Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill Therapist Sara Cole.
Life is full of change. Some changes we desire and choose, others are unwanted, overwhelming or even devastating. Having a new baby, getting married or starting a new job are all major life changes that are usually seen as positive. he truth is that even happy and exciting changes in life can be overwhelming, can throw us off balance or result in questioning who we are. Events like the death of a loved one, divorce or the end of a relationship, serious illness or the loss of a job are not changes that we hope for in life and can be extremely difficult to cope with.
Our responses to changes are as unique as we are and can depend on so many factors. Responses to life changes can be joy or relief or they can be depression, anxiety, confusion, anger, fear, feeling overwhelmed or the feeling of being in crisis. Even the natural process of aging can be difficult for some people to cope with. This is especially the case for people entering midlife. Questions of self worth, identity and the reality of our own mortality begin to come up.
When life changes or life transitions happen it is important to be gentle with ourselves and allow time to adjust. Sometimes the changes can be so abrupt, devastating or disruptive that we may need to seek out support or treatment. Leaving serious reactions to change unaddressed can be dangerous, as they may not resolve without some sort of treatment. An example of this is if someone has the symptoms of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) they have experienced a traumatic event such as natural disaster, life threatening event or witnessing something scary or disturbing. Symptoms can include anxiety, anger, depression, isolation, even suicidality, drug or alcohol abuse, nightmares, insomnia and more. PTSD does not resolve on its own but can be successfully treated with therapy.
Getting a divorce or ending a relationship can be extremely difficult and is another example of change in life that can be so hard to cope with in the absence of support. Graduating from college is a transition for some people that can be overwhelming and confusing. Questions start like "what is my purpose" or "what do I do know" or " who am now that I am an adult" start to bubble up as young adults move away from friends and the safety bubble of college life and are expected to get jobs and live independently.
No matter the type of change, if you are feeling lost or overwhelmed by it, getting support is an important step toward feeling better. Finding a therapist that you easily connect with will allow you to find peace and energy and to feel proud of who you are.
Hi again. Today I posted a new recording in the quick tips section of my website. It is only about 6 minutes but it is one of my favorites to practice. I finding it deeply relaxing and centering. I hope you have the chance to check it out and let me know what you think of it. In working with people experiencing high levels of anxiety it becomes so clear that not all anxiety is the same, just as not all people are the same. That is why I am so happy to be finding new relaxation and grounding exercises all the time. I am even more excited to share them and see the change they can bring to people who are struggling. Sometimes anxiety or stress are temporary and for some it seems like they become a way of life. The good news is that it doesn't have to be that way. There are things you can do to get control of stress and anxiety. I hope this is a useful tool for some of you. You can link to the guided meditation here relax_white_light__1_.wav
I wanted to have a baby for a very long time and when I finally found out I was pregnant I was so so excited. I prepared in every way I could think of. I took classes, I read books, we hired a doula. I was confident because I had studied developmental psychology and had worked with kids doing therapy for years. I wasn't totally delusional because I knew it would change things and there would be lots that I would not expect or I could not predict.
No one warns you that you may feel like you have lost your mind or that you may feel so many other ways after your baby, who you have dreamed of and wished for, is finally born. As a new mom I felt like I should be super woman and happy, but instead I felt sad and so anxious and overwhelmed. I felt guilty that that I felt like this. And then sleep deprivation started to effect me and it got even worse. What if I could not be a good mom? What if she would be better off without me? What if I never felt any better? What if I was going to be terrified to be alone with her forever?
I was supposed to be an expert . I was used to being a high achiever and I felt like I was just barely making it. I tried to talk to other moms, but they had not experienced PPD/PPA and so they just said "it will be okay" or "you are fine". The doctor said I had "baby blues" but this felt worse than something so innocent sounding.
After a few weeks I was finally convinced that going to a support group might help me. So I tried it. To my disbelief, there were other women feeling like me and some of them even worse. We could be really honest about what was going on and it was such a relief . The group leader had recovered from Postpartum depression and was so supportive and understanding. These women and this group got me through those really tough days. They are some of my very best friends still two years later. I am so glad because now I can enjoy my sweet baby girl and enjoy life.
I am so excited to use this experience as I support new moms in their struggle through those first dark days. Our group leader always called it being in the trenches. I you are in the trenches right now, know that you are not alone. I know it doesn't feel like it, but you really will start feeling better. Get the help you need so that you can be the best mom you can be and enjoy the process.
Sara Cole has been providing mental health services in San Diego for 15 years. Sara specializes in working with women and teen girls to overcome trauma and major life changes, including postpartum depression and anxiety. She is also passionate about providing treatment to those whose lives are affected by the addiction of a loved one.