I had the most incredible home birth + postpartum support system. I was loving motherhood to the hilt and on cloud nine. I was healthy + prepared + my little family was thriving.
And with that great start to this beautiful new chapter of my life, I could never have predicted that a few extended-family emergencies would trigger panic attacks that I hadn’t had in over 10 years.
I was in the middle of the postpartum period, but this wasn’t postpartum anxiety. This was dormant generalized anxiety.
I’m sharing my start to therapy because I come from a more “traditional” family that always shrugged off involving a professional + I had no example in front of me to follow.
I only wish I could’ve found my cognitive-behavioral therapist sooner. I hope this series might encourage one mom to seek the outside help sooner than she might’ve otherwise. Therapy has been one of the greatest investments I’ve ever made for my family.
Read on to learn how I got started + how I suggest others get started:
Getting the “process” started in dealing with anxiety wasn’t really a process at all. It was so easy that I actually beat myself up afterward for having suffered for so long thinking that there would be more to getting in the door with a professional.
I simply made a phone call, chose a day/time, and showed up.
But that might feel like too many steps for you. And that’s okay.
Sometimes, picking up the phone can feel like you’re lifting a boulder. If you don’t feel like doing it, and know there’s no harm in stopping into a local therapist’s office, but just can’t get yourself to make the 1-minute effort, then just copy this blog post to a friend and say “THANKS”.
Note to those Friends — Please call some local places and make the appointment for whoever just shared this article with you! Just do it! HUGE bonus points if you can make the appointment for your friend at a time that’s convenient for you to BRING THEM THERE YOURSELF.
How I Chose Who to Call
You know when you drive the same road over and over again, then something along that road suddenly sticks out to you as if it’s never been there before? You find yourself thinking, “wait, THAT is here!? How have I missed this so many times?!”
One of those signs to me was for a downtown therapist office during a really difficult week. I literally must have driven past that sign 12 times to and from my house every day, and it never had stood out to me until now. I think there’s some synchronicity in moments like those. So I didn’t question it anymore: I knew I needed guidance and I called the first place I saw.
When you’re in the throws of feeling super anxious, worried, stressed, messy, unfit, unwell, unorganized, or a combination of those and more, taking the time to choose who to call is a way to procrastinate. Just make a call.
Pick the first sign you see. Make the call. Make the appointment.
The money doesn’t matter and here’s why: if you don’t invest in your mental health, you’re not going to make smarter investments later. You won’t work efficiently. You won’t mother or wife efficiently. You won’t take care of yourself in smart or sustainable ways.
If there’s anything to put on the credit card, or to borrow money for, it’s this. When your head and heart are in the right places, you’ll be able to make or save way more money to cover the cost of therapy later.
The Cost of Therapy
But since cost is often an anxiety-trigger, let’s get that out of the way!
I see my therapist for $100/session out-of-pocket in our suburban Massachusetts town. My health insurance plan does not cover mental therapy by default — I have to hit my high deductible first — but there are some health insurance plans that do.
For reference, my husband sees a top athletic and business performance psychotherapist for $200/hour out-of-pocket in New York City.
You don’t need to have an elite Olympian-training hypnotist doctor. You need a sweet, but tell-it-to-you-straight teammate with an education in mental health. You can find a local Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, likely starting around ~$100/session USD.
Preventative care is way more affordable than reactive care. You may spend $100 now, but it pales in comparison to hundreds or thousands later spent in the ER for a panic attack, migraines, or worse.
What You Can Do Before Appointment Day (Optional)
- Fill out the health insurance paperwork — so you can stay focused and calm in the waiting room instead of frantically filling out forms
- Leave a payment method on-file — so you can be billed automatically
- Load some white noise sounds to your phone and pack earphones — so you can drown out other noises and turn inward for some simple relaxation as you wait
- Write out your childcare plans in 2 options — 1 intended way, 1 back-up plan — that includes babysitting instructions (toys, feedings/snacks, emergency numbers, where to find XYZ in the house, how to deactivate Do Not Disturb setting in 911 case, etc.)
- Setting the emergency contact plan on your phone (call 2 times to deactivate the Do Not Disturb setting)
- Purchase a journal and start collecting your thoughts however works best for you. For me, I started by writing a “Worry List” of all of the things I was stressed out about. I think I filled 3 pages!
- Review the driving directions and parking options so you’re familiar beforehand
- Choose a reward for yourself for attending the session. This is a GOOD thing and the start of the rest of your life. You’ll know what I mean once you’re there — it’s kind of like motherhood — no one prepares you for the feeling until you’re in it yourself.
What to Do on Appointment Day
Get there. Just show up.
All you have to do is show up.
Show up with your legs unshaven, your hair in a greasy messy bun, with your milk-crusted t-shirt and purse overflowing with those overstimulating music toys you save just for 5-minutes of distraction while you scarf down anything that might still have a taste for a meal. Therapists don’t care.
They’d probably prefer you show up that way because it’s an honest representation of how you’re feeling and doing right now and it makes their initial job easier so they can give you more bang for your buck.
However you show up, show up.
Some ways to make showing up easier:
- Set an alarm for leaving 15-minutes earlier than expected, and getting there 15-minutes early.
- Give yourself some time to drive slowly, park carefully, sit for a few deep breaths and sips of water, and check out the building.
- Journal — Take the journal with you to your therapy sessions, and jot down pre-session thoughts that come up as you’re about to walk in, and then write debrief notes in the car before you leave post-session. I do my pre/post journaling in the car and it’s become one of my favorite parts of the week.
And, finally, congratulations.
You may not feel like celebrating now, but just your simple consideration of therapy is a huge step in a positive life direction. I’ve never met someone who didn’t get something positive out of therapy. You can read about my first therapy appointment here to learn more.
Connect with Me
What questions do you have about getting started with therapy? Have you already started therapy and have suggestions to add for another mom? Comment below or send me a message on Instagram.