I’ve always been an anxious person, but I didn’t always know that it was anxiety I was dealing with. I got stressed about the usual things: work, boys, friends, sports, school, being perfect… the list goes on.
The Physical Side of Anxiety
When I got stressed out I would bite my nails or twirl my hair, picking at either my cuticles or split ends while procrastinating on something important that my brain just couldn’t handle at the moment.
Sometimes I would get nauseous before a sports competition; a few times I threw up before a race or an important game, but I would also usually win so it was okay.
On occasion, I would have trouble breathing before an exam even though I had studied for weeks with hour-by-hour detailed topic schedules (including 10-minute breaks every 90 minutes). But I got grades in the high 80’s and low 90’s so it obviously wasn’t a big deal.
There was one job I had when I got stressed out about a major project and was so tired from pushing myself too hard, the night before the main event my heart started to race, my head spun until I saw spots, I started hyperventilating, and nearly passed out. But I nailed my project and received major accolades from my boss and the company. So it was actually helpful.
It wasn’t helpful. I was an anxiety attack. I’d had them before but it was the first time I recognized it for what it was.
I never received any care for my anxiety growing up, because we all just thought it was a normal part of my personality. The perfectionist child who had to be the best in whatever she did, no matter the cost.
Looking back, I see the patterns of anxiety loud and clear and am thankful it never morphed into anything more severe.
In the Trenches of Motherhood
When I got pregnant I was worried about what my anxiety level would be like. So were my friends. They checked in on me regularly, to make sure the weight of future motherhood (literally and physically) weren’t too much for me to handle.
Turns out, I surprised us all.
I was calmer than I had been in years while I was pregnant – with twins, no less! There was some magical realization I had that if I did the best that I could (making good choices and barring any dangerous behaviour) that it was pretty much out of my hands. Why that made me calm, I have no freaking idea.
Everything changed after the twins were born.
In the beginning, I didn’t really feel any anxiety; I was too busy doing. That’s the thing about babies that seems like common sense but you don’t truly understand until you have one (or two): they always need something. There’s always something to do. You don’t have time to stop and think about what you’re doing, you just DO. After three weeks, my husband went back to work. After three months, my parents and sister refocused on their lives (as they should), and after six months my anxiety started kicking back in, in full force.
So what did I do to help myself? Like any resourceful problem-solving female who had previous experience with anxiety… I just waited for them to go away on their own. Sigh.
When Being Anxious is Problematic
It was around nine-months post-partum that my anxiety really started to take over. We had completed a sleep-training program and the twins were actually sleeping through the night (read: 6-7 hours of sleep in a row). This was supposed to cure all my stress; them getting the rest they needed supposedly was going to allow me the rest that I needed.
Instead, my brain went nuts. As soon as the babies would go to sleep I actually had time to sit down and think. My thoughts were not kind. They were invasive, worried, panicked, and completely out of my control. On the outside, you would never know. You wouldn’t see it. I was good at that. But at night, sitting down in a quiet condo, after taking a few deep breaths is when it would come out.
I spoke often with my friends about my returning anxiety, and it was so nice to be reassured that I wasn’t the only one. But I didn’t truly help me with my day-to-day feelings.
So, here’s the thing. Even if we know that something exists and that we should probably do it, it doesn’t mean that we will. Shocking, I know.
I realized that I was encouraging my other mom friends to seek help that I myself wasn’t using.
A few Reasons Why New Moms Might Not Seek Help
Did I know that moms need to prioritize their mental health? Yes.
Did I know that therapy was something that I would definitely benefit from? Also, yes.
And did I have major reservations about moving forward with therapy? Hard yes.
Us women are a proud gender, and there are a number of reasons that we may not actually reach out for the type of support that we need, such as:
- Feels Like Admitting Defeat It’s incredibly difficult for some to admit that need outsourced help
- The Energy Commitment Physically leaving the house and going to a counselling appointment can be a major source of stress and anxiety in itself.
- Cost Sessions are SUPER expensive, with some in Ontario being $165/hour and up
- Insurance Coverage varies and, in some cases, isn’t applicable at all
- Time The overall commitment can be too much – scheduling an hour, finding childcare or booking outside office hours, add in travel time… yikes
- Wasting Precious Alone Time Trust me, if the stars aligned and I happened to have 2 hours of child-free Kelsi-time during a weekday you can bet I wouldn’t be using it for a counselling session. (I would be a pancake brunch; in case you’re wondering.)
BEACON – An Empowering Digital Solution
If you’re feeling any of those circumstances up top, then how about this: Digital therapy that allows you to receive Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) guided by a registered mental health professional through your laptop or smartphone. BEACON is such a service.
Over the course of a 12-week personalized therapy program, BEACON allows you to access your resiliency-building readings and exercises whenever and wherever it suits you.
Daughter in soccer practice for an hour? Son at a music lesson for thirty minutes? Both offer a perfect time for readings or exercises.
What is CBT?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an approach to psychotherapy that has been proven through over 40 years of research and practice to help with a broad range of mental health concerns. It is an excellent long-term solution for those suffering from mild-to-moderate Anxiety or Depression.
CBT focuses on learning and practicing skills that you can use immediately. By teaching you coping mechanisms and how to re-build resilience, you can adjust how you think about yourself and how you respond to external events. According to BEACON, the goal of therapy is not to eliminate your fear and anxiety (some of it is good for you!) but instead to get your responses back in a healthy range.
CBT empowers you with the tools you need to find better and healthier ways of thinking.
Re-Build Your Resilience with BEACON
noun: resilience; noun: resiliency; plural noun: resiliencies
- The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
Sounds like a pretty great characteristic to have, right? The good news is you can build, or re-build, your resilience. 1 in 5 Canadians struggle with a mental health concern each year, and 2 out of 3 of those do not seek help because care is unaffordable or inaccessible to them.
BEACON is an accessible and affordable mental health care provider that can help you to learn the tools and strategies you need to cope with strong emotions, and the overwhelmedness that many of us parents feel. A full course of therapy with BEACON costs less than 4 in-person counselling sessions (*based on average Toronto hourly fees), and the cost is reimbursable through most benefits plans. You can view the pricing plans here.
How it works:
After registering with BEACON you will complete an online assessment (about 30 minutes). This assessment will be used to determine whether BEACON is a compatible solution for you. At this point, you will be paired with a registered mental health professional.
Your therapist will connect with you via the platform and regularly check in on your progress of readings and educational exercises. You can send messages to your therapist through the secure platform and they will reply in 1-2 business days with answers to help you along. They are also there to nudge you if you fall off track or don’t log in for a prolonged period. According to BEACON, most people who continue to stay committed and engaged with their program are able to move forward confidently after 8-10 weeks. Bonus — You will have access to your BEACON materials for a year. (If you’re a note-taker and researcher like me this is a HUGE advantage.)
So if you are fighting mild-to-moderate anxiety and/or depression, you MUST remember that there is help and there is hope. And it can be done on your schedule, when and where you need it most.
If this sounds like something that might be right for you, click here for more information about BEACON’s CBT Program.
**Please note that BEACON is NOT a crisis service and if you are experiencing severe symptoms or thoughts of self-harm, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency resource.