[Samantha] Jessica we know that the process of becoming and being a mother is one of the most transformational experiences in life. Right?
[Samantha] There's a lot of physiological changes and psychological changes, which is unsurprising because those two things go together. Right? They're intrinsically intertwined. I shared this with you and I want to share it with the listeners as well real quick, is one of the questions I really like asking is, in hindsight what is something that you wish you had known during pregnancy. Because it gives a lot of insight as to the kind of content and services that we should be providing as women who want to serve moms, in addition to things like core and pelvic floor health. One of the answers that comes up a lot is, I wish someone had told me about postpartum mental health and the changes that I was going to experience.
[Samantha] Yeah forever, exactly.
So we're all walking around kind of like, "Why did no one talk to me about this stuff beforehand, not really knowing how to feel about things, not really knowing what's normal what's not normal."
So I was thinking, Jessica, a really nice place to start would be for you to kind of help us understand some of these terms we often hear like 'baby blues', postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, because there might be a woman who's like, "I'm pretty sure I have postpartum depression." and that's like causing her a lot of stress but maybe it's just she's experiencing anxiety for the first time, or maybe there's a woman who actually has postpartum depression but she believes and she's had others tell her like, "Oh it's just the baby blues it's no big deal."
[Samantha] So can you walk us through that a little bit Jessica?
[Jessica]Yeah absolutely. So one of my first thoughts, when you were starting that, is I feel like having a baby is similar to planning a wedding. You get excited about the wedding, everyone's excited about the wedding, and then you have this marriage and you're like, "Oh no one actually talks about skills for what happens after the wedding." And so I think that when we're pregnant we talk about oh the baby and then it's sort of like you get home from the hospital and you were like, "No one ever talked to me about how to parent or how to take care of myself through that process."
[Samantha] So accurate.
[Jessica] We have all these classes to get us through the delivery. Well that, in the large scale of things, is such a small blip on all the changes that happen and all that we should be preparing for. I love helping women who are trying to become mothers or about to deliver or have a baby. I love to talk to them about what it will look like in a year, what it will look like in six months, what it will look like in six years so that they can start to have an idea of motherhood and not just delivering the baby, or not just having the baby. That was one thought that came to my mind. Yeah. It's funny how we do that sort of societally, is just the event, that's all we're really talking about ever.
[Jessica] What we know is that you know the baby blues that I think so many people talk about last about 10 days. Anything longer than 10 days, you're actually very close to meeting the criteria for postpartum depression. In order to get a diagnosis of postpartum depression you are having some similar symptoms of the baby blues, but they're lasting 14 days or more. So it's two weeks. I've have had a lot of conversations with staff who were working with moms, and moms themselves, and they say, "Well isn't that too short?" I think that we've made the criteria quote-unquote really easy to get so that we can get women help faster.
[Jessica]Can you imagine if you had to experience hopelessness or helplessness or sadness for longer than 14 days just to be able to receive benefits or services around it?
[Jessica] I always kind of say it's an easy one to get and an easy one to get rid of. If you can get the right supports in place. The baby blues, we would expect about 10 days postpartum and anything around that 14-day marker or longer would be more of the postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety.
[Jessica] In general, postpartum or not depression and anxiety love to hang out together, they love to really fuel one another. You have this rapid thinking and mindset, the anxiety right, where we're worried about absolutely everything and the brain feels like it races and never slows down, paired with this just exhaustion in our body. I've had some women describe their anxiety runs down their battery which fuels the depression. And so it's interesting to hear from people how they pair and how they partner. And now I've gone off on such a tangent what was the rest of your question?
[Samantha] Oh no, no you answered it exactly, actually. So going along those same thought processes here, one of the things that commonly comes up is, these changes are the result of hormonal changes that you're experiencing.
[Samantha] That's the primary factor and women are always curious, are there any other variables involved, any other risk factors, can I prevent postpartum depression? Can you give us some of your perspective on those types of questions, Jessica?
[Jessica] Yeah I think that we're always searching for the answer of how to prevent it. There are absolutely hormones involved, of course, but postpartum depression is not solely hormonal, and I think that's one of the big misses. Well as a society in general, but also maybe medical staff is I think that we've put too much credit on the hormonal changes. One of the risk factors, so to speak, for postpartum depression is if you've experienced depression or anxiety previously. Whether that's after a baby and you're on a subsequent child or if that's just any time in life.
