Mom Confession: How did Martha Stewart lead to my mental health break…down…through?
I’ll start by writing that I DO NOT know Martha Stewart nor does she know me. Like many mom’s my age, I grew up flipping though Martha’s cookbooks, watching television appearances and hearing, “It’s a good thing” throughout the 1980s and 1990s. I laughed along at Saturday Night Live’s parodies—who doesn’t love a holiday dickie—and I still follow her sugar cookie recipe to a T.
Around 2015, I set out to do two things. Find a good, healthy meal kit delivery service and a great mental health therapist.
Six years ago, with the encouragement of my husband, I finally made the leap and it absolutely felt like I was diving head first into a pool filled with ice cubes. I don’t know why I thought I should be ashamed to talk to a therapist. But sitting in that chair week after week while not revealing any of my anxieties, sadness or fears, lead to me quit.
Around this time, I started ordering a meal kit delivery service. At first, it was fun. Trying new recipes, learning a few new techniques and then the honeymoon was over. Items were left out, some items were smashed and it seems every recipe had chickpeas. My oven could no longer support exploded, charred chickpeas. So I quit.
Soon after I found therapist number two. This was after losing my father, which naturally provided me with some topics to discuss. But I still couldn’t talk or open up. I still kept myself guarded with therapist number two.
When presented with an intake form with a beautiful oak tree, I was told to circle what best options related to me. My focus was so intense on the tree, I thought I was to circle a part of the tree. I never noticed the questions that were on the right side of the page.
After five minutes of silence and my increasing anxiety over what part of the tree I was…am I a trunk, a branch, the leaves, what does it all mean?… I looked up at the therapist in confusion. That’s when she pointed out the questions.
From that tree Q&A, it was discovered that I have major anxiety and depression. A few minutes later my therapist announced she was going to be out for the next month. I took that diagnosis, got in my car and never went back.
Then I started another meal kit delivery service. This one was a Martha meal kit! With Martha’s steady hand to guide me, what could go wrong?
This one was different, the recipes were innovative and unique. There were ingredients I’ve never heard of before and the excitement of selecting meals for upcoming weeks was almost as thrilling as shopping for shoes on Zappos.
Speaking of online shopping, turns out online therapy was the key for my mental health. While online therapy isn’t for everyone, for me personally, putting my feeling and internal thoughts on paper/screen helps me to clear my mind and find peace in whatever situation has me anxious or sad.
All this to say, it wasn’t an instantaneous connection. It took my first online therapist resigning and being assigned another therapist for me to finally feel a connection.
Through therapy I have finally accepted that I need to be the best version of myself for my family, friends and me!
I don’t want to look back at my life and remember all the times I was too overcome by sadness to leave my house or too concerned about what others were doing to not do anything at all.
While sitting outside one day, an hour before the dinner hustle and bustle began, I got out my laptop to check in with my therapist and the metaphorical lighting bolt struck. I realized that more evenings than not, I was exhausted and stressed out. When I took the time to examine and reflect on what was my trigger, I realized it was the meal kits.
Here’s the thing, around 5 p.m., I noticed that my anxiety kicked into gear. My kids don’t eat the meal kits. Maybe because they don’t care for the fancy, unheard of ingredients. Or perhaps because my version doesn’t look like the picture, or it could be in my anxiety ridden prep, I forgot to read step 3 in it’s entirety therefore, said dish takes a headfirst dive in the trash can.
Not only were my husband and I making a meal for two, but we were also making three other meals. By the time we sat down to eat as a family, I was exhausted and on the verge of tears. And then my dishwashing husband would peer into the kitchen sending menacing glances at the 10 bowls we had used because Martha’s step-by-step guide said so. Sadly, Martha had led me astray. My golden road to easy, delicious meals had become a dark tree tunnel straight into Anxietyville.
Keeping things simple has helped my mental health.
For me, eliminating something that caused me stress has helped in my journey. For others it may be something much more serious or not. Regardless, there’s help out there! And there is absolutely no shame whatsoever in seeking mental health therapy no matter if it’s in person or online.
What I have realized is that talking and writing to my therapist has helped me become aware of what triggers my anxiety. While there are certainly heavier things at the root of my anxiety and depression, I’ll just save that for my therapist.