DISCLAIMER: The following post outlines our team’s personal mental health journeys. It is not intended to act as medical advice. As always, please consult your doctor with any questions about how to improve your mental health.
One of the most important ways to spread mental health awareness is through sharing our stories. On this day in particular, being World Mental Health Day, let us take a moment and acknowledge all the struggles that mothers go through on their mental health journeys. It is through our efforts to shed awareness on mental health that we can normalize the struggles of motherhood.
Moreover, let us celebrate mothers, and their ability to be resilient in the face of motherhood challenges. Let this day serve as a reminder to prioritize your mental health as a part of your overall health and well-being.
Your mental health journey is unique to you. We all have a story to tell, and we are here to support you through this journey.
Here are some snippets of our team’s mental health journeys: inspiration, encouragement, validation, + more.
“I have lived with bipolar disorder, among other “diagnosable” mental illnesses, for over forty years. When I was 19, I didn’t think I would live a day past my thirtieth birthday, my life taken by my own hand. I am not sure exactly how I survived the deepest darkness and the bouts of mania, with the behaviors that had control over me. I just know that learning Dialectical Behavioral Therapy saved my life and is how I am able to remain “stable.”
“Do I take the medications every day? You bet, because I don’t like the version of myself that I am without them. I still go see a therapist on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I changed my relationship with addictive substances like nicotine, alcohol, and sugar. I make sleep a priority; it was hard while in my perinatal years. I do my best not to “pour from an empty cup.” But to be honest I almost always feel like I am just keeping my head above water. Life with mental illnesses is hard; nonetheless, I persist through the hard. Which makes some “moments in time” like when I am listening to the sound of my children singing so joyously, even sweeter.”
“My therapist has been so helpful! It’s nice to have someone outside my normal life who will listen to the things I’m thinking and feeling and help me reframe as needed. One tip I’d offer is that your first therapist isn’t always the best fit! I was lucky and my first choice was great. But my husband saw many different therapists before finding the right one.”
“Healing takes work and it’s a process. Confronting your issues and devoting the time to learn, grow, and heal is so worth the benefits. Books, journals, and podcasts are nice. But nothing is better than finding a certified mental health professional to guide you in your journey. Your well-being and peace of mind are worth the time and effort.”
“It turns out, mental health journeys are not linear. I thought that once I got my symptoms under control–once I was no longer suicidal or no longer laid in bed all day or no longer felt apathetic about caring for my children–that I was completely on the upswing. But in reality, progress comes in fits and starts. There are still bad days mixed in with the increasingly good days. And, new layers of symptoms to work on hiding under the more obvious ones. I’m working to greet these dips with compassion and understanding that they’re just one more step on the journey.”
“I know I need extra help when I can’t focus on anything other than my son’s medical needs. Before him, it was when I was focused on the trauma of my childhood. Like, right now, it’s 9:50 p.m. on a Tuesday. I have grad school to do, work to do, and lunches to prep. But instead, I’m sitting here googling his latest test results. I’ll text my therapist. She’ll respond, because it’s rare for me to text this late. I’ll take a deep breath, use some coping mechanisms, and hope tomorrow is a brighter day.”
“I realize now that mental health is a part of our overall health. After having three kids, I knew I was struggling, but asking for help was a challenge. I wish I had learned early on that I didn’t have to do all of this alone, and that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Some things I learned along the way that have been crucial to my ongoing journey are to prioritize self-care, learn coping strategies, regulate my nervous system, and lean on the support of my family and friends. Healing is filled with ups and downs; it is crucial to be compassionate with yourself along the way.”
“I have struggled with anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder. Mental health isn’t something you have or don’t have. It’s something you have to continually work at. If you think it makes sense to go to the doctor for an annual checkup, it makes sense to take the time to regularly check in with yourself about your mental health.”
“As the weeks turned into months during the start of Covid, my mental health really started to suffer (I think that was a universal feeling). With the things I did previously to care for myself not being options–like seeing and working out with friends and finding quiet time alone (preferably while roaming the aisles of Target)–getting through the day became more and more difficult. It became harder to get out of bed in the morning. Everyday tasks seemed so overwhelming, to the point that I stopped doing many of them. I felt like I was in this black tunnel, void of any light.
“I remember sitting in the exam room, at my doctor’s office, so nervous and not making eye contact with her when I hesitantly said, “I think I’m depressed.” It’s been a journey to regain my mental health, one that I am still on. It took time to build my toolkit (medication, yoga, running, leaning on my friends and husband for support), but I finally feel like I am headed in the right direction.”
