I’m late to the game here on the topic of Mental Health. It’s been a big topic the last few years, and it’s never meant so much more to me than after I became a mom. From all the stages we could go through as a mom, postpardum depression, mom guilt, to just plain, “I don’t know what the f*ck” to do moments,” I found myself in mounds of stress and very little sleep.
If you already know our story (like many others), we work a lot, at times, too much. And when I mean by too much, it’s the point where work or EVERYTHING else has grown into some obligatory priority that starts to impact your livelihood as a person, your relationships personally and with your family. The last few years have been that exactly. At some point, I didn’t know how to separate my life from my work. I was taking conference calls from birthday parties. I never let go of my laptop or shut it off while on vacation. I held my phone at all times anticipating whatever I was working on. And you guessed it! That went from annoying my family, to really pissing them off.
At some point in this journey, my marriage was greatly impacted, and my daughter was too accustomed to me being gone than I was comfortable with. Most importantly, I lost myself. Before working motherhood, I found time to cook, eat right, work out, and find time with my friends. Post motherhood and fast forward 2 years after having Everly, I went from working out nearly every day and playing competitive volleyball to sitting on my @ss, completely tired and barely finding the time to make dinner.
I never went back to my pre-baby weight. I never felt the same way. I lost confidence in wearing ‘nice things.’ I was too tired to do anything fun, and I gave up on my social life. I convinced myself that my true purpose was to make everything I could and provide money to fund my family life, and that later in the future is when I would get my time to rest.
Whoever said, “We will sleep when we die” maybe didn’t realize that doing that would send you to the grave ALONE, and FASTER.
THEN A MOMENT HIT ME…
I had attended a women’s conference, happily funded by my company (very awesome). It was meant to be career development focused for leaders, but I attended a session about prioritization. There were 30 women in the room. We were first handed a sheet of paper and given 10 minutes to write down everyone we take care of. I was certain I had it accurate. If anything, I started to feel bad thinking, “wow, do I take care of ENOUGH people?”
The instructor begins with, please raise your hand if you wrote down yourself on your list. I was thinking, “oh…wow, I definitely did not.” I looked around the room, and ONE WOMAN had raised her hand. ONE WOMAN out of 30 made a realization that she takes care of herself! The rest of us commiserated about how we definitely don’t do that.
That was a wake up call for me to focus on self care, and since that conference, I have tried very hard to provide myself the self care I need to sufficiently and happily take care of my family. No one likes a grumpy mom. NO ONE.
Now, I want to bring this back to mental checks. The thing I had to realize is that mental checks don’t have to be negative, dramatic, or dire. I definitely don’t undermine diagnosis of depression, etc…, but my point is it’s okay to take a mental check for self-care when you start to feel like you are losing yourself. You don’t need to be depressed or anxious to realize you need to check yourself.
Waiting till you hit the bottom is like saying you aren’t going to have eat because you haven’t yet felt your insides trying to eat itself. For godsakes mamas, let’s FEED OURSELVES! We deserve it mentally. Don’t let any guilt take that away from you.
Coincidentally, I came across an article on mental health days by U.S. News who reference Alison Ross. Alison Ross, a psychologist in New York City and an adjunct associate professor of psychology at City College of New York defines self-care as “taking a few moments on a regular basis to check in with oneself, to take stock of how they’re doing emotionally and physically. Are they exhausted? Overwhelmed? Burned-out? Completely depleted? Many people don’t do this in an ongoing way; they just go, go, go with regards to their work life and their home life, and this contributes to feelings of unhappiness, resentment and a sense of hopelessness about being on an endless treadmill they can’t get off of.” Ross encourages everyone to carve out “me time” that includes taking time to do something pleasurable. “This can include taking a mental health day off from their job,” she says.– U.S News
And that’s what I did. That’s what I DO. This is the 3rd mental check day I’ve taken this year. The last few months I focused hard on work. I found myself slowing losing sleep. I was getting overly anxious with my travel schedule (I am going to be gone for 6 weeks straight in October). It was time for a mental check day. Today is about me. My daughter still went to school. I had coffee, I wrote, I am going to take a drive. At the end of it, I am going to feel refreshed. I will be more productive and patient than I was last week.
Here’s a reminder to you that you CAN take a mental health check day. Feed yourselves parents!
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