Mothers’ Mental Health Toolkit – Chapter 3

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Hello loves! We are now onto chapter 3- understanding Mother’s Mental Health. This chapter focuses on dimensions of mental health, family violence/safety plans, risk factors, progress in recovery, and causes/symptoms to look out for when dealing with mental health issues.

Even though this chapter is understanding Mother’s mental health, it can be used to help understand mental health in general. Part of this chapter is based on looking at someone else who needs help, although in this case I want you thinking of yourself. Use the exercises to guide the conversation with yourself. You may be surprised by what you learn. I’ll try to cover everything in this chapter, however I won’t be going in depth with the mental health issues on the last few pages. I encourage you to look at these and see if you have any of the same feelings or symptoms. This could be a good starting point to identify issues you may be dealing with.

If you haven’t yet downloaded this free resource you can here: x

Also if you need to catch up on chapter 1 or 2 you can look back in my journal here: x

Chapter 3: Understanding Mother’s Mental Health

Dimensions of Health & Wellness p.93

“A Mother’s mental wellness can be consumed on three core dimensions”:

• Body

• Thinking

• Feelings

All of these are related to how we deal with stress and how to react to stressful situations. How our body feels can influence how we feel and therefore how we think. When I was depressed/suicidal last year my back pain was reaching a new level of pain. I was so depressed and upset mentally but the pain I felt physically also contributed to those feelings. It’s important to know, mother or not, that these three simple things can contribute to how we feel, see ourselves and our world. If we take care of our body first our feelings/thoughts can reflect how we feel. Mental health is more than being ‘happy or smiling” all the time. It’s about applying the skills you’ve learned throughout life to handle and cope with stressful situations in life. It’s how we use our strengths to help us grow through life.

Family Violence p.97

In some cases, mental health and family violence is connected and becomes a cycle that continues through generations. It can become a constant pattern of violence that is hard to identify and even harder to get away from. This chapter has a lot of good resources with identifying violence and if you are in an abusive relationship. The exercise on page 100 is helpful in identifying if you are in an abusive relationships. I encourage you, if you feel unsafe or scared in your relationship to do this short quiz. If you are in an abusive relationship it can seem impossible to leave or get out. This can be from fear of doing it on your own or fear of getting hurt even worse. It’s important that if you are and plan to leave to safety plan. The follow pages from the quiz have resources/tips on what to do and how to prepare to leave. Leaving can be one of the hardest part, but knowing you are doing something better for yourself and your child can help you get through. Reach out to those you trust and know you are worthy of love and respect. Violence in families can occur from low self esteem and our thoughts of ourselves. We may think we deserve it, but we don’t. We deserve to feel safe, cared for, and loved. Especially in a relationship.

Risk Factors p.106
Adjustment Problems

Our journey through life is always unexpected. As soon as we feel comfortable in our lives risk factors can come and test our strengths. These risk factors could be poverty, social isolation, lack of supports, poor self-worth, anxiety, physical illness, and more. All these risks could lead mood problems or illnesses. It’s important to know that sometimes we cannot control what happens to us in our lives, although we can change how we feel and react to these risks. I’m so thankful for the constant supports in my life, because I know I wouldn’t be able to do life on my own and that is okay. We aren’t meant to be alone. We are meant to surround ourselves with people who love, care and support us. The checklist on p.107 is meant to be used with yourself and your support person, however in this case I want you to first have the conversation with yourself. It easier to open up and do these with ourselves. Then we can understand, learn, and ask for help if needed.

Determinants of Progress or Outcome. p.110

The first step in recovery is identifying your issues or problems. Admitting when you aren’t okay and reaching out for help. Once you know more about your problems, issues or disorders you can learn how to cope with them. There’s many causes/contributions that lead to mental health issues. These can be biological, psychological, and social… These are all outlined on p.112-p.117. Never blame yourself for your mental health issues. It’s important to know that some things are out of your control.. what we can control is how we feel about ourselves and our problems. Here are some keys ways to help you throughout your journey.

Strategies to help recovery:

  • Knowledge about your illness/symptons
  • Families/friends knowledge of problems or issues
  • Positive relationship with mental health caregiver (Doctor, Counselor)
  • The number/kind of support you have
  • Motivation for change/self-care
  • Avoiding interpersonal conflicts

A main step in my recovery was figuring out what was “wrong” with me. Once I knew about my eating disorder I could start the healing process. It can be hard to get to that point, because of how hard it is to admit when you aren’t okay. I didn’t realize how much it would help me to know about my issues and what I could do to help myself until I finally asked for help. My eating disorder, my depression, my anxiety. It doesn’t define me. It’s something I learn about daily and I honestly have gotten to a point where I just embrace it all. The other step that really helped me was reaching out, finding my supports and knowing that I wasn’t alone. Last year, I thought I had no one. That no one cared about me or even wanted to be my friend. I was wrong. Once I opened myself up and reached out I realized my friends were there all along. I just didn’t realize it. I was so caught up in my mind that I thought I was forgotten, but I wasn’t… Neither are you.

I’m not scared to share my story because I wouldn’t be who I am today without these things. Whether good or bad it’s shaped who I am. I wouldn’t care about others as much as I do if I didn’t experience it all. I wouldn’t feel the need to blog passionately in this way, if I didn’t experience the pain I have. I’ve been tested so many times in my life. I truly didn’t think I would make it past high-school. Me being here today, getting up every morning, opening myself up, surrounding myself with positive relationships wouldn’t have happened without all the struggles. If you are in a dark place right now, please know you won’t be there forever. I’m proof of that. It’s possible feel worthy, strong, and happy in your life. & if you feel like you are alone and can’t reach out, I’m here for you. I’m here for you in anyway you need, even if that is just to listen. This chapter is all about “understanding mental health”. It’s easier said than done, but learning/understanding mental health is the first step in helping ourselves and helping others. Once we can see the factors, causes, and symptoms of mental health issues in ourselves or others we can start to healing process.

I apologize if this was hard to follow along. I tried to condense this chapter on what I found most important for me and to help you. I didn’t touch on everything in this chapter, but it is important to still read and do exercises you think would help your situation. If you have any questions, comments or simply need someone to talk to. I’m here for you. Comment below or DM me on Instagram. My inbox is always open: x

Love yours,

Michelle.

PS: I use the term recovery or recovering quite a bit in these chapter reviews, although for me I feel like recovery is such a general term. I never feel like I will ‘recover’ from my depression, anxiety or eating disorder. I feel like I will simply find new ways to deal with my issues by learning/educating myself, reaching out to others, and sharing my story. Recovery could be different for you, but for me I feel like I don’t need to recover. There’s no such thing as ‘normal’ to me. I’m not lost or sick. I’m simply on a journey in life. A journey where I deal with depression/anxiety/eating disorders and that’s okay because it’s possible to find love, happiness and positivity despite all of that.

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