A woman is frequently asked to balance the multiple roles of mother, wife, provider, house-keeper, chef, teacher, friend, comforter and lover. The social and self-imposed pressure to perform these roles concurrently and ably is intense, and frequently these roles become so unbalanced that a woman cannot give the amount of attention she believes is needed to fulfill a particular role. The inability of a woman to balance these roles with her own needs can lead to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt and even self-hatred. These feelings stem from a woman’s innate belief that putting her needs first is selfish. This belief can lead to a guilty feeling that taking time for herself is taking away from someone or something else more deserving. Therapists at Affective Counseling seek to help women identify their strengths, set boundaries in relationships, and identify and meet their own needs. The ultimate goal is to find and maintain a manageable and satisfactory life balance so that both personal responsibilities and personal needs are met.
Pre- and Post-Partum Depression
Giving birth to a child can be one of the most momentous, wonderful and stressful moments in a women’s life. Most women have specific expectations about how they will connect with their baby and the positive ways their lives will change. Some women, however, experience unexpected and overwhelming anxiety or sadness during pregnancy and shortly after giving birth. Joyful thoughts about motherhood are replaced by concern that something will go wrong during pregnancy or that one will not be able to enjoy or manage the new baby as planned. A mother who is unable to connect, enjoy or even like her newborn child can experience intense guilt. Moments of sadness or feeling overwhelmed during pregnancy and after giving birth are common, but when these feelings persist and interfere with a women’s ability to connect with or care for her new child or herself, counseling becomes essential in managing these intrusive thoughts and emotions. Some sign of Pre- and Post-Partum Depression include:
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Fatigue or sleep difficulties
- Anger or irritability
- Crying for no apparent cause
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Feeling disconnected from your baby
- Anxiety about your ability to raise your child
- Thoughts of harming your baby or yourself
Believing that you are never good enough or that you fall short in all your life roles is a disheartening and powerless feeling. Women struggling with self-esteem are often pulled in multiple directions and can end up feeling like they can never meet the expectations set by themselves and by society. Additionally, social pressure to look a certain way, act in a certain manner, and maintain a youthful appearance can lead to perfectionist tendencies and constant comparisons to others that result in feeling that one simply doesn’t measure up to expected standards. Learning to accept your imperfect self, focus on your strengths and accomplishments, and believe in your self-worth are invaluable skills that allow women to fully engage in and enjoy their lives.
Human beings crave companionship and acceptance, and developing and maintaining relationships are invaluable skills. Women frequently develop the role of caregiver in one or more relationships, and that role can lead them to believe that they are accepted only because they are needed by others as opposed to being wanted by others. This dynamic can lead to co-dependent relationships where women become reliant on others to validate their self-worth and lose the ability to self-validate. These relationships are rarely satisfactory, since they tend to make women feel that they are always giving more than then they are receiving. Despite the inequity in these relationships, poor self-esteem and fear of rejection and being alone makes it difficult to assert personal needs. Developing a sense of self-worth outside of relationships and a belief that one is inherently important to others, even if not in a caretaker role, is essential in developing balanced, stable and gratifying relationships.
Infertility is a deeply personal and emotionally draining experience that can have a profound impact on a woman’s sense of worth, perspective on health, and beliefs about the future. Although commonly thought of as a “women’s issue”, infertility can impact couples as a primary issue (first time trying to conceive) and as a secondary issue (difficulty with conception after a previous pregnancy). This can lead to a strain on finances, family planning, career goals, and self-worth. The hormonal shifts encountered during infertility treatment are often overwhelming, frightening, unpredictable, and consuming. Counselors at Affective Counseling specialize in compassionate, knowledgeable, and sensitive therapy focused on providing support and guidance to women and couples experiencing any of the problems associated with infertility.