How We View Mental Health Differently Than Our Mothers

Mother and child outdoors

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

What Moms Need Most is Their Mental Health

Mother and daughter

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

Why Parenting is the Biggest Challenge to Maintaining My Mental Health

Little girl playing video games

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

Why Family-Time Brings Out Your Demons, According to a Therapist

Spooky mask coming out of trees

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

A Guide to Teenage Mental Health

Woman laying on a table

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

How to Address Family Secrets Without Causing a Rift

Shadow of Family Projected onto a Wall

Do you keep secrets from your family?

If you’re mentally rifling through all the skeletons in your family closet, you’re definitely not alone. Even those who pride themselves on openness probably have a secret or two that they’re not willing to share — even with the people they hold most dear. From issues as traumatic as sexual violence, to those as relatively mild (but still potentially contentious) as who we vote for, most of us have secrets we’d rather not share with our families. Continue reading How to Address Family Secrets Without Causing a Rift

The Challenges of Growing Up with a Parent Who Has a Mental Illness

A ripped teddy bear on the ground

One in five adults live with mental illness, so it stands to reason that there are many children out there who are raised by parents who battle mental illness. Mental illness encompasses many disorders — from bipolar disorder to depression — and range in severity from mild to severe.

It should be mentioned that there are many brave, strong parents who are in treatment for their mental illness and can parent their children with stability and love. But this is not always the case. Children who are raised by parents with untreated or severe mental illness are going to feel the effects, whether they are aware of what’s happening at the time or not.

Continue reading The Challenges of Growing Up with a Parent Who Has a Mental Illness

What Is Reparenting and Why You Should Consider It

A little girl attempts to put on high heels

When you think of therapy, a stereotypical scenario comes to mind: A person lying on a dusty leather couch while some guy with a small notepad sits somewhere by their head, or perhaps across from them, jotting down insights as they speak, probably about their twisted relationship with their parents.

There’s some truth to this scenario (the couch does always seem to be leather, no?), and while talking about your childhood it isn’t the case for all therapy interactions, it is for reparenting.
Continue reading What Is Reparenting and Why You Should Consider It