have found myself in throughout my adult life as well. I find myself drawn to needful people, and to professions that require care and compassion. I have always worked in caretaker industries: my jobs have included babysitter, preschool teacher, college instructor, soup kitchen volunteer, nursing home assistant, postpartum doula, breastfeeding counselor — and of course, mother to my two sons. Continue reading I Took Care of People My Entire Life and Then I Broke
I’ve had severe panic attacks on and off since I was 16 years old. Although I may never be able to pinpoint their exact cause, I’ve long suspected that some of the traumas I experienced as a child (divorce, abandonment, custody battles, and verbal abuse) contributed to my panic disorder.
Recently, though, my therapist mentioned something in passing that illuminated the whole phenomenon for me in an entirely different way. She said that when we hold our emotions inside, they tend to kind of morph into conditions like anxiety and panic.
A lightbulb went off in my brain then: I could picture myself, a young girl, witnessing and experiencing all sort of things that I now know were most certainly traumatic, and basically just standing there absorbing them all. I was always the “good girl,” whom everyone thought was so resilient despite all the difficult things that were unfolding. Continue reading Can Childhood Traumas Cause Panic Disorder?
I worry. A lot. About the little things, like whether my kids are coming down with pneumonia, or if we have enough milk left for breakfast tomorrow morning. And about the big things, like whether I will lose any of my freelance work, or whether our house will flood during the next hurricane.
I spend nights up worrying about the even bigger things too. I wonder if one day my kids will live in a world without hate, and I worry that our planet is going to go kaput sooner rather than later as a result of climate change.
Usually, I think of my worrying as one of my worst traits (yes, I worry about my worry, too), and something that I should probably work on eliminating from my life. But recent research points to the idea that maybe being a bit of a worrier can actually be a good thing. Continue reading I’m A Worrier, But Maybe That’s Not Such A Bad Thing
By the time I was 12 years old, I had moved 10 times — more if you count the separate moves my parents made after they split up. My parents were hippies (or beatniks, if you ask my mother), always up for an adventure, and always hoping that a change of place would fix their problems and make them happy.
In certain ways, I see the moves we made when I was a kid as part of a wild, interesting, beautiful ride. But mostly, I hated moving, and I think of the moves my family made as symptomatic of their impulsive, unstable behavior — and at least one of the triggers of my lifelong anxiety and panic disorder.
Melissa Moreno, LCSW-R, a Talkspace therapist, agrees that frequent childhood moves can contribute to anxiety for some children. “Frequent moves can bring up some uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety and impact one’s ability and desire to build and maintain relationships,” she told me. “Some individuals link frequent moves to lower life satisfaction and poorer psychological well-being.” Continue reading The Emotional Impact Of Frequent Moves During Childhood
I remember the transition to college as one of the most emotionally challenging times of my life. I wanted all the freedom and intrigue I knew college could offer me, yet I still felt very much like a child. Suddenly being out on my own felt jarring.
I was not alone, according to Amanda Rausch, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Rausch says the transition from home life to college life isn’t easy for most college kids. In fact, explains Rausch, the transition can be experienced like a series of losses for your college-bound child.
“They leave their home, regular schedule, high school relationships, and even pets they have grown up with…it is a lot to process!” Rausch also mentioned the huge decisions young people are responsible for during college. “They experience the adjustment of being on their own, figuring out finances, new classes, new people, new places and, oh yeah, the decision of what to study, which determines their career and the rest of their lives!” Continue reading A Parent’s Guide to College Mental Health
Life transitions — regardless of whether they are happy or sad occasions—are inherently stressful. And yet, they are something we all go through at one time or another, whether it’s a job change, a break-up, a big move, or the birth or death of a loved one. Watching others go through these transitions can be stressful as well, especially if they trigger our own difficult memories or feelings.
While wedding season can be a time of fun and merriment, it can unearth all sorts of mixed emotions. Weddings are a major life event jam-packed with feelings of fear and high expectations — expectations that can be easily crushed.
If we are the ones getting married, we will likely have our own deeply personal set of fears about this transition: Will life ever be the same as it once was? What if our feelings change? Will our marriage last? These questions are natural, but extremely stressful nonetheless. Continue reading How To Survive Wedding Season Stress
In my 20’s, I diligently tended to my mental health. I went to therapy weekly, exercised daily, and journaled all my thoughts and feelings. This all did wonders to help me manage my anxiety and panic disorder.
Then, at 28, I had a baby, and to say that things began to slide in terms of my mental health care routine would be a huge understatement.
I think it’s natural and necessary for parents to push their needs aside when they have children. At first, I found motherhood all consuming, the power of the love for my child like nothing I had ever experienced before. That feeling that you would literally lay your life down for your child is real and not an exaggeration for most of us parents.
And beyond those primal feelings of love and protection, parenthood is a 24 hour job, the needs of our children — especially when they are young — endless and unrelenting. And with parents stretched so thin in terms of finances, childcare, and general support, it is understandable that so many of us end up putting our needs at the very bottom of the list. Continue reading Parents, Your Mental Health Is Everything. Don’t Neglect It.
Parenthood can be difficult whatever your life circumstances are, but these days, parents seem more over-extended than ever, and stressed to their maximum capacities.
As a result, mental health issues among parents are common. We know that about 1 in 7 mothers are at risk of postpartum depression (and that a growing number of fathers are as well). If untreated, PPD can last for months, or even years. But even beyond the earliest phase of parenthood, mental health disorders abound. Many parents I know battle loneliness, depression, anxiety, and off-the-charts stress and exhaustion.
Very few, however, seek help for these problems.
For most parents, the idea of going to a therapy session for treatment of something like anxiety or depression feels like an impossibility. I know it did for me, for many years. A lifelong anxiety sufferer, I’d been in therapy for 10 years before I became a parent. My anxiety was relatively under control, and when I experienced a brief bout of postpartum anxiety when my first child was born, I brushed it off, thinking it was the usual “just me being anxious.” Continue reading Online Therapy is a Godsend For Busy Parents