You can not pour from an empty cup

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How Therapy Can Help Parents Struggling withMental Health And Stress

Traci Pirri is a trauma counsellor, so you might assume she inherently knows how to prioritize mental health. But, while she is a therapist in her work, her struggles as a parent are the same as those many others deal with.

“We have extremely limited time, spend all our money and resources on the kids, and feel selfish (or weak) about needing a reboot,” Pirri told HuffPost Canada.  Finding that time is important, she said via email, because it’s hard for parents to be present with their children when they are overly stressed, not sleeping well, or not mentally healthy. Therapy can be an important part of dealing with that, Pirri said, especially when there’s a lot to unpack.

“Addressing our mental health is critical to being a good parent,” she said.

It’s vital for parents to check in with themselves

Some mental-health conditions are specific to new parents — for example, postpartum depression and related maternal mental health conditions. Others, like depression and anxiety, can affect parents at any point in their lives, just as they can for all of us. Even for parents who aren’t specifically experiencing mental illness, their mental health can suffer. 

The result can be a lack of patience or energy for our kids, no energy (mental or physical) for taking care of our own needs, and a lot of anxiety about how we’re doing as parents.

“If you find yourself questioning your thoughts and behaviours, if you feel like you aren’t good enough as a parent, if you find yourself wishing you didn’t have to wake up in the morning, or even having intrusive thoughts that seem to come right out of nowhere,” Carla Buck, a clinical mental health therapist, told HuffPost Canada by email, “then it’s time you speak to someone who is trained to help you figure that out.”

Sometimes, it takes someone else in our lives to help us realize that we are struggling. But whether you have a specific mental-health diagnosis or are just having a hard time, a check-in with yourself and your feelings can help you realize when it’s time to call in extra resources, Buck said.

How can you find time to take care of your mental health?

But, who has the time to check in on our feelings? Finding a bit of space for yourself can be hard for any parent, but it’s important — especially if you are struggling.

“You cannot pour from an empty cup,” Buck said. “And when you try to, your ability to cope and make rational choices suffers. It’s just not worth it.”

Reach out to others to get that time, whether it’s by asking your partner to take on more, requesting help from friends and family, or relying on paid child care if you’re able.

Even short periods of time taken for yourself are valuable. 

Our Social Worker, Leanne Shapiro, can help you to determine if counselling is appropriate for you.  Leanne offers a free telephone or in-person consultation to help you start this process.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or are experiencing suicidal ideation, call 911 or go to an emergency room for medical assistance. Taking care of your mental health is critical — but there’s still a stigma about seeking therapy to manage your own wellbeing.

Just as a heart attack or broken bone warrants immediate medical care, so does a mental-health emergency.  

Excerpt taken from

Dr. Joel Weisberg is the Clinic Director and Principal Doctor at Downsview Chiropractic The difference it makes to a patient when they learn, receive appropriate care, feel cared for, and are empowered to self-manage, is often bigger than the relief they were seeking. Dr. Weisberg is driven to make that difference to people in their pursuit of a life lived well™.

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