If you have been following me for quite a while, attending Single Mom Chat on Thursday nights over on Instagram Live and/or listening to the podcast, you know that I’ve been talking about finding a therapist for a while. I don’t know why it has taken me this long but I’ve finally made the decision and scheduled my very first session. Eeek. I announced that I found a therapist on my InstaStory and so many of you wanted me to document my journey, so here we are. At this point, I feel like an open book. I wanted to share my main reasons for seeking therapy, so here we go.
Dealing with childhood trauma
I don’t know if it’s called trauma but I’m going to call it that. I have this deep desire to find out if the way I was raised has impacted the way I act and do things. As a child, my mom was diagnosed with bipolar and schizophrenia. I still have yet to find out if this was heredity or if some event or thing trigged the onset of these things. Every one has their own story and if I’m honest, I’ll just say that I haven’t been the most comfortable asking my mom about her mental health. She takes medication daily and if she doesn’t, she is not a normal functioning human. I remember my grandmother mentioning that she had not taken it once and going outside in the garage to find her talking to herself as if someone was there. You may or may not be able to imagine what that was like as a kid. I would like to think that at that point my mom became handicapped because of the lack of knowledge of mental health in our home. She stopped working and doing the things that she’d do normally. She was hospitalized a couple times and we were never told any details about her situation, only that she wasn’t working anymore, had to take medication everyday, see the doctor (psychiatrist), and attend group sessions (therapy). It’s 2019 and my family and I have barely scratched the surface of having a conversation about mental health. When I was in school, kids in the community would pick on me and say my mom was crazy because I guess that was all they could find to pick on me about. My grandmother ended up raising my brother and I so I didn’t have a lot of parental involvement as a kid. My dad was in and out of our lives, mostly out with excuses. He blames my grandmother for a lot of it but every one has their side of the story. I still believe that my grandmother did the best she could to raise us, considering the circumstances. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for the Lord, his grace, and her grace. So yeah I knew my dad growing up but after a while, I didn’t care whether he was in or out of my life due to all of his broken promises to show up and spend time with my brother and me. After I graduated college, he claimed he wanted to help out since he hadn’t been there for me and recommended that I move and that’s another whole story. We then tried rebuilding our relationship but it failed for various reasons and we equally decided that we’d no longer communicate. He even told me I was beginning to act like my mom since I had began to isolate myself and even though I didn’t believe that, it has stuck with me. However, I am constantly being told that I should contact him and give him another chance and I do not feel that I should. It’s my way of protecting my peace and energy. My hope is that I can work through this stuff, gain clarity, and be done with feeling a certain type of way because of the decisions that I’ve made.
Being impatient as a mom
I have a huge desire to be the best parent I can be but if I’m going to be honest, I am not the most patient and I am still working on my effective listening skills when it comes down to hearing my daughter talk 24/8. I have came a LONG way though. Let’s be real. When my daughter was going through the stage of being two or three years old, I had the least amount of patience. It seemed like everything she did was a test and I found myself using some of the parenting skills I observed from my grandmother as a kid i.e. hollering and spanking occasionally. Now, I’ve gotten so much better and understand more of child development but there are little things that still push my button and they shouldn’t. I haven’t spanked her in years although I’ve threatened her numerous time and I have learned to use a calm voice way more. I think she has a fear of spankings now and when I holler, she jumps a little. *Sigh* My daughter is also super sensitive and gets frustrated easily. Sometimes I literally have to drag things out of her and I want her to feel more comfortable with telling me things instead of feeling like I might get mad at her. I feel like a therapist would be able to recommend some communication and coping mechanisms that I haven’t tried to help me out in these areas. I am also going to explore play therapy for my daughter or see if the therapist recommends it because I want her to be expressive and be in the best shape she can possibly be mentally as a kid and work through growing up in a single parent home, so she doesn’t have to do the work later on in life. I believe this age is a crucial time in her childhood development, especially with teaching her how to identify and articulate her feelings.
Feelings of guilt
Being a working mom is tough (no matter if you work from home or in a corporate setting). The weekdays are filled with work, homework, extracurricular activities, working a side hustle or business, and trying to squeeze in time for yourself and the kid. The weekends are for cleaning, getting caught up on rest, carving out time to spend with the little ones, and going harder on your projects. Sometimes, I wonder am I really spending enough time with my daughter specially since time can never be replaced or purchased again. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Recently, my daughter was sick and didn’t feel good, saying her stomach hurted. I had to make the choice between using the rest of my PTO and allowing my daughter to go to school. I ended up giving her Tylenol and sending her to school since there were no other symptoms I could see. Situations like this make me feel a little guilty (because here I am in this city with no one to call because everyone I know is working too) but I have to realize that it’s just me doing the job of two parents, with the exception of providing financially because her dad does do his part in that area. My grandmother likes to remind me that it was my decision to move away from the help I had, which does not make the situation better, and can be very irritating. Then on the other hand, I wonder if I ever get enough alone time even though I try to make sure I get some alone time in the morning and on some nights. I’ve become so selfish with my time that I’ve had to make time for connecting with other moms and people to have some face-to-face adult interaction.
Lack of understanding
Whenever I first relocated to Houston, I believe I became isolated in a sense. I didn’t talk to anyone as much because I didn’t feel that they would understand. I seemed to only meet people that were either single or married. I mainly focused on work and saving money, working two jobs. I’ve found that it is hard to talk to people about single motherhood that’s never been through it. Majority of us have an issue of finding other single moms who get it and are trying to do better, which is why I have created this online community, Single Black Motherhood. Although it is helpful and I’ve learned a lot from other moms, it’s not the same as having a single mom community offline that’s able to help out and this year, I am really working on building a community offline. Until then, I’d prefer to share my thoughts and business with a therapist who will offer an unbiased opinion due to previous experiences or due to experience with clients and testing. I’ve also learned to not unload my baggage on my friends before checking in with them to see how they are feeling mentally or if I feel like it’s too much. I feel that I will be able to just unloaded everything on the therapist’s couch.
There is a ton of research that shows the effects on improved mental health. I love to talk anyways so why not talk to get help? I’ll keep you all posted on the journey.
If you are considering therapy, here are some ways to get started:
Figure out your why. I’ve found that this helps when you’re searching but I’ve also heard therapists can help you when you don’t know.
Ask for recommendations from family, co-workers, or friends (this includes Facebook groups and your social media friends).
Search directories: Therapy for Black Girls, Melanin Mental Health, and Psychology Today are the ones I used - Make sure to check their specialties and what they are passionate about
Log on to your insurance’s site and search their provider directory or give them a call and they can direct you to the appropriate place. I was able to search and filter by African American female, 10 miles of my zip code.
Schedule a phone consult or email them with your questions. I personally like to chat to her their tone and sort of feel them out. Discuss availability, length of time in the field, previous experience with your issues, their approach to therapy, whether they have been to therapy or not (this matters), whether your insurance is accepted (if you didn’t check the provider directory on you insurance’s site), co-pays, late fees, etc.
I hope this helps someone who has been thinking about finding a therapist. It literally took me a little over a year to get my crap together and do the research. Let me know below if you are in therapy (and how it’s helped you) or if you have been thinking about it. I do understand that very few moms have said it did not help them but you have to choose your therapists like your doctors. If one doesn’t work/fit, find another one. You cannot give up that easily.