As we make our way through our grown-up lives, we don’t always consider how the first few years of childhood might still be affecting us. Yet according to attachment theory, our earliest experiences — most notably, our earliest relationships — have a profound and lasting effect on all aspects of our lives, in terms of our personalities, mental health struggles, and adult relationships.
What Is Attachment Theory?
Psychologists have long believed that our primary relationships (usually with a parent, but anyone who cared for us in our earliest days would qualify) shape us in powerful ways. Continue reading What is Attachment Theory?
I will never forget the fertility struggles my husband and I faced as we attempted to conceive our first child. We were both young and healthy. I had regular menstrual cycles, no reproductive issues (that I knew about), and always assumed that getting pregnant would happen instantly. Each month we tried to get pregnant, I was shocked that the little plus sign on the pregnancy test never appeared – not even once.
But my shock turned to despair when – after 18 months of trying and a million, sometimes very invasive fertility tests – we were told that my husband had a low sperm count. The first doctor we saw told us that his count was so low that our only hope of conceiving would be to use IVF, which we could not afford. I remember lying in bed, looking at the ceiling, feeling a level of hopelessness in my bones that I had never experienced before. Continue reading How Fertility Issues Impact Mental Health
Fathers are one of the biggest influences in our lives. Whether you are close to your father or have a distant (or non-existent) relationship with him, the role of a father in one’s life is hard to capture succinctly. As we approach Father’s Day, here are some ideas that I wish my father had told me about men and mental health. Continue reading What I Wish My Father Had Told Me (About Mental Health)
When I began to develop panic disorder in my late teens, it took me a few years to get help. First, it was difficult to even understand what was going on. I’d heard of panic attacks, but I pictured someone rapidly hyperventilating into a paper bag and acting nervous and twitchy.
My panic attacks were much more private than that: I felt absolutely terrified, my heart would race, and my gut would turn itself inside out. But to all outward appearances, I was just daydreaming or lost in my own little world during a panic attack. Continue reading How We View Mental Health Differently Than Our Mothers
Whether you have a wonderful relationship with your mom, a strained one, or even none at all, most people (particularly women) wish they could change their mom in some ways. Maybe it’s natural to wish that the relationship that begins as the closest human bond could evolve a little more. Continue reading How to Accept That You Can’t Change Your Mom
Lacking mental health support, too many American women experience emotional crises as they navigate contemporary motherhood. As founder of ESME.com (Empowering Strong Moms Everywhere), every day I witness mothers who are lonely, exhausted, anxious, depressed, suffering from PTSD, and pushed to their psychological limits. “Sexism is making women sick,” warned Jessica Valenti in her now-classic column for The Guardian. The constant threat of being attacked, insulted, and dismissed instills in women a sense of hypervigilance that’s associated with psychological distress.
Motherhood taps out women’s depleted psychological resources, making them especially susceptible to mental health issues. Many moms don’t have the time or energy to understand why they feel so awful. As a result, they internalize their feelings and do the best they can, day after day. Continue reading What Moms Need Most is Their Mental Health
This morning, I was woken up at 5:13 am by my six-year-old, who desperately needed a drink of water — and who apparently needed to whine at the top of his lungs to tell me so. This would not have been such a big deal had I not been up half the night with a bad head cold…the same cold my son had kept me up all night with two days prior.
Needless to say, I spent the morning with a pounding headache, a full day’s work ahead of me that I couldn’t put off, and a good deal of resentment.
This small snapshot of my life is not unusual. As a working mother of two, there is always a lot on my plate. It seems as though someone is always sick, in need of food or drink, or emotional support. And because they are my children and I love them to the moon and back, I find myself putting my children’s needs about ten miles ahead of my own. Continue reading Why Parenting is the Biggest Challenge to Maintaining My Mental Health
Ah, family time. On TV, it seems like getting together with your family is nothing but fun, inside jokes, and loving glances from the people who know you best.
In reality, though, family time can look very different. Spending time with the people you grew up with often makes people feel angry, sad, inadequate, bored, and of course, guilty for those very feelings.
So, why does family time always seem to bring out your worst self? Continue reading Why Family-Time Brings Out Your Demons, According to a Therapist
Being a teenager’s rough. You’ve gotta juggle homework, extracurricular activities, friends, dating…and not to mention, you’re probably pretty busy maintaining your image on Instagram. It’s totally normal to feel stressed out, angsty, or sad sometimes. But it’s important to be able to check in and ask yourself — is this run of the mill teenage stress, or is it something else? Continue reading A Guide to Teenage Mental Health
“Is this normal?”
As a therapist who works with children and teens, I hear this question frequently. Adolescents go through changes in such a short period, teens (and parents) may wonder if they’re losing their grip. Continue reading A Parent’s Guide to Teen Mental Health