Lisa K. Boehm
25 October 2023
A Powerful Question to Ask Yourself
Lisa K. Boehm
25 October 2023
In this episode, we're diving deep into the connection between our thoughts and the words we speak, and how they shape our mental health and resilience. Discover the power hidden within your own mind and language, and how they can be your allies in strengthening your mental well-being.
Hey there. I have a free downloadable and printable mental health checklist just for my listeners. It's a list of easy and simple tasks to keep your mental health on track. You can request that at bitly risingstrongchecklist. That's bit.ly/risingstrongchecklist
Now let's get started.
When I first thought about doing this podcast, I challenged myself to write down all my ideas, all of the people that I wanted to interview, all of the guest speakers who were experts, just to make sure that I had enough things to keep this podcast going for a while, to keep my listeners engaged.
Well, it didn't take me very long to come up with pages and pages of ideas. The problem, however, was figuring out the perfect topic for my first solo episode. I've actually recorded a whole pile of episodes which you might hear in the future, but they weren't quite perfect for the first one.
And then I realized that I needed to start back at the beginning of my journey to discover the first episode. So I want to share with you what I think is the most powerful question that we can ask ourselves on our journey through mental health.
Our journey with mental health. Mental health is one of those things that I think is with us all the time, right? It's like our physical health, but sometimes our physical health isn't great, just like sometimes our mental health isn't great, but it's always a part of who we are and our overall well being.
So if we go way back to the beginning of my mental health journey, as I shared in episode one, it really started with depression after the birth of my son in the form of postpartum depression. And I just remember feeling so stuck.
And over time, I realized I felt stuck because I was doing the same thing over and over and over every single day, expecting my outcome to be different, to somehow feel different, even though I was doing the same things every day. I mean, now to say that it sounds ridiculous, but when you're in it, I think that's just how we feel. Like tomorrow I'm going to wake up and I'm going to feel better. Tomorrow I'm going to wake up and the situation isn't going to be so bleak.
But I think what we forget is that to change the outcome, we have to change what we're doing. And in order to change what we're doing, we have to change what we're thinking, what we're saying.
So as I said, my journey started with postpartum depression. And I think anybody here who's either experienced it or is there right now gets it. New parenting is hard.
I was blessed with a little girl who honestly slept through the night as soon as she came home from the hospital. I would hear my friends complaining about the sleepless nights and their children crying or screaming through the night, colic, all kinds of things. And I secretly thought, what are they doing wrong? I put my baby in the crib, walk away, and she sleeps for 12 hours. I nurse her in the morning, she sleeps for another five. I got more stuff done in the first year of my daughter's life than probably my entire adulthood.
And then I had a second baby, a real baby. A real baby who doesn't sleep through the night and was quickly in a situation where I was getting, if I was lucky, 3 hours of sleep a night.
I'm embarrassed to tell you that I ripped up many photos of myself for the first year after my son's life because, holy moly, it looked like somebody had taken black marker and drawn circles around my eyes. I lost so much weight in not an attractive way. I looked like something the dog dragged in, but that was so reflective of what was going on on the inside.
Not only was I sleep deprived, but my mental health was in the toilet.
I couldn't cope with anything, but I was on the hamster wheel of motherhood. You know, my two year old would wake me up at 06:00 in the morning. What are you doing today, Mummy? She was my early bird. My son, whom I had been up all night with, was sleeping, but my two year old was awake. So the day began. I focused on healthy eating. I fed my children well. I fed myself well, as much as humanly possible. I would pack the kids up. We would go to the park. We would spend some time outside every day.
They had regular nap times. Everything was scheduled and regimented, maybe to a fault. But I thought I was doing the right things. And I thought, why do I feel this way?
I remember going to my physician and telling him through tears and so ashamed for the thoughts that I had, I said, All I want to do is gas my car up and point it south and keep driving. I never want to come home again.
And thank heavens I had such a wonderful physician who pulled up his rolly chair and put his hand on my shoulder and said, Lisa, this is normal. What you're feeling is normal. He also added, he said know feeling this way for too long, he said, isn't a good thing.
