I never fully appreciated my mental health, or how important it was, until I became a mother. Prior to procreating I honestly thought that being a "good" woman meant sacrificing every single part of me for, well, everyone else, and that definitely included sacrificing my mental wellbeing. Past lovers, friends, family members, you name it; I put everyone's needs ahead of my own and it was unhealthy. Thankfully, becoming a mom made me realize that I have to take care of myself first, and that there are ways to stay mentally healthy when you're a mom. I've realized that no only does my mental health matter simply because I'm a human being and every single person's mental health does and should matter, but my mental health matters because, without tending to it and making sure I'm at my healthiest, I won't be able to tend to my son at the capacity he deserves.
I will forever remember the moment I just knew I had to take care of myself. I was suffering from postpartum depression, going on three days of absolutely no sleep and refusing to let anyone take care of my son. I was constantly crying and having mild panic attacks and I was afraid to take my eyes off my son for even a second. My mother was asking to help and my partner was asking for help but I was convinced, as a new mother, that I needed to "do it all." Finally my partner simply took the baby from me, handed our newborn to my mother, and walked me to bed. "We are here. We got this. I'm a parent, too. You're not doing anyone any good just driving yourself into the ground." Those words cut to the point and through any preconcieved notions of motherhood I had and, well, made me realize that I needed to take care of myself before I could take care of anyone else.
I slept for 12 hours that day, waking up only to feed my son (and for many of those feedings, I can't really tell you I was fully "awake"). The next day I woke up and felt like an actual human being, and there were no more tears or moments of panic or me feeling like I was failing. That was also the beginning of a big change, and from then on I have been determined to take care of myself and my mental health. I found a few ways to do that, as a mom, and they have been nothing short of life-changing. So, with that in mind, here are a few ways moms can take care of their mental health, because becoming a mother doesn't mean someone has become more important than you. It means you've become the most important, to someone else.