[Jessica]So if you've had a depressive episode before, or a history of anxiety, the odds of that reappearing, the odds of having another episode after that big hormonal shift in your body is greater. We talk with a lot of women about their history with depression and anxiety and whether or not they've experienced that in the past because that can sometimes be an indicator that they might want to be working on some resources and working on some skills for having the baby to help offset what research would say is coming which is another episode of depression or anxiety.
[Samantha] Okay. So maybe just having a proactive approach to...
[Samantha] Prepare for what's to come can be really helpful.
[Jessica] That's a big fear. I mean, women who have experienced postpartum depression before are often very nervous around the delivery of a second or third or fourth child, because they're very afraid of it...
[Jessica] You know, coming back. I think being as preventative as you can, as proactive as you can, and getting some resources and some things in place, can be very helpful if you are, in fact, going to experience those symptoms again.
[Samantha] Jessica, I know that you specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy, am I saying that correctly?
[Jessica] You are, yeah.
[Samantha] Okay, cool. Can you talk to us a little bit about how that can be helpful in dealing with these types of experiences? I know that sometimes women are like, "I don't want to talk about it because I don't want to go on anti-depressants."
[Jessica] Yes, we hear that a lot.
[Samantha] Right. So for that woman, or for a woman who maybe is open to antidepressants but wants some other tools in her toolkit, talk to us a little bit about CBT and what that looks like.
[Jessica] Well, I'm a CBT nerd, I really love it a lot. The foundation of cognitive behavioral therapy just says that all the things that we do, so all of our behaviors and all of our thoughts, affect our feelings, and that you can't change a behavior or change a thought without it also changing your feelings, and that those are all linked together. In CBT, we often look at a certain situation and we pull apart the layers of 'what were you feeling in your body', 'what were you thinking in your head' and 'what were you acting on, what were your behaviors looking like'.
We can start to tweak the things that we do and the things that we think in a way that profoundly changes how we feel. It's amazing to me to sit through this process with women and hear them saying, "I was feeling really depressed, I didn't want to get out of bed so I laid in bed all day." We'll look at that behavior. Okay, so how did that change your thoughts? Well, I stayed in a really negative thought place. My thoughts around myself became negative and self-shaming and worthless. I just wanted to stay in bed even more, and I ended up feeling even worse. It's kind of this spiral.
Whereas if we can change that for someone and we say, "Okay, you were feeling really depressed and you didn't want to get out of bed." Somehow, and this takes a lot of strength so I'm not saying that this is an easy thing by any means, but somehow you were able to just sit upright and put your feet on the floor. Then we find that that starts to change the thoughts in your head like, "Well maybe that wasn't so hard, or maybe I can make it to the bathroom to brush my teeth. As we start to shift our behaviors our thoughts shift with it, and then our mood can shift. It's amazing to me how if we don't think about the whole big picture of all that you have to do in the day and all you want to accomplish and all the responsibilities that lie ahead of you, if we can just say, "Can I get to the bathroom and splash some water on my face, or brush my teeth." That seems more doable.
[Jessica] Which leads to an accomplished feeling, which changes our whole outlook on the day.
[Jessica] I love CBT for that reason, and how we're all capable of doing small shifts. The thoughts get a little bit trickier because they're a little bit more work, you have to be able to catch them first, but we're all capable of doing things, even just a small little bit differently, to change our mood.
[Samantha] I think that's so fascinating and so powerful, Jessica, too because it's like what it's like one really little thing, seemingly really little thing that I can do just to change this behavior pattern ever so slightly and that small change starts that snowball effect where that starts to impact the way that you're perceiving things, thinking about things, feeling about things. I can totally see how that would be meaningful and beneficial. That's really cool.
[Jessica] Yeah, it's fun to walk alongside people and use the word 'power'. I always go back to this word power and as a therapist that's one of my absolute favorite parts, is when people find that they actually have this power within them that something either themselves or something else has hidden from them or said that they didn't have all along. I love to show it to them, like, "No, that's your power. You get to choose when you lean into that and when you come out of it." I think that's a profound part of therapy and one of my favorite parts is when people realize their power.