We talked about medication very openly. We talked about things that I could do. We talked about asking for help. Now, as an A type person, who loves to check things off her list and loves to master things on her own. This was a tough thing for me to do. Asking for help was not my strong suit.
But we had a very good heart to heart conversation that was probably one of the biggest things that helped me on my journey, was feeling seen, heard and validated.
But that doctor also planted a seed. When I left his office that day, he said, Lisa, there are things you can do to help yourself too. He goes, I want you to go home and I want you to think about that and I want you to come back and see me in a week.
So, being the people pleaser. I got out my pen and paper, and I think it was the first evening I was hone. I just started jotting down ideas. Just a brain dump. Not even looking at the things to see if they made sense or if they were good or they sounded right, but just dumping all the ideas that came to me. What can I do to help myself?
And I actually surprised myself with my list. I mean, some of the things maybe I wouldn't pursue, but just from an idea perspective, there were a lot of ideas there. And so I took that conversation and I summed it up in two words what now?
And this is a question that I have asked myself over and over and over again. When I have found myself in the darkness, when I was struggling with anxiety, when my kids were older, about ages three and five, and I ended up in the ER countless times because of my anxiety, because of my fear of dying when I went to sleep at night.
What can I do about this problem? Yes, I can seek counseling, yes, I can look into medication, but what can I do? And again, I would pull out my paper, pull out my pen and just start to think, what can I do?
It came back to things like what has previously helped me. I think that's where we can start to feel confidence on our mental health journey. What has helped me in the past gives me the strength to know that I can get myself up off the floor again and again and again, because I've done it before.
I've been in this dark place before. Oh, yeah, I did that thing that really helped me. I can do it again. Now, depression and anxiety are two different things, and sometimes we need different tools in our tool belt to help us get off the floor.
But what was there for me was the foundation, the foundation of going inside of me. What can I do now? What now? And if we fast forward a few years when my daughter died, I forgot that question for a while because I got stuck on the other question, which is, what if?
"What if" looks to the past, what if gives us some feeling of control that we could have changed what happened in the past. What if I wouldn't have let her go out that night? What if my husband would have changed her oil and washed her vehicle like he said he was going to that night? What if she didn't leave the house?
But that, my friends, will go nowhere but spin your tires in the muck and it might even push you deeper and deeper into depression, anxiety, and mental health struggles.
Because when we put that kind of ownership on ourselves in a situation where we can't change it, that's not good.
And then I don't know how, but I remembered that question, what now? And when I switched my mindset around, when I switched the words I was using around to what now? What can I do?
Everything changed because my perspective changed from looking into the past where I had no control, to now. Looking to the future where I could control things. I had a little bit of control. What helped me in the past oh, yeah. Exercising. Oh yeah. Going to see that therapist. Oh yeah. Signing up for things, courses, learning new things. I'm a lifelong learner. I love to learn. But doing things like that, oh, yeah.
Getting out my pen and paper, writing these things down. So the question, what now? Is kind of a universal question.
So I've used it at three major points in my mental health journey and every time it has been helpful. So I knew that episode number two, where we really dive into the meat and the nitty gritty of mental health, how we can help ourselves. I knew that this was the place to start. So I have some homework for you. I have a Facebook page that goes along with this podcast. If you look it up in Facebook land, it is Rising Strong podcast. You'll see a picture of me and a microphone. I
f you have other ideas that have helped you on your mental health journey, I would love for you to share them in there (via the "message" button). And if you have found this episode helpful and you have made yourself a list of what I can do now to help yourself, I would also love you to share your thoughts in that Facebook page.
I think that sharing our stories, sharing what has helped us, sharing our tools can be so helpful to help one another. I have found that helpful on my own journey. Meeting other moms who've lost kids. "Hey journaling has really helped me." "Hot yoga has really helped me'. This has helped. That's helped. I
've tried them all. Some of them help, some of them not so much. But the point is that I tried them and that that led to the next thing, to the next thing, to the next thing. And that I kept trying. I kept looking for what would help me. So let's share our thoughts and ideas.
Thank you so much for tuning in for this quickie episode, and I'll see you next time. Take care.
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