Photo Credit: Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Sebastian Kim for New York Magazine
"When Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choice." -Ruth Bader Gisnburg
Last weekend was hard. It has been a rough two years to be a mental health therapist given the state of the world. But Friday was one of my hardest days as a provider. I woke up to a phone call from my mom, with her saying "They actually fucking did it. They overturned Roe v. Wade." I could hear the anger, rage, and deep sadness in her voice. I spent the rest of that morning talking to all of the women that I am close to in my life, with my phone going off nearly every minute or so. I started getting messages from clients who had not been in therapy for a while, asking for my availability.
I was not the best therapist in my final sessions of the week. I tried so hard to be present but found myself dissociating a lot. I cried in between and after my sessions.I cried on and off throughout the weekend. My body felt heavy, I had the worst headache, and spent most of the weekend feeling highly irritable. It literally felt like I had the flu, a feeling that has become all too familiar during the many tragic events that we have all witnessed since 2020. I even found myself unintentionally snapping at my fiancé. You see, I had been preparing for Roe v. Wade to be overturned ever since the leak came out a few weeks ago. Yet, I still became floored by the news. With the Supreme Court's decision to take back a woman's right to choose, I began asking myself "What does this mean for all of the women in my life? What does this mean for someone that looks like me? What will the future bring?"
I like many of you am filled with so much anger, rage, sadness, and grief. Many of us have never known a time in this country where women's bodies have less rights than guns. As a therapist who has worked with many women who are survivors of domestic violence, childhood abuse, and sexual assault, I will never support policies that do not protect them. I feel relief in knowing that myself and my loved ones all live in states where women's bodies are protected. But my heart is broken for women in states where they are not protected. Especially for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous women who this will disproportionately hurt the most. So many people are living in heightened anxiety right now because of this, and rightfully so. If you are unsure of how to cope, I can tell you right now that I am also trying to figure that out myself. But what I can share are things that may be helpful for you.
1. Give yourself time and space to feel your emotions
This one can be especially challenging for us. The emotions that many of us are experiencing have been uncomfortable, dark, and heavy. But they are there for a reason. A big part of self-care is giving ourselves the space to feel, with compassion and without shame.
2. Validate your emotions
Your feelings are absolutely fucking valid. Pardon my language.
3. Soothe your nervous system
Lean onto any grounding practices that you might have whether they be mindfulness, meditation, a calming bath, or a soothing shower with essential oils.
4. Take breaks from the news and social media if needed
It is important to stay informed but it is just as important for us to take breaks from the media. It can feel very overwhelming
5. Spend time outside in nature
There is always something so grounding and purifying about nature. Get outside. Lay in the sun. Go for a walk. Disconnect.
6. Connect with trusted people in your life & lean onto your support system
An important part of healing is connecting with others through our similar shared experiences. Laugh together. Cry together. Heal together.
7. Give yourself a container for your emotions, so that you can allow yourself breaks
It doesn't do anyone any good by sitting in our trauma and heavy feelings 24/7. A big part of healing is allowing ourselves breaks from the heaviness to create space for joy and rest. How I describe containers to my clients is by imagining that you are physically holding your emotions in your hands, placing them in a container, and then putting them on the shelf to be unpacked later on. You can do this in any way that feels most authentic to you.
8. Channel your emotions into movement
Another very important part of healing is moving your body. Channel that energy into a run, a yoga flow, a pilates class, or whatever workout that you would like. Movement helps our bodies to release what we are feeling while also giving us those "feel good" endorphins, a natural antidepressant.
9. Take Action
After giving yourself the time and space to feel saddened by this news, take action. The women who came before us fought way too hard for us to just sit down and become complacent. This is a very dark time in our nation's history, yet again. Donate and support organizations that advocate for women's reproductive rights. Join a local protest.
10. Talk to a Therapist
Even though we therapists are also trying to navigate through these dark times with you, we still very much are here for support. Even if there is nothing that we can say to change the times that we are in, we will sit there and make sense of it with you.
No matter how grim things might be, it is always important to create space for hope. We cannot become complacent during these times. So give yourself the space that you need to feel what you feel and then fight like hell. Skies are always darkest before the dawn.