[Samantha] Yes. You gave the example of someone just feeling like they can't get out of bed because things feel so heavy, and then the practical application would be to just take that one little step of maybe trying to sit up in bed as like the first little step. So from a practical standpoint for a woman who isn't seeing someone like you right now maybe wants to start implementing some of those things in her life, is the best route for her to when she's starting to experience something that is challenging to start thinking, "What's that one step that I can take?" or what would you recommend she start to do?
[Jessica] I think you can always break it down into baby steps, quite literally baby steps. We tend to set goals in these huge end result goals, and we don't break down the individual steps to get there, and if we only think about the end goal, we're often left feeling like we failed, like we can't do it, like it's impossible, and maybe we've done the first, like if you think about it in a ladder, maybe we've gotten to the first rung of the ladder and we're not to the top yet but then we don't credit ourselves for getting to that rung.
I think breaking down those baby steps can be a really beneficial way to know what you need to do next and to feel accomplished at each step on the way. Again, if I can sit up, let's really cheerlead ourselves for that, because that was a big thing. If I can get to the bathroom and brush my teeth, then we should be happy dancing for ourselves. It feels kind of silly, we think, "Well we don't need that." yet we do that for children. I always look at moms and say how easily we celebrate the baby steps for a child and we forget that along the way somewhere for adults. If you're really struggling, and you're really having a hard time then let's celebrate brushing our teeth the same way we do when our toddler does it for the first time by themself. I think there's some of that.
I also think one of the very first things I like to do with a client when they come in, is we start to talk about their pleasurable activity list. Really having a concrete, on paper, or on your phone however you choose to access that list, having a list of the things that bring you joy. Having a list of the things that make your heart grow three times bigger. Having a list of the things that let you escape some of the negative, some of the heavy. I don't like distraction as a tool for 100 percent of the time, because we call that avoidance, but I think having some things to distract you from that hole that people describe being in can be really helpful.
I think having a pleasurable activity list of accessible things, things that can go with you anywhere. I really need pleasurable activities when I'm shopping in public and I'm standing in a line that seems to be way longer than it needs to be, because no one is checking anybody out.
[Samantha] You don't love that?
[Jessica] I don't love that. I need those things that are very accessible to me, so one of my pleasurable activities is called savoring, and I can run through in my mind, I'm a visual person, so I can see pictures of my kids, I can see funny memories that we've had together, and I can relive those experiences. It's a nice distraction from the negative that I was feeling. When we feel joy our heart opens up to more empathy for others. It's not only good for me but it's also a gift to those around me in the grocery store at that moment. It makes some of those tough moments more tolerable, more bearable, and actually joyful.
[Samantha] Yes, oh I love that
[Jessica] It was a very long answer to say, I think baby stepping out your goal, and having a pleasurable activity list are some of the first things that we do.
[Jessica] Those would be my recommendations.
[Jessica] I think that there's a psychologist, that I love and I want to be her when I grow up, but they talk about interpersonal neurobiology. She said, "The neurobiology was fascinating but it's not enough. It's how the body and the brain interact together, that we need to focus on. So what's happening in the body affects the brain and vice versa. Until we start to include mental health as part of our health wellness plan then we're missing a component, because mental health is health.
[Samantha] Absolutely. There's so much research coming out right now about, not only mental health in general, but specifically things like the benefit of gratitude practices and the impact of gratitude on our brain and our bodies.
[Samantha] They're starting to realize that that positive mindset and thinking can physically heal us, as opposed to resentment can have the opposite effect on our health.
[Jessica] Yes, absolutely.
[Samantha] When we're talking about postpartum recovery, certainly there's a lot of physical healing that's happening. But to ignore the mental health components is to miss out on a really big piece of what's going on. We are whole beings, we are people with multiple components to us, and the physical components are intertwined with the non-physical, like the invisible parts of us. Right.
[Jessica] Well said.
[Samantha] It all plays a role doesn't it, Jessica.
[Jessica] I totally agree. I think the body remembers. What's happening in our body is sometimes an indicator of what's happening in our brain and the memories associated therein. So often a pain or an ailment in our body can need both physical and mental resources and supports to work through.
