Life pre-pandemic was hard but manageable. I was exhausted all the time, hardly saw my husband due to both our jobs and could barely keep my temper in check with the kids. But that was the norm, and I got complacent in it. Life was turned upside down mid-March when COVID-19 struck, and suddenly I could no longer pretend those struggles away. I was *in it* twenty-four hours a day: full-time mom-ing, working from home 40 hours a week, and face to face with a husband that I hadn’t spent much time with…months? Maybe even years? My emotional balance was gone, and things got much worse before they got any better. But therapy changed my life.
It was the beginning of April, and I was standing in the kitchen screaming at my husband. Something along the lines of “I can’t handle this anymore.” The beautiful life that I’d built so carefully had become utterly foreign and unmanageable. I’d changed into this angry, touched-out wife and mother that I no longer recognized. Ugly words came out of my mouth: “I’m a terrible mother. They don’t need me. I’ll just go.”
The long and the short of it is this: the pandemic didn’t create my problems. It just magnified them so much that I could no longer ignore them. I’d become stuck in a cycle of unhealthy, borderline harmful coping mechanisms that were only making my stressors worse. It became painfully clear that I needed help – professional help.
But wait. “You don’t seem like the kind of person that needs therapy.”
There’s a painful stigma around asking for help via therapy. I’ve heard almost every iteration at this point, but the most damaging one that keeps coming to the surface is that “therapy is only for crazy people.” Yikes. So let’s be clear: therapy is not just for people struggling with mental illness. It is a wonderful tool that can help anyone dealing with stress. Therapists provide support and strategies to help their clients address and work through all kinds of challenges.
It’s been a few months now, and I feel more level. My emotions are no longer tidal wives. I still get angry, sure, but I’m equipped with healthy coping strategies that I talked through with my therapist. Several friends have reached out to me to ask about starting therapy themselves, and I cannot recommend it enough. Please, reach out. Use the resources below, ask a friend … ask me! Therapy changed my life. It might change yours too.
I highly recommend reading (or listening to!) this article from National Public Radio’s Life Kit on how to get started with therapy. I wish I’d read it years ago when I was struggling with postpartum depression after the birth of my first child. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, unhappy, anxious… start here.
This article from Psych Central is a little more in-depth on the realities of therapy, and what to expect. If you feel at all uncomfortable or anxious about making the leap, this is a great read.
Maybe you don’t feel like you need therapy. This article from Psychology Today outlines some concrete steps you can follow to better cope with the uncertainty that surrounds us from COVID-19.