This past year, I was diagnosed with depression. It was a rough year for a lot of people. For me, I was fighting what I believed to be a stubborn case of postpartum depression. I thought things would get better as my baby grew, when I wasn’t postpartum anymore. I was in denial, not receiving any kind of help, and definitely not getting any better. Finally, I sought out help from a doctor and was diagnosed with clinical depression. I am now receiving treatment. Part of this treatment involved visiting with a therapist for the first time in my life in hopes of combating the powerful force of negativity that has insidiously planted itself inside my mind.
I learned something significant in that meeting: that my thoughts were caused by something that was physically going wrong inside of my brain. Deep down, I believed I had been allowing the darkness – that it, too, was my fault. I found hope in that meeting, the hope of rewiring my brain.
I now know there are steps I can take to change how I think, to find the true me again. That is why I am going to take better care of myself this year. In fact, that’s the only resolution I care to make.
My therapist advised me to do an exercise that’s proven difficult for me. I literally have positive affirmations about myself taped to my bathroom mirror. My sarcastic side really fights this. I envision that I’m wearing a colorful collared shirt or sweater combination (a la Stuart Smalley) as I repeat these mantras to myself. The truth is they’re a powerful counterbalance to the way I normally think about who I am.
Most people struggle with this at one time or another. I think we could all benefit from practicing a little self-love.
So for this year, I resolve not to make any resolutions about losing weight. I am at a healthy weight, and although I would love to re-lose the 10 pounds I lost when I began depression medication, I will instead resolve to replace the negative thoughts I have about my body with healthy ones.
My critical observations regarding my body began very early for me, as they do for most women. It may take some time, but I’m going to work on appreciating my body for what it can do, instead of worrying about how it appears to others.
I resolve to be the best mom I can be. And that is only possible when I work on taking better care of myself. For many years, I’ve devoted myself completely to my children, believing it was best for them. But you can’t pull water from an empty well, and this past year my well went dry.
I resolve to take more breaks, indulge in some mental health days, and spend more quality time with my family.
Society is hard on mothers, so I’m going to pull a Taylor Swift, and “shake it off.” I will ignore the negative commentators who feel compelled to troll my writings. I will look to the positive instead of dwelling on the negative. I will support and seek to uplift other mothers. We should be each other’s biggest fans, not harshest critics. I will stand up for those who are belittled, judged, or misunderstood.
I resolve to let go of past mistakes and less than perfect parenting moments. I will seek to learn from the past instead of dwelling on it. I will work on treating myself with more kindness, moving forward in hopes that my three boys will learn from my example and speak kindly toward themselves.
I will continue my treatment – even the daily affirmations – and be patient with my progress.
So here’s to 2024 and a new way of thinking, to not giving up, and to practicing kindness that beings from within.