[Samantha] Absolutely. I think that is such a powerful statement and it's hard to make that happen sometimes. I would like us to talk a little bit about the struggle of being moms and having so many things that we're juggling, and oftentimes the natural propensity is to de-prioritize what we are needing because we have to prioritize the needs of our family and our children or things don't get done and they don't get what they need. We as moms naturally have to do that. Then there's this whole other conversation about, "Well it takes a lot of time and energy and money to take care of myself and all these different components of myself, so how can I justify that?"
[Jessica] Oh, that's one of my biggest pet peeves, is when we monetize taking care of ourselves.
[Samantha] Yes. Maybe we can talk about that a little bit. Let's try to get practical too, because at a high level it's really easy to say like, "Hey mama, you need X, Y, and Z, and you're gonna be amazing because of it. You're going to feel better, your life is gonna be fuller, it's really going to benefit you. You need this stuff." But, for her listening to that it's like, "I don't doubt you, but you don't know my life. I don't have the time, I don't have the money." How can we start to think about addressing that in practical terms, Jessica?
[Jessica] Oh my gosh. The number of women who have told me, "I don't have the time or the money to take care of myself, and my kids are what's most important, so I take care of them first." First of all, props to you, because your children and your family and your values matter so much to you. I am always amazed at how strong we are no matter how many responsibilities we have on our list, no matter what we're taking care of no, matter what the weight of that mental weight we're carrying, because women carry, even if you're in a 50/50 type relationship if you have a partner, women just carry the mental weight. You know, you might not be picking out the trash on Thursday morning but you should remember that that's the schedule and what time they drive by to pick it up. We have so much going on that we're holding and so many people who turn to us for those sweet little dependent moments. Those are just beautiful because they build trust and they build connections. Our children coming to us in those dependent moments actually are what build independence for them. It's these beautiful lessons that we get to have with them.
Also on the flip side, sometimes you're just like, "You literally passed another human being to get to me while in the bathroom, doing something for myself, who could have helped." We as moms, get a lot of that I think. It's hard to find the time to think about where we fit into that.
One of my very favorite things is to check in with moms with some of their thoughts and beliefs before therapy, and then where some of their thoughts and beliefs, how they've changed and how they've shifted throughout therapy. I have a very high rate of clients who say before therapy, they believed in order to be a good mom, they had to put their children and family first. Through therapy, it shifted to, "If I'm going to take care of my children and family I have to put myself first." I always do a secret internal like, "Yeah." kind of moment, because that's such an important thing for, us to not only realize, it's not a cognitive thing that's a physical thing, we have to feel that. Because when you start doing things for you, even three minutes a day, to fill your buckets, which is a therapy term, so I don't know how familiar people are with 'fill your bucket or build your bubble'.
[Samantha] I've never heard 'build your bubble' before.
[Jessica] Build your bubble. No? Okay. I hope you ask about those things because I don't want it to be something somebody misses. When you give to yourself you actually have more capacity to give to others. I'm always excited when somebody has that light bulb moment.
[Samantha] Yeah. Maybe you can explain to us really quick what it means to build our bubble and fill our bucket.
[Jessica] Yeah. So filling your bucket, if you're interested, there's a great book about filling your bucket. It's basically just your emotional bucket. As women, as moms, we're giving all the time, all day long, and it's a little here a little there. Those sweet cubs that we're pouring into have holes. It's not like you ever pour into your kids enough, where they don't need anymore. It's constantly like slow draining and they're gonna come back to you and need something else. And the dog is going to need something else, and your sister is gonna need something else, and those people in our lives who turn to us to be supported, they take from us. So if we do not fill our bucket, at some point how will we ever be able to pour into theirs.
Then building your bubble is just a different phrase for how do you make sure you have what you need. How do you make sure you're setting boundaries, how do you make sure you're filling your bubble full of what makes your heart happy and makes you tick so that you can be healthy and well.
[Samantha] I love those visual ways to think about that because it's really helpful. Like you say, for sure, my bucket has a lot of holes in it, it just keeps draining and I was like, "What the heck?"
[Jessica] What the heck, I know. We hear a lot in training, it's almost like in my field you've heard it too much, but in case this is something new to you or to your listeners, they always say on airplanes they get it right, you have to put your mask on before you put on the masks and the people around you.
[Jessica] That's what taking care of yourself first is because if you pass out on the plane you in fact cannot help your child with their masks.
[Samantha] Very true. That's a helpful reminder to, Jessica, because I always get kind of annoyed with the flight attendant when she comes by and tells me that I'm like, "Yeah, yeah, I know." but she's doing her job.
