Being a mental health counselor I thought I would be immune to all those “mood swings” and “pregnancy brain” symptoms pregnant women experience. I was mistaken and now realize that the effects pregnancy has on our emotions and thinking patterns are real.
In my “normal state” outside of pregnancy I’m pretty laid back, things like, let’s say, haircuts go without much thought or drama. “Give me a trim, chop off 6 inches, do whatever you think would look good, I trust you” is my typical M.O. Put pregnancy into the mix and my laid back attitude changes. A perfectly great haircut (which I can rationally say about 2 weeks later) felt like my demise at the time. Negative thoughts like “I look like I have a helmet on my head!” “I just won’t look in the mirror for at least a month” and “I can’t be seen in public” crossed my mind multiple times. More than one tear was shed. During all of this I would have rational thoughts of “come on, you are not this negative person, your hair looks fine, she wouldn’t give you a hack job, nobody has even noticed you got a haircut.” My rational, CBT trained mind was trying to break through, but my pregnant self was having a difficult time listening.
If you plan to or have experienced pregnancy first hand or through a partner, you’ve likely experienced this high emotion/rational tug of war. You’ve heard or read “it’s just the hormones” but that doesn’t make the mood swings less real. Allow yourself to fully experience them however you need. Cry, stomp your feet, vent to your partner, yell, talk to your therapist, do whatever release you need. After you’ve done all that for as long as you need, the rational mind will win over again. Those moments may actually be a magnified version of something underlying you want to work on. For example, if you find your blood boiling because your partner forgot take the trash out after you asked them to, there may be some underlying communication issues to work though. Or if you’re sobbing to a friend that your doctor made you wait for 10 minutes, you may be having second thoughts about if they are the right fit. And if you’ve looked back and realized it was in fact just an emotional episode and nothing more, at least it might provide some comic relief.
Two week later I am at peace with the haircut itself. I even looked at a picture and thought “oh, that looks great!” I’ve realized maybe I need to not take my appearance so seriously. I’ve allowed my rational mind to (eventually) win over, and walked away with a funny story. As it turns out, pregnancy can be a great time to learn a little bit more about ourselves.
If you’re in need of finding your rational mind during pregnancy or postpartum, and would like somebody to talk to further please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org