When I started talking about my own self-care as it relates to mental health, I had no idea July was minority mental health month. I am not a minority, but I can definitely empathize with the challenges associated with getting help if you feel like something is wrong.
In that spirit, NAMI has some amazing resources and I hope you’ll check them out. If you want something a little more accessible to kick off with, Emilie and Bridget did a fabulous podcast on this topic recently. Stuff Mom Never Told You is not a new podcast, but I recently started listening to it religiously when Emilie and Bridget started hosting, so it’s new to me. But I was on a roll with the mental health piece so I also listened to this old episode about maternal mental health the other night (it does make washing dishes a little more exciting) and I really got me right in the “mom gut.” Talking about mental health during and immediately following pregnancy is hard. There’s such a thin line between normal and not normal.
Please, please, please – talk to someone if you feel like something is wrong. It can be discouraging if you can’t find someone to listen. But we are out there, people who love you and want to hear your story.
To my own “stuff”, I had my first therapy appointment on July 26th. It was such a relief to be with someone who started out by saying I wasn’t crazy for feeling overwhelmed and emotional. It was a relief to be with someone who said we would take some actionable steps to deal with stress. While I am not at all opposed to medication, it was nice to be with someone whose first instinct wasn’t to medicate me. A wholistic approach is exactly what I want and need.
I also recognize that as a white woman, being in therapy is such a privilege. I am not faced with social stigma that comes from seeing a therapist. I am better able to pay that co-pay. If it does come down to needing some medication, that is something that can be managed. In unpacking my invisible knapsack I can arrange to see a therapist that shares my racial and socio-economic background. If you are looking for someone who looks like you (representation matters so much!) please check out Ourselves is Black. They offer a state-by-state directory of mental health professionals of color. You can also visit the Black Mental Health Alliance for state-by-state resources.
Sometimes self-care takes on a sexy veneer. There’s something very chic about having a bubble bath, getting a mani/pedi, or having a facial. There is almost never anything sexy about crying in an office because you feel overburdened and like you’ll never feel like yourself again. But this part of self-care is way more important than soaking in the tub or having pretty nails.
What can you do to commit to taking care of your own mental health? What can we do together to help you get there?
I have to admit, I’ve really struggled to pull any kind of a thought together for my post this week. There have been some exciting times in the Hanson household. Electric is consistently using the potty and Adorable is continuing to improve her language skills. I think she’s on the cusp of walking, as her younger peers are now cruising around on two legs. Thank goodness our daycare provider is basically a sainted human being. I’ve been fortunate to continue building my home at The Relationship Blogger and visit Levo in the last few weeks!
My scatterbrained feeling is something I think actually warrants a post, just to help me gain some clarity. If this makes no sense, I apologize.
About a year ago I read this post over on The Honeyed Quill. In the piece, Shawna talks about her experience of being an adult with ADHD. I was surprised as I read it to discover that I kept thinking “That describes me. Oh yeah, that describes me too. And that, and that. . . “ I kept unintentionally coming across posts talking about the lived experience of adult women who have been diagnosed with ADHD. At some point, a coincidence has to stop being a coincidence. I hit that point earlier this week as I was driving to my clinic to talk to someone about these terrible and persistent headaches I’ve been experiencing recently. On the drive I was listening to the most recent Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast about women with ADHD. Once again I thought “What they are saying is describing me perfectly.” Finally, I made it to the clinic and I came to a decision. When discussing what I thought might be causing, or at least contributing to the headaches, I decided to mention ADHD. Through the tears as I discussed everything that is stressing me out I said, “I know that everything I’m saying is a lot. It would stress anyone out. But I also think that there is an underlying issue like ADHD that makes it more difficult to cope.” The doctor agreed and referred me to a therapist for some diagnostic testing because what I was describing could be a number of conditions and some extra help to manage stress would be, well, helpful.
With all of this, I really have to conclude by saying that I hope you’re engaging in self-care. Advocate for yourself, you matter so much!
As I have completed my first semester of graduate work, I am finding that one thing I really miss about my undergraduate work was the opportunity for long periods of really solid introspection. When you’re studying a field as personal as gender it’s critically important, in my opinion, to examine your own beliefs really hard. That being said, having had so much practice in looking into myself to examine my own beliefs also means I can do it a lot more efficiently. One goal I’ve developed recently is to develop a really solid regimen of self-care acts that I can do indoors. I love living in Minnesota, and I’m not likely to go anywhere any time soon, but there are months spent indoors because of the frigid weather we experience here.
All of that being said, it’s hard to identify new acts of self-care when you’re suffering from a lack of self-care. So while the weather is warm I am trying some new activities and also some new products.
At this point I want to stop and say that this is a product post. I’m not getting anything out of this except to share some things I’m trying with you. Heck, one of the people doesn’t even know I’m doing this!
First, I have started dabbing (sometimes literally) into essential oils with DoTerra. My DoTerra lady is April, and she is amazing. She takes educating people about the products very seriously and I appreciate that because essential oils are still a little “new age” for me. You can visit her here.
Second, I have started doing my nails. This is pretty big for me for a few reasons. Nail polish was a banned substance in my home growing up (to many TV paint jobs) so while my friends were perfecting their mani game I was biting my nails down to the beds. I developed tricks to numb the pain in my fingertips, sometimes bringing ice cubes to bed with me. I don’t want to get gross, but after a bizarre infection robbed me of my thumb nails and one of them grew back in kind of a weird shape. It looks like a trapezoid. With my complicated relationship with my fingernails, I was really excited to try Jamberry about a year ago. My amazing friend, Kate, was having a launch party and so I bought some wraps.
I was just as disappointed as anyone to discover that I hated them. In hindsight, I think it was that I was at the end of my pregnancy and basically hated everything. It had nothing to do with the wraps and everything to do with me.
Upon having this realization, I decided to try Jamberry again. I got a mini-heater and some wraps (okay, full disclosure, Kate had some extra ones and she graciously sent them to me with absolutely no expectation that I would do anything like this or even become a Jamberry enthusiast. She is an amazing friend).
It is, with a few manicures under my belt (or should I say, on my fingers?) that I share with you my haphazard process for doing my nails!
First, rather than washing my nails specifically I usually just wash my whole hand vigorously.
Second, I put lotion on my hands. That mini-heater can really dry out your skin and the wraps don’t stay on as well if you moisturize immediately after.
Third, I pick out my wraps. I usually pair up something kind of zany with a solid wrap.
Fourth, I apply the wraps as recommended. I struggle to use nail scissors on my right hand so I trim the excess wrap down with nail clippers.
Fifth, I feel really excited about my finished manicure!
What do you like to do for self-care during those times when you’re stuck inside?