[Jessica] She's actually telling you a lot about how to take care of yourself.
[Samantha] Next time I see a flight attendant she's telling me that, I'm going to pause and let her know how profound that statement is.
[Jessica] It's very profound and, again in my field, it's like, "We know, we got it, the flight attendant, the mask, we've got it. But it's very true, very true. You have to put yours on first so that you can help those around you.
[Samantha] So for the woman who's hearing that and she's like, "Okay that sounds really good, but I don't quite feel it yet. I haven't quite adopted that mentality yet, but I want to, it sounds good." Do you think that a good place to start is maybe just with small increments of time? I think you said previously, three minutes, just trying to set aside brief increments in order to build her bubble, fill her, what is it, bucket?
[Jessica] Fill her bucket, yeah.
I think that for the women who are so busy and don't know where they'd find that, one of my favorite quotes that social media continues to throw in front of me, probably for good reason, is 'It's not that you don't have the time, It's just that it's not a priority'. It's amazing to me how long I can spend scrolling on Pinterest, but I say I don't have time for other things. If I were to purposely set aside and schedule three minutes for myself, could we find the three minutes for that? So I challenge someone through that.
Another thing I really love to do for women who are busy, is how do we tweak the things you're already doing? I'll never forget one mom I worked with who is really adamant that she couldn't even add in 60 seconds. She couldn't change even 60 seconds of her day to add in something for her. Her perception is her reality, she knows best, she is her own expert. Rather than try to add in something else, we said, "Okay, let me have a list of what your daily schedule looks like." She was doing a couple of things, like a shower. I said, "Well explain in the shower what's that like for you?" She would share that she was thinking about her to do list. She was making a mental to do for the whole day. Rather than adding in another thing that she didn't feel like she had time for, we changed her thoughts while she was in the shower. Instead, she renamed it her 'mindful shower'.
[Samantha] Oh, I like that.
[Jessica] She felt the warm water on her skin, she smelled the smells of her favorite soaps and shampoos that she was very fond of. And if she had the thought in her mind of a to-do, or something she needed to do afterward, she tried to say, "In this moment I'm just going to focus on the shower." That became one of her favorite self-care moments of the day. I really love that as a success for her because it didn't cost her any extra money, it was something she was doing anyway. She didn't feel like she had to rearrange her very busy schedule already. Instead, we just tweaked her thoughts around that time, and that experience and that had great benefits for her.
[Samantha] That is so cool. I want to take a mindfulness shower now. That sounds great. I want to smell my favorite soaps.
[Jessica] Well, this is going to come off really weird.
[Jessica] Not that I think about clients in the shower, but sometimes I'm reminded. Oh yeah, Jessica, you're running through your to-do lists, don't do that. Let's smell the soap that you like so much and just sit in that.
[Samantha] For sure. I think you brought up a multiple of great points, but one of the ones that stood out to me too is you don't have to spend money in order to prioritize self-care and it can be built into something as simple as taking a shower. Or earlier you were sharing about your savoring time when you're stuck in line.
[Samantha] I think a lot of times, we get caught up in this idea like, "It's going to take a lot of time, and it's gonna be a lot of money."
[Jessica] Massages and pedicures. It's always massages and pedicures.
[Samantha] Right. Then it goes into that mentality, there's a lot of resistance that automatically exists, because we're feeding that preexisting notion like, "Oh yeah, it's going to take a lot of time, it's going to be a lot of money." so therefore it does, because that's the narrative we're giving ourselves.
[Jessica] We also schedule it then. We also think that it only happens if we schedule it, like in advance.
[Samantha] Yeah. Oh that's interesting. But it doesn't have to be scheduled, like your standing in line example like, "Oh, this isn't a great opportunity for x, y, z, let's do it."
[Jessica] A quick body scan, my irritation is growing, I might need to help myself feel better. Oh, I'll think of a funny memory, or that show I just watched yesterday, or something that just helps. Even taking a deep breath. Everyone has different self-care, so that's different for everyone. What works for me is not necessarily going to be the same thing for you. But I think knowing yourself and knowing what that is, that accessible meeting with you all the time, that free thing is so helpful to have in your tool belt.
[Samantha] Yes for sure. So, Jessica, I'm really wanting to explore more what it looks like for us as women who want to support the other women in our lives.