“My path to finding mental wellness was anything but linear. It initially began 10 years ago when I was experiencing prenatal anxiety and depression while pregnant with my first child. It was then that I began to heal my lifelong battle with anxiety and faced my past trauma head-on. Since then, I’ve seen various mental health professionals, been on various classes of mental health medication, and gained a lot of “do’s and don’ts” along the way. Two things I’ve learned are I am my own biggest advocate, and that healing doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process, but it’s a process that is so worth pursuing and one you are worthy of!”
“The most helpful support for me came from hearing stories of other moms who had experienced similar mental health struggles. Their shared experiences gave me hope and inspiration that I would get through the dark times. I leaned on resources like Detroit Mom to find a therapy office, and I started seeing a therapist weekly, along with a doctor to manage my medications. To make time for my mental health now, I prioritize self-care and basic needs. I’ve learned that taking care of myself is essential for a good day.
“Reflecting on my journey, I wish I had reached out for help sooner and not tried to carry the burden alone My advice to someone in a similar situation is to reach out for support early. You don’t have to go through it alone, and there are people and resources available to help. Seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. Don’t wait until you are in complete burnout mode to seek support if you’re going through a tough time; manage your mental health like your physical health.”
“I was at my very lowest last year while navigating my divorce. I knew I was making the right choice by leaving my marriage but my mental health completely deteriorated in the process. My therapist helped me to find confidence in my decisions and learn how to escape from many of the negative patterns I learned over the years. Seeking help and actually using the tools in my day-to-day life has made me a happier and healthier person.”
“Don’t be ashamed! I suffer from PTSD from being in the ICU for over 40 days and I would sometimes get embarrassed or ashamed of how I’m feeling. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. PTSD sufferers can be triggered without any warning and having the tools to help get past the triggers and uncontrollable thoughts is extremely helpful.”
“It was 2012 and my anxiety was at its peak. It was affecting my daily life and I knew it was time to get help. Anxiety caused me to leave a full shopping cart in the grocery store and leave, running for the exit. Anxiety made me miss days of school and work. Anxiety made me miss my college graduation pinning ceremony. I made an appointment with my doctor. Today, things are much better thanks to therapy and medication.”
“Nothing has shaken my relationship with [my] own mental health like motherhood has. Being a mom pushes us outside of our comfort zone and challenges us in ways we never knew possible. The main thing that has helped me along the way is remembering that we are always doing our best and it’s okay that our best looks different day to day.
“Self-love and self-care [are] key for me to be able to keep that in mind and ensure I’m taking care of myself enough so that I can also take care of my family. Adding in daily personal development books or podcasts to help with my mindset as well as journaling helps me with that. When I need further help though, I always seek it whether [it] be in the form of a friend, family member, or with life coaching/therapy. “
“Anxiety isn’t normal–that’s what I learned in therapy. I thought everyone felt the way I had all my life, I thought white-knuckling it was just part of being an adult, you know–“Dealing with it.” Then the first time I took my anxiety meds I thought, “This is what other people feel like, every day?” I was angry that I needed meds, I didn’t want to be “that” person my parents talked about the entire childhood but I soon realized that they made me a better mom. It made me lighter, happier, a better partner, and more clear headed at work.
“Now I know that if I feel off, if I’m not handling the world well, I can go to my therapists (yes, plural!) and they can help me navigate it. Sometimes it’s just something we need to talk through, sometimes we need to adjust my dosage. I can’t imagine my life without them catching me when I fall!”
“Reach out to your child’s school (elementary) or school counselor (secondary). We have so many resources to share with parents if their child is struggling with anything related to mental health. We have many partnerships within the communities we serve to get our students the help they need.”
“I wish I would have found support sooner. Or at least, I wish I wouldn’t have convinced myself that I was “fine” for so long. I think I had PPD after the birth of my second child, but was never diagnosed. When my third baby was four months old, we had a sudden, unexpected loss in our family, and I think the grief from that brought out the underlying PPD. I soon found myself sad, crying a lot, overwhelmed, not sleeping well, exhausted, not eating, not wanting to do anything I used to enjoy, losing weight, etc. . . I had all the signs and symptoms.
“My sister was the one who told me she thought I might have PPD, and once I started reading more about it, I realized she was right. I reached out to my doctor and friends and immediately got in to see a therapist, who helped me process everything I was experiencing with the grief and postpartum. It was a long process of therapy, medication, and focusing on myself–and I am still working on myself each and every day. I am so grateful for the family and friends who held me and held space for me to see me through to brighter days.”
Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorders. It is the state of well-being and your basic human right to live a fulfilling life. Take time to prioritize your mental health, and remember you are not alone on this journey.