We all wish to raise our children in the healthiest way possible. Sometimes we cannot fully anticipate how much our parenting is influenced by our own wellbeing until we’re IN it. And that’s okay—if we can find tools to support ourselves and positive ways to cope. For me, I found therapy.
Becoming a parent made me acknowledge my anxiety and PTSD and address the trauma from my childhood.
There was no more ignoring the “hard stuff.”
Pre-kids, I wasn’t aware that I lived with anxiety and held on to behaviors that had aided me in surviving past trauma. I wasn’t someone who openly spoke about what worried me. I tried hard to contain my “negative” feelings because I was worried about being judged or rejected by others. Instead, I focused on showing the “polished” side of myself to the outside world.
Once my children came into my life, I was suddenly dealing with triggers like hearing them cry, feeling out of control, sleep deprivation, and a sense of isolation. As my maternity leave came to a close, I decided to start therapy. I knew that if I didn’t face all of this, I wouldn’t be my best self and that my family deserved a healthy, stronger me.
I searched online and found a female therapist who was a mom. Fast forward to a few sessions in, I at times loathed talking so much about my feelings and behaviors, but she validated ME! She helped me become more aware of how I felt in the moment, and we worked on identifying the old ways that helped me survive that I no longer needed, like avoidance and hiding my pain.
Now, with tools of regular therapy and anxiety medication, I continue to grow in expressing myself better, talking about emotions with my toddlers, and inviting people to truly get to know me.
Being vulnerable is still scary, but I am grateful that my children will grow up knowing that we can find supportive ways to cope with stressors.
There’s incredible value in being authentic, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Thank you, Omaha Mom Guest Contributor Sheena, for sharing your story!
Guest Contributor: Sheena Helgenberger
Sheena is a director at a nonprofit which addresses community health needs, such as mental health stigma, food access, and the intersection of homelessness and complex medical issues. She is trained to facilitate through the Technology of Participation®. Sheena is an active volunteer with many organizations in the Omaha community, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands, Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska, the Junior League of Omaha, and is a Circles Alumna with the Women’s Fund of Omaha. She lives in Elkhorn with her husband Brett, and two children, Harper and Hank.