[Jessica] Oh my gosh, yes. Women helping women.
[Samantha] Right. I keep saying this, I feel like, because I've been having a really tough week, motherhood is hard. I think that sometimes we don't know exactly what to say or how to help, and it stops a lot of conversations from happening because we're like, "We don't know that person well enough to like ask those types of questions." or like, "I don't really know what her situation is, and I don't want to step on any toes, so I better just be quiet about it." But there has to be ways for us to move past that and start to have these meaningful conversations and help one another instead of just feeling like well, "I don't have anything that I can do or say that's going to be beneficial." Do you know what I mean? How can we start to talk about it a little bit?
[Jessica] Oh my gosh, well my brain goes to globally, I just think the more we can do to eliminate the negative stigma around mental health, around therapy, around reaching out for resources and supports when we need them, the better. All that, that you just described, all the 'yuck' that happens in our soul when we wonder what to say or what to do, comes from that negative stigma. You know we're worried we're gonna offend. We're worried what they're gonna think when we say that, because we're not to the point yet, and I hope we are someday, but we're not to the point yet where we can go up to our friend and say, "I'm really wondering if you would benefit from talking to a therapist." or, "I'm really wondering if you would benefit from you know." Yet we would say it if someone said, "I've been having headache, after headache, after headache." we'd say, "Have you gone to the doctor?"
[Jessica] And that holds no stigma. But going to the therapist still holds going to the therapist, like there's a therapist, but going and seeing someone.
[Samantha] You're the one right?
[Jessica] I'm the one. My colleagues won't like that.
[Samantha] Oops, I Guess.
[Jessica] You know, it still holds a stigma. I think that's what gives us pause in those moments. I also love love love a quote from Brene Brown that I think of on a daily basis that is, 'Rarely does a response change the way someone's feeling. What changes the way someone's feeling is connection'. I think that if you're talking about the stranger at the grocery store you don't have that connection, so you might take a different approach. But if this is a friend, if this is a loved one, I think coming from a place of heart, 'I love you and I'm connected with you and I want you to feel good and I'm invested in your well-being, how can I help? What do you need? What resources can I help provide?' There are some questions like that that aren't so, "How are they going to take that when I say that?"
[Samantha] Right. But also like more specific than just like, "How are you?"
[Jessica] We've really constructed that into a weird thing, haven't we? Because, what are the two things people say when we say, "How are you?"
[Samantha] "I'm fine."
[Jessica] "I'm fine", and "I'm good".
[Samantha] "I'm good". Okay.
[Jessica] Neither one of those are feeling words.
[Jessica] They're not any feeling wheel that I've ever seen. They're not emotions. They're 'fine' and 'good'. We really stripped that of any real context or any real connecting opportunity with people. I find, "How can I help?" Even then, the research is starting to suggest not asking that because a person you're asking isn't always in the right mind space to tell you or to know, and so more action. More action-oriented things are feeling supportive to people like if you handed somebody a business card or a number and said, "I found them helpful." or we're on Instagram so, "I watch these ladies on Instagram, maybe you could get something if you started following them." or something that's more action that says 'I care about you and here's something I can offer'.
[Samantha] Yeah. Kind of nudging them in the right direction as opposed to just an open-ended question.
[Jessica] Yeah. When we're in that place, and I think I visually see it as a whole because I've had so many women describe it as a whole, but I love it when someone comes up with a new visual for what that place is. But when we're in that place, we're not accessing our executive functioning, so we're not accessing our frontal lobe and that that wide spectrum thought, or that outer peripheral stuff isn't there for us. It's more like wearing blinders and seeing a very narrow path of what's right in front of us.
So when we can start to help others and remove those blinders, or expand those blinders, and just bring some more into what they're seeing, that can be really helpful. We can't leave it up to the person in that hole to see what's around them, because they're in a hole.
[Samantha] Right, that makes a lot of sense.
[Jessica] Yeah. I think helping them you know 'here's a ladder', 'here is a flashlight'
[Jessica] 'Here's a book you could read while you're down there'. Knowing that person is going to be important, but I think there's some things we could do to help expand that perspective, that perception.
[Samantha] Yes. So, Jessica, I could talk with you forever, I'm pretty sure, because you're like my soul mate, and this is so much fun. But I have to let you go at some point. So I want to just ask one more question.
[Jessica] I feel like that's really polite code for 'You are talking a whole lot'.
[Samantha] It's not code, take it for what it is. Okay. I think actually maybe it's a big question or like multiple questions. I don't know. We'll see how it goes.
So I'm wondering if we have a woman who's listening right now and she's feeling like things are not going well and everything is a struggle she's feeling depleted, but maybe she feels a lot of shame associated with those feelings because she's taking it and interpreting it in a way that maybe says 'I'm not cut out for this job', or 'I'm not a great mom', or 'I'm not a great wife', whatever it is. So she's feeling shame and she's feeling brokenness around those feelings. What would you say to her? What are some things that she can do in that place that is going to benefit her working through some of that?
[Jessica] This is kind of like meeting a client for the first time, I feel like this is where we see a lot of our clients who are in this place that you're describing. I always want to start by saying, "I'm so sorry you've been experiencing that, because it really takes so much of what we tell ourselves and what other people tell us are supposed to be this great time in our life. We feel like we're missing out on it and so I'm sorry if you feel like you're missing out on the opportunities and the experiences with your family and with your children. That's often a sad place for people, so I'm sorry that you're feeling it. I also want you to know you are not alone. So many women think that they're the only ones experiencing this level of pain, or this level of isolation, or this level of sadness, and you are not. And that it's not your fault, and that there is help." I think those would be my umbrella statements for her.
Again it's the blinders that make us think we see all the options, and when you're in that hole you cannot see all the options. Reaching out and trying something different will change how you're feeling. Sometimes we can reach for the wrong thing, right. There are coping skills that actually make our situations worse, but it changes how you're feeling. It might take a couple of tries to find the right thing that is healthy and a good choice and a positive choice for you. I hope that you can find the capacity to try. Because it can profoundly change that place and that state that you’re in right now. Because we don’t want to miss it.
My goal with all of the moms that I work with is, they can often identify a previous them. “I can remember a time when I wasn’t this way.” So my goal is always to help them get closer to that person that they identified with missing. The levels of happiness, the levels of joy, the levels of interest in doing things, the levels of interest in interacting with other people and friends and family. We have memories of when it wasn’t so bad. And how do we help get somebody back towards that?
[Samantha] Then Jessica, do you have any closing thoughts or things that you would want our listeners to hear before we hang up this podcast and call it good for now. Are there any last thoughts that you want to share with us?
[Jessica] I say it and I almost paused because it doesn’t sound ridiculous. I just want you to know that you’re amazing. I want you to know that you have the capacity to make change. I want you to know that you’re the expert in your own life. What you know about you and what you need is what’s driving the bus. Follow that, and trust yourself, and give to you because, like you said, motherhood is hard. If we are not accessing the skills to make it easier, if we’re not using the right tools, then we’re making the job even harder.
One of my metaphors I sometimes say is, ‘building a house is hard, but if you’re using an egg beater instead of a hammer, it’s going to be even harder.
[Jessica] Where are we needing just the right skills in our life to make something that’s difficult and challenging just a little bit easier? Then I think one of the things that, thank goodness my colleagues are into social media, we have our Instagram account, every week we try to do a live. We are getting a lot of really great feedback from some of our posts and some of our videos. I think if you’re not ready to reach out and start therapy yet, maybe following that can be helpful.
[Samantha] Yes. We’re going to share your contact information in the show notes, Jessica, but just so they can hear it real quick, what is your Instagram handle?
[Jessica] We are @Wildhopekc. We’re also on Facebook, and our website is wildhopekansascity.com. There are lots of ways to watch our videos, we’ve got a couple of blogs, and just get a flavor for what it’s like to hear a therapist, or talk to a therapist or implement some of the things we talk about. Even if you’re never sitting in our office, talking about your own specific stuff. Yeah.
[Samantha] Awesome. We’re going to be back on this podcast with your colleagues in later episodes, so if you’re listening, make sure that you tune in in the coming weeks because I’m going to be talking with some of Jessica’s colleagues about maternal mental health.
Jessica, thank you so much for being on the show today.
[Jessica] Thank you so much. This was a lot of fun.
[Samantha] This was so much fun. Look at us, we’re on the same page.
[Jessica] We are, we are very connected.