The Boss, The Rock, and Don Draper walk into a therapist’s office…

Archive for October, 2016

The Boss, The Rock, and Don Draper walk into a therapist’s office…

Posted on: October 5th, 2016 by Justin Tobin

Written by: Justin Tobin

You know how that one goes, right?  Or maybe you don’t.  Because men, ‘real men’ like Bruce Springsteen, Dwayne Johnson, and Jon Hamm wouldn’t need therapy.  They don’t get depressed or anxious.  Or if they did, they certainly wouldn’t talk about it openly.  Or let it be known they have worked with a psychotherapist. But it turns out, that’s not true.  All three of these respected male celebrities have experienced and talked openly about their struggles with their mental health; Bruce Springsteen recently got candid about his lifelong struggle with depression in his new autobiography.  And it is time more men took their cue without fearing it would strip them of their masculinity.

frustrated young business man

Depression is prevalent in our society, and you’ve probably come across the staggering statistics one way or another: 15 million American adults experience depression in a given year; which breaks down to about 5 million men and 10 million women.  I personally think the rates are grossly underreported, especially for men, primarily due to the lingering stigma of depression. Too many men hide their depression from their wives, girlfriends, husbands, and boyfriends for fear of burdening them with their problems.  They hide their depression from their friends and family for fear of being seen as weak and not able to handle their problems or rise to life’s challenges.  Hiding not only echoes the belief that being depressed is not normal or healthy for a man, it also causes unnecessary isolation and crushing loneliness.

It would be unfair to fault the depressed man for not outwardly acknowledging or talking about their depression.  Simply put, they may not be ready to address their depression.  But there are many men who have decided to speak out, be honest, and shed shame.  And because some of these are high profile men like Springsteen, Johnson, and Hamm, it has made it easier to talk about in general because these men have been helping to flip the stigma upside down through their honesty.  We can even look to revered heroes such as Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and successful artists like Mark Twain and F. Scott Fitzgerald – they have all dealt with depression and found a way to reveal their struggles as part of their collective histories we can all learn from with fuller perspectives and appreciation for what it means to be a man working through mental health issues.

More men today need to follow this lead on talking about their depression.  Depression does not need to define who you are.  Like a Springsteen song, you can also be in charge of your own story.

 

Are You a Bad Mom—or Are You Good Enough?

Posted on: October 5th, 2016 by Justin Tobin

Written by Lindsey Rogers

It’s 8:00 a.m. You have microwaved your coffee for the third time (in the hopes that you can drink it at a temperature somewhat above tepid); you have finally coaxed your child into shoes (after losing the battle to convince him not to wear his beloved dinosaur shirt for the fourth consecutive day); and you have cobbled together some sort of outfit for yourself (after changing thanks to a sneak attack of banana-covered hands grasping at you for more cereal). You pull in a quick breath between gritted teeth, as the real challenge is ahead of you—how to get your child from the house to the car and into the lifesaving torture device known as a car seat. The amount of tension and anxiety created in those few moments in the early hours of the day is not sustainable, yet that is a typical weekday morning for a mom. But let’s say it’s one of those magical, stellar mornings and you get the kid into the car seat without tears (from either of you) and you manage to remember a healthy (peanut/gluten/sugar-free) snack for him and you drop him off to preschool. Then the real fun sets in—being present and awake for your conference call in 20 minutes and functioning at work. And don’t forget: You also have to function in your marriage, in your family, as a friend, as a pet owner, as a homeowner, and as an adult. You probably have set the bar higher than just “functioning.” You probably want to be the best at all of these many facets of your life. And if so, you probably feel like you are failing at nearly everything—like you just can’t be good enough.

beautiful mom and daughter outdoor in garden together with flower have fun and hug

The recent film Bad Moms has filled movie theaters with flocks of “failing” moms wanting to normalize their thoughts and feelings about struggling to meet the demands of motherhood. In the movie, Mila Kunis’ Amy decides to take a break from feeling overwhelmed by the (often self-imposed) pressure to do everything right as a mom, so she quits and tries out a lifestyle of doing only what she wants and having fun. Any mother can relate to this pressure of wanting and needing to do everything right when it comes to raising children, and to the fantasy of chucking it all for nothing more than drinking and dance parties. Perfectionism is a huge risk factor for maternal mental health issues. Pregnancy and motherhood involve a complete lack of control and for women who like to “do well,” it is a struggle. In addition to putting enormous pressure on themselves, mothers also get this internal stress reinforced from all directions. Motherhood can be extremely isolating, and oftentimes in the Facebook moms’ groups or at the playground there is far more criticism and judgment than support. Thanks to the internet Mommy Wars, whether you are working vs. staying home, formula vs. breastfeeding, etc., there is likely some mom out there who has it all figured out and is doing it so much better than you are. I mean, isn’t that what Pinterest has led us to believe?

Pediatrician and psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott developed a theory in 1953 about “good-enough mothers,” which recognizes that the “child needs to realize that the mother is neither good nor bad nor the product of illusion, but is a separate and independent entity.” What this theory reinforces is that, ideally, a mother is not on either end of the spectrum—neither perfect nor truly bad—but instead somewhere in between. The mother is her own individual, full of positive and negative attributes, like anyone else. Amy’s quest for perfection only highlights part of herself—her shortcomings—but her quest for irresponsibility also emphasizes an incomplete picture—the “bad” part of this Bad Mom is no more who she truly is than the “good” part.

So maybe it’s time to take the pressure off a bit. Easier said than done but there are things that can help: surround yourself with other mothers who are supportive, whether that is in a playgroup, in your neighborhood, or even online (there is truth behind the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.”); ask for help from your partner, friends, family or those new mom friends; make time for yourself to go for a walk, exercise, read, or whatever will remind you that you are someone who was a person before you became a mom; and lastly, ask yourself if the pressure you are putting on yourself is actually motivating you to do anything positive or is just making you feel bad. If the latter, then close the Pinterest app and take a breath. Focus on what you are doing right, and remember that, like everyone, you are both a good and a bad mom. And that makes you plenty good enough.

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