My husband and I have joked before about how we need to put money into a therapy fund for our kids. We’ve also questioned whether we should save for therapy or save for college. I know we aren’t the only ones to joke in this way. I often hear it said after setting a boundary that kids aren’t happy about or when we slip up and do something wrong ourselves—parents are human after all.
Five years ago, I made the agonizing call to seek out therapy. My doctor prescribed Zoloft for postpartum depression at my 6-week appointment after the birth of my firstborn. I shamefully started taking it, hoping it would somehow make me a better mother.
It wasn’t until months later that I finally admitted I needed more help than just the antidepressant. I remember it clearly–my son, just shy of a year old, was in his bouncer and was screaming. Physically and mentally exhausted from not sleeping and from trying to keep up with the internal pressure to be a good mother, wife, and domestic goddess, his screams triggered my anxiety and that day I couldn’t hold it in.
I screamed back at him.
That’s right, I screamed at a baby. I immediately collapsed into tears at the sight of his scared face, and I called the number of a therapist that had been saved on my phone for a while.
Since then, I’ve worked past the postpartum depression and into deeper parts of my life. I’ve worked through the grief of multiple miscarriages and the tightrope between joy and grief when parenting rainbow babies. I’ve poked and prodded to find the source of my anxiety that I always wrote off as just being prepared for anything. I’ve worked through generational trauma and reprogramming my default responses toward my kids.
It’s been the hardest work I’ve ever done and the greatest investment in myself.
I haven’t been quiet about the fact I’m in therapy. I no longer feel the shame I first felt when I made the call. I speak openly about how it’s been a vital tool in my life and my hope is that if I’m honest about it, someone else who needs therapy will make the call for themselves.
My mom approached me at one point and apologized for any role she may have played in my need for therapy. It made me stop and think about how we all approach mental health.
Honestly, I hope I’m the reason my kids are in therapy later.
I’m not saying I hope I screw up enough that they need it. I know I’ll screw up. I’m in therapy to deal with how I treat myself when I inevitably screw up. I hope they see that I used therapy as a tool to become my best self. I hope they see a mom who was strong enough to be vulnerable, strong enough to admit her faults, and strong enough to dig deeper to the root of issues. I hope they see how hard I worked to reframe my mindset and create a safe space not only for them but also for me.
I pray that when my kids are older, they embrace therapy without fear and without the stigma that therapy is for broken people. I hope they see it as something they can use to make themselves stronger and to understand themselves more fully.
Kiddos, if you are reading this at some point (and to anyone reading it right now), know that you are strong, you are beautiful, you are beloved. Therapy saved me in some of my darker moments and overall made me a better human and a better mother (better, not perfect).
You are not broken. You are you, just as you were made to be. I pray you see that and if not, I pray you find something, like therapy, that can help you see it. You are wildly loved and treasured, but you deserve to also feel that love from yourself. Invest in yourself, study yourself, and love yourself. You